Confession and Spiritual Accounting – Elder Ephraim of Arizona, USA

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ARIZONA OF MY HEART

Confession and Spiritual Accounting

Elder Ephraim of Arizona, USA

Source:

http://easternorthodoxspirituality.blogspot.com

EASTERN ORTHODOX SPIRITUALITY

This confession of yours gave my soul much joy, because God and the angels, who were awaiting it, rejoiced. You succeeded in putting the devil to shame, who greatly rejoices when someone hides his thoughts from his spiritual father. When a snake leaves its lair, it rushes to hide somewhere because it feels as if it will be struck—the same thing happens with a diabolical thought, which is like a poisonous snake. When such a thought leaves a person’s mouth, it disperses and disappears, because confession is humility, and since Satan cannot even bear the smell of humility, how could he possibly remain after a humble, sincere confession? My child, I wish you a good beginning and cautious progress. Don’t be ashamed before me. Don’t see me as a man, but as a representative of God. Tell me everything, even if you have a bad thought about me, because I am experienced with demonic influences, and I know how the devil fights man. I know that spiritual children have simple hearts and that if evil thoughts come to them, it is due to the devil’s malice and the spiritual child’s ego, who is permitted to fall and have such thoughts against his Elder, so that the spiritual child may be humbled more. Therefore, don’t worry. I will always rejoice when you speak freely and sincerely to me, for without frank confession, there will be no spiritual progress.

My child, have no worries. I have taken up your burden. I only beg you to be at peace. Your words may be just on paper, but I feel the power, the meaning, and the essence of what you write; I enter into the spirit of your words. I entreat you to be at peace from now on. You are forgiven everything with the confession you made. Satan perceived your character and torments you, but without anything serious having occurred. Everything you write (that is, the thoughts that torture you ) is a trick of the evil one to make you despair, be distressed, and so forth. Throw everything that happened to you into the depths of the sea. Map out a new course in your life. If you keep thinking the same way, know that you will become the laughing-stock of the demons. I beg you, just be obedient to me. After your confession, everything has been forgiven, so let bygones be bygones. Don’t scratch a wound that made you suffer so much. Don’t be deceived by the thought that it is your fault. If you hadn’t taken him to the doctors, etc., then such thoughts would rightfully fight you. Whereas, as things are now, you have fulfilled your duty. God wanted to take him, for a reason that only His infinite wisdom knows, while you are thinking you killed him! Be careful with this thought, or else it might lurk in your heart. It is a ruse of the devil to harm you, as he knows how. This skilled trickster has drowned in the depths of hell countless multitudes with despair. When something happens and the devil sees that a person is upset by it, his trick is to pile on a multitude of supposedly legitimate thoughts in order to lead the poor person to a great storm and drown him. (As the saying goes, a fox loves a scuffle ). And when the storm passes, he sees that he was in danger of drowning in just a spoonful of water.

Humble yourself, and from now on confess, for confession contains most holy humility, without which no one is saved.  The devil greatly rejoices when he manages to persuade a person to hide diabolical thoughts.  This is because he will achieve his premeditated, soul-destroying goal.

I have written to you about the conscience, that we must be careful not to do something that will make it reproach and condemn us. Bear in mind that God sees everything and that nothing is hidden from His eyes. So how could I tell lies before God? Don’t you know that lies are from the devil, and that by not being careful, it becomes a practice, then a habit, and then a passion, and don’t you know that liars will not inherit the Kingdom of God? (cf. Rev. 21:8 ). Fear God. God is not pleased with material offerings when we neglect attending to our inner heart. But it is necessary to do these also without leaving the others undone. (cf. Mt 23:23 ). Attend to your conscience, for we do not know the hour of our death. And if we do not repay our creditor (our conscience, that is ) everything we owe him, he will accuse us vehemently, without holding back. Then—alas!—our mouth will be silenced, not having any answer to give.

Every night, review how you passed the day, and in the morning review how the night passed, so that you know how your soul’s accounts are doing. If you see a loss, try to regain it through caution and forcefulness. If you see a profit, glorify God, your invisible helper. Do not let your conscience prick you for long, but quickly give it whatever it wants, lest it take you to the judge and the prison (cf. Mt. 5:25 ). Does your conscience want you to attend to your prayer rule* and regain prayer? Give it these things, and behold, you are delivered from going to the judge. Do not weaken the saving voice of your conscience by disregarding it, because later you will regret it to no avail.

*Prayer rule

Α prayer rule consists of the prayers and metanoias** which one does daily, under the guidance of one’s spiritual father.

** Metanoia

Ιn its primary sense, «μετάνοια» (pronounced «meh-tah΄-nee-ah» ) means repentance, literally, “a change of mind”. However, it can also mean the specific act of making the sign of the cross, followed by a bow either down to the ground or to the waist. It is a gesture of reverence, worship, respect, or repentance. A typical prayer rule includes a number of metanoias done while saying the Jesus prayer. Some translators use the word “prostration” for this term.

See to it that you are sincere in your deeds as well as in your words, and especially in confession. For God searches out the hearts and reins (Ps. 7:9 ), and nothing remains obscure in the sight of His sleepless eye. Fear God; God is not mocked (Gal. 6:7 ); He is not fooled. He chastises severely when He does not see sincerity; so be careful. When you are disobedient and commit a secret sin, counteract it by openly revealing it in confession. Do not let your ego overcome you and make you hide the truth and remain uncorrected and passionate. Correct everything now if you want to see good days of dispassion* and peace.

*Dispassion

Dispassion is achieved when all three aspects of the soul (i.e., the intelligent, appetitive, and incensive aspects ) are directed towards God. It is the transfiguration of the passionate aspect of the soul (i.e., the aspect of the soul which is more vulnerable to passion, namely, the appetitive and incensive aspects ), rather than its mortification. Thus dispassion in this context does not signify a stoic indifference, but rather, a transfiguration and sanctification of the powers of the soul and eventually of the body also.

Taken from “Counsels from The Holy Mountain” by Elder Ephraim of Arizona (Philotheou Mt.Athos)

Света тајна исповести – Протосинђел Венијамин Ковачић ╰⊰¸¸.•¨* Serbian

http://serbiaofyourheart.wordpress.com

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HOLY CONFESSION OF YOUR HEART

SERBIA OF YOUR HEART

Света тајна исповести

Протосинђел Венијамин Ковачић

Свету тајну исповести дефинише православна литургика као Тајну покајања, којом се човек чисти од грехова учињених после крштења. Исповест је, дакле, свештена радња у којој свештеник Цркве силом Духа Светога отпушта и разрешава хришћанина од грехова, које он исповеди и за које се каје. На ово упућују и саме Христове речи изговорене Његовим ученицима у јеванђељу по Јовану: „И ово рекавши, дуну и рече им: Примите Духа Светога! Којима опростите гријехе, опраштају им се; и којима задржите, задржани су“ (Јн. 20,22).

Уосталом, и само Јеванђеље Христово почиње речима о покајању, а оно и у целини говори о љубави Божијој према грешнику. Будући да је Црква у свету – Тело Христово, кроз њу Христос у сваком времену поручује: „Јер нисам дошао да зовем праведнике, но грешнике на покајање“ (Мт.9,13). Љубав Божија према људима је, дакле, основ и смисао Оваплоћења Христовог, али Continue reading “Света тајна исповести – Протосинђел Венијамин Ковачић ╰⊰¸¸.•¨* Serbian”

Père Ephraïm d’Arizona Ephraïm d’Arizona sur la confession et la responsabilité spirituelle ╰⊰¸¸.•¨* French

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ARIZONA OF MY HEART

FRANCE OF MY HEART

Slot Canyon Arizona by David Thompson

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Père Ephraïm d’Arizona

sur la confession et la responsabilité spirituelle

Source:

http://laprieredejesus.blogspot.com

http://laprieredejesus.blogspot.com/2015/11/pere-ephraim-darizona-sur-la-confession.html

LA PRIÈRE DE JÉSUS

La confession a donné à mon âme beaucoup de joie, parce que Dieu et les anges, qui l’attendaient, se sont réjouis. Tu as réussi à faire honte au Diable, lui qui se réjouit grandement quand quelqu’un cache ses pensées à son père spirituel.

