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Redeeming the Time Vol. 02.31 Feb 8/21 1999 - Forgiveness Sunday

Redeeming the Time
Vol. 02.31 Feb 8/21 1999

Forgiveness Sunday

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,

redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

News and Announcements *

Clean Week Services * Lenten Epistle from Metropolitan Vitaly *

Homily on Cheesefare Sunday by Holy New-Martyr Patriarch Tikhon *

On the Threshold of Great Lent *

Gleanings From the Fathers *

Forgive to be forgiven *

Slander *

On contrition of heart and weeping for one's sins *

Thoughts of Hierarch Theophanes the Recluse on the Forgiving of Offenses *

The Ladder to Perfection *

Forgiveness burns the demons *

Humility triumphs over ill feeling *

Be careful not to judge a brother *

What is Humility? *

Leave vengeance to God *

Offending your neighbor is a grave sin *

One who speaks of his neighbor disparagingly *

Do we forgive our neighbors their trespasses? *

News and Announcements

Clean Week Services

Monday through Thursday this week, we have the Canon of St. Andrew of Crete at 6:30 PM. On Friday evening, at 6:30 PM, we will celebrate the Presanctified liturgy. We will also celebrate the Presanctified liturgy at the bracing hour of 6:00 AM on Wednesday morning. God gives us great knowledge in the services, according to our zeal, and our willingness to endure slow and heavy traffic at the end of the day.

Lenten Fasting

During all of Great Lent, on weekdays (Monday through Friday), we eat no animal products of any kind, save honey. We eat no meat, fish, eggs, milk, and cheese. In addition, we do not drink any wine or hard liquor, or eat Olive oil. We should make an attempt to eat simply, and not go to great lengths to make sumptuous meals, and devote more time to prayer. The services at the church provide an excellent opportunity for this.

On weekends in Great Lent, we may have wine and Olive oil, but maintain our abstinence from all the other things mentioned above.

Blessed Oil

There is some blessed oil, gathered from numerous vigil service at St Nicholas, in some blue bottles, for each family to take. Please anoint yourself with this oil, or other blessed oil, every day, as part of your prayer rule. Simply open the bottle, and out your finger over the top, and upend the bottle, for a moment. Make the sign of the cross on your forehead, or some afflicted part of your body with the oil, saying "Through the prayers of St Nicholas the Wonderworker, O Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me"

St John Maximovitch Orthodox Mission

Vladyka Gabriel has blessed the formation of this mission in North Austin. Please assist our brothers and sisters in their prayers by praying the troparion of St John every day, for the sake of the mission. It is available where the topical literature is.

Lenten Epistle from Metropolitan Vitaly

Beloved children of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia

The Great Fast is great not because of its length - it is more than 40 days if we include Holy Week - but because during this time we are preparing to meet Holy Pascha. To meet Pascha worthily it is absolutely essential to fast. In this respect our struggle has become very feeble. There are very few people in the Russian Church Abroad who observe the fast periods and fast days, such as

Wednesday and Friday, appointed by the Church. But this is so important. During the Great Lent even people who are the most inveterate, indifferent and cold towards Orthodoxy begin to think about fasting. These people who have grown cold towards the Truth make some kind of struggle at this time, even if it is only during Holy Week.

Without fasting there is no prayer. Fasting does not just mean going hungry. Be sure to remember that! I repeat, it is not a question of going hungry, but of self-restraint, or abstinence. This means abstinence not just in what we eat, but in all our senses, all the manifestations of our souls, our hearts and our minds. And so, in preparing for Pascha, we must fast - fast in the way the Church prescribes for us. Without fasting there will be no pure and sincere prayer.

So, beloved brothers and sisters, let us prepare ourselves for this Great Fast. Let us try to make use of the time so as to greet Pascha worthily. Pascha will enter our souls in such measure as we cleanse our souls through fasting. This is why people who have fasted experience Pascha in all its profundity and beauty. "Even the sun dances at Pascha!" - so speaks the voice of faith in the Russian people.

Pascha and the Great Fast are inseparable, indivisible. We all know that love is the supreme virtue of all virtues; but we expend and lavish this virtue on ourselves by indulging ourselves in everything. So fasting is in its essence an expression of non-indulgence towards ourselves, a certain denial of love towards ourselves. In this way Godís gift of love is conserved and we are able to love our neighbor and the Lord Himself.

