Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers

forgiveness

28 Entries

Even if all spiritual fathers, patriarchs, hierarchs, and all the people forgive you, you are unforgiven if you don’t repent in action. St Kosmas Aitolos



'And forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors.' For we have many sins. For we offend both in word and in thought, and very many things we do worthy of condemnation; and 'if we say that we have no sin' (I Jn. 1:8), we lie, as John says...The offenses committed against us are slight and trivial, and easily settled; but those which we have committed against God are great, and need such mercy as His only is. Take heed, therefore, lest for the slight and trivial sins against you, you shut out for yourself forgiveness from God for your very grievous sins. St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures: Lecture 23 no. 16)

...though remission of sins is given equally to all, the communion of the Holy Spirit is bestowed in proportion to each man's faith. If you have labored little, you receive little; but if you have wrought much, the reward is great. You are running for yourself, see to your own interest. St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures: Lecture 1)

Abba Poemen also said this about Abba Isidore that whenever he addressed the brothers in church he said only one thing, "Forgive your brother, so that you also may be forgiven." The Desert Fathers

Do we forgive our neighbors their trespasses? God also forgives us in His mercy. Do we refuse to forgive? God, too, will refuse to forgive us. As we treat our neighbors, so also does God treat us. The forgiveness, then, of your sins or unforgiveness, and hence also your salvation or destruction, depend on you yourself, man. For without forgiveness of sins there is no salvation. You can see for yourself how terrible it is. St. Philotheos of Sinai

Do we forgive our neighbors their trespasses? God also forgives us in His mercy. Do we refuse to forgive? God, too, will refuse to forgive us. As we treat our neighbors, so also does God treat us. The forgiveness, then, of your sins or unforgiveness, and hence also your salvation or destruction, depend on you yourself, man. For without forgiveness of sins there is no salvation. You can see for yourself how terrible it is. St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, Journey to Heaven

For God seeks nothing else from us, save a good purpose. Say not, How are my sins blotted out? I tell thee, By willing, by believing[1]. What can be shorter than this? But if, while thy lips declare thee willing, thy heart be silent, He knoweth the heart, who judgeth thee. Cease from this day from every evil deed. Let not thy tongue speak unseemly words, let thine eye abstain from sin, and from roving[2] after things unprofitable. Procatechesis, Or, Prologue To The Catechetical Lectures Of Our Holy Father, Cyril, Archbishop Of Jerusalem

Forgive and pray, in order to live your life serenely. And do not do to others that which you do not want them to do to you, or return the evil which they have done to you. Modern Orthodox Saints Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene of Lesvos., by Constantine Cavarnos., INSTITUTE FOR BYZANTINE AND MODERN STUDIES., Belmont, Massachusetts., 1990., pp. 145-155

Forgiveness is better than revenge. St. Tikhon of Zadonsk

Hence, in whatever state a person is, he sometimes finds himself making pure and intense prayers. For even from that first and lowest sort, which has to do with recalling the future judgment, the one who is still subject to the punishment of terror and the fear of judgment is occasionally so struck with compunction that he is filled with no less joy of spirit from the richness of his supplication than the one who, examining the kindnesses of God and going over them in the purity of his heart, dissolves into unspeakable gladness and delight. For, according to the words of the Lord, the one who realizes that more has been forgiven him begins to love more. St. John Cassian, The Conferences

If we remember that thief who, for a single confession, was taken into Paradise, we shall realize that it was not for the merit of the life he lived that he obtained so great blessedness, but that it was his by the gift of God, Who had mercy on him. Or let us think of David, the king, whose two such grievous and awful crimes were wiped away by one word of penitence. Neither here do we see that the merit of what he did was equal to obtaining pardon for such great offense, but the grace of God did the more abound when on the occasion of true penitence He did away with all that weight of sin for one single word of genuine confession. Again, when we consider the beginnings of man's calling and salvation, which, as the Apostle tells us, is not of ourselves or of our words, but we are saved by the gift and grace of God, we shall be able clearly to perceive how the end of perfection is not "of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God Who showeth mercy," Who makes us victors over our vices, although we have no merit at all of life or labors to weigh against them, nor does the effort of our will avail for us to reach the steep summit of righteousness, or to subdue the flesh which we are bound to use... For the outcome of all good flows from His grace, Who hath bestowed so great an eternity of bliss and such immeasurable glory , with manifold generosity, upon the weak will and the short life-work of man. St. John Cassian, Institutes, Book XII, chap. xi

