March 7, 2022

Saint Paul the Simple as the Rule and Type of Blessed Simplicity (St. John Climacus)

 By St. John Climacus

(The Ladder - Step 24: On Simplicity)

24. The first property of the age of childhood is uniform simplicity, and as long as Adam had it, he did not see the nakedness of his soul, or the indecency of his flesh.

25. Excellent too is that simplicity which is in some by nature, yes, and blessed, but not as much as that which is grafted in with toil and trouble after repenting from sin. For the former is sheltered and protected from much affectation and passion, but the latter leads to the highest humility and meekness. The former has not much reward, but the latter—infinite, infinite.

26. Let all of us who wish to attract the Lord to ourselves draw near to Him as disciples to the Master, simply, without hypocrisy, without duplicity or guile, not out of idle curiosity. He Himself is simple and absolute, and He wants souls that come to Him to be simple and innocent. For you will surely never see simplicity separated from humility.

27. The evil man is a false prophet who thinks that from words he can catch thoughts, and from outward appearance, dispositions of the heart.

28. I have seen honest souls who learnt to be evil from evil people, and I wondered how they could lose their natural disposition and superiority so soon. But it is as easy for the honest to fall from grace, as it is difficult to change the dishonest. But true exile, obedience and guarding of the lips have often had great power, and have wonderfully restored the incurable.

29. If knowledge puffs up many people, simplicity and lack of learning can perhaps in the same measure humble them. All the same there are here and there people who pride themselves on their ignorance.

30. The thrice-blessed and most simple Paul was a clear example for us, for he was the rule and type of blessed simplicity, for no one, absolutely no one, has ever seen or heard or could see so much progress made in so short a time.

31. A simple-hearted monk is like a rational dumb animal, who lays his burden on his director. An animal does not answer back his master who yokes him, nor does an honest soul do this with his superior, but follows wherever he is led; though sent to the slaughter, he could make no protest.

32. It is hard for the rich to enter the Kingdom of Heaven and equally hard for those who are foolishly wise to enter simplicity.