The Ladder to Heaven

St. Maximilian Kolbe said of our Blessed Mother, “What a marvelous ladder for climbing to Him… And it is the very same whereby He came down to us!” (Roman Conferences, IV) According to the saint, she is a ladder for climbing to Jesus, a ladder to Heaven.

If Mary is the ladder by which Jesus came down to us, then that same ladder can be used to go up–to start climbing and reach, ultimately, where Jesus came to us from. We know where the other end of that ladder is; it must end in Heaven. Of course, for us to benefit from the end of the ladder in Heaven, it must still have an end here on earth from which we can begin.

If a ladder is to be used by others to go back up, you have to leave it behind. You have to leave the ladder there when you’ve made the descent. And that is just what Jesus did! He gave us His mother. (cf John 19:26-27)

If Jesus came to earth by an actual ladder–a set of rungs stretching into the sky–we would climb it. We’d climb it out of faith, or perhaps out of curiosity. Some may climb it in disbelief, certain that Heaven can’t be reached on the other side. How very many, though, leave this holy ladder, this God-given ladder, unconsidered? How many give Mary no thought at all, even out of curiosity or disbelief? A mother loves, and she will surely stoop down to respond to even our deepest and most misguided attempts to come to her and, through her, to her Son. Even if we begin in curiosity or uncertainty or even disbelief, at least we begin.

What do we do, then, with this “ladder”? Well, what is a ladder for but to raise people up? Granted, it is not automatic. A ladder isn’t an elevator, and so it will take some work. Even so, it is there to help you up. You have to do some work, but the ladder is there to make it easier, or to make it possible at all. To start, all you have to do is reach out and grab hold.

Jesus hides His Body and Soul behind the curtain of bread; He can surely hide a ladder in a woman. And that ladder, His blessed mother, is there for us, given to us by her Son to help reach Heaven. It will take work, yes, but to start you must do the same as with any ladder. All you have to do is reach out and grab hold of her.

Heaven is a city on a hill, hence we cannot coast into it; we have to climb. – Ven. Fulton J. Sheen

Copyright 2017, Joe Wetterling

Image courtesy:,_madonna_col_bambino,_pinacoteca_sabauda.jpg

Joe Wetterling

Joe Wetterling

Joe Wetterling is a professional educator, homeschooling dad, and writer. He's appeared at national conferences, both secular and religious, speaking on education, technology, and philosophy. Joe writes online for New Evangelizers, as well as his own blogs. He's taught in the Holy Apostles MOOC program and currently teaches Natural Theology at the new Dominican Institute. He's a member of the Militia Immaculata and current President of the Catholic Writers Guild. Learn more about him at

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