My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
THE LADDER OF DIVINE ASCENT BY
SAINT JOHN CLIMACUS
The Ladder of Divine Ascent grew out of its author’s living experience and it requires from each reader a living, personal response. Read hastily, in a spirit of detached curiosity, the book is likely to prove a disappointment. Saint John expects to be pondered slowly, in a spirit of COMPUNCTION, and with a sincere intention on the reader’s part TO CHANGE HIS WAY OF LIFE.
A BRIEF SUMMARY AND
ASCEND, my brothers and sisters, ascend eagerly. Let your hearts’ resolve be to climb. Listen to the voice of the one who says: "COME, LET US GO UP TO THE MOUNTAIN OF THE LORD, TO THE HOUSE OF OUR GOD" (Isaiah 2:3), Who makes our feet to be like the feet of the deer, "WHO SETS US ON THE HIGH PLACES, THAT WE MAY BE TRIUMPHANT ON HIS ROAD" (Habakkuk 3:9).
Run, I beg you, run with him who said, "Let us hurry until we all arrive AT THE UNITY OF THE FAITH, and of the KNOWLEDGE OF GOD, at mature manhood, at THE MEASURE OF THE STATURE OF CHRIST’S FULLNESS" (Ephesians 4:13). Baptized in the thirtieth year of His Earthly age, Christ attained the 30th step on the Spiritual Ladder, for God indeed IS LOVE (AGAPE), and in Him be praise, dominion, and power. In Him is the cause, past, present, and future, of all that is good forever and ever. Amen.
QUOTATIONS FROM THE 30 SPIRITUAL STEPS:
Step 1. On Renunciation of Life
"God is the life of All free beings. He is the salvation of all, of believers or unbelievers, of the just or the unjust, of the pious or the impious, of those freed from the passions or caught up in them, of monks or those LIVING IN THE WORLD, of the educated or the illiterate, of the healthy or the sick, of the young or the very old…
"… A Christian IS AN IMITATOR OF CHRIST IN THOUGHT, WORD, AND DEED, as far as this is humanly possible, and he believes rightly and blamelessly in the Holy Trinity. A FRIEND OF GOD is THE ONE WHO LIVES IN COMMUNION WITH ALL THAT IS NATURAL AND FREE FROM SIN AND WHO DOES NEGLECT TO DO WHAT GOOD HE CAN…"
"…Withdrawl from the world is a willing hatred of all that is materially prized, a denial of nature for the sake of what is above nature. All this is done by those who willingly turn from the things of this life, either for the sake of the coming Kingdom, or because of the number of their sins, or ON ACCOUNT OF THEIR LOVE OF GOD…"
Step 2. On Detachment
"…No one can enter crowned into heavenly bridechamber WITHOUT FIRST MAKING THE THREE RENUNCIATIONS. He has to turn away from worldly concerns, from men, from family; he must cut selfishness away; and thirdly, he must rebuff the vanity that follows obedience. "Go out from among them," says the Lord. "Go apart from them. Do not touch the uncleanness of the age" (2 Corinthians 6:17).
"…For those sailing the tides of spirituality know only too well that THE RELIGIOUS LIFE CAN BE A HARBOR OF SALVATION OR A HAVEN OF DESTRUCTION, AND A PITIABLE SIGHT INDEED IS THE SHIPWRECK IN PORT OF SOMEONE WHO HAD SAFELY MASTERED THE OCEAN."
Step 3. On Exile
EXILE is a disciplined heart, unheralded wisdom, an unpublicized understanding, a hidden life, masked ideals. It is unseen meditation, the striving to be humble, a wish for poverty, the longing for what is Divine. It is an outpouring of love, a denial of vainglory, a death of silence… Exile is a separation from everything, in order that one may hold on totally to God. It is a chosen route of great grief. An exile is a fugitive, running from all relationships with his own relatives and with strangers…".
