The Fifth Sunday of Great Lent commemorates St. Mary of Egypt. Although her Feast Day is April 1st, the Church recognizes her this Sunday, as she is a model of repentance.
Mary spent about 17 years living in great sin. She offered her body to any man, often refusing money, not because she was rich but because she had “unrestrained and insatiable sensuality.”
One summer she saw a crowd of people on their way to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, so she went with them. Having no food or money she offered her body as payment.
When it was time for the Holy Elevation she tried to enter the church but could not – a force was blocking her. Finally, after three or four times of trying to enter, she withdrew, stood in a corner and began to pray to the icon of the Most Holy Theotokos:
O Sovereign Lady, who didst bear God in the flesh, I know that I should not dare to look upon thine icon, thou who are pure in soul and body, because, debauched as I am, I must fill thee with disgust. But, as the God born of thee became man in order to call sinners to repentance, come to my aid! Allow me to go into the church and prostrate before His Cross. And, as soon as I have seen the Cross, I promise that I will renounce the world and all pleasures, and follow the path of salvation that thou willest to show me.
She was then allowed to enter the church.
Afterward, following the Will of God, she crossed the river Jordan and began her journey of repentance.
can must read St. Mary of Egypt’s story.
The following is a story of God’s great mercy – merciful He is!
A priest is walking down a lonely road on a hot day when suddenly out of the bushes jumps a wild looking man with a gun.
The man says to the priest, “I have killed 99 men, and you will be the 100th.”
The priest says to him, “I am ready to die; but please before you shoot me, give me a little water to drink. I am so thirsty.”
The murderer is confused for a moment and then directs the priest at gunpoint to his hovel* in the bushes where he gives the priest a cup of water to drink.
As the priest is drinking the water, the murderer dies of a heart attack.
The angels from heaven come to escort the soul of this murderer to heaven, but the demons contest with them.
“This man murdered 99 men and committed many other smaller sins. His soul belongs to us.”
But the angels answer the demons, “But he also did two great deeds for the Gospel of Christ which outweigh all his sins. First, he confessed his 99 murders to a priest and second he gave water to the thirsty.”
No sin, no matter how many times repeated, is greater than the mercy of God.
– St. Nicholai Velimirovich
1 an open shed or outbuilding used for sheltering cattle or storing grain or tools.