“Two monks once fell into a grave sin. But, in time, they repented and said: “Well, what benefit have we received by leaving the angelic image and falling into a nasty life? Eternal torment is awaiting us for this, isn’t it? Let’s go back to the desert, repent. The Lord will accept our repentance. ” Having said this, they went to the monastery, revealed their sin to the spiritual father, and he imposed epitimia on them. He ordered them to remain in the recluse for a whole year and sent them only bread and water, equal quantity to both. A year passed, the term of penance ended, and it was revealed to the elders of the monastery that the monks were forgiven. Having opened the cells where they were secluded, fathers led them out. And what? One monk was very thin and pale and went out in despondency, and the other was cheerful and happy with his face glowing. The fathers were surprised at such an opposite, especially since the monks, as we said, received the same and equal food. And so they first asked the grieving brother: “What did you do in your cell?” The monk answered: “I thought of the evil I had done and imagined the hell torment that I had to go to.” They asked the joyful monk: “What were you thinking about in your cell?” This one said: “I glorified God, who cast me out of a bad life and brought me into an angelic image again, and, praising God, I feel joyful”. Then the elders said: “The repentance of both was pleasing to God, for He forgave both of them”.
From this it is clearly seen, brethren, that some can rejoice for salvation, while others grieve at the same time, and also for salvation — and the monks mentioned provide us with a convincing example of this. You gave up a bad life; The Lord has led you to repentance; rejoice! for you have passed from prison to freedom, from darkness to light, from an alien country to motherland. And how not to rejoice when you know that the Lord does not drive away those who come to Him, but accepts with joy! When he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him (Luke 15:20). How not to rejoice at this? But, having come to repentance, you do not want to rejoice? Well, do not rejoice then, but grieve. Grieve, thinking of the many bad deeds committed by you, grieve that you have repeatedly offended your Heavenly Father with your sins, and crucified the Son of God for the second time. “Sit,” says St. Demetrius of Rostov, “and think of your life, and remember all the sins committed by you from youth, both confessed and not confessed. Having recollected all, sigh from the depths of your heart beating your chest as hard as you can, and cry” (St. Dim. Vol. I, p. 135). And, of course, your cry will serve to you for salvation. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of (2 Corinthians 7:10). So, brotherhood, as you can see, for some people joy can serve for salvation, and for others sorrow. But just do not forget that we should always rejoice at repentance about the infinite mercy of God to repenting sinners, and cry about our sins. Amen.
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds