April 26, 2019

What Peter Should Have Said When He Denied Christ and Wept Bitterly (St. Maximos the Greek)

Discourse 44: An Account as to What Peter Should Have Said 
When He Denied Christ and "Wept Bitterly"

By St. Maximos the Greek

Woe is me! Woe is me! Woe, woe! With what rivers of tears will I purify my dishonor, wretch that I am? With what heavy sighs will I cleanse my injustice? Indeed, woe is me, for I denied Christ three times, woe is me! I was afraid of the insignificant servant girl and forgot all the gifts that I received from Him, He who is the light and life of all, my Creator, the Creator of Life and Lord, who came to save us and gave His life over to death for me. Woe is me! What unexpected thing happened to me? How great was the disbelief and ingratitude I showed towards You, O Savior, and I proved to be much worse than Your traitor! I was made worthy by You of much greater honor than all the rest of Your disciples, that You entrusted me even with the keys of the heavenly kingdom, and I was recognized by You, my Savior, as their leader and chief, and how will I now weep and what shall I say? Woe is me, the wretch! With what excuses will I beseech You to receive mercy from the strict Judge?

Yet I know Your great generosity, Lord, and that You immediately forgive all the sins of those who show fervent repentance. I know also that You were a generous benefactor towards the defiled woman and the prodigal son; to her because she wet with her tears Your all-immaculate feet and wiped them with her hair, and to him because he cried out: "I have sinned, I have sinned, and I am not worthy to be called Your son." I also know that the unjust publican was immediately acquitted, when he shouted: "O God, be propitious towards me, the sinner!" I also, Lord, shout out like him, I have sinned, be propitious towards me, the sinner. Accept me, my God, and grant unto me Your generosity and forgive the impiety of my heart. I beg of You! To You I offer my prayer with contrition, not with streams of water, but with a river of tears and bitter sighs. And I entreat: Do not disdain, Lord, the river of my tears and the most-bitter pain of my heart, which devours like fire my soul, my bones and my mind, because for the sake of sinners and the wicked You came down from heaven and accepted a torturous death.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.