Another day of repentance and confession! Once again we will unroll before the Omniscient One the gloomy scroll of our deeds; again we hear from Him forgiveness for everything we have done, and we will go to our homes justified! So inexhaustible is the mercy of our Lord to us! His righteousness could completely reject our present repentance; His righteousness could tell us that, having offered repentance so many times and having received forgiveness as often, we cease not to offend it with our sins; it remains for His righteousness to cease having mercy upon criminal and evil slaves in vain, but to arm itself against them with judgment and execution. But it won’t act this way with us: We are before the throne of this Righteousness now, and we shall find the same love and forgiveness!
Do you feel it, O sinful soul? Do you feel that you have long since deserved hell a hundred times over, but Paradise and the Kingdom will be opened to you again? Take care that this mercy not be shown to you for the last time!
Indeed, my brethren, there is none on earth who could tell us for sure that our present confession won’t be our last. This belongs only to Him in Whose right hand are the keys of hell and of death (Rev. 1:18), in Whom we all live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28). But in order to protect us from carelessness, He Himself was pleased to proclaim to us in His Gospel that the day and hour of both His coming to us and our departure to Him must remain a mystery to us.
After this, everyone who values the salvation of his soul, bringing his confession now, must bring it as though he were doing so for the last time in his life.
How would we confess were we on our deathbed? We would confess with the deepest contrition of spirit and unrepentant disgust for sin, which would then lose all fascination for us; we would confess completely, concealing nothing—for what is there to hide before death? We would confess with firm determination to no longer deviate to the side of lies and iniquity, for then the necessity of a pure and holy life for man would be opened up before us in full force.
Let us behave now just as we would on our deathbed. Let us reveal to Him Who is Omniscient our entire heart and soul, all the secrets of our passions and sinful desires. May the mercy of God behold all the wounds and rot of our inner man. It will see them only to then heal them in a more lasting way. Having received forgiveness of sins, let us immediately banish them not only from our lives and actions, but from our very imagination and memory. Let them remain the portion of our enemy, who encouraged us to sin and rejoiced when we transgressed the commandment of the Lord. Having vowed before the Holy Cross and Gospel to lead a pure and good life, let us repeat this oath to ourselves morning and evening, in hours of joy and sorrow, in the church of God and at home, sitting at table and taking a rest, that the work of our salvation might never leave our memory and might become the main work of our lives.
And to affirm ourselves in this necessary labor, to protect ourselves from new temptations in life, from new attacks from the passions, let us take from the holy analogion the memory of death on our path in life; for it is not in vain that the Wise one said: Remember thy end, and thou shalt never sin (Sir. 7:36). Amen.