Post date: Apr 8, 2014 3:30:20 PM
Since the beginning of the Triodion, following the Sunday morning Gospel readings, we have been chanting,
Open to me the gates of repentance, O Giver of Life, for early in the morning my spirit hastens to Your holy temple, bringing the temple of my body all defiled. But as one compassionate, cleanse me, I pray, by Your loving-kindness and mercy.
The theme of repentance has been with us through our services and prayers since then and it is reinforced today. I can almost picture St. Mary of Egypt sitting on the ground in Jerusalem, being prevented by an unseen force from venerating the Holy Cross, sitting on the ground, crying, and praying this together with the prayer which she sent up to the Theotokos:
O Lady, Mother of God, who gave birth in the flesh to God the Word, I know, O how well I know, that it is no honor or praise to thee when one so impure and depraved as I look up to thy icon, O ever-virgin, who didst keep thy body and soul in purity. Rightly do I inspire hatred and disgust before thy virginal purity. But I have heard that God Who was born of thee became man on purpose to call sinners to repentance. Then help me, for I have no other help. Order the entrance of the church to be opened to me. Allow me to see the venerable Tree on which He Who was born of thee suffered in the flesh and on which He shed His holy Blood for the redemption of sinners an for me, unworthy as I am. Be my faithful witness before thy son that I will never again defile my body by the impurity of fornication, but as soon as I have seen the Tree of the Cross I will renounce the world and its temptations and will go wherever thou wilt lead me.
Truly great is the power of repentance, as we see its fruits in the life of St. Mary. By her intercessions, may the Lord lead us to a perfect repentance, as well.
With love in Christ,