REPENTANCE IN THE PHILOKALIA (Part III)
Theognostos (fourteenth century?) is known to us only as the author of the work included in the Philokalia.
“When you fall from a higher state, do not become panic-stricken, but through remorse, grief, rigorous self-reproach, and, above all, through copious tears shed in a contrite spirit, correct yourself and return quickly to your former condition. Rising up again after your fall, you will enter the joyous valley of salvation, taking care so far as possible not to anger your Judge again, so as not to need atoning tears and sorrow in the future. But if you show no such repentance in this present life, you will certainly be punished in the age to be.”
ST. THEOGNOSTOS II, ON THE PRACTICE OF THE VIRTUES, SEC 48
Theognostos emphasizes two important truths that are often obscured. First, God is “angry” at our sins but not at us. Second, he immediately goes on to point out the metaphorical nature of such language about God. God “is beyond passion and vengefulness.”
“We will not be punished or condemned in the age to be because we have sinned, since we were given a mutable and unstable nature. But we will be punished if, after sinning, we did not repent and turn from our evil ways to the Lord; for we have been given the power to repent, as well as the time in which to do so. Only through repentance shall we receive God’s mercy, and not its opposite, his passionate anger. Not that G o d is angry with us: he is angry with evil. Indeed, the Divine is beyond passion and vengefulness, though we speak of it as reflecting, like a mirror, our actions and dispositions, giving to each of us whatever we deserve.”
ST. THEOGNOSTOS II, O N THE PRACTICE OF THE VIRTUES, SEC 47
“Those who deliberately refuse to repent sin continually—those who sin without meaning to not only repent with all their heart, but also do not often have cause to repent.”
ILIAS THE PRESBYTER III, A GNOMIC ANTHOLOGY, SEC 14
One of the gifts of baptism is the forgiveness of sins. Repentance is a “second baptism” that restores the grace of baptism.
“If from the start we had wanted to keep the commandments and to remain as we were when baptized, we would not have fallen into so many sins or have needed the trials and tribulations of repentance. If we so wish, however, God’s second gift of grace—repentance—can lead us back to our former beauty. But if we fail to repent, inevitably we will depart with the unrepentant demons into age long punishment, more by our own free choice than against our will. Yet God did not create us for wrath but for salvation (cf. I Thessalonians 5:9), so that we might enjoy his blessings, – and we should therefore be thankful and grateful toward our Benefactor. But our failure to get to know his gifts has made us indolent, and indolence has made us forgetful, with the result that ignorance lords it over us. We have to make strenuous efforts when we first try to return to where we fell from.”
ST. PETER OF DAMASKOS III, A TREASURY OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE, INTRODUCTION
~Allyne Smith, Philokalia: The Eastern Christian Spiritual Texts (Selections Annotated & Explained. Translation by G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard and Metropolitan Kallistos Ware).