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Repentance (Thoughts, Feelings, and Actions)

“Repentance is to do the works of God rather than the works of the devil. Sin is much more a state of being, a demonic force, than it is a list of evils committed. That means repentance -- the struggle to do the works of God rather than the works of the devil -- is constant. It is an ongoing, dynamic movement, not a transactional achievement. It doesn't matter if you can't think of something you did wrong. Repentance is always needed.” (Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick)

“To repent is to do a total “about-face.” The word in Greek literally means to “change one's mind.” Repentance is a radical change of one's spirit, mind, thought, and heart—a complete reorientation to a life centered in Christ.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Mark 1:14-15)

“…repentance is not a self-improvement program. Its primary motive is not the fear of punishment, and its main purpose is not the removal of regret or shame. No, the focus of our change of heart and mind must be on our relationship with God.” (Fr. Basil)

“One of the ways we grow is through godly repentance. The devil tries to block genuine repentance by provoking us to feel self-loathing, toxic shame, and self-rejection. These maladaptive conditions essentially proclaim that God made a mistake when He created us.” (Robin Phillips)

“Christ announced His ministry in Mark’s account of the Gospel and said “Repent and believe in the Gospel’ (Mark 1:15). Have you ever worried whether you are repentant, or repentant enough? Anyone with a sincere desire to follow Christ has at different times. We are so trained in the West to disproportionately value our thoughts, beliefs, and feelings that sometimes we can consternate too much on what we think and feel and confuse ourselves. Repentance is more clearly revealed in our actions rather than our thought struggles and up and down feelings. For example, we may not always feel compassionate, but what matters more is what we do in a situation that requires compassion. Ideally thoughts and actions go together and we cannot be dismissive of them, nor be a slave to them. If we go to Church regularly, worship with the right heart, pray daily, love others through giving of our time and resources, and are sincerely striving to be Christ-like, regardless of how we think and feel at a given moment, these are the actions of repentance. If our hearts are right, it is through these actions that Christ transforms us, and over time and our thoughts, feelings, and actions will become more integrated in joyful repentance.” (Sacramental Living Ministries)

“I will return to the image of learning to ride a bicycle. There is a two-fold element in that process, analogous to purification and illumination. Falling off and getting back on are the essential elements of purification. Fear and any number of passions could prevent this process from taking place. Falling off is not failure. Not getting back on would be failure. Our moral failures are almost beside the point. Repentance, the refusal to abandon the life of grace in Christ, is the one thing necessary. Illumination comes in time and with it comes a greater awareness and understanding of our failings…It is vital that we make a beginning in this journey of inner renewal. We do not ignore what can be known through discursive reasoning, but we do not mistake it for saving knowledge. We recognize the reality of sentimentality in our lives but we do not raise it to the level of authentic spiritual experience. With prayer, repentance, and helpful guidance (there is no Christianity without some form of discipleship) we come to hear and know the Shepherd’s voice. We will fall down a lot. What matters is getting back up.” (Father Stephen Freeman)


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