Father Seraphim Cardoza, archpriest of St Innocent Orthodox Church, talks about different aspects of repentance in Eastern and Western Christianity.
Q: There’s a new subtle theology in Christendom today, in America, it’s called Universal Christianity and let me explain it as simple as I can.
From what I understand, because I’ve been following this, the Scripture says that Jesus died on the Cross and shed his blood for the redemption of all mankind. True statement, but this new theology will take that statement and say: therefore, you’re already in God’s family, just come as you are. So there’s skipping over repentance and going directly to redemption.
That’s what they’re propagating, that you jump over repentance and you go right to Redemption…
A: I know when I came to our Lord, in 1969, probably before that, but really truly came to our Lord and truly repented.
Did you come to Christ and in Church to have several doctorates, to write books and doing lecturing tours or you came to Church to preach the Gospel, just simple Gospel?
But that’s what was wrong. Because when you are so highfalutin, when you know everything… but I think they’re skipping over because they think they know so much… This happens in our seminaries, forgive me, it happened in Russia, it’s been proven that the seeds of the Revolution of 1917 started in universities and seminaries. Trying to figure everything out with their head, cramming them with knowledge…
A: So repentance, your walk with God starts there, it starts there and it continues there and it ends there. You know, our tradition, and it’s a wonderful tradition because it started with Christ, it’s a life of repentance.
I think we’ve become so educated we forget to say there is the hell and there is accountability and there is a second coming.
I know I know I know that’s very unpopular with your audience, probably, but there is a hell and there is accountability and one day we’re all gonna stand there. And why not between now and then have a life of repentance?
Q: What would be the main obstacle of true and pure repentance?
I know myself, I wanted to go to the altar and my friends said: oh, no, you know you don’t need that…
Wait a minute man, something happened, there was a drastic dramatic change and and I didn’t understand what would happen but I knew that I met God I knew I had a relationship, I knew I touched love.
Repentance is for you and I wanted to get back to that first love. ‘I have this against you’, our Lord says in Revelation, ‘you have left your first love’ [Revelation 2:4].
I get honest enough and ask myself: how did you act, what happened to you when you came back from that altar and your friends came really the next day with the 12 pack or 24 pack of beer and something else and I go: ‘sorry George, I love you man, but just don’t do that anymore man, yeah I found something better…’
A priest is not better than anyone else, for sure… I have my confessor… in the West, we’ve looked at the Church, maybe, as a place, a court of law, you know, and then so we think we confess that we’re going to a judge…
In our tradition, the tradition from the ancient Church, you’re not locked up in a little booth and you’re not separated by something and somebody in the other side… you know the priest, actually, who is nothing but a representative of Christ, is Christ that forgives… ‘Behold, my child, Christ stands here and receives your confession.’ That’s the way we say it, it is Christ that forgives… ‘And I, an unworthy priest Seraphim, through the power given me by Him, forgive you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’
I’m reading Elder Paisius… and he says: before you ask a person and talk to him, before send him to a psychologist or a psychiatrist, even before maybe you even talk to him as a pastor, he said, ‘I will not talk to anybody unless they go to confession first, to a priest’… Go to confession, get honest, know yourself, as soon as you know yourself we’re gonna have a good conversation…
I do confess silently, but there’s something about confession and humility and love are all combined and without humility it’s not a true confession and without humility you’re really never gonna receive the grace of God because it only comes from honesty and it comes from a life of repentance.
Not negative, it’s the most joy filled life, why should I carry around this secret thing? It’s a tiny thing, a tiny thing for you, for me it may be a big thing…