The Five Paths of Repentance
St. John Chrysostom
Early Church Father and Doctor of the Church
St. John Chrysostom, patriarch of Constantinople at the beginning of the 5th century, here outlines the five paths of repentance (Hom. De diabolo tentatore 2, 6: PG 49, 263-264). This excerpt is used in the Roman Catholic Office of Readings for Tuesday of the 21st week in ordinary time with the accompaning biblical reading being the call of the prophet Jeremiah (Jer 1: 1-19).
Would you like me to list also the paths of repentance? They are numerous and quite varied, and all lead to heaven.
A first path of repentance is the condemnation of your own sins: Be the first to admit your sins and you will be justified. For this reason, too, the prophet wrote: I said: I will accuse myself of my sins to the Lord, and you forgave the wickedness of my heart. Therefore, you too should condemn your own sins; that will be enough reason for the Lord to forgive you, for a man who condemns his own sins is slower to commit them again. Rouse your conscience to accuse you within your own house, lest it become your accuser before the judgment seat of the Lord.
That, then, is one very good path of repentance. Another and no less valuable one is to put out of our minds the harm done us by our enemies, in order to master our anger, and to forgive our fellow servants' sins against us. Then our own sins against the Lord will be forgiven us. Thus you have another way to atone for sin: For if you forgive your debtors, your heavenly Father will forgive you.
Do you want to know of a third path? It consists of prayer that is fervent, careful and comes from the heart.
If you want to hear of a fourth, I will mention almsgiving, whose power is great and far-reaching.
If, moreover, a man lives a modest, humble life, that, no less than the other things I have mentioned, takes sin away. Proof of this is the tax-collector who had no good deeds to mention, but offered his humility instead and was relieved of a heavy burden of sins.
Thus I have shown you five paths of repentance; condemnation of your own sins, forgiveness of our neighbor's sins against us, prayer, almsgiving and humility.
Do not be idle, then, but walk daily in all these paths; they are easy, and you cannot plead your poverty. For, though you live out your life amid great need, you can always set aside your wrath, be humble, pray diligently and condemn your own sins; poverty is no hindrance. Poverty is not an obstacle to our carrying out the Lord's bidding, even when it comes to that path of repentance which involves giving money (almsgiving, I mean). The widow proved that when she put her two mites into the box!
Now that we have learned how to heal these wounds of ours, let us apply the cures. Then, when we have regained genuine health, we can approach the holy table with confidence, go gloriously to meet Christ, the king of glory, and attain the eternal blessings through the grace, mercy and kindness of Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Click here to download, print and share Five Paths of Repentance!
For more Catholic resources to feed your faith, visit the Crossroads Initiative Homepage.
To sign up for our free weekly e-mail with Dr. D'Ambrosio's commentary on the Sunday readings, liturgical feasts, updates on where Dr. D will be speaking, a chance to WIN a FREE CD and MORE, CLICK HERE!
The Great Adventure Bible Time Line
Now you can have Jeff Cavins as your personal Bible teacher in this one-of-a-kind audio CD or Video series. This series offers a compelling overview of God’s plan of salvation. Beginning with the first talk, you will discover how the Bible Time Line system developed by Jeff Cavins answers many of the questions we all have about the people, places and events of the Bible. Once you understand the “big picture” of God’s plan of salvation—and where the various biblical characters fit in this overall story—you develop a new appreciation for the Scriptures. Your understanding of the Scripture readings at Mass will truly come alive. Begin the journey today. Order your full set of 24 talks for your personal study, or for RCIA or other adult faith formation class!
God's Seven Gifts: The Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church - 6 CD Set
The Catholic Church has always emphasized how important the seven sacraments are for our lives. Yet many take these 7 sacraments for granted. With little understanding of the sacraments, many are simply going through the motions. This CD will give you new insight into the meaning of these seven unique embraces of divine love that will unlock the power of the sacraments in your life!
Holy Land Olive Wood Cross - 5.5" x 6'5"
Lovely hand carved Olive Wood Cross is 5.5" inches wide by 6.5" long and is wonderfully detailed.
This blessed wood comes from the olive groves in Bethlehem’s countryside. While carving technology has advanced over the years, our vendor has maintained the highest standards of our hand carving.
I Believe - The Heart of the Catholic Faith - DVD Set
In this dynamic, four-part faith formation series, on the Creed, Dr. D'Ambrosio explains how this expression of the basic beliefs of Roman Catholicism is relevant to our personal relationship with God. - This week only we will include a workbook with your purchase!