Lament For Sin and Preparation for Holy Confession

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Lament For Sin and Preparation for Holy Confession

Postby Maria » Wed 13 September 2017 10:45 pm

This preparation for Holy Confession is taken from the Athos Paper of 1907, translated from the Russian.

    St. Basil the Great says, "Weep over your sin: it is a spiritual ailment; it is death to your immortal soul;
    it deserves ceaseless, unending weeping and crying; let all tears flow from it, and sighing come forth without
    ceasing from the depths of your heart."

    In profound humility I weep for all my sins, voluntary and involuntary, conscious and unconscious, covert and
    overt, great and little, committed by word and deed, in thought and intention, day and night, at every hour and
    minute of my life.

    I weep over my pride and my ambition, my self-love and my boastfulness;

    I weep over fits of anger, irritation, excessive shouting, swearing, quarreling, and cursing;

    I weep for having criticized, censured, gossiped, slandered, and defamed, for my wrath, enmity, hatred, envy,
    jealousy, vengeance, and rancor;

    I weep over my indulgences in lust, impure thoughts, and evil inclinations; covetousness, gluttony, drunkenness,
    and sloth;

    I weep for having talked idly, used foul language, blasphemed, derided, joked, ridiculed, mocked, enjoyed empty
    gaiety, singing, dancing, and every pleasure to excess;

    I weep over my self-indulgence, cupidity, love of money and miserliness, unmercifulness, and cruelty;

    I weep over my laziness, indolence, negligence, love of comfort, weakness, idleness, absent-mindedness,
    irresponsibility, inattention, love of sleep, for hours spent in idle pursuits, and for my lack of concentration
    in prayer and in Church, for not observing fasts and not doing charitable works.

    I weep over my lack of faith, my doubting, my perplexity, my coldness, my indifference, my weakness and
    unfeelingness in what concerns the Holy Orthodox Faith, and over all my foul, cunning, and reviling thoughts;

    I weep over my exaggerated sorrow and grief, depression and despair, and over sins committed willingly.

    I weep, but what tears can I find for a worthy and fitting way to weep for all the actions of my ill-fated life;
    for my immeasurable and profound worthlessness? How can I reveal and expose in all its nakedness each
    one of my sins, great and small, voluntary and involuntary, conscious and unconscious, overt and covert,
    every hour and minute of sin? When and where shall I begin my penitential lament that will bear fitting fruit?

    Perhaps soon I may have to face the last hour of my life; my soul will be painfully sundered from my sinful
    and vile body; I shall have to stand before terrible demons and radiant angels, who will reveal and torment me
    with my sins; and I, in fear and trembling, will be unprepared and unable to give them an answer; the sight and
    sound of wailing demons, their violent and bold desire to drag me into the bottomless pit of Hell will fill my soul
    with confusion and terror. And then the angels of God will lead my poor soul to stand before God's fearful seat
    of judgment. How will I answer the Immortal King, or how will I dare, sinner that I am, to look upon My Judge?

    Woe is me! I have no good answer to make, for I have spent all my life in indolence and sin, all my hours and
    minutes in vain thoughts, desires and yearnings!

    And how many times have I taken the Name of God in vain!

    How often, lightly and freely, at times even boldly, insolently and shamelessly have I slandered others in anger;
    offended, irritated, and mocked them!

    How often have I been proud and vainglorious and boasted of good qualities that I do not possess and of deeds
    that I have not done!

    How many times have I lied, deceived, been cunning or flattered, or been insincere and deceptive; how often
    have I been angry, intolerant and mean!

    How many times have I ridiculed the sins of my brother, caused him grief overtly and covertly, mocked or
    gloated over his misdeeds, his faults or his misfortunes; how many times have I been hostile to him, in anger,
    hatred or envy!

    How often have I laughed stupidly, mocked and derided, spoke without weighing my words, ignorantly and
    senselessly, and uttered a numberless quantity of cutting poisonous, insolent, frivolous, vulgar, coarse, brazen
    words!

    How often, affected by beauty, have I fed my mind, my imagination and my heart with voluptuous sensations,
    and unnaturally satisfied the lusts of the flesh in fantasy! How often has my tongue uttered shameful, vulgar
    and blasphemous things about the desires of the flesh!

