A Short Treatise of
The Ladder of Divine Ascent
by Saint John Climacus

ladder3.jpg (107446 bytes)

 

Ascetical writer whose works have influenced those seeking the holy life for 15 Centuries. Saint John of the Ladder (c. 570/579-649) became a Monk at Sinai when he was 16. He became a solitary and remained a hermit for many years. Many monks wanted him as their Spiritual Father, and Saint Gregory the Great requested his prayers. To fulfill the wish of Abbot John of Raithu, Saint John wrote The Ladder of Divine Ascent (also called The Ladder to Paradise) to describe the way to Apatheia, or Passionlessness. Based on Jacob's Dream, the book uses aphorisms and anecdotes to illustrate the vices to be overcome and the virtues to be cultivated as one ascends the ladder to perfection. The term “passion” in the Byzantine monastic tradition is often used as the equivalent of vice. It nearly always indicates something evil. The opposite of "passion" is "dispassion" (Apatheia), and this was seen as the goal of the ascetic struggle by Greek and Egyptian monks as well as those in the West, like Augustine. The Ascent to God was seen to take place in Three (3) Stages:

1. Ascetic Struggle;
2. Meditation, or Spiritual Contemplation of the Natural World;
3. Prayer, or Divine Contemplation.

 

The Ladder of Divine Ascent

by Saint John Climacus


 

Step I - Renunciation

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)1:4   The irreligious man is a mortal being with a rational nature, who of his own free-will turns his back on life and thinks of his own Maker, the Ever-Existent, as non-existent.

The transgressor is one who holds the Law of God after his own depraved fashion, and thinks to combine faith in God with heresy that is opposed to Him.

The Christian is one who imitates Christ in thought, word and deed, as far as is possible for human beings, believing rightly and blamelessly in the Holy Trinity.

The lover of God is he who lives in communion with all that is natural and sinless, and as far as he is able, neglects nothing good.

The continent man is one who lives in the midst of temptations, snares and turmoil, and who is eager to imitate, with all his might, those who are free from turmoil.

Monasticism is an angelic order and state achieved in an earthly and soiled body. A monk is one who holds only to the commands of God in every time and place and matter. A monk is one who constantly constrains his nature and unceasingly watches over his senses. A monk is he who keeps his body in chastity, his mouth pure and his mind illumined. A monk is a mourning soul that both asleep and awake is unceasingly occupied with the remembrance of death. Withdrawal from the world is voluntary hatred of vaunted material things and denial of nature for the attainment of what is above nature. 

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)1:6  The man who has withdrawn from the world in order to shake off his own burden of sins should imitate those who sit outside the city among the tombs, and should not cease from his hot and fiery streams of tears and voiceless heartfelt groanings until he, too, sees that Jesus has come to him and rolled away the stone of his hardness from his heart, and loosed Lazarus, that is to say, our mind, from the bands of sin, and ordered his attendant angels: Loose him from passions, and let him go to blessed dis-passion.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)1:7  Those who have surrendered themselves to God deceive themselves if they suppose that they have no need of a Director. . . For in accordance with the corruption of our wounds, we need a Director who is indeed an expert and a physician.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)1:9  All who enter upon the good fight, which is hard and close, but also easy, must realize that they must leap into the fire, if they really expect the Celestial Fire to dwell in them.

Warrior_of_God.gif (45705 bytes)littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)1:10  Those who enter this contest must renounce all things, despise all things, deride all things, and shake off all things, that they may lay a good foundation.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)1:11  To lag in the fight at the very outset of the struggle and thereby to furnish a token of our coming slaughter is a very hateful and dangerous thing. A firm beginning will certainly be useful for us when we later grow slack. A soul that is strong at first, but then relaxes, is spurred on by the memory of its former zeal. And in this way new wings are often obtained.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)1:12  When the soul betrays itself and loses the blessed and longed-for fervor, let it carefully investigate the reason for losing it. And let it arm itself with all its longing and zeal against whatever has caused this. For the former fervor can return only through the same door through which it was lost.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)1:15  Let us please the Lord as soldiers please their king; because we are required to give an exact account of our service after the campaign. . . Let us fear the Lord not less than we fear beasts .   .  . Let us love God at least as much as we respect our friends. For I have often seen people who had offended God and were not in the least perturbed about it. And I have seen how those same people provoked their friends in some trifling matter, and then employed every artifice, every device, every sacrifice, every apology . . . not sparing gifts, in order to regain their former love.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)1:19  Let no one, by appealing to the weight and multitude of his sins, say that he is unworthy of the monastic vow, and for love of pleasure disparage himself, excusing himself with excuses in his sins. Where there is much corruption, considerable treatment is needed to draw out all the impurity. The healthy do not go to a hospital.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)1:21  Some people living carelessly in the world have asked me: “We have wives and are beset with social cares, and how can we lead the solitary life?” I replied to them: “Do all the good you can; do not speak evil of anyone; do not steal from anyone; do not lie to anyone; do not be arrogant towards anyone; do not hate anyone; do not be absent from the divine services; be compassionate to the needy; do not offend anyone; do not wreck another man’s domestic happiness, and be content with what your own wives can give you. If you behave in this way, you will not be far from the Kingdom of Heaven”.  

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)1:24  Offer to Christ the labors of your youth, and in your old age you will rejoice in the wealth of dis-passion. What is gathered in youth nourishes and comforts those who have grown feeble in old age. In our youth let us labor ardently and let us run vigilantly, for the hour of death is unknown.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)1:25  Those who have really determined to serve Christ, with the help of Spiritual Fathers and their own self-knowledge, will strive before all else to choose a place, and a way of life, and a habitation, and exercises suitable for them. For community life is not for all, on account of covetousness; and places of solitude are not for all, on account of anger. But each will consider what most suits his needs.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)1:27  So who is a faithful and wise monk? He who has kept his fervor unabated, and to the end of his life has not ceased daily to add fire-to-fire, fervor-to-fervor, zeal-to-zeal, love-to-love. This is the first step. Let him who has mounted it not turn back.

 

Step II - On Detachment

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)2:1  The man who really loves the Lord, who has made a real effort to find the future Kingdom, who is really pained by his sins, who is really mindful of eternal torment and judgment, who really lives in fear of his own departure, will not love or worry about money, or possessions, or parents, or worldly glory, or friends, or brothers, or anything at all on earth.

But having shaken off all ties with earthly things and having stripped himself of all his cares, and having come to hate even his own flesh, and having stripped himself of everything, he will follow Christ without anxiety or hesitation, always looking Heaven-ward and expecting help from there. . .

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)2:6  It is worth investigating why those who live in the world and spend their life in vigils, fasts, labors and hardships, when they withdraw from the world and begin the monastic life, as if at some trial or on the practicing ground, no longer continue the discipline of their former spurious and sham asceticism.

I have seen how in the world they planted many different plants of the virtues, which were watered by vainglory as by an underground sewage pipe, and were hoed by ostentation, and for manure were heaped with praise. But when transplanted to a desert soil, inaccessible to people of the world and so not manured with the foul smelling water of vanity, they withered at once.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)2:8  Let us pay close attention to ourselves so that we are not deceived into thinking that we are following the straight-and-narrow way, when in actual fact we are keeping to the wide and broad way.

The following will show you what the narrow way means: mortification of the stomach, all night standing, water in moderation, short rations of bread. . . the cutting out of one's own will, patience in annoyances, unmurmuringendurance of scorn, disregard of insults, and the habit when wronged, of bearing it sturdily; when slandered, of not being indignant; when humiliated, not angry; when condemned, to be humble. Blessed are they who follow the way we have just described, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)2:12  If young people who are prone to the desires of physical love and luxurious ways wish to enter the monastic life, let them exercise themselves to abstain from all luxury and guile, lest their last state be worse than their first.

