The Five Paths of Repentance

From the Office of Readings for today:

St. John Chrysostom on the Temptations of the Devil (from Universalis)

Shall I list the paths of repentance? There are certainly many of them, many and various, and all of them lead to heaven.

The first path is the path of condemnation of sins. As Isaiah says, Tell your sins, and you will be acquitted. And the Psalmist adds: I said “I will bear witness against myself before the Lord,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin. So you, too must condemn the sins you have committed. Condemn them, and that condemnation will excuse you in front of the Lord, since whoever condemns the sins he has committed will be slower to commit them next time. Stir up your own conscience to be your accuser – so that when you come before the judgement-seat of the Lord no-one will be rise up to accuse you.

This is the first path of repentance but the second is in no way inferior to it in excellence. It is to forget the harm done to us by our enemies, to master our anger, to forgive the sins of those who are slaves together with us. As much as we do this, so much will our own sins against the Lord be forgiven. So this is the second path to the expiation of our sins. As the Lord says, Yes, if you forgive others their failings, your heavenly Father will forgive you yours.

Would you like to know the third path of repentance? It is prayer: fervent prayer, sincere and focused prayer, prayer coming from the depths of the heart.

If you want to know the fourth path, I will tell you it is the giving of alms. It has great power.

And finally, if someone acts with modesty and humility, that path is no less effective as a way to deprive sin of its substance. Look at the publican, who had no good deeds to speak of. In place of good deeds he offered humility, and the huge burden of his sins fell away.

So now I have shown you the five paths of repentance. First, condemnation of sins. Second, forgiving the sins of those near us. Third, prayer. Fourth, almsgiving. Fifth, humility.

So do not be idle, but every day advance along all these paths at once. They are not hard paths to follow. Poverty is no excuse for not setting out on the journey. Even if you are destitute you can do all these things: put aside anger, carry humility in front of you, pray hard, condemn your sins. Poverty is no obstacle – not even to that path of penitence that demands money: that is, almsgiving. Remember the story of the widow’s mite.

Now we have learnt the right way to heal our wounds, let us apply these remedies. Let us regain true health and confidently receive the blessings of Holy Communion. Thus we may come, filled with glory, to the glory of Christ’s kingdom, and receive its eternal joys through the grace, mercy and kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Quite the Day for Education!

Here are our saints of the day, as presented by Universalis (which is a great site for Liturgy of the Hours):

Saint Louis (1214 – 1270)
He became King of France (as Louis IX) at the age of 12. He was married and had eleven children, to whom he gave an excellent upbringing. He was noted for his spirit of prayer and penitence and for his love for the poor. He ran his kingdom not only to give peace to the people and economic stability but also for their spiritual good. He founded the Sorbonne and was a friend of St Thomas Aquinas. He was trusted by his fellow-rulers in Europe and often asked to arbitrate in their disputes. He undertook two unsuccessful crusades to liberate Christ’s burial-place and on the second of these he died, near Carthage, in the year 1270.

Saint Joseph of Calasanz (1557 – 1648)
He was born in Aragón, received an excellent education and was ordained priest. After working in his own country for some time he went to Rome, where he worked for the education of the poor and founded a religious congregation for that purpose. His idea was that every child should receive an education. As one might expect, he was the object of much envy and calumny. He died in Rome in 1648.

Of the two of these, I felt the strongest attraction today to St. Louis — perhaps because I am French. 🙂 You would think that it would have been the priest, with my vocation and the fact that it is the Year of the Priest, but no. However, Fr. Acervo spoke briefly this morning at Mass about St. Joseph. 🙂

I wonder if it is coincidence or planned that these two saints fall on the same day, and that both are known for how they educated others.

In other educational news, I start classes again at Seminary in 2 weeks! 🙂 Yay!

St. Jerome on Psalm 41, from the Liturgy of the Hours

So then, you who have followed our lead and robed yourselves in Christ, let the words of God lift you out of this turbulent age as a net lifts the little fishes out of the water. In us the laws of nature are turned upside down – for fish, taken out of the water, die; but the Apostles have fished us out of the sea that is this world not to kill us but to bring us from death to life. As long as we were in the world, our eyes were peering into the depths and we led our lives in the mud. Now we have been torn from the waves, we begin to see the true light. Moved by overwhelming joy, we say to our souls: Put your hope in the Lord, I will praise him still, my saviour and my God.