The Coronavirus Diary of a Joyous Pustinik — 46

SONY DSC

The Birds’ Symphony by George Tsintsifas

Symphonia

Yesterday, I heard two familiar pieces of music on the radio. It took me back to when I studied music at school. There, as part of preparations for our examinations we followed the music scores of Bach’s Brandenburg Concert #3 and Schubert’s Fifth Symphony whilst listening to vinyl L. P. recordings of these works. It was both a duty and joy to follow and listen under the observations and instructions of a good teacher. Over and over again, our small group of pupils would listen to the recordings until we became so familiar that we knew them off by heart for the exam to follow. Some years later, I was pleased to hear these works played in concert by a live Orchestra. That initial schoolboy learning process was transposed into wonder as I witnessed each member of the Philharmonic playing their part under the conductor for the audience’s delight. 

In an Orchestra, breath and hands on musical instruments bring sound to notes, as breath gives voice to words in praise of God and hands bring mercy and kindness to others. Just as music is the fuel to stir emotions, Christian love is the engine to move faith and hope into action. Our Christian life too, often starts with listening and following the scores (the Bible/the Liturgy/the Church Fathers), paying attention to the Teacher and Conductor of our life (Christ), and then working together (in fellowship)for the benefit and joy of others(evangelism). 

 

 Theme: Working together in Harmony

Luke 15:25
“Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.

 

When one desert father told another of his plans to “ shut himself into his cell and refuse the face of men, that he might perfect himself,” the second monk replied, “ Unless thou first amend thy life going to and fro amongst men, thou shall not avail to amend it dwelling alone.”

 

Many arrived and adjusted themselves to a listening mode in the auditorium.

The orchestra entered, settled themselves, tuned up and looked intently for the Conductor’s command.

Sound and silence became a dialogue.

Both the ones who played and those who listened melded into a dynamic organism;

 a heartbeat giving life to a body.

The union of loving strings buzzed as bees in a hive,

To shrive the withered minds and weary limbs,

 And having worked the nectar and shared the pollen from the hours of practice and rehearsal,

Produced the honey for those seated to taste.

 The audience feasted on the abundant sweet notes

 And were swept along and above to a higher form;

 from their mundane routine to another dimension.

They were moved, transported to the land

Of awe filled tears,

Where harmony is the currency,

Where sunshine sparkles

and dances on the ears.

 Beads of infinity permeate the throng in this communion song;

Inspiring first emotion, then empathy, followed by wonder and finally joy.

Such joy as can never be captured but glimpsed-only glimpsed,

In a gilded moment, felt in the heart,

digested in that part 

of the mind which is forever a child’s laugh or first remembered summer.

As food is energy to the body so is music nourishment for the soul.

Such provision was encouraged by a ministering angel’s smile, sent

In order for us to repent from worldly guile.

 

We are drawn into that scented circle, inexorably and imperiously drawn

By that mysterious sound that claims and wraps our tender frame.

“But why so little music in the Gospels?”

“Hosannas” with palms endorse a King 

And older Psalms, of course, to sing!

But where is the chorus for our dreams? 

Only for the Prodigal it seems!

Was music not given by God to grace the mind of all,

 make glad the heart, to heed the call?

Is there not harmony at the centre of the Universe?

Or is it that our lives in Christ should rehearse

 for heaven;

 reverse the ego’s trend and blend to be

 a sounding board with others in that greater symphony.

Epilogue

A Harmony with Thee

Glory be,

 Viva Vivaldi,

 Not I but we, 

Was blind now see, 

Oh Mystery,

Oi Agioi kai Angeloi,

 In unity 

with The Holy Trinity. 

 

A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.

 

Saint Basil the Great

The Coronavirus Diary of a Joyous Pustinik — 45

nail

 I am pleased to report that Kimberly the Cucumber, Tom the Tomato plant and Kristian the Capsicum Chili Pepper are flourishing.  Kimberly has many flowers and the small cucumbers are beginning to develop, Tom is growing taller and taller every day and producing many cherry tomatoes and Kristian is, at last, turning from green to yellow, which, I am reliably informed, he should!  The one thing in common with all these plants is that they have all needed some physical support to grow with bamboo garden canes. The cucumber has tendrils, so she wound herself to the cane without any help, the other two have required a little assistance to be tied with string to their main support.

We humans too need all the help and support to grow in the spiritual life.

 

The Nail

 

Trisagion: Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us. 

