Saturday, June 19, 2010

Forgivneness Outline used for the Blooming in the Desert podcast

This is the outline used for our podcast shows on forgiveness.

To listen to the shows, follow the links below.  Each part linked will have that portion of the outline which corresponds to it.

Part I.

Part II.

Part III.

Here is the entire outline, however, in one place.


Matthew 6:14-15

"For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."  

I.  Forgiveness is central to our Faith.  So central, in fact, that it is spoken of in the strongest terms possible in Holy Scripture as a necessity to live the Life in Christ.  As we see in the text above , this comes from the mouth of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself during His teaching recorded in the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew in the section which is known as the Sermon on the Mount. The Lord had just given those listening to Him instruction on prayer, that is, in what manner they(and we) ought to pray in.  The prayer He gave them we know as "The Lord's Prayer".

The Lord, in this Prayer, tells us in its midst to pray:

"And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors."

After He finishes giving them the whole Prayer, He then adds what we have as our opening text to emphasize in no uncertain terms the need to forgive wrongs, debts, resentments or whatever it is that others have done to us.  It seems very certain that He is telling us there is no way around this necessary and salvific act.

Being that Forgiveness is so central, we then should ask, "What then is forgiveness?"

II.  Definition of  Forgiveness

This is taken from Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary.

1.  To cease to feel resentment against (an offender): PARDON  2 a :  to give up resentment of or claim to requital b :  to grant relief from payment of

To understand forgiveness more fully, equally important is to understand what resentment consists of.

The word, resent, is from a French word, sentir, which means, "to feel", and so our English word, resent is in the French "re + sentir", that is, to "re-feel".

So when I resent, or re-feel,  what I am doing is living in the present something that has taken place in the past.  How long past may be for an indeterminate amount of time, that is until I "let go" of the resentment. 

What characterizes resentment is that in the present, when I remember a wrong or evil, whether in truth or even an imaginary affront, I am able to bring to my recollection not only the real or imagined act against myself, but I also bring with the act the very same emotions of hurt, rejection, humiliation, etc. which accompanied the initial wrongdoing.  In other words, attached to every act that I perceive as wrong against myself are the emotions, memories and impressions that are part and parcel with it and these can be very vivid;  so vivid, in fact, that when I resent, or re-feel,  it is as if the act is fresh, occurring at that very moment in my psyche.

III.  What Forgiveness Is-More Exactly

The "principle" of forgiveness is to forgive as God does.  To forgive is not to overlook transgressions, hurts, rejections, snubs, etc. or pretend they're not there or real.  Forgiveness as well does not involve taking a wrong against oneself and suppressing it to forget the wrong.

Forgiveness is something very much a positive act in that it fully acknowledges an evil act and in spite of the evil act against oneself, one chooses to act in a way that realizes the affront is an affront and is not something else.  Forgiveness involves an understanding that those who affront us are debtors to us.  They "owe" us something. They have "transgressed us".  But we, instead of seeking payment for the debt, forgive it or cancel it.  It is to longer exist for us.  It is gone forever.  This is what the Lord has set before us.  This is what He gives us in  relation to our innumerable sins and affronts against Him personally and as well against all His creation especially our fellow human beings whose  image and likeness they bear and in whom we fail to see Him.

IV.  Why Forgive?

As mentioned, we forgive because God forgives.  Very simple and to the point.  We are to imitate Him in all His work and His forgiveness is intricately tied to His mercy and He calls us to forgive and be merciful always.

Now we should quickly mention that in the Holy Scriptures, the teaching we receive from the Lord is most often in the context of His teaching to His disciples.  Hence, when Peter asks Him in The Gospel of St. Matthew, Chapter 18 verses 21-22,  "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?  Up to seven times?"  Jesus said to him,  "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven",  we see here that Peter has a legalistic mindset that has set a "limit" on forgiveness.  There is a threshold for Peter that if one crosses over through repeated offenses, he may withhold forgiveness having done what was "reasonable". The Lord smashes this mindset and tells him seventy times seven, in other words, giving in this number a value which implies forgiveness which is infinite or without end.

