Words to Inspire

The Ladder of Perfection – Walter Hilton

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Image courtesy of Western Mystics blog

Walter Hilton (b.1340–45 – d.1396) was an English Augustinian monk whose writing became influential only after his death. To my mind, his Ladder of Perfection remains the greatest work in the late Middle Ages Christian mystical tradition; and is certainly of equal calibre to “The Imitation of Christ” by Thomas á Kempis. Some passages arguably even exceed the warmth and depth of the Imitation, especially Book 1 of Hilton’s work, where the chapters are generally shorter and pithy.

Hilton has been far less widely read that á Kempis, and bound copies are hard to come by, as it appears to be out of print other than very costly print on demand reprints. On the other hand, our online version here is bookmarked chapter by chapter, making for easy on-line reading. So rather than purchase, why not just read our version here a far more sensible proposition, especially as it is free to read or download.

Our online version here is bookmarked chapter by chapter, making for much easier on-line reading.

“But you should ever seek with great diligence in prayer that you might gain a spiritual feeling or sight of God. And that is, that you may know the wisdom of God, His endless might, His great goodness in Himself and through His creatures…so that you may know and feel with all saints what is the length of the endless being of God, the breadth of the wonderful charity and the goodness of God, the height of His almighty majesty and the bottomless depths of His wisdom. In knowing and spiritual feeling of these should be the exercise of a contemplative man. For in these may be understood the full knowing of all spiritual things.”

– The Ladder of Perfection


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Author: John E Ruffle

As a redeemed, recycled 1970s Californian Jesus Freak, John has faced too many extreme situations and sticky wickets through the years to mention here. Returning to his native England, John was actively involved in mission and outreach and taught English in a Further Education college in London until retiring in 2017. After a ten-year journey into a deeper appreciation of the historic Christianity, in 2013 John was received into the Catholic Church where he now serves in a lay capacity. Yet foundational to his faith has always been his experiences living in Gospel Outreach - an orthodox evangelical Christian commune in the USA. He is still in touch with many of his original “Jesus Freak” generation buddies. John serves as co-leader of a local Catholic Charismatic prayer group and writes to instruct and inspire. Prior to Pope Francis' election in March 2013, John accurately predicted in his personal journal that the new pope would choose either the name John or Francis. Currently, John is engaged in researching the 1967-1977 American 'Jesus People Movement' that saw tens of thousands of hippies coming to Christian discipleship through communes, coffee houses, and street outreach. He has been revitalising his ministry website at http://www.rufflemission.org throughout 2019 and is writing a devotional. John and his Filipino wife Gladdys have one boy, several stray cats that appear and disappear at will, and a growing extended family both in the UK and abroad. They make their home in Birmingham, England where they love to praise and worship Jesus. Still young at heart, John is passionate about engaging young adults in the faith, particularly though relational small groups.

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