The Ladder Part 5

Step 13 On Despondency

Tedium of spirit

- Greek word is “akidia” tedium, distraction, boredom, despondency. This is a broad term which covers the continuum from boredom and distraction to depression or despondency.

- Path of tedium: loss of purpose, despair, then spiritual death

- St. John: “When dinner is ready, he jumps out of his bed. But now when the time for prayer comes, his body begins to languish once more again. He begins his prayers, but the tedium makes him sleepy and the verses of the psalms are snatched from his mouth by untimely yawns.”

- Same word used in the Prayer of St. Ephraim…”faintheartedness” interesting use because we pray first that God deliver us from sloth then faintheartedness. With sloth we become lazy with spiritual activity then comes faintheartedness when we give it up all together because it is of no use. One writer said that sloth is that we think our spiritual activity is useless, and faintheartedness is despair because we come to believe that God can do nothing for us.

How to Battle

  1. Perserverance in the course taken.

-labor through it. “real men of spirit can be seen at this time when tedium strikes, for nothing gains so many crowns …as a struggle against this.”

-importance of having a rule of prayer.

  1. Cooperation with others who are struggling.

-reminding ourselves of what others have done and are doing.

-lives of the saints become important.

-deep relationships with other Christians.

- story of Moses with Aaron holding up his hands. Ex. 17:10ff

Fr. Cleopa of Romania on how to battle:

The Elder recommended meditation: reward and punishment, the Kingdom of heaven and hell; and also calling to mind the honorable memory of those who have taken part in the struggle. The means of grace against negligence are prayer, tears and faith. Again, the Elder would recount many examples from the lives of earlier spiritual warriors who happened to be led astray by negligence and lost the record of spiritual progress which they had gained through great fervour and ascetic labour. The Elder would say, "In my opinion, the other passions into which spiritual warriors are led astray are complications of indifference, because this erodes our attention and so opens the way to related and connected passions, and these take men captive."

We should not be negligent. Because negligence is the greatest danger for the soul of each man. It means you have no mercy for your own soul, and thus you’re in great spiritual danger. You didn’t do your [prayer] rule? Negligence tells you, "It doesn’t matter." You didn’t fast? Negligence tells you, "It doesn’t matter." Did you commit fornication? Negligence tells you, "It doesn’t matter." We should strive as much as we can and God will help us to be saved. The greater the temptations are, the greater the Grace of God will be and the greater the crown. But God will not allow us to be tempted above our strength. If we have prayer and purity of soul and body, the Grace of the Holy Spirit will descend upon us and all great difficulties will easily be solved.

St. John “The singing of psalms and manual labor are my opponents by whom I am bound. My enemy is the thought of death, but what really slays me is prayer backed by a firm hope in the blessings of the future.”

Step 14 On Gluttony

“Gluttony is hypocrisy of the stomach; for when it is glutted, it complains of scarcity; and when it is loaded and bursting, it cries out that it is hungry.

-this is a tough one, because it does truly take moderation and control on our part. Unlike many of the other passions we can control by avoiding, not this one. We have to eat to live. We have to hold in check something we are exposed to each day.

-the Fathers often connect gluttony with impure thoughts, chastity and purity. This according to the Fathers could be called a gateway sin. When we allow this passion to remain uncontrolled and it spreads and infects and strengthens the other passions.

-The Prince of Passions

1. Unclean thoughts: “The mind of someone intemperate is filled with unclean longings.”

2. Talkativeness: “Stint your stomach and you will certainly lock your mouth, because the tongue is strengthened by an abundance of food. Struggle with all your might against the stomach and restrain it with all sobriety. If you labour a little, the Lord will also soon work with you.”

3. Mourning: “A full stomach dries up one’s weeping.”

4. Chastity: “The man who looks after his belly and at the same time hopes to control the passion of fornication is like someone trying to put out a fire with oil.” “Satiety in food is the father of fornication; but affliction of the stomach is an agent of purity.”

-This teaches us though that all the passion of interconnected. Defeat one and the others become easier.

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