02 March 2008

Fourth Sunday of Lent

I just can't shake the Eastern commemorations when it comes to Sundays in Lent. I'm so thankful for the Byzantine Rite in the Catholic Church so I can keep up the customs I loved when I was Eastern Orthodox. That said, let's look at today:

St. John Climacus was a monk in the 6th century who lived on Mt. Sinai. His home, the monastery of St. Katherine is still active today. Born is Syria, he entered monastic life at 16. He is celebrated by Roman & Byzantine Catholics as well as Eastern Orthodox on March 30th--plus the Oriental Orthodox (non-Chalcedonian monophysites, i.e. Coptic, Ethiopian/Eritrean, Armenian & Syrian "orthodox") recognize him too.

His best known work is the Scalia, aka The Ladder of Divine Ascent. The icon shows a ladder with monks ascending--notice the angels helping them up and demons attempting to pull them off. Jesus waits at the top. This icon reminds us of the Lenten journey, which is probably why this image is presented in the "home stretch" of Lent.

On Lying
As with all the passions, we ought to recognize various types of lying according to the damage done. One person tells lies from fear of punishment; another when no danger is threatening; another because of conceit; another for enjoyment; another to raise a laugh; and yet another to do harm to his neighbour.

On Love
Love in its nature makes a human being like God, as far as is possible for a human being. The soul is intoxicated by the effects of it. Its characteristics are a fountain of faith, an abyss of patience, an ocean of humility. When someone is completely permeated with the love of God, the brightness of his soul is reflected by his whole personality as if in a mirror. Therefore the one who loves God also loves his brother or sister. Indeed, the second love is the proof of the first.

Dismissal Hymn (Tone 3)
Having raised up a sacred ladder by thy words, you were shown unto all as a teacher of monastics; and you led us, O John, from the purification that comes through godly discipline unto the light of Divine vision. O righteous father, entreat Christ that we be granted great mercy.

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