    How often have I yearned for power and been gluttonous, satiating myself on delicacies, on tasty, varied and
    diverse foods and wines; because of intemperance and lack of self-control how often have I been filled past
    the point of satiety, lacked sobriety and been drunken, intemperate in food and drink, and broken the Holy Fasts!

    How often, through selfishness, pride or false modesty, have I refused help and attention to those in need,
    been uncharitable, miserly, unsympathetic, mercenary and grasped at attention!

    How often have I entered the House of God without fear and trembling, stood there in prayer, frivolous and
    absent-minded, and left it in the same spirit and disposition! And in prayer at home, I have been just as cold
    and indifferent, praying little, lazily, and indolently, inattentively and impiously, and even completely omitting
    the appointed prayers!

    And in general, how slothful I have been, weakened by indolence and inaction; how many hours of each day
    have I spent in sleep, how often have I enjoyed voluptuous thoughts in bed and defiled my flesh!

    How many hours have I spent in empty and futile pastimes and pleasures, in frivolous talk and speech, jokes
    and laughter, games and fun, and how much time have I wasted conclusively in chatter, and gossip, in
    criticizing others and reproaching them; how many hours have I spent in time-wasting and emptiness!

    What shall I answer to the Lord God for every hour and every minute of lost time? In truth, I have wasted
    my entire life in laziness.

    How many times have I lost heart and despaired of my salvation and of God's mercy or through stupid habit,
    insensitivity, ignorance, insolence, shamelessness, and hardness sinned deliberately, willingly, in my right
    mind, in full awareness, in all goodwill, in both thought and intention, and in deed, and in this fashion trampled
    the Blood of God's covenant and crucified anew within myself the Son of God and cursed Him!

    O how terrible the punishment that I have drawn upon myself!

    How is it that my eyes are not streaming with constant tears? ... If only my tears flowed from the cradle to
    the grave, at every hour and every minute of my tortured life! Who will now cool my head with water and fill
    the well of my tears and help me weep over my soul that I have cast into perdition?

    My God, my God! Why hast Thou forsaken me? Be it unto me according to Thy will, O Lord! If Thou wouldst
    grant me light, be Thou blessed; if Thou would grant me darkness, be Thou equally blessed. If Thou wouldst
    destroy me together with my lawlessness, glory to Thy righteous judgment; and if Thou would not destroy me
    together with my lawlessness, glory to Thy boundless mercy!

Reference: These Truths We Hold: The Holy Orthodox Church: Her Life and Teachings,
A Monk of St. Tikhon's Monastery, St, Tikhon Seminary Press, South Caanan, PA, 1986, p. 308-311
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner.

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Re: Lament For Sin and Preparation for Holy Confession

Postby Maria » Wed 13 September 2017 11:49 pm

Please let me know if I have made any typos in the above lament.

My priest asked me to copy it and I thought it would be beneficial for us all.
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner.

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Re: Lament For Sin and Preparation for Holy Confession

Postby Maria » Fri 15 September 2017 2:01 am

I prefer these laments because they are in a prayer form. When I was a Roman Catholic, I did not like
their forms of examination of conscience because it was a list very much like a catechism. Some of
the students in my grammar school would check off each sin as committed, boast about it, and then
would look for new ones to commit. It was all a game to them. Perhaps that is why those forms were
so painful to me because I knew that people were abusing them.
-- Maria

A Preparation for Confession
by St. John of Kronstadt

Reference: http://www.orthodox.net/confess/confmed.html

    I, a sinful soul, confess to our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ, all of my evil acts which
    I have done, said or thought from baptism even unto this present day.

    I have not kept the vows of my baptism, but have made myself unwanted before the face of God.

    I have sinned before the Lord by lack of faith and by doubts concerning the Orthodox Faith and
    the Holy Church; by ungratefulness for all of God's great and unceasing gifts; His long-suffering
    and His providence for me, a sinner; by lack of love for the Lord, as well as fear, through not
    fulfilling the Holy Commandments of God and the canons and rules of the Church.