 

  • Philippians 4:13

 

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

 

Luke 22:32 

“But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”

 

The matchstick strikes brief heat and light

The nail stays firm with its great might,

The matchstick though is small and frail

Unlike the large and sturdy nail.

 

But when we place them side by side

The nail assumes parental pride,

The matchstick from the nail will take

Its strength and so it will not break.

 

Good God above whose hallowed name

Invests His strength to gird our frame,

Holy God, Holy and strong

Stay close to us our whole life long.

You cannot destroy the passions on your own, but ask God, and He
will destroy them, if this is profitable for you.

St. Anatoly of Optina

Let my prayers be set forth before Thee as incense

censing

Acknowledging Christ

MATTHEW 10:32-33

 

The Lord said to his disciples, “Every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny him before my Father who is in heaven.

The Sunday after Pentecost in the Orthodox Church is dedicated to All Saints.  The purpose of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is to make saints of us all. The first and most important element in this process of sanctification is acknowledging Christ before others. In the early Church, and at subsequent times of persecution and still to this day to acknowledge Christ may require a costly sacrifice, even martyrdom.

 In such a context,”talk is not cheap” and the Holy Apostles knew this when they wanted to share the life giving salvation that they had found and experienced in the Lord Jesus Christ. In the Epistle for the feat Hebrews 11:33-12:2 we read about the price of that confession of faith- “they were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword.”

We must understand that, as Christians, we are engaged in a spiritual battle in the world. Christ Himself said that the world will hate us but that He had overcome the world. We too have to overcome our timidity and fears, our reluctance to speak out for Christ in the world. We are in the world but not of it.

At every service of worship in the Orthodox Church we offer incense to God as a sign of our worship of the One true God Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  The action is a powerful symbol of our prayers rising to heaven as the smoke ascends. We read in the Old Testament, the prophet Malachi gives the instruction from God:

Malachi 1:11

From the rising of the sun, even to its going down,
My name shall be great among the Gentiles;
In every place incense shall be offered to My name,
And a pure offering;
For My name shall be great among the nations,”
Says the Lord of hosts.

 The priest blesses the incense which he puts on to the burning charcoal to cense the holy gifts at the Proskomedia with this prayer:

“ Blessed is our God, always now and ever, and unto the ages of ages . Incense we offer unto thee, O Christ our God, as a savour of spiritual sweetness which do Thou receive upon Thy most heavenly altar and send down upon us in return, the grace of thine all-Holy Sprit. Amen”

Incense has a long history in the Bible and in the tradition of the Church. God commanded Moses to use it in the Tabernacle and it was used in the Temple at Jerusalem where there was an altar of incense. Frankincense and sweet smelling myrrh was offered to Christ at His nativity. In our churches, the sacred censer has twelve bells symbolising the twelve apostles sounding forth their teaching with the proclamation of the gospel. The lower bowl represents the earth and the upper bowl heaven. The charcoal is lit and gives off fire and heat and fragrant incense is placed on the burning coal. Our offering in worship likewise should be sweet and full of zeal with the warmth of the Holy Spirit. We see at various points in the Holy Liturgy and at other services the priest censing the holy Icons of Christ, His All Holy Mother and the saints as well as the faithful who are made in the image of God. When we come home, we find that our clothes are permeated with the aroma of incense. One of our Parishioners remarked that her husband always knows when she has been to Church!

All this is very beautiful. The aroma and action engages with our senses to elevate our heart towards God, but we should not forget the context of what this meant for early Christians. They were required once a year to appear before a statue of Caesar and put a pinch of incense on burning charcoal and say “Caesar is Lord!”It was seen as an act of political loyalty. But of course many Emperors imagined that they were divine (gods) and the conscience of thousands of Christians would not allow them to do this simple act and say these words, because for them there was only one Lord, Jesus Christ. They were prepared to be killed rather than confess a false god.

Just a pinch of incense but to whom do we offer this?

Last century, St.Gabriel Urgebadze from Georgia was such a confessor. After compulsory service in the army, he became a monk in 1955. He made himself famous by setting fire to a banner of Lenin during a parade in Tbilisi in 1965. He spoke openly to the people: “Glory is not needed to this dead, but glory to Christ, who subdued death and blessed us with an eternal life.”He was arrested, tried, ruled to be psychotic and confined to a mental hospital for seven months. He was treated mercilessly by the authorities who demanded from him confession of an alleged conspiracy in the Church in return for him to escape the death sentence. Despite torture and severe interrogation he would not accede to their political machinations. He put Christ first! He acknowledged Christ.

