23. You ask how to lay the beginnings of
repentance. óIf you wish to begin repentance, look at the woman sinner: she
washed Christís feet with her tears (Luke ). Tears
wash away sins of every person. But a person acquires tears by internal
efforts, through the diligent study of the Holy Scripture, through patience,
meditation on the Last Judgment and eternal shame, and through self-denial,
just as the Lord said: "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him
deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me" (Mat. 16:24). To
deny oneís self and to take up the cross ó means to sever your own will in
everything and regard yourself as nothing.
24. Regarding temperance in food and drink, the
fathers teach to partake of both in lesser quantities that is
required i.e. not to fill your stomach fully. Each individual has to determine
his own measure in both food and wine. Moreover, the measure of restraint is
not limited to food and drink, but extends to talking, sleep, clothing and to all the senses. There must be its own
measure in all of this.
27. If upon starting a conversation, you realize
that it is sinful ó terminate it by saying: "No, we wonít talk about
this," or, having remained silent for a few moments, say: "I have forgotten
what I wanted to say," ó and switch the conversation to a different
28. Do you wish to free yourself of sorrows and
not be burdened by them? Expect bigger ones ó and you will calm down. Remember
Job and other Saints ó what sorrows they had endured! Acquire their patience
and your spirit will be consoled.