    I have not preserved a love for God and for my neighbor nor have I made enough efforts, because
    of laziness and lack of care, to learn the Commandments of God and the precepts of the Holy Fathers.

    I have sinned: by not praying in the morning and in the evening and in the course of the day; by not
    attending the services or by coming to Church only half-heartedly, lazily and carelessly; by
    conversing during the services, by not paying attention, letting my mind wander and by departure
    from the Church before the dismissal and blessing.

    I have sinned by judging members of the clergy.

    I have sinned by not respecting the Feasts, breaking the Fasts, and by immoderation in food and drink.

    I have sinned by self-importance, disobedience, willfulness, self-righteousness, and the seeking of
    approval and praise.

    I have sinned by unbelief, lack of faith, doubts, despair, despondency, abusive thoughts, blasphemy
    and swearing.

    I have sinned by pride, a high opinion of my self, narcissism, vanity, conceit, envy, love of praise,
    love of honors, and by putting on airs.

    I have sinned: by judging, malicious gossip, anger, remembering of offenses done to me, hatred and
    returning evil for evil; by slander, reproaches, lies, slyness, deception and hypocrisy; by prejudices,
    arguments, stubbornness, and an unwillingness to give way to my neighbor; by gloating, spitefulness,
    taunting, insults and mocking; by gossip, by speaking too much and by empty speech.

    I have sinned by unnecessary and excessive laughter, by reviling and dwelling upon my previous sins,
    by arrogant behavior, insolence and lack of respect.

    I have sinned by not keeping my physical and spiritual passions in check, by my enjoyment of impure
    thoughts, licentiousness and unchastity in thoughts, words and deeds.

    I have sinned by lack of endurance towards my illnesses and sorrows, a devotion to the comforts of
    life and by being too attached to my parents, children, relatives and friends.

    I have sinned by hardening my heart, having a weak will and by not forcing myself to do good.

    I have sinned by miserliness, a love of money, the acquisition of unnecessary things and immoderate
    attachment to things.

    I have sinned by self-justification, a disregard for the admonitions of my conscience and failing to
    confess my sins through negligence or false pride.

    I have sinned many times by my Confession: belittling, justifying and keeping silent about sins.

    I have sinned against the Most-holy and Life-creating Mysteries of the Body and Blood of our Lord
    by coming to Holy Communion without humility or the fear of God.

    I have sinned in deed, word and thought, knowingly and unknowingly, willingly and unwillingly,
    thoughtfully and thoughtlessly, and it is impossible to enumerate all of my sins because of their
    multitude. But I truly repent of these and all others not mentioned by me because of my
    forgetfulness and I ask that they be forgiven through the abundance of the Mercy of God.
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner.

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Re: Lament For Sin and Preparation for Holy Confession

Postby Maria » Fri 15 September 2017 2:08 am

A Brief Confession before One's Spiritual Father

(From the Full Confession of St. Demetrius of Rostov) Reference: http://www.orthodox.net/confess/stdimitr.html

    I confess to the Lord my God and before thee, venerable father, all my countless sins,
    committed by me unto this very day and hour, in deed, word and thought. I sin daily and
    hourly by mine ingratitude toward God for His great and countless blessings and
    benevolent providence over me, a sinner.

    I have sinned through: idle talking, judging others, stubbornness, pride, hard-heartedness,
    envy, anger, slander, inattention, negligence concerning my salvation, carelessness,
    indifference, impertinence, irritability, despondency, rendering evil for evil, bitterness,
    disobedience, complaining, self-justification, contradicting others, self-will, being reproachful,
    gossiping, lying, light-mindedness, tempting others, self-love, ambition, gourmandizing,
    eating and drinking to excess, vanity, laziness, entertaining unclean thoughts,
    acquisitiveness, impure glances, absence from divine services because of laziness and
    carelessness, absent-mindedness at prayer both in church and at home; I have sinned
    in deed, word thought; in sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch and the rest of my mental and
    physical senses; of all my sins I repent and beg forgiveness.

    (Here one should mention specifically any other sins which may be burdening the soul.)

    I also repent and ask forgiveness for all those sins that I have not confessed because of
    their multitude and my forgetfulness.