St Polycarp of Smyrna when he was eighty six years of age was asked to renounce Christ he replied, “Eighty six years have I served Christ and He has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who served me?” He was burned at the stake. He put Christ first. He acknowledged Christ.

We are strengthened when we acknowledge Christ, when we make a public confession of our faith. The Holy Apostle Paul tells us that if we confess with our lips that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead then we will be saved. Romans 10:9-10. We should tell others how much Christ means to us. At Pentecost we were equipped with all the resources we need to bring others to Christ, we have no excuse. If we acknowledge Him before others then He will acknowledge us before the Father in Heaven.

 Let us pray, that through the strengthening and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we may be found worthy to acknowledge and confess Christ.

Let my prayers be set forth before Thee as incense, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice; hear Thou me, O Lord.

 

Joyous Father Pustinnyk

The Coronavirus Diary of a Joyous Pustinik — 43

mount athos ascetics

Huts of the hermits at Karoulia (Athos)

A poem, the Desert Fathers, C.S. Lewis reflection and The Invisible Naked Ascetics of Mount Athos

I live in an old stone faced terraced property, built in the 1850’s. Yesterday morning as I was cleaning the bay windows at the front of my house, I thought to myself: “the Victorians knew how to build things to last.” Some would argue that the Victorian period was the golden age of engineering and architecture in Britain. Even though my house is small and the consequence of a vast building programme because of the industrial revolution, it is built on firm foundations.

 

The Builder

 

Matthew 21:42

  Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures:

 The stone which the builders rejected

Has become the chief cornerstone,

This was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.”

 

The Builder laid the living stones carefully and correctly;

Having mixed the cement of love, every stone had its special place.

Each was uniquely chosen and equipped

To support its neighbours of the human race.

 

There were apostolic and prophetic stones in the foundation.

They formed the base and shape of the temple.

Unseen, these sustained the saintly stones;

Rough hewn, finely crafted and simple.

 

Some builders today construct boxes

For the purpose of separation.

There are others who build Churches

To enable reconciliation.

 

The Father is building a Palace

No mortgage required and no loan,

 for us to live free in His mansions

With Christ as the Chief Cornerstone.

 


“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.” 

C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity

 

*

Two old men lived together for many years and they had never fought with one another The first said to the other, “Let us have a fight like other men.” The other replied, ”I do not know how to fight.” The first said to him ”Look ,I will put my brick between us and I will say: it is mine; and you will reply: no, it is mine; and so the fight will begin.” So they put a brick between them and the first said,” This brick is mine,”and the other said,” No it is mine.”And the first replied, ”If it is yours ,take it and go.” So they gave it up without being able to find a cause for an argument.

Saying from The Desert Fathers

 

The Invisible Naked Ascetics of Mount Athos

 

 

The Coronavirus Diary of a Joyous Pustinik — 40

Beggar

Dobri Dobrev

Amos 8: Swallowing the needy

I remember a holy priest from many years ago when I was a student at University in
the North of England. His Parish was in a very poor part of the city. He had a warm
heart, a generous spirit, a cheerful disposition and showed great concern and pastoral
care for his parishioners. He would light the fires of the elderly on winter mornings.
He would do shopping for the housebound and if needed buy food for the poor. Often,
in place of buying oil for heating the Church, he would give the money to the
homeless and to charities. Not many attended the Church.

Dobri Dobrev3
I recall one winter morning we were freezing in Church at the morning service: the
boiler had broken, as usual, and our feet were like blocks of ice. Father B. always
advised the small congregation to put on two or three extra layers of clothing. We
were hoping the sermon would not be long- it wasn’t!
As he was starting the homily, suddenly from under his vestments clouds of steam
like incense started to arise! Somehow the hot water bottle that he had secreted around
him, had burst.
After rescuing the good cleric from his sudden and untimely sauna, we dried him with
a towel and he continued to serve at the altar. His rather appropriate sermon text was
from the Prophet Amos5:24:

Dobri Dobrev4
“Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like and ever flowing stream.”
Rich men are rarely remembered but those who show compassion, joy, mercy,
righteousness, justice and love, their memory is unto eternity.
4 Hear this, you who swallow up the needy,
And make the poor of the land fail,
5 Saying:
“When will the New Moon be past,
That we may sell grain?
And the Sabbath,
That we may trade wheat?
Making the ephah small and the shekel large,
Falsifying the scales by deceit,
6 That we may buy the poor for silver,
And the needy for a pair of sandals—
Even sell the bad wheat?”
7 The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob:
“Surely I will never forget any of their works.