This harbor provides safety, but also exposes one to danger. Those who sail the spiritual seas know this. But it is a pitiful sight to behold those who have survived perils at sea, suffering  shipwreck in harbor.

This is the second step. Let those who run the race imitate not Lot’s wife, but Lot himself, and flee.

 

Step 3 - On Exile or Pilgrimage

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)3:1  Exile means that we leave forever everything in our own country that prevents us from reaching the goal of piety. Exile means modest manners, wisdom which remains unknown, prudence not recognized by most, a hidden life, an invisible intention, unseen meditation, desire for humiliation, longing for hardship, constant determination to love God, abundance of love, renunciation of vainglory, depth of silence.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)3:2 . . . But great and praiseworthy as this is, yet it requires great discretion; for not every kind of exile, carried to extremes is good.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)3:3  . . . exile is separation from everything in order to keep the mind inseparable from God.

fire6.gif (21280 bytes)littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)3:4  In hastening to solitude and exile, do not wait for world-loving souls, because the thief comes unexpectedly. In trying to save the careless and indolent along with themselves, many perish with them, because in course of time the soul’s fire goes out. As soon as the flame is burning within you, run; for you do not know when it will go out and leave you in darkness.

Not all of us are required to save others . . . I do not know whether we must all teach others; but we must most certainly teach ourselves.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)3:5  In going into exile, beware of the demon of drifting and of sensual desire; because exile gives him this opportunity.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)3:9  Run from places of sin as from the plague. For when fruit is not present, we have no frequent desire to eat it.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)3:15  Let him be your Father who is able and willing to labor with you in bearing the burden of your sins; and your Mothercontrition, which can cleanse you from impurity; and your Brother – your comrade who toils and fights side-by-side with you in your striving toward the heights.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)3:18  For our solitary life let us choose places where there are fewer opportunities for comfort and ambition, but more for humility. Otherwise, we shall be fleeing with our passions.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)3:22  When men or demons praise us for our exile, as for some great exploit or achievement, then let us think of Him Who for our sake was exiled from Heaven to Earth, and we shall find that throughout all eternity it is impossible for us to make return for this.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)3:24  By much labor and effort a good and stable character is developed in us. But what is achieved with great labor can be lost in a single moment.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)3:25  It is impossible to hide the fact that our mind, which is the organ of knowledge, is extremely imperfect and full of all kinds of ignorance. The palate distinguishes different foods, the hearing discerns thoughts, the sun reveals the weakness of the eyes, and words betray a soul’s ignorance.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)3:26  A dream is a movement of the mind while the body is at rest. A fantasy is an illusion of the eyes when the intellect is asleep. A fantasy is an ecstasy of the mind when the body is awake. A fantasy is a vision of something which does not exist in reality.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)3:28  The demons of vainglory prophesy in dreams. Being unscrupulous, they guess the future and tell it to us. When these visions come true, we are amazed; and we are elated with the thought that we are already near to the gift of foreknowledge.

A demon is often a prophet to those who believe him, but he is always a liar to those who despise him. Being a spirit, he sees what is happening in this lower air, and noticing that someone is dying, he foretells it through dreams to the more light-minded. .

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)3:29  Demons often transform themselves into angels-of-light and take the form of martyrs, and make it appear to us during sleep that we are in communication with them. Then, when we wake up, they plunge us into unholy joy and conceit.

He who believes in dreams is completely inexperienced.
But he who distrusts all dreams is a wise man.

 

Step 4 - On Blessed and Ever-Memorable Obedience

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)4:1  As the flower precedes the fruit, so exile, either of body or will, always precedes obedience. For with the help of these two virtues, the holy soul steadily ascends to Heaven as upon golden wings.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)4:3  Obedience is absolute renunciation of our own life, clearly expressed in our bodily actions. . . Obedience is the tomb of the will and the resurrection of humility. . . Obedience is an abandonment of discernment in a wealth of discernment.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)4:5 You who have decided to strip for the arena of this spiritual confession, you who wish to take on your neck the yoke of Christ, you who are therefore trying to lay your own burden on another’s shoulders, you who are hastening to sign a pledge that you are voluntarily surrendering yourself to slavery, and in return want freedom written to your account, you who are being supported by the hands of others as you swim across this great sea – you should know that you have decided to travel by a short but rough way from which there is only one erring path, and it is called self-rule . . . For obedience is distrust of one self in everything, however good it may be, right to the end of one’s life.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)4:6  When motives of real humility and real longing for salvation incite us to bend our neck and entrust ourselves to another in the Lord, before entering in upon this life, if there is any cleverness and prudence in us, we ought first to question and examine, and even, so to speak, test our helmsman, so as not to mistake the sailor for the pilot, a sick man for a doctor, a passionate for a dispassionate man, the sea for a harbor, and so bring about the speedy shipwreck of our soul.

But when once we have entered the arena of piety and obedience, we must no longer judge our good manager (trainer) in any way at all. . . otherwise we will gain no profit from our subjection.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)4:7  It is absolutely indispensable for those of us who wish to retain undoubting faith in our superiors to write their good deeds indelibly in our hearts and constantly remember them. .  . For the more faith flourishes in the heart, the more alacrity the body has in service. .  . The moment any thought of judging or condemning your superior occurs to you, leap away from it as from fornication.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)4:10  First of all, let us make our confession to our good judge, and to him alone. But if he orders, then to all. Wounds displayed in public will not grow worse, but will be healed.

 After ordering public confession to a penitent, Saint John asks the Abbott:

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)4:12  Why did you make such an extraordinary show? The physician replied: “For two reasons: firstly, in order to deliver the penitent from future shame by present shame; and it really did that brother John. For he did not rise from the floor until he was granted remission from all of his sins. . . Secondly, because there are others in the brotherhood who have unconfessed sins, and I want to induce them to confess too. . .”

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)4:15  . . . If in the absence of the superior one of them began to use abusive language or criticize people or simply talk idly, some other brother by a secret nod reminded him of this, and quietly put a stop to it.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)4:21 (Just as an evil man is somewhat double, one thing outwardly and another inwardly, so a simple person is not something double, but something of a unity.)