In many other examples we see the Lord teach forgiveness in the context of those who are following Him, in the Church.  He understands, of course that in the course of normal everyday life together, people will often sin against one another, be irritated and prone to acts of unkindness and the like.  So He speaks most often in the context that a group of people are involved who to one degree or another are following Him and are familiar with His commandments to forgive.

This often involves those who recognize their sin against us and will seek our forgiveness to right themselves before God.

But we must also recognize that forgiveness and mercy extends to those outside the Church as well. We are called to forgive and have mercy even on those who are not seeking a relationship with God at all.  This teaching of the Lord comes out so well in the Parable of the Good Samaritan in The Gospel of St. Luke in Chapter 10 when "a certain lawyer" tested Him and asked:

25  "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"

26  He said to him, "What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?" 

27  So he answered and said, "'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,' and 'your neighbor as yourself.' "

28 And He said to him, "You have answered rightly; do this and you will live."  

29  But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"

30  Then Jesus answered and said: "A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.      

31  Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 

32  Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.

33  But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion.

34  So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

35  On the next day, when he departed,he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.'

36  So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?" 

37  And he said, "He who showed mercy on him." Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise." 

V.  A Brief Note on Salvation as understood by the Orthodox Church
The following is taken from Orthodox Wiki, "Soteriology":


Salvation is the goal of Christianity, and the purpose of the Church. The theology of salvation is called soteriology. Orthodox Christianity strongly believes that God became man, so that man may become like God. This concept of theosis, rejects that salvation is a positive result to a legalistic dilemma, but is instead a healing process. Orthodoxy views our inclination to sin as a symptom of a malady that needs treatment, not just a transgression that requires retribution. One of the distinctive characteristics of Orthodox Christian thinking is that it sees the Gospel message not as law, but as relationship. It speaks of the mystery of the Holy Trinity in terms of the relationship of love that exists among them. To join in that love is the work that will lead to salvation.

God created man in his own image and likeness

Man, according to the scriptures, is created in the "likeness" and "image" of God (Gen 1:26-27).
To be like God, through the gift of God, is the essence of man's being and life. In the scriptures it says that God breathed into man, the "breath (or spirit) of life" (Gen 2:7). This teaching has given rise to the understanding in the Orthodox Church that man cannot be truly human, truly himself, without the Spirit of God.

The image of God signifies man's free will, his reason, his sense of moral responsibility, everything, which marks man out from the animal creation and makes him a person. But the image means more than that. It means that we are God's 'offspring' (Acts 27:28), his kin; it means that between us and him there is a point of contact, an essential similarity. The gulf between creature and Creator is not impassable, for because we are in God's image we can know God and have communion with him.

Fall of man

The story of creation, and specifically of Adam and Eve, tells of the goodness of all things that exist, and the superiority of man over other beings. It shows how the origin of evil does not lie in God but in his most perfect creature whose free act of sin brought wickedness and death to the world, how man lost the "likeness" of God, his response to God's love.
The Church teaches that when we do not respond to God's love, we are diminished as human beings. The act of faith that he asks of us is not so very different from the faith and trust we place in those people who surround us. When we do not respond to the love given us by the people who love us, we become shallow and hardened individuals.


Since man still was of God's image, the search for meaning was as critical for human existence as are air and water. Creation itself, as the handiwork of God pointed to him. Yet, before the coming of Christ, the meaning of the world and our place in it remained difficult to understand. People created stories to help themselves explain the great mystery of their own existence, the world around them, and the one who was responsible for bringing them into being. Yet, knowledge of the true God eluded them. The Holy Scriptures speak of this lack of knowledge as darkness. So God sent messengers to speak for him, holy men and women through whom he worked wonders, prophets to announce the coming salvation. Finally, God sent his own Son, Jesus Christ. When he came, the very one who had created the world was now clearly made known to the world, giving light to those who had been sitting in darkness.


