The Mystery of Holy Repentance
Part I
Compiled by: +Thaddeus, SSJt., Ph.D.

If you talk about repentance to people who consider themselves "Christian" all will agree that they know what "Repentance" is.  But, the action of this august and holy mystery will be heard rather differently depending upon whom you talk to.  One may say that you have to be contrite, confess your sins to God only, through prayer, and you are forgiven.  This errant Protestant attitude is similar among may of the growing number of Latin Church believers, it would seem, because of the growing attachments to the false synchrestic ecumenism of today, the very type that was rejected and condemned by the early church fathers.  This growing political attitude among many of the Protestants and now Roman Catholic (Latin) churches has seeped into many of the Orthodox Churches; their faithful, who have opted for an attitude of laziness on the part of not just the faithful, but many a clergyman who have slackened in proper spiritual education of the people about life here, and hereafter.

So, the question is: WHAT IS THE REAL MYSTERY OF HOLY REPENTANCE?

True Holy Repentance involves prayer, self-examination, meditation, contemplation, a sincere desire to forcefully eradicate the sin(s), confession, penance which involves serious action to forgive and seek forgiveness along with absolution, followed by participation in the Holy Mysteries of Communion.

The most serious affliction which can affect a part of the physical body is to be cut off from the head or heart.  If it no longer is able to receive blood from the heart, which circulates through out the body, or fails to receive the nervous impulses from the brain; it dies.  If the blood becomes diseased, it affects the brain's nervous impulses and many other parts of the body become affected.

Similarly, if a member of Christ's Body, the Church, no longer receives the Will of God through the Holy Spirit (true spiritual nourishment, as like the blood of the body), he no longer knows what to do or how to act, in spirit and truth.

If a member of Christ's body sins, or fails to follow the Will of the Holy Spirit, the member has become infected and needs serious healing.  To continue without healing is to go deeper in sinning that can become accumulative.  Taking a lazy attitude toward the Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ concerning the soul sickened by sin eventually causes the physical body to become infected with ailments brought on by mental, emotional stresses and grievous emotional strains that affect every other aspect of daily life.

If the member no longer receives the current of life and love from Holy Spirit, but continues in sin, that member has fallen into the trap of Antichrist which manifests into larger proportions that eventually become more difficult to eradicate and heal.

In its most extreme form, this can lead to insanity which Christ also calls Sin.  Jesus christ is the physician of our souls, is the source of all remedies and cures.  When, by the Power of the Holy Spirit and the Mystery of the Church, Christ's healing hand touches someone so afflicted who turns to Him in sincere struggle, begging for mercy from the father through the Son, Jesus Christ, the sinner is forgiven, healed and reintegrated into the life of the Body of the Church.  This is part of the Mystery of Repentance, which is not yet necessarily complete.

In the Old Testament we learn a bit about Repentance.  The sin of King David (around 1000 B.C.) of Israel is well cited in 2 Sam. 11:2 - 12:25 for he had committed adultery.  David expressed his repentance in Psalm 50 (51) which is now commonly known as the "Miserere" because it begins with the words "Have mercy upon me".

The adultery, taking another man's wife (Bethsheba) for his own, by sending the woman's husband, his commander of the army, to command a group in a war against one of Israel's enemies in which the commander lost his life; was a sin of immense proportion in the eye's of the Lord.  The son of David that Bethsheba bore from the adulterous relationship, was taken in death by the Lord as the penance of King David.

In the New Testament we learn from the Gospel of Luke 15:11-32, the story of the "Prodigal Son" another aspect of Holy Repentance.  The "prodigal" means one who squanders or wastes his fortune indiscriminately, which also means a juvenile delinquent.

We also learn from Matthew 9:1-8 and Mark 2:1-12, as well as Luke 5:17-26 about the healing of the Paralytic at Capernum.

One of the most amazing stories about repentance comes from the Gospel of St. John 5:2-16.  The man who was healed was given a warning by Jesus later on.  It may be inferred that the illness of the paralytic had been brought on by previous sins in his life.  It is also evident from the Lord's words that every sin is followed closely by physical infirmities and ills of different kinds.  We know that in some instances that sins of gluttony, greed, avarice, pride, unchastity, arrogance, elitism, etc. not infrequently give rise to grave and even incurable diseases and ills.  But, even any sin, no matter how insignificant it may be, always reflects detrimentally on the body's health sooner or later.

All sin, to a greater or lesser degree, troubles the conscience.  This is reflected upon the nervous system, on the activity of the heart and the blood circulation which is the primary guarantor of our physical health.

Therefore the physical health of the sinner, in proportion to the growing frequency of his or her transgressions, progressively undermines one's health, which, if not corrected, lead ultimately to an untimely death (Romans 6:23) "The wages of sin...".

Inasmuch as Jesus said to His Apostles on the day of His Resurrection, "Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" (John 20:22-23), we learn that the Apostles, and those in the line of succession, by the Holy Spirit, are commanded by Jesus Christ of the same, who ordain priests under them to do the same.  But we learn something more as we read Holy Scripture further.

In Matthew 5:23-26, we learn:

"...if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come back and offer your gift.  Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard and you be put into prison."
Your "Brother" is anyone who has accused you of wrong doing, or when you may have falsely accused.  Your gift at the altar is your partaking of the Holy Mysteries after having gone to confession and done true penance.

