Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The desire for impossible virtues

Venerable John Climacus ~ The Ladder of Divine Ascent
Step 4 ~ On Obedience

¶118. The devil suggests to those living in obedience the desire for impossible virtues. Similarly, to those living in stillness he proposes unsuitable ideas. Scan the mind of inexperienced novices and there you will find deluded notions: a desire for stillness, for the strictest fast, for uninterrupted prayer, for absolute freedom from vanity, for unbroken remembrance of death, for continual compunction, for perfect freedom from anger, for deep silence, for surpassing purity. And if, by Divine providence, they are without these to start with, they leap in vain from one thing to another, having been deceived. For the enemy urges them to seek these perfections prematurely, so that they may not persevere and attain them in due course. But to those living in stillness the deceiver extols hospitality, service, brotherly love, community life, visiting the sick. The devil’s aim is to make the latter as impatient as the former.

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