February 23, 2018

Reflection for Clean Friday (St. Theophan the Recluse)

By St. Theophan the Recluse

Reflection 1:

"The Lord scorns the scorners, but He gives grace unto the lowly" (Prov. 3:34). Particularly remember these words when you go to confession. Nothing like pride binds your tongue to keep it from saying, “I am a sinner.” Humble yourself before the Lord, do not spare yourself, do not fear the face of man. Reveal your shame for it to be washed; show your wounds for them to be healed; tell of all your unrighteousness that you be justified. The more merciless you will be with yourself, the more compassion the Lord will show towards you, and you will leave with a sweet feeling of forgiveness. This is that grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, given from Him to those who humble themselves through sincere confession of their sins.[1]

[1] In Russia people traditionally went to confession on the evening of this first Friday of Great Lent, in preparation for Holy Communion the next day, which they prepared for all of Clean Week with strict fasting.

Reflection 2:

"The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God" (Wisdom 3:1). But in whose hand are the souls of sinners? The Savior said to the apostles that Satan seeks to sift them like wheat, that is, he seeks to knock them from the right path, to take them into his hands and do with them what he wants. That is why everyone turning away from the Lord is in the hands of Satan, and he sifts them and casts them wherever he desires. Due to this the heads of sinners are constantly spinning, because the enemy, dragging them here and there, does not give them a chance to come to their senses. As soon as the enemy notices that someone is starting to have second thoughts, he starts to shake him even more strongly, so that his head again becomes clouded and his thoughts become scattered.