Ladder of Divine Ascent

1Ladder of Divine Ascent “Violence and unending pain are the lot of those who aim to ascend to heaven with the body, and this especially at the early stages of the enterprise, when our pleasure-loving disposition and our unfeeling hearts must travel through overwhelming grief toward the love of God and holiness. It is hard, truly hard. There has to be an abundance of invisible bitterness, especially for the careless, until our mind, that cur sniffing around the meat market and reveling in the uproar, is brought through simplicity, deep freedom from anger and diligence to a love of holiness and guidance. Yet full of passions and weaknesses as we are, let us take heart and let us in total confidence carry to Christ in our right hand and confess to Him our helplessness and our fragility. We will carry away more help than we deserve, if only we constantly push ourselves down into the depths of humility.”

-St. John Climacus, from “The Ladder of Divine Ascent”, Step One

St. John of the Ladder is commemorated on the fourth Sunday of Great Lent. These are the rungs of his ladder:

Step 1. On renunciation of the world
Step 2. On detachment
Step 3. On exile or pilgrimage
Step 4. On blessed and ever-memorable obedience
Step 5. On painstaking and true repentance
Step 6. On remembrance of death
Step 7. On joy-making mourning
Step 8. On freedom from anger and on meekness
Step 9. On remembrance of wrongs
Step 10. On slander or calumny
Step 11. On talkativeness and silence
Step 12. On lying
Step 13. On despondency
Step 14. On that clamorous mistress, the stomach
Step 15. On incorruptible purity and chastity
Step 16. On love or money, or avarice
Step 17. On non-possessiveness (that hastens one Heavenwards)
Step 18. On insensibility
Step 19. On sleep, prayer, and psalmody with the brotherhood
Step 20. On bodily vigil and how to use it to obtain spiritual vigil.
Step 21. On unmanly and puerile cowardice
Step 22. On the many forms of vainglory
Step 23. On mad pride and unclean blasphemous thoughts
Step 24. On meekness, simplicity and guilelessness
Step 25. On the destroyer of passions, most sublime humility
Step 26. On discernment of thoughts, passions and virtues
Step 27. On holy stillness of body and soul
Step 28. On holy and blessed prayer
Step 29. Concerning Heaven on earth, or Godlike dispassion and perfection
Step 30. Concerning the linking together of the supreme trinity among the virtues

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