ClimacusHe who wishes to speak about divine love undertakes to speak about God. But it is precarious to expatiate on God, and may even be dangerous for the unwary.

The angels know how to speak about love, and even they can only do this according to the degree of their enlightenment.

God is love. So he who wishes to define this, tries with bleary eyes to measure the sand in the ocean.

Love, by reason of its nature, is a resemblance to God, as far as that is possible for mortals; in its activity it is inebriation of the soul; and by its distinctive property it is a fountain of faith, an abyss of patience, a sea of humility.

Love is essentially the banishment of every kind of contrary thought for love thinks no evil.

Love, dispassion and adoption are distinguished as sons from one another by name, and name only.

Just as light, fire and flame combine to form one power, it is the same with love, dispassion and adoption.

As love wanes, fear appears; because he who has no fear is either filled with love or dead in soul.

There is nothing wrong in representing desire, and fear, and care and zeal and service and love for God in images borrowed from human life.

Blessed is he who has obtained such love and yearning for God as an enraptured lover has for his beloved.

Blessed is he who fears the Lord as much as men under trial fear the judge. Blessed is he who is as zealous with true zeal as a well-disposed slave towards his master.

Blessed is he who has become as jealous of the virtues as husbands who remain in unsleeping watch over their wives out of jealousy.

Blessed is he who stands in prayer before the Lord as servants stand before a king. Blessed is he who unceasingly strives to please the Lord as others try to please men.

Even a mother does not so cling to the babe at her breast as a son of love clings to the Lord at all times.

He who truly loves ever keeps in his imagination the face of his beloved, and there embraces it tenderly.

Such a man can get no relief from his strong desire even in sleep, even then he holds converse with his loved one. So it is with our bodily nature; and so it is in spirit.

One who was wounded with love said of himself (I wonder at it): I sleep because nature requires this, but my heart is awake in the abundance of my love.

John Climacus (c.575-c.650): The Ladder of Divine Ascent, step 30, 4-13, translated by Archimandrite Lazarus Moore (Harper & Brothers, 1959) @ Prudence True.