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[[Image:Ladder_of_Divine_Ascent.jpg|right|frame|Icon of the Ladder of Divine Ascent (St. Catherine's Monastery, Sinai Peninsula, Egypt]]'''''The Ladder of Divine Ascent''''' is an ascetical treatise on avoiding vice and practicing virtue so that at the end, salvation can be obtained. Written by St. [[John Climacus]] initially for monastics, it has become one of the most highly influential and important works used by the Church as far as guiding the faithful to a God-centered life, second only to Holy Scripture.
There is also a related icon known by the same title. It depicts many people people climbing a ladder; at the top is Christ, prepared to receive the climbers into Heaven. Also shown are angels helping the climbers, and demons attempting to shoot with arrows or drag down the climbers, no matter how high up the ladder they may be. Most versions of the icon show at least one person falling.
== History of ''The Ladder'' ==
John, whilst a hermit living at the Sinai Peninsula, was recognized for his humility, obedience, wisdom (which was attained through spiritual experience) and discrenment. He already had a reputation for being extremely knowledgable on practicing 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 honored the request and he proceeded to write ''The Ladder.'' St. John Climacus (called such 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.
This work was 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 should be done with caution and under the guidance of a spiritual father. This work has made its mark on
other people's lives namely St. Theodore the Studite, St. Sergius of Radonezh, St. Joseph of Volokolamsk, St. Peter of Damascus, St. Theophan the Recluse amongst many others.
== Structure and Purpose ==
whole aim of the treatise is that it is 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 one would ascend into heaven by first renouncing the world and ending up in heaven with God. There are thirty chapters that 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 before him, 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).
#On renunciation of the world
== Guide to Reading ''The Ladder'' ==
Like with other ascetical and spiritual texts, this one should be read carefully. Since the original audience were 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 this work can also be read in its individual steps as well. The bottom line is that a spiritual father should be there to be a guiding hand with this work.
*''The Ladder of Divine Ascent'' as published by [http://www.thehtm.org/ Holy Transfiguration Monastery]
*Orthodox Church in America, biography on St. John of Sinai