For one who has sinned

I heard today from someone who has sinned grievously, damaged his reputation, and wonders if he can ever repent and be healed.

I told him that if I have not been ashamed to sin before Christ and His mother and all the saints, then certainly I should not be ashamed to be seen publicly to repent and choose life and righteousness. Reputation among men is nothing; but clean hands and a pure heart make us ready to stand before the Lord (Ps 24:3-4) So let everyone know that I am a sinner struggling in repentance. Public humiliation may turn out to be divine intervention to turn us from a secret path of self-destruction and turn us to repentance and salvation.

Saint Basil the Great wrote:

Make the effort to rise from the ground. Remember the good Shepherd who will follow and rescue you. Whether you are wounded in both legs, or only in a tip of one ear, spring back from the beast that has wounded you.
Remember the mercies of God and how He cures you by pouring on oil and wine. Do not despair of salvation. Recall your memory of how it is written in the Scriptures, that he who has fallen rises, and he who turns away returns; the wounded one is healed, the prey of wild beasts escapes; he who confesses his sin is not rejected. The Lord does not desire the death of a sinner but rather that he should turn and live.
Do not despair, like the wicked in the pit of evil. There is a time of endurance, a time of long suffering, a time of healing, a time of correction. Have you stumbled? Arise. Have you sinned? Cease. Do not stand in the company of sinners, but spring away. When you are converted, and groan in sorrow for your sins, you shall be saved.
Out of labor comes health, out of sweat comes salvation from your sins that bind you. Beware, so that when you strive to keep certain obligations, you do not break the obligations to God which you professed before many witnesses. Everyone is ready to welcome you; everyone will share your efforts.
Do not sink back. Remember the days of old. There is salvation; there is renewal. Be of good cheer; do not despair. It is not a law condemning you to death without pity, but mercy that puts away punishment and awaits improvement. The doors are not yet shut; the Bridegroom hears you. Sin is not the master.
— (from letter 44)

From St. Theodore the Studite:

David was a prophet and, when he fell into the crime of adultery and murder, he did not give up, but after he had swiftly had recourse to repentance, he received the grace of prophecy once again. Manasseh perverted Israel for fifty two years, but when he repented, he too found salvation. The prince of the Apostles, after his denial, by the medicine of tears took up again the burden of the apostolate. Mary of Egypt, to pass over the numberless others, had reached the uttermost limit of debauchery, but once she had come to a remarkable repentance, she attained the highest degree of virtue. So there is no excuse for claiming incapacity for someone who chooses to be saved, unless they are insensible or bent on death. But we hear the words, “Why would you die, house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 18:31), and why do we choose everlasting death rather than immortal life that is set before us? Our good Master cries out each day, “Come to me all you that toil and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Saint John of the Ladder:

Do not be surprised if you fall every day and do not surrender. Stand your ground bravely. And you may be sure that your guardian angel will respect your endurance. A fresh, warm wound is easier to heal than those that are old, neglected, and festering, and that need extensive treatment, surgery, bandaging, and cauterization. Long neglect can render many incurable. However, all things are possible with God.

Saint Gennadius of Constantinople:

Do not say: “I have sinned much, and therefore I am not bold enough to fall down before God.” Do not despair. Simply do not increase your sins in despair and, with the help of the All-merciful One, you will not be put to shame. For He said, “He who comes to Me I will not cast out” (John 6:37). And so, be bold and believe that He is pure and cleanses those who draw near to Him. If you want to accomplish true repentance, show it with your deeds. If you have fallen into pride, show humility; if into drunkenness, show sobriety; if into defilement, show purity of life. For it is said, “Turn away from evil and do good.” (1 Peter 3:11)
— (from The Golden Chain, 87-89)

Author: Father Silouan Thompson

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