Step 4. On Obedience
"…Obedience IS A TOTAL RENUNCIATION OF OUR OWN LIFE, and it shows up clearly in the way we act. Or, again, OBEDIENCE is the MORTIFICATION OF THE MEMBERS WHILE THE MIND REMAINS ALIVE. Obedience is UNQUESTIONED MOVEMENTS, DEATH FREELY ACCEPTED, A SIMPLE LIFE, DANGER FACED WITHOUT WORRY, AN UNPREPARED DEFENSE BEFORE GOD, FEARLESSNESS BEFORE DEATH, A SAFE VOYAGE, A SLEEPER’S JOURNEY. Obedience is THE BURIAL PLACE OF THE WILL AND THE RESURRECTION OF LOWLINESS…INDEED TO OBEY IS, WITH ALL DELIBERATENNESS, TO PUT ASIDE THE CAPACITY TO MAKE ONE’S OWN JUDGMENT…"
Step 5. On Penitence
REPENTANCE is THE RENEWAL OF BAPTISM and is a CONTRACT WITH God for A FRESH START IN LIFE. REPENTANCE goes shopping for HUMILITY and is ever distrustful of bodily comfort. Repentance is THE DAUGHTER OF HOPE and the refusal to despair. The PENITENT stands guilty–but undisgraced. REPENTANCE is RECONCILIATION WITH THE Lord by the performance of good deeds which are the opposites of the sins. It is THE PURIFICATION OF CONSCIENCE and THE VOLUNTARY ENDURANCE OF AFFLICTION. The penitent deals out his own punishment, for repentance, is THE FIERCE PERSECUTION OF THE STOMACH AND THE FLOGGING OF THE SOUL INTO INTENSE AWARENESS…"
Step 6. On Remembrance of Death
"…To be reminded of death each day IS TO DIE EACH DAY; to remember one’s departure from life is TO PROVOKE TEARS by the hour. For death is a property of nature due TO DISOBEDIENCE, but TERROR OF DEATH IS A SIGN OF UNREPENTED SINS…
"If your remembrance of death is clear and specific, you will cut down on your eating; in your humility, you reduce the amount you eat, your passions will be correspondingly reduced…"
Step 7. On Mourning
"Mourning, which according to God is a melancholy of the soul, a disposition of an anguished heart that passionately seeks what it thirsts for, and when it fails to attain it, PURSUES IT DILIGENTLY AND FOLLOWS BEHIND IT LAMENTING BITTERLY…"
Step. 8. On Placidity and Meekness
"…Freedom from ANGER is an endless wish for dishonor, whereas among the vainglorious there is a limitless thirst for praise. Freedom from anger is a triumph over one’s nature. It is the ability to be impervious to insults and comes from hard work and the sweat of one’s brow. Meekness is a permanent condition of that soul which remains unaffected by whether or not it is spoken well of, whether or not it is honored or praised.
"…Just as darkness retreats before light, so ALL ANGER AND BITTERNESS DISAPPEARS BEFORE THE FRAGRANCE OF HUMILITY…"
Step 9. On Malice
"REMEMBERANCE OF WRONGS comes as the final point of anger. It is a keeper of sins…The man who has put a stop to anger has also wiped out the remembrance of wrongs since offspring can come only from a living parent. A LOVING MAN banishes revenge, but a man brooding on his hatreds stores up troublesome labors for himself… A malicious man is like A LURKING SNAKE CARRYING ABOUT ITS OWN DEADLY POISON…"
Step 10. On Slander
"…Slander IS THE OFFSPRING OF HATRED, A SUBTLE AND YET CRASS DISEASE, A LEECH IN HIDING AND ESCAPING NOTICE, wasting and draining away THE LIFEBLOOD OF LOVE. It puts on the appearance of love and is the ambassador OF AN UNHOLY AND UNCLEAN HEART. AND IS THE RUINING OF CHASTITY…
"…A good grape picker chooses to eat ripe grapes and does not pluck what is unripe. A charitable and sensible mind takes careful note of the virtues it observes in another, while THE FOOL GOES LOOKING FOR FAULTS AND DEFECTS. It is of such a one that it was said, "They have searched out iniquity and died in the search" (Psalm 63:7)…
"…Do NOT CONDEMN. Not even if your very eyes are seeing something, for they may be deceived.
This is the Tenth Step, and he who succeeds on it has practiced love or mourning. (Source: John Climacus. The Ladder of Divine Ascent)
(To be continued)
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George