Thus, a priest, who is worth his salt, will tell you in similar words:

"My spiritual child (son or daughter), who has confessed to my humble self, also a sinner, have not power to forgive sins, but God alone; yet through that divinely spoken word  which came to the Apostles after the Resurrection of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, saying: 'Whosoever sins ye remit, they are remitted, and whosoever sins ye retain, they are retained, we too are embolden to say: whatsoever you have said to my humble self, and whatever you have not succeeded in saying, either through forgetfulness, whatever it may be: God forgive you in this present world, and in that which is to come".
The priest may impart some thoughts, advice, then requiring a penance whereby the sins confessed that were against another (others) either directly or indirectly; such as requiring the fulfillment of the Gospel mandate by Jesus in Matthew 5:23-26 upon which, if a sincere repentant completes such, the imparted blessing by priest will be effectual in the forgiveness of sins.  But should the penitent fail to observe the penance, and go thereafter to partake of the Holy Mysteries of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, he compounds his sin(s); the wages of which will be worse as shown in the Gospel account of the Paralytic in John 5:2-16, for it was he who later transgressed the Lord who healed him by being at the trial of Jesus and it was the former paralytic who struck Jesus for which he obtained "a trial worse than the weakening of limbs".

Therefore, confession must be absolute, followed by such medicinal penance that mitigates the sin in order for forgiveness to be true for both self and those affected.

In 1 Cor. 12:26 we learn that, "If one suffers, all suffer together," referring to all the members of the Body of Christ, the Church.

Like parts of the Body, so members are parts of the Body of Christ, the Church.  Like blood that flows through the physical body, so too the Holy Spirit flows through the Body of Christ, the Church.  When the blood ceases, so does a member.  When the blood is diseased and cured, so too the member, and the Church, the Body of Christ, suffers.

Only through prayer, contemplation, meditation (active, daily, self-examination) confession and penance can the member obtain true forgiveness of self and others, with healing of soul and body taking place.

There are three primary types of sins that must be addressed because they keep us separated from God!

The most grievous sin is against God: APOSTASY!  What is true APOSTASY?

The very word "APOSTASY" is exclusively defined and means, "sin against God, the denial of Christ".

This is affirmed in the Gospel of Matthew 10:30, "whoever denies Me before men, I also will deny my Father who is in heaven."

One cannot commit apostasy against the Church, for to do so means they have committed true apostasy by denying Christ therefore anyone who makes a claim that another has committed apostasy against the church has, in effect, said that another has committed the grievous sin by denying Christ.  There are those who bandy words about in a manner that make themselves look foolish when they make such ludicrous claims about others, especially clergy.  We have seen this in all Churches or jurisdictions.  The sin of Apostasy is the denial of Christ!  There is no other kind for Jesus Christ Himself, defined the criteria or meaning of the very word, APOSTASY!

Those today who, out of fear of making a bad impression, allow themselves to be lured into following fashionable trends to act like unbelievers, are committing Apostasy... against the Church and therefore, against Christ!

As another example:  A bishop declares a condemnation against another bishop who he says has committed apostasy and is therefore an "apostate" because the other bishop or clergyman refused the issuing bishop's academic, arrogant and elitist attitude of understanding about an issue(s) as being the only way or path of belief in the Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ or in following a particular path in the struggle in this life.  The bishop making the condemnation has committed sin and taken unto himself the very sin he condemns or declares of the other because the one being condemned has held only a difference of opinion while remaining true to the Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ according to his own individual nature, degree and ability of understanding through Holy Spirit.

Later on though, in the example, the bishop issuing the condemnation of declaring the other an 'apostate' says that he does not 'hate' and that there is 'no hard feelings' as a form of 'forgiveness' is actually contradictory.  Further on in time, in this example, the bishop issuing the condemnation turns around and calls the one whom he condemns as an "Apostate" and issues the same, in writing, to the whole Church, of every jurisdiction.  As in this example, the past is rife with hierarchs who have done just this same thing, even to the point of using such as the basis for enacting "excommunication" of another.  Neither the Canons nor the spirit of the Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ allow this as valid or true and is actually contradictory to the teachings and the Canons.  Neither is this "forgiveness" nor does it show a 'contrite' heart.

What those examples teach us is that we must be very careful as to whom or upon whom one casts aspersions or condemnations.  For that same aspersion or condemnation may rebound to one's ownself by God.  "Judge not lest ye be judged, for by what judgment ye judge, shall ye also be judged, and the measure you give will be measured unto you," (Matt. 7:1-3).  "Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me".

The Church is not a "perfect" Church, although it's aim is to become 'perfect' in the footsteps of the Lord, but this is not possible in this life, for the Church is filled with sick souls who need the spiritual medicine that the Lord provided for the Church to administer to its members, clergy and faithful alike.  In a perfect world, the Church would  be perfect and that is to come only when our Lord returns.

True repentance must include active and aggressive forgiveness of self and more especially, of others - without which we may find we've committed a worse sin.  Where one fails or refuses to admit wrongdoing or error, failing or refusing to seek and give forgiveness, may cause for an accumulation of sins.  To fail or refuse active and aggressive forgiveness toward and for or from others may be the very stumbling block God will hold against the one who sin(s) are being judged at the particular judgment.

What is the Second type of Sin?

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