The Ladder of Divine Ascent: Insensitivity

From John Climacus: The Ladder of Divine Ascent by St. John Climacus:

The insensitive man is a foolish philosopher, an exegete condemned by his own words, a scholar who contradicts himself, a blind man teaching sight to others. He talks about healing a wound and does not stop making it worse. He complains about what has happened and does not stop eating what is harmful. He prays against it but carries on as before, doing it and angry with himself. And the wretched man is in no way shamed by his own words. “I’m doing wrong,” he cries, and zealously continues to do so. His lips pray against it and his body struggles for it. He talks profoundly about death and acts as if he will never die. He groans over the separation of soul and body, and yet lives in a state of somnolence as if he were eternal. He has plenty to say about self-control and fights for a gourmet life. He reads about the judgment and begins to smile, about vainglory and is vainglorious while he is reading. He recites what he has learnt about keeping vigil, and at once drops off to sleep. Prayer he extols, and runs from it as if from a plague. Blessings he showers on obedience, and is the first to disobey. Detachment he praises, and he shamelessly fights over a rag. When he is angry he gets bitter, and then his bitterness makes him angry, so that having suffered one defeat he fails to notice that he has suffered another. He gorges himself, is sorry, and a little later is at it again. He blesses silence and cannot stop talking about it. He teaches meekness and frequently gets angry while he is teaching it. Having come to his senses, he sighs and shaking his head he embraces his passion once more. He denounces laughter, and while lecturing on mourning he is all smiles. In front of others he criticizes himself for being vainglorious, and in making the admission he is looking for glory. He looks people in the eye with passion and talks about chastity. Out in the world he is full of praise for the solitary life and cannot see how much he is disgracing himself. He glorifies almsgivers and despises the poor. In everything he shows himself up for what he is, and does not come to his senses, though I would not say he was incapable of doing so.

I’m guilty of most of those things. I’m also likely to be guilty of recognizing my guilt and doing little about it, just as the passage describes. What kind of special hypocrite does that make me?

Comments 3

  1. Squat wrote:

    “What kind of special hypocrite does that make me?”

    No more special than me. 😉

    Posted 21 Oct 2006 at 8:58 pm
  2. Stuff wrote:

    “What kind of special hypocrite does that make me?”

    No more special than me. 😉

    Posted 21 Oct 2006 at 8:58 pm
  3. Georgette wrote:

    Ouch — I could have written this one.

    I believe it was Padre Pio who said that hypocracy is the largest most destructive sin in the modern era. All this stuff just makes us bound for hell if we don’t straighten up. Scary stuff.

    Posted 26 Oct 2006 at 10:37 am

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