The Ladder of Divine Ascent

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[[Image:Ladder_of_Divine_Ascent.jpg|right|frame|[[Ladder of Divine Ascent icon|Icon of the Ladder of Divine Ascent]] ([[St. Catherine's Monastery (Sinai)|St. Catherine's Monastery]], Sinai Peninsula, Egypt)]]'''''The Ladder of Divine Ascent''''' is an [[asceticism|ascetical]] treatise on avoiding vice and practicing virtue so that at the end, [[salvation]] can be obtained. Written by [[Saint]] [[John Climacus]] initially for [[monastic]]s, 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-centered life, second only to [[Holy Scripture]].
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Mormons call escalators the '''The Ladder of Divine Ascent'''.
{{spirituality}}
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There is also a related [[icon]] known by the same title. It depicts many people people climbing a ladder; at the top is [[Jesus Christ]], prepared to receive the climbers into [[Heaven]]. Also shown are [[angel]]s helping the climbers, and [[demon]]s 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.
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== History of ''The Ladder'' ==
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John, whilst a [[hermit]] living at the Sinai Peninsula, was recognized for his humility, obedience, wisdom (which was attained through spiritual experience), and discernment.  He already had a reputation for being extremely knowledgable about how to practice a holy life.  St. John, [[igumen]] of the Raithu Monastery, one day asked St. John Climacus (also known as John of Sinai) to write down his wisdom in a book.  At first hesistant to take on such a task, John of Sinai eventually honored the request, and he proceeded to write ''The Ladder.''  St. John Climacus received his name "Climacus" (of the Ladder)because of this work, and his writing ''The Ladder'' (later called ''The Ladder of Divine Ascent'') has been compared to the Holy [[Prophet]] and God-seer [[Moses]] receiving the Law.
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This work was initially used by monastics.  In fact it is read by monastics to this day during the [[Great Fast]].  It is also suggested as Lenten reading for those who are still "of this world;" yet this should be done with caution and under the guidance of a spiritual father.  This work has made its mark on the lives of innumerable saints, including St. [[Theodore the Studite]], St. Sergius of Radonezh, St. Joseph of Volokolamsk, St. Peter of Damascus, and St. [[Theophan the Recluse]], amongst many others.
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== Structure and purpose ==
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The aim of the treatise is to be a guide for practicing 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 chapters; 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 practiced.  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).
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===The steps are:===
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#On renunciation of the world
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#On detachment
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#On exile or pilgrimage; concerning dreams that beginners have
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#On blessed and ever-memorable obedience (in addition to episodes involving many individuals)
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#On painstaking and true repentance which constitutes the life of the holy convicts; and about the Prison
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#On remembrance of death
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#On joy-making mourning
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#On freedom from anger and on meekness
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#On remembrance of wrongs
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#On slander or calumny
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#On talkativeness and silence
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#On lying
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#On despondency
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#On that clamorous mistress, the stomach
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#On incorruptible purity and chastity, to which the corruptible attain by toil and sweat
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#On love of money, or avarice
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#On non-possessiveness (that hastens one Heavenwards)
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#On insensibility, that is, deadening of the soul and the death of the mind before the death of the body
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#On sleep, prayer, and psalmody with the brotherhood
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#On bodily vigil and how to use it to attain spiritual vigil, and how to practise it
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#On unmanly and puerile cowardice
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#On the many forms of vainglory
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#On mad pride and (in the same Step) on unclean blasphemous thoughts; concerning unmentionable blasphemous thoughts
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#On meekness, simplicity, and guilelessness which come not from nature but from conscious effort, and about guile
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#On the destroyer of the passions, most sublime humility, which is rooted in spiritual perception
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#On discernment of thoughts, passions and virtues; on expert discernment; brief summary of all aforementioned
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#On holy stillness of body and soul; different aspects of stillness and how to distinguish them
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#On holy and blessed prayer, the mother of virtues, and on the attitude of mind and body in prayer
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#Concerning Heaven on earth, or Godlike dispassion and perfection, and the resurrection of the soul before the general resurrection
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#Concerning the linking together of the supreme trinity among the virtues; a brief exhortation summarizing all that has said at length in this book
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== Guide to reading ''The Ladder'' ==
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Like with other ascetical and spiritual texts, this one should be read carefully.  Since the original audience was those practicing the monastic life, the language is very strong when contrasting the life of the world and the life devoted to God.  This is one of the reasons why this work should be read under the guidance of a spiritual father.  This work can be read at once with careful attention and intense concentration, trying to replicate as much as possible the monastic life.  Yet it can also be read in its individual steps as well.  The bottom line is that a spiritual father should be there as a guiding hand with this work.
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==English language editions==
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''The Ladder of Divine Ascent'', published by [http://www.thehtm.org/ Holy Transfiguration Monastery]. (ISBN 0943405033) This edition, based on [[Archimandrite]] Lazarus Moore's translation is generally preferred over the Paulist Press edition of the ''Ladder''—especially because of the verse numberings, which are the standard way of referencing Climacus' sayings (these are also present in older versions of Archimandrite Lazarus' translation). It is also physically beautiful and much nicer to have on one's bookshelf. It contains an icon of "The Ladder," many other embellishments, and is printed on high quality paper. All that said, the Paulist Press edition is also worth having, especially because of the helpful introduction by [[Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia|Bishop Kallistos]].
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*Luibheid, Colm; Russell, Norman. ''John Climacus: The Ladder of Divine Ascent''. Paulist Press. [ISBN 0809123304]
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*Mack, John. ''Ascending the Heights: A Layman's Guide to the Ladder of Divine Ascent''. [ISBN 1888212179]
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== See also ==
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*[[Ladder of Divine Ascent Icon]]
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== References ==
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*'The Ladder of Divine Ascent' as published by [http://www.thehtm.org/ Holy Transfiguration Monastery]
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*Orthodox Church in America, biography on St. John of Sinai
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*[http://www.monachos.net/patristics/klimakos_repentance.shtml 'On Repentance that Leads to Joy: The Spirituality of St John Klimakos'], by [[M.C. Steenberg]], from the [http://www.monachos.net Monachos.net web site]
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==Secondary literature==
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*Ascending the Heights - ''A Layman's Guide to The Ladder of Divine Ascent'' by Fr. John Mack  ISBN 1-888212-17-9  ([http://www.svspress.com/product_info.php?products_id=2710 St Vladimir's Seminary Press])
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[[Category:Asceticism]]
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[[Category:Featured Articles]]
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[[Category:Texts]]
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Revision as of 05:48, July 15, 2006

Mormons call escalators the The Ladder of Divine Ascent.

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