When we were visiting Abba John, abbot of the Giants' Monastery at Theoupolis, he told us the following story:
Not long ago a young man came to me saying: "For God's sake, take me in, for I want to repent" - and he was weeping bitterly whilst he said this. I could see that he was deeply troubled and perplexed.
"Tell me how you have come to such compunction," I said.
He replied: "Abba, I most certainly am a sinner, sir."
Again I said to him: "Believe me child, just as there are many and different kinds of sin, so there are many cures. If you wish to be healed, tell me truthfully what deeds you have committed so that I can apply suitable penances. One does not apply the same treatment to a fornicator and to a murderer and to a sorcerer. Greed is treated one way; lying, anger, theft, adultery - each has its proper medication. But rather than go listing sins for you, let me say that just as we see various remedies applied to different physical infirmities, so too for the sins of the soul (which are many) a variety of medicines are available."
He heaved a great sigh and smote himself on the breast, breaking into tears and sobbing. So great was the disturbance in his heart that he was unable to speak clearly. When I saw that he was paralyzed and struck dumb by his grief and could therefore tell me nothing of his condition, I said to him: "Listen to me, my child; take a hold of yourself and tell me what has happened. Christ our God Himself will grant you His own aid. Of His unspeakable love for mankind and His immeasurable mercy He endured everything for our salvation. He consorted with publicans; He did not turn away the woman who was a sinner nor did He reject the thief; and, finally, He accepted death on the cross. When you repent and turn to Him, He will receive you with His own hands and in great joy, for "He desires not the death of a sinner but that he should turn to Him and live" (1 Tim. 2:4).
Then he made an effort to pull himself together. When his tears had abated somewhat, he said to me: "Abba, I who am full of sin, sir, and unworthy of heaven and earth. Two days ago, I heard of the death of the maiden daughter of somebody of first rank in this city; also that she had been buried in many clothes in a sepulchre outside the city. Now I was already in the habit of doing the forbidden deed [of grave robbing]. I went to the sepulchre by night and began stripping the corpse. I stripped her of all she wore, not even leaving the innermost little garment but taking that from her too and making her as naked as the day she was born. Just before I was about to leave the tomb, she sat up before me and stretched out her left hand. She took hold of my right hand and said: 'Oh, man, did you have to strip me naked? Have you no fear of God? Ought you not to have had pity on me in death? Should you not respect my sex? How can you, as a Christian, condemn me to presenting myself naked before Christ because you had so little respect for my sex? Is not mine the sex which gave you birth? Do you not outrage your own mother in so using me? Wretched man, what sort of a defense will you offer for this crime against me when you come to the terrifying judgment seat of Christ? As long as I lived, no strange man ever saw my face; and now, after death and burial, you have stripped me and looked upon my naked body. What is there to be said for humanity when it can stoop to such depths? What a heart, what hands you are going to have when you come to receive the all-holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ!'
"When I heard and saw this, I was seized by fear and dread. Quaking I said to her: 'Let me go - and never again will I do this,' but she said: 'You came in here when you wanted to; but you will not go out of here as you will. This tomb shall be shared by the two of us. And do not think you are going to die right away. Only after many days of torment will you - in evil circumstances - surrender your soul.' I begged her with tears in my eyes to let me go, making great oaths by almighty God that I would never again commit that forbidden and illegal deed [of grave robbing]. After I had implored her at great length and poured out many tears, she replied in these words: 'If you wish to live and be delivered from this anguish, give me your word that if I shall let you go, not only will you desist from your hateful and profane deeds, but also that you will, immediately and without delay, go renounce the world and become a monk - so that you can repent of your misdeeds and live in the service of Christ.' I swore to her, saying: 'Not only will I do all that you have said, but from this day forward I will not enter my house. Rather I will go from here immediately to a monastery.' Then the maiden said to me: 'Dress me as you found me.' I made her fit for burial again and then she lay back down and was dead. I, the unworthy, the sinner that I am, immediately went out of the sepulchre and came here."
When I heard all this from the young man, I comforted and refreshed him by talking to him about repentance and continence. Some time later I tonsured him, clothed him in the monastic habit and shut him up in a cave in the mountain within the city, he giving thanks to God and fighting a good fight for his own soul.
St. John Moschos, The Spiritual Meadow, #78.