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Repentance and Culture

“The cry, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!” is not an enjoinment to moral improvement. It is a call to recognize the very emptiness, the lacking within ourselves. Repentance is the personal recognition that Christ’s word is fulfilled in us: “Apart from Me you can do nothing….Repentance is an existential change that helps one become more like God, not a mere decision to do a good thing.” (Father Stephen Freeman, Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick)

“Just as unfaithfulness is turning away, learning to be faithful again is turning back; it is the process of repentance. Repentance is the purpose of this life—it prepares me for the life to come. And the life to come is the wedding banquet, which I prepare for by putting on my wedding garment. This is why the wedding garment—the love of God and neighbor—holds in itself all that the law requires.” (Andrew Williams)

“The issue of self-love (philautia) which the early Christians believed to be spiritually dangerous and debilitating is a very specific notion not to be confused with modern ideas of self-esteem. Self-esteem has a positive denotation in the modern world as it helps us deal positively with others as in Christ’s words in Luke 10:27 – “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” It is clear in this command of Christ that you have to care for yourself and believe yourself worthy of love before you can love others properly. This love though has nothing in common with the narcissist’s love for his/her self-image (Remember in the legend of Narcissist, he is completely focused on and enamored by his own image which he sees reflected in the water. No one else sees what he sees or understands what has entranced him about himself. He believes everyone else sees him as he sees himself and should be just as entranced by his self-image. He is not in love with himself but with the image of himself which he is projecting and sees reflected in the waters).” (Fr. Ted Bobosh)

“God’s forgiveness of us and our sins against Him is unconditional and absolute. God does not reject us, objectify us, or bear anger or resentment against us. These are, I think, our projections onto God of our own issues and judgments against ourselves when we sin. God does not punish us. Rather, by alienating ourselves from God, we punish ourselves and ascribe this punishment to Him. We turn in on ourselves in anger and self-hatred, and thus shatter our personhood, cutting ourselves off from His love.” (Hieromonk Jonah)

“…avoidance of repentance is based on a deadly delusion. The rampant self-hate and depression in our culture that “looking for the goodness inside ourselves” is no doubt meant to be a remedy for, will not be cured by that method, but only through the healing offered by traditional Christianity based on the actual teachings of Jesus, beginning with the need to repent—the need to be honest, humble, to seek the Truth, Who ultimately is Christ Himself. And there is always the need to accept forgiveness; but if one cannot first admit that one has done wrong, then one cannot accept being forgiven, or feel the liberating power of forgiveness. Perhaps, deep down, people cannot bear to admit their sins, because they do not believe God truly is the good God Who loves mankind and does everything for our benefit.” (Dr. Mary S. Ford)


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