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Saint Theophilus on Fasting and Repentance

The prophet has said, “My tears have been my food day and night” (Ps. 42 {41}:3), and again, “A worn and humble heart God will not despise” (cf. Ps. 51 {50}:17). Let us therefore, my dear brethren, afflict our souls now with fasting while giving our bodies over to death through many kinds of suffering, until we have become companions to the angel of repentance, that he may direct his path towards us.

The saints delivered their bodies over to death until they overcame the one who was opposed to them, according to the text, “For thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered” (Rm. 8:36; cf. Ps. 44 {43}:22). And again, the Apostle taught us, saying, “Put to death those things that pertain to the earthly members: immorality, impurity, passion, and evil desire” (Col. 3:5).
 
Whenever we deliver ourselves over to affliction through fasting and prayer and nights of vigil, and crucify both our bodies and our souls, we apply to ourselves the cry of the psalmist David: “Thou hast examined me by fire; thou hast not found wickedness of heart” (Ps. 17 {16}:3). Then the angel of repentance will come, and will root out the evil weeds which the devil has planted in our midst. And he will plant instead the fruits of the Spirit, in accordance with what the Apostle said: “The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, gentleness of heart, purity” and those that follow after them (cf. Gal. 5 :22).
 
Repentance, brethren, will then quickly come and dwell in us. It will fill our members and purge away all our sins. It will burn up in us all pride of heart, all anger, all wickedness, every evil thing and every evil thought. It will force the virtues to come and dwell in our souls, planting each one in its place. 
 
It will straightaway root out anger and plant in its place long-suffering. It will root out arrogance and plant in its place humility. It will root out enmity and plant in its place peace. It will root out envy and hatred and drive them from our midst. And it will crown us with peace and love. It will carry away from us carelessness and slothfulness and will arouse us to prayer, night vigils, meditation and recitation of psalms and spiritual hymns.
 
Consider repentance again, brethren, and observe how great an abundance of fruit it produces in the man who repents, making all his members put forth shoots like a tree flourishing by a stream.
 
O repentance, how great are your consolations: the joy that is rooted in grief, and the happiness that is born of tears. The fruits of repentance ripen fully in the strength of the Spirit. For even if he who repents keeps silent, the fruits of repentance show in his face.
 
Beautiful are you, O repentance, in your soft gentleness, your quiet speech, and your appearance, which is a rebuke to all of us, for you are the one who has pointed out the way for all the saints to the contest and to suffering.
 
Come then, my beloved, and adorn repentance with the apparel of your fasting. Anoint her with the perfume of your prayers. Crown her with the humility of your tears, so that when all the other excellences besides see the beauty of the apparel in which you have decked her, they will then gather together and come and dance among those which are of the soul. Moreover, when these make their home in your midst, they will render you free from sin.
 
Norman Russel: Theophilus of Alexandria pp 70-71