Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica
Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

We need repentance. You see, repentance is not only going to a priest and confessing. We must free ourselves from the obsession of thoughts. We fall many times during our life, and it is absolutely necessary to reveal everything [in Confession] before a priest who is a witness to our repentance.

Repentance is the renewal of life. This means we must free ourselves of all our negative traits and turn toward absolute good. No sin in unforgivable except the sin of unrepentance.

There are many kinds of tears. Some people cry out of rage, some to spite another person, others because they have been offended. Some cry because they have lost a loved one. There are many kinds of tears. There are also tears of repentance, when a person’s conscience tells him that he has committed many sins. When he realizes his sinfulness, he weeps. That is an act of God’s Grace – a soul repents, and the sin is washed away by tears. These are tears of repentance, and they are a gift from God. When a person realizes his sinfulness, he gradually frees himself from the cares of this world and from his own egoism and leaves all of his cares to the Lord. His soul is humbled, and when this occurs, it is in a state of Grace. Prayer requires a completely carefree life, for even the slightest worry disrupts our prayer, as the Holy Fathers say. Just as the slightest speck of dust can blur our vision, so, too, does the slightest worry interfere with our concentration in prayer. When we are united with the Lord, then our soul is at peace and Grace descends upon us.

A person who dwells in a state of Grace is ready to weep for anyone. He weeps when he sees the suffering of an animal, a plant, a person… Such a person is always ready to shed tears for the whole world. That means that the Grace of God is in that person and that his tears are a gift from God. Those are tears that save. They bring a soul to perfection. Perfection cannot be reached by worrying about the things of this world. The Lord has said that we are not to burden ourselves with food and drink and with the cares of this world.

Often we find that those who had never previously known God have much stronger faith than those who claim to have been devout all their lives. When a person who has not known God comes to his senses and begins to pray to God, he knows what it [life] was like before and he knows Who helped him find the light at the end of the tunnel.

All of us sin constantly. We slip and fall. In reality, we fall into traps set by the demons. The Holy Fathers and the saints always tell us, “It is important to get up immediately after a fall and to keep on walking toward God.” Even if we fall a hundred times a day, it does not matter; we must get up and go on walking toward God without looking back. What has happened has happened – it is in the past. Just keep on going, all the while asking for help from God.

Remembering a sin we have committed does not mean that the sin has not been forgiven. This remembrance of our sins is only a warning to us lest we become proud and sin again. In fact, we – not God – are the ones who cannot forgive ourselves. We cannot forgive ourselves because of our pride. A genuine sign that a sin has been forgiven is the fact that it has not been repeated, and we are at peace. It is also important how we spend the last years of our lives. A God-pleasing life in old age blots out the sins of youth.

Source: Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives. Saint Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 2010.