Woe to you who make mammon great and mercy small
Who today eat the apple of financial Fall
Who use the Sabbath to plan and cheat the more
Whose deeds white heat the flaming sword at Eden’s door!

Ah the flaming sword! You see there is no way back;
Not until you renounce excess and recognise the lack
In your brother’s life.
When will the market open so to satisfy our greed?
When again gratify desire and passion feed?
Poor men have no names, the heedless suffer fools to dream
Whilst God places at the East a bar – the Cherubim!
Oh the Cherubim! Whose faces guard four ways,
Affording plutocrats no bliss in all the days
of their little, mortal life.
They will rue the moments when they made mammon great.
When they closed their hearts to love and welcomed hate
They chose the serpent’s wiles over heaven’s gifts, too late
Espy eternal treasures through the guarded gate.
Alas the gates to Paradise! Are to some locked tight
Who choose outer darkness, the world’s whirlwind, an endless appetite
for their future life.

And God still looks at the rich through the needle’s eye
And walks in the garden and calls with a sigh
He sews with this needle those garments of need
And God still loves Adam and all of his seed.

Oh the love of God a garment of light, a consuming fire
Depending upon Whom, what and where lies our consuming desire
In this life.

Dobri Dobrev5

“Wealth … is like a snake; it will twist around the hand and bite unless one knows
how to use it properly.”
Clement of Alexandria, “The Instructor,” 3.6.34

For more about Dobri Dobrev, go here , here, here  and here

The Coronavirus Diary of a Joyous Pustinik — 38

cave

AGIA SOFIA’S CAVE, CRETE

Christ is Risen!

The man who lived in a cave

Some years ago, one hot summer day whilst on holiday in Crete, I visited with friends a small Church, high up on the top of a mountain. Near to the Church was a man who lived in a cave. On visiting him he showed us around his “house.” His bed was a smoothed rock shelf and another flat rock for a table. Above the “table” was an oil lamp and Holy Icons of the Saviour and the Mother of God.

Outside, he had two or three goats, a few chickens, a small plot of land with a clear stream of water running through it. I recall that the bees at the time were drinking from the stream.

“Don’t you miss out on things? one of our company enquired of the man.

“No, I have everything I need, I have milk and honey, I have eggs and freshwater to wash and drink and I can always exchange a few eggs for bread in the village.”

“What about the scorpions, aren’t you afraid of the scorpions?” one of our party asked.

“ There are scorpions,” he said as he shrugged his shoulders, “but I don’t bother them and they don’t bother me!”

Example 2

A shabbily dressed man walked into a publisher’s office in Moscow. He took from his greatcoat a rather tattered manuscript and enquired whether it could be published? The publisher glanced dismissively at the manuscript and seeing the man’s dishevelled appearance said that he had no time to read it.

“Really? “said the man “I must have been misinformed, I am told that people like to read what I write.”

“ Indeed” said the publisher, his curiosity being aroused by this response “….and so who are you? What is your name?”

“My name?” as he collected his papers and stuffed them back into his overcoat, “my name is Leo Tolstoy.”

The publisher felt rather foolish and started begging for the privilege to publish. The eccentric genius quietly withdrew making his exit from the publishing office.

 

The wisdom of God

1 Corinthians 1:23

But we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness,”

1 Corinthians 4:10-11

10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonoured! 11 To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless.

Who can contain the wisdom of the Wise?

Count loss as gain in faith-filled eyes.

Where is the key to unlock uncreated Light?

In constant prayer of day and night!

What target Heaven’s arrows and guided darts?

The simple minds, the humble hearts!

 

Who brought life to the Virgin womb?

He who emptied a stone-cold tomb!

Wisdom dwells in fools for Christ.

Power of God the Great High Priest

Who came in flesh to save the least.

Brightness of the Father, Pre-existent Word

The natal earth her ears first heard.

Who conceived creation? Wisdom from above!

Holy fools reflect His image… Love.

Who can contain the wisdom of the Wise?

In repentant sighs the one who dies… to self.

