The striving of the Church, during this "run up" to Lent, is beautifully expressed by the hymn/prayer - Open to me the Doors of Repentance. The kind of repentance that we seek to acquire and maintain as Christians involves the willingness, on our part, to be "changed" in the fundamental orientation of our hearts. This "change", metanoia in Greek, is the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in us. We cannot effect it in and of ourselves. But ,without our continual and oft-repeated co-operation (our daily willingness), this change will not take place. God will not force His Gift upon us.
The Holy Scriptures and the teaching of our Saintly Fathers and Mothers all agree that the principal means of expressing our willingness to accept this change is by forgiving others. If we hope to be forgiven ourselves we must then cultivate a forgiving heart- the door to a life of repentance, to Christian life. Abbot Tryphon writes, "The decision to forgive another person... begins when we let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge." Letting go of our stubborn grip on resentments would seem to be the "key" to the lock on those doors.
In my sermon last Sunday I tried, rather clumsily, to share this important teaching with you all. I apologize for the clumsiness , but, not for the message. My own confessor has been working with me on exactly this problem and, by God's Grace. I have been enabled to make a beginning at this. One of the things he had me do was to write a list of these resentments, asking God's help to see and recognize them in myself - to be patient and add to that list as the truth is gently( but often painfully) revealed. What can I say? Since I have begun to work on this a whole new world has been opening up to me - a world full of hope and joy. As Fr. Tryphon continues: "When we pray for those who've offended us, we open the door to all kinds of possibilities....our own hearts receive healing, for when we have forgiven others, grace abounds."
My prayer is that, as we draw near to the Lent, we may all have the "Doors of Repentance" unlocked and opened wide, that, with gladness, we may enter the solemn beauty of the Lenten Spring. May God Grant it!
With love in Christ,