Abba Benjamin said, “Walk the royal road and count the miles, and you will not be tired.”
Do not be ashamed to enter again into the Church. Be ashamed when you sin. Do not be ashamed when you repent. Pay attention to what the devil did to you. These are two things: sin and repentance. Sin is a wound; repentance is a medicine. Just as there are for the body wounds and medicines, so for the soul are sins and repentance. However, sin has the shame and repentance possesses the courage.
[St. John Chrysostom, Homily VIII, On Repentance and Almsgiving]
By the sleeper and the dead, he means the man that is in sin; for he both exhales noisome odors like the dead, and is inactive like one that is asleep, and like him he sees nothing, but is dreaming, and forming fancies and illusions. Some indeed read, And you shall touch Christ; but others, And Christ shall shine upon you; and it is rather this latter. Depart from sin, and you shall be able to behold Christ. For every one that does ill, hates the light, and comes not to the light (John 3:20). He therefore that does it not, comes to the light.
Now he is not saying this with reference to the unbelievers only, for many of the faithful, no less than unbelievers, hold fast by wickedness; nay, some far more. Therefore to these also it is necessary to exclaim, Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light. To these it is fitting to say this also, God is not the God of the dead, but of the living (Matthew 22:32).
If then he is not the God of the dead, let us live.
[St. John Chrysostom, Homily 18 on Ephesians]
If you ask, my brother, why you do not see things that are to come, or observe hidden things, or speak wonders, or understand glorious mysteries, then hear me, my brother, and I will tell you the reason you are cut off from these benefits.
Truly, my beloved, there is no logical mind that is not appointed to be the seer of all things that have been and shall be, unless it is blind in the things that are seen. There is no human heart that would not be a fountain of the mysteries hidden in the bosom of the Father, if its courses were not blocked up by the mud of the passions.
There is no tongue of any man in the image of God that would not be speaking the wonders of God and revealing his hidden mysteries, if it were not stuttering from the cold of evil. There is no soul that would not bear Christ in its bosom, if it had not become depraved with its enemies through its laxity.
Nevertheless, repentance causes us to be born again in the image of God and restores all these things to us. Blessed is the giver of repentance, who grants it to us for the revival of our deadness. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
[John of Dalyatha, Discourse 14]
Upbraid your soul constantly, my brother, and say: “My soul, your release from the body is near, so why do you delight in these temporal things, when today you are leaving them and are to be deprived of the sight and remembrance of them forever?
Look at what is before you; consider the nature of the things you have done. With whom have you spent your days of work? Who has accepted the fruits of your labour? To whom have you given joy through your struggles, so that he comes out to meet you at your departure? Whom have you delighted with your run, so that you are granted rest in his haven?
For whose sake have you toiled and been buffeted, so that you may come to him in gladness? Who is the friend you have acquired in the eternal place who will now receive you on your departure? In which field have you strenuously laboured, and who pays your wages at the sunset of your parting?”
Examine yourself, my soul, and see which place you will be conveyed to when you fly away from your body. Who are the companions with whom your are journeying to their inheritance? Perhaps they are angels of light, so how would they not shine the radiance of their beauty upon you because of their love towards you, and how would they not delight you in commingling with them before the parting?
But perhaps they are loathsome creatures, child-stealers, who by means of desire entice one into their place of darkness, cut off from consolation. Woe to me because of their company; woe to me for associating with them; woe to me for communication with them separates me from my God; woe to me, for in approaching them I have moved away from my Lord; woe to me for having hearkened to their guile and deprived myself of the vision of the Beautiful One; woe to me for having of my own accord estranged myself from the Good One and become a fellow of the Evil One.
While I am in the place where I contracted my diseases I will prepare medicines to heal my sores. While the plea of the petitioners is being received, I will compose bitter chants, to appease my God, whom I have angered. I will weep and groan over the days that have been spent in the field that makes its tillers eat wormwood. I will cry aloud with grief and groanings, which are more pleasing to my God than sacrifices. My mouth will utter sorrowful chants, the sound of which the angels desire to hear. My cheeks will be wet with tears from my eyes, so that the Spirit will rest upon my head to purify me of my vices. I will assuage my Lord, that he may come to me when I implore. I will call upon Martha and Mary to teach me chants of lamentation.
[John of Dalyatha, Discourse 11]
Lord I long for your forgiveness to come to me. Give to me tears so that I may ask for mercy while there is an opportunity. I thirst for mercy and without it I cannot exist. Sea of Mercy, pour out on me the streams of your kindness.
The confused sins of an evil world are traps to me; By your mercy, Lord, destroy them, and I will be delivered. Like a legion of demons thirsting for my blood, my sins have surrounded me. Come, Mighty Warrior, to the aid of a humble worker.
The King of Error has poured down his arrows aiming at my death. Commander, apply to me your remedy by which I may be healed. Your treasury is not too little to give mercy to those who do not deserve it: Because you even loved the prostitute dearly, when she approached you.
For none but crushed people seek your remedy; And he who does not even need it, mercy is not dear to him. The good physician, however, is not glorified but by ulcers. For what does he add to a sound body if it comes close to him?
In wounds he shows the power of his skill. He rightly takes his fee and glory according to his healing power. The physician shines in the striken ones when they are healed. And your great compassion shines out in sinners when they are absolved.
Because you have mercy, I acquired sins, and thus I expect That whenever you pardon me, your compassion will shine in me. I do not say my transgression is too great to pardon, because your compassion is greater than the sea: purify me in it!
I prepared the work for your mercy every day when I was a sinner, So you should not be idle from forgiveness, because it is lovely to you. For the physician wishes that the ulcers might increase in his vicinity, So that he might acquire from them both profits and praises.
Here are some wounds: bring your medication so that it might shine in me, Because it is very beautiful to you when you heal the stricken ones. You do not look for a fee, Lord, so that it might be returned to you, For what did the prostitute give when you loved her?
She offered oil and tears alone when you healed her. Your promise wiped out a great wound with a meagre payment. The river of fire that was threatening the defiled woman, in a drop of tears that she sprinkled on it, she quenched it. The negligible water that the eyes of this woman, full of blemishes, poured forth, Fell upon the flood of flame and stopped it.
I will speak of her whose story is loved by members of her rank, for when they listen it will sprinkle hope on their infirmities. The homily is received by the penitent, who will heed it, For they also thirst for forgiveness as she did.
Let no one abandon the great door of repentance, Because even the prostitute, when she knocked on it, received salvation. Let whoever sins come not close to losing hope, But let him be bold like the prostitute, and then he will be pardoned.
Whoever repents, if he sins again, he should once more make supplication, For there is no limit or special time for repentance. If he is soiled ten thousand times, he can be purified. And however often he falls, he can stand up again if he tries hard.
If one sins and returns to supplicate, then he will be received, Because there is not a time when the door to repentance is closed. Even if my brother goes astray seventy-seven times, I will forgive him. How much more will the Merciful One forgive the one who seeks him?
[Memra on the Sinful Woman, Mar Jacob of Serugh]