Quand un serpent sort de sa tanière, il se précipite pour se cacher quelque part parce qu’il sent qu’il sera frappé – la même chose se produit avec une pensée diabolique, qui est comme un serpent venimeux. Quand une telle pensée quitte la bouche d’une personne, elle se disperse et disparaît, parce que la confession est humilité, et puisque Satan ne peut même pas supporter l’odeur de l’humilité, comment pourrait-il rester après une humble confession sincère?

Mon enfant, je te souhaite un bon début et un progrès prudent. N’aie pas honte devant moi. Ne me vois pas comme un homme, mais comme un représentant de Dieu. Dis-moi tout, même si tu as une mauvaise pensée sur moi, parce que je suis expérimenté au sujet des influences démoniaques, et je sais comment le Diable combat homme.

Je sais que les enfants spirituels ont des cœurs simples et que si les mauvaises pensées viennent à eux, cela est dû à la malice du Diable et à l’ego de l’enfant spirituel, qui est autorisé à tomber et à avoir des pensées contre son frère, afin que l’enfant spirituel puisse être plus humble. Par conséquent, ne t’inquiète pas. Je vais toujours me réjouir quand tu me parles librement et sincèrement , car sans confession franche, il n’y aura pas de progrès spirituel.

Mon enfant, n’aie pas de soucis. J’ai pris ton fardeau. Je te prie seulement d’être en paix. Tes paroles peuvent être seulement sur le papier, mais je sens la force, le sens et l’essence de ce que tu écris; J’entre dans l’esprit de tes mots. Je te prie d’être en paix à partir de maintenant. Tu es tout pardonné avec la confession que tu as faite. Satan a perçu ton caractère et te tourmente, mais sans que rien de grave n’ait eu lieu. Tout ce que tu écris (c’est à dire les pensées qui te torturent) est une astuce du Diable pour te faire désespérer, être affligé, et ainsi de suite. Jette tout ce qui t’est arrivé dans les profondeurs de la mer. Trace une nouvelle voie dans ta vie. Si tu continues à penser de la même façon, sache que tu vas devenir la risée des démons. Je te prie, de m’être seulement obéissant.

Après ta confession, tout a été pardonné, alors passe l’éponge. Ne gratte pas une blessure qui t’a fait tant souffrir. Ne sois pas trompé par la pensée que c’est de ta faute. Si vous ne l’avais pas amené chez les médecins, etc, alors ces pensées auraient raison de te combattre. Alors que, les choses étant ce qu’elles sont maintenant, tu as rempli ton devoir. Dieu a voulu le prendre, pour une raison que seule Son infinie sagesse connaît, tandis que tu envisages que tu l’as tué! Sois prudent avec cette pensée, sinon il peut se cacher dans ton cœur. Il s’agit d’une ruse du Diable pour te faire du mal, comme il sait le faire. Ce filou habile a noyé dans les profondeurs de l’enfer des multitudes innombrables par le désespoir. Lorsque quelque chose arrive et que le Diable voit qu’une personne est bouleversée par elle, son astuce consiste à empiler une multitude de pensées soi-disant légitimes afin de mener la pauvre personne dans une grande tempête et la noyer. (Comme dit le proverbe, un renard aime la bagarre). Et quand l’orage passe, elle voit qu’elle était en danger de se noyer dans une cuillère d’eau seulement.

Sois humble, et à partir de maintenant confesse-toi, car la confession contient la très sainte humilité, sans laquelle personne n’est sauvé. Le Diable se réjouit grandement quand il réussit à persuader une personne de cacher des pensées diaboliques. C’est parce qu’il va atteindre son but prémédité de détruire l’âme.

Je t’ai écrit au sujet de la conscience, de devoir veiller à ne pas faire quelque chose qui va donner lieu à des reproches et nous condamner. Garde à l’esprit que Dieu Qui voit tout et que rien n’est caché à Ses yeux. Alors, comment pourrais-je dire des mensonges devant Dieu? Ne sais-tu pas que les mensonges viennent du Diable, et que, en n’étant pas prudent, ils deviennent une pratique, une habitude, puis une passion, et ne sais-tu pas que les menteurs n’hériteront pas le Royaume de Dieu? (cf. Ap 21, 8). Crains Dieu. Dieu n’est pas content des offrandes matérielles quand nous négligeons de veiller sur notre cœur intérieur. Mais il est nécessaire de faire celles-ci [les offrande] également sans négliger de faire les autres. (cf. Mt 23:23). Veille sur ta conscience, car nous ne savons pas l’heure de notre mort. Et si nous ne remboursons pas à notre créancier (c’est-à-dire à notre conscience) tout ce que nous lui devons, elle nous accusera avec véhémence, et sans retenue. Alors -hélas!- notre bouche sera réduite au silence, n’ayant pas de réponse à donner.

Chaque nuit, examine la façon dont tu as passé la journée, et à l’examen du matin comment la nuit s’est passée, de sorte que tu saches où en sont les comptes de ton âme. Si tu constates une perte, essaie de la retrouver par la prudence et la vigueur. Si tu constates un bénéfice, glorifie Dieu, ton aide invisible. Ne laisse pas ta conscience te poindre pour longtemps, mais donne-lui rapidement ce qu’elle veut, de peur qu’elle ne t’amènes au juge et à la prison (cf. Mt. 5:25). Est-ce que ta conscience veut que tu t’occupes de ta règle de prière et retrouve la prière? Donne-lui ces choses, et voici, tu es délivrer de l’obligation d’aller devant le juge. N’affaiblis pas la voix salvatrice de ta conscience en l’ignorant, parce que plus tard, tu le regretteras en vain.

Père Ephraïm d’Arizona

Préparation pour la Confession Saint – Jean de Kronstadt, Russie (+1908) ╰⊰¸¸.•¨* French

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HOLY CONFESSION OF YOUR HEART

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Russie

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Saint Jean de Kronstadt, Russie (+1908)

20 décembre

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Préparation pour la Confession

Saint Jean de Kronstadt, Russie (+1908)

Méditation pour ceux qui s’apprêtent à se tenir devant le Créateur et la communauté de l’Église devant le mystère imposant de la sainte confession, à qui est ainsi donné le renouvellement d’un second baptême.

Moi, âme pécheresse, je confesse à Dieu Notre Seigneur et Sauveur Jésus-Christ, tous les actes mauvais que j’ai faits, dits ou pensés depuis le baptême, jusques à ce jour.

Je n’ai pas gardé les vœux de mon baptême, mais je me suis rendu indésirable devant la Face de Dieu.

J’ai péché devant le Seigneur par manque de foi et par des doutes concernant la foi orthodoxe et la Sainte Eglise, par l’ingratitude pour tous les dons importants et continuels de Dieu ; j’ai péché malgré Sa patience et à Sa providence pour moi, pécheur, par manque d’amour pour le Seigneur, ainsi que par la crainte, par le fait de n’avoir pas accompli les saints commandements de Dieu et les canons et règles de l’Église.

Je n’ai pas gardé l’amour de Dieu et de mon prochain et je n’ai pas fait assez d’efforts, à cause de ma paresse et de ma négligence, pour apprendre les Commandements de Dieu et les préceptes des Saints Pères. J’ai péché en ne priant pas le matin et le soir et au cours de la journée, en n’assistant pas aux offices, ou en ne venant à l’église qu’à contrecœur.

J’ai péché en jugeant les membres du clergé. J’ai péché en ne respectant pas les Fêtes, en rompant le jeûne, et par ma démesure dans l’absorption de nourriture et de boisson.

J’ai péché par orgueil, par désobéissance, par entêtement, par autosatisfaction, et par la recherche de l’approbation et de la louange.

J’ai péché par incrédulité, par manque de foi, par doutes, par désespoir, par découragement, par des pensées de violence, par le blasphème et les jurons.

J’ai péché par fierté, par une haute opinion de moi-même, par le narcissisme, par la vanité, par la suffisance, par l’envie, par l’amour de la louange, l’amour des honneurs et par la prétention.

