Wednesday, January 8, 2014

"There are three stages for salvation ( Elder Ambrose of Optina )

In order to give the necessary understanding about the power and importance of repentance, Starets Ambrose would say: "What times have befallen us! Before, when somebody sincerely repented his sins, he changed his sinful lifestyle and lived chastely. But now it often happens, that during confession a person would detail all his sins and then continue his lifestyle unchanged."

Starets imparted another instructional narrative: "A demon in the appearance of a human was sitting and dangling his feet. Seeing him with his spiritual eyes, he asked him: "Why aren’t you doing something?" The demon replied: "Well there is nothing for me to do but to dangle my legs, because people are doing everything better than me."

"There are three stages for salvation. St. John the Golden Tongue states: a) Do not sin. b) If you have sinned, repent. c) Those who repent inadequately, have to bear their sorrows as they find them."

"It happens," Batushka used to say, "that although our sins are forgiven through repentance, our conscience does not cease to reproach us. As a comparison, the reposed Starets Macarius used to show his finger that was cut a long time ago: the pain had long gone but the scar remains. That is exactly the same that after repentance, the scars remain, that is, admonitions of the conscience."

"Although God forgives the sins of those repenting, every sin demands a cleansing punishment. For example, after Christ said to the wise thief: "Today you will be with Me in Paradise," his knees were broken. And what was it like to hang on his hands only, with broken kneecaps, for some three hours? It meant that he had to cleanse himself through suffering. The cleansing of those sinners who die immediately after repentance, is done through the prayers of the Church and those present, while those living, have to cleanse themselves through a change in their lifestyles and charity that would cover their sins.

Elder Ambrose of Optina
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