The Fourth Sunday of Great Lent dedicated to Saint John Climacus of Sinai, Author of the Ladder of Divine Ascent
Troparion (a short hymn in honor of St. John) — Tone 1
Dweller of the desert and angel in the body, / you were shown to be a wonder-worker, our God-bearing Father John. / You received heavenly gifts through fasting, vigil, and prayer: / healing the sick and the souls of those drawn to you by faith. / Glory to Him who gave you strength! / Glory to Him who granted you a crown! / Glory to Him who through you grants healing to all!
Kontakion (a thematic hymn in honor of St. John) — Tone 4
The Lord truly set you on the heights of abstinence, / to be a guiding star, showing the way to the universe, / O our Father and Teacher John.
On the Fourth Sunday of Holy Lent the Orthodox Church commemorates our Righteous Father John Climacus. He is called Climacus due to his authorship of the great spiritual work The Ladder of Divine Ascent. His commemoration is designated by the Church on one of the Sundays of Lent as his life and writings affirm him as a supreme bearer and proponent of Christian asceticism. The ascetic example of this great Saint of the Church inspires us in our Lenten journey.
Speaking the Truth in Love – Compelling commentary on Christian belief and behavior
Fr. Thomas Hopko
Excerpts from The Ladder of Divine Ascent
“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.” (Step 1, Section 4)
“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.’” (Step 1, Section 21)
“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 is most suited to his needs.” (Step 1, Section 25)
“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.” (Step 4, Section 42)
“A servant of the Lord is he who in body stands before men, but in mind knocks at Heaven with prayer.” (Step 4, Section 102)
“To judge others is a shameless arrogation of the Divine prerogative; to condemn is the ruin of one’s soul.” (Step 10, Section 14)
“Do not say that you are collecting money for the poor; with two mites the Kingdom was purchased.” (Step 16, Section 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.” (Step 22, Section 5)
“An angel fell from Heaven without any other passion except pride, and so we may ask whether it is possible to ascend to Heaven by humility alone, without any other of the virtues.” (Step 23, Section 12)
“In all your undertakings and in every way of life, whether you are living in obedience, or are not submitting your work to anyone, whether in outward or in spiritual matters, let it be your rule and practice to ask yourself: Am I really doing this in accordance with God’s will?” (Step 26, Section 91)
“Even a small thing can be not small to the great; but to the small, even great things are not altogether perfect.” (Step 26, Section 92)
“There are many ways of piety and perdition. That is why it often happens that a way that is unsuitable for one just fits another; and the intention of both is acceptable to the Lord.” (Step 26, Section 105)
“Those who wish to learn the will of the Lord must first mortify their own will. Then having prayed to God with faith and guileless simplicity, and having asked the fathers or even the brothers with humility of heart and no thought of doubt, they should accept their advice as from the mouth of God, even if their advice be contrary to their own view, and even if those consulted are not very spiritual. For God is not unjust, and will not lead astray souls who with faith and innocence humbly submit to the advice and judgment of their neighbor. Even if those who were asked were brute beasts, yet He who speaks is the Immaterial and Invisible One. Those who allow themselves to be guided by this rule without having any doubts are filled with great humility.” (Step 26, Section 111)
“Seeking for what is beyond us may have perilous results. The Lord’s judgment about us is unfathomable. By His special providence, He often chooses to hide His will from us, knowing that, even if we were to learn it, we should disobey it, and should thereby receive greater punishment.” (Step 26, Section 120)