    Forgive and absolve me, venerable father, and bless me to commune of the holy and
    life-creating Mysteries of Christ unto the remission of sins and life everlasting.
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner.

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Re: Lament For Sin and Preparation for Holy Confession

Postby Maria » Fri 15 September 2017 2:11 am

BRIEF CONFESSION BEFORE A SPIRITUAL FATHER
Compiled by the late Archbishop Tikhon of San Francisco.
Based on a longer version by St Dimitry of Rostov.

Reference: http://www.orthodox.net/confess/brief-c ... ather.html

    I confess to the Lord my God before thee, reverend father, all my sins which I have committed up
    to the present day and hour, in deed, word and thought. Every day and every hour I sin through
    ingratitude to God for His great and numberless blessings to me and His most gracious providence
    and care for me, a sinner. I have sinned through:

      idle talk
      saying unseemly things
      condemnation of others
      laughter
      scorn
      self-love
      insubordination
      love of glory
      pride
      love of honour
      envy
      gluttony
      anger
      love of sensual pleasure
      slander
      over-eating
      inattention
      drunkenness
      listlessness
      attachment to things
      negligence
      love of money
      carelessness
      vainglory
      resentment and remembering wrongs
      laziness
      disobedience
      acceptance of lustful and grumbling impure thoughts
      self-will
      missing church services
      reproaching others
      dozing and sleeping in church
      evil speech
      neglect of prayer
      lying
      concealing sins at confession
    I have sinned with all my senses, both spiritual and physical, wherefore I repent to the Lord and
    ask forgiveness. Absolve all my sins, reverend father, and bless me to partake of the Mysteries
    of Christ.
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner.

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Re: Lament For Sin and Preparation for Holy Confession

Postby Maria » Fri 15 September 2017 2:26 am

A sincere confession of an Orthodox Christian

Reference: http://www.orthodox.net/confess/a-confession.html
    Bless me, O Lord and Savior, to confess to Thee not only with words, but also with bitter tears.
    and there is much to weep for...

    My faith in Thee vacillates, O Lord! Thoughts of skepticism and disbelief push themselves
    in to my soul much more often than they ever have.

    Why? Of course, the spirit of the times is to blame, and people that I meet are to blame, but even more
    to blame am I myself, because I do not struggle with disbelief, because I do not pray to Thee for aid.

    I am still more to blame if I am a temptation for someone else, by deed or word or just by cold silence
    when people speak of the faith.

    I have sinned in this, O Lord: forgive and have mercy, and grant me faith.
    My love for other people, even my relatives, is diminishing.

    Their continual requests for help and their forgetfulness of how much I have already done for them
    causes mutual hard feelings.

    But I am more guilty than they are: guilty because although I have the means to help them, I help them
    only grudgingly; guilty because I help them not for pure, Christian motivations, but out of pride and a
    desire for gratitude and praise.

    Forgive me, Oh Lord, soften my heart and teach me to look not at how people treat me, but at how I
    treat other people. And if they treat in a hostile way, inspire me, Oh Lord, to pay them back with love
    and goodness and pray for them.

    I have also sinned in that I think very, very little about my sins. Not only at ordinary times of the year,
    but even when I am preparing for Communion I do not remember them, I do not try to call them to
    mind for confession. General phrases come to mind: "Nothing special, I am sinful like everyone.

    Oh Lord, it is as if I did not know that in Thy eyes both every "idle word" and even the sinful desire
    in my heart is a sin. And how many of these words and desires pile up within me in just one day,
    not to mention in a whole year!

    Thou alone, Lord, knowest them; grant me to see my transgressions, have mercy on me, and save me.
    Further: I acknowledge as my constant sin the lack of almost any struggle with evil.
    As soon as any occasion or provocation appears, I plunge headlong into the pit of sin,
    and then, just as soon as I have fallen, I ask myself: what have I done?

    A fruitless question, because it does not help me to become better.
    And if at this point I feel sorrow, it proceeds from my self-esteem having suffered,
    and not from the realization that I have offended Thee, Oh Lord.

    I neglect struggling not only with gross evil, but even with the most frivolous and harmful habit.
    I do not know how to master myself and I do not even try. I have sinned; forgive me!