But because man fell, the Incarnation is not only an act of love but an act of salvation. Jesus Christ, by uniting man and God in his own person, reopened for man the path to union with God. In his own person Christ showed what the true 'likeness of God' is, and through his redeeming and victorious sacrifice he set that likeness once again within man's reach. Christ, the Second Adam, came to earth and reversed the effects of the first Adam's disobedience.

The Church

Salvation means that the world is not an end in and of itself. It is a reality that points to the larger reality of God's love for us and all that surrounds us. The world, time, history, our very lives are "an epiphany of God, a means of his revelation, presence and power."
God did not abandon his people after Christ's ascension into heaven. His Church, starting on Pentecost, is still with us today.

Final Judgment

Christ will judge all people exclusively on the basis of how they have served him by serving each other, the least of the brethren. This will show how each person loved God and each other. The love for God and the love for man, becoming one and the same love. It is accomplished in Christ and is Christ. To love with this love is to love with the love of Christ and to fulfill his "new commandment" to "love one another even as I have loved you." (John 13:34-35, 15:12) In this is the whole of spiritual life. In this, and this alone, man will be finally judged. It is the crown of all virtue and prayer, the ultimate and most perfect fruit of God's Spirit in man.
The final coming of Christ will be the judgment of all men. His very presence will be the judgment. For those who love the Lord, his presence will be infinite joy, paradise and eternal life. For those who hate the Lord, the same presence will be infinite torture, hell and eternal death.

May they all be one

'May they all be one,' Christ prayed at the Last Supper; "As Thou, Father, art in me and I in Thee, so also may they be in us" (John 17:21). Just as the three persons of the Trinity 'dwell' in one another in an unceasing movement of love, so man, made in the image of the Trinity, is called to 'dwell' in the Trinitarian God.

Outside the Church there is no salvation

Saint Cyprian wrote, 'A man cannot have God as his Father if he does not have the Church as his Mother'. God is salvation, and God's saving power is mediated to man in His Body, the Church. This stated the other way around by Georges Florovsky: 'Outside the Church there is no salvation, because salvation is the Church'.
The Church is the unity of those united with the Trinity. The One Church united as the three persons of Trinity are united. If one in the Church makes proper use of this Church, for communion with God, then he will become 'like' God, he will acquire the divine likeness; in the words of John Damascene, he will be 'assimilated to God through virtue.' To acquire the likeness is to be deified, it is to become a 'god by grace,' [not by nature or essence].

The following is taken from "Orthodox Church-Wikipedia": 

Sin, salvation and the incarnation

At some point in the beginnings of human existence man was faced with a choice, to learn the difference between good and evil through observation or through participation. The biblical story of Adam and Eve represents this choice by mankind to participate in evil. This event is commonly referred to as “the fall of man” and it represents a fundamental change in human nature. When Orthodox Christians refer to Original Sin what they mean is this adoption of evil into human nature. As a result of this sin, mankind was doomed to be separated from God. This was mankind’s ultimate dilemma. The solution to this problem was for God to effect another change in human nature. Orthodox Christians believe that Christ Jesus was both God and Man absolutely. He was born, lived and died. Through God’s participation in humanity, human nature is changed thus saving us from the fate of hell. The effective change included all those who had died from the beginning of time – saving everyone including Adam and Eve. This process, to Orthodox Christians is what is meant by “Salvation”. The ultimate goal is theosis – an even closer union with God and closer likeness to God than existed in the Garden of Eden.


Briefly, what we are to understand is that human nature was created by God as "good", without defect or mar.  When Man sinned, to this "good" nature was attached corruption or evil, separating Man from God.  With the Incarnation, God in Christ, the God-Man, restored humanity, but even more than this, He "recreated" human nature  making it other than what it was before the Fall because the Son of God, The Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Very God of Very God(as the Creed states),"entered into the creation deifying it.