If you want cure your soul, you need four things. The first is to forgive your enemies. The second is to confess thoroughly. The third is to blame yourself. The fourth is to resolve to sin no more. If we wish to be saved, we must always blame ourselves and not attribute our wrong acts to others. And God, Who is most compassionate, will forgive us. Modern Orthodox Saints I, St. Cosmas Aitolos).Dr. Constantine Cavarnos., INSTITUTE FOR BYZANTINE AND MODERN GREEK STUDIES., Belmont, Massachusetts., pp.81-94

If your heart has been softened either by repentance before God or by learning the boundless love of God towards you, do not be proud with those whose hearts are still hard. Remember how long your heart was hard and incorrigible.

Seven brothers were ill in one hospital. One recovered from his illness and got up and rushed to serve his other brothers with brotherly love, to speed their recovery. Be like this brother. Consider all men to be your brothers, and sick brothers at that. And if you come to feel that God has given you better health than others, know that it is given through mercy, so in health you may serve your frailer brothers. Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic. Prolog, 31.march



In 1944, the Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko's mother took him from Siberia to Moscow. They were among those who witnessed a procession of twenty-thousand German war prisoners marching through the streets of Moscow:

The pavements swarmed with onlookers, cordoned off by soldiers and police. The crowd was mostly women -- Russian women with hands roughened by hard work, lips untouched by lipstick, and with thin hunched shoulders which had borne half of the burden of the war. Every one of them must have had a father or a husband, a brother or a son killed by the Germans. They gazed with hatred in the direction from which the column was to appear.

At last we saw it. The generals marched at the head, massive chins stuck out, lips folded disdainfully, their whole demeanor meant to show superiority over their plebian victors.

"'They smell of perfume, the bastards," someone in the crowd said with hatred. The women were clenching their fists. The soldiers and policemen had all they could do to hold them back.

All at once something happened to them. They saw German soldiers, thin, unshaven, wearing dirty blood-stained bandages, hobbling on crutches or leaning on the shoulders of their comrades; the soldiers walked with their heads down. The street became dead silent -- the only sound was the shuffling of boots and the thumping of crutches.

Then I saw an elderly women in broken-down boots push herself forward and touch a policeman's shoulder, saying, "Let me through." There must have been something about her that made him step aside. She went up to the column, took from inside her coat something wrapped in a colored handkerchief and unfolded it. It was a crust of black bread. She pushed it awkwardly into the pocket of a soldier, so exhausted that he was tottering on his feet. And now from every side women were running toward the soldiers, pushing into their hands bread, cigarettes, whatever they had. The soldiers were no longer enemies. They were people. A Precocious Autobiography, Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Collins, London



Let no man deceive himself, let none be misled. Only the Lord can grant mercy. Sins committed again Him can be cancelled by Him alone Who bore our sins and suffered for us, by Him whom God delivered up for our sins. Man cannot be above God, nor can the servant by any indulgence of his own remit or condone the graver sort of crime committed against his Lord, for that would make the lapsed liable to this further charge, that he knows not the words of the prophet: "Cursed be the man that putteth his hope in man." It is Our Lord we must pray to, it is Our Lord we must win over by our satisfaction; for He has said He will deny the man that denies Him, and He alone has received all power of judgment from His Father. St. Cyprian, The Lapsed

No one is as good and kind as the Lord is; but He does not forgive one who does not repent. St. Mark the Ascetic

Not only is it wonderful that He forgives us our sins, but also that He neither uncovers them nor does He make them stand forth clearly revealed. Nor does He force us to come forward and publicly proclaim our misdeeds, but He bids us to make our defense to Him alone and to confess our shins to Him. And yet, if any judge of a worldly tribunal were to tell some captured highwayman or grave robber to confess his crime and be excused from paying the penalty, this prisoner would with all alacrity admit the truth and scorn the disgrace in his desire to go free. But this is not the case in baptism. God forgives our sins and does not force us to make a parade of them in the presence of others. He seeks one thing only: that he who benefits by the forgiveness make learn the greatness of the gift. St. John Chrysostom, Baptismal Instructions

