The man who has withdrawn from the world in order to shake off his own burden of sins should imitate those who sit outside the city among the tombs, and should not cease from his hot and fiery streams of tears and voiceless heartfelt groanings until he, too, sees that Jesus has come to him and rolled away the stone of hardness from his heart, and loosed Lazarus, that is to say, our mind, from the bands of sin, and ordered His attendant angels: Loose him from passions, and let him go to blessed dispassion. Otherwise he will have gained nothing. (Step 1:6)*

Dispassion is a word very often misunderstood by readers of ascetic literature. We often picture a person devoid of emotions, with no capacity for passion. This is not what God has created us to be – we’re not stoics. Dispassion means that we are not controlled by our sinful passions, but rather we remain in control of ourselves, through Christ, in the face of all temptation. A dispassionate person will see a temptation coming and be able to remain unperturbed by it. For instance, we might recognize that a situation has the potential to make us angry, and if we were dispassionate we would be able to push aside the sin of anger and engage the situation in a virtuous and constructive way.

The repentance St. John mentions in today’s reading, along with everything we receive from the Fathers and the Scriptures and Saints, all of this leads us to dispassion. If we follow the commandments of our Lord, we are being re-formed in His image. Christ faced temptation, but He never once gave in to sin. Let us continually petition our Saviour for this steadfastness of faith and grace, and for the strength to endure daily the temptations that teach us to be like Him.

Scripture verse thought for today – “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)

*All quotes are taken from The Ladder of Divine Ascent by Saint John Climacus, Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Boston: 2001.

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