Yesterday (Wednesday) — after a hiatus of twenty talks on St. Paul — the Holy Father returned to his series of audiences on the Fathers. There’s no full-text translation yet, but here’s the summary.
Today we recommence our catechesis on the great Christian writers of both East and West. John Climacus, whose name means “ladder”, was born around 575, and wrote an outstanding tract near Mount Sinai on the spiritual journey leading from renunciation of the world to perfection in love. The journey takes place in three stages. The first involves detachment from worldly goods in order to return to a state of Gospel innocence and enter into a deeper communion with God. In the second phase, the soul engages in a spiritual battle with the passions by cultivating virtues corresponding to each. When purified, these passions can show us the way to God through self-denial and grace. In the third phase, John emphasizes the importance of discernment: we must examine every aspect of our behaviour in order to ascertain our deepest motivations and reawaken a “sense of the heart”. This leads to tranquillity of soul – esichía – which prepares us to probe the depths of the divine mysteries. The last “rung” of the ladder consists in faith, hope and charity. John’s account of charity includes eros, or human love, which points towards the nuptial union of the soul with God. May John’s spiritual “ladder” remind all of us who share in the death and resurrection of Christ through Baptism that we are called to continual conversion and purification with the help of the Holy Spirit.