    Furthermore, the sin of irritability, which predominates in me, is not withdrawing from me in the least.
    When I hear a sharp word, I do not reply with good-natured silence but behave like a heathen:
    an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.

    And hostility flares up for trifles and lasts for days and weeks. I do not think of conciliation,
    but try to get revenge when an opportunity presents itself.

    I have sinned without number, Oh Lord. Have mercy, forgive me, and calm my heart!

    Besides these most grievous sins, my whole life is a chain of sins: I do not value the time that
    You have given for gaining eternal salvation. I very often stand irreverently, pray mechanically,
    judge others while they are praying, but do not look after myself.

    At home I sometimes pray with great reluctance and absent-mindedness, so that often
    I do not hear my own prayer, and sometimes I simply omit it. Such are my attitudes towards Thee,
    Oh Lord, and I can say nothing else but "forgive and have mercy!

    In my relations with people I sin with all my senses; I sin with my tongue by pronouncing false,
    foul, reproachful, or suggestive words; I sin with my eyes; I sin with my mind and heart by judging
    others and I am contentious often and for long periods of time; I sin not only against my soul, but
    against my body as well, by immoderately consuming food and drink.

    Accept, Oh Lover of Mankind, my repentance, that I might approach Thy holy and life-giving
    Mysteries in peace, for the remission of sins, for the correction of this temporary life, and for
    the inheritance of eternal life.

    Amen.

    "I am not worthy to ask forgiveness, Oh Lord!" So the great teacher of penitence, Saint Ephraim
    the Syrian, once exclaimed of himself.

    "How can we resist the attack of sin? How can we deny entry to the passions?",
    Saint Basil the Great asked Saint Ephraim, who answered only by shedding tears.

    What can I, the consummate and incorrigible sinner, say to thee now, O Lord?

    Through the prayers of our holy fathers, Ephraim and Basil, grant me, Oh Lord,
    repentance, and words, and tears. Help me to spew out of myself, like deadly poison,
    my evil deeds, idle words, and wicked thoughts. If I have forgotten to tell anything,
    Thou knowest know all and will remind me; for I do not want to conceal anything.
    Thou comandest command me, "tell your iniquities before thou seekest justification.
    But I say: "My sins are multiplied, Oh Lord, and they multiply incessantly. They have no limit.

    I know and I remember that even an impure thought is an abomination in Thy sight,
    but I not only think, but also do, things that grievest Thee. I know that I am doing evil,
    but I do not refrain from it...

    Thus, my repentance has not yet even begun, and the end is not in sight for my evil
    carelessness about sin. There is truly no limit to my foul thoughts, bursts of self-esteem,
    vainglory, pride, gossip, resentment, and vengefulness. I quarrel often, and I become angry,
    cruel, envious, lazy, and blindly stubborn.

    Although I am of no importance, I think very highly of myself. I do not want to honor those
    worthy of honor, but at the same time I demand undeserved deference for myself.
    I lie ceaselessly, but I get angry at liars. I judge those who speak evil or who are thieves,
    but I myself am a thief and an evil-sayer.

    I defile myself by lustful thoughts and stimuli, but sternly judge others for immodestly.
    I cannot bear being joked about, but I myself love to taunt others, respecting neither persons
    nor places, even doing it in church. I consider as an enemy anyone who tells the truth about me.
    I do not want to put myself out by doing a good turn, but I get angry if someone does not
    do me a good turn.

    I coldly refuse a neighbor in need, but when I myself am in need, I tiresomely appeal to him.
    I do not like to visit the sick, but if I am sick, I expect everyone to care for me without my asking.

    Lord, send down in to the depths of my soul a ray of heavenly light, that I might see my sins.
    My confession is almost always limited to only a superficial naming of some sins.
    Oh my God, my conscience gave You a promise to to start a better life, but I broke the promise
    and live as before.

    Unless I have turned over a new leaf, I am ashamed to appear before a mere human
    with whom I have often not been true to my word.

    How could I stand before Thee, my God, without shame and self-reproach, when so many times
    before Thy Throne, before the angels and saints, I have given promises and have not fulfilled them.

    How base I am! How criminal!

