In the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy
So often we ask ourselves and one another a very
tormenting question: How can I deal with my sinful condition? What can I
do? I cannot avoid committing sins, Christ alone is sinless. I cannot,
for lack of determination, or courage, or ability truly repent when I do
commit a sin, or in general, of my sinful condition. What is left to me?
I am tormented, I fight like one drowning, and I see no solution.
And there is a word which was spoken once by a Russian
staretz, one of the last elders of Optina. He said to a visitor of his:
No one can live without sin, few know how to repent in such a way that
their sins are washed as white as fleece. But there is one thing which
we all can do: when we can neither avoid sin, nor repent truly, we can
then bear the burden of sin, bear it patiently, bear it with pain, bear
it without doing anything to avoid the pain and the agony of it, bear it
as one would bear a cross, Ч not Christ's cross, not the cross of true
discipleship, but the cross of the thief who was crucified next to Him.
Didn't the thief say to his companion who was blaspheming the Lord: We
are enduring because we have committed crimes; He endures sinlessly...
And it is to him, because he had accepted the punishment, the pain, the
agony, the consequences indeed of evil he had committed, of being the
man he was, that Christ said, СThou shalt be with Me today in Paradise.Т
I remember the life of one of the divines, the story of
one who had come to him and have said that he had led all his life a
life that was evil, impure, unworthy both of God and of himself; and
then he had repented, he has rejected all evil he had done; and yet, he
was in the power of the same evil. And the divine said to him: There was
a time when you lapped up all this filth with delight; now you perceive
it as filth and you feel that you are drowning in it with horror, with
disgust. Take this to be your reward for your past, and endure.
This is something which all of us can do: to endure the
consequences, to endure the enslavement which is our patiently, humbly,
with a broken heart; not with indifference, not with a sense that as we
are abandoned to it by God, then, why not sin? But taking it as a
healing perception of what sin is, of what it does to us, of the horror
of it. And if we patiently endure, a day will come when our inner
rejection of sin will bear fruit, and when freedom will be given us.
So, if we can, in all the ways we can, let us avoid sin
in all its forms, even those sins which seem to be so unimportant,
because the slightest crack in a dam sooner or later leads to its
bursting. If we can Ч let us truly repent, that is turn away from our
past in a heroic, determined act; but if we can do neither of them Ч let
us carry humbly and patiently all the pain and all the consequences. And
this will also be accounted one day by the Lord Who in a folkloric life
of Moses, in response to His angels saying, СHow long shall you endure
their sinsТ Ч the sins of the Jews in the wilderness, answered: СI will
reject them when the measure of their sins will exceed the measure of
Let us therefore accept the pain as a redeeming pain,
even if we cannot offer it as pain pure of stain. Amen.