J’ai péché en jugeant, par la médisance, par la colère, en me souvenant des offenses, par la haine et en rendant le mal pour le mal, par la calomnie, les reproches, le mensonge, la ruse, la tromperie et l’hypocrisie, par les préjugés, la controverse, l’entêtement et la réticence à céder à mon prochain, par jubilation, méchanceté, railleries, insultes et moqueries, par les commérages, en parlant trop et en parlant pour ne rien dire.

J’ai péché par le rire inutile et excessif, par les injures et le retour à mes péchés antérieurs, par un comportement arrogant, par l’insolence et le manque de respect.

J’ai péché en ne tenant pas mes passions physiques et spirituelles en échec, par ma jouissance des pensées impures, par la licence et l’impudicité en pensées, en paroles et en actes.

J’ai péché par manque d’endurance dans mes maladies et mes douleurs, par une dévotion aux commodités de la vie et en étant trop attaché à mes parents, mes enfants, mes parents et mes amis.

J’ai péché par le durcissement mon cœur, par une volonté faible et, en ne me forçant pas à faire le bien.

J’ai péché par avarice, par amour de l’argent, par l’acquisition des choses inutiles et par l’attachement immodéré aux choses.

J’ai péché par l’auto-justification, un mépris pour les avertissements de ma conscience et en ne confessant pas mes péchés par négligence ou par fausse fierté.

J’ai péché à plusieurs reprises par ma confession: en rabaissant, en justifiant et en gardant le silence sur mes péchés.

J’ai péché contre les Très Saints et Vivifiants Mystères du Corps et du Sang de notre Seigneur, en venant à la Sainte Communion sans humilité ou sans crainte de Dieu.

J’ai péché en acte, en parole et en pensée, sciemment ou inconsciemment, volontairement et involontairement, de manière réfléchie et sans réfléchir, et il m’est impossible d’énumérer tous mes péchés à cause de leur multitude. Mais je me repens vraiment de ces péchés et tous ceux que je n’ai pas mentionnés à cause de mon oubli, et je demande qu’ils soient pardonnés en vertu de l’abondance de la Miséricorde de Dieu.

The Sacrament of Holy Confession in the Eastern Orthodox Church

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HOLY CONFESSION OF YOUR HEART

The Sacrament of Holy Confession

in the Eastern Orthodox Church

As it says in John 20:23, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven.  If you retain the signs of any, they are retained.” This is the power of the presbyter or bishop to remit sins on behalf of God. He mediates for us to God, but only God forgives us our sins. This sacrament is an often misunderstood practice in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Many Protestants and Evangelicals protest that you can only have “God forgive your sins.” But there is a very good reason why we confess our sins to others apart from God: it’s called accountability. One feels more ashamed to commit a sin again, if another knows about it. If one confesses only to God, but no one else, then you can not be helped in fighting your sins properly. You will continue making the same errors, and will have no shame, since it is just your secret you keep to yourself. This means that you are more likely to commit this sin again! God would onto want that. He wants us to be as holy as possible.

This holy sacrament is even prefigured in the Old Dispensation. In Leviticus 5:4-6, it says “… that unrighteous soul, which determineth with his lips to do evil, or to do good, according to whatsoever a man may determine with an oath, and it shall have escaped his notice (or her) , and he shall know, and he sin in some one of these things, then he shall show his sin in the things wherein he hath sinned by that sin. And he shall bring for his transgressions against the Lord, for his sin, an ewe lamb of the sheep, or a kid of the goats, for a sin offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for him for his sin, which he hath sinned, and his sin shall be forgiven him.” Though we no longer make sin offerings of ewe lambs, we offer our lives and our hearts instead. We do this at the sacrament of confession, just as it was done in the sacrifices of Ancient Israel. The priest today also makes atonement for our sins before God, as well.

Indeed, one can see confession is important, since “whosoever covereth his own ungodliness shall not prosper: but he that blame to himself shall be loved.” (Proverb 28:13) All shall “prosper” from this holy sacrament, since it cleanses one’s conscience and way of life.

Saint Maximos the Confessor says that “Every genuine confession humbles the soul. When it takes the form of thanksgiving, it teaches the soul that it has been delivered by the grace of God.” (Philokalia. Saint Maximo’s the Confessor was born in Constantinople 580 A.D, and died in Tsageri, Georgia, on 13th of August 662 A.D, while he was in exile.) We all know we have been delivered by God when we are forgiven our sins, and we are eased of our burdens and Continue reading “The Sacrament of Holy Confession in the Eastern Orthodox Church”

La nécessité de la Confession – Saint Paisios l’Athonite, Grèce (+1994) ╰⊰¸¸.•¨* French

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SAINT PAISIOS

HOLY CONFESSION OF YOUR HEART

FRANCE OF MY HEART

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La nécessité de la confession

Saint Paisios l’Athonite, Grèce (+1994)

Saint Paisios a conseillé à un visiteur de se Confesser. Il s’est opposé:

-Père Paisios, quel sens y a-t-il à Confesser, puis pécher de nouveau?

Alors Saint Paisios lui expliqua:

-Pendant la guerre, quand quelqu’un est blessé, disons, avec une balle dans la jambe, ne devrait-il pas d’abord voir le médecin pour se faire soigner? Si il dit: «Pourquoi devrais-je obtenir la blessure habillée, si je vais être blessé de nouveau de toute façon?” Puis il mourra prématurément de saignement ou d’empoisonnement du sang, qu’il aurait pu éviter. Il en est de même des péchés. C’est pourquoi vous allez confesser, et si vous tombez à nouveau, avouez à nouveau. Et que ce soit jusqu’à ce que vous cessez de tomber.

Source:

http://laprieredejesus.blogspot.com

http://laprieredejesus.blogspot.com/2017/02/la-necessite-de-la-confession-saint.html

La Prière de Jésus

Das Mysterium der Buße – Erzpriester Sergius Heitz ╰⊰¸¸.•¨* German

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EDELWEISS OF MY HEART

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Das Mysterium der Buße

Erzpriester Sergius Heitz

Quelle:

http://www.orthodoxie-in-deutschland.de

ORTHODOXIE IN DEUTSCHLAND

Es ist das Kennzeichen eines jeden Mysteriums (Sakramentes) der Kirche, daß in seiner Feier die Gläubigen hineingenommen werden in das Erlösungsgeschehen von Kreuz und Auferste­hung Christi durch den Heiligen Geist. So sind Tod und Aufer­stehung Christi das grundlegende österliche Mysterium, auf dem alle anderen Mysterien beruhen: die Taufe als Mitbegrabenwerden und Mitauferstehen mit Christus (Rm 6,3-4; Gal 3,27), die Myronsalbung als Begabung und Versiegelung mit dem Heiligen Geist (2 Kor 1,21-22), die Continue reading “Das Mysterium der Buße – Erzpriester Sergius Heitz ╰⊰¸¸.•¨* German”

Die Beichte – Priester Johannes R. Nothhaas ╰⊰¸¸.•¨* German

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EDELWEISS OF MY HEART

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Die Beichte

Priester Johannes R. Nothhaas

  1. Wer kann Sünden vergeben?

„Nur Gott kann Sünden vergeben“, dieser Satz ist für Christen eine selbstverständliche Wahrheit. Es ist jedoch ein Irrtum, wenn dazu gesagt wird: „Aber nicht der Priester…“ Diese Ergänzung erhebt Gott in eine so hohe Geistigkeit, dass er von den Menschen und der Welt isoliert wird. Wer so denkt und glaubt widerspricht dem, was Christus zu seinen Jüngern und Aposteln gesagt hat: „Nehmet hin den heiligen Geist! Welchen ihr die Sünden erlasst, denen sind sie erlassen; welchen ihr sie behaltet, denen sind sie behalten!” (Joh 20,22-23 und Mt 16,19; 18,18).