This is precisely the kind of Fast to which I am calling you, so that you can experience Pascha as it should be experienced, for Pascha will enter our souls in such measure as we, through our Lenten struggle, prepare this holy place for it.

Metropolitan Vitaly

16/29 January 1999

Homily on Cheesefare Sunday by Holy New-Martyr Patriarch Tikhon

Today is called "Forgiveness Sunday". It received this name from the pious Orthodox Christian custom at Vespers of asking each other's forgiveness for discourtesy and disrespect. We do so, since in the forthcoming fast we will approach the sacrament of Penance and ask the Lord to forgive our sins, which forgiveness will be granted us only if we ourselves forgive each other. "If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." (Matt. 6. 14, 15)

Yet it is said to be extremely difficult to forgive discourtesy and to forget disrespect. Perhaps our selfish nature finds it truly difficult to forgive disrespect, even though in the words of the Holy Fathers it is easier to forgive than to seek revenge. (St. Tikhon of Zadonsk after St. John Chrysostom) Yet everything in us that is good is not accomplished easily, but with difficulty, compulsion and effort. "The Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." (Matt. 11. 12) For this reason we should not be discouraged at the difficulty of this pious act, but should rather seek the means to its fulfillment. The Holy Church offers many means towards this end, and of them we will dwell on the one which most corresponds to the forthcoming season of repentance. "Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions and not to judge my brother." The source of forgiving our neighbors, of not judging them, is included in seeing and acknowledging our sins. "Imagine," says a great pastor, who knows the heart of man, Father John of Kronstadt, "picture the multitude of your sins and imagine how tolerant of them is the Master of your life, while you are unwilling to forgive your neighbor even the smallest offense. Moan and bewail your foolishness, and that obstruction within you will vanish like smoke, you will think more clearly, your heart will grow calm, and through this you will learn goodness, as if not you yourself had heard the reproaches and indignities, but some other person entirely, or a shadow of yourself." (Lessons on a Life of Grace, p. 149) He who admits his sinfulness, who through experience knows the weakness of human nature and its inclination toward evil, will forgive his neighbor the more swiftly, dismissing transgressions and refraining from a haughty judgment of others' sins. Let us remember that even the scribes and Pharisees who brought the woman caught in adultery to Christ were forced to depart, when their conscience spoke out, accusing them of their own sins. (John 8. 9)

Unfortunately, brethren, we do not like to acknowledge our transgressions. It would seem natural and easy for a person to know his own self, his own soul and his shortcomings. This, however, is actually not so. We are ready to attend to anything but a deeper understanding of ourselves, an investigation of our sins. We examine various things with curiosity, we attentively study friends and strangers, but when faced with solitude without extraneous preoccupation even for a short while, we immediately become bored and attempt to seek amusement. For example, do we spend much time examining our own conscience even before confession? Perhaps a few minutes, and once a year at that. Casting a cursory glance at our soul, correcting some of its more glaring faults, we immediately cover it over with the veil of oblivion until next year, until our next uncomfortable exercise in boredom.

Yet we love to observe the sins of others. Not considering the beam in our own eye, we take notice of the mote in our brother's eye. (Matt. 7. 3) Speaking idly to our neighbor's detriment, mocking and criticizing him are not even often considered sins but rather an innocent and amusing pastime. As if our own sins were so few! As if we had been appointed to judge others! "There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy" -- God. (James 4. 12) "Who art thou to judge another's servant? It is before his own master that he stands or falls." (Rom. 14. 4) "Thou hast no excuse, O man, whoever thou art who judgest. For wherein thou judgest another, thou dost condemn thyself. For thou who judgest dost the same things thyself." (Rom. 2. 1) "Examine yourselves, whether you are in the faith; put yourselves to the test." (2 Cor. 13. 5) The pious ascetics provide a good example of this. They turned their minds to themselves, meditated on their own sins and avoided judging their neighbors at all costs.

