Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Lenten Checkup

The Ladder of Divine Ascent
We are well enough into Lent to ask ourselves: how we are doing? Sometimes Lent is physically demanding, especially if you keep the traditional Lenten fast, but it should be rewarding. Lent is forty day challenge, a call to put aside noise and to turn attention to God through prayer. I often marvel when people say "God never speaks to me," a statement to which the necessary response is "Are you listening for him?"

The above image is an icon based on the book The Ladder of Divine Ascent by the seventh century ascetic St. John Climacus, whose book explains the path to Theosis is a very lucid yet spiritual manner, beginning with the intention of renouncing the promises of the world and ending with an integration into the divine life. Reader will doubtlessly notice the devils pulling people off the ladder, but where do the devil pull people? Not at the beginning, where they are close to the ground and will not threaten the devils with the presence of God, for men are not afraid to fall when they are just off the ground. Nor can the devils get the two people closest to Christ at the top, who welcomes the climbers into His kingdom. Those attacked are the ones in the middle, too far up to turn back, yet far enough from Christ to be confused by their surroundings. Perhaps one does not even need to be pulled. One devil is ready to shoot an unsuspecting climber with an arrow!

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