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REPENTANCE
  • Aghapy Everyone

    I was thinking of an interesting question:

    How can a person feel repentance more in his life?
    How can one always remember the death of Christ for his sake?
    How can we repent unceasingly for everything that we do and cry for our sins?

    God Bless
  • Hello christ_rose,

    I think there are several ways in which your questions may be answered, but I think that we should refocus some of them. Allow me to address this first and then return to answer one of your questions.

    Christ indeed did die for our sins, for our sakes, for each of us as individuals, but He, as your screenname denotes, rose from the dead for us as well. I think that there is a tendency in the general Christian population to simply focus on His death. I have noticed several Orthodox Christians who shed a great deal of tears when the week of Pascha comes around (Pascha means passover, by the way, not passion as many people seem to think), for example, because they feel that all of this was done for them, this act which they consider themselves unworthy of. While this is true, it is an incomplete view. The glory of the Cross, the glory of Christ's death is made apparent in His Resurrection. It is this that our focus should be on. During Pascha week, it is not the pain and suffering of Christ that I should focus on, imagining Him as receiving whippings and being spat on for my sake, but rather my own sins that I should be weeping over, as they have separated me from God, a God who so clearly is Love and has manifested His Love and whom I reject in the actions of my sins. Focusing only on His Death is almost like disregarding the second half of a book. I am not diminishing the importance of His Death, but rather raising up the importance of His Resurrection. Yes, He suffered, but He rose from the dead, and by doing so, has granted me a chance with the guidance of the Holy Spirit to share in His love and to inherit salvation.

    I recall reading something that one of our fathers, the monks, had written... I do not remember where it is from exactly, forgive me, but I will paraphrase the spirit of what I read. It was said that if a person were to remember all of his sins, he would surely feel that there is no hope for himself to return to God. It is God who allows this alleviation to occur; yes, we are sinners, but because God is so compassionate, He has allowed for us not to be constantly tormented of the sins that we commit, so that we may have faith and encouragement to return to Him again.

    The question that you have asked about how it is that we may also constantly cry for our sins is encompassed in this, but I wish to clarify this specific point a bit further. Emotions are only one of the many gifts that God has granted mankind; if I do not "feel" badly in the specific sense of feeling badly as I did when I was a child and broke my mother's vase, for example, am I not repentant? Feelings are only a part of the equation; they are not the whole nor do they outweigh the other faculties that God has given to mankind. One does not need to feel that they need to cry in order to allow for proper repentance. Repentance is achieved by mind, soul, and heart. There are monks that are written of that do achieve tears in their prayers, but please note that these are monks and this is sometimes a gift that is given to them after having labored in the struggle. If I cry for a sin today and confess it, and commit the same sin the next day but do not cry, should I not confess? Am I void of repentance? No.

    To answer your first question, we may experience repentance more readily as we come closer to God. To give an everyday example: if I say something mean to a person I don't really know, for example, I may or may not feel badly, but the words that I say to a parent whom I love dearly... these words will make me feel quite badly about what it is that I said. I must build a relationship with God, I must seek after Him and His will, I must begin to love Him more and more each day... He is trying to build a relationship with me, He seeks after me as an individual, and He is Love. When I, then, have become closer to God, by His grace in my actions of fasting and prayer and coming to Church and sharing in the Holy Mysteries, it is then that I will be more conscious of repentance. As in the example above, I am much more aware of having hurt a person close to me because they mean so much more to me and I don't want to hurt them... how much more, then, should I feel towards God?

    May the Lord bless us and allow us to experience Him more fully, seeing the glory of His Resurrection and His Loving hand in our own lives, so that we may recognize His Love and desire to share in it,
    childoforthodoxy


Memorial for HH Pope Shenouda

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