THE FIVE PATHS OF REPENTANCE ( An excerpt from St. John Chrysostom on the Temptations of the Devil)

St. John chrysostom through these five paths show that repentance is a daily journey of healing and transformation into the image of our Jesus who humbles himself to remain with us as bread of life broken in the Holy Eucharist.

There are certainly many of them, many and various, and all of them lead to heaven.
The first path is the path of condemnation of sins. As Isaiah 43:26 says, Tell your sins, and you will be acquitted. And the Psalmist adds: I said “I will bear witness against myself before the Lord,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin (Ps. 32:5). So you, too must condemn the sins you have committed. Condemn them, and that condemnation will excuse you in front of the Lord, since whoever condemns the sins he has committed will be slower to commit them next time. Stir up your own conscience to be your accuser – so that when you come before the judgement-seat of the Lord no-one will rise up to accuse you.
This is the first path of repentance but the second is in no way inferior to it in excellence. It is to forget the harm done to us by our enemies, to master our anger, to forgive the sins of those who are slaves together with us. As much as we do this, so much will our own sins against the Lord be forgiven. So this is the second path to the expiation of our sins. As the Lord says, Yes, if you forgive others their failings, your heavenly Father will forgive you yours.
Would you like to know the third path of repentance? It is prayer: fervent prayer, sincere and focused prayer, prayer coming from the depths of the heart. (Prayer from the heart, like songs from the heart does not obey any syllabic rules of Grammar and syntax, as St. Augustine says, because as St. Paul says, it is the Holy Spirit praying in us with sighs too deep for words (Rom. 8:26).
If you want to know the fourth path, I will tell you it is the giving of alms. It has great power. For the Bible tells us that charity (love) covers many sins, hence it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts.20:35).
And finally, if someone acts with modesty and humility, that path is no less effective as a way to deprive sin of its substance. Look at the publican, who had no good deeds to speak of. In place of good deeds he offered humility, and the huge burden of his sins fell away.
So now I have shown you the five paths of repentance. First, condemnation of sins. Second, forgiving the sins of those near us. Third, prayer. Fourth, almsgiving. Fifth, humility.

So do not be idle, but every day advance along all these paths at once. They are not hard paths to follow. Poverty is no excuse for not setting out on the journey. Even if you are destitute you can do all these things: put aside anger, carry humility in front of you, pray hard, condemn your sins. Poverty is no obstacle – not even to that path of penitence that demands money: that is, almsgiving. Remember the story of the widow’s mite.

Now we have learnt the right way to heal our wounds, let us apply these remedies. Let us regain true health and confidently receive the blessings of Holy Communion. Thus we may come, filled with glory, to the glory of Christ’s kingdom, and receive its eternal joys through the grace, mercy and kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ.

TASK: Prayer is good when accompanied by fasting and almsgiving. It is better to give alms than to treasure up gold, for almsgiving will purge away every sin. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Put these into action!

I pray for you: May the Lord make you love His commands and long for what He promised so that, amid this world’s changes, your heart may be set on the world of lasting joy in Jesus name.

-Fr. SimOne Madu, OSJ 
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  1. Thanks padre. This is heart warming. It might be battle at times to attain true repentacne but with help of the holy Spirit working in us we will attain such height. But how do we find the strength to pray when we sin ?
    How do we overcome self condemnation?

    1. When we sin, the Holy Spirit reminds us of our sins and calls us to reconcile with God:
      Read God's dialogue with his people through his prophet Jeremiah. This dialogue reveals that Gods relationship with us is characterised by love- a kind of love extreme love between lovers; hence he does not count our disloyalty but our repentant heart (c.f. Jeremiah 3:1-5,19-4:4):
      "If a man divorces his wife and she leaves him to marry someone else, may she still go back to him? Has not that piece of land been totally polluted? And you, who have prostituted yourself with so many lovers, you would come back to me? – it is the Lord who speaks...‘Come back, disloyal sons, I want to heal your disloyalty.’ ‘We are here, we are coming to you, for you are the Lord our God."
      But the "Self condemnation is repentance without Hope." You condemn yourself because you feel for failing thinking being holy or righteousness is by your own human power and strength. No, its not by your power but by the Spirit (Zech 4:6) Hope as a supernatural virtue helps us to depend on God and his help alone. It helps us not to fall into despair. Hence hope help us return to righteousness and depend on God in prayers to sustain us. When you feel weakness to pray and hear those accusations in your heart rebuke it for the Evil one also accuses us to increase our self condemnation! Hence scripture calls him the accuser of the brethren always accusing us day and night before God, (Rev. 12:10) that was how he accused Job (Job 1:9) he also accused the high priest Joshua in Zech.3:1-3 but rejoice because he has been defeated and thrown down...and you will conquer him by the blood of Jesus and the words of your testimony (the word of God) Rev 12:11. Shalom dear friend.


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