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)4:23  If you have decided to take upon yourself the yoke of Christ, then I want you first to learn obedience. . . When I had spent seven years there, he attained to deep humility.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)4:26  But know this, Father, that if anyone surrenders himself to simplicity and voluntary innocence, then he no longer gives the Devil an either time or place to attack him.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)4:31 It is the property of men to fall, and to rise again as often as this may happen. But it is the property of devils, and devils alone, not to rise once they have fallen.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)4:32  I once had a very serious spiritual fall . . . (I) at once showed it to the physician. . . He said to me: “Go child, and continue your work as before, without being afraid in the least.” And accepting this with flaming faith, in course of a few days I received the assurance of my healing.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)armour.gif (59136 bytes)4:36  If, wise man, you have within you the power of him who said, I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me; if the Holy Spirit has descended upon you with the dew of purity, as upon the Holy Virgin; if the power of the Most High has overshadowed you with patience; then like the man (Christ our God), gird your loins with the towel of obedience; and having risen from the supper of stillness, wash the feet of the brethren in a spirit of contrition; or rather, roll yourself under the feet of the community in spiritual self-abasement. At the gate of your heart place strict unsleeping guards. Restrain actions and movements of your limbs, practice noetic (intellectual) stillness. And, most paradoxical of all, in the midst of commotion, be unmoved in soul. Curb your tongue which rages to leap into arguments. . . Fix your mind to your soul as to the wood of a cross, to be struck like an anvil with blow upon blow of the hammers . . . without in the least crushed or broken, but continuing to be quite calm and immovable. Shed your own will as a garment of shame, and, thus stripped of it, enter the practice ground.  Array yourself in the rarely acquired breastplate of faith, not crushed or wounded by distrust towards your spiritual trainer. Check with the rein of temperance the sense of touch that leaps forward shamelessly. By meditation on death, bridle your eyes, which are ready to  waste hour after hour looking at physical grandeur and beauty. Still your mind, over busy with private concerns, and thoughtlessly prone to criticize and condemn your brother, by the practical means of showing your neighbor all love and sympathy. By this shall all men truly know. . . that we are disciples of Christ, if, while living together, we have love one for another.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)4:38 Noticing that one of the brothers stood during the Psalm singing with more heartfelt feeling than many of the others. . . I asked him to explain. . . I have the habit,  Father John, at the very beginning, of collecting my thoughts, my mind and my soul, and of summoning them, I cry to them: O come, let us worship and fall down before Christ, our King and God.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)4:39  I saw that he always had in his belt a small book, and I learnt that he wrote his thoughts in it each day and showed them all to the Shepherd. And I saw that not only he, but also very many of the brethren there did the same.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)4:44  Blessed is he who, though maligned and disparaged every day for the Lord’s sake, constrains himself to be patient. . . Blessed is the monk who regards himself hourly deserving every dishonor and disparagement. Blessed is he who mortifies his will to the end, and leaves the care of himself to his director in the Lord; for he will be placed at the right hand of the Crucified.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)4:48  He whose will and desire in conversation is to establish his own opinion, even though what he says is true, should recognize that he is sick with the devil’s disease. And if he behaves like this only in conversation with his equals, then perhaps the rebuke of his superiors may heal him. But if he acts in this way even with those who are greater and wiser than he, then his malady is humanly incurable.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)4:49  He who is not submissive in speech, clearly will not be so in act either.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)4:53  By resolving to make one’s confession, the soul is thereby held from sinning as by a bridle. For what we do not confess, we do fearlessly as though in the dark.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)4:57  He who lives in obedience has eluded two snares (disobedience and conceit) and remains eternally an obedient servant of Christ.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)4:58  The devil battles with those in obedience, sometimes to defile them with bodily pollutions, and make them hard hearted, and sometimes make them more agitated than usual. At other times, he makes them dry and barren (spiritual aridity), sluggish in prayer, drowsy and benighted, in order to tear them away from their struggle by making them think they have gained nothing by their obedience, but are only backsliding. For he does not allow them time to reflect that often providential withdrawal of our imagined goods or blessings leads us to the deepest humility.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)4:67  Let us not be surprised if, even after confession, we are still attacked; for it is better to war with pollutions than with conceit.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)4:72  Those sick souls who try out a physician and receive help from him, and then abandon him in preference for another before they are completely healed, deserve every punishment from God.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)4:77  Let us keep guard over ourselves with all care. For when the harbor is full of ships, it is easy for them to get crushed by each other. . .

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)4:81  Attend to yourself in the presence of your brethren, and never try to appear more righteous than they are in any circumstance whatever. . .

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)4:82  Be zealous within your soul, without showing it in the least outwardly . . . but if you are still inclined to do this, become like your brethren, so that you do not differ from them simply in being conceited.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)4:92  Constantly wrestle with your thought, and whenever it wanders call it back to you.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)4:93 . . . For inconstancy of heart and infidelity to one’s place always causes stumblings and disasters. Those who easily go from place-to-place are complete failures, for nothing causes fruitlessness so much as impatience.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)4:97 . . . The proven are proven everywhere. . .

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)lucifer2.gif (31255 bytes)4:109  . . . Let the temptation to retire from our place be a proof for us that our life there is pleasing to God. For being warred against is a sign that we are making war.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)4:118  The Devil suggests to those living in obedience the desire for impossible virtues. . . Scan the mind of inexperienced novices and there you will find deluded notions: a desire for stillness, for the strictest fast, for uninterrupted prayer, for absolute freedom from vanity, for unbroken remembrance of death, for continual compunction, for perfect freedom from anger, for deep silence, for surpassing purity. And if, by Divine Providence, they are without these to start with, they leap in vain from one thing to another, having been deceived. For the enemy urges them to seek these perfections prematurely, so they may not persevere and attain them in due course.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)4:120  Let us judge the nature of our passions and of our obedience, and choose our Spiritual Father accordingly. If you are prone to lust, then do not select as your trainer a wonder-worker who is ready for everyone with a welcome and a meal, but rather an Ascetic who will hear of no consolation in food. If you are haughty, then let him be stern and unyielding, and not meek and kindly. Let us not seek those who have the gift of foreknowledge and foresight, but rather those who are unquestionably humble and whose character and place of residence correspond to our maladies.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)4:124  Just as trees swayed by the winds drive their roots deeply into the earth, so those who live in obedience get strong and unshakable souls.

 

Step 5 - On True Repentance

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, and 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.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)5:2  Gather together and come near, all of you who have angered God; come and listen to what I expound to you; assemble and see what He has revealed to my soul for your edification.

Let all of us who have suffered an unexpected and in-glorious fall listen, watch, and act. Rise and be seated, you who through your falls are lying prostrate. Attend my brothers, attend to my word. Incline your ears, you who wish to be reconciled afresh with God by a true conversion.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)5:22  How are you, brother and fellow criminal? What will you say? What do you hope? What do you expect? Have you accomplished what you sought with such labor or not? Has the door been opened to you, or are you still under judgment? Have you obtained your object, or not yet? Have you received any sort of assurance, or is your hope still uncertain? Have you obtained freedom, or is your thought clouded with doubt? Have you felt any enlightenment in your heart, or is it still dark and ashamed? Has any inner voice said: Behold thou art made whole, or: Thy sins are forgiven thee, or : Thy faith hath saved thee, or: Have you heard a voice like this: Let the sinners be turned away into Hades, and Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into outer darkness, and again: Let the ungodly be taken away that he see not the glory of the Lord?

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)5:24  How they would recall their former attainments! And bewailing them as if they were children that had died, they would say: Where is my purity of prayer? Where is its boldness? Where the sweet tears instead of bitter? Where is the hope of perfect chastity and purification? Where is the expectation of blessed dispassion? Where is my faith the shepherd? Where is the effect of his prayer in us? All is lost, and has slipped away as if it had never appeared, and has vanished as if it had never been.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)5:26  I consider those fallen mourners more blessed than those who have not fallen and are not mourning over themselves; because as a result of their fall, they have risen by a sure resurrection.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)5:28  It is impossible for us who have fallen into the pit of iniquities ever to be drawn out of it, unless we sink into the abyss of the humility of the repentant.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)5:29  The sorrowful humility of the mourning is one thing; the condemnation of the conscience of those who are still living in sin is another; and the blessed wealth of humility, which the perfect attain by the action of God, is yet another.

Previous habit often tyrannizes even over him that mourns.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)5:30  Do not be surprised that you fall every day; do not give up, but stand your ground courageously. And assuredly, the angel who guards you will honor your patience. While a wound is still fresh and warm, it is easy to heal; but old, neglected and festering ones are hard to cure. . . many, from long neglect become incurable, but with God all things are possible.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)5:34  Let no one who laments expect assurance at his departure. For the unknown is not sure. Spare me, through assurance, that I be refreshed before I go hence unassured of salvation. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, the bond is loosed. Where there is profound humility, the bond is loosed. But let those who are without these two assurances make no mistake: they are bound.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)5:38  Nothing equals or excels God’s mercies. Therefore, he who despairs is committing suicide.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)5:42  You who are repenting have now reached the fifth step. For by repentance you have purified the five senses, and you have voluntarily escaped involuntary punishment.