Christus hat so viel Vertrauen zu seinen berufenen Dienern, dass er sie an der göttlichen Macht, Sünden zu vergeben, teilhaben lässt, wie er sie auch teilhaben ließ an der Continue reading “Die Beichte – Priester Johannes R. Nothhaas ╰⊰¸¸.•¨* German”

Die Buße – Protosingel Atanasije Jevtic ╰⊰¸¸.•¨* German

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HOLY CONFESSION OF YOUR HEART

EDELWEISS OF MY HEART

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Die Buße

Protosingel Atanasije Jevtic

Quelle:

http://www.orthodoxie-in-deutschland.de

ORTHODOXIE IN DEUTSCHLAND

Mit freundlicher Genehmigung des Klosters des hl. Hiob von Počaev veröffentlicht.
Im Original erschienen in: Bote 1989, 1

Der vorliegende Artikel “zur Buße” stellt die Wiedergabe eines Vortrags von Vater Atanasije auf dem Jugendtreffen 1988 dar. Er wurde nach einer Tonbandaufzeichnung niedergeschrieben und vom Autor nicht überprüft. Wir wollten bewußt möglichst weitgehend die Lebendigkeit des gesprochenen Wortes bewahren, ebenso einige Beispiele und Vergleiche, die in einem wissenschaftlichen Aufsatz nicht am Platze wären, hier aber zum Verständnis beitragen. Wir sind davon überzeugt, daß dieser wohl Continue reading “Die Buße – Protosingel Atanasije Jevtic ╰⊰¸¸.•¨* German”

Pure & absolute Confession – Saint Joseph the Hesychast of Holy Mount Athos, Greece (+1959) – August 15

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HOLY CONFESSION OF YOUR HEART

SAINTS OF MY HEART

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Saint Joseph the Hesychast

of Holy Mount Athos, Greece (+1959)

August 15

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Pure and absolute Confession

Take great care to clean yourself with pure and absolute Confession. Do not leave any sin inside of you, so the enemy cannot find a way to throw you down again.

—Saint Joseph the Hesychast

Holy Mount Athos, Greece (+1959)

Source:

http://www.orthodoxpath.org

Holy sayings

ORTHDOX PATH

Preparing for Confession – Fr. Alexander Elchaninov, Russia (+1934)

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HOLY CONFESSION OF YOUR HEART

RUSSIA OF MY HEART

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Preparing for Confession

Fr. Alexander Elchaninov, Russia (+1934)

“This day is good, it is the day of purification.” This is a time when we can set aside the heavy days of sin, break the chains of iniquity: “to raise the tabernacle that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof” within our souls, and see it renewed and bright. But the path to this blessed purification is not easy.

We have not yet approached confession, and our soul already hears voices of temptation: “Should I wait instead? Am I well-enough prepared, don’t I partake of Communion too often?” We must firmly reject such doubts. “If you aspire to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for an ordeal” (Ecclesiasticus/Sirach 2:1). If you have decided to make confession and partake of Communion, many obstacles will arise, internal and external: but they will vanish as soon as you express firmness in your intention.

In particular, the question of making confession too frequently: One must make confession much more often than is customary; at least once during each of the Lenten periods. We who are possessed by “dreams of sloth” and clumsy in our repentance, must time and time again learn to repent. Secondly: it is necessary to draw a thread from one confession to the next, so that the period in between is filled with a spiritual struggle, with efforts fed by the impressions of our last Communion and inspired by the expectation of our next confession.

Another concern is about our father-confessor: to whom should we go? Should we go to the same one, time and again, no matter what? Can I go to a different priest? If so, under what circumstances? Priests experienced in spiritual matters will say that one should not change priests, even if it is only your spiritual guide, but not your spiritual father, the guide of your conscience. At times, it is true, after a wonderful confession made to a certain priest, the subsequent ones with the same priest are less inspiring, and not as heartfelt, and then one might think to change father-confessors. But this is an insufficient reason for a switch. Setting aside even the fact that our personal sensations during confession do not touch upon the essence of this Mystery—spiritual inspiration during confession is often a sign of our own spiritual ailment. Fr John of Kronstadt said the following: “Repentance must be utterly free and completely unforced by the father-confessor.”

For a person who truly suffers the pain of his sin does not care whom he confesses it through; he just wants to confess it as soon as possible and receive relief. Another problem is when we set aside the essence of the Mystery of repentance and go to confession for a simple chat. It is important to discern between confession and a spiritual discussion, which can take place outside of the Mystery, and it is better to take place separately, since a discussion, even on a spiritual matter, can distract a person, dishearten him from repentance, lead to a theological debate, to weaken the desire of the penitent to confess.

Confession is not an admission of your faults, your doubts, but is the revealing of yourself to your father-confessor, and not simply a “pious custom.” Confession is the fervent repentance of the heart, the expression of thirst for cleansing, stemming from the sense of sanctity, of dying to sin and coming alive in holiness. Full repentance is already a level of holiness, while disinterest, disbelief, is outside of holiness, alienated from God.

Let us make sense of what our attitude should be towards the Mystery of repentance, what is required of the one making confession, how one should prepare, what the most important moment is (the part of the Mystery which touches the penitent).

Of course, the first act must be to test the heart. The preceding days of preparation are customary. “To see ones sins in their multitude and all their foulness is truly a gift from God,” said Fr John of Kronstadt. Usually, people inexperienced in the spiritual life do not see the multitude of their sins, nor their foulness. “Nothing unusual,” “Like everybody else,” “Just little sins,” “I didn’t steal or kill,” is how many people begin their confession. Meanwhile, self-love, rejection of criticism, hardness of heart, flattery, weakness in faith and love, cowardice, spiritual sloth—are these not all important sins? Can we honestly declare that we love God enough, that our faith is vigorous and fervent? That we love every person as a brother in Christ? That we have achieved meekness, tenderness, humility?

If not, then wherein lies our Christianity? How are we to explain our self-confidence during confession, how are we to avoid hard insensitivity if not through a dead heart, deadened soul, which foreshadow physical death? Why do the Holy Fathers, handing down prayers of repentance to us, deem themselves the chiefs among sinners, with earnest conviction crying out to Jesus the Most-Sweet: “None from the ages has sinned as have I, the condemned and wayward, sinned!” Yet we are convinced that everything is alright in our lives! But the brighter the light of Christ shines upon our hearts, the clearer all of our failings, our ulcerations and sores become. And conversely, people immersed in the darkness of sin see nothing inside their own hearts: and if they do, they have no fear, since they have nothing to compare it to.

The straightforward path to knowing one’s own sin is approaching the light and prayer for this light, which is the condemnation and all that is temporal within ourselves (John 3:19). So far as there is no proximity to Christ, during which we are in a perpetual state of repentance, therefore we must test our conscience as we approach confession, according to the commandments, certain prayers (for instance, the 3rd evening prayer, the fourth prayer before Communion), specific passages in the Gospel (for instance, Romans 12, Ephesians 4, James, especially 3).

In tending to our spiritual life, we must try to discern our fundamental sins from those that flow out of them, symptoms from their root causes. For instance, very important are inattentiveness during prayer, daydreaming and wandering thoughts during church services, a lack of interest in what is read from Holy Scripture; but do not these sins stem from lack of believe and a feeble love for God? We must notice within ourselves our self-will, our disobedience, self-justification, impatience with criticism, intransigence and stubbornness; but it is more important to reveal their connection with self-love and pride. If we notice within ourselves the urge for company, talkativeness, mockery, excessive care for our own appearance and that of others, how others dress and how they live, we must carefully consider if these are merely forms of conceit. If we too closely take earthly failures to heart, if we cannot bear the burden of separation, if we grieve too much for those who have departed from us, then doesn’t this reveal within us a lack of faith in Divine Providence?

There is another method of helping to lead us to knowledge of our own sinfulness: we must remember what others often accuse us of, especially our neighbors, our loved ones: their accusations, their criticism and attacks almost always have some foundation.

We must also ask forgiveness of all whom we have wronged before going to confession, so as to approach this Mystery with a clear conscience.

While investigating our hearts in this way, we must take care not to fall into extreme suspicion and petty nitpicking for every movement of the heart; embarking upon this path, we could lose a sense of what is important and what is unimportant, we can become mired in trifles. In such cases one must temporarily set aside examining your soul, and, taking up a “spiritual” diet, simplify and clarify our souls with prayer and good deeds.

Preparing for confession does not mean fully remembering and recording every sin, but to attain the state of concentration, seriousness and prayer, which will reveal our sins when exposed to light. There is no need to bring to your father-confessor a list of sins, but the devotion to repentance, not a detailed dissertation, but a humble heart.

