Kyrillos’ Comments and Confessions
Dear friends and Brethren, one more time I have to confess and ask your forgiveness for the absence of my comments in this very good monthly Newsletter. That happened in the past issue of June. For the cause of my absence you may choose among many faults, sins or vices of mine: laziness, lack of time, of planning and organization, procrastination, etc., but not for the lack of thought and caring. For this reason the voice of my conscience reproves me and makes me feel guilty. The fact that I had many proper thoughts, enriched by the accumulation of festivities that had coincided in the month of June 2002, and that I cared to share them with you, has made me feel and see my guilt and made me aware of falling through the weakness of flesh. I know my fault. I know that some of you may be poorer, if you enjoyed reading my Comments & Confessions. Here we have a very good example to understand what we call sin.
In this case sin is an act that I have not done: I have not written in time my article for its publication. What is wrong in not doing so? I let you down, since we had engaged together for the enterprise of a monthly publication and for the enterprise of providing information, teaching, food for thought, encouragement for loving God, awareness of the love of God for us, etc. I let you down and, through the consequences of my omission, some one, who could have been enriched reading my thoughts, has become poorer. Since this enterprise was to serve our brethren according to the commandment of Christ (teach all that I have taught you), also I have let down Christ. And, making poorer in knowledge another person, I have also diminished the Glory of God. So, I have not fulfilled the will of God (τό θέλημά του Θεού). The act of not fulfilling the will of God is what sin is.
As you can see through this brief description, you would be able to notice the element of progression in time becoming sinful and the element of awareness in the existence of the fault. This is why I mention procrastination or lack of planning, among others. To commit a sin always takes some time, even if this is brief. That is the reason why, our Lord Jesus Christ taught us to pray: “lead us not into temptation.” The Creator gave us freedom, reason and love. Therefore it is for us to choose after an evaluation of the circumstances and the purpose. Where there is freedom there is a possibility of wavering in one’s choice. Reason allows us to see the purpose. Love indicates the quality of our choice: is the purpose to give glory to God or to serve our neighbour, then it will require a sacrifice of our pleasure; is the purpose to give in to our pleasure, God and our neighbour will be second or not at all the cause of our decision. The temptation for the feeling of love is: in place of love for God and one’s neighbour, to love oneself and everything that satisfies the lower desires and gives temporary enjoyment to oneself. The temptation has passed to become sin. That is, sin is a negative manifestation of the moral order, which proceeds from the evil direction of the will and a violation of God’s laws.
The essence of evil consists in the violation of God’s will, the commandments of God and the moral law, which is written in the human conscience. This violation is called sin. When we have completed the violation we know it, always, through the awareness of guilt in our hearts. We have knowledge of sin if we have awareness or knowledge of God (Romans 1:28). That is, if God is present in our conscience, there is possibility of repentance, of change of mind (μετάνοια), and, therefore, of salvation.
Our conscience resides in the most inner and intimae part of our personal being. It is in our heart. Conscience is our awareness of moral law. Better still it is the sense of the heart to distinguish between good and evil and to evaluate the purpose of our actions, words or thoughts. Conscience is a faculty, an instrument or an organ implanted in or given to our heart by our Creator.
The Apostle Paul says that the conscience bears witness in our hearts, showing the written law to us and warning us in our thoughts during this temporal life, of the witness accusing or excusing us that we shall receive in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ (Rom. 2:15-16.)
The Christian person has received the Holy Mystery (Sacrament) of Baptism. Through it the person has put on Christ (Χριστόν ενεδύσασθε), therefore buried and raised into a New Life of faith, hope and love. Through the anointing with Holy Chrism (τόν Μυρόν) has been branded with the Seal of the Holy Spirit, that makes us His own. Through eating and drinking the Body and Blood of Christ, this nourishment, transforms us and changes us into Christ. Therefore God is present in our heart and conscience giving us knowledge of the Trinity and of ourselves too.
This knowledge of ourselves is special, because it is an awareness of how God sees us. It is a vision of oneself that only the Christian man is able to perceive. And, therefore, this vision produced by the presence of the Holy Trinity in us helps us to return to God, gives us the possibility of repentance (μετάνοια) and of salvation. This is so even in the worst state of alienation from God:
“With desire have I desired not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn from the wickedness which he has committed, and live; and that even unto seventy times seven, sins ought to be forgiven.” (<Ου θελήσει θέλω τόν θάνατον τού αμαρτολού ως τό επιστρέψαι καί ζήν αυτόν> καί ως εβδομηκοντάκις επτά αφιέναι τά αμαρτήματα.”) (ΕΥΧΟΛΟΓΙΟΝ and also confer Mt. 18:22.)
The repentance is possible only if we have awareness of the sin. However the sin exists operating in the heart of man once that he has fallen in it or committed it even if he is not aware of it. This is the reason why those who have not come to the knowledge of Christ also can commit sin and live in sin. This tragic event has been happening through History. This happens because of the existence of the ‘conscience,’ the faculty and organ innate in us and implanted or given by our Creator, which evaluates the purpose of the actions, words and thoughts of every human being. So the Apostle Paul is able to say:
“…as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and within themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ…(Rom. 2:12-16.)
I would like to recommend to you the reading of this epistle to the Romans during this month of July. Following the feast of Pentecost the Holy Mother Church puts to our consideration this Epistle of the Apostle and the Gospel of Matthew.
Perhaps before August I may receive some comments to my C & C and you could help in the writing of them in the future.
I’ll see you next month ‘Deo volente ’ (God willing)!
© Fr. Kyrillos LERET-ALDIR.
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