Tag Archives: confession

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*

The Ladder of Divine Ascent: Renunciation of Life and Detachment

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

"We should love the Lord as do our friends. Many a time I have seen people bring grief to God, without being bothered about it, and I have seen these very same people resort to every device, plan, pressure, plea from themselves and friends, and every gift, simply to restore an old relationship upset by some monir grievance."

"[L]et no one tell me…that because of his addiction to pleasure he must be excused for remaining stuck in his sin. The more the putrefaction, the greater the need for treatment, if the uncleanness is to be done away with, for the healthy do not make their way to the doctor’s surgery."

"If you truly love God and long to reach the kingdom that is to come, if you are truly pained by your failings and are mindful of punishment and of the eternal judgment, if you are truly afraid to die, then it will not be possible to have an attachment, or anxiety, or concern for money, for possessions, for family relationships, for wordly glory, for love and brotherhood, indeed for anything of earth. All worry about one’s condition, even for one’s body, will be pushed aside as hateful. Stripped of all thought of these, caring nothing about them, one will return freely to Christ. One will look to heav and to the help coming from there, as in the scriptural sayings: ‘I will cling close to you" (Psalm 62:9) and ‘I have not grown tired of following you nor have I longed for the day or the rest that man gives’ (Jeremiah 17:16)."

Fasting From the Eucharist

Here’s a completely different take on the current communion debate that’s all the
rage these days.

in the Pew at Communion Time

I’ve come to believe that part of the problem has to do with the unremitting insistence
on frequent Communion. I will pause for a moment as 90% of my readers emit gasps
of horror at what I’ve just written. I think we’ve hammered frequent Communion (a
wonderful thing, in itself) into the people’s heads so hard and have at the same
time failed so miserably to catechize them on the full richness of this Sacrament’s
meaning, that now we find Communion time resembling (as one of my scandalized Mexican
parishioners described the English-language Masses) a stampede of cattle, leaving
behind empty pew after empty pew as everyone surges forward to get a Host. And if
they can’t have a Host, you damn sure better give them a nice blessing because it’s
Communion time and, you know, everybody has to get something. I’ve had people go
to confession for not having gone to Communion even though they were present for
an entire Mass. It is not a sin not to go to Communion. But people have been led
to believe that it is. Together with the misunderstood insistence on frequent Communion,
a poor understanding of “active participation in the Liturgy” must shoulder
a fair share of the blame.

Bill Again

Scare tactics?!? Starting an unauthorized church is schismatic. General absolution is heretical. This guy has more than a few loose screws.

Priest Starts New Church, Slams Diocese For ‘Scare’ Tactics
Tue Apr 13, 1:09 PM ET

"A priest who holds views questioned by some in the Roman Catholic faith says the Pittsburgh Diocese is trying to keep people from joining his new church."

New church risky move for pastor
Tuesday, April 13, 2004

"The Rev. William C. Hausen thinks of the Roman Catholic Church as an institution of the Middle Ages, an entity that shuns new ideas and contrary positions."