“Firmly purpose in your soul to hate every sin of thought, word, and deed, and when you are tempted to sin resist it valiantly and with a feeling of hatred for it; only beware lest your hatred should turn against the person of your brother who gave occasion for the sin. Hate the sin with all your heart, but pity your brother; instruct him, and pray for him to the Almighty, Who sees all of us and tries our hearts and innermost parts. ‘Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.’ (Hebrews 12:4) It is impossible not to often fall into sin unless you have a hatred of it implanted in your heart. Self-love must be eradicated. Every sin comes from the love of self. Sin always appears, or feigns to be, to wish us well, promising us plenteousness and ease. ‘The tree was good for food, and it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise.’ (Genesis 3:6) This is how sin always appears to us.”
Listen to an edifying and true story that some Egyptian elders I met told me about a man thought holy by all but who in secret stirrings of his heart angered God because, I think, of assent to impure thoughts. Their story went as follows. A man with second sight, on entering this man’s city, found him gravely ill and all the citizens affirming with tears, “If the saint dies, we have no further hope of salvation; for we are all protected through his intercession.” On hearing this, the man with second sight hurried off to get a blessing from the supposed saint. When he drew near, he saw many candles all ready and great crowds of clerics and laymen, including the bishop himself, waiting to conduct the funeral. Going in to him, he found him still breathing, and saw with the eye of his mind the devil of hell with a fiery fork inserting the fork into his heart and with many tortures pulling at his soul; and he heard a voice from heaven saying, “Just as his soul did not give me rest for a single day, so you too are not to stop pulling at his soul and torturing it.” I have recounted this to make us at all times ready for combat and prepared for the departure of the soul from the body, lest, seduced by love of pleasure, we be unbearably tormented at the time of departure…let us entreat God, Who has applied corrective not capital punishment, to free His creature from the plot of the impure and pleasure loving spirit.
+ St. Euthymius the Great, Cyril of Scythopolis: The Lives of the Monks of Palestine. Life of Euthymius pp. 33-34)
The woman had fallen into many sins, O Lord,
yet when she perceived Thy divinity,
she joined the ranks of the myrrh-bearing women.
In tears she brought Thee myrrh before Thy burial.
She cried, “Woe is me!
For I live in the night of licentiousness,
shrouded in the dark and moonless love of sin.
But accept the fountain of my tears,
O Thou who didst gather the waters of the sea into clouds.
Bow down Thine ear to the sighing of my heart,
O Thou who didst bow the heavens in Thine ineffable condescension.
Once Eve heard Thy footsteps in paradise in the cool of the day,
and in fear she ran and hid herself.
But now I will tenderly embrace those pure feet
and wipe them with the hair of my head.
Who can measure the multitutde of my sins,
or the depth of Thy judgements, O Savior of my soul,
Do not despise Thy servant in Thine immeasurable mercy.
+ Hymn of Cassia (Tone 8) of Bridegroom Matins of Holy Wednesday
You have emulated the hated Esau, my soul, and have given up your birthright of pristine beauty to your supplanter, and you have lost your father’s blessing, and have been tripped up twice in action and knowledge. Therefore, O wretch, repent now. [Genesis 25:31; 27:37]
Esau was called Edom for his extreme passion of madness for women. For ever burning with incontinence and stained with pleasures, he was named Edom which means a red-hot sin-loving soul. [Genesis 25:30]
+ The Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete, Tue 4.3-4
Text of the Canon