But to simply know one’s sins does not mean to repent of them. True, the Lord accepts confession—earnest, open-hearted confession—when it is not accompanied by a powerful feeling of repentance (if we courageously confess even this sin—that of being hard of heart). Yet a humble heart, sorrow for our sins, is the greatest thing we can bring to confession. But what are we to do if our hearts, “parched from the fires of sin,” is not sprinkled by the invigorating moisture of tears? What if an “unwilling spirit and weak flesh” are so powerful that we are unable to bring genuine repentance? This is still no reason to delay confession—God can touch our hearts even during confession itself: the act of confession, the listing of our sins alone can soften our hearts, sharpen our spiritual vision, heighten our sense of repentance.

Most effective of all in overcoming our spiritual feebleness are preparation for confession, fasting—which weakens our body, disrupting our bodily well-being and placidity—prayer, nightly thoughts of death, the reading of the Gospel, the Lives of Saints, the works of the Holy Fathers, increased struggle against our desires, exercises in good deeds. Our numbness during confession is usually rooted in the lack of fear of God and our hidden disbelief. All of our efforts must be aimed in this direction. That is why tears are so important during confession. They soften our hard hearts, they shake us from head to toe, they simplify everything, they grant us a blessed abandonment of ourselves, they reject the main obstacle to repentance, our “ego.” The proud and self-loving never weep. Once you cry, it means you have softened, melted, humbled yourself. That is why after such tears we experience meekness, calm, softness, kindheartedness, spiritual peace, we are granted by the Lord to weep with joy. One should not be ashamed of tears during confession, one must allow them to flow freely, washing away our iniquities. “Grant me clouds of tears, o Christ, that I may weep and wash away the filth of my desire for sweet things and appear before you as one who is clean” (matins on the First Monday of Great Lent).

The third element of confession is the verbal confession of sin. One must not wait for questions, one must make the effort; confession is a podvig and an act of forcing oneself. One must speak concisely, not obscuring the ugliness of sin with general expressions (for instance, “guilty of violating the 7th commandment”). It is very difficult while confessing to avoid the habit of self-justification, to attempt to explain to the father-confessor the “mitigating circumstances,” references to third parties who may have led us astray. Any such attempts are evidence of self-love, the lack of profound repentance, the continued contact with sin. Sometimes during confession, people blame a bad memory, which prevents them from remembering their sins. Indeed, at times it happens that we forget our fall into sin; but is this because of a poor memory? For events that hurt our self-love, or on the other hand, which flatter our vainglory, our successes, praises we earn we remember for many years. Everything that has a profound effect on us we remember clearly for a long time, yet if we forget our sins, doesn’t this mean that we don’t think them very important?

A sign of true repentance is a lightness of heart, of purity, of unspeakable happiness, when sin seems to us as burdensome and impossible as this happiness seemed not long before.

Our repentance will not be complete if, when we make confession, we do not resolve not to return to the same repented sins. But, one might ask, how is this possible? How can I promise to myself and to my father-confessor that I will not repeat this sin? For through experience, we all know that after some time, we will always return to the same sins; as we observe ourselves year after year, we see no improvement, “we jump up, and fall right back down.” It would be horrible if it were so. But fortunately that’s not the case. It doesn’t happen that when someone makes confession with a willing heart and partakes of the Holy Gifts, some good changes do not occur in the soul. But the problem is, first and foremost, that we are not our own judges; a man cannot properly judge himself, whether he has become better or not, since he would be both the judge and the one standing trial. A greater strictness towards oneself, a better view of ones soul, heightened fear of sin may give the illusion that one’s sins have increased and strengthened: they may even have weakened, but we had not noticed them as much before.

Also, God, by His Divine Providence, often closes our eyes to our successes in order to protect us from worse sins—those of vainglory and pride. It often happens that the sin remains, but frequent confession and partaking of the Holy Gifts could shake and weaken their roots. The very battle with sin, suffering from one’s sins—is that not a victory?

“Fear not,” said St John of the Ladder, “though you fall every day, yet strayed not from the path of God; stand courageously, and the Angel protecting you will honor your patience.”

If there is no sense of relief, of rebirth, one must have the strength to return once again to confession, to rid oneself finally of the impurity, to wash its darkness and filth away with tears. Whoever strives for this will find what they seek.

Let us not ascribe to ourselves our successes, relying on our own powers, hope for our own efforts. This would mean the destruction of all that was achieved. “Gather my scattered mind, O Lord, and purify my hardened heart; like Peter, grant me repentance, like the tax-collector, grant me lamentation, like the harlot, grant me tears.”

Source:

Diary Russian Priest Alexander Elchaninov

Video: The Mystery of Holy Confession in Eastern Orthodox Church – Fr. Maxym Lysack, Canada

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HOLY CONFESSION OF YOUR HEART

CANADA OF MY HEART

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The Mystery of Holy Confession in Eastern Orthodox Church

Fr. Maxym Lysack, Canada

My new site: Holy Confession of your heart

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Holy Confession of your heart

Confession: The Healing Sacrament – By Jim Forest, USA & the Netherlands

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HOLY CONFESSION OF YOUR HEART

ORTHODOXY IS LOVE

Confession: The Healing Sacrament

by

Jim Forest, USA & the Netherlands

Source:

http://www.antiochian.org

http://www.antiochian.org/content/confession-healing-sacrament

A young monk said to the great ascetic Abba Sisoes: “Abba, what should I do? I fell.” The elder answered: “Get up!” The monk said: “I got up and I fell again!” The elder replied: “Get up again!” But the young monk asked: “For how long should I get up when I fall?” “Until your death,” answered Abba Sisoes. —Sayings of the Desert Fathers

“When I went to my first confession,” a friend told me, “tears took the place of the sins I meant to utter. The priest simply told me that it wasn’t necessary to enumerate everything and that it was just vanity to suppose that our personal sins are worse than everyone else’s. Which, by the way, was something of a relief, since it wasn’t possible for me to remember all the sins of my first thirty-odd years of life. It made me think of the way the father received his prodigal son—he didn’t even let his son finish his carefully rehearsed speech. It’s truly amazing.”

Another friend told me that he was so worried about all he had to confess that he decided to write it down. “So I made a list of my sins and brought it with me. The priest saw the paper in my hand, took it, looked through the list, tore it up, and gave it back to me. Then he said ‘Kneel down,’ and he absolved me. That was my confession, even though I never said a word! But I felt truly my sins had been torn up and that I was free of them.”

The very word confession makes us nervous, touching as it does all that is hidden in ourselves: lies told, injuries caused, things stolen, friends deceived, people betrayed, promises broken, faith denied—these plus all the smaller actions that reveal the beginnings of sins.

Confession is painful, yet a Christian life without confession is impossible.

Confession is a major theme of the Gospels. Even before Christ began His public ministry, we read in Matthew’s Gospel that John required confession of those who came to him for baptism in the River Jordan for a symbolic act of washing away their sins: “And [they] were baptized by [John] in the Jordan, confessing their sins” (Matthew 3:6).

Then there are those amazing words of Christ to Peter: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19). The keys of binding and loosing sins were given not only to one apostle but to all Christ’s disciples, and—in a sacramental sense—to any priest who has his bishop’s blessing to hear confessions.

The Gospel author John warns us not to deceive ourselves: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins” (1 John 1:8, 9).

The sacrament of baptism, the rite of entrance into the Church, has always been linked with repentance. “Repent, and . . . be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins,” Saint Peter preached in Jerusalem, “and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). In the same book we read that “many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds” (Acts 19:18).

The Prodigal Son

One Gospel story in which we encounter confession is the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11–32). Here Christ describes a young man so impatient to come into his inheritance and be independent that, in effect, he says to his father, “As far as I’m concerned, you have already died. Give me now what would have come to me after your funeral. I want nothing more to do with you or with this house.”

With Godlike generosity, the father gives what his son asks, though he knows his son well enough to realize that all the boy receives might as well be burned in a stove. The boy takes his inheritance and leaves, at last free of parents, free of morals and good behavior, free to do as he pleases.

