Dear Friends in Christ,
Christ is Risen!
I hope you are all well and keeping safe.
Here is my poem-less thought for the day !
Love and prayers
Remember the little things- Climbing Jacob’s Ladder.
I have just completed climbing Mt. Snowdon- the highest mountain in Wales and the second highest in Great Britain (well virtually!) What would normally take five hours has taken me two weeks to complete. I can’t say that the scenery was that good except for my companion St George, who I acknowledged on the way up and on the way down. In these days of lock-down, my staircase has been the mountain. The climb has also involved mental stimulation in mathematical calculation and a certain spiritual exercise (ascesis)- saying “Lord Jesus Christ Son of God have mercy on me,” each syllable spoken of the prayer on each step of the staircase.
When I was young, I went on a camping holiday to Switzerland with some friends where we climbed the Jungfraujoch near Thunersee. It demanded patience, courage, fortitude and perseverance. In the days before formal health and safety, we were simply told by the experienced guide to follow carefully in his footsteps and to look out for one another! The reward for our struggle was amazing. We took rest overnight in a goatherd’s cottage on the way down. In the morning, the view was stunning, we were above the clouds and we saw everything from a new perspective.
In Genesis 28 the patriarch Jacob has a dream in which he sees a ladder going from earth to heaven and on this he sees angels ascending and descending.
The theme of the ladder is found in the teachings of the Church Fathers. I suppose St John Climacus is the most famous with his “Ladder of Divine Ascent.” St Irenaeus in the second century describes the Church as the ladder of ascent to God and St Gregory Nazianzus also sees the of ascent as an ascetic path and each step striving towards excellence.
St John Chrysostom writes:
“And so mounting as it were by steps, let us get to heaven by a Jacob’s ladder. For the ladder seems to me to signify in a riddle by that vision the gradual ascent by means of virtue, by which it is possible for us to ascend from earth to heaven, not using material steps, but improvement and correction of manners.”
Indeed, it is important in the Christian life to cultivate the virtues of patience, fortitude, courage and perseverance; to follow in the steps of the Master who is the Way and to keep our eye open for others who may be struggling. May our holy guardian angels assist us in this ascent.
Jesus answered and said to him,“Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.”And He said to him,“Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”