Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Cutting off thoughts

Venerable John Climacus ~ The Ladder of Divine Ascent
Step 15 ~ On Purity and Chastity

¶74. The discerning Fathers have defined that assault is one thing, converse another, consent another, captivity another, struggle another, passion so-called in the soul, another. And these blessed men define assault as a simple conception, or an image of something encountered for the first time, which has entered the heart. Converse is conversation with what has presented itself, accompanied by passion or dispassion. And consent is the bending of the soul to what has been presented to it, accompanied by delight. But captivity is a forcible and involuntary rape of the heart, or a permanent association with what has been encountered which destroys the good order of our condition. Struggle, according to their definition, is power equal to the attacking force, which is either victorious or else suffers defeat according to the soul’s desire. Passion, they say, is preeminently that which for a long time nestles with persistence in the soul, forming therein a habit, as it were, by the soul’s longstanding association with it, since the soul of its own free and proper choice clings to it. Of all these states, the first is without sin, the second not always, but the third is sinful or sinless according to the state of the contestant. Struggle is the occasion of crowns or punishments. Captivity is judged differently, according to whether it occurs at the time of prayer, or at other times; whether in things indifferent [neither good, nor bad], or in the case of evil thoughts. But passion is unequivocally condemned in every case, and demands either corresponding repentance or future punishment. Therefore, he who regards the first assault dispassionately cuts off at a single blow all the rest which follow.

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