Going Up the Ladder


From St. John Climacus’ The Ladder:

A silly person feels hurt when accused or shouted at. He tries to answer back or else at once apologizes to his accuser, not for reasons of humility but to put a stop to his reproaches. In fact you should be silent when ridiculted. Accept patiently these spiritual cauterizations, or rather, purifying flames. And when the doctor has done his work, ask him to forgive you, for he may not accept your apology when he is angry.

Those of us who live in community must fight by the hour against all the passions and especially against these two: a mania for gluttony and bad temper. There is plenty of food for these passions in a community.

For modern, non-monastics, the community we know best is our home. There is also the community of the school or workplace and the community of the Church. All of these provide as much food for the passions as any monastery, and sometimes far more. In my own experience, I get it wrong more often than I get it right. But, if one never forgets to “get is forgiven,” then we may escape much of the harm of the passions.

In none of these things does God forget us, nor is God surprised with the great difficulties we face and our frequent failures. In all of these things, even in our failures, God’s grace abounds and works for our salvation. Glory to God for all things!


  1. Many times when I think I am doing well the pride of it leads to a fall. In our world of self gratification these are hard words but words we must take to heart. How hard it is not to strike back when provoked. Truly God’s grace does abound.

  2. There is no escaping humanity, even a hermit must face the provocation in his own heart. Only the Cross allows us to bear that burden.

  3. Thank you, Father. And I am thankful for St. John of the Ladder. I climb to the next rung and then I slip back down. Lord, were it not for your grace, I would be without hope.

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