One pious starets, noticing that his brother had committed a sin, sighed and said, "Woe is me! As he sinned today, so will I tomorrow." And the following is a story about another ascetic, Abba Moisei. A monk committed a sin. The brethren, who had assembled to decide his case, sent for Abba Moisei, but the humble starets refused to attend the council. When the rector sent for him a second time, he appeared, but in quite a striking manner. He had taken an old basket, filled it with sand and was carrying it on his back. "What does this mean?" asked the monks, catching sight of him. "See how many sins I bear behind me?" answered Moisei, pointing to the heap of sand. "I don't see them, yet I have come to pass judgment upon another."

So therefore, brethren, following the example of the ascetics, upon

observing others' sins, we should consider our own sins, regard our own transgressions and not judge our brother. And should we hold anything against him, let us pardon and forgive him, that our merciful Lord may forgive us also.

St Tikhon (Bellavin), Bishop of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands, and later Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, and a confessor


On the Threshold of Great Lent

My brothers and sisters in Christ. The day of our repentance has finally come. We have heard throughout the preceding weeks of the repentance of others - of the repentance of Zacchaeus, the repentance of the Publican and the Pharisee and the repentance of the prodigal son. We were reminded of the Great and Dread Judgement of the Lord in which the fruits of our repentance will be made known for all to see. And now finally we stand upon the threshold of Great Lent when we ourselves begin to work out our own repentance. And today, this Sunday of forgiveness we begin our repentance according to the words of our Savior who tells us, "Therefore if you bring your gift tot he altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift." We are about to offer God the gift of our repentance and our ascetic labor. But first we must be reconciled with one another and so we must forgive one another. This is the way of repentance given to us in the Gospel.

As we begin our won effort of repentance, let us recall what we have learned in the previous weeks. Zacchaeus was a man who had immersed himself in the secular world, in its pleasures, its morals, its values and lifestyle. When he met our Lord Jesus Christ, all that changed. He disassociated himself from his relationship with worldly things and realigned himself with the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. He cut off his former way of life and left it behind. As we approach Great Lent, we should do the same, we should cut off as much of our worldly life as possible. Now I know that we all must have some interaction with the world, with our work and caring for our homes and securing food and other necessities to maintain our lives, but there are also many worldly influences we can cut off. For example, many of the diversions and entertainments that are available to us advocate a worldly point of view. God is absent from all that see or if there is some reference to God, it is all too often to mock Him or to make fun of those who trust in Him. All of these entertainments could be cut off. Turn off the television and the radio, put away the secular novels and stories, don't go to the theaters for films or plays. Focus your attention on spiritual things instead. Rather than escaping into worldly stories, read the Holy Gospel and the lives of the saints. Rather than playing music which inflames the passions, listen to or sing the hymns of the Church or at least music which is uplifting to the soul. (Hieromonk Seraphim, as disciple of St. Archbishop John of San Francisco, often would instruct his spiritual children to listen to classical music because it had an uplifting effect on the soul.) Rather than going to movies or plays, attend the services of the Church more often. Zacchaeus also demonstrated for us that when we have wronged others, we must do all that we can to make restitution. He returned not only what he had stolen from others, but also made restoration four times greater than what he had taken. We too, when we have injured someone, or taken something from then, or damaged their life and possessions in any way, should go out of our way to restore that loss over and above that which was originally lost.

The publican and the pharisee both teach us about repentance. The pharisee reminds us of the importance of leading a God pleasing life, following the commandments and being mindful of all that God requires of us. He was not condemned for having done these things, but rather for judging the publican. And so he reminds us that we must not only life righteously but we must also love, forgive and be merciful toward our brothers. The publican, on the other hand, reminds us that no matter how righteous our lives may appear, we still fall short of the glory of God, we still must put all of our hope and trust on Him. All of our righteous works are as filthy rags before Him and are insufficient to enter into His glory. But, if we trust in Him, He takes the filthy rags of our attempts at righteousness and fills them with grace and light and makes of them shining wedding garments. When we make our best effort to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, then we still must depend on His mercy and grace to complete what is beyond our strength, ability and capacity. When we trust completely in Him, then He hears our prayers, forgives our shortfall and draws us into His kingdom.

