Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Fruits of Repentance

ONE WORD I REMEMBER from SAT prep is "fruitless," as in a "fruitless effort," which is an attempt which produces no results.

When it comes to repentance -- turning to God -- there are objective signs or "fruits" which reflect the truth regarding whether I have repented or not.

So, really, what does repentance give me anyway? Is it worth it?

Whether we think it consciously or not, we ask ourselves this question before each and every action we take or every thought we entertain. Our little decisions determine our whole life. Rarely does someone beat his chest and say, "I renounce God and God’s way!" especially churchy types. Rather, we slowly -- decision by little decision -- decide that turning to God is not worth it.

St. Gregory Palamas, lists some of the fruits which reflect the little decisions made by the true penitent:
...Repentance which is true and truly from the heart persuades the penitent not to sin any more, not to mix with corrupt people, and not to gape in curiosity at evil pleasures, but to despise things present, cling to things to come, struggle against passions, seek after virtues, be self-controlled in every respect, keep vigil with prayers to God, and shun dishonest gain. It convinces him to be merciful to those who wrong him, gracious to those who ask something of him, ready with all his heart to bend down and help in any way he can, whether by words, actions or money, all who seek his assistance, that through kindness to his fellow-man he might gain God's love in return for loving his neighbor, draw the Divine favor to himself, and attain to eternal mercy and God's everlasting blessing and grace.(*)

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*Homily on the Feast of SS. Peter and Paul

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