Q: Having many sins, I wish to repent, but because of bodily infirmity I cannot labor like the Fathers: I beg you, tell me: how can I make a beginning?
A: Brother! They are poor whom the Lord glorifies because they have renounced all their possessions, that is, all their passions, and have become stripped of them for the sake of His Name, such ones are poor in truth, and to them belongs blessedness. And there are other poor who have acquired nothing good, whom the Lord threatens, saying: “Depart from Me, ye cursed” (Matthew 25:41).
He who has such possessions and is burdened by them, let him renounce them, so that he may remain without care. And so, if you desire to make a beginning of repentance, look at what the harlot did: with her tears she washed the feet of the Master (Luke 7:38). Lamentation will wash anyone of sins; but a man attains lamentation with difficulty, by means of much instruction in the Scriptures, of patience, of reflection on the terrible Judgment and eternal shame, and through self-renunciation, as the Lord has said: “He who would come after Me, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow after Me” (Matthew 16:24). And to renounce oneself and take up one’s cross means: to cut off one’s own will in everything and consider oneself to be nothing. Since you have said that you are infirm in body and can do nothing – therefore, do according to your strength, taking bread and drink a little less than ordinarily, for God accepted the two mites of the widow and rejoiced over them more than over all the rest. Instruct yourself not to be free in your relations with others, and you will be saved. “Saints Barsanuphius and John: Guidance Toward Spiritual Life,” trans. by Fr. Seraphim Rose, (Platina, California: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1990)
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