 

Step 6 - On Remembrance of Death

 littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)6:3  Fear of death is a property of nature that comes from disobedience, but trembling at death is a sign of unrepentant sins.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)6:4  As of all foods, bread is the most essential, so the thought of death is the most necessary of all works.  . . . But amongst those free from noise, it produces the putting aside of cares and constant prayer and guarding of the mind.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)6:7  He who with undoubting trust daily expects death is virtuous: but he who hourly yields himself to it is a saint.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)6:8  Not every desire for death is good. Some, constantly sinning from force of habit, pray for death with humility. And some, who do not want to repent, invoke death out of despair. And some, out of self-esteem consider themselves dispassionate, and for awhile have no fear of death. And some, (if such can now be found), through the action of the Holy Spirit, ask for their departure.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)6:11  Anyone who wishes to retain within him continually the remembrance of death and God’s judgment, and at the same time yields to material cares and distractions, is like a man who is swimming and wants to clap his hands.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)6:15  There are many activities for the active mind. I mean, meditation on the love of God, on the remembrance of God, on the remembrance of the Kingdom, on the remembrance of the zeal of the holy martyrs, on the remembrance of God Himself present according to him who said: “I beheld the Lord ever before me;” on the remembrance of the holy and spiritual powers, on the remembrance of one’s departure, judgment, sentence and punishment.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)6:18 . . . so by Hesychius’ true and praiseworthy repentance, the Lord showed us that He accepts those who desire to amend, even after long negligence.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)6:21  He who has died to all things remembers death, but whoever is still tied to the world does not cease plotting against himself.

 

Step 7 - On Joy-Making Mourning

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)7:1  Mourning according to God is sadness of soul and the disposition of a sorrowing heart, which ever madly seeks that for which it thirsts; and when it fails in its quest, it painfully pursues it, and follows in its wake grievously lamenting. Or thus: mourning is a golden spur in a soul which is stripped of all attachment and of all ties, fixed by holy sorrow to watch over the heart.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)7:14  He who sometimes mourns, and sometimes indulges in luxury and laughter, is like one who stones the dog of sensuality with bread. In appearance he is driving it away, but in fact he is encouraging it to be continually with him.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)7:27  Genuine compunction is undistracted pain of soul, in which it gives itself no relief but hourly imagines only its dissolution; and it awaits, like cool water, the comfort of God Who comforts humble monks.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)7:39  Be like a king in your heart, seated high in humility.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)7:40  He who is clothed in blessed and grace-filled mourning, as in a wedding garment, knows the spiritual laughter of the soul.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)7:45  My friends, God does not ask or desire that man should mourn from sorrow of heart, but rather that, out of love for Him, he should rejoice with spiritual laughter. Remove the sin, and the tear of sorrow is superfluous for your eyes. What is the use of a bandage when there is no wound? Before his transgression Adam had no tears, just as there will be none after the resurrection, when sin will be abolished; for pain, sorrow and sighing will then have fled away.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)7:47  Tears often lead frivolous people to pride. . .

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)7:52  For mourning is the conditioned pain of a soul on-fire.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)7:55  The abyss of mourning has seen comfort, and purity of heart has received illumination. Illumination is an ineffable activity which is unknowingly perceived and invisibly seen. Comfort is the solace of a sorrowing soul which, like a child, at once both whimpers to itself and shouts happily. Divine succor is the renewal of a soul depressed by grief which, in a wonderful way, transforms painful tears into painless ones.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)7:56  Tears over our departure produce fear. But when fear gives birth to fearlessness, joy dawns. But when constant joy is obtained, holy love bursts into flower.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)7:64  However great the life we lead may be, we may count it dull and spurious, if we have not acquired a contrite heart. For this is essential, truly essential if I may say so, that those who have again been defiled after Baptism should cleanse the pitch from their hands with unceasing fire of the heart and with the oil of God.

 

Step 8 - On Freedom from Anger and Meekness

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)8:2 . . . Freedom from anger is victory over nature and insensibility to insults, acquired by struggles and sweat.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)8:3  Meekness is an immovable state of soul which remains unaffected, whether in evil report or good report, in dishonor or in praise.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)8:4  The beginning of freedom from anger is silence of the lips when the heart is agitated; the middle is silence of the thoughts when there is a mere disturbance of the soul; and the end is an imperturbable calm under the breath of unclean winds.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)8:5 Wrath is a reminder of hidden hatred, that is to say, remembrance of wrongs. Wrath is a desire for injury of the one who has provoked you. Irascibility is the untimely blazing up of the heart. Bitterness is a movement of displeasure seated in the soul. Anger is an easily changeable movement of one’s disposition and disfiguration of soul.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)8:11  An angry person is a willing epileptic, who due to an involuntary tendency keeps convulsing and falling down.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)8:27  I once saw three monks receive the same injury at the same time. One felt the sting of this and was troubled, but kept silent; the second rejoiced at his injury for the reward it would bring him, but was sorry for the wrongdoer; and the third, thinking of the harm his erring neighbor was suffering, wept fervently. And fear, reward and love were seen to be at work.

 

Step 9 - On the Remembrance of Wrongs

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)9:2  Remembrance of wrongs is the consummation of anger, the keeper of sins, hatred of righteousness, ruin of virtues, poison of the soul, worm of the mind, shame of prayer, cessation of supplication, estrangement of love, a nail stuck in the soul, pleasureless feeling cherished in the sweetness of bitterness, continuous sin, unsleeping transgression, hourly malice.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)9:12  You will know that you have completely freed yourself of this rot, not when you have prayed for the person who has offended you, nor when you exchange presents with him, nor when you invite him to your table, but only when, hearing that he has fallen into spiritual or bodily misfortune, you suffer and weep for him as yourself.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)9:14  The remembrance of Jesus’ sufferings cures the remembrance of wrongs, which is mightily shamed by His forbearance.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)9:17  The forgetting of wrongs is a sign of true repentance. But he who dwells on them and thinks that he is repenting is like a man who thinks he is running while he is really asleep.

 

Step 10 - On Slander

 littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)10:2  Slander is the offspring of hatred, a subtle yet course disease, a leach lurking unfelt, wasting and draining the blood of love. It is simulation of love, the patron of a heavy and unclean heart, the ruin of chastity.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)10:4 . . . If you say you love, then pray secretly, and do not mock the man.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)10:7  Do not regard the feelings of a person who speaks to you about his neighbor disparagingly, but rather say to him: “Stop, brother! I fall into graver sins every day, so how can I criticize him?” In this way you will achieve two things: you will heal yourself and your neighbor with one plaster. . .

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)10:10  Hasty and severe judges of the sins of their neighbor fall into this passion because they have not yet attained to a thorough and constant remembrance and concern for their own sins. For is anyone could see his own vices accurately without the veil of self-love, he would worry about no one else in this life, considering that he would not have time enough for mourning for himself, even though he were to live a hundred years. . .

 

Step 11 - On Talkativeness and Silence

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)11:2  Talkativeness is the throne of vainglory, on which it loves to show itself and make a display. Talkativeness is a sign of ignorance, a door to slander, an inducement to jesting, a servant of falsehood, the ruin of compunction, a creator and summoner of despondency, a precursor of sleep, the dissipation of recollection, the abolition of watchfulness, the cooling of ardor, the darkening of prayer.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)11:3  Intelligent silence is the mother of prayer, a recall from captivity, preservation of fire, an overseer of thoughts, a watch against enemies, a prison of mourning, a friend of tears, effective remembrance of death, a depicter of punishment, a delver into judgment, a minister of sorrow, an enemy of freedom of speech, a companion of stillness, an opponent of desire to teach, increase of knowledge, a creator of divine vision, unseen progress, secret ascent.

