Love Covers a Multitude of Sins
ne of the monks who used to help Father Selafiil in his cell told the following story:
One day, while reading to the elder from a book (the elder had been blind for over twenty years, but he liked someone to read spiritual books to him), he came across this tale. A certain man had fallen into a grave sin and the priest had banned him from communion for life.
After a while, overwhelmed by despair, the man went to the patriarch and told him what had happened, thinking that the patriarch might absolve him from this sin. But the patriarch reaffirmed the ban placed on him by the priest.
In an even greater state of despair, the sinful man entered a monastery. Seeing the state he was in, the abbot asked what the matter was. The man told him everything, including how he had been to the patriarch and that the patriarch had not offered to undo the ban.
The abbot had pity on the poor man and said, 'Look. I absolve you from this sin and I'll continue to carry the burden for it, but you, tomorrow morning, have to go to the Liturgy and take communion.' And that's what they did.
The monk reading the story became puzzled and asked Father Selafiil, 'Father, how could the abbot take on himself a sin bound by the patriarch? How great did the man's repentance have to be and within how much time could God forgive both of them?'
Father Selafiil replied, 'Well, God forgave them both right then, because he saw that the abbot acted out of love—that he had mercy on the man, and so he forgave them both at once.' We believe that the apostle is referring to this type of love when he says, 'Love covers a multitude of sins.'
Father Selafiil of the Monastery of Noul Neamţ, Love That Never Fails: Discussions and Testimonies (Bucharest: CATHISMA, 2008) p. 19. http://www.amazon.com/Love-That-Never-Fails-Discussions/dp/6068272095