The prodigal son is a constant reminder that no matter how far we may have fallen , no matter how much we may have sinned, no matter how far away from God we might be, we can still repent. We can still turn away from our sins; we can still return to Our Fathers. But to do so, the prodigal reminds us, requires not only a change of heart, but a change of life. The prodigal embarked on a long journey of repentance, a long and arduous journey to return to his father's house. He did not give up; he did not despair; he did not turn aside, but persisted and struggled for he knew that to be in his father's house was of greater value than any thing else in the world. So for us, no matter how far we may have strayed from the Kingdom of God, we can repent and return. But that return will require that we struggle and persist in climbing out of the pit into which we have flung ourselves. God will help us and strengthen us and lift us up - of that there is no doubt. God will break the power of sin over us, but we must release our own hold upon sin. Just as when two people grasp hands, if only one releases his hold while the other continues to hold tightly then the connection is not broken (it is weakened however). Both people must let go of their grasp.

Sin's grasp on us has been broken by Christ, but the struggle and journey which lies before us is to let go our won hold upon sin. Only then, when we let go of sin will the connection be broken.

This period of ascetic struggle which is Great Lent now lies before us as an opportunity to separate ourselves from the world, to reach out and hold onto Christ and to make progress on our journey back to our Father's house. However, the choice, as always in our own. God does not coerce us but rather He gently calls to us. We must respond, we must follow Him. Only then will His calling be of value. If we ignore the opportunity, the call of Lent, if we are inattentive about the fast, if we do not attend to the life of prayer and separate ourselves from the life of the world. If we continue on as if things were no different, then Great Lent will have been useless. But if we take up the struggle before us, if we really repent and offer our repentance to God, if we separate ourselves from worldly things and join ourselves to heavenly things, then we will be able to draw near to God, we will find the true and eternal peace and joy and pleasure that He offers in His Kingdom. We will no longer be slaves to sin, but will become heirs of the Kingdom of God. We will die to the world. that we might be raised with Him and enter into His Kingdom.

Fr David Moser, Pastor of St Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church,Boise, Idaho (208/377-8589

Gleanings From the Fathers

Forgive to be forgiven

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."

Sayings of the Desert Fathers


Slander is false accusation. The slanderer is called a devil and is a devil, because just as the Devil falsely slandered God to the first-formed people and deceived them, so also the envious man, the slanderer, falsely accuses his brothers and convinces many to believe him. The slanderer harms himself, the one who is slandered and those listening as well . . . All those who are slandered, however, and have patience, and welcome and forgive slanderers, are worthy of blessing. 'Blessed are you when men shall hate you . . . and say all manner of evil against you falsely...' However, slanderers harm many of those who are slandered, because slander has sundered lawful marriages and beloved couples, caused enmity towards beloved friends, relatives and brothers, thrown innocent people into jails, and sent some into exile and others to death. For this reason slander is the greatest sin and the spiritual father should canonize [give a penance to] slanderers as murderers . . .

Elder Philotheos Zervakos

On contrition of heart and weeping for one's sins

Contrition of heart and weeping for one's sins work wonders. Listen to the following account, and you will be convinced that this is true.

One day, Saint Niphon beheld two angels bearing a human soul up to heaven without permitting it to pass through the aerial toll-houses. The demons, the aerial tax collectors, began to scream: "Why are ye not giving this soul over to us? It is ours!" But the angels said: "Can ye prove that it is yours?" "Yea," the demons answered; "up until the moment of death it did only evil, and there was not a single sin which it did not commit. It was enslaved to the passions and parted from its body without repentance. Whosoever hath died a slave to sin is ours!" But one of the angels answered them, saying: "Since ye always lie, we will not believe you. But let the guardian angel of this soul be called, and we will believe him, for he will utter no lie." The guardian angel appeared, and the angels asked him: "Did this soul repent, or did it leave its body while yet in sin?" "Truly, this man was a sinner," replied the angel, "yet when he felt himself growing sick, he confessed his sins to God, shedding tears; and lifting up his hands to heaven he earnestly begged God for mercy." Then the angels took the soul to themselves, and the demons were put to shame. But the demons were dissatisfied, and again cried aloud: "If this man can find mercy that would mean that the whole world is saved! Are we laboring in vain?" " Yea," responded the angels, "all sinners who confess their sins humbly and with tears receive forgiveness from God, but for those who die without repentance God is a judge." And having uttered these words, they departed for the gates of heaven, and that soul was saved.

