St. Anthony the Great on Repentance

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.

SAINT ANTHONY THE GREAT ON REPENTANCE

"The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9)

Saint Anthony used to say, "There are many who fall and who rise up to an attitude of rectitude, but there are some who fall from good deeds to polluted things; better is he who falls and rises up than he who stands and then falls."

Abba (Father) Anthony used to say, "He who wants to break free from his sins must do so by weeping and mourning; and he who would be built up in virtue must be built up by tears."

Now I desire to narrate to you the excellent history and the great repentance of the blessed woman Thais, for speech concerning her is most excellent and is full of encouragement and penitence of soul to those who love God. Now, this woman had a mother who, because her daughter was very beautiful, made her to take up a position in the market. The rumor of her beauty travelled everywhere, so that even those who lived far away desired greatly to see her. No man who saw her was satisfied with the sight of her face, because she burned like a flame of fire into the hearts of those who saw her and many, by reason of their love for her, sold whatever property they had to her parents that they might have commerce with her.

Now, when Bessarion the servant of God, heard these things concerning this woman and that through her beauty she was dragging many to destruction, he arrayed himself in the apparel of a man who was in the world and took with him his one dinar and went to her. When he saw her, he brought forth the dinar and gave it to her. Thais, having taken the money, said to him, "Let us go into the room."

Bessarion replied, "Yes, let's go in."

Having gone in, the blessed man Bessarion saw the couch which was laid out and was very high. The woman said to the elder, "Come, get up on this bed."

The elder told her, "Do you have any other room inside this chamber?"

"Yes," she replied.

And he said to her, "Let us, then, go in there."

Thais answered him, "If you are ashamed of men, then you should know that no one can see us in this chamber. However, if it is God that you are afraid of, then you should know that He can see us anywhere."

Upon hearing these words, the blessed man Bessarion said to her, "My daughter, do you believe that God exists?"

"Yes, replied the woman, "I know that God exists and that there will be Kingdom and judgment."

Then the elder asked her, "If you believe that God exists and there will be Kingdom and judgment, why do you destroy men in this way?"

Immediately the woman cast herself at his feet and said to him, "I know that there is repentance for those who sin. But, I beseech you master, wait for me three hours and then do whatever you wish to do to me, because of all the evil things which have been wrought by me."

The elder, having told her in what place he would await her, he left her and went away.

Then, in that same hour, the woman took everything which she had gained by fornication and burnt it with fire in the midst of the city, saying, "Come, O all those who have had commerce with me and see that I am burning before your eyes every possession which I have gathered together by means of sin!"

Now, the things which she burnt were worth three hundred pounds of gold, for there were expensive goods and apparel of all kinds.

After she burnt everything, she went to the blessed man Bessarion. The elder took her by her hand and led her to a religious house of sisters. He shut her in a little cell, leaving her only a small window in the wall through which a woman passed in food to her and then instructed the head of the house, "Give her a pound of dry bread each day and water according to her needs."

Then, the blessed woman Thais asked the venerable Bessarion, "How do you want me to pray to God that He should forgive my sins?"

The blessed Bessarion replied to her, "You are neither worthy to pray to God, nor to mention His name with your lips, not to stretch your hands to Him, for your lips are unclean and polluted and our hands are contaminated with impurity. You shall only sit down and gaze towards the East and say nothing else except, "O Thou Who created me, have mercy on me."

Three years passed in this manner and the blessed Bessarion had mercy upon her and he went to Abba (Father) Anthony to learn from him whether God had forgiven her sin or not. Having revealed everything to St. Anthony, the blessed elder called his disciples and instructed them, "Let each one of you shut himself in his cell all night and pray to God that we might see to whom shall be revealed the matter concerning which the blessed Bessarion came for us."

Everyone did as were instructed and after a long time had elapsed, the blessed Paul, the chief of the disciples of Father Anthony, looked into the heavens and saw a couch which had be spread with great splendor and three Angels who were carrying three lamps were standing before that couch and a crown of glory was laid thereupon. Having seen all this glorious sight, he said, "This couch can only be for my father Anthony." Then a voice came unto him from heaven, saying, "This couch is not for Anthony your father, but for Thais the harlot."

The blessed Paul rose up early in the morning and related the vision which he had seen.

The blessed father Bessarion returned back from Abba Anthony in great joy and went to the religious house of the sisterhood and opened the door that he might bring the woman out from the cell wherein she was secluded. Yet, Thais entreated him saying, "Leave me here until by death, for my sins are many."

Then the blessed man said to her, "Behold the Merciful God had compassion upon you and He has accepted your repentance!"

As he really wanted her to come out from her cell, she said to him, "Believe me, O Father, from the day I entered this cell, I have made all my sins a mighty burden and I have set it before my eyes; and as the breath of my nostrils had not separated itself from me, likewise the remembrance of my sins have not separated from me to this very hour."

The blessed Bessarion answered her, "God had not forgiven your sins because of your repentance, but because of your thinking to deliver yourself over to Christ."

Now, this blessed woman Thais lived after that for fifteen days and she departed to our Lord in peace. Thus was the crowning of the blessed Thais who was lost and was found and was dead, but came to life by the Grace of Christ.

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MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU

The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

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Glory Be To GOD For All Things!

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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George