As we step further into this first reflection of St. John Climacus on Renunciation, we begin to see how he paints with broad strokes. His intention is that we would begin this journey with a clarity of focus. Our asceticism is to be driven not by our own will or by fear or by hope of reward - but by love.
So often, we can turn the ascetical life into a matter of endurance, or self-punishment rather than a means of healing and drawing us into deeper intimacy with God. Thus, all the images that John uses in this first step call us to let go of our preconceived notions of the spiritual life and of God. We are to allow Him to draw us forward and His Spirit to guide us along the path that fosters our sanctification and salvation.
God wants us to enter this path with zeal and fervor. Love must fuel the fire within the heart that makes us run with swiftness when Christ calls us. We are to run with love and be motivated by desire. God and the pursuit of divine things cannot be set aside anything within this world as comparable in value or importance. God must be the beginning and end of all that we do. We must be ever so careful not to become calculating in our view of the spiritual life and never asceticism as another means of self-help. In fact, the self must be set aside in order that we might constantly gaze upon the face of Christ. It is Love that motivates us and beckons us and it is this Love alone that will bring us to what our heart longs for the most.
Text of chat during the group:
00:09:25 Cindy Moran: Good Evening!!
00:09:46 kevinferrick: Yes good eve!!!
00:13:59 Edward Kleinguetl: In a secular culture that is at war with the values of the Gospel
00:23:20 iPad (10)maureen: Sorry it was on by mistake
00:30:12 Bridget McGinley: Wow Father, that insight is profound as with the comparison of the Biblical texts. Thank you
00:30:18 Eric Williams: Stone is a building's foundation. Brick structures are built on top. Should pillars be
built on bare earth? I don't know, but my guess is that doing so makes a structure vulnerable to ground eroding underneath. So, we must start our ascent will a solid foundation, for to attempt advanced ascesis too quickly would invite disaster. We might ask ourselves how firm the ground is under our ladders.
00:33:34 Ryan Schaefer: I think it is easy to focus on how much energy we put into putting awareness in Christ, rather than directly focusing on Christ. Does that make sense? Something that I have been thinking about this past week.
00:33:52 Andreea and Anthony: What page/paragraph are we at?
00:34:06 Anthony: 14
00:34:11 David Robles: Father, if a good foundation is Love and Chastity (see #8), and Innocence, fasting and temperance, which take time to learn (see#10), how can we attain to that in the beginning to be used as a foundation? In other writings Love is the summit of the spiritual life. What kind or measure of love do we need at the beginning? How is that love different from the kind of love that is our goal?
00:34:13 Carol Nypaver: 56. 14
00:36:58 Joseph Caro: Wow, I really love your interpretation of #14 Father. I thought at first it was good to build on stones. . .but your interpretation made me notice that the first two people are building structures (a stable dwelling place, either way -- pillars on bare ground might not be within building codes but it would make a house anyway) whereas the third is running free. That's a strange juxtaposition that is only illuminated by your explanation.
00:37:13 David Robles: Thank you Father. That makes sense!
00:39:47 Eric Williams: I don't mean to belabor the point, but I may have insight as a runner. Attempting to run a race or a hard workout without warming up first could lead to either injury or poor performance. So, this metaphor doesn't strike me as very different from the others.
00:40:49 Sam Rodriguez: We live in a time of celebrity Priests and Catholic speakers that can often engender a cult of personality, self-promotion, and product-mindedness in much of our current catechetical offerings. When one contrasts that phenomenon against what St John Climacus, it seems to point to some concerning implications as to the spirit as to how current and future generation of Catholics might be formed, if not checked
00:41:39 Rachel: This is a pernicious temptation where when one is trying to avoid multiplicity they are in fact focusing too much on self
00:41:39 Sam Rodriguez: *contrasts that phenomenon against what St. John Climacus is saying
00:42:42 Andreea and Anthony: Everyone is needed in the Lord’s kingdom. My wife and I have benefited greatly from Bishop Barron and Fr. Mike Smitz, Fr. Dave Pivonka, etc
00:45:22 Anthony: Simplicity vs multiplicity. It may be better to smoke or drink in peace of heart on one's own porch than to listen to many Catholic teachers on YouTube.
