Have you Fully Repented?

I’m not sure how widespread this Lenten hymn is beyond the churches of Rus, but for us it is the entrance hymn sung throughout Great Lent, and it comes with a strong message.

Boh predvicnyj
NOTE: The original source has a typo: in the third verse, near the end, it should read “Be my strength to repent”.

It’s called Beneath Your Cross, and the tone is dark, almost like a funeral song. It’s from a Christian, exhausted from the battle with evil, seeking the strength to continue the fight, asking the Lord for help. At the end of the hymn he asks the Lord for the strength to repent, but that is not the part I want to focus on today, rather it is the endgame.

I want to key in on an aspect of repentance that is rarely spoken about, yet is so vital to the process, for without this piece of the puzzle we will never fully experience what it means to repent from our sins – remorse.

In order to fully repent you need to first recognize that what you have done is a sin. In today’s world, with ever changing society morals, that can be confusing. Things considered immoral just a few decades ago (ex: abortion, homosexuality, fornication) are considered acceptable behaviors now, flouted in television and movies as normal activities. Even liberal churches are accepting these as proper activities, not only for the laity, but for their clergy as well.

You must then ask for forgiveness. Whether that, in your denomination, requires involvement of a confessor or not. Simply wanting forgiveness is not enough, you must ask for it, not just assume that you have been forgiven because you are a Christian.

In between there something is missing, and rarely even mentioned from the pulpit these days- you must feel remorse. If you are not deeply sorry for your sins, if you do not really feel sorry for having committed them, then how can you be forgiven? In the television series MASH Fr. Mulchay interacts with a scared soldier who has stolen the identity of one of his dead comrades so he can take his rotation out and go back to the states. Once there he will continue to live under the assumed identity. He asks Fr. Mulchay for absolution from this sin, but the good father tells the soldier that he cannot grant absolution for a sin he has no intention of stopping…he lacks true remorse. If we are truly remorseful for our sins, and intend to do our best to stop them, then God can grant his forgiveness. But, if we merely confess our sins, with no intent of stopping doing them, we lack true remorse, how can God forgive an offense we plan on repeating?

Now, God understands that we are weak, fallible, creatures. That despite our best efforts we will probably fall again (part of the work fall-ible), and He is ready to forgive us again. But we have to be ready to make a sincere effort to stop out sin. We have to feel truly remorseful and repent. And, when we are weary from the battle, as in the hymn, we have to be ready to admit our frailty and ask Jesus for His help.

Simple Christianity: Being our Most Authentic Selves

“This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own.”

Isaiah 59:6-7

“Fasting is not genuine without reforming one’s way of life.” Note on Isaiah 58: 6-12, from the NAB Bible revised edition

I have found power in fasting. Giving up sustenance to hear God clearer. Helping me to become a better version of myself- in Christ. This Lent, the Lord has whispered to me about silence. So on the Holy Spirit’s nudging I have given up music. This has proved to be an extremely difficult, but needed abstinence for me.

You don’t have to be a Christian to fast and hear God. For those of you that are on your journey, I highly recommend it. But fasting is not a diet nor is it a New Year’s Resolution. No, fasting is so much more than that…

Recently, I have had the occasion to read a broad range of spiritual books. They all have contributed to my life’s journey, tossing me little pebbles along the way. But what I have found is that although many of the books I have read are fascinating, they are also complicated and verbose, and for those of you that know me I am complicated enough as it is…

I am finding that books that require me to carry a dictionary around are just not my thing. I am also noticing my lack of motivation in reading some recent books that I’ve acquired. So many over-philosophical thoughts on Jesus, rote prayer and too much concentration on the bad, and not the good. Many of the first halves of these books start out promising but half way through they fail me. I’ve held onto them because I am a firm believer in finishing what you start, but in the silence that God has provided me, I am seeing that is not the case.

When things are quiet, you can hear. “Not this way, not that way,” says the still small voice. Or louder yet, “Wrong way!” When we are open, when we have our minds set on things above, when we use these forty days to focus on ourselves and the God we serve, it is amazing what we can hear, in silence.

And God tells us what kinds of things He wants from us, if we are listening. We are not here to simply go through the motions- that is religion, not relationship.

We must find the thing that God is calling us to do this Lenten season. What is He calling us to give up? This answer should be simple and transformative, it does not need a theological dissertation. 

Through genuine fasting, we come to understand the meaning of sacrifice and of blessing. Yes tradition is beautiful and needed, but it means nothing if we are not committed to hearing God’s call…

This Lent, be committed to the simplicity of sacrifice, whatever that may be individually for each of you. Share it with a friend so that they can keep you accountable to the promise you have made to God. And as you repent and reform from the inside out this Lenten season, you will see God’s hand bolder and greater in your life than ever before!

Blessings-

Join Mary on her Lenten Journey at There’s Something About Mary