Vainglory, St. John Climacus and the Ladder of Divine Ascent


I’ve had, uhm, this little problem with vainglory, which inspired me to surf the web a little to find out just how bad I am. And I am bad indeed.

Here’s just some of what St. John Climacus has to say about vainglory:

“A vainglorious man is a believing idolater. Apparently honoring God, he actually is out to please not God but men. To be a showoff is to be vainglorious…”

“Like the sun which shines on all alike, vainglory beams on every occupation. What I mean is this. I fast, and turn vainglorious. I stop fasting so that I will draw no attention to myself, and I become vainglorious over my prudence. I dress well or badly, and am vainglorious in either case. I talk or I hold my peace, and each time I am defeated. No matter how I shed this prickly thing, a spike remains to stand up against me.”

“Talkativeness is the throne of vainglory on which it loves to show itself and make a display. Talkativeness is a sign of ignorance, a door to slander, a guide to jesting, a servant of falsehood, the ruin of compunction, a creator and summoner of despondency, a precursor of sleep, the dissipation of recollection, the abolition of watchfulness, the cooling of ardour, the darkening of prayer.”

And while we’re looking at St. John Climacus, did you know that with the exception of the Bible and the service books, there is no work in the Orthodox Church that has been more studied, copied or translated than the Ladder of Divine Ascent by Saint John Climacus?

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