"See thee then that you walk circumspectly," writes St. Paul to the Ephesians, "not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil." Indeed, it was God Who created time "in the beginning," and grants it unto us as a gift, that we might use it wisely for the sake of our salvation, in order that we might come to understand "what the will of the Lord is"--that thereby understanding, we might strive mightily to fulfill His will, rather than our own.
And what, then, is the will of God, if not that all may be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth? As our Lord assures us, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." The liberating power of the truth, that is, shall set us free from the three primary obstacles to our salvation: Sin, Death, and the Devil.
Jesus Christ, of course, proclaims Himself to be "the Way, the Truth, and the Life." So it is that it is only through Him that we may hope to be saved from eternal damnation in a hell of our own making, which is--contrary to the perfect will of God--the natural consequence of our willfully chosen separation from God.
It is, therefore, only through knowing Christ, Who is the Truth, that we can come to a knowledge of the truth, which reveals to the human heart that straight and narrow path which leads to eternal life and salvation in God's heavenly Kingdom. And the means through which this goal may be achieved is to live a life (so far as we are able) of ascetic discipline.
This means, above all, self-denial--the repudiation of those egocentric thoughts and desires that separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Because God is Love, it is through love alone that it is possible to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.
Today we commemorate St. John Climacus, whose classic manual of the spiritual life--The Ladder of Divine Ascent--sets forth, step by step, the practical means of attaining this end. He is, par excellence, the teacher of those practical principle of the ascetic life that the Church sets forth for the salvation of Her faithful members. May we all, by the grace of God, struggle unto the end to incorporate these principles into our own lives as we tread the God-given path leading to salvation.