My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
THE MYSTERY(SACRAMENT) OF REPENTANCE AND
The soul which is not transformed by repentance does not know grace. It ceases to make progress in the way of ascent. This is the insensibility of a heart of stone, and the symptom of spiritual death. Saint John Climacus (Ladder) counsels: "The fount of tears after Baptism has become greater than Baptism, though this be a bold saying." But repentance IS THE FRUIT OF BAPTISMAL GRACE. This gift of tears is the infallible sign that the heart has been overwhelmed by the love of God. "When our soul departs from life," says Saint John of the Ladder, "WE SHALL NOT BE ACCUSED BECAUSE WE HAVE NOT WORKED MIRACLES, OR HAVE NOT BEEN THEOLOGIANS, OR HAVE NOT SEEN VISIONS, BUT WE SHALL ALL CERTAINLY HAVE TO GIVE ACCOUNT BEFORE GOD BECAUSE WE HAVE NOT WEPT UNCEASINGLY ON ACCOUNT OF OUR SINS." The spiritual gift of these tears not only consummates repentance but also produces THE FIRST FRUITS OF INFINITY JOY.
From The Way of a Pilgrim, let us hear how an Orthodox confession leads the inward man to humility. "Turning my eyes carefully upon myself and watching the course of my inward state, I have verified by experience that I do not love God, that I have no religious belief, and that I am filled with PRIDE and SENSUALITY. All this I actually find in myself as a result of a detailed examination of m y feelings and conduct, thus:
"I do not love God. For if I loved God I should be continually thinking about Him with heartfelt joy. Every thought of God would give me gladness and delight. On the contrary, I much more often and much more eagerly think about earthly things, and thinking about God is labor and dryness. If I loved God, then talking with Him in prayer would be my nourishment and delight and would draw me to unbroken communion with Him. But, on the contrary, I not only find no delight in prayer but even find it an effort. I struggle with reluctance, I am enfeebled by sloth, and am ready to occupy myself eagerly with any unimportant trifle, if only it shortens prayer and keeps me from it. My time slips away unnoticed in futile occupations, but when I am occupied with God when I put myself into His presence, every hour seems like a year. If one person loves another, he thinks of him throughout the day without ceasing, he pictures him to himself, he cares for him, and in all circumstances, his beloved friend is never out of his thoughts. But I, throughout the day, scarcely set aside even a single hour in which to sink deep down meditation upon God, to inflame my heart with love of Him, while I eagerly give up twenty-three hours as fervent offerings to the idols of MY PASSIONS. I am forward to talking about frivolous matters and things that degrade the spirit; THAT GIVES ME PLEASURE. But in the consideration of God, I am dry, bored, and lazy. Even if am unwillingly drawn by others into spiritual conversations, I try to shift the subject quickly to one which pleases my desires, I am tirelessly curious about novelties, about civic affairs and political events, I eagerly seek the satisfaction of my love of knowledge in science and art, and in ways of getting things I want to possess. But the study of the law of God, the knowledge of God and of religion, make little impression on me and satisfy no hunger of my soul. I regard these thins not only as a nonessential occupation for a Christian but in a casual way as a sort of side issue with which I should perhaps occupy my spare time, at odd moments. To put it briefly, if love for God is recognized by the keeping of His Commandments, ("If ye love Me, keep My Commandments" [John 14:15), and I not only do not keep them but I even make an attempt to do so, then in absolute truth, the conclusion follows that do not love God. That is what Basil the Great says: "THE PROOF THAT A MAN DOES NOT LOVE GOD AND HIS CHRIST LIES IN THE FACT THAT HE DOES NOT KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS."