God is very close to us but at the same time is very high. For a person to bend God over to condescend and stay with him he needs to humble himself and repent. Then, upon seeing the repentance of this person, All-merciful God rises him up to heaven and has a great love for him. “Joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth”, – the Gospel says.
God gave nous to man to think over how great his sin is, to repent and ask for forgiveness. An unrepentant person became callous and silly, because he doesn’t want to repent and set himself free from that small hell torture, which he lives in and which leads him to worse one – an eternal torture. Thus, he deprives himself of those earthly blissful joys, which by transforming into much bigger, eternal joys, continue in Heaven close to God.
Man is beside himself when he is far from God. Look, in the Gospel it is written that the prodigal son “when he came to himself, he said: I will go to my father”. That is the prodigal son decided to come back to his father upon coming to himself, repenting. When he lived in sin, he was beside himself, he lived without sense and reason; since sin is out of common sense.
– Geronda, Abba Aloniy says: “If a person wants, he can reach Divine measure from the morning till the evening”. What does he mean?
– One does not need many years for spiritual life. Upon repenting, a person can get to Heaven from hell torment in an instant (in the present case the Saint means a sinner’s rise from fall and transformation of his earthly life’s state, not a person’s destiny beyond the grave). A person is changeable. He may become an Angel, and he may become a devil. Oh, how great the power of repentance is! It soaks up God’s Grace. If a person has at least one meek thought, he will be saved. If he has a pride thought, does not repent and dies in such a state, that is it – he perished. Of course, meekness should be accompanied by inside lamentation, inside grief. Because thought is thought but a person also has a heart. “With all my soul, and thought, and heart”, – chantwriter says. However, I think Abba Aloniy means some more firm state.
To reach good state one needs time. I stumble, fall – and at the same moment I receive forgiveness. If I have ascetic spirit then I can little by little strengthen my state. But until this happens, I will be thrown from side to side.
– Geronda, can an old man help himself spiritually?
– When a man gets old, he is given a special opportunity to repent, because his illusions disappear. When a man is young, he has body strengths and has no troubles, he does not see his weakness and thinks he is in a good state. But in old age those troubles he faces and that snivel they bring help him to understand that he is not okay, that he limps [spiritually] and understanding this to repent. If such a man benefits spiritually from those few years of life that are left, and if he uses experience of many passed years of life, Christ will not leave him, He will have mercy on this man.
Source: Words. Volume III. Spiritual Fight
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds