Love and the Ladder of Divine Ascent

On the 4th Sunday of Great Lent, we commemorate in the Church   St. John Climacus , 7th Century monk and spiritual writer.

“The Ladder of Divine Ascent, St. John Climacus (c. 579-649) colorfully and skillfully paints for us an icon of man’s progression to perfection – or completeness – in the spiritual life which, in its fullness, is nothing less than union with and participation in the divine nature of the one true God, the Holy Trinity. But St. John warns us that there is only one proper motive for setting out on this path and that is love for God. In the first step of his allegorical ladder, he says: ‘ The man who renounces the world from fear is like burning incense that begins with fragrance but ends in smoke. He who leaves the world through hope of reward is like a millstone that always moves in the same way. But he who withdraws from the world out of love for God has obtained fire at the very outset; and like fire set to fuel, it soon kindles a larger fire.’ Neither fear of God, nor hope of reward then, are wholly appropriate reasons for setting foot on the ladder. It is far better to do so out of love, and our God must be our First Love!” (Bishop Basil of Wichita in Remember Thy First Love by Archimandrite Zacharias, p 9)