Thus, brethren, are contrition of heart and the tears one sheds over one's sins conducive to salvation. They have the power, as you see, to wash away even the most grievous of sins, to remove the stumbling-blocks which the soul can encounter on its way to the kingdom of heaven, and to rescue one from the very clutches of hell and bear one up to paradise. This is why God Himself calls us to such tears. He says: "Turn to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with lamentation: and rend your hearts..., and turn to the Lord your God: for He is merciful and compassionate, long-suffering, and plenteous in mercy" (Joel 2:12-13).

Let us therefore never forget that "a heart that is broken and humbled God will not despise" (Ps. 50: 19), and that "godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of." (II Cor. 7: 10). Amen.

Translated from the Russian by Reader Isaac E. Lambertsen, from "The Prologue in Homilies," compiled [in Russian] by Protopriest Victor Guriev, 4th edition (Moscow: Press of the Russian Monastery of Saint Panteleimon on Mount Athos, 1912), pp.323-324

Thoughts of Hierarch Theophanes the Recluse on the Forgiving of Offenses

Nothing is so powerful in the sight of the Lord as the forgiving of offenses, because it is the imitation of one of the actions closest to us of God's mercifulness; and we are not tempted by anything so easily as by irascibility and the desire for vengeance by a provoking word and, not infrequently, even a deed.

Why is it so, that we do not always forgive, but more often give ourselves up to outbursts of anger, annoyance and indignation? I think, it is from inattentiveness to the value of forgiving. In minutes of susceptibility to offense, one must restore in one's mind and heart the promise for forgiveness, which is undoubtedly more valuable than the greatest losses which an offense has the power to cause.

Let us forgive ­ and we shall be forgiven; let us forgive again ­ and we shall again be forgiven; and so on without end. He who forgives will himself walk under God's all­forgivingness, in the embrace of God's mercifulness and love. But let us hasten to forgive, in order to be forgiven, and this becomes easier, because that which we shall forgive is insignificant; while that which we shall be forgiven is so valuable that it cannot even be compared with it. In the Gospel parable, our sins against God are valued at ten thousand talents, while the sins of others against us are valued at a hundred denaria (Matthew 18:23­34). According to our reckoning, our sins are a thousand rubles, while the sins of others against us are one kopek. To gain a thousand rubles for a kopek ­ for goodness' sake! if such an opportunity to make such a gain were to open up in everyday life, one would not even be able to force one's way through the crowd. But no gain on earth can be so sure as the Lord's promise is sure, and no appraisal of earthly things can be so exact as the comparative appraisal of our sins and the offenses caused us is exact, because it is determined by the God of righteousness Himself. Thus, remember the sins which thou hast been forgiven or seekest forgiveness of, and if not out of thankfulness for mercy received, then in undoubted hope of receiving it, forgive, forgive and forgive with a wide and open heart.

Of course, it is not possible suddenly to acquire such a profound and abundant peace that would swallow up every insulting blow. The first degree of insusceptibility to offences and, consequently, forgiveness is silence. When they offend thee ­ keep silent. Do so one time, and the next time thou wilt keep silent more easily; and the more often thou wilt keep silent, the more often thou wilt meet offenses with less disturbance. Lack of disturbance will bring rest, while rest will be reborn as peace. Then, in the face of offenses thou wilt be as a firm wall exposed to grains of sand flung up by the wind.

The frequent forgiving of offenses not only imparts ease and skill to this, but develops even a thirst for offenses, for the Lord's sake, during which he who is struck on the cheek turns the other, and he who is forced to go one mile goes two. This is a height which seems unattainable to us, but to which he who has begun to forgive as one ought ascends easily, naturally, without special efforts. The forgiving of offenses is a most attractive virtue, often bringing into the heart a reward for itself.

(Parish Life, May 1996)


The Ladder to Perfection

This is the ladder by which Christians ascend toward perfection, that is toward love of enemies. What, then, Christian? When you are commanded to love your enemies, and to do good to those that hate you - commanded by Him Who created you and redeemed the lost by His blood and death, and Who holds your death and life in His hand - will you consent and forgive him who offended you? If an earthly king had commanded you not only to forgive your neighbor his offense, but also to serve him, or else be put to death, which had you better choose? To die or to forgive and serve your neighbor? I hope that you would rather wish to forgive and serve your neighbor than to die.. The Heavenly King commands you not only to forgive him that offended you, but also to love your enemies, and to do good to those that hate you. Otherwise eternal death will follow those that do not hear the commandment of the Heavenly King, `Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven' (Mt. 7:21).