When Abba Macarius was into Egypt, he found a man who had brought a beast to his cell and he was stealing his possessions. He went up to the thief as though he were a traveller who did not live there and helped him to load the beast and led him on his way in peace, saying to himself, “We brought nothing into this world; but the Lord gave; as he willed, so is it done; blessed be the Lord in all things.”

My love and prayers

 

Eν Χριστώ

 

The Coronavirus Diary of a Joyous Pustinik — 37

mount athos

Touching Heaven! 

Christ is Risen!

I’m back!

I have all my data and files retrieved and installed on my new laptop. So once more I am able to inflict my poems on you. My “tech savvy” trusted helper patiently guided me through the installation, asking nothing in return. Such love and kindness inculcates a bond of respect.

However, I am going to miss my old keyboard, my new laptop is so sensitive to the touch! Things are different and yet the same- the same files but a new approach, a new style, a new image.

Quite recently, I met a former pupil in the city centre whom I had taught at school. He said:

“Hello sir!”  I haven’t been referred to as sir for some time! I searched my memory for a name, I hardly recognised him, not simply because of his physical maturity but because he had grown in confidence from the rather shy student I began to remember. He had changed and yet he was the same- his voice deeper but with the same inflection, accent and tone. When he began to speak, I knew who he was. What a joy it was to see him and to hear his news.

In the appearances of our Lord after his resurrection, his disciples do not always recognise him. The nature of His glorious resurrected body was so different and yet the same. His resurrected body contain the wounds of the crucifixion and yet it was transformed. His voice, His words, His actions reveal his identity.

2 Corinthians 3:18

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

 

Touching Heaven

John 21:4 “Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.”

 

The young monk stood upright head bowed in prayer.

Barefoot, he perched on rocks breathing the fresh spring air

The blue, tranquil lake lapped at his feet.

His eyes closed in mystery towards the setting sun,

Hands held aloft in reverence for the Holy One

Harmony of God and nature’s seat.

His leather holy belt hung at his waist

A sign of his ascetic labour and a taste

Of blessed Communion, Oh so sweet.

The stillness mirrored in his soul

Deep thoughts of Christ to make him whole

His heart in tandem with creation’s beat.

Here where sea and sky converge

This figure and Christ’s image merge

Earth touches heaven and for an instant meet!

To the Glory of God

 

“That is what the torment of hell is in my opinion: remorse. But love inebriates the souls of the sons and daughters of heaven by its delectability.”

St. Isaac the Syrian

From Poland With Love

20200524_10325620200524_104752

This morning in the kitchen whilst watching Matins on Skype and baking cookies with children, I had unexpected guests. At the time I was listening to beautiful “Blessed are Thou O God teach me Thy statutes” by Dmitry and Father, when I realised a stag and a doe (?) appeared in front of our window! Roughly twenty meters from our house. After gasping, I thought they have come for Typica! The Stag stayed for the Gospel whilst the female went for a walk. Enjoy the photos! 

Christ is in our midst!

Marta

Quick, While There’s Still Time!

 

I too meant to share with you but I am having problems with my laptop 😦 I tried to yesterday but was not able to … It is such a beautiful documentary! Even if someone is not so interested in the life of Elder Joseph the Hesychast, the scenery is breathtaking, the monastery “sightseeing tours”amazing,  and Jonathan Jackson’s acting is so good!

Update Saturday, 23 May: Actucally, there is time. You can watch the whole documentary on the great 20th-century Athonite spiritual father “Saint Joseph the Hesychast: ELDER JOSEPH THE HESYCHAST FILM (Άγιος Ιωσήφ ο Ησυχαστής)” , starring the Emmy-award winning Jonathan Jackson.

here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCZT8KvCsjU&feature=share&fbclid=IwAR2HqjqLGcpfIL4jlPzhEQsngfJT19nN8z7pPPS-ekcGDB1YPAxgP7RC9rc

 

or, here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ep9H5fM7d8c

lessons from a monastery

Christ is risen!

For a few more hours you can watch the full documentary of the life of Elder (Saint) Joseph the Hesychast for free!

I meant to include this link in my earlier post as a “treat” to share with you on my name’s day and completely forgot. Forgive me!

View original post

The Coronavirus Diary of a Joyous Pustinik — 36

snowdon sunrise

Snowdon Sunrise

The Ascent of Snowdon!

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

Eν Χριστώ

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.

20200518_115150

The Ascent of my Snowdon!

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.

John 1:50-51
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.”