    To Thee, Oh Lord, is truth, and to me are shameful faces" (Book of Daniel).
    Only your boundless goodness can endure me.
    Thou dost not not destroy the sinner; do not destroy the penitent.

    Teach me how to bring to mind and count the sins of my past life, the sins of an empty-headed
    youth, the sins of proud manhood, the sins of day and of night, sins against Thee, my Lord and Savior.

    How can I count them in the few minutes in which I stand in this Holy Place? I remember,
    Lord, that thou didst heed the few words of the publican and the thief.
    I know that thou mercifully greetest even a readiness to repent, and I pray to Thee
    with all my soul, "My Lord, accept as my repentance the daily confession of sins
    that the sacred book contains.

    I have many more sins than it lists, and I have no way to make amends for them.
    I offer now only a striving for thee and a desire for the good, but I have no strength to reform.

    Oh Lord and Lover and Mankind!
    Thou dost not drive away the sinner who comes to Thee, beseeching Thee for forgiveness.

    Before he even comes to the door of Thy mercy, thou hast already opened it for him;
    before he falls down before Thee, thou hast already stretched out Thy hand to him;
    before he confesses his sins, thou hast granted him forgiveness.

    Grant it to me who repents, grant it according to Thy great mercy; forgive all the bad things
    that I have done, said, and thought, and while granting forgiveness, send me also, Oh Lord,
    the strength, so that I might be able henceforth to live according to Thy will and not to offend Thee.

    Help me, and I will be saved; help me by granting me to receive Thy holy Mysteries, and that I may
    receive them worthily, declare to me by the lips of Thy priest, declare by Thy Holy Spirit,
    the grace of pardon and forgiveness, which can not be heard by the ear, but are heard in a
    deeply-moved heart and in peace of conscience.

    Amen.

[Translated by Seraphim F. Englehardt from a leaflet published on Mount Athos]
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner.

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Re: Lament For Sin and Preparation for Holy Confession

Postby Maria » Fri 15 September 2017 2:45 am

AN ORTHODOX CONFESSION
WHICH LEADS THE INWARD MAN TO HUMILITY

Reference: http://www.orthodox.net/confess/pilgrimc.html

    Turning my eyes carefully upon myself and watching the course of my inward state, I have verified
    by experience that I do not love God, that I have no religious belief, and that I am filled with pride
    and sensuality. All this I actually find in myself as a result of detailed examination of my feelings
    and conduct, thus:

    1. I do not love God. For if I loved God I should be continually thinking about Him with heartfelt joy.
    Every thought of God would give me gladness and delight.

    On the contrary, I much more often and much more eagerly think about earthly things, and thinking
    about God is labor and dryness. If I loved God, then talking with Him in prayer would be my
    nourishment and delight and would draw me to unbroken communion with Him. But, on the contrary,
    I not only find no delight in prayer, but even find it an effort. I struggle with reluctance, I am enfeebled
    by sloth, and am ready to occupy myself eagerly with any unimportant trifle, if only it shortens prayer
    and keeps me from it. My time slips away unnoticed in futile occupations, but when I am occupied
    with God, when I put myself into His presence every hour seems like a year.

    If one person loves another, he thinks of him throughout the day without ceasing, he pictures him
    to himself, he cares for him, and in all circumstances his beloved friend is never out of his thoughts.
    But I, throughout the day, scarcely set aside even a single hour in which to sink deep down into
    meditation upon God, to inflame my heart with love of Him, while I eagerly give up twenty-three
    hours as fervent offerings to the idols of my passions.

    I am forward in talk about frivolous matters and things which degrade the spirit; that gives me
    pleasure. But in the consideration of God I am dry, bored and lazy. Even if I am unwillingly drawn
    by others into spiritual conversation, I try to shift the subject quickly to one which pleases my desires.

    I am tirelessly curious about novelties, about civic affairs and political events; I eagerly seek the
    satisfaction of my love of knowledge in science and art, and in ways of getting things I want to
    possess. But the study of the Law of God, the knowledge of God and of religion, make little
    impression on me, and satisfy no hunger of my soul. I regard these things not only as a non-essential
    occupation for a Christian, but in a casual way as a sort of side-issue with which I should perhaps
    occupy my spare time, at odd moments.