After wasting his money, he finds himself reduced to feeding the pigs as a farmhand. People he had thought of as friends now sneer. He knows he has renounced the claim to be anyone’s son, yet in his desperation he dares hope his father might at least allow him to return home as a servant. Full of dismay for what he said to his father and what he did with his inheritance, he walks home in his rags, ready to confess his sins, to beg for work and a corner to sleep in. The son cannot imagine the love his father has for him or the fact that, despite all the trouble he caused, he has been desperately missed. Far from being glad to be rid of the boy, the father has gazed day after day in prayer toward the horizon in hope of his son’s return.

“But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him” (v. 20). Had he not been watching, he would not have noticed his child in the distance and realized who it was. Instead of simply standing and waiting for his son to reach the door, he ran to meet him, embracing him, pouring out words of joy and welcome rather than reproof or condemnation.

“And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son’” (v. 21). Here we have the son’s confession compacted into a single sentence. It is the essence of any confession: our return to our Father, who made us and constantly awaits our homecoming.

What Is Sin?

There are countless essays and books that deal with human failings under various labels without once using the three-letter word sin. Actions traditionally regarded as sinful have instead been seen as natural stages in the process of growing up, a result of bad parenting, a consequence of mental illness, an inevitable response to unjust social conditions, or pathological behavior brought on by addiction.

But what if I am more than a robot programmed by my past or my society or my economic status and actually can take a certain amount of credit—or blame—for my actions and inactions? Have I not done things I am deeply ashamed of, would not do again if I could go back in time, and would prefer no one to know about? What makes me so reluctant to call those actions “sins”? Is the word really out of date? Or is the problem that it has too sharp an edge?

The Hebrew verb chata’, “to sin,” like the Greek word hamartia, simply means straying off the path, getting lost, missing the mark. Sin—going off course—can be intentional or unintentional.

The author of the Book of Proverbs lists seven things God hates: “A proud look, / A lying tongue, / Hands that shed innocent blood, / A heart that devises wicked plans, / Feet that are swift in running to evil, / A false witness who speaks lies, / And one who sows discord among brethren” (6:17–19).

Pride is given first place. “Pride goes before destruction, / And a haughty spirit before a fall” is another insight in the Book of Proverbs (16:18). In the Garden of Eden, Satan seeks to animate pride in his dialogue with Eve. Eat the forbidden fruit, he tells her, and “you will be like God” (Genesis 3:5).

The craving to be ahead of others, to be more valued than others, to be more highly rewarded than others, to be able to keep others in a state of fear, the inability to admit mistakes or apologize—these are among the symptoms of pride. Pride opens the way for countless other sins: deceit, lies, theft, violence, and all those other actions that destroy community with God and with those around us.

Yet we spend a great deal of our lives trying to convince ourselves and others that what we did really wasn’t that bad or could even be seen as almost good, given the circumstances. Even in confession, many people explain what they did rather than simply admit they did things that require forgiveness. “When I recently happened to confess about fifty people in a typical Orthodox parish in Pennsylvania,” Fr. Alexander Schmemann wrote, “not one admitted to having committed any sin whatsoever!”

“We’re capable of doing some rotten things,” the Minnesota storyteller Garrison Keillor notes, “and not all of these things are the result of poor communication. Some are the result of rottenness. People do bad, horrible things. They lie and they cheat and they corrupt the government. They poison the world around us. And when they’re caught they don’t feel remorse—they just go into treatment. They had a nutritional problem or something. They explain what they did—they don’t feel bad about it. There’s no guilt. There’s just psychology.”

For the person who has committed a serious sin, there are two vivid signs—the hope that what one did may never become known, and a gnawing sense of guilt. At least this is the case before the conscience becomes completely numb—which is what happens when patterns of sin become the structure of one’s life to the extent that hell, far from being a possible next-life experience, is where one finds oneself in this life.

It is a striking fact about basic human architecture that we want certain actions to remain secret, not because of modesty, but because there is an unarguable sense of having violated a law more basic than that in any law book—the “law written in [our] hearts” to which St. Paul refers (Romans 2:15). It isn’t simply that we fear punishment. It is that we don’t want to be thought of by others as a person who commits such deeds. One of the main obstacles to going to confession is dismay that someone else will know what I want no one to know.

One of the oddest things about the age we live in is that we are made to feel guilty about feeling guilty. There is a cartoon tacked up in our house in which one prisoner says to another, “Just remember—it’s okay to be guilty, but not okay to feel guilty.”

A sense of guilt—the painful awareness of having committed sins—can be life-renewing. Guilt provides a foothold for contrition, which in turn can motivate confession and repentance. Without guilt, there is no remorse; without remorse, there is no possibility of becoming free of habitual sins.

Yet there are forms of guilt that are dead-end streets. If I feel guilty that I have not managed to become the ideal person I occasionally want to be, or that I imagine others want me to be, that is guilt without a divine reference point. It is simply an irritated me contemplating an irritating me. Christianity is not centered on performance, laws, principles, or the achievement of flawless behavior, but on Christ Himself and on participation in God’s transforming love.

When Christ says, “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48), He’s not speaking of getting a perfect score on a test, but of being whole, being in a state of communion, participating fully in God’s love.

This condition of being is suggested by St. Andrei Rublev’s icon of the Holy Trinity: those three angelic figures silently inclined toward each other around a chalice on a small altar. They symbolize the Holy Trinity: the communion that exists within God—not a closed communion restricted to themselves alone, but an open communion of love, in which we are not only invited but intended to participate.

A blessed guilt is the pain we feel when we realize we have cut ourselves off from that divine communion that irradiates all creation. It is impossible to live in a Godless universe, but easy to be unaware of God’s presence or even to resent it.

It’s a common delusion that one’s sins are private or affect only a few other people. To think our sins, however hidden, don’t affect others is like imagining that a stone thrown into the water won’t generate ripples. As Bishop Kallistos Ware has observed: “There are no entirely private sins. All sins are sins against my neighbor, as well as against God and against myself. Even my most secret thoughts are, in fact, making it more difficult for those around me to follow Christ.”

Far from being hidden, each sin is another crack in the world.

One of the most widely used Orthodox prayers, the Jesus Prayer, is only one sentence long: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” Short as it is, many people drawn to it are put off by the last two words. Those who teach the prayer are often asked, “But must I call myself a sinner?” In fact, the ending isn’t essential—the only essential word is “Jesus”—but my difficulty in identifying myself as a sinner reveals a lot. What makes me so reluctant to speak of myself in such plain words? Don’t I do a pretty good job of hiding rather than revealing Christ in my life? Am I not a sinner? To admit that I am provides a starting point.

There are only two possible responses to sin: to justify it, or to repent. Between these two, there is no middle ground.

Justification may be verbal, but mainly it takes the form of repetition: I do again and again the same thing as a way of demonstrating to myself and others that it’s not really a sin, but rather something normal or human or necessary or even good. “Commit a sin twice and it will not seem a crime,” notes a Jewish proverb.

Repentance, on the other hand, is the recognition that I cannot live any more as I have been living, because in living that way I wall myself apart from others and from God. Repentance is a change in direction. Repentance is the door of communion. It is also a sine qua non of forgiveness. Absolution is impossible where there is no repentance.

As St. John Chrysostom said sixteen centuries ago in Antioch:

Repentance opens the heavens, takes us to Paradise, overcomes the devil. Have you sinned? Do not despair! If you sin every day, then offer repentance every day! When there are rotten parts in old houses, we replace the parts with new ones, and we do not stop caring for the houses. In the same way, you should reason for yourself: If today you have defiled yourself with sin, immediately cleanse yourself with repentance.

Confession as a Social Action

It is impossible to imagine a healthy marriage or deep friendship without confession and forgiveness. If we have done something that damages a relationship, confession is essential to its restoration. For the sake of that bond, we confess what we’ve done, we apologize, and we promise not to do it again; then we do everything in our power to keep that promise.

In the context of religious life, confession is what we do to safeguard and renew our relationship with God whenever it is damaged. Confession restores our communion with God and with each other.

It is never easy to admit to doing something we regret and are ashamed of, an act we attempted to keep secret or denied doing or tried to blame on someone else, perhaps arguing—to ourselves as much as to others—that it wasn’t actually a sin at all, or wasn’t nearly as bad as some people might claim. In the hard labor of growing up, one of the most agonizing tasks is becoming capable of saying, “I’m sorry.”

