Living a Life of Repentance

“No one is so good and merciful as God, but even He does not forgive the unrepentant…All the wide variety of God’s commandments can be reduced to the single principle of repentance…We are not condemned for the multitude of our transgressions, but for our refusal to repent.[…] Grief and horror are indeed frequently present in the experience of repentance, but they are not the whole of it, nor even the most important part. We come closer to the heart of the matter if we reflect on the literal sense of the Greek term for repentance, metanoia. This means ‘change of mind’: not just regret for the past, but a fundamental transformation of our outlook, a new way of looking at ourselves, at others and at God – in the words of The Shepard of Hermas, ‘ a great understanding.’ A great understanding – but not necessarily an emotional crisis. Repentance is not a paroxysm of remorse and self-pity, but conversion, the recentering of our life upon the Holy Trinity.[…] St. John Climacus, ‘Repentance is the daughter of hope and the denial of despair.’ […] It is not self-hatred but the affirmation of my true self as made in God’s image. To repent is to look, not downward at my own shortcomings, but upward at God’s love; not backward 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 can yet become. Repentance, then, is an illumination, a transition from darkness to light; to repent is to open our eyes to the divine radiance – not to sit dolefully in the twilight but to greet the dawn.[…]  The sequence is not to repent first, and then to become aware of Christ; for it is only when the light of Christ has already in some measure entered our life that we begin truly to understand our sinfulness. To repent, says St. John of Kronstadt, is to know that there is a lie in our heart; but how can we detect the presence of a lie unless we have already some sense of the truth.”   (Bishop Kallistos Ware, The Inner Kingdom, pgs. 44-47)

One thought on “Living a Life of Repentance

  1. Pingback: What? I have to repent? « doyoumeanwhatiknow

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