“Have you sinned? Go into Church and wipe out your sin. As often as you might fall down in the marketplace, you pick yourself up again. So too, as often as you sin, repent your sin. Do not despair. Even if you sin a second time, repent a second time. Do not by indifference lose hope entirely of the good things prepared. Even if you are in extreme old age and have sinned, go in, repent!” …. “For here there is a physician’s [i.e. the priest’s] office, not a courtroom; not a place where punishment of sin is exacted, but where the forgiveness of sin is granted.”
St. John Chrysostom – Homilies on Penance 3:4
“Lack of self-control is actually an evil both ancient and modern, though it did not precede its antidote, fasting. By means of our forefathers’ self-indulgence in paradise and their contempt for the fast already in existence there, death entered the world. Sin reigned and brought in the condemnation of our nature from Adam until Christ.
The flood covered the whole earth because of the self-indulgence of Adam’s descendants in this world of ours and their disdain for the chastity which came before. In those days God said to Noah, ‘My Spirit shall not abide in these men, for they are flesh’ (cf. Gen. 6:3 LXX). The deeds of those who are flesh are none other than unlimited eating, drunkenness, sensual pleasure and the evils that spring from them. Because of the abominable depravity and self-indulgence among the men of Sodom, fire fell on them from heaven (Gen. 19:24). ‘Behold’, says the prophet Ezekiel, ‘this was the iniquity of the men of Sodom, in fulness of bread they committed abomination’ (cf. Ezek. 16:49-50). By means of this abomination, ignoring human nature they fell into unnatural unions. What deprived Esau, Isaac’s firstborn, of his birthright and his father’s blessing? Of course it was lasciviousness and an unreasonable demand for food (Gen. 25:25-34; 26:34-35, Heb. 12:16). Why were Eli’s sons condemned to death, and why did he meet a violent death at the news of the death of his children, whom he had not disciplined with proper care? Surely it was because they took the meat from the cauldrons before the time and used it (1 Sam. 2:12-17; 4:11, 17-18). Also, the whole Hebrew nation, while Moses was fasting on the mountain for their sake, were indulging themselves to their own detriment. They ate and drank and rose up to play, as the Scripture says (Exod. 32:6), and their sport was worshipping an idol, for it was then that the incidents surrounding the fashioning of the calf took place among them.
Sensual pleasure causes ungodliness as well as sin, but fasting and self-control result in the fear of God as well as virtue. Fasting must be accompanied by self-control. Why? Because eating our fill, even of humble foods, is a hindrance to the purifying mourning, godly sorrow and contrition in our souls, which bring about unswerving repentance leading to salvation. For without a contrite heart we cannot really lay hold of repentance. It is the restriction of self-indulgence, sleep and the senses according to God’s will that crushes our hearts and makes us mourn for our sins.”
– St. Gregory Palamas
“Carelessness and laziness over salvation is a clear sign that the life of the spirit has not yet begun, and everything has to be started over again. By the way, do not despair in this case either. Life is still given to us so that we would come to our senses and repent. This has to be done. There is still the favorable time of the fast left. Use it, and let us take care to complete the course of our treatment in preparing ourselves for Communion as is meet! Then, having made peace with the Lord in the Sacrament of repentance and having received Him in the Most Pure Mysteries, we will begin the work of life, which ultimately leads to light and perfection of spiritual good things that witness that the Lord is in us and we are in Him. Amen.”
– St. Theophan the Recluse
This may not be Hollywood quality cinematography and special effects, but the message is very appropriate for Great Lent (or indeed any season of the year). It is produced by the Monastery of St. Elizabeth, Minsk.