Yet we are designed for confession. Secrets in general are hard to keep, but unconfessed sins not only never go away, but have a way of becoming heavier as time passes—the greater the sin, the heavier the burden. Confession is the only solution.

To understand confession in its sacramental sense, one first has to grapple with a few basic questions: Why is the Church involved in forgiving sins? Is priest-witnessed confession really needed? Why confess at all to any human being? In fact, why bother confessing to God, even without a human witness? If God is really all-knowing, then He knows everything about me already. My sins are known before it even crosses my mind to confess them. Why bother telling God what God already knows?

Yes, truly God knows. My confession can never be as complete or revealing as God’s knowledge of me and of all that needs repairing in my life.

A related question we need to consider has to do with our basic design as social beings. Why am I so willing to connect with others in every other area of life, yet not in this? Why is it that I look so hard for excuses, even for theological rationales, not to confess? Why do I try so hard to explain away my sins, until I’ve decided either that they’re not so bad, or even that they might be seen as acts of virtue? Why is it that I find it so easy to commit sins, yet am so reluctant, in the presence of another, to admit to having done so?

We are social beings. The individual as autonomous unit is a delusion. The Marlboro Man—the person without community, parents, spouse, or children—exists only on billboards. The individual is someone who has lost a sense of connection to others or attempts to exist in opposition to others—while the person exists in communion with other persons. At a conference of Orthodox Christians in France a few years ago, in a discussion of the problem of individualism, a theologian confessed, “When I am in my car, I am an individual, but when I get out, I am a person again.”

We are social beings. The language we speak connects us to those around us. The food I eat was grown by others. The skills passed on to me have slowly been developed in the course of hundreds of generations. The air I breathe and the water I drink is not for my exclusive use, but has been in many bodies before mine. The place I live, the tools I use, and the paper I write on were made by many hands. I am not my own doctor or dentist or banker. To the extent that I disconnect myself from others, I am in danger. Alone, I die, and soon. To be in communion with others is life.

Because we are social beings, confession in church does not take the place of confession to those we have sinned against. An essential element of confession is doing all I can to set right what I did wrong. If I stole something, it must be returned or paid for. If I lied to anyone, I must tell that person the truth. If I was angry without good reason, I must apologize. I must seek forgiveness not only from God, but from those whom I have wronged or harmed.

We are also verbal beings. Words provide a way of communicating, not only with others, but even with ourselves. The fact that confession is witnessed forces me to put into words all those ways, minor and major, in which I live as if there were no God and no commandment to love. A thought that is concealed has great power over us.

Confessing sins, or even temptations, makes us better able to resist. The underlying principle is described in one of the collections of sayings of the Desert Fathers:

If impure thoughts trouble you, do not hide them, but tell them at once to your spiritual father and condemn them. The more a person conceals his thoughts, the more they multiply and gain strength. But an evil thought, when revealed, is immediately destroyed. If you hide things, they have great power over you, but if you could only speak of them before God, in the presence of another, then they will often wither away, and lose their power.

Confessing to anyone, even a stranger, renews rather than contracts my humanity, even if all I get in return for my confession is the well-worn remark, “Oh, that’s not so bad. After all, you’re only human.” But if I can confess to anyone anywhere, why confess in church in the presence of a priest? It’s not a small question in societies in which the phrase “institutionalized religion” is so often used, the implicit message being that religious institutions necessarily undermine spiritual life.

Confession is a Christian ritual with a communal character. Confession in the church differs from confession in your living room in the same way that getting married in church differs from simply living together. The communal aspect of the event tends to safeguard it, solidify it, and call everyone to account—those doing the ritual, and those witnessing it.

In the social structure of the Church, a huge network of local communities is held together in unity, each community helping the others and all sharing a common task, while each provides a specific place to recognize and bless the main events in life, from birth to burial. Confession is an essential part of that continuum. My confession is an act of reconnection with God and with all the people and creatures who depend on me and have been harmed by my failings, and from whom I have distanced myself through acts of non-communion. The community is represented by the person hearing my confession, an ordained priest delegated to serve as Christ’s witness, who provides guidance and wisdom that helps each penitent overcome attitudes and habits that take us off course, who declares forgiveness and restores us to communion. In this way our repentance is brought into the community that has been damaged by our sins—a private event in a public context.

“It’s a fact,” writes Fr. Thomas Hopko, rector of St. Vladimir’s Seminary, “that we cannot see the true ugliness and hideousness of our sins until we see them in the mind and heart of the other to whom we have confessed.”

A Communion-Centered Life

Attending the liturgy and receiving Communion on Sundays and principal feast days has always been at the heart of Christian life, the event that gives life a eucharistic dimension and center point. But Communion—receiving Christ into ourselves—can never be routine, never something we deserve, no matter what the condition of our life may be. For example, Christ solemnly warns us against approaching the altar if we are in a state of enmity with anyone. He tells us, “Leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:24). In one of the parables, He describes a person who is ejected from the wedding feast because he isn’t wearing a wedding garment. Tattered clothing is a metaphor for living a life that reduces conscience to rags (Matthew 22:1–14).

Receiving Christ in Communion during the liturgy is the keystone of living in communion—with God, with people, and with creation. Christ teaches us that love of God and love of neighbor sum up the Law. One way of describing a serious sin is to say it is any act which breaks our communion with God and with our neighbor.

It is for this reason that examination of conscience—if necessary, going to confession—is part of preparation for Communion. This is an ongoing proc-ess of trying to see my life and actions with clarity and honesty—to look at myself, my choices, and my direction as known by God. The examination of conscience is an occasion to recall not only any serious sins committed since my last confession, but even the beginnings of sins.

The word conscience derives from a Greek verb meaning “to have common knowledge” or “to know with” someone, a concept that led to the idea of bearing witness concerning someone, especially oneself. Conscience is an inner faculty that guides us in making choices that align us with God’s will, and that accuses us when we break communion with God and with our neighbor. Conscience is a reflection of the divine image at the core of each person. In The Sacred Gift of Life, Fr. John Breck points out that “the education of conscience is acquired in large measure through immersing ourselves in the ascetic tradition of the Church: its life of prayer, sacramental and liturgical celebration, and scripture study. The education of our conscience also depends upon our acquiring wisdom from those who are more advanced than we are in faith, love, and knowledge of God.”

Conscience is God’s whispering voice within us calling us to a way of life that reveals God’s presence and urges us to refuse actions that destroy community and communion.

Key Elements in Confession

Fr. Alexander Schmemann provided this summary of the three key areas of confession:

Relationship to God: Questions on faith itself, possible doubts or deviations, inattention to prayer, neglect of liturgical life, fasting, etc.

Relationship to one’s neighbor: Basic attitudes of selfishness and self-centeredness, indifference to others, lack of attention, interest, love. All acts of actual offense—envy, gossip, cruelty, etc.—must be mentioned and, if needed, their sinfulness shown to the penitent.

Relationship to one’s self: Sins of the flesh with, as their counterpart, the Christian vision of purity and wholesomeness, respect for the body as an icon of Christ, etc. Abuse of one’s life and resources; absence of any real effort to deepen life; abuse of alcohol or other drugs; cheap idea of “fun,” a life centered on amusement, irresponsibility, neglect of family relations, etc.

Tools of Self-Examination

In the struggle to examine conscience, we have tools that can assist us, resources that help both in the formation and the examination of conscience. Among these are the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, and various prayers, as well as lists of questions written by experienced confessors. In this small booklet, we will look at only one of these, the Beatitudes, which provide a brief summary of the Gospel. Each Beatitude reveals an aspect of being in union with God.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Poverty of spirit is my awareness that I need God’s help and mercy more than anything else. It is knowing that I cannot save myself, that neither money nor power will spare me from suffering and death, and that no matter what I achieve and acquire in this life, it will be far less than I want if I let my acquisitive capacity get the upper hand. This is the blessing of knowing that even what I have is not mine. It is living free of the domination of fear. While the exterior forms of poverty vary from person to person and even from year to year in a particular life, depending on one’s vocation and special circumstances, all who live this Beatitude are seeking with heart and soul to live God’s will rather than their own. Christ’s mother is the paradigm of poverty of spirit in her unconditional assent to the will of God: “Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). Similarly, at the marriage feast at Cana, she says to those waiting on the tables: “Whatever He says to you, do it” (John 2:5). Whoever lives by these words is poor in spirit.

