Reflections on a Saying of a Desert Christian: Abba Poimen

“Again, a certain other person asked him to explain to him exactly what repentance is.

“Not to repeat the same sins,” responded Saint Poimen.

As I read this my first thought is “Easier said than done” but i want to take that back because when we say that it is a sarcastic comment which distances us from actually grappling with the issue.

Repentance is hard work. There is a general sort of repentance when we confess our sins in church or promise to help someone who is being baptized. Then there is the need we all have to repent of our own specific sins. I’m Episcopalian and we Episcopalians don’t talk about sin much and I am not certain that is in our best interests

Someone suggested to me that sin is merely human nature and I suppose that is true. But that doesn’t mean human nature shouldn’t be confronted. We make choices, do we not? We make choices every day to do the right thing or the wrong thing, the good thing or the evil thing. We choose whether to sin or not.

We don’t recognize sin for sin because, at least here in the USA, we have justified sin out of our lives, excusing it for this or that reason. One example is the Prosperity Gospel. It is chockful of excuses why it is not a Christian’s duty to see to it that the hungry are fed, the sick cared for, the naked clothed, the poor provided for.We have a great many politicians who apparently have embraced the Prosperity Gospel and we can see that in the programs they want to eliminate.

But what about other sins such as anger, jealousy, greed, lust, gluttony? We are all afflicted by these things over and over. How do we repent of these?

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