The Ladder Steps 29-30: The End

Sadly, this is the last post on the Ladder of Divine Ascent. I am sorry to see it come to an end. I am sure I learned much more than my class in studying it. There was much I could not teach because I could not come close to an accurate understanding much less practical experience of the truth. Hopefully the summaries have been helpful, and they will drive you to the original. As I said in the first post Fr. John Mack's book is an excellent primer to get you started and then I heartily recommend the original Ladder. I know many who read through this book every Lent as the monastics do.

Let me know if this was helpful and if a different format for future notes would be better.

Step 29 - On Dispassion

-the spiritual state where the passions do not exist.

St. John says that this man "regards the artifice of demons as a contemptible joke."

At this stage, the passions of man have become transformed by Christ so much so that temptation, although it may be relentless and fierce, has no affect on the dispassionate man.

Here we come close to the end of the book, and St. John lays out the fruit of our labor to let us know that there is more. Even if you have achieved great strides spiritually…there is more. We never stop growing in God. Christianity is not static, it is always a dynamic relationship with the Trinity. C.S. Lewis in his final Narnia book perfectly describes this journey as "further up and further in". Because we are finite and God is infinite, there is no end to our discovery. Even those saints who achieve dispassion in this life never stop growing in God. Even throughout eternity we continue to grow in God.

Step 30 - On Faith, Hope & Love

In this final step, St. John summarizes the goal of spiritual development much as Jesus and Paul. When questioned about the greatest commandment, Jesus said that it was love God and to love others. Paul after discussing all the gifts that God gives to man, says, “And now, finally, after all that we have said, there remain these three that bind and secure the union of all: faith, hope, love; and the greatest of these is love, for God Himself is so called. (I Corinthians 13:13 and I John 4: 8 and 16)”

Love is the ulimate expression of our life with God. Love is present in all the steps. Yet each step purifies us so that we can love more truly and rightly. Unfortunately, there is so much self in our life that we do love as we ought and thus the steps train us to love God and man.

This is the goal. It's is not to become better pray-ers or fasters or almsgivers. It is to love. Those disciplines are necessary but they are means and not the ends.

So this study ends with the exhortation, "Love one another."
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