Sin, Mercy, and Love: Great Orthodox Christian Quotations, Part Three.

Sometimes – often, actually – I can be proud. Other times, I can feel so mired in the pit of my sinfulness that it’s hard to approach God (though I know we should never let our sins stop us from turning to God and running into the shelter of His loving arms – it’s when we turn away from God and won’t turn back that the devil’s really winning in our life, not when we’re being the prodigal son coming home). So, in the cold and grey of British winter, and a hard and busy term of PhD, I thought the theme for this post that really spoke to where I’m at is one about our sins but God’s great, great mercy and love for us.

For today’s post, I chose the icon of Christ The Good Shepherd as the featured image. I really love this icon of Christ, holding tightly (with His hands marked by the nails that nailed Him to the cross, to die for us in His great love for us) to the lost sheep (symbolising the sinner) whom he carries home, His shepherd’s crook over His shoulder (showing His complete care and provision for us, like a shepherd for His sheep), and the cross behind Him (reminding us of His saving Passion). I first saw a version of this icon done in fresco above the entrance to the Greek Orthodox church in Cardiff. It moved me then, when I first gazed at it, and it still moves me now. It puts me in mind of John 3:16: ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’

 

‘O long-suffering Lord Who ever curest with grace and compassion, heal the great spiritual infirmities that are within me, a sinner!’ – St Ephraim the Syrian

‘[Christ says:] I am a father for you, and a brother, a bridegroom, and a home, a nurse and a dress, a root and a cornerstone. Whatever you want I am for you. I don’t want you to be in any need. I will serve you, because I came not to be served but to serve. I am a friend, and a member, and a head, and a brother, and a sister, and a mother. I am everything for you. Only be in contact with me. I have been poor for you, a wanderer for you. I have been on the cross and in the tomb for you. High above with the Father I mediate for you. Down here I arrived as an ambassador sent by the Father to you. You are everything to me, a brother and a co-heir, a friend, and a member of my body. What more do you desire?’ – St John Chrysostom

‘All these trials are to your advantage. Do away with temptation and no one will be saved.’ – St Anthony the Great

‘Repentance is the beginning, middle, and end of the Christian way of life.’ – St Gregory Palamas

‘Ask for repentance in your prayer and nothing else, neither for divine lights, nor miracles, nor prophecies, nor spiritual gifts – nothing but repentance. Repentance will bring you humility, humility will bring you the Grace of God, and God will have in His Grace everything you need for your salvation, or anything you might need to help another soul’. – St Paisios of Mount Athos

‘Even if we fall a hundred times a day, it does not matter; we must get up and go on walking toward God without looking back.’ – Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

‘There is more mercy in God than there are sins in us. Confess your sins at once, whatever they may be.’ – St Tikhon of Zadonsk

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