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Thirty Steps to Heaven Paperback – February 21, 2014
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About the Author
Archimandrite Vassilios Papavassiliou is a priest of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain. He was born in London in 1977 and holds degrees in pastoral and social theology, classics, and Byzantine music. He is the author of Meditations for Great Lent and Meditations for Advent (Ancient Faith Publishing), Journey to the Kingdom: An Insider s Look at the Liturgy and Beliefs of the Eastern Orthodox Church (Paraclete Press), and numerous articles on Christian Orthodox faith and theology.
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Top Customer Reviews
Knowing this about The Ladder of Divine Ascent, why would a non-monastic want to read this book? Better yet, how could he ever hope to understand it or apply it to his life? Enter Fr. Papavassiliou and his wonderful book, Thirty Steps to Heaven. Aimed at the non-monastic, this book takes excerpts from the thirty rungs of The Ladder and then applies them to one's daily life. The first thing I like about this book is how the author divides the rungs of The Ladder into seven sections:
The Break with the World
The Fundamental Virtues
The Spiritual Passions
The Physical Passions
The Spiritual Passions (continued)
The Higher Virtues
Union with God
Doing this not only provides logical breaks, but it also focuses the reader's mind on the goal of each section as they ascend The Ladder. I must admit that the first section alone, The Break with the World, was enough to knock me to my knees. These first three steps focus on detachment from the world, renunciation (or not longing from the world you just detached yourself from), and exile (or humility and not seeking glory in anything we do). After reading these steps, I experienced both a longing to climb these three steps and doubt on whether or not I was able to.
Another thing I appreciate about this book is that it can be read as a stand-alone book, not just in conjunction with The Ladder. With extensive quotes, an easily-read explanation of each rung, and a humble tone, Fr. Papavassiliou makes this difficult ascetical treatise available to the laity, like myself. I think the step that hit home the most for me dealt with talkativeness. "Talkativeness is the throne of vainglory on which it loves to preen itself and show off. Talkativeness is a sign of ignorance, a doorway to slander, a leader of jesting..." The quote goes on to further tell the evils of talkativeness, and all I keep thinking to myself is, Amen. Teach me intelligent silence, Lord.
I find myself picking up this book and re-reading the same step several times per day, letting more knowledge sink in each time. I will soon pick up The Ladder again, with this book by its side, and read with hopefully a little less frustration and a little more understanding. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to all, no matter if you are Orthodox, Catholic, or Protestant. It is the perfect book for Lent, but can honestly be read at any time of the year. May we all ascend The Ladder which leads to Paradise. Also, be sure to purchase, Fr. Papavassiliou's next book, Meditations for Holy Week. There's a preview in the back of this book, and it looks just as awesome as Meditations for Advent; Preparing for Christ's Birth and Meditations For Great Lent Reflections on the Triodion!
This book was provided to me for free by Ancient Faith Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
This couldn’t be more wrong, as anyone who has actually read the book will confirm. Yes, the Ladder is first and foremost a work of monastic literature, but it has much to say to people from all walks of life. This is, of course, the subtitle of the brilliant book under review: Thirty Steps to Heaven: The Ladder of Divine Ascent for All Walks of Life. In his characteristically approachable style, Fr. Vassilios Papavassiliou here walks the lay reader through the thirty steps of the Ladder, providing precisely this sorely needed guidance. Devoting a few pages to each “step”, the author expounds on its main themes (Vainglory, Humility, Pride, etc.), and uses practical examples to show just how they apply to the everyday lives of modern laypeople. Quotes from the Ladder are often accompanied by Biblical passages and citations from other Church Fathers, giving the reader a feel for the wider context of Holy Tradition in which these are to be understood.
Many years ago, I had bought Ascending the Heights: A Layman’s Guide to the Ladder of Divine Ascent by John Mack, with the hope that it would help me understand the original work, but found it to be little more than an extended contents page. Fr. Vassilios’ book, on the other hand, is much more than a simple summary, but is full of wonderful and original insights, even for those who have read the Ladder several times. What I particularly like about it is the author’s willingness to tackle those passages many readers find most troubling or difficult. As such, anyone is sure to find it genuinely helpful, read either as an introduction or companion. I certainly wish it had been written all those years ago when I first attempted to read the Ladder.
That being said, the manner in which the book is written makes it perfectly suitable to be read independently, and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone and everyone with an interest in Christian spirituality, whether they intend to read the Ladder or not.
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