Great Lent for us, as Orthodox Christians, is a journey toward transformation.  This week, the church remembers St. John Climicus, a seventh century monk from Egypt, who wrote a book called, “The Ladder of Divine Ascent.”  In this book, St. John lists 30 stages of spiritual development to help us on our journey toward transformation.  The steps are:

  1. Turn backs on world
  2. hold all things with open hands
  3. live as strangers
  4. practice obedience (obedience)
  5. turn backs on sin
  6. remember our mortality
  7. be realistic about life
  8. bend without breaking
  9. let the past be the past
  10. keep our mouths shut, part 1
  11. keep our mouths shut, part 2
  12. speak the truth (truth)
  13. escape from boredom
  14. control our eating habits
  15. keep ourselves pure (purity)
  16. let go of things that hold us, part 1
  17. let go of things that hold us, part 2
  18. get serious
  19. stay awake
  20. stay alert
  21. face our fears
  22. humble ourselves
  23. beat pride
  24. live meekly
  25. develop humility (humility)
  26. discern God’s will for our lives
  27. learn how to be still (prayer)
  28. seek union with God through prayer (theosis)
  29. grow beyond our passions
  30. achieve the heights of the virtues (Love)

*The Above list is adapted from: “Journey through Great Lent”-Teacher guide.

And there is an icon that was developed to depict these stages, and represents the Christian struggle toward transformation, and our desired Salvation.  So, may this week be, for us, a week of reflection about our own Christian journey.  And may we work toward increasing our prayer and fasting as we anticipate the celebration of Christ’s glorious resurrection.