Tag Archives: prayer

The Ladder of Divine Ascent: Placidity, Meekness, Malice, and Slander

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

"You wish, or rather, have decided, to remove a splinter from someone? Very well, but do not go after it with a stick instead of a lancet for you will only drive it deeper. Rough speech and harsh gestures are the stick, while even-tempered instruction and patient repremand are the lancet. ‘Reprove, rebuke, exhort,’ says the Apostle (2 Tim 4:2), not ‘batter.’"

"Malice is an exponent of Scripture which twists the owrds of the Spirit to suit itself. Let the prayer of Jesus [i.e., the Lord’s Prayer, a.k.a. the Our Father] put it to shame, that prayer which cannot be uttered in the company of malice."

"If after great effort you still fail to root out this thorn, go to your enemy and apologize, if only with empty words whose insincereity may shame you. Then as conscience, like a fire, comes to give you pain, you may find that a sincere love of your enemy may come to life."

"A true sign of having completely mastered this putrefaction will come not when you pray for the man who offended you, not when you give him presents, not when you invite him to share a meal with you, but only when, on hearing of some catastrophe that has afflcited him in body or soul, you suffer and you lament for him as if for yourself."

"I have rebuked people who were engaged in slander, and, in self defense, these evildoers claimed to be acting out of love and concern for the victim of the slander. My answer to that was to say: ‘Then stop that kind of love, or else you will be making a liar out of him who declared, ‘I drove away the man who secretly slandered his neighbor’ (Ps. 100:5). If, as you insist, you love that man, then do not be making a mockery of him, but pray for him in secret, for this is the kind of love that is acceptable to the Lord. And remember – now I say this as something to be pondered, and do not start passing judgment on the offender – Judas was one of the company of Christ’s disciples and the robber was in the company of killers. Yet what a turnabout there was when the decisive moment arrived!"

"Fire and water do not mix, neither can you mix judgment of others with the desire to repent. If a man commits a sin before you at the very moment of his death, pass no judgment, because the judgment of God is hidden from men. It has happened that men have sinned greatly in the open but have done greater good deeds in secret, so that those who would disparage them have been fooled, with smoke instead of sunlight in their eyes. So listen to me, all you accountants of other people’s faults, listen well: for if, as is certain, it is true that ‘you shall be judged with the judgment you have used yourselves’ (Matt. 7:2), then whatever sin of body or spirit that we ascribe to our neighbor will surely fall into ourselves."


"You can always recognize people who are malicious and slanderous. They are filled with the spirit of hatred. Gladly and without a qualm they slander the teaching, the doings and the virtues of their neighbor. I have known men who secretly had committed very grave sins and had not been found out, yet cloaked in their supposed goodness they lashed out against people who had done something minor in public."

"To pass judgment on another is to usurp shamelessly a prerogative of God, and to condemn is to ruin one’s soul."


"Do not condemn. Not even if your very eyes are seeing something, for they may be deceived."

The Ladder of Divine Ascent: Remembrance of Death and Mourning

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

"Do not search about for the words to show people you love them. Instead, ask God to show them your love without your having to talk about it. Otherwise you will never have time enough both for loving gestures and for compunction.

"When we die, we will not be criticized for having failed to work miracles. We will not be accused of having failed to be theologians or contemplatives. But we will certainly have some explanation to offer to God for not having mourned unceasingly."

The Ladder of Divine Ascent: Obedience and Penitence

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

"…[T]hose who seem to be the most hard-working and obedient and hence confirmed in virtue, if left for any length of time without being censured or reproached by the superior, lose that meekness and obedience they formerly had. Good, fruitful, and fertile land, if left without the water os dishonor, can revert to being forest and can produce the thorns of vanity, lewdness, and arrogance. The great Apostle understood this. Hence his instruction to Timothy: ‘Be insistent, criticize them, rebuke in season and out of season’ (2 Tim. 4:2)."

"But when I argued the matter with [a] true director, reminding him of human frailty, I suggested that punishment, deserved or otherwise, might lead many to break away from the flock. That man, in whom wisdom had made a home, had this to say to me: ‘A soul bound in faith and love to the shepherd for Christ’s sake does not go away, even when blood is spilt. He certainly does not leave if through the shepherd he has received the cure for his wounds, for he bears in mind the words, ‘Neither angels, nor principalities, nor powers nor any other creature can separate us from the love of Christ’ (cf. Rom. 8:38-39). If a soul is not attached, bound, and devoted to the shepherd in this fashion, it seems to me that the man should not be here at all; for what binds him to the shepherd is hypocrisy and false obedience.’"

Though that passage refers to men in monasteries, I think it could just as easily be applied to any member of the Church.

"Your tongue leaps to arguement, but restrain it. It is a tyrant, and you must fight it daily seventy times seven. Fix your mind to your soul as to the wood of the cross, strike it with alternating hammer blows like an anvil. It has to be mocked, abused, ridiculed, and wronged, though without any way being crushed or broken; indeed it must keep calm and unstirred. Shed your will as if it were some disgraceful garment, and having thus stripped yourself of it, go into the practice arena. Put on the breastplate of faith, which is so hard to come by, and let it not be crushed or damaged by distrust of your trainer. Let the rein of temperance curb the shameless onward leap of the sense of touch. With meditation on death bridle those eyes so ready to waste endless hours in the contemplation of physical beauty. Hold back your mind, so busy with its own concerns, so ready to turn to the reckless criticism and condemnation of your brother. Show instead every love and sympathy for your neighbor. Dearest father, all men will come to know that we are disciples of Christ if, as we live together, we have love for one another."

