1.) There are some sins in me that I cannot do a single thing about.
I cannot even repent. All I can do is to confess them and ask God to help me somehow with them, to bring me to the point of repentance. He does. Eventually. Something unexpected will happen, an external event perhaps, that begins to break up the inner glacier. You begin to feel the thawing, and then all the ice melts into tears and you’re healed.
2.) Even a little spiritual exertion pays big dividends.
God will honor even a small effort if it is all we can make. And the growth and the grace that flower from obedience (from giving grace more “operating space” within us) are all out of proportion to the small effort we made.
3.) If you take the medicine your spiritual father prescribes, it works!
Father N. sounds just like any other doctor when he says something like, “You try this, and if it doesn’t help, let me know right away, and we’ll do something else.” Then, unlike a secular doctor, he will add, “Because this is dangerous to you and must be stopped quickly.” Well, it does work! Every time. Not only is one able more easily to overcome a particular temptation, but the temptation itself occurs less often. It’s absolutely amazing. One might expect an elder, a staretz, to have acquired the wisdom of years, to have become a good amateur psychologist from long experience, but some of my spiritual fathers have been quite young. And yet, this unerring Wisdom! It is definitely the Holy Spirit at work.
4.) Every moment I am not repenting I am sliding backward.
Ross Douthat: Decline and Schism in Religion
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