The Ladder of Divine Ascent – Step 26, Paragraphs 16-20

Step 26 On discernment of thoughts, passions and virtues

16. Those engaged in education know what studies are suitable for beginners, what for the intermediate and what for teachers. Let us take sensible precautions not to prolong our study and stop in the beginners’ lessons. For to see an old man going to a children’s school is a great disgrace.

17. Here is an excellent alphabet for all:

(A) obedience

(B) fasting

(C) sackcloth

(D) ashes

(E) tears

(F) confession

(G) silence

(H) humility

(I) vigil

(J) courage

(K) cold

(L) toil

(M) hard work

(N) humiliation

(O) contrition

(P) forgetfulness of wrongs

(Q) brotherly love

(R) meekness

(S) simple and unquestioning faith

(T) freedom from worldly cares

(U) hateless hatred of parents

(V) detachment

(X) innocent simplicity

(Z) voluntary abasement

18. A good scheme for the advanced, and evidence of their progress is: absence of vainglory, freedom from anger, good hope, silence, discernment, firm remembrance of the judgment, compassion, hospitality, moderation in reproof, passionless prayer, disregard of self.

19. And here is a standard, rule and law for those in the flesh who are piously aiming at perfection inspirit and body:

(A) an unfettered heart

(B) perfect love

(C) a well of humanity

(D) a detached mind

(E) indwelling of Christ

(F) security of the light of prayer

(G) abundance of divine illumination

(H) a longing for death

(I) hatred of life

(J) flight from the body

(K) an intercessor for the world

(L) a forcer of God

(M) fellow worshipper with angels

(N) abyss of knowledge

(O) house of mysteries

(P) a keeper of secrets

(Q) a saviour of men

(R) god of the demons

(S) lord of the passions

(T) master of the body

(U) controller of nature

(V) banishment of sin

(X) house of dispassion

(Z) with the Lord’s help an imitator of the Lord

20. We have need of considerable vigilance when the body is sick. The demons, seeing us laid low and temporarily incapable of entering into the struggle with them owing to our infirmity, try to attack us fiercely at such times. The demon of irritation and sometimes of blasphemy hovers round those living in the world in time of illness. And the demon of gluttony and fornication attacks those living outside the world if they have an abundance of all necessaries; but if they are living in an ascetic way of life bereft of all consolation, then the tyrant of despondency and ingratitude is constantly sitting with them.


23. The monastic life in regard to deeds, words, thoughts, and movements must be lived with heartfelt conviction. Otherwise, it will not be monastic life, let alone angelic life.