Salvation as it was understood in the beginning, and as it is understood to this day in the Orthodox Church, is not only the payment of a debt by Christ at the Cross but involves something more than this.  We bring this out in order to help those who are not Orthodox Christians listening to our program the difference in the views of salvation as offered on one hand by Roman Catholic teaching and which Protestant teaching follows, and that of the Orthodox Catholic Church.

The following is from here from a person called Herman.  He was asked the following question by someone:

"Could you please explain to me, how a Protestant's (Evangelical /Charismatic)view on Salvation is different to Russian Orthodox?"

To which he replied,

"One major difference is that Protestants tend to view "salvation" as an event. It is the moment you "accept Jesus into your heart". Orthodoxy teaches that salvation is the journey itself, not the destination. Protestants tend to accept the Catholic teaching, that sin is a crime to be punished, rather than the Orthodox position, that sin is a disease to be healed. They do not understand that the Church is the spiritual hospital, ordained by the Divine Physician, Jesus Christ. Protestants, by and large, do not understand the efficacy of the sacraments, how they serve as medicine in the healing process, or how fasting helps build up our resistance to the disease of sin."

We mention all this to better make sense of why we forgive. When we forgive, we are acting as God and when we act as God, we are partaking in His Energies and when we partake of His Energies we are deified which means we take part in the Very Life of God Himself and are thereby healed.

So to forgive for the sake of the Gospel is to obey Christ's commandment and to find and know Life Himself.

VI.  What Happens When I Forgive?

We have spoken on what forgiveness is and why we forgive.  We have seen that to forgive is to participate in the Gospel in the very real way that as God forgives us, we are to forgive others, all others.

Further, forgiveness brings healing to the one who wronged but as well and just as importantly, forgiveness brings healing to the one wronged who is doing the forgiving.

I used to have a person in my life who was a spiritual guide of sorts.  It so happened that one time, when I used to work for a man whom I felt superior to, that I developed an extreme dislike of him and also a disdain because I felt I was better at the work of which he was my boss.

I steamed and stewed for days over this and that.  Not being able to bear the fact that I knew I shouldn't be feeling this way and entertaining such thoughts, I finally went to my "spiritual guide" for help.  I related to him all the bad things this person had done to me and I explained how justified I was to feel such feelings and the like.

He listened to me patiently for some time and then finally, I had said all that I felt needed saying to him.  I then looked for resolution to my problem from him and I guess I sort of expected him to see how right I was after all and how justified I was to be feeling what I was feeling.

He gave me none of that but instead asked me a simple question:  "Do you want to be free or do you want to be right?".

That question took me back and made me realize that as I held on to all the anger, hurt, injustice I felt I had endured at my boss' hands(in truth, looking back, I was very wrong in my estimation of my boss of this time),  I was a slave and in bondage to a certain condition of soul and mind that I could only be free of if I chose to simply forgive him and let go of any and all of my "rights" in the given situation.

Another very important thing to understand about forgiveness is how important it is to us that God indeed forgives.  If we believed that God did not forgive, we would give up on the spiritual life and despair.  But His forgiveness spurs us on to keep trying, to keep getting back up after our falls.  His forgiveness towards us teaches us to keep trusting Him.  His forgiveness of us extends as often as we turn to Him and seek His friendship once again.  When we sin, what we are doing is breaking our friendship with Him.  We turn on Him and follow after our own lusts and pursuits and shun Him. When we confess before Him and each other, we restore this friendship and once again the communion which happens between persons who are friends takes place and heals us.  And God forever seeks out this restoration between Himself and us.  It is we who choose to stay separated from Him and not He from us.

VII.  More passages from the Holy Scripture on Forgiveness

The Lord Jesus Christ in the Gospels

Mark 11:25-26:  "And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.  But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses."

Luke 6:37: "Judge not, and you shall not be judged.  Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned.  Forgive, and you will be forgiven."

Luke 17:3-4:  "Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you,  rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, 'I repent,' you shall forgive him." 

