The Advent Reading So Far: The Ladder, Steps 1-5

26 November 2007

Just a quick note before class.

I’ve begun reading The Ladder of Divine Ascent by John Climacus as my Advent reading.  I’ve started early because some of the 30 steps are quite long, not lending themselves to a 30-day reading schedule, let alone a 24-day Advent.

Of the first five Steps, the most important seems to be Step 4, which is “On Obedience.”  As I read it, a realization about the nature of obedience dawned on me.

As a non-monastic, it is hard to practice obedience.  I have no superior, per se.  I have a spiritual director, but no spiritual father in the sense of which Climacus writes.  If I’m simply acquiescent to my wife, let’s say, as I would be to a monastic superior, that would be wrong: not only is our partnership not based on that kind of relationship, but none of us actually want that kind of relationship.

What does work, however, is a mutual obedience similar to that practiced by the Saint Herman Brotherhood.  As I was reading it, I formulated it thus:

The obedience to which lay people are called is a kind of radical openness.  Instead of imposing will, opinion, judgment, or knowledge on others, we can be truly open to what all components —ourselves, the other(s), the circumstances, and the will of God— truly need.  Sometimes obedience means admitting that you don’t know what to do.  Sometimes obedience means relenting and allowing others the right to make a choice.  Sometimes obedience means urging another to consider and adopt one’s own point of view.  Obedience is easier within a monastic context because it is inherent to the context; “secular” obedience is a discipline of right thinking, right judgment, and right understanding.

On something of a side note: Climacus has a real flair for extreme asceticism, apparently typical in early Syrian monasteries.  I am not sure what to make of it.  At all.


One Response to “The Advent Reading So Far: The Ladder, Steps 1-5”

  1. Squicky Says:

    If there is another way, i think you should pass there.
    It’s only my advice, so don’t be angry.

    order soma now Richardson

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