Lenten Thoughts – 30 March – The Ladder of Divine Ascent – The Steps

Lenten Thoughts – 30 March – Saturday of the Third week of Lent, Year C and the Memorial of St John Climacus (c 525-606)

The Ladder of Divine Ascent is an ascetical treatise on avoiding vice and practising virtue so that at the end, salvation can be obtained. Written by Saint John Climacus initially for monastics, it has become one of the most highly influential and important works used by the Church as far as guiding the faithful to a God-centred life, second only to Holy Scripture.

Structure and Purpose:
The aim of the treatise is to be a guide for practising a life completely and wholly devoted to God.   The ladder metaphor—not dissimilar to the vision that the Patriarch Jacob received—is used to describe how one may ascend into heaven by first renouncing the world and finally ending up in heaven with God.   There are thirty chapter,; each covers a particular vice or virtue.   They were originally called logoi, but in the present day, they are referred to as “steps.”   The sayings are not so much rules and regulations, as with the Law that St Moses received at Sinai, but rather observations about what is being practised.   Metaphorical language is employed frequently, to better illustrate the nature of virtue and vice.   Overall, the treatise does follow a progression that transitions from start (renunciation of the world) to finish (a life lived in love).the 30 steps of the ladder of divine ascent - 30 march 2019.jpg

The steps are:
On renunciation of the world
On detachment
On exile or pilgrimage – concerning dreams that beginners have
On blessed and ever-memorable obedience (in addition to episodes involving many individuals)
On painstaking and true repentance which constitutes the life of the holy convicts; and about the Prison
On remembrance of death
On joy-making mourning
On freedom from anger and on meekness
On remembrance of wrongs
On slander or calumny
On talkativeness and silence
On lying
On despondency
On that clamorous mistress, the stomach
On incorruptible purity and chastity, to which the corruptible attain by toil and sweat
On love of money, or avarice
On non-possessiveness (that hastens one Heavenwards)
On insensibility, that is, deadening of the soul and the death of the mind before the death of the body
On sleep, prayer and psalmody with the brotherhood
On bodily vigil and how to use it to attain spiritual vigil, and how to practise it
On unmanly and puerile cowardice
On the many forms of vainglory
On mad pride and (in the same Step) on unclean blasphemous thoughts; concerning unmentionable blasphemous thoughts
On meekness, simplicity, and guilelessness which come not from nature but from conscious effort, and about guile
On the destroyer of the passions, most sublime humility, which is rooted in spiritual perception
On discernment of thoughts, passions and virtues; on expert discernment; brief summary of all aforementioned
On holy stillness of body and soul; different aspects of stillness and how to distinguish them
On holy and blessed prayer, the mother of virtues, and on the attitude of mind and body in prayer
Concerning Heaven on earth, or Godlike dispassion and perfection, and the resurrection of the soul before the general resurrection
Concerning the linking together of the supreme trinity among the virtues; a brief exhortation summarising all that has said at length in this book.

Read the book, here

“Repentance is the renewal of baptism. 
Repentance is a contract with God for a second life. 
A penitent is a buyer of humility. 
Repentance is constant distrust of bodily comfort. 
Repentance is self-condemning reflection of carefree self-care. 
Repentance is the daughter of hope and the renunciation of despair. 
A penitent is an undisgraced convict. 
Repentance is reconciliation with the Lord 
by the practice of good deeds contrary to the sins. 
Repentance is purification of conscience. 
Repentance is the voluntary endurance of all afflictions. 
A penitent is the inflicter of his own punishments. 
Repentance is a mighty persecution of the stomach
and a striking of the soul into vigorous awareness.”repentance-is-the-renewal-of-baptism-st-john-climacus-and 30 march 2019 - 29-jan-2019.jpg

Posted in FATHERS of the Church, LENT 2019, QUOTES of the SAINTS, QUOTES on PRAYER, SAINT of the DAY

Quote of the Day – 30 March – St John Climacus – On Prayer

Quote of the Day – 30 March – Saturday of the Third week of Lent, Year C, Gospel: Luke 18:9–14 and the Memorial of St John Climacus (c 525-606)

On Prayer

“The one who requests less than he deserves from God will surely obtain more than he deserves.   

This is clearly shown by the tax-collector who requested forgiveness but obtained justification.   

And the thief merely requested to be remembered in His Kingdom, but he inherited Paradise.”

