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St Peter of Damascus: What shall I do to acquire unceasing pain of soul?

Shall I be allowed to live for a short time longer, so as to weep bitter tears and cleanse my defiled body and soul? Or, after sorrowing for a while, shall I then stop once more, obdurate as always?

What shall I do to acquire unceasing pain of soul? Shall I fast and keep vigil? Yet without humility I will gain nothing. Shall I read and sing psalms with my mouth only? For my passions have darkened my intellect and I cannot understand the meaning of what is said.

Shall I fall prostrate before Thee, the giver of all blessings? But I have no confidence. My life is without hope; I have destroyed my soul. Lord, help me and receive me as the publican; for like the prodigal I have sinned against heaven and before Thee (cf. Luke 15:18).

I have sinned like the harlot who came to Thee weeping, and of whom it is written: ‘Full of despair on account of life, her ways well known, she came to Thee bearing myrrh and crying: “0 virgin-born, do not cast me away, harlot though I am; do not spurn my tears, 0 joy of the angels; but receive me in my repentance, 0 Lord, and in Thy great mercy do not reject me, a sinner.”

‘For I, too, am in despair because of my many sins, yet I am welt known to Thine ineffable compassion and the boundless sea of Thy mercies.

St Peter of Damascus

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