Luke 23:34:  "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

The Book of Acts- Stephen the Proto Martyr

Chapter 7:60:  Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not charge them with this sin."  And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

The Epistles of Paul and the other Epistles

There are numerous references to forgiveness but in a bit of a different context.  They are not spoken of in the Epistles for the most part as we have discussed thus far where we are commanded to forgive to receive salvation.  Forgiveness here is more often spoken of in the context of how God has forgiven us or is willing to forgive us when we confess our sins.

VIII.  Further thoughts on forgiveness

There is another definition in Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary for "forgiving".  The definition is as follows:  1.  willing or able to forgive  2.  allowing room for error or weakness.

This definition goes a little further in that it brings to our attention another aspect of forgiveness.  So far we have been discussing the need to forgive on a case by case basis, so to speak.  In other words, when someone affronts us, then we are to forgive.  And we are to do this over and over again, imitating how God has mercy on us.

What is unique to the definition of "forgiving" compared to the definition we have been working with thus far is that with this word we are called on to adopt prior to any wrong committed by others a recognition of the very propensity in them that they cannot help but sin, fallen as they are.  This recognition is further aided when in fact we recognize in ourselves this very same propensity for sin and error and the need for forgiveness for ourselves.

This type of forgiveness speaks of a spirit which "rushes ahead" of any given person or situation and lays the groundwork for the humility necessary to forgive the expected sin and affront that will happen.  This type of forgiveness takes into account the expected trespasses because one knows that all are struggling in some way under their own particular burdens that God in His goodness has provided for them to help them turn to Him and repent.

This is brought out for us wonderfully by St. Paul in two particular passages.

Ephesians 4:32:  And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

Colossians 3:12-14:   Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;  bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.

VIII.  A Reminder 

We should always bear in mind when learning on these matters that we cannot isolate one teaching unto itself.  We spoke about this on previous shows and noted that with the "Pillars of Piety", one feeds into the others and the others encapsulate the whole of each and of all the others within themselves.

Therefore to forgive more perfectly, we should remember that it is an effort and an "art" given into our hands to practice just like all the other virtues. We are working to more fully reflect God and this requires us to cleanse our hearts.  As we spoke of earlier, we were created with a "good" nature but because of the Fall and our own subsequent sin, corruption attached itself to our good nature and hid the image.

To not forgive is part of the corruption and we are to struggle, by God's grace, to learn to perform all of Christ's commandments for the aid of our healing or salvation.

Saint Paul, in his Second Epistle to the Corinthians says in Chapter 7, verse 1:

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

Now we must recognize that the power to forgive does not lie with us but with God.  And in order to commune with Him to receive this grace, we pray.  We more fully learn how to pray when we give alms and fast.  We also can reverse any of these or interchange them and recognize that they all tie into and lead into each other.

We would like to offer this one section from "The Way of the Pilgrim and the Pilgrim Continues His Way".  It is from the section titled On the Power of Prayer.  In this section the character in the book, The Skhimnik, reads from an article to his friends and talks about how prayer itself is the path and that when one undertakes this path, the path itself will direct the Christian.  In other words, the one who practices prayer thus will do what he wills but as he does whatever he is doing, by praying ceaselessly, what he does will be purified over time and with the effort of praying in all that he does.

In  Point 5 of the article he says:

Pray somehow or other, only pray always and be disturbed by nothing. Be light in spirit and peaceful. Prayer will arrange everything and teach you. Remember what the Saints—John Chrysostom and Mark the Ascetic—say about the power of prayer. The first declares that prayer, even though it be offered by us who are full of sin, yet cleanses us at once. The latter says, "To pray somehow is within our power, but to pray purely is the gift of grace." So offer to God what it is within your power to offer. Bring to Him at first just quantity (which is within your power), and God will pour upon you strength in your weakness. "Prayer, dry and distracted maybe, but continuous, will establish a habit and become second nature and turn itself into prayer that is pure, luminous, flaming, and worthy."

So if we do not know how to forgive very well, we should not despair but understand with prayer and the other efforts given to us by the Church we may learn to forgive more perfectly over time, by God's grace.