Questions to consider: We are bombarded by advertisements, constantly reminded of the possibility of having things and of indulging all sorts of curiosities and temptations. The simple goal of poverty of spirit seems more remote than the moons of Neptune. Am I regularly praying that God will give me poverty of spirit? When tempted to buy things I don’t need, do I pray for strength to resist? Do I keep the Church fasts that would help strengthen my capacity to live this Beatitude? Do I really seek to know and embrace God’s will in my life? Am I willing to be seen as odd or stupid by those whose lives are dominated by values that oppose the Beatitudes?

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Mourning is cut from the same cloth as poverty of spirit. Without poverty of spirit, I am forever on guard to keep what I have for myself, and to keep me for myself, or for that small circle of people whom I regard as mine. A consequence of poverty of spirit is becoming vulnerable to the pain and losses of others, not only those whom I happen to know and care for, but also those who are strangers to me. “When we die,” said Saint John Climacus, the seventh-century abbot of Saint Catherine’s Monastery near Mount Sinai, “we will not be criticized for having failed to work miracles. We will not be accused of having failed to be theologians or contemplatives. But we will certainly have to explain to God why we did not mourn unceasingly.”

Questions to consider: Do I weep with those who weep? Have I mourned those in my own family who have died? Do I open my thoughts and feelings to the suffering and losses of others? Do I try to make space in my mind and heart for the calamities in the lives of others who may be far away and neither speak my language nor share my faith?

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Meekness is often confused with weakness, yet a meek person is neither spineless nor cowardly. Understood biblically, meekness is making choices and exercising power with a divine rather than social reference point. Meekness is the essential quality of the human being in relationship to God. Without meekness, we cannot align ourselves with God’s will. In place of humility, we prefer pride—pride in who we are, pride in doing as we please, pride in what we’ve achieved, pride in the national or ethnic group to which we happen to belong. Meekness has nothing to do with blind obedience or social conformity. Meek Christians do not allow themselves to be dragged along by the tides of political power. Such rudderless persons have cut themselves off from their own conscience, God’s voice in their hearts, and thrown away their God-given freedom. Meekness is an attribute of following Christ, no matter what risks are involved.

Questions to consider: When I read the Bible or writings of the saints, do I consider the implications for my own life? When I find what I read at odds with the way I live, do I allow the text to challenge me? Do I pray for God’s guidance? Do I seek help with urgent questions in confession? Do I tend to make choices and adopt ideas that will help me fit into the group I want to be part of? Do I fear the criticism or ridicule of others for my efforts to live a Gospel-centered life? Do I listen to others? Do I tell the truth even in difficult circumstances?

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. In his teaching about the Last Judgment, Christ speaks of hunger and thirst: “I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink” (Matthew 25:35). Our salvation hinges on our caring for the least person as we would for Christ Himself. To hunger and thirst for something is not a mild desire, but a desperate craving. To hunger and thirst for righteousness means urgently to desire that which is honorable, right, and true. A righteous person is a right-living person, living a moral, blameless life, right with both God and neighbor. A righteous social order would be one in which no one is abandoned or thrown away, in which people live in peace with God, with each other, and with the world God has given us.

Questions to consider: Does it disturb me that I live in a world that in many ways is the opposite of the Kingdom of heaven? When I pray, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” am I praying that my own life might better reflect God’s priorities? Who is “the least” in my day-to-day world? Do I try to see Christ’s face in him or her?

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. One of the perils of pursuing righteousness is that one can become self-righteous. Thus, the next rung of the ladder of the Beatitudes is the commandment of mercy. This is the quality of self-giving love, of gracious deeds done for those in need. Twice in the Gospels Christ makes His own the words of the Prophet Hosea: “I desire mercy and not sacrifice” (Hosea 6:6; Matthew 9:13; 12:7). We witness mercy in event after event in the New Testament account of Christ’s life—forgiving, healing, freeing, correcting, even repairing the wound of a man injured by Peter in his effort to protect Christ, and promising Paradise to the criminal being crucified next to Him.

Again and again Christ declares that those who seek God’s mercy must pardon others. The principle is included in the only prayer Christ taught His disciples: “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). He calls on His followers to love their enemies and to pray for them. The moral of the parable of the Good Samaritan is that a neighbor is a person who comes to the aid of a stranger in need (Luke 10:29–37). While He denounces hypocrisy and warns the merciless that they are condemning themselves to hell, in no passage in the Gospel do we hear Christ advocating anyone’s death. At the Last Judgment, Christ receives into the Kingdom of heaven those who were merciful. He is Mercy itself.

Questions to consider: When I see a stranger in need, how do I respond? Is Christ’s mercy evident in my life? Am I willing to extend forgiveness to those who seek it? Am I generous in sharing my time and material possessions with those in need? Do I pray for my enemies? Do I try to assist them if they are in need? Have I been an enemy to anyone?

Mercy is more and more absent even in societies with Christian roots. In the United States, the death penalty has been reinstated in the majority of states and has the fervent support of many Christians. Even in the many countries that have abolished executions, the death penalty is often imposed on unborn children—abortion is hardly regarded as a moral issue. Concerning the sick, aged, and severely handicapped, “mercy killing” and “assisted suicide” are now phrases much in use. To what extent have I been influenced by slogans and ideologies that promote death as a solution and disguise killing as mercy? What am I doing to make my society more welcoming, more caring, more life-protecting?

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. The brain has come up in the world, while the heart has been demoted. The heart used to be widely recognized as the locus of God’s activity within us, the hub of human identity and conscience, linked with our capacity to love, the core not only of physical but also of spiritual life—the ground zero of the human soul. In our brain-centered society, we ought to be surprised that Christ didn’t say, “Blessed are the brilliant in mind.” Instead, He blessed purity of heart.

The Greek word for purity, katharos, means spotless, stainless; intact, unbroken, perfect; free from adulteration or anything that defiles or corrupts. What, then, is a pure heart? A heart free of possessiveness, a heart capable of mourning, a heart that thirsts for what is right, a merciful heart, a loving heart, a heart not ruled by passions, an undivided heart, a heart aware of the image of God in others, a heart drawn to beauty, a heart conscious of God’s presence in creation. A pure heart is a heart without contempt for others. “A person is truly pure of heart when he considers all human beings as good and no created thing appears impure or defiled to him,” wrote Saint Isaac of Syria.

Opposing purity of heart is lust of any kind—for wealth, for recognition, for power, for vengeance, for sexual exploits—whether indulged through action or imagination. Spiritual virtues that defend the heart are memory, awareness, watchfulness, wakefulness, attention, hope, faith, and love. A rule of prayer in daily life helps heal, guard, and unify the heart. “Always keep your mind collected in your heart,” instructed the great teacher of prayer, Saint Theophan the Recluse. The Jesus Prayer—the prayer of the heart—is part of a tradition of spiritual life that helps move the center of consciousness from the mind to the heart. Purification of the heart is the striving to place under the rule of the heart the mind, which represents the analytic and organizational aspect of consciousness. It is the moment-to-moment prayerful discipline of seeking to be so aware of God’s presence that no space is left in the heart for hatred, greed, lust, or vengeance. Purification of the heart is the lifelong struggle of seeking a more God-centered life, a heart illuminated with the presence of the Holy Trinity.

Questions to consider: Do I take care not to read or look at things that stir up lust? Do I avoid using words that soil my mouth? Am I attentive to beauty in people, nature, and the arts? Am I sarcastic about others? Is a rhythm of prayer part of my daily life? Do I prepare carefully for Communion, never taking it for granted? Do I observe fasting days and seasons? Am I aware of and grateful for God’s gifts?

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Christ is often called the Prince of Peace. His peace is not a passive condition—He blesses the makers of peace. The peacemaker is a person who helps heal damaged relationships. Throughout the Gospel, we see Christ bestowing peace. In His final discourse before His arrest, He