Ascending the Heights: A Layman's Guide to the Ladder of Divine Ascent Paperback – 1 Jan 1999
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St. John Climacus's "The Ladder of Divine Ascent " is recognised as one of the seminal guides to Orthodox spiritual life. . Here a contemporary Orthodox priest shows how it can be applied to our lives today. Treats difficult subjects in a very practical way.
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Although I have only read portions of the original 6th century classic work by St. John Climacus (also known as John of the Ladder), I can say that, while Father John Mack does an excellent job of introducing contemporary readers to this great work, he barely scratches the surface. Having said that, Fr. Mack has been able to shed light on each of the 30 steps of the ladder and make them relevant for the non-monastic reader.
Accompanying Amazon's book description, you have the opportunity to view the table of contents, which gives you Fr. Mack's contemporary names for each of the steps. You can also read the first chapter, which will give you an idea of the content and structure of his writing.
Hopefully one reading of this volume will whet your appetite for tackling the entire Ladder of Divine Ascent, which is filled with pearls of wisdom. Amazon.com lists various translations of "The Ladder," however I'm only familiar with one from "The Classics of Western Spirituality," which contains an informative introduction by Bishop Kallistos Ware. This is the one that was used for discussion in our Orthodox church men's group.
Just as most Orthodox monastic communities read one step of The Ladder on each weekday during Great Lent, I'm hoping to reread (and read aloud to my family) Fr. John Mack's "Ascending the Heights" during the next Lenten period.
Now if I can only begin to put into practice what I have learned here, I may be on the road to salvation. May God help me.
The book reveals many passions present "in disguise" in our lives and offers practical advice on how to fight them. A contemporary Father once made the remark that Christians did not have, in the past, so many spiritual writings as we do today, but very few; they followed what they had and found salvation. I dare to claim that this book is also enough for those working on their salvation, provided they seriously try to put it in practice!