On the Power of Repentance to Save a Soul

St. Nikolai Velimirovich 1880-1956

Can a sinner, in the space of ten days, make full repentance of his sin? By the immeasurable grace of God, he can. In the time of the Emperor Maurice, there was a well-known bandit in the region around Constantinople. Both in the countryside and in the capital itself, he inspired fear and trembling. Then the Emperor himself sent him a Cross, as a pledge that he would not punish him if he gave himself up.The bandit took the Cross, and did indeed give himself up. Arriving in Constantinople, he fell at the Emperor’s feet and begged his forgiveness. The Emperor kept his word, had mercy on him and let him go free. Immediately after that, the bandit fell gravely ill and sensed that death was near. He began to repent bitterly of all his sins, and implored God with tears to forgive him as the Emperor had. He shed many tears in his prayer, so that the handkerchief with which he wiped them became soaked, and he died after ten days of prayerful weeping. The night of his death, the doctor who had been attending him had a strange vision in a dream: when the bandit on the bed breathed his last, a number of little black men gathered round him, flourishing bits of paper on which his sins were written, and two glorious angels also appeared. A pair of scales was placed in the middle, and the little black men gleefully put all the bits of paper on it, and their side of the scales was loaded while the other was empty. ‘What can we put in?’, the angels asked each other.’Let’s look for something good in his life.’ Then there appeared in the hand of one of the angels the handkerchief soaked with tears of repentance. The angels quickly placed it on their side of the scales, and it at once outweighed the other with all its papers. Then the little black men fled, howling in anguish, but the angels took the man’s soul and carried it to Paradise, glorifying God’s love for mankind. (The Prologue From Ochrid, Vol. 4 Lazarica Press, Birmingham, 1986 pp. 81-82)