Prologue: The Ladder of Divine Ascent by Saint John Climacus

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To all who are diligent to have their names inscribed in the book of life in Heaven, the present book points out the best path. Journeying by this way, we shall find that this book is an unerring guide to those who follow it, keeping them unharmed from every stumbling-stone. And it sets before us a fixed ladder leading from things earthly to the Holy of Holies; it makes manifest the God of love, Who stands upon its summit. I think that this was the ladder which Jacob, the spurner of the passions, saw when he was resting on his ascetic couch. And so, I entreat you, let us climb with zeal and faith up this spiritual and Heaven-scaling ladder, the beginning of which is the renunciation of all earthly things, and the end, the God of love.

The holy father judged wisely in arranging for us an ascent by steps equal in number to the age of the Lord according to the flesh; for after the pattern of the thirty years of the Lord’s full age, he described a ladder, consisting of thirty steps of spiritual perfection; and when we have attained to the fullness of the Lord’s age by ascending them, we shall be lawful and unstumbling. But he who has not attained this measure of age is still a babe, and in the eyes of all, he is seen to be imperfect. We considered it necessary first of all to insert in this book the life of the wise father, so that after seeing his labours, readers may not disbelieve his teaching.

One of the various introductory items and not by St. John Climacus.

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