 

Step 12 - On Lying

 littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)12:2 A lie is the destruction of love, and a false oath is a denial of God.

 littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)12:6  Hypocrisy is the mother of lying, and often its occasion.

 littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)12:14  He who becomes merry with wine involuntarily speaks the truth on all subjects, and he who is drunk with compunction cannot lie.

 

Step 13 - On Despondency

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)13:2  Despondency is a paralysis of soul, an enervation of the mind, neglect of asceticism, hatred of the vow made. It calls those who are in the world blessed. It accuses God of being merciless and without love for men. It is being languid in singing psalms, weak in prayer, like iron in service, resolute in manual labor, reliable in obedience.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)13:14  He who mourns over himself does not know despondency.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)13:15  Let this tyrant be bound by the remembrance of your sins. Let us buffet him by manual labor. Let him be dragged forth by the thought of blessings to come. . .  {Despondency speaking} my opponents, by whom I am now bound, are psalmody and manual labor. My enemy is the thought of death. Prayer with firm hope of future blessings is my utter death.

 

Step 14 - On that Clamorous Mistress, the Stomach

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)14:2  Gluttony is hypocrisy of the stomach; for when it is glutted, it complains of scarcity; and when it is loaded and bursting, it cries out that it is hungry.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)14:4  Gluttony deludes the eyes of others; while appearing to receive in moderation, it intends to devour everything at once.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)14:10  As long as the flesh is in full health, let us observe abstinence at all times and in every place.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)14:12 .  .  . When our soul desires different foods, it is demanding what is proper to its nature. Therefore let us also use cunning against our most wily foe. And unless a very severe conflict is on us, or penance for falls, let us for a while only deny ourselves fattening foods, then heating foods, and only then what makes our food pleasant.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)14:14 One kind of abstinence is suitable for those who behave irreproachably, and another for those subject to weakness.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)14:17  Master your stomach before it masters you; and then you are sure to control yourself with the aid of shame. Those who have fallen into the horrible gulf know what I have said; but men who are eunuchs have not experienced this.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)14:19  The mind of a faster prays soberly, but the mind of an intemperate person is filled with impure idols.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)14:21  He who cherishes his stomach and hopes to overcome the spirit of fornication, is like one who tries to put out a fire with oil.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)14:22 By stinting the stomach, the heart is humbled; but by pleasing the stomach, the mind becomes proud.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)14:24  Stint your stomach and you will certainly lock your mouth. . .

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)14:27  . . . But after one has taken food, this unclean spirit goes away and sends against us the spirit of fornication. . . With a smile the spirit of fornication comes. . .

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)14:29  If you have promised Christ to go by the straight and narrow way, restrain your stomach, because by pleasing it, you break the contract. . .

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)14:33  Fasting is the coercion of nature and the cutting out of everything that delights the palate, the excision of lust, the uprooting of bad thoughts, deliverance from incontinence in dreams, purity of prayer, the light of the soul, the guarding of the mind, deliverance from blindness, the door of compunction, humble sighing, glad contrition, a cessation of chatter, a cause of stillness, a guard of obedience, lightening of sleep, health of body, agent of dispassion, remission of sins, the gate of paradise and its delight.

 

Step 15 - On Chastity

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)15:1  Purity means that we put on the angelic nature. Purity is the longed-for house of  Christ and the earthly heaven of the heart. . .

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)15:2  He is pure who expels love with love and who has extinguished the material fire with the immaterial fire.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)15:2 He is pure who expels fleshly love with divine love, and who has extinguished the fire of passion by the fire of Heaven.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)15:7  Let no one thoroughly trained in purity attribute its attainment to himself.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)15:8  The beginning of purity is refusal to consent to thoughts and occasional emissions unaccompanied by fantasies . . . the end of purity is the mortification of the body preceded by the mortification of the thoughts.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)15:11  He is great who remains free from passion when touched. But greater is he who remains unwounded by the sense of sight, and who, by meditation on the beauty of Heaven, has conquered the fire caused by sight.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)15:13  If a sign of true purity is to be unmoved by dreams during sleep, then it is certainly the mark of sensuality to be subject to emissions from impure thoughts when awake.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)15:18  Do not trust that because of abstinence you will not fall. One who had never eaten was cast from Heaven.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)15:20  With beginners, falls usually occur by reason of luxury; with intermediates, because of haughtiness as well as the same cause which leads to the falls of beginners; and with those approaching perfection, solely from judging their neighbor.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)15:21  Some have extolled those who are eunuchs by nature, because they are delivered from the martyrdom of the body; but I daily extol those who make themselves Eunuchs by castrating their bad thoughts as with a knife.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)15:24  Do not expect to overthrow the demon of fornication with refutations and pleadings. For with nature on his side, he has the better of the argument.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)15:26  Offer to the Lord the weakness of your nature, fully acknowledging your own powerlessness, and imperceptibly you will receive the gift of chastity.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)15:33  And our merciless foe, the teacher of fornication, says that our man-befriending God is very merciful towards this passion, since it is a natural one. But if we observe the guile of the demons, we shall find that, after sin has been committed, they say that God is a just and inexorable Judge. They said the former in order to lead us into sin, and now the latter to drown us in despair.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)15:36  Purity is the fellowship with and likeness to God, so far as is possible for men.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)15:37  The mother of sweetness is earth and dew, and the mother of purity is stillness with obedience.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)15:45  A fish swiftly escapes a hook; and a sensual soul shuns solitude.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)15:54  Always let the remembrance of death and the prayer of Jesus, being of a single phrase, go to sleep with you and get up with you. . .

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)15:56  Let no one get into the habit of thinking over during the day-time the fantasies that have occurred to him during sleep. . .

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)15:74  The discerning fathers have defined that Assault is one thing, Converse another, Consent another, Captivity another, Struggle another, Passion so-called in the soul, another. .  .

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)15:74 . . .And these blessed men define Assault as a simple conception, or an image of something encountered for the first time, which has entered the heart. Converse is conversation with what has presented itself, accompanied by passion or dispassion. And Consent is the bending of the soul to what has been presented to it, accompanied by delight. But Captivity is a forcible and involuntary rape of the heart, or a permanent association with what has been encountered which destroys the good order of our condition. Struggle, according to their definition, is power equal to the attacking force, which is either victorious or else suffers defeat according to the soul’s desire. Passion, they say, is preeminently that which for a long time nestles with persistence in the soul, forming therein a habit, as it were, by the soul’s long-standing association with it, since the soul of its own free and proper choice clings to it. . . 

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)15:74  . . . Of all of these states, the first is without sin, the second not always, but the third is sinful or sinless according to the state of the contestant. Struggle is the occasion of either crowns or punishments. Captivity is judged differently, according to whether it occurs at the time of prayer, or at other times. . . But Passion is unequivocally condemned in every case, and demands either corresponding repentance or future punishment. Therefore, he who regards the first assault dispassionately cuts off at a single blow all the rest which follow.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)15:79  It is those who are subject to the spirit of arrogance who especially suffer in this way.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)15:80  This demon, much more than any other, watches for critical moments. . .

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)15:81  For those who have not yet obtained true prayer of the heart, violence in bodily prayer is a great help – I mean stretching out the hands, beating the breast, sincere raising of the eyes to Heaven, deep sighing, frequent prostrations. . . If possible, go apart for a brief space. Hide for awhile in some secret place. Raise on high the eyes of your soul, if you can; but if not, your bodily eyes. Hold your arms motionless in the form of a cross. . . cry to Him Who is mighty to save. . . in humble words. . . “have mercy on me for I am weak”. Then you will know by experience the power of the Most High, and with invisible help you will invisibly drive away the invisible ones. . .

