In the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.
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 their sufferingТ.
Let us therefore accept the pain as a redeeming pain, even if we cannot offer it
as pain pure of stain. Amen.