Restraint of the tongue – that does not come easily to me.

"A man should know that a devil’s sickness is on him if he is seized by the urge in conversation to assert his opinion, however correct it may be. If he behaves this way while talking to his equals, then a rebuke from his seniors may heal him. But if he carries on in this way with those who are greater and wiser than he, his sickness cannot be cured by human means."


"Son, obedient servant of the Lord, do not be so fooled by the spirit of conceit that you confess your sins to your director as though they were someone else’s. Lay bare your wound to the healer. Only through shame can you be freed from shame. Tell him, and do not be ashamed: ‘This is my wound, Father; this is my injury. It happened because of my negligence and not from any other cause. No one is to blame for this, no man, spirit or body or anything else. It is all through my negligence."

It so easy to make excuses and rationalize everything, isn’t it?

"Habit forms things and follows them. And it is particularly true that virtue depends on habit, and here God is the great collaborator."

Practice doesn’t make perfect; it makes permanent. Be careful what thoughts and actions you practice.

"We ought not be surprised if the attacks continue to come even after confession. In any case, it is better to be battling with our polluted thoughts rather than our self-esteem."

Don’t be so hard on yourself that you begin to hate yourself. If God can forgive you, you can forgive yourself.

"The zealous should be especially careful not to condemn the easygoing in case they draw down a worse sentence on themselves. That, I think, was why Lot was justified. Despite the sort of people he lived with, he never seems to have condemned them."

The measure by which we judge…

"An old habit often dominates even someone who mourns. No wonder, for the judgments visited by God and our own lapses make up a list hard to understand, and it is impossible to be sure which of our failings are due to carelessness, which are due to the fact that God permitted them, and which arise from God’s having turned away from us. I have been told, however, that lapses occurring as a result of divine providence cause us to repent swifty, since He Who delivers us does not permit us to be held captive for long. But above all we must fight off the demon of dejection whenever we happen to slip, for he comes right beside us when we are praying and reminds us of our former good standing with God and tries to divert us from our prayer."

"Do not be surprised if you fall every day and do not surrender. Stand your ground bravely. And you may be sure that your guardian angel will respect your endurance. A fresh, warm wound is easier to heal than those that are old, neglected, and festering, and that need extensive treatment, surgery, bandaging, and cauterization. Long neglect can render many of them incurable. However, all things are possible with God (matt. 19:26)."

Been there, done that (i.e., allow sin to fester). *sigh*

St. Anne’s Novena

Remember today is a great day to begin a St. Anne’s Novena. While this novena to the mother of the Blessed Virgin and Holy God-bearer may be said at any time, starting today will allow you to finish on the feast of St. Anne. Many parishes hold public novena’s during this time, so check the local churches, especially if one of them is named St. Anne’s.

EWTN’s website has the most common novena to St. Anne.

There is also the chaplet of St. Anne, which dates back to the 1800’s, to be found here.

And for those Oratoriophiles out there, a prayer translated by Ambrose St. Jean (pronounced "sinjin"), CO of the Birmingham Oratory.

The feast of St. Anne is quite old. It is celebrated as the "Dormition of St. Anne" in the East on the 25th, and the feast of St. Anne in the West is celebrated on the 26th (in the calendar of the Novus Ordo Missae the feast of St. Joaquin, the BVM’s father, is moved to this day, as well).

It is often observed that Grandmothers play a very important role in the return of many young Catholics to the Church during the last two decades. As this generation now grows older, it is an important time to pray to the grandmother of Christ for these grandparents, whose witness is still needed in the Church today. Few saints have shown the effectiveness that St. Anne has shown with countless miracles, no doubt due to the love Christ has for His own grandmother. We all have needs which St. Anne, who loves us as only grandmothers do, desires to present to her Divine grandson. So, join us in this novena, praying for your own needs as well as for the intentions of this blog and the Pittsburgh Newman Clubs.

Pentecost Novena

As we celebrate today the Solemnity of the Ascension, we likewise commemorate the first novena. After the Ascension the Apostles gathered together with the Blessed Virgin, praying nine days until the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Church recalls this event with a novena, especially that novena promoted by Pope Leo XIII for the reunification of Christianity. Because Pentecost is the birth of the Church, we take this occasion to implore that the full number of the faithful be brought into the "one fold". There are links below for a popular novena to the Holy Spirit (although any novena will do) and the ancient Hymn "Veni Creator" (with translation by Oratorian Fr. Caswall). Join us in prayer for the unity of the faithful, and that this Pentecost may be an occasion of great grace.

Veni Creator Spiritus music
Veni Creator Spiritus mp3
Come Holy Ghost (translation by Edward Caswall, CO)

N.B. There is a partial indulgence attached to any public novena before Pentecost. If this blog community is saying it, is this novena "public"? Oh, who knows. Do it anyway.