Open to me the gates of repentance, O Giver of Life, for early in the morning my spirit hastens to Your holy temple, bringing the temple of my body all defiled. But as one compassionate, cleanse me, I pray, by Your loving-kindness and mercy. (text used by permission of AGES Initiatives https://www.agesinitiatives.com/dcs/public/dcs/dcs.html)
We sing this hymn during matins every Sunday from the Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee through Holy Week. The first verse echoes Psalm 117:19: “Open to me the gates of righteousness.”
What is the gateway of repentance? It’s an opening to a world of repentance, a life that is not simply feeling sorry for specific sins that we have committed, but a life of prayer that is aware that all life and all people suffer from the results of the sins of all-time (including the specific sins we have done).
We are called to repent continuously, to turn from our sins, but also to pray for all who suffer from the effects of sin in our world. This is why the saints continue to repent, even though they may have achieved theosis in this life—they, and we, are called to serve the world by passing through the gates of repentance.
We are called to turn from self-adoration as we walk through the gates into the love of Christ and the easy yoke (Mt 11:30) that He offers us.
This Great Lent, most of us have been faced with a literal wall against worship, prayer, and repentance. The coronavirus sheltering orders have kept us from church, from worship, and from our brothers and sisters. Like Mary of Egypt, who felt an invisible force stopping her from entering the church due to her sin, we have been prevented from entering our church.
But the gates of repentance are still open to us! We can enter by praying, Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. The love of Christ, who cherishes each of us and our lives, is here with us, inviting us to walk through the gates!