During Great Lent this year I have endeavored to read a few different books. First, in order to make this happen I had to give up my slothful evenings of TV watching. And even still, I will probably not complete all the books I hope to.
The one book, I will not read cover to cover. My goal is to just read a couple sections and to really meditate on them. This book is called The Ladder of Divine Ascent. “The Ladder” is known in Orthodox circles as a guide for the monastic community and I remember being cautioned about reading it and putting too much expectation on myself, as a layperson. Rather, read it slow and carefully. Filter those things that could cause stumbling blocks in my life as a layperson needing to live in the world with my family. But, layperson or monastic, we are all on the same path towards Christ. As we walk our path there are many things that we can learn from the amazing book. There are tidbits to soak in and contemplate.
Originally written by St. John Climacus (also known as St. John the Ladder) in the 7th century, we learn from a man that gave his life to Christ at age 16 years old and served the Lord until his death at 80 years old. He wrote this for his monastic community as their abbot. The book is written in bullet point style so I can meditate on a sentence at a time.
The section I first chose to concentrate on is Step 8 on “Freedom from Anger and on Meekness”.
There were two quotes that really caught my attention and a third that struck me as funny, but at the same time really made me think about my own episodes of outward anger.
The beginning of freedom from anger is silence of the lips when the herat is agitated; the middle is silence of the thoughts when there is a mere disturbance of soul; and the end is an imperturbable calm under the breath of unclean winds.St. John Climacus in “The Ladder of Divine Ascent”
Three steps towards freedom from anger!
1. Just keep your mouth shut!
2. Silence your thoughts, or push away those brutal thoughts that push into your mind and disturb you, talk you into getting angry. Push them away!
3. Complete calm no matter what you are going through.
Goals! A peaceful and calm countenance, even when in the midst of struggle.
The next quote was extremely convicting to me considering we are now in Great Lent, the time of repentance.
This one has been stuck in my head for the last week after reading it on the first day of lent. The word “inappropriate” really adds strength to this conviction.
I have a lot of work to do.
And lastly…this quote really adds to the visual of what anger looks like. I cannot lie, it made me laugh, and then feel embarrassed.
An angry person is a willing epileptic, who due to an involuntary tendency keeps convulsing and falling down.St. John Climacus in “The Ladder of Divine Ascent”
I have a lot of work to do.
I will ponder these quotes of St. John Climacus for a while and pray that God will give me the courage to fight against this passion of anger.
What are some of your goals this lent? What do you hope to work towards, by His grace?