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)15:84  Banish the enemy when he hinders you from prayer, worship, or vigil after you have committed sin.

 

Step 16 - On Avarice

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)16:2 Avarice or love of money, is the worship of idols, a daughter of unbelief, an excuse for infirmities, a foreboder of old age, a harbinger of drought, a herald of famines.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)16:3  The lover of money sneers at the Gospel, and is a willful transgressor. He who attained to love scatters his money.

 

Step 17 - On Non-Possessiveness

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)17:1 Non-possessiveness is the resignation of cares, life without anxiety, an unencumbered wayfarer, alienation from sorrow, fidelity to the commandments.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)17:3 The non-possessive Ascetic is a son of detachment, and thinks of what he has as if it were nothing. . .

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)17:4 A non-possessive man is pure during prayer, but an acquisitive man prays to material images.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)17:5 Those who live in obedience are strangers to love of money . . .

 littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)17:6  He who has tasted the things on high easily despises what is below. . .

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)17:10  Waves never leave the sea, nor do anger and grief leave the avaricious.

 

Step 18 - On Insensibility

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)18:1  Insensibility, both in body and in the spirit, is deadened feeling, which, from long sickness and negligence, lapses into loss of feeling.

 littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)18:2  Insensibility is negligence that has become habit, benumbed thought, the child of predispositions, a snare for zeal, the noose of courage, ignorance of compunction, a door to despair, the mother of forgetfulness, which gives birth to loss of fear of God. And then she becomes the daughter of her own daughter.

 littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)18:3  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.

 littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)18:3  He talks about healing a wound, and does not stop irritating it. He complains of sickness, and does not stop eating what is harmful. He prays against it, and immediately goes and does it. And when he has done it, he is angry with himself; and the wretched man is not ashamed of  his own words. “I am doing wrong,” he cries, and eagerly continues to do so. His mouth prays against passion, and his body struggles for it. He philosophizes about death, but behaves as if he were immortal. He groans over separation of soul and body, but drowses along as if he were eternal. He talks of temperance and self-control, but he lives for gluttony. He reads about the judgment and begins to smile. He reads about vainglory, and is vainglorious while actually reading. He repeats what he has learned about vigil, and drops to sleep on the spot.

 littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)18:3  He praises prayer, but runs from it as from the plague. He blesses obedience, but he is the first to disobey. He praises detachment, but he is not ashamed to be spiteful and to fight for a rag. When angered he becomes bitter, and he is angered again at his bitterness; and he does not feel that, after one defeat, he is suffering another. Having over eaten he repents, and a little later again he gives way. He blesses silence, and praises it with a spate of words. He teaches meekness, and during the actual teaching he frequently he gets angry. Having woken from passion he sighs, and shaking his head, he again yields to passion. He condemns laughter, and lectures on mourning with a smile on his face. Before others he blames himself for being vainglorious, and in blaming himself he is only angling for glory for himself. He looks people in the face with passion, and talks about chastity. While frequenting the world, he praises those who live in stillness without realizing he shames himself. He extols almsgivers, and reviles beggars. All the time he is his own accuser, and he does not want to come to his senses – I will not say cannot.

 

Step 19 - On Sleep, Prayer, and Psalmody

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)19:2 . . . a long standing habit is difficult to cure.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)19:3. . . He who reckons with feeling of heart that he stands before God in prayer shall be an unshakable pillar. . .

 

Step 20 - On Bodily Vigil

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)20:3  A vigilant eye makes the mind pure; but much sleep hardens the soul.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)20:4  A vigilant monk is a foe to fornication, but a sleepy one is its mate.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)20:5 Vigil is a quenching of lust, deliverance from dream phantoms, a tearful eye, a softened heart, the guarding of thoughts, the smelting furnace of food, the subduing of passions, the taming of spirits, the chastisement of the tongue, the banishment of fantasies.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)20:6  A vigilant monk is a fisher of thoughts, and in the serenity of the night he can easily observe and catch them.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)20:9 Long sleep produces forgetfulness, but vigil purifies the memory.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)20:19  When prayer is finished, wait soberly, and you will see that swarms of demons, as if challenged by us, try to invade us after prayer with absurd fantasies. Sit and watch; you will see those that are in the habit of snatching away the first-fruits of the soul.

 

Step 21 - On Cowardice

  littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)21:2 Cowardice is a childish disposition in an old, vainglorious soul. Cowardice is a falling away from faith that comes of expecting the unexpected.

 littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)21:3  Fear is a rehearsing of danger beforehand; or again, fear is a trembling sensation of the heart, alarmed and troubled by unknown misfortunes. Fear is a loss of assurance.

 littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)21:4  A proud soul is a slave of cowardice. . .

 littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)21:8 Just as it is impossible to satisfy the stomach in one bout, so also it is impossible to overcome fear instantly.

 littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)21:8 . . . actual freedom from cowardice comes when we eagerly accept all unexpected events with a contrite heart.

 littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)21:10  It is not darkness and desolateness of place that give demons power against us, but barrenness of soul.

 littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)21:11 He who becomes the servant of the Lord will fear his Master alone, but he who does not yet fear Him is often afraid of his own shadow.

 

 Step 22 - The many Faces of Vainglory

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)22:5 The sun shines on all alike, and vainglory beams on all activities. For instance, I am vainglorious when I fast; and when I relax the fast in order to be unnoticed, I am again vainglorious over my prudence. When well dressed I am quite overcome by vainglory, and when I put on poor clothes I am vainglorious again. When I talk I am defeated, and when I am silent I am again defeated by it. However I throw this prickly-pear, a spike stands upright.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)22:6 A vainglorious person is a believing idolater; he apparently honors God, but he wants to please not God, but men.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)22:12  People of high spirit bear offense nobly and gladly, but only the holy and righteous can pass through praise without harm.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)22:23 Vainglory makes those who are preferred, proud, and those who are slighted, resentful.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)22:25  Vainglory makes quick-tempered people meek before men.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)22:28  He who has sold himself to vainglory leads a double life. Outwardly he lives with monks, but in mind and thought he is in the world.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)22:34 . . . Nothing so edifies our neighbor as sincere and humble speech.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)22:37 Abominable vainglory suggests that we should pretend to have some virtue that we do not possess. . .

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)22:39  The beginning of freedom from vainglory is custody of the mouth. . . the middle stage is a beating back of all vainglory in thought. . .

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)22:42  When our praisers, or rather seducers, begin to praise us, let us briefly call to mind the multitude of our sins, and we shall find ourselves unworthy of what is said or done in our honor.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)22:44  . . . Vainglory is a loss of simplicity and an insincere way of life.

 

Step 23 - On Mad Pride

  littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)23:1  Pride is denial of God, an invention of the Devil, the despising of men, the mother of condemnation, the offspring of praise, a sign of sterility, flight from divine assistance, the precursor of madness, the cause of falls, a foothold for satanic possession, a source of anger, a door of hypocrisy, the support of demons, the guardian of sins, the patron of pitilessness, the rejection of compassion, a bitter inquisitor, an inhuman judge, an opponent of God, a root of blasphemy.

 littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)23:2  The consummation of vainglory is the beginning of pride; the middle is the humiliation of our neighbor, the shameless parade of our labors, self-praise in the heart, hatred of exposure; the end is denial of God’s help, the extolling of one’s own exertions, fiendish character.  

 littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)22:4  Where a fall has overtaken us, there pride has already pitched its tent; because a fall is an indication of pride.

 littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)22:6  A haughty monk contradicts violently, but a humble one cannot even look another in the face.

 littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)22:8  An arrogant man yearns after authority. . .

 littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)22:11 He who refuses reproof shows his passion (pride), but he who accepts it is free of this fetter.

 littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)22:19  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. . .

 littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)22:28  Forgetfulness of our falls is a result of conceit, for the remembrance of them leads to humility.

 littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)22:31 A proud monk has no need of a devil; he has become a devil and enemy to himself.

