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The Ladder. (Part 3)




Love Him with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your thoughts. Doing so, you will lead a peaceful life on this earth and a blessed one in heaven... forever. Ascend!


(Continued from Part 2)


If you have food and clothing, be content with it by the example of Jesus Who became impoverished for our sake. Never argue and do not defend or excuse yourself too much, do not say anything against superiors or your neighbors without need or obligation. Be sincere and simple in heart, with love accept directions, admonitions, and being exposed by others, even though you may be wise.


Do not detest or be envious or exceedingly stern in word and deeds. What you do not wish for yourself do not do unto others, and what you wish others to do to you, do it first unto them.

If someone visits you, elevate your heart to God and pray that He give you spirit of meekness, humbleness, and concentration; be gentle, modest, careful, wise, blind and deaf, according to the situation. Remember that Jesus is present among those with whom you are and among those with whom you speak. Say nothing without thought. Bear it firmly in mind, that time is short and that man must give an account of every word spoken. Listen more than speak, for in verbosity you will not escape sin. Beg God to give you the blessing to be silent and to speak at the right time. Do not be curious about news, for it diverts the spirit. If by words you are helpful to someone, acknowledge it in God's grace.


When you are alone, examine yourself whether you have become worse than before, whether you have committed any sins which you did not do before.

If you did sin, immediately beg God's forgiveness with humbleness and a contrite heart, and trust His Mercy, hastening to repent before your spiritual father: because every sin left without repentance is a sin unto death. And if you do not repent with a contrite heart the sin you have committed, you will fall into that sin again. Try to do good to everyone, any kind of good and at any time you can, not thinking whether it will be appreciated, with gratitude or without. And rejoice, not when you do good to someone, but when without spite you bear insults from others, especially from those to whom you were good. If one does not obey you the first time, do not force him through debate; make use of the good yourself, which he has lost, because meekness will bring you great profit. But when harm caused by one spreads to many others, then do not tolerate it, looking not for your own benefit but that of others. The general welfare is more important than personal considerations.


During supper remember the Last Supper of Jesus Christ, begging Him to honor you with Heavenly food.

Before going to sleep, examine your conscience, pray to be given light to recognize your sins: think of them, beg for forgiveness and promise to reform, determining clearly and precisely in what matter and how you intend to improve yourself. Then give yourself up to God, as though tonight you will have to appear before Him, entrust yourself to the Mother of God, your guardian angel, the Saint whose name you bear. Picture your bed as your coffin and your blanket as your shroud. Cross yourself and kissing the cross you wear, fall asleep under the protection of the Shepherd of Israel! He will not nod or fall asleep.


If you cannot sleep or are keeping vigil at night, like Jesus Who prayed to His Father until His body sweat was bloody—pray for those who at night are severely ill or fatally ill, for the suffering and the dead, and pray God, that the night's darkness not cover you. In the middle of the night get up from your bed and pray, as much as you can.

During an illness first of all entrust yourself to God in order to strengthen your spirit in the midst of your misery. Often remember and think of the suffering and the death of Jesus Christ. Ceaselessly say all the prayers you know and can; beg God to forgive you your sins and to give you patience while ill. In all ways possible abstain from complaining and irritation which are common when ill. Our Lord Jesus Christ underwent, for the sake of our salvation, the most painful illness and sufferings, and what have we done or suffered for the sake of our salvation?


Go to the services in church as often as possible; try especially to be present often at the Divine Liturgy. Sundays and holidays without fail and do deeds of piety; always remember that you are in the presence of God, the Angels and the Saints; the remaining time devote to pious reading and other acts of piety and love. Devote your birthday and Saint's Day especially to pious deeds. Every year and every month examine your conscience rigorously. Go to confession and receive the Holy Sacraments as often as possible. Receive Holy Communion always with sincere hunger and real thirst of your soul, with a contrite heart, with reverence, humbleness, faith, trust and love. Think of the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ as often as possible, begging Him to veil your sins and receive you into His Kingdom.


May the name of Jesus always be on your lips, in your soul and your heart. As often as possible meditate on God's great love to you, glorified and worshipped in the Trinity so that you yourself may love Him with all your heart, all your soul and with all your thoughts.

Doing so, you will lead a peaceful life on this earth and a blessed one in heaven forever. The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Amen.


Glory to Thee our God.

+ Glory to Thee for All Things +


From Orthodox Life, Nov.-Dec. 1960, pp. 21-26. Minor corrections were made throughout the text. Some misplaced words and phrases were deleted, and some were added [in brackets] for clarification.

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