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Repentance (God's Love and Patience)

“The Church speaks to us about the power of repentance and gives us an image of how a man can rise up from the abyss of sin to the heights of holiness by the grace of God…there is no sin unforgiven except the sin not repented of….The main message that the Church addresses to us all, to the whole world, is the message that God, having appeared on Earth, brought to us. What were God’s first words, having become man, in His peaching? Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand! There are no hopeless states either for a people, or for the whole of mankind, or for an individual person, because the Lord always offers repentance.” (Archpriest Alexander Shargunov)

“However, the holy Church warns us both in the repentant Canon and constantly that this repentance must be true, serious, and deep, because, yes, the Lord is mercy, but sin will not be forgiven if there is no repentance…That means we need to think about how to complete this repentance….What are the signs of true repentance? An external sign of repentance, the holy Church tells us, is when our life changes. A sign that our sin is forgiven is when it is no longer repeated, but is already eliminated from our life. It becomes unbearable for our nature. And an internal sign is when the soul learns freedom of conscience, joy, and ease. And the most authentic sign, the deepest…is when we are given to know the grace of the Holy Spirit.” (Archpriest Alexander Shargunov)

“God receives a man’s repentance. This may seem to be an obvious statement, hardly worth making, but in actuality, many people do not really believe God will receive their repentance, or that they can truly change…The Lord is so merciful…He is only mercy. And this mercy is His nature, exuding from Him. Every sin loses power where there is repentance. There where there is sincere repentance…all sins are immediately forgiven…So merciful is our Lord.” (St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, St. John Chrysostom, Archpriest Alexander Shargunov)

“There is no sin that cannot be forgiven but the sin of unrepentance…When we sin against our Father and then approach Him from the heart, He forgives everything, as though nothing had ever happened….True repentance is rare, even among the pious, and this is why we suffer so much. If our people were to repent, they would not experience the suffering that they are going through now.” (Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica)

“…it is the recognition of Beauty itself, in Whose Presence we appear broken, soiled, with nothing to recommend us. It is the language of repentance – but not of morbid self-hatred. It is the language of self-forgetting of leaving the self behind, of finding nothing within the self to cling to. There is another word for this self-forgetting: ecstasy. Again, this word has been abused in modern language and now means an extreme emotional state. But its Greek root means to “stand outside of oneself.” Thus the Fathers will speak of God’s ecstasy – His going forth to us. But there is also our ecstasy, as we forget ourselves and rush towards Him.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“To repent is not to look downwards at my own shortcomings, but upwards at God's love, it is not to look backwards with self-reproach but forward with trustfulness, it is to see not what I have failed to be, but what by the grace of Christ I might yet become.” (St. John Climacus)

“Repentance is a change of mind, a new way of thinking, a dynamic transition ‘from the unnatural to the natural, and the return from the devil to God through asceticism and labors’. This definition makes it clear that repentance isn’t compliance with the Law, but a heart-rending encounter with Christ.” (Bishop Agathangelos of Fanari)

“Confession brings us face to face with our shame, but in a different manner. Confession is not a selfie that seeks to say all is well. It is a self-exposure that we would likely never want to see posted online. It is also a revelation of the face of Christ that can be found in no other way. In our imaginations, we hide our sin and the selves we imagine ourselves to be, lest we face what we believe to be condemnation from Christ. And here, confession is critical to our knowledge of God and the self. We do not find Christ condemning us or despising us. This, in my experience, is an extremely important aspect of the sacrament.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“Because repentance was understood to be not a mere listing of one’s sins, but a re-orienting of one’s life to God, some church fathers thought there were two ways a sinner could achieve this return to God. One was to approach God confessing one’s sins and seeking God’s mercy and forgiveness. The other was to approach God enumerating all the things for which one is thankful. In both cases the person orients their life toward God in humility – one giving full recognition to God as the giver of every good and perfect gift and the other recognizing God’s holiness and how one falls short of holiness and so needs the Lord’s forgiveness and mercy. Both have the same end – the person’s life is fully oriented toward God, which is the goal of repentance.” (Fr. Ted Bobosh)

“…for repentance does not require the perquisite of sin. It simply means to put our attention still more deeply upon Christ to love Him much, much more than we have before. Of course, compared to that “more deeply,” the prior state looks like sin – but this is partly relative for us.” (Dr. Timothy Patitsas)

“God granted one hundred years while the ark was being made to that generation, and still they did not repent. God summoned beasts that they had never seen and still they showed no remorse. He established a state of peace between the predatory animals and those who are preyed upon, and still they had no awe. God delayed yet seven more days for them, even after Noah and every creature had entered the ark, leaving the gate of the ark open to them. This is a wondrous thing that no lion remembered its jungle and no species of beast or bird visited its customary haunt! Although those of that generation saw all that went on outside and inside the ark, they were still not persuaded to renounce their evil deeds.” (St. Ephrem the Syrian)

“Repentance is a gift from God; it’s something that God grants. We can only pay attention, strive to repent, and confess when we fail. What if there are deeper wounds that God is working on in your heart and mind that must be healed first, before the sins that you perceive can be healed?  Let God do what only God can do. Trust in God. Hope in Him. Pay attention to your thoughts. Strive to reject thoughts leading to sin. When you fail, confess it and ask God for mercy. Continue to trust in God…you are growing in God. That you notice and hate your sin is evidence of the Grace of the Holy Spirit in your life.” (Fr. Michael Gillis)

“The Gospel is the Good News of salvation. So even though Great Lent has a theme of repentance, this is not because God’s wish and nature is to destroy sinners. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). Repentance is not our despairing of salvation, but our response to God’s love, to Christ’s seeking us. We are doing only what the Prodigal Son did – coming to our senses realizing the goodness and love of our Creator for us, despite our sinfulness. For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). Repentance is our allowing Christ to lift us up out of the pit of despair in order to experience His love for us.” (Fr. Ted Bobosh)

“Mere moralizing can never lead naturally to an offer for repentance. The "pricking" and convicting impact of the Holy Spirit produce repentance when man's sinfulness and helplessness are exposed to the forgiving love and grace of Christ.” (Father Eusebius Stephanou)

“…it is Puritanism which seeks to blot out the morally flawed, but in Christianity, “God embraces the flawed individual and sacrifices his only-begotten Son for this broken world, instead of eradicating it and recreating it anew.” (Fr. Ted Bobosh, Sergei Brun)


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