    To put it shortly, if love for God is recognized by the keeping of His commandments (If ye love Me,
    keep My commandments, says our Lord Jesus Christ), and I not only do not keep them, but even
    make little attempt to do so, then in absolute truth the conclusion follows that I do not love God.
    That is what Basil the Great says: 'The proof that a man does not love God and His Christ lies in
    the fact that he does not keep His commandments'.

    2. I do not love my neighbor either. For not only am I unable to make up my mind to lay down
    my life for his sake (according to the Gospel), but I do not even sacrifice my happiness, well-being
    and peace for the good of my neighbor.

    If I did love him as myself, as the Gospel bids, his misfortunes would distress me also, his happiness
    would bring delight to me too. But, on the contrary, I listen to curious, unhappy stories about my
    neighbor and I am not distressed; I remain quite undisturbed or what is still worse, I find a sort of
    pleasure in them.

    Bad conduct on the part of my brother I do not cover up with love, but proclaim abroad with ensure.
    His well-being, honor and happiness do not delight me as my own, and, as if they were something
    quite alien to me, give me no feeling of gladness. What is more, they subtly arouse in me feelings of
    envy or contempt.

    3. I have no religious belief. Neither in immortality nor in the Gospel. If I were firmly persuaded
    and believed without doubt that beyond the grave lies eternal life and recompense for the deeds of
    this life, I should be continually thinking of this.

    The very idea of immortality would terrify me and I should lead this life as a foreigner who gets ready
    to enter his native land. On the contrary, I do not even think about eternity, and I regard the end of this
    earthly life as the limit of my existence. The secret thought nestles within me: Who knows what
    happens at death?

    If I say I believe in immortality, then I am speaking about my mind only, and my heart is far removed
    from a firm conviction about it. That is openly witnessed to by my conduct and my constant care to
    satisfy the life of the senses. Were the Holy Gospel taken into my heart in faith, as the Word of God,
    I should be continually occupied with it, I should study it, find delight in it and with deep devotion fix
    my attention upon it.

    Wisdom, mercy, love, are hidden in it; it would lead me to happiness, I should find gladness in the
    study of the Law of God day and night. In it I should find nourishment like my daily bread and my heart
    would be drawn to the keeping of its laws. Nothing on earth would be strong enough to turn me away
    from it. On the contrary, if now and again I read or hear the Word of God, yet even so it is only from
    necessity or from a general love of knowledge, and approaching it without any very close attention,
    I find it dull and uninteresting. I usually come to the end of the reading without any profit, only too ready
    to change over to secular reading in which I take more pleasure and find new and interesting subjects.

    4. I am full of pride and sensual self-love. All my actions confirm this. Seeing something good in
    myself, I want to bring it into view, or to pride myself upon it before other people or inwardly to admire
    myself for it.

    Although I display an outward humility, yet I ascribe it all to my own strength and regard myself as
    superior to others, or at least no worse than they. If I notice a fault in myself, I try to excuse it, I cover
    it up by saying, 'I am made like that' or 'I am not to blame'. I get angry with those who do not treat me
    with respect and consider them unable to appreciate the value of people.

    I brag about my gifts: my failures in any undertaking I regard as a personal insult. I murmur, and I find
    pleasure in the unhappiness of my enemies. If I strive after anything good it is for the purpose of winning
    praise, or spiritual self-indulgence, or earthly consolation. In a word, I continually make an idol of myself
    and render it uninterrupted service, seeking in all things the pleasures of the senses, and nourishment
    for my sensual passions and lusts.

    Going over all this I see myself as proud, adulterous, unbelieving, without love to God and hating my
    neighbor. What state could be more sinful? The condition of the spirits of darkness is better than mine.
    They, although they do not love God, hate men, and live upon pride, yet at least believe and tremble.

    But I? Can there be a doom more terrible than that which faces me, and what sentence of punishment
    will be more sever than that upon the careless and foolish life. that I recognize in myself?

From "The Way of a Pilgrim" ("Otkrovennye rasskazy strannika dukhovnomu svoemu Otcu")
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner.


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