 

Step 24 - On Meekness, Simplicity, and Guilessness

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) 24:2  Meekness is an unchangeable state of mind, which remains the same in honor and dishonor.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)24:4  Meekness is a rock overlooking the sea of anger, which breaks all the waves that dash against it, yet remains completely unmoved.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)24:6  Meekness is the fellow-worker with obedience, the guide of the brotherhood, a bridle for the enraged, a check for the irritable, a minister of joy, the imitation of Christ, something proper to angels, shackles for demons, a shield against bitterness.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)24:7 In the hearts of the meek the Lord finds rest, but a turbulent soul is a seat of the Devil.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)24:12  The souls of the meek are filled with knowledge, but an angry mind is a denizen of darkness and ignorance.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)24:14  Simplicity is a constant habit of soul that has become immune to crafty thinking.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)24:17  Guilessness is a joyous state of soul far removed from all ulterior motive.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)24:20 Guile is a perversion of honesty, a deluded way of thinking. . . deceit that has become habit, conceit turned into nature. . . a pretense of repentance. . . sham reverence, a diabolical life.

 

Step 25 - On Humility

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)25:6  Painstaking repentance, mourning cleansed of all impurity, and holy humility in beginners, are as different and distinct from each other as yeast and flour from bread.  By open repentance the soul is broken and refined; it is brought to a certain unity, I will even say a commingling with God, by means of the water of genuine mourning. Then, kindled by the fire of the Lord, blessed humility becomes bread and is made firm without the leaven of pride. . .

 littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)25:15  Repentance raises the fallen, mourning knocks at the gate of Heaven, and holy humility opens it. . .

 littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)25:16  . . . where there is no humility, all that we have is rotten.

 littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)25:20  He who has humbled himself within, will not be cheated by his lips; for what is not in the treasury cannot be brought out through the door.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) 25:52  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.

 littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)25:57  . . . As long as we fall into voluntary sins, there is not this humility in us. . .

 

 Step 26 - On Discernment, Passions and Virtue

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)26:1  Discernment in beginners is true knowledge of themselves; in intermediate souls, it is a spiritual sense that faultlessly distinguishes what is truly good from what is of nature and opposed to it; and in the perfect, it is the knowledge which they have within by Divine illumination, and which can enlighten with its lamp what is dark in others. Or perhaps, generally speaking, discernment is, and is recognized as, the certain understanding of the Divine Will on all occasions, in every place and in all matters; and it is only found in those who are pure in heart, and in body and in mouth.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)26:3  Discernment is undefiled conscience and purity of perception.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)26:5  Every satanic conflict in us comes from these three generic causes:

yellowdot.gif (100 bytes)from negligence, or

yellowdot.gif (100 bytes)from pride, or

yellowdot.gif (100 bytes)from the envy of the demons. . .

lucifer.gif (13631 bytes)littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)26:7 In all our actions in which we try to please God, the demons dig three pits for us.

yellowdot.gif (100 bytes)By the first, they endeavor to prevent any good at all from being done.

yellowdot.gif (100 bytes)By the second, after their first defeat, they try to secure that it should not be done according to the Will of God

yellowdot.gif (100 bytes)But when these rouges fail in this too, then, standing quietly before our soul, they praise us for living a thoroughly godly life.

The first is to be opposed by zeal and fear of death; the second by obedience and humiliation; and the third by unceasing self-condemnation. We shall be faced by toil of this kind until the Divine fire enters into our sanctuary.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)26:13  Let those who have been humbled by their passions take courage. For even if they fall into every pit and are trapped in all the snares and suffer all maladies, yet after their restoration to health they become physicians, beacons, lamps . . . teaching us the habits of every disease and from their own personal experience able to rescue those who are about to fall.

lucifer2.gif (31255 bytes)littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)26:20  We have need of considerable vigilance when the body is sick. . . . the demons try to attack fiercely at these times. The demon of irritation and sometimes of blasphemy, hovers round those living in the world in time of illness. And the demon of gluttony and fornication attacks those living outside the world if they have an abundance of all necessities; but if they are living in ascetical places bereft of consolation, then the tyrant of despondency and ingratitude is constantly sitting with them.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)26:25  Sometimes what serves as medicine for one is poison for another; and sometimes, something given to one and the same person at a suitable time serves as a medicine, but at the wrong time it is a poison.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)26:36  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.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)26:38  It is difficult to overcome former bad habits; and those who keep adding further new ones to them either fall into despair or get no benefit at all from obedience. But I know that to God all things are possible, and to Him nothing is impossible.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)26:39 .  .  . The mother of lust is gluttony, and the mother of despondency is vainglory; sorrow and also anger are the offspring of these three {i.e. avarice, sensuality, ambition}; and the mother of pride is vainglory.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)26:42  Much sleep is born sometimes of luxury; and sometimes of fasting, when those who fast are proud of it; and sometimes of despondency; and sometimes from nature.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)26:43  Talkativeness is born sometimes of gluttony, and sometimes of vainglory.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)26:44  Despondency is born sometimes of luxury, and sometimes of lack of fear of God.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)26:46  Hardness of heart sometimes comes from over-eating, often from insensitivity and attachment. And again, sometimes attachment comes from lust, or avarice, or from gluttony, or from vainglory, and from many other causes.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)26:47  Guile is born of conceit and anger

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)26:48  Hypocrisy comes from self-satisfaction and willfulness.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)26:49  All the contrary virtues are born of parents contrary to these. . . For all the passions mentioned above, the remedy is humility. Those that have obtained that virtue have overcome all.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)26:53  When we see one of our athletes in Christ in bodily suffering and infirmity, let us not maliciously seek to learn the explanation of his illness, but rather with simple and genuine love, let us try to heal him as though he were part of our own body, and a fellow warrior wounded in the fray.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)26:54  Sickness is sometimes for the cleansing of sins, and sometimes to humble our minds.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)26:56  All that happens to us, seen or unseen, can be taken by us in a good or passionate or some middle disposition. I saw three brethren punished: one was angry, one was without grief, but the third reaped the fruit-of-great-joy.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)26:72  It is impossible for those who have not first lived in obedience to obtain humility; for everyone who has learned an art on his own, fancies himself.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)26:82  It is impossible for all to become dispassionate, but it is not impossible for all to be saved and reconciled to God.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)26:87  .  .  . So let us not be deceived by proud zeal, and seek prematurely what will come in its own time. . .

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)26:92  Even a small thing can be not small to the great. . .

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)26:163  Look unceasingly for evidence of passions, and then you will find many of them in you which we are unable to distinguish in our diseased condition, by reason of our own weakness or because they are so deeply rooted.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)26:166  For it is one thing to turn away from the shadow, but it is a much greater thing to run towards the Sun of Righteousness.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)26:169  Clouding is one thing, darkness is another, and blindness is another. The first is cured by temperance, the second by stillness, the and third by obedience and by God, Who for our sakes became obedient.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)26:171  Some say that we fall into the same sins because we have been unable to correct our former sins through the inadequacy of our repentance. But it may be asked: Have all those who have fallen into the same kind of sin really repented as they should? Some fall into the same sins because they have sunk into deep forgetfulness of their former sins, or because they imagine in their own pleasure-loving way that God is merciful {to the unrepentant}, or they have lost all hope of their salvation. I do not know if anyone will blame me if I say that their trouble arises because they have not been strong enough to bind the foe who is dominating them through the tyranny of habit.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)26:173  . . . Then he who wished to learn taught me himself, saying: I shall give you a few words of the leaven of discernment, and then I shall leave you to seek your own industry. The spirit of lust, the spirit of anger, the spirit of gluttony, the spirit of despondency, the spirit of sleepiness have no tendency to lift up the horn of the mind. But the spirit of the love of money, ambition, talkativeness and many others add evil to evil. That is why the spirit of criticism is near to the latter.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)26:183  We must use great discernment  in order to know when to take our stand against sin, and in what cases to struggle against the food of the passions, and when to withdraw from the fray. . .

