Five ways of Repentance
Do you wish that I shall speak of the ways of repentance? They are many, and various, and different, and all lead to heaven.
I. The first way of repentance is condemnation of sins. “Declare thou first thy sins that thou mayest be justified.” Wherefore also the prophet said “ I said, I will speak out, my transgression to the Lord, and thou remittedst the iniquity of my heart.” Condemn thyself therefore for thy sins. This is enough for the Master by way of self-defense. For he who condemns his sins, is slower to fall into them again. Awake thy conscience, that inward accuser, in order that thou mayest have no accuser at the judgment seat of the Lord.
II. This is one way of repentance, the best; and there is another not less than this: not to bear a grudge against thine enemies to overcome anger, to forgive the sins of our fellow-servants. For so will those which have been done against the master be forgiven us. See the second expiation of sins: “For if ye forgive” saith he, “your debtors, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you.”
III. Dost thou wish to learn a third way of repentance? Fervent and diligent prayer, and to do this from the bottom of the heart. Hast thou not seen that widow, how she persuaded the shameless judge? But thou hast a gentle Master, both tender, and kind. She asked, against her adversaries, but thou dost not ask against thine adversaries, but on behalf of thine own salvation.
IV. And if thou wouldest learn a fourth way, I will say almsgiving. For this has a great power and unspeakable. For Daniel saith to Nebuchadnezzar when he had come to all kinds of evil, and had entered upon all impiety, “O King let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, redeem thy sins by almsgiving and thine iniquities by compassion on the poor.” What could be compared with this loving-kindness? After countless sins, after so many transgressions, he is promised that he will be reconciled with him he has come into conflict with if he will show kindness to his own fellow-servants.
V. And modesty, and humility, not less than all words spoken, exhaust the nature of sins. And the publican is proof, being unable to declare his good deeds, in sight of all, bringing forward his humility, and laying aside the heavy burden of his sins.
See we have shown five ways of repentance: first the condemnation of sins, next the forgiveness of our neighbors’ sins, thirdly that which comes of prayer, fourth that which comes of almsgiving, fifth that which comes of humility.
Do not thou then be lazy; but walk in all these day by day. For the ways are easy, nor canst thou plead poverty. And even if thou livest poorer than all, thou art able to leave thine anger, and be humble, and to pray fervently, and to condemn sins, and thy poverty is in no way a hindrance. And why do I speak thus, when not even in that way of repentance in which it is possible to spend money (I speak of almsgiving), not even there is poverty any hindrance to us from obeying the command? The widow who spent the two mites is a proof.
Having learned then the healing of our wounds, let us constantly apply these medicines, in order that we may return to health and enjoy the sacred table with assurance; and with much glory, reach Christ the king of glory, and attain to everlasting good by the grace, and compassion, and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom be glory, power, honor, to the Father, together with the all holy, and good and quickening Spirit, now and always and for ever and ever. Amen.
~ from the Homily Concerning the Power of Demons, HomilyII