by St. Silouan the Athonite
Glory be to the Lord that He gave us repentance. Through repentance we shall all, every one of us, be saved. Only those who refuse to repent will not find salvation, and therein I see their despair, and shed abundant tears of pity for them. They have not known through the Holy Spirit how great is God's mercy. But if every soul knew the Lord, knew how deeply He loves us, no one would despair, or murmur against his lot...
. . . For as the best physicians bring back those who are far gone in sickness with careful treatment to a state of health, not only treating them according to the laws of the medical art, but sometimes also giving them gratification: even so God conducts to virtue those who are much depraved, not with great severity, but gently and gradually, and supporting them on every side, so that the separation may not become greater, nor the error more prolonged.
And the same truth is implied in the parable of the prodigal son as well as in this. For he also was no stranger, but a son, and a brother of the child who had been well pleasing to the father, and he plunged into no ordinary vice, but went to the very extremity, so to say, of evil, he the rich and free and well-bred son being reduced to a more miserable condition than that of household slaves, strangers, and hirelings. Nevertheless he returned again to his original condition, and had his former honour restored to him.
by Fr. Vladimir Berzonsky
from The Word, November 1968
“Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee:. . . From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” (Matt. 4:12, 17)
The chief problem in communicating today is that people do not always say what they mean. Just notice how often people begin a sentence with, “I’m sorry, but ... I was here first;” or, “I’m sorry, but . . . you’re in my way.” What they mean is that they are not sorry at all. They use the word to pretend they are sympathetic to your plight, but in fact they take the opportunity, while they are still speaking, to argue in behalf of their own personal interests.
Sorry does not mean just sorrowful. One who is truly sorry for his acts recognizes that his behavior is wrong and regrets his actions. In no way does he justify his deeds. On the contrary, he repents, seeking a new course of action.
The very first words spoken by our Lord at the beginning of His ministry were, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” (Matt. 4:17). Those to whom he spoke knew what He meant. He was demanding a total conversion of the inner self, which includes: (a) recognizing that one’s way of life is contrary to God’s plan for man: (b) giving up all self-reliance and surrendering unconditionally to our Creator: (c) converting one’s whole being to the Will of God.