 

Step 27 - On Holy Stillness of Body and Soul

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)27:1 . . . crowns of peace and tranquility are woven for those who do not flag in the fight. . .

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)27:2  Stillness of the body is knowledge and composure of the habits and feelings. And stillness of soul is the knowledge of one’s thoughts and an inviolable mind.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)27:3  A friend of stillness is a courageous and decisive thought which keeps constant vigil at the doors of the heart.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)27:5  The beginning of stillness is to throw off all noise and disturbance for the depth of soul. And the end is not to fear disturbances but to remain insensible to them.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)27:9  The noetic (intellectual) hosts unite with him whose soul is quiet, and lovingly dwell with him. I shall not speak to you of the opposite of this.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)27:16  I have seen hesychasts (recluse) who insatiably nourished their flaming desire for God through stillness, generating fire by fire, love by love, desire by desire.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)27:60  Stillness is unceasing worship and waiting upon God.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)27:65  My experience is that the demons often persuade foolish busy-bodies to visit true hesychasts (recluse) so as to use even such as those to throw some hindrance in the way of these active men. Look out for such people, and do not be afraid of offending these idle bodies by your devout behavior; because, as a result of this offense, they will perhaps stop their meddlesomeness. But see that you do not mistakenly offend a soul who, in his thirst, has come to draw water from you. In all things you need the light of discretion.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)27:68  Faith is the wing of prayer. . . Faith is the unshaken firmness of the soul, unmoved by any adversity. . . Faith is the agent of things hoped for. .  . The mother of faith is hardship and an honest heart; the latter makes faith constant, and the former builds it up. . .

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)27:70  Bring out the staff of patience, and the dogs will soon stop their  insolence.  Patience is an unbroken labor of the soul which is never shaken by deserved or undeserved blows. The patient man is a faultless worker, who turns his faults into victories. Patience is the limitation of suffering that is accepted day-by-day. Patience lays aside all excuses and all attention to herself. The worker needs patience more than his food. . . The patient man has died long before he is placed in the tomb, having made his cell his tomb. Hope engenders patience and so does mourning; but he who has neither is a slave to despondency.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)27:71  Christ’s warrior should know what foes to parry with from a distance, and which to fight at close quarters.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)27:78  Reading enlightens the mind considerably, and helps it concentrate. For those are the Holy Spirit’s words and they attune those who attend them.  Let what you read lead you to action, for you are a doer. . . Seek to be enlightened by the words of salvation through your labors, and not merely from books. . .

 

Step 28 - On Prayer

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)28:1 Prayer, by reason of its nature, is the converse and union of man with God. . . for him who truly prays, prayer is the court, the judgment hall and tribunal of the Lord before the judgment to come.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)28:3  If we wish to stand before our King and God and converse with Him, we must not rush into this without preparation.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)28:4  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 your prayer will bring you no benefit.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)28:5  Let your prayer be completely simple. For both the Publican and the Prodigal son were reconciled to God by a single phrase.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)28:6 The work of prayer is one and the same for all, but there are many kinds of prayer and many different prayers. Some converse with God as with a Friend and Master, interceding with praise and petition, not for themselves, but for others. Some strive for greater spiritual riches and glory for confidence in prayer. Others ask for complete deliverance from their adversary.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)28:7  Before all else, let us list sincere thanksgiving first on the scroll of our prayer. On the second line, we should put confession and heartfelt contrition of soul. Then let us present our petition to the King of all. This is the best way of prayer. . .

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)28:9  Do not be over-sophisticated in the words you use when praying. . .

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)28:10   Do not try to be verbose when you pray, lest your mind be distracted in searching for words. . . Loquacity in prayer often distracts the mind and leads to fantasy, whereas brevity makes for concentration.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)28:11   If you feel sweetness or compunction at some word of your prayer, dwell on it. . .

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)28:14 . . . tears and chastity give wings to prayer.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)28:19  The beginning of prayer consists in banishing by a single thought the thoughts that assault us at the very moment that they appear. . . the middle stage consists in confining our minds to what is being said and thought. . .

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)28:21 . . . Therefore, imperfect as we are, we need not only quality, but a considerable time for our prayer, because the former paves the way for the latter. . .

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)28:29  Do not say, after spending a long time at prayer, that nothing has been gained; for you have already gained something. . .

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)28:35  He who is busy with something, and continues it when the hour of prayer comes, is deceived by the demons. Those thieves aim at stealing from us one hour after the other.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)28:38 . . . When you have prayed soberly, you will soon be fighting against fits of bad temper. For this is what our enemies aim at.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)28:62  The Bodily and Spiritual Attributes of Men, are not similar in all respects, for brisk chanting suits some, and more leisurely chanting suits others. For the former are struggling with captivity of mind, and the latter with ignorance.

 

Step 29 - Concerning Heaven on Earth, or Godlike Dispassion

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)29:7 Purity too is called dispassion; and rightly; because it is the harbinger of the general resurrection and of the incorruption of the incorruptible.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)29:9  That soul has dispassion which is immersed in the virtues as the passionate are in pleasures.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)29:12  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.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)29:14  Imagine dispassion as the celestial palace of the Heavenly King; and the many mansions as the abodes within the city. . . Let us run, brethren, let us run to enter the bridal chamber of the palace. If we are prevented by anything, by some burden or old habit, or by time itself, what a disaster! Let us at least occupy one of those abodes of the bridal chamber. But if we sink down and grow weak, let us make sure of being at least within the walls {Forgiveness of sins}. . . There is no excuse for a fall, or a lack of opportunity, or a burden. For all who have received the Lord by the Baptism of regeneration, He has given power to become children of God, saying: “Be still and know that I am God. . .”

To Him be the glory for ever and ever!
Amen.

Blessed dispassion lifts the mind of the poor from Earth to Heaven, and raises the beggar from the dunghill of the passions. But love, whose praise is above all, makes him sit with the princes, and with holy angels, and with the princes of the people of God.

 

Step 30 - The Supreme Trinity among the Virtues

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)30:7  Love, by reason of its nature, is resemblance to God, as far as is possible for mortals; in its activity it is inebriation of the soul; and by its distinctive property it is a fountain of Faith, an abyss of Patience, a sea of Humility.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)30:8  Love is essentially the banishment of every contrary thought, for love thinketh no evil.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)30:15  The effect of hunger is vague and indefinite; but the effect of thirst is intense and obvious to all, and indicative of blazing heat. So one who yearns for God says: My soul thirsts for God, the mighty, the living God.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)30:20  The growth of fear is the beginning of love, but a complete state of purity is the foundation of theology.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)30:24  Purity makes its disciple a theologian. . .

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)30:25  He who loves the Lord has first loved his brother, because the second is proof of the first.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)30:26  god_is_luv_ani.gif (9754 bytes)One who loves his neighbor can never tolerate slanderers, but rather runs from them as from fire.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)30:27  He who says that he loves the Lord and is angry with his brother is like a man who dreams that he is running.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)30:28  The power of love is hope, because by it we await the Reward of Love.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)30:36  . . . And now there remain Faith, Hope, Love, these Three (3); but the greatest of all is Love.