00:46:03 Sam Rodriguez: Oh I agree, Andrea and Anthony. And I'm not saying its intrinsically bad. But I'm saying it *can* be bad... and i'm not pointing to any particular Priest/Speaker... and quickly acknowledge that many are wonderful and holy... but i'm speaking to the aggregate impact that such phenomenon can have to people seeking to give their life to ministry.... the glitz and allure of celebrity can be distracting... and launching a ministry such as that can sometimes rely upon self-promotion, which inherently carries spiritual risk and must be checked...
00:46:33 Andreea and Anthony: Judge not that you may not be judged. We cannot know how God is acting in someone else’s souls
00:48:26 Sam Rodriguez: If you re-read what I'm saying in those past two comments, there is no judgment intended to be expressed. This is merely a caution flag being waived. Nothing more.
00:48:29 Ren: My mind is also turned to the man found building a barn on the night he is going to die, and to Christ speaking of the destruction of the physical temple, and the enduring nature of the temple of his body. Everything in the New Testament, and here in this chapter, points us towards a less earthly, less secure (in one sense) way, and towards total abandon to the person of Christ.
00:52:01 Anthony: And it came to dust because it was intended to receive Messiah. But when Messiah was rejected, the earthly glory was dismissed.. It's a warning for our cathedrals and basilicas too.
00:52:16 Robyn Greco: sorry im late
00:58:12 Sam Rodriguez: Amen, Father. Thank you
01:04:01 Ambrose Little: ❤️
01:05:51 Robyn Greco: i lost my spot can someone tell me where on page 57 we are? thank you
01:06:08 Rachel: I wonder at the examples of monks who fell away because of the lack of clarity Fr. Abernathy was speaking of a few minutes ago. The clarity Father A speaks of seems to be one received at every moment, from Our Lord through union with Him in whatever degree and capacity we are able to in that moment.
In relation to St. John C., we will be pulled down by fears manifested in different idols and desires. The labor and grief also seem to be the pain that comes from the Divine Sculptor chipping away our illusions, of self and more importantly God Himself. Consumed by God Himself Also, ! I am not too sure what sublimation, that you mentioned means, so I will have to look up what you meant and how that related to what your were saying and how it relates.
01:06:15 Erick chastain: the joy of virtue should not exclude tears of compunction though
01:06:55 Rachel: Yes, Erick, a joyful sorrow. :)
01:07:43 Rachel: I was thinking the same thing. btw and am not afraid to say it lol
01:08:25 Rachel: What is peace?
01:12:37 Andreea and Anthony: Listening to the story about the Franciscan whose gift to the poor was destroyed by them before they could benefit, should we draw the conclusion that building on a large scale for others is always a mistake and a way of self-aggrandizement? For example, should Pope Saint John Paul the Great not have started any of the “big projects” he started such as World Youth Day, visiting so many countries, the work of the Catechism, Theology of the Body, etc … Should Saint Teresa of Calcutta not have built any of the homes for the poor? THAT was the way SHE was called to be the face of Christ in the world …
01:12:55 Andreea and Anthony: From Anthony: Regarding the idea that as soon as we try to enter the kingdom things go south, that seems very discouraging. Why would anyone then attempt it? It seems to me that God allows trials in accordance to what we need for the salvation of our souls, not allowing the devil to crush us immediately.
01:14:00 Erick chastain: joy should include suffering and compunction, it is not a worldly joy
01:14:54 Erick chastain: suffering with christ
01:17:04 Cindy Moran: Thank you so much!
01:17:12 Rachel: Thank you
01:17:21 Sam Rodriguez: Thank you. Father!!
01:17:24 Rachel: If you say so lol
01:17:38 Rachel: Yes, it is drinking pure light
01:17:48 Ann Grimak: Thank you 🙏
01:17:56 kevin: thank you
01:18:08 Anne Barbosa: Thank you =)
01:18:11 kevin: Love Newman!
01:18:12 Debra: I like that the questions/comments are typed out, so I can go back and read them, if I've had to step away from the computer
01:18:28 liz2: Thank you Father!!
01:19:12 Rachel: lol I love this group
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