Monday, 25 June 2012

The 30 step Ladder of Divine Ascent - St. John Climacus

St. John Climacus Ladder of Divine Ascent 

Step 1: Renunciation

"But to secure a rocklike foundation, those with a mind for the religious life will turn away from everything, will despise everything, will ridicule everything, will shake off everything. Innocence, abstinence, temperance - these make a fine thrice-firm foundation."

Step 2: Detachment

"No one can enter crowned into the 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."

Step 3: Exile

"Exile is a separation from everything, in order that one may hold on totally to God. . . Exile is a disciplined heart, unheralded wisdom, a hidden life . . . unseen meditation, the striving to be humble, a wish for poverty, the longing for what is divine."

Step 4: On Blessed and Ever-Memorable Obedience

"Obedience is unquestioning movement, voluntary death, a life free of curiosity, carefree danger, unprepared defense before God, fearlessness of death, a safe voyage, a sleeper’s progress."

Step 5: Repentance

"Repentance is the voluntary endurance of all afflictions. A penitent is the inflictor of his own punishments."

Step 6: On Remembrance of Death

"It is impossible, someone says, impossible to spend the present day devoutly unless we regard it as the last of our whole life."

Step 7: On Mourning

"Mourning which is 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 Freedom From Anger and On Meekness

"The first step toward freedom from anger is to keep the lips silent when the heart is stirred; the next, to keep thoughts silent when the soul is upset; the last, to be totally calm when unclean winds are blowing." 

Step 9: On Remembrance of Wrongs

"Some, for the sake of forgiveness, give themselves up to labor and struggles, but a man who is forgetful of wrongs excels them. If you forgive quickly, then you will be generously forgiven."

Step 10: On Slander or Calumny

"He who wants to overcome the spirit of slander should not ascribe the blame to the person who falls, but to the demon who suggests it. For no one really wants to sin against God, even though we all sin without being forced to do so."

Step 11: On Silence and talkativeness

"He who has become aware of his sins has controlled his tongue, but a talkative person has not yet come to know himself as he should."

Step 12: On Lying

"A lie is the destruction of love, and a false oath is a denial of God."

Step 13: On Despondency

"Despondency is being languid in singing psalms, weak in prayer, like iron in service, resolute in manual labor, reliable in obedience."

Step 14: On That Clamorous Mistress, the Stomach

"Stint your stomach and you will certainly lock your mouth, because the tongue is strengthened by an abundance of food. Struggle with all your might against the stomach and restrain it with all sobriety. If you labor a little, the Lord will also soon work with you."

Step 15: On Incorruptible Purity and Chastity

"The good Lord shows His great care for us in that the shamelessness of the feminine sex is checked by shyness as with a sort of bit. For if the woman were to run after the man, no flesh would be saved."

Step 16: On Love of Money, or Avarice

"The collector (of money) is stirred by charity, but, when the money is in, the grip tightens."

Step 17: On Permissiveness

“The man who has tasted the things of heaven easily thinks nothing of what is below, but he who has had no taste of heaven finds pleasure in possessions.”

Step 18: On Insensibility

"He who has lost sensibility is a witless philosopher, a self-condemned commentator, a self-contradictory windbag, a blind man who teaches others to see."

Step 19: On Sleep, Prayer, and PsalmodyWith the Brotherhood

"Just as over-drinking is a matter of habit, so too from habit comes over-sleeping. Therefore we must struggle with the question of sleep, especially in the early days of obedience, because a long-standing habit is difficult to cure."

Step 20: On Bodily Vigil, and How to Use It to Attain
Spiritual Vigil, and How to Practice It

"Some stand before earthly kings without weapons and without armor; but others hold staffs of office, or have shields, or swords. The former are vastly superior to the latter, for they are usually personal relations of the king and members of the royal household. So it is with earthly kings."

Step 21: On Unmanly and Puerile Cowardice

"It is not darkness and desolateness of place that give the demons power against us, but barrenness of soul. And through God’s providence, this sometimes happens in order that we may learn by it."

Step 22: On the Many Forms of Vainglory

"When you hear that your neighbor or friend has abused you behind your back or even to your face, then show love and praise him."

Step 23: On Mad Pride

"When the demon of pride gets a foothold in his servants, he appears to them either in sleep or in a waking vision, as though in the form of a holy angel or some martyr, and gives them a revelation, of mysteries, or a free bestowal of spiritual gifts. . ."

Step 24: On Meekness, Simplicity, and Guilessness

"Meekness is an unchangeable state of mind, which remains the same in honor and dishonor."

Step 25: On Humility

"Many have received salvation without prophesies and revelations, without signs and wonders; but without humility no one will enter the marriage chamber, because humility is the guardian of these gifts, and without her they bring frivolous people to ruin."

Step 26: On discernment of thoughts, passions and virtues

"Let us try to learn Divine truth more by toil and sweat than by mere word, for at the time of our departure it is not words but deeds that will have to be shown"

Step 27: On holy stillness of body and soul

"He who is sick in soul from some passion and attempts stillness is like a man who has jumped from a ship into the sea and thinks that he will reach the shore safely on a plank."

Step 28: On Holy and Blessed Prayer

"When you are going to stand before the Lord, let the garment of your soul be woven throughout with the thread of obliviousness to wrongs. Otherwise, prayer will bring you no benefit."

Step 29: Concerning Heaven on Earth, or Godlike Dispassion

"The dispassionate man no longer lives himself, but Christ lives in him, as he says who fought the good fight, finished his course and kept the faith."

Step 30: The Supreme Trinity among the Virtues

"He who says that he loves the Lord and is angry with his brother is like a man who dreams that he is running.
"Mourning which is 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."

John Climacus: The Ladder of Divine Ascent

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