St John Climacuste one who requests less - st john climacus 30march 2019.jpg

Posted in LENT 2019, QUOTES on PRAYER, SAINT of the DAY, The WORD

Lenten Reflection – 30 March

Lenten Reflection – 30 March – Saturday of the Third week of Lent, Year C and the Memorial of St John Climacus (c 525-606)

The Readings
Hosea 6:1-6; Psalms 51:3-4, 18-19, 20-21AB; Luke 18:9-14 

On sobriety in prayer

St John Climacus

Do not be over-sophisticated in the words you use when praying, because the simple and unadorned lisping of children has often won the heart of their heavenly Father.   Do not attempt to talk much when you pray, lest your mind be distracted in searching for words. One word of the publican propitiated God and one cry of faith saved the thief.  Loquacity in prayer often distracts the mind and leads to fantasy, whereas brevity- makes for concentration.   If you feel sweetness or compunction at some word of your prayer, dwell on it, for then our guardian angel is praying with us.

Ask with tears, seek with obedience, knock with patience.   For thus the one who asks, receives and the one who seeks, finds and to anyone who knocks it will be opened.

Those who keep constant hold of the staff of prayer will not stumble.   And even if they do, their fall will not be fatal.   For prayer is a devout coercion of God.ask with tears knock with - st john climacus.jpg

Daily Meditation:
Fill our hearts with Your love.

Our lesson today reminds us again of God’s love and Jesus’ desire
that we love one another as we are loved.
On this journey, we are learning why this is a challenge for us.
We are experiencing our human weaknesses and practising ways to be freer,
to open our hearts more fully to God’s love
and to give ourselves in fidelity, every day.

You ask us to express our thanks by self-denial.
“Come, let us return to the Lord,
for he has torn, that he may heal us,
he has stricken and he will bind us up.”
Hosea 6:1

Closing Prayer:
God of infinite love,
You shower me with limitless gifts in my life.
In my every thought and action today
guide me to the bright and loving light of Your kingdom.
Help me to be aware of
the many ways You allow me
to share in Your life so intimately today.
Thank You for the gifts You have placed in my life.
Let me be grateful every moment of this day..

May the Lord bless us,
protect us from all evil
and bring us to everlasting life.
Amen.Sat of the thirs week lent 30 march 2019.jpg


One Minute Reflection – 30 March –

One Minute Reflection – 30 March – Saturday of the Third week of Lent, Year C, Gospel: Luke 18:9–14

“…For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled but he who humbles himself, will be exalted.”...Luke 18:14luke-18-14-everuone who exalts himself shall be humbled.jpg

REFLECTION – “We must only pray by placing ourselves before God just as we are.   Not like the pharisee who prays with arrogance and hypocrisy.   We are all taken up by the frenetic pace of daily life, often at the mercy of feelings, dazed and confused.   It is necessary to learn how to rediscover the path to our heart, to recover the value of intimacy and silence, because the God who encounters us and speaks to us, is there.  Only by beginning there can we, in our turn, encounter others and speak with them.”…Pope Francis – General Audience, 1 June 2016it is necessary to learn how to pope francis 30 march 2019.jpg

PRAYER – We turn to You our God and Father and seek Your comfort and assurance. Jesus, our Lord, Your Son, taught us how to pray and all we need to be and do, to reach You.   Be patient good Father, as we grow by Your grace.   May such a master of prayer, St John Climacus, be heard together with the Mother of Christ and of Prayer, as they pray on our behalf.   Through Jesus our Lord, in union with the Holy Spirit, God now and forever, amen.luke 2 19 but mary kept all these things mary mother of prayer pray for us 30 march 2019.jpg

st john climacus pray for us 30 march 2019.jpg


Our Morning Offering – 30 March 2019 – A Morning Salutation to Mary

Our Morning Offering – 30 March 2019 – Saturday of the Third week of Lent, Year C – Marian Saturdays

A Morning Salutation to Mary
A Coptic Catholic Prayer

We greet you,
glorious Mother of the Light,
O Blessed Mary,
from the rising of the sun to its setting,
praise is due to you,
O Mother of God.
You are the second heaven,
the bright unfading flower,
the ever-virgin mother.
For the Father chose you
and the Holy Spirit overshadowed you
and the Son,
humbled Himself
and took flesh from you.
Therefore, ask Him,
to give salvation to the world
He has created
and to deliver it from every tribulation.
And we will sing to Him a new song
and bless Him,
now and forever,
amen!a morning salutation to mary - a coptic catholic prayer - 30 march 2019.jpg

Posted in FATHERS of the Church, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 30 March – St John Climacus (c 525-606)

Saint of the Day – 30 March – St John Climacus (c 525-606) aged 80-81 – Anchorite Monk, Mystic, Poet, Writer, Ascetic – also known as St John of the Ladder, John Scholasticus, John the Sinaita. John made, while still young, such progress in learning that he was called the Scholastic.