IX.  The Saint of Forgiveness, Dionysius of Zakynthos 

From here.

(In the midst of a description of this particular Saint and other details from his life, we have this following story preserved for us)

A certain stranger murdered the saint's brother Constantine, an illustrious nobleman. Fearing his victim's relatives, the stranger, by chance or by God's will, sought refuge in the monastery where St Dionysius was the abbot. When the saint asked the fugitive why he was so frightened, he confessed his sin and revealed the name of the man he had murdered, asking to be protected from the family's vengeance. St Dionysius wept for his only brother, as was natural. Then he comforted the murderer and hid him, showing him great compassion and love.

Soon the saint's relatives came to the monastery with a group of armed men and told him what had happened. He pretended to know nothing about it. After weeping with them and trying to console them, he sent them off in the wrong direction. Then he told the murderer that he was the brother of the man he had killed. He admonished him as a father, and brought him to repentance. After forgiving him, St Dionysius brought him down to the shore and helped him to escape to another place in order to save his life. Because of the saint's Christ-like virtue, he was granted the gift of working miracles.

X.  Sayings from various Holy Fathers and other Orthodox writers on Forgiveness

'And forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors.' For we have many sins. For we offend both in word and in thought, and very many things we do worthy of condemnation; and 'if we say that we have no sin' (I Jn. 1:8), we lie, as John says...The offenses committed against us are slight and trivial, and easily settled; but those which we have committed against God are great, and need such mercy as His only is. Take heed, therefore, lest for the slight and trivial sins against you, you shut out for yourself forgiveness from God for your very grievous sins. St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures: Lecture 23 no. 16)

Abba Poemen also said this about Abba Isidore that whenever he addressed the brothers in church he said only one thing, "Forgive your brother, so that you also may be forgiven." The Desert Fathers

Do we forgive our neighbors their trespasses? God also forgives us in His mercy. Do we refuse to forgive? God, too, will refuse to forgive us. As we treat our neighbors, so also does God treat us. The forgiveness, then, of your sins or unforgiveness, and hence also your salvation or destruction, depend on you yourself, man. For without forgiveness of sins there is no salvation. You can see for yourself how terrible it is. (I was not able to ascertain the source of this saying as it is ascribed to both St. Philotheos of Sinai and to St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, Journey to Heaven)

Forgive and pray, in order to live your life serenely. And do not do to others that which you do not want them to do to you, or return the evil which they have done to you. Modern Orthodox Saints Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene of Lesvos., by Constantine Cavarnos., INSTITUTE FOR BYZANTINE AND MODERN STUDIES., Belmont, Massachusetts., 1990., pp. 145-155

Forgiveness is better than revenge. St. Tikhon of Zadonsk

Hence, in whatever state a person is, he sometimes finds himself making pure and intense prayers. For even from that first and lowest sort, which has to do with recalling the future judgment, the one who is still subject to the punishment of terror and the fear of judgment is occasionally so struck with compunction that he is filled with no less joy of spirit from the richness of his supplication than the one who, examining the kindnesses of God and going over them in the purity of his heart, dissolves into unspeakable gladness and delight. For, according to the words of the Lord, the one who realizes that more has been forgiven him begins to love more. St. John Cassian, The Conferences

If you want cure your soul, you need four things. The first is to forgive your enemies. The second is to confess thoroughly. The third is to blame yourself. The fourth is to resolve to sin no more. If we wish to be saved, we must always blame ourselves and not attribute our wrong acts to others. And God, Who is most compassionate, will forgive us. Modern Orthodox Saints I, St. Cosmas Aitolos).Dr. Constantine Cavarnos., INSTITUTE FOR BYZANTINE AND MODERN GREEK STUDIES., Belmont, Massachusetts., pp.81-94

No one is as good and kind as the Lord is; but He does not forgive one who does not repent. St. Mark the Ascetic

