The Ladder Part 3

Step 7: Mourning

What is mourning?

1. Not just repentance – but a sober view of the nature of reality.

Mourning is the ability to see the life and moral state of the world clearly; then seeing ourselves as contributors to the pain and sadness of this world. Human suffering and even death are a result of sin. When we look at the world around us we can not become judgmental over its condition because we have added death to this world. Not only do we accept responsibility for the evil in the world, but we allow ourselves to suffer with others, directly or indirectly, through prayer. This is part of our duty as a Christian as we have united ourselves into Christ.

See the following: Rom. 8:17, 2 Cor. 1:15; Phil 1:29; Phil 3:8; Col 1:24; 1 Pet 4:12

2. Sorrow for the lack of the fullness of God in our lives.

This sorrow is a result of the thirst we feel the fullness of God’s Kingdom and His presence in our lives.

- Not seeking a pleasure centered life. St. John suggests: "Think of your lying in bed as an image of the lying in your grave; then you will not sleep so much. When you eat at table, remember the food of worms; then you will not live so highly. When you drink water, remember the thirst of the flames; then you will certainly do violence to your nature...Let the thought of eternal fire lie down with you in the evening and get up with you in the morning. Then indolence will never overwhelm you when it is time to sing the psalms."

3. Physical Tears

St. John invents the following Greek word to describe the affect of physical tears: Charmolypi “joyful sorrow”. Repentant person is like a child who cries but smiles in the middle of his tears.

He refers to three types of physical tears that we experience in this life: 1. Contranatural---from fear or anger 2. Natural – result of human feelings. 3. Supernatural – from God; renewal of baptism;

This gift of tears is often referred to among the Fathers as a second baptism. St John is no exception: “Greater than baptism itself is the fountain of tears after baptism, even though it is somewhat audacious to say so. For baptism is the washing away of evils that were in us before, but sins committed after baptism are washed away by tears. As baptism is received in infancy, we have all defiled it, but we cleanse it anew with tears. And if God in His love for mankind had not given us tears, those being saved would be few indeed and hard to find.”

Here it is clear how the earlier steps of renunciation, detachment, exile, obedience, penitence, and remembrance of death are necessary in order to understand mourning. All of this helps us to prepare for that day when we will stand before God and have to answer for what we did or did not do in this life.

Step 8: Meekness

In order to understand meekness, it helps to understand that meekness is the solution to anger. So to be meek we must put aside anger.

Why do we get angry? One author states: “It's usually because we put too much emphasis on the importance this world, how we appear to others and how we are treated. It is the result of being overly prideful: thinking too much of ourselves and of what we can be or do. All right, so you don't see yourself as some conceited megalomaniac but let's be honest here. What is it that spurs your temper? Is it when someone says something to offend you? Perhaps that is because you concern yourself too much with what others think of you. Is it when someone disagrees with you? Do you always have to be right? Is it when things just don't go your way? Perhaps you are pursuing too much perfection in this world”.

Meekness is the answer to anger.

St. John gives two big tips on accomplishing this. The first step is to not respond when spoken to in an angry way. The next step toward meekness is to not let yourself think angry thoughts against those who speak in anger to you.

Step 9: Malice (Remembrance of Wrongs)

Step 9 is a daughter of anger and St. John describes her this way: "Remembrance of wrongs comes as the final point of anger. It is the keeper of sins. It hates a just way of life. It is the ruin of virtues, the poison of the soul, a worm in the mind. It is the shame of prayer, a cutting off of supplication, a turning away from love, a nail piercing the soul."

Anger for one tends to spill over to anger for all.

St. John recommends several things to end anger. He advices us to reject the feelings once they begin. This requires attentiveness to oneself (another virtue). Another is realize that the ultimate cause of the hurt being done to you is not the individual but the evil one. Also meditate on what Jesus suffered at the hands of many.

Evidence of healing: when you hear that catastrophe has happened to one who has hurt you and you weep and suffer for that person.

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