Ladder of Divine Ascent | St. John Climacus

Step 1 On renunciation of the world 1. Our God and King is good, ultra-good and all-good (it is best to begin with God in writing to the servants of God). Of the rational beings created by Him and honoured with the dignity of free-will, some are His friends, others are His true servants, some are worthless, some are completely

Step 2 On detachment 1. The man who really loves the Lord, who has made a real effort to find the coming Kingdom, who has really begun to be troubled by his sins, who is really mindful of eternal torment and judgment, who really lives in fear of his own departure, will not love, care or worry about money, or

Step 3 On exile or pilgrimage 1. Exile means that we leave forever everything in our own country that prevents us from reaching the goal of the religious life. Exile means modest manners, wisdom which remains unknown, prudence not recognized as such by most, a hidden life, an invisible intention, unseen meditation, desire for humiliation, longing for hardship, constant determination

Step 4 | part 1 On blessed and ever-memorable obedience 1. Our treatise now appropriately touches upon warriors and athletes of Christ. As the flower precedes the fruit, so exiles 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. And perhaps

Step 4 | part 2 On blessed and ever-memorable obedience 42. To admire the labours of the saints is good; to emulate them wins salvation; but to wish suddenly to imitate their life in every point is unreasonable and impossible. 43. When we are bitten by remorse, let us remember our sins until the Lord, seeing the force of our

Step 5 On painstaking and true repentance which constitute the life of the holy convicts; and about the prison. Once John outran Peter; and now obedience precedes repentance. For the one who came first is a symbol of obedience, and the other of repentance. 1. Repentance is the renewal of baptism. Repentance is a contract with God for a second

Step 6 On remembrance of death. 1. Every word is preceded by thought. And the remembrance of death and sins precedes weeping and mourning. Therefore, this subject comes in its proper place in this chapter. 2. The remembrance of death is a daily death; and the remembrance of our departure is an hourly sighing or groaning. 3. Fear of death

Step 7 On mourning which causes joy. 1. Mourning, according to God, is sadness of soul, and the disposition of a sorrowing heart, whichever 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

Step 8 On freedom from anger and on meekness. 1. As the gradual pouring of water on a fire completely extinguishes the flame, so the tears of true mourning are able to quench every flame of anger and irritability. Therefore we place this next in order. 2. Freedom from anger, or placidity, is an insatiable appetite for dishonour, just as

Step 9 On remembrance of wrongs. 1. The holy virtues are like Jacob’s ladder, and the unholy vices are like the chains that fell from the chief Apostle Peter. For the virtues, leading from one to another, bear him who chooses them up to Heaven; but the vices by their nature beget and stifle one another. And as we have