Sincere repentance is a gift of God such that, although we may not have committed any severe fall into sin or evil deed, we still see ourselves in our true light, see how weak we are, how much we sin in the mind, in our feelings, and especially in our imagination. Looking honestly at ourselves, we have nothing left to say except "Lord God have mercy on me, help me, and forgive, forgive, forgive me!" Then forgiveness will come into our souls like Pascha, and we are as it were born anew. And if the Lord should forgive, who will condemn us? Metropolitan Vitaly, Paschal Encyclical, 2001 (

The deeper the contrition, the better. But however deep the contrition, never admit a shadow of doubt about forgiveness. Forgiveness is already fully prepared and the record of all sins has been torn up on the Cross. Repentance and contrition alone are expected of every man, before he too can participate in the power of the redemption of the sins of the world through the Crucifixion. Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare: Chapter 28)

The drunkard, the fornicator, the proud - he will receive God's mercy. But he who does not want to forgive, to excuse, to justify consciously, intentionally... ...that person closes himself to eternal life before God, and even more so in the present life. He is turned away and not heard. Elder Sampson of Russia

Thou dost not so much desire thy sins to be forgiven, as He desires to forgive thee thy sins. In proof that thou dost not so desire it, consider that thou hast no mind either to practice vigils, or to give thy money freely: but He, that He might forgive our sins, spared not His Only-Begotten and True Son, the partner of His throne St. John Chrysostom

Thus should we weep for the forgiveness of our sins. The words of the bearer of the purple should convince us of this: 'Going they went and wept, casting their seed; but coming they shall come with joyfulness, carrying their sheaves (Ps. 125:6);' as well as the words of St. Isaac the Syrian: 'Moisten your cheeks with the tears of your eyes, that the Holy Spirit may abide in you, and cleanse the filth of your malice. Move your lord with your tears, that He may help you' (homily 68). St. Seraphim of Sarov
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- is impossible for a man to be freed from the habit of sin before he hates it, just as it is impossible to receive forgiveness before confessing his trespasses... Monks Callistus and Ignatius (Directions to Hesychasts no. 28, Writings from the Philokalia on Prayer of the Heart; Faber and Faber pg. 199)
 (And the following story illustrates very well the powerful effect of mercy and compassion)

In 1944, the Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko's mother took him from Siberia to Moscow. They were among those who witnessed a procession of twenty-thousand German war prisoners marching through the streets of Moscow:

The pavements swarmed with onlookers, cordoned off by soldiers and police. The crowd was mostly women -- Russian women with hands roughened by hard work, lips untouched by lipstick, and with thin hunched shoulders which had borne half of the burden of the war. Every one of them must have had a father or a husband, a brother or a son killed by the Germans. They gazed with hatred in the direction from which the column was to appear.

At last we saw it. The generals marched at the head, massive chins stuck out, lips folded disdainfully, their whole demeanor meant to show superiority over their plebian victors.

"'They smell of perfume, the bastards," someone in the crowd said with hatred. The women were clenching their fists. The soldiers and policemen had all they could do to hold them back.

All at once something happened to them. They saw German soldiers, thin, unshaven, wearing dirty blood-stained bandages, hobbling on crutches or leaning on the shoulders of their comrades; the soldiers walked with their heads down. The street became dead silent -- the only sound was the shuffling of boots and the thumping of crutches.
Then I saw an elderly women in broken-down boots push herself forward and touch a policeman's shoulder, saying, "Let me through." There must have been something about her that made him step aside. She went up to the column, took from inside her coat something wrapped in a colored handkerchief and unfolded it. It was a crust of black bread. She pushed it awkwardly into the pocket of a soldier, so exhausted that he was tottering on his feet. And now from every side women were running toward the soldiers, pushing into their hands bread, cigarettes, whatever they had. The soldiers were no longer enemies. They were people. A Precocious Autobiography, Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Collins, London

XI.   Further Reading on Resentment and Forgiveness

We highly recommend the  article written by Hieromonk Damascene, Resentment and Forgiveness which you can click on the link to access.

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