My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, EVER SHALL BE.
"PREACHING A BAPTISM OF REPENTANCE FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS" (St. Luke 3:3).
"From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, "Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand" (St. Matthew 4:17).
Our Lord Jesus Christ's first word, like that of Saint John the Baptist and Forerunner, is "repent", because repenting is necessary to enter and continue in His new way of life. Repentance is man's turning from himself to God. Repentance always accompanies belief, is a total about-face. It is a radical change of one's spirit, mind and heart, a complete reorientation of the whole of one's life and being. It is the necessary first step on the way of the Lord.
"The end result of sin is an ultimate separation from God. And since God is the happiness of the human heart, separation from God is the deprivation of that happiness or eternal sorrow...there is no sin which weighs more than the weight of God's mercy. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (St. John 3:16). "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world" (St. John 1:29).
"Take courage, sinners! There is deliverance for us! Jesus Christ, Who carried on His shoulders the sin of all humanity and Who paid debts to God with His death on the Cross, can take our sin on His shoulders as well. Is it not because of this that Saint Andrew of Crete prays in the name of all of us who sin before God: "Take my heavy sinful burden away from me and give me tears of repentance!" We must shed tears of repentance because there are only two kinds of water which can wash away the filth of sin: the water of baptism and the tears of repentance. Furthermore, as Saint John Climacus asserts: "Greater than baptism itself is the fountain of tears after baptism, even though it is somewhat audacious to say so. For baptism is the washing away of evils that were in us before, but sins committed after baptism are washed away by tears. As baptism is received in infancy, we have all defiled it, but we cleanse it anew with tears. And if God in His love for mankind had not given us tears, those being saved would be few indeed and hard to find" (St. Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent)."
The Mystery (Sacrament) of Repentance is a grace-giving sacred rite to which, after the faithful offer repentance of their sins, the remission of sins is bestowed by the mercy of God through the intermediary of a pastor (priest) of the Church, in accordance with the Savior's promise.
In the Mystery (Sacrament) of Repentance/Confession, the spiritual afflictions of a man are treated, impurities of soul are removed, and a Christian, having received forgiveness of sins, again becomes innocent and sanctified, just as he came out of the waters of baptism. Therefore, the Mystery (Sacrament) of Repentance/Confession is called a "spiritual medicine." One's sins, which draw a man downward, which dull his mind, heart, and conscience, which blind his spiritual gaze, which makes powerless his Christian will--are annihilated, and one's living bond with the church and with the Lord God is restored. Being relieved of the burden of sins, a man again comes to life spiritually and becomes able to strengthen himself and become perfected in the good Christian path" (Dogmatic Theology)
"Glory Be To God For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostomos
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God