March 4, 2023

Open to Me the Door of Repentance, O Giver of Life (St. John Maximovitch)

 By St. John Maximovitch

"Open to me the doors of repentance, O Giver of Life."

It is difficult to repent, to change internally, to be reborn. What is needed is a consciousness of the need for change, a desire for it, and grace-filled help is needed. The more consciously and resolutely we begin repentance, the wider we open the doors of the soul, the more successfully we achieve the goal.

An example of such a complete rebirth is St. Mary of Egypt, a sinner known throughout Alexandria since childhood. Where people gathered - there she was for sin. When she was among the pilgrims going to Jerusalem, not for the sake of God but for the sake of entertainment and sin, she confused everyone with her behavior.

The pilgrims went to the temple, and she was with them. Everyone entered, but she could not enter, and for the first time in her life she was embarrassed. She struggled with that feeling and tried to force her way into the temple, but in vain: bound by a sinful life, she could not enter the Holy Temple. Then shame entered her soul for herself, for her life.

Confused, for the first time she prayed repentantly before the icon of the Mother of God, and the Most Holy Theotokos opened the doors of the temple for her. In the morning, she was at the Liturgy and after Communion of the Holy Mysteries, straight from the temple she went into the wilderness, having bought three loaves of bread along the way.

Many years later, the Monk Zosimas found her. She told him about her life and the pain of fighting sin and being reborn. Those torments were so heavy, the attacks of temptations were so swift that she fell to the ground. Then came the days of peace and light. Now she was calm. She asked Saint Zosimas to come to her in a year and give her communion. He came and saw her across the river. She crossed to him on the water, took communion and asked to come back in a year. He came and found her dead, and next to the body was written the day when a year ago the Monk Zosimas gave her communion.

This is an example of the swift determination to change one's life through repentance, the intensity of the struggle with sins. This is an example of purification and rebirth.

“Open to me the doors of repentance, O Giver of Life.”

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.  

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