Fr Alexander Schmemann: Are You in the School of Repentance?

Feast of St Symeon the New Theologian

Schmemann_Teaching_Square.jpgREPENTANCE, WE are told, is the beginning and the condition of a truly Christian life. Christ's first word when He began to preach was: "Repent!" (Matt. 4.17). But what is repentance? In the rush of our daily life, we have no time to think about it, and we simply assume that all we have to do during Lent is abstain from certain foods, cut down on "entertainment," go to Confession, be absolved by the priest, receive (once in the whole year!) Holy Communion, and then consider ourselves perfectly "in order" till next year. There must be a reason, however, why the Church has set apart seven weeks as a special time for repentance and why she calls us to a long and sustained spiritual effort. All this certainly must concern me, my faith, my life, my membership in the  Church. Is it not then my first duty to try to understand the teaching of my Church about Lent, to try to be an Orthodox Christian not in name only but in life itself?

To the questions: What is repentance? Why do we need it? How are we to practice it?—Great Lent gives the answer. It is indeed a school of repentance to which every Christian must go every year in order to deepen his faith, to re-evaluate, and, if possible, to change his life.  

—Fr. Alexander Schmemann, Great Lent

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