Monday, 30 March 2009

This is Mount Sinai, the place hallowed by the presence of God who handed His law to Moses. On this mount there is a monastery. One of its most famous abbots was St John Klimakos whose feast day we celebrate today. He is also known as John of the Ladder (c 570-649). He is most known for his book Ladder of Paradise. This book focuses on the concept of apatheia. What is this quality? It is a state of mind where one is free from emotional disturbance. It means purity of heart, which opens the heart to God and to other people in a spiritual way. Apatheia is the pre-condition for agape.
Klimakos said, ‘Let the name of Jesus adhere to your breath, and then you will know the blessings of stillness.’
For us, over-active and distracted, stillness comes rarely. Imagine John Klimakos as climbing into his cave in the wilderness (photo below), up a rope ladder or a simple wooden ladder. One false step can lead to death. But a secure ascent leads to safety. To climb the spiritual ladder of prayer in Lent can lead us to faith like that of the disciples after they had seen the Risen Lord; but to fall from that ladder of prayer can cause us deep misery and expose us to all the temptations of sin. Klimakos wrote: ‘Let the memory of Jesus stick to your breathing, and you will know how useful it is to be alone.’
This means that by considering Jesus who teaches and heals and preaches and reaches out to discarded, hopeless people, we may see with the eye of faith our salvation; even when we live in the din of daily life. We can pray when walking to catch a bus: ‘O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.’ Prayer does not have to be many words; it can be one word – Jesus. It can be the Rosary or other devotions that inflame our hearts with love.
Prayer is always necessary. Every step up the ladder of prayer brings us closer to the light of God. What we see with the eye of faith is what we are ready to see. The healing of our life comes when we have faith that it is possible. John Klimakos what a wonderful companion he is for this first week day of Passiontide.

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