St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, Journey to Heaven.

Forgiveness burns the demons

An old man said, "If you say to someone, 'Forgive me,' in humiliating yourself you are burning the demons.

Humility triumphs over ill feeling

One of the fathers said that there were two neighboring bishops who had an altercation with each other. One was rich and the other was more lowly. The rich one sought to do harm to the other. The lowly bishop heard of this and, knowing what he was going to do, said to his clergy, "We shall triumph, by the grace of Christ." They said to him, "My lord, who could possible prevail against that one?" He said to them, "Wait, and you shall see." He bided his time and when his fellow bishop was celebrating a feast in honor of some holy martyrs, he gathered his clergy and said to them, "Follow me, and we shall triumph." They said to themselves, "What can he be planning to do?" He came to the other bishop, and when he came by in the procession, the visiting bishop fell at his feet together with the clergy, saying, "Forgive us; we are your lordship's humble servants." The other was amazed at what he had done, and a stab of remorse went through his soul. God gave him a change of heart, and he now grasped his poor colleague's feet, saying, "It is you who are my lord and father." From that time on, there was a strong bond of love between them. The lowly bishop said to his clergy, "Did I not tell you that we should triumph, by the grace of God? When there is any ill feeling between you, do you likewise -- and triumph." The elder also said that a humble man has more glory than the emperor himself. For the emperor is only praised in his presence, whereas a humble man is praised and said to be blessed both in and out of his presence.

John Moschos, Leimonarion 210

Be careful not to judge a brother

One day Abba Isaac went to a monastery. He saw a brother committing a sin and he condemned him. When he returned to the desert, an angel of the Lord came and stood in front of the door of his cell, and said, "I will not let you enter." But he persisted saying, "What is the matter?" And the angel replied, "God has sent me to ask you where you want to throw the guilty brother whom you have condemned." Immediately he repented and said, "I have sinned, forgive me." Then the angel said, "Get up, God has forgiven you. But from now on, be careful not to judge someone before God has done so."

What is Humility?

An old man was asked, "What is humility?" He replied, "It is when your brother sins against you and you forgive him before he comes to ask for forgiveness."

Leave vengeance to God

A brother whom another brother had wronged came to see Abba Sisoes and said to him, "My brother has hurt me and I want to avenge myself." The old man pleaded with him saying, "No, my child, leave vengeance to God." The brother said to him, "I shall not rest until I have avenged myself." The old man said, "Brother, let us pray." Then the old man stood up and said, "God, we no longer need you to care for us, since we exact justice for ourselves." Hearing these words, the brother fell at the old man's feet, saying, I will no longer seek justice from my brother. Forgive me, abba."

Venerable Sisoes, commemorated 6 July

Offending your neighbor is a grave sin

Be extremely careful not to offend anyone in word or deed, for it is a grave sin. When someone is offended, God, Who loves the man, is also offended, for there can be no offending man without offending God. Whoever sins against man, also sins against God. This is a serious matter, as you can see for yourself. And when you offend your neighbor, straightway humble yourself before Him and beg forgiveness of him humility, lest you fall under God's just condemnation.

St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, Journey to Heaven.

One who speaks of his neighbor disparagingly

Do not regard the feelings of a person who speaks to you about his neighbor disparagingly, but rather say to him: `Stop, brother! I fall into graver sins every day, so how can I criticize him?' In this way you will achieve two things: you will heal yourself and your neighbor with one plaster. This is one of the shortest ways to the forgiveness of sins; I mean, not to judge. `Judge not, and ye shall not be judged.'

St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent.

Do we forgive our neighbors their trespasses?

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

"Redeeming the Time" is an almost weekly Journal of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, Dallas Texas. Distribute this text if you wish, but only if attribution and all contact information are included. I would appreciate being contacted if any large-scale use of this text is desired. All unsigned or unattributed portions © 1998 Fr Seraphim Holland. All rights reserved

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