Often during the day I have been a great sinner, and at night, after prayer, I have gone to rest, justified and whiter than snow by the grace of the Holy Ghost, with the deepest peace and joy in my heart! How easy it will be for the Lord to save us too in the evening of our life, at the decline of our days! O! save, save, save me, most gracious Lord; receive me in Thy heavenly Kingdom! Everything is possible to Thee. St. John of Kronstadt (My Life in Christ, Part 1; Holy Trinity Monastery pg.27)

Our sins are forgiven us at each confession, but we must remember that there is the "Great Forgiveness," which consists in this, that by God's mercy, we unconsciously stop committing certain specific sins, such as sinful acts. words, deeds and thoughts, but at the same time we continue to feel and be aware of our profound sinfulness. The most perfect man is the one who, precisely as he is a man, sincerely feels that he is a great sinner. An example of this was St. Seraphim of Sarov. Metropolitan Vitaly, Paschal Encyclical, 2001 (http://www.orthodox.net/pascha/2001-pascha-vitaly.html)

Sincere repentance is a gift of God such that, although we may not have committed any severe fall into sin or evil deed, we still see ourselves in our true light, see how weak we are, how much we sin in the mind, in our feelings, and especially in our imagination. Looking honestly at ourselves, we have nothing left to say except "Lord God have mercy on me, help me, and forgive, forgive, forgive me!" Then forgiveness will come into our souls like Pascha, and we are as it were born anew. And if the Lord should forgive, who will condemn us? Metropolitan Vitaly, Paschal Encyclical, 2001 (http://www.orthodox.net/pascha/2001-pascha-vitaly.html)

Sometimes we do not see any outlet, any escape from our sins, and they torment us: on account of them, the heart is oppressed with sorrow and weary. But Jesus looks upon us, and streams of tears flow from our eyes, and with the tears all the tissue of evil in our soul vanishes. We weep with joy that such mercy has suddenly and unexpectedly been sent to us. St. John of Kronstadt

The deeper the contrition, the better. But however deep the contrition, never admit a shadow of doubt about forgiveness. Forgiveness is already fully prepared and the record of all sins has been torn up on the Cross. Repentance and contrition alone are expected of every man, before he too can participate in the power of the redemption of the sins of the world through the Crucifixion. Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare: Chapter 28)

The drunkard, the fornicator, the proud - he will receive God's mercy. But he who does not want to forgive, to excuse, to justify consciously, intentionally... ...that person closes himself to eternal life before God, and even more so in the present life. He is turned away and not heard. Elder Sampson of Russia

Thou dost not so much desire thy sins to be forgiven, as He desires to forgive thee thy sins. In proof that thou dost not so desire it, consider that thou hast no mind either to practice vigils, or to give thy money freely: but He, that He might forgive our sins, spared not His Only-Begotten and True Son, the partner of His throne St. John Chrysostom

Thou dost not so much desire thy sins to be forgiven, as He desires to forgive thee thy sins. In proof, that thou dost not so desire it, consider that thou hast no mind either to practice vigils, or to give thy money freely; but He, that He might forgive our sins, spared not His Only Begotten and True Son, the partner of His throne." St John Chrysostom

Thus should we weep for the forgiveness of our sins. The words of the bearer of the purple should convince us of this: 'Going they went and wept, casting their seed; but coming they shall come with joyfulness, carrying their sheaves (Ps. 125:6);' as well as the words of St. Isaac the Syrian: 'Moisten your cheeks with the tears of your eyes, that the Holy Spirit may abide in you, and cleanse the filth of your malice. Move your lord with your tears, that He may help you' (homily 68). St. Seraphim of Sarov

...it is impossible for a man to be freed from the habit of sin before he hates it, just as it is impossible to receive forgiveness before confessing his trespasses... Monks Callistus and Ignatius (Directions to Hesychasts no. 28, Writings from the Philokalia on Prayer of the Heart; Faber and Faber pg. 199)

'And forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors.' For we have many sins. For we offend both in word and in thought, and very many things we do worthy of condemnation; and 'if we say that we have no sin (1 John 1:8), we lie, as John says.... The offenses committed against us are slight and trivial, and easily settled; but those which we have committed against God are great, and need such mercy as His only is. Take heed, therefore, lest for the slight and trivial sins against you, you shut out for yourself forgiveness from God for your very grievous sins. St. Cyril of Jerusalem.





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