Repentance

 

  Someone asked Abba Poemen to explain what repentance means exactly?

"Not to commit the same sin again in the future," the Elder replied.


    Repentance is the renewal of baptism. Repentance is a contract with God for a second life. A penitent is a buyer of humility. Repentance is constant distrust of bodily comfort. Repentance is  self-condemning reflection, and carefree self-care. Repentance is the daughter of hope and the renunciation of despair. A penitent is an undisgraced convict. Repentance is reconciliation with the  Lord by the practice of good deeds contrary to the sins. Repentance is purification of conscience. Repentance is the voluntary endurance of all afflictions. A penitent is the inflicter of his own punishments. Repentance is a mighty  persecution of the stomach, and a striking of the soul into vigorous awareness.        

St. John of the Ladder


A young officer, who had recently been led to the way of God but was still struggling with his conscience, asked his confessor if God really accepted man's repentance so readily, as they say he does.
"If your cloak happens to get torn, my son, do you take it off immediately," he asked, " and throw it away because it is useless?"
    "Of course not," he said. "I sew it up and mend it, as much as is possible."
    "If you pity your clothing and do not throw it away so easily, how can God not feel sorry for His creation?" the good Elder said, "Will he not do all he can to mend him?" The young man was put at ease.


A novice went to Holy Poemen in sorrow.
    "I had a great fall, Abba," he confessed, and I need at least three years to repent.
    "That's too much," the Elder told him.
    "Is three months enough, then?"
    " That's also too much," the Holy Man replied. Let me tell you that if you have truly repented  and have made a firm decision not to fall into the same sin again, God in his Goodness will receive you back in three days"


    Another brother asked the same Elder if God forgave human sins easily.
    "How is it possible for him not to forgive, my child? He taught us long-suffering? Did he not tell Peter to forgive he who had fallen "seven times seven," [Matt: 18:22] which means infinitely?" the Elder replied.


A brother confessed to Abba Sisoes.
    "I fell, Father. What am I to do now?"
    "Get up," said the Holy Elder, with his usual simplicity
    "I got up, Abba, but I fell into that cursed sin again," the brother confessed with great sorrow?
     "And what's stopping you from getting up again?"
    "For how long?" the brother replied
    " Until death finds you either falling or rising. Is it written. "wherever I find you there shall I judge you?" the Elder explained.    Only pray to God that during your last moment you will be found upright in holy repentance."


        Saint Mark the Ascetic writes, " There is a sin which is always 'unto death' [1 Jn 5:16]; the sin which we have not repented. Even a saint's prayer's will not be heard for the unrepented sin. The person who repents correctly does not imagine that his sins are cancelled through his own effort; but knows that through this effort he makes peace with God."


    An Elder said, "People nowadays do not seek  to repent today, but rather to repent tomorrow"


    They say that a certain brother, when troubled by a thought which said, forget about today and repent tomorrow, would wisely reply "Today I'll show my repentance with works, as for tomorrow, let God's will be done."


A certain young man stumbled, but he repented so much so that, after hearing just one sermon Divine Grace, visited him, and he left the world to become a monk. He built a hut in the desert and wept for his sins every day with great pain. He could not be comforted in any way at all.
    One night Jesus appeared to him while he was sleeping, surrounded by heavenly light. He drew near to the young man.
    "What's the matter? Why do you weep with such pain?" He asked in His sweet voice.
    "I weep, Lord, because I have fallen," said the sinner in despair.
    "Get up then,"
    "I cannot do it alone, Lord."
    The King of Love then stretched out his hand and helped him get up. However, the young man still did not stop crying.
    "Why are you crying now?"
    "I'm in pain, my dear Christ, because I have saddened you. I wasted the richness of Your gifts in wantoness."
    Then the Man-loving Master put His hand lovingly on the young man's head and said, "Since you are in so much pain on my account I am no longer saddened by that which has passed."
    The young man looked up in order to thank his Saviour, but He was no longer there. In the place where He had stood an enormous cross of light had formed. Redeemed of his sins he bowed down before it.
    With gratitude in his soul, after that vision, he returned to the city and became a fervent preacher of repentance and thus  led many more people to Christ.


 When you are praying, watch over yourself so that not only your outward man prays, but your inward one also. Though you be sinful beyond measure, still pray. Do not heed the devil's provocation, craftiness, and despair, but overcome and conquer his wiles. Remember the abyss of the Saviour's mercy and love to mankind. The devil will represent the Lord's fact to you as terrible and unmerciful, rejecting your prayer and repentance; but remember the Saviour's own words, full of every hope and boldness for us: `Him that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out'; and `Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden' - with sins and iniquities, and wiles and calumnies of the devil - and I will give  you rest.'

St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ



  Since the Word of God though His descent to us has brought the kingdom of heaven close to us, let us not distance ourselves from it by leading an unrepentant life. Let us rather flee the wretchedness of those who sit `in  darkness and the shadow of death' (Isa. 9:2). Let us acquire the fruits of repentance: a humble disposition, compunction and spiritual grief, a gentle and  merciful heart that loves righteousness and pursues purity, peaceful, peace-making, patient in toil, glad to endure persecution, loss outrage, slander and suffering for the sake of truth and righteousness. For the kingdom of heaven or, rather, the King of heaven - ineffable in His generosity - is within us (cf. Luke 17:21); and to Him we should cleave through acts of repentance and patient endurance, loving as much as we can Him Who so dearly has loved us.

St. Gregory Palamas, Philokalia, Vol. 4.  

The CyberDesert™ 1997
by the hand of Marina M. Robb

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