A native of Palestine, at sixteen, John entered a monastery in the Palestinian desert.  After four years of training in a community, he took the vows and an aged abbot foretold that he would some day be one of the greatest lights of the Church.snipped out getty st john climacus.JPG

Nineteen years later, on the death of his director, he withdrew into a deeper solitude, where he studied the lives and writings of the Saints and was raised to an unusual height of contemplation.   The fame of his holiness and practical wisdom drew crowds around him for advice and consolation.   For his greater profit he visited the solitudes of Egypt. He lived forty years as a hermit.   Like other desert fathers, he broke his near-total solitude only on Saturdays and Sundays to worship with other hermits and counsel his followers.

Early in his monastic career John decided that as a mark of submision to God he would receive all criticism as true.   Once, for example, some monks reproached him for wasting time in idle conversation.   So, to correct what he regarded as a serious fault, for a year John observed absolute silence.   Only when his disciples insisted that they needed his spiritual teaching did the saint start speaking john climacus 304px-Św_Jan_Klimak,_Jerzy_i_Błażej

He was induced by a brother abbot to write the rules by which he had guided his life and his book called the Climax, or Ladder of Perfection/The Ladder of Divine Ascent, has been prized in all ages for its wisdom, its clearness and its unction.  He took his name Climacus or “ladder” from his book .   The reader who climbed The Ladder ascended thirty steps to holiness.   According to St John, the goal was to reach a state of apatheia or passive disinterestedness in earthly life, so as to anticipate the wonders of snip - st john climacus

Each step communicates some practical insight into Christian living that twenty-first-century readers will still find beneficial.   An icon known by the same title, Ladder of Divine Ascent, depicts a ladder extending from earth to heaven (cf. Genesis 28:12) Several monks are depicted climbing a ladder; at the top is Jesus, prepared to receive them into Heaven.   Also shown are angels helping the climbers and demons attempting to shoot with arrows or drag down the climbers, no matter how high up the ladder they may be.   Most versions of the icon show at least one person falling.   Often, in the lower right corner St John Climacus himself is shown, gesturing towards the ladder, with rows of monastics behind him.

12th century icon (Saint Catherine’s Monastery, Mount Sinai, Egypt)

When John was seventy he was elected abbot of the monastery at Mount Sinai.   That was an appropriate choice, for many monks saw John as a Moses who had received Christian commandments from God and recorded them in his Ladder.   After four years in office, John retired to his cell and died there c 606 at around eighty years of age.

St John’s feast day is 30 March in both the East and West.   The Eastern Orthodox Church and the Byzantine Catholic Churches additionally commemorate him on the Fourth Sunday of Great Lent.   Many churches are dedicated to him in Russia, including a church and belltower in the Moscow Kremlin.john-of-the-ladder.jpg

Posted in SAINT of the DAY

Memorials of the Saints – 30 March

Bl Amadeus of Savoy
St Clinius of Pontecorvo
St Cronan Mochua
St Damiano
St Domnino of Thessalonica
St Fergus of Downpatrick
St Irene of Rome
Bl Joachim of Fiore
St John Climacus (c 525-606) aged 80-81

St Julio Álvarez Mendoza
St Leonard Murialdo
St Ludovico of Casoria
St Mamertinus of Auxerre
St Marie-Nicolas-Antoine Daveluy
Bl Maria Restituta Kafka
St Osburga of Coventry
St Pastor of Orléans
St Patto of Werden
St Peter Regulatus
St Quirinus the Jailer
St Regulus of Scotland
St Regulus of Senlis
St Secundus of Asti
St Tola
St Zozimus of Syracuse

Martyrs of Constantinople: ourth-century Christians who were exiled, branded on the forehead, imprisoned, tortured, impoverished and murdered during the multi-year persecutions of the Arian Emperor Constantius. They were martyred
between 351 and 359 in Constantinople.

Martyrs of Korea:
Marie-Nicolas-Antoine Daveluy
Iosephus Chang Chu-gi
Lucas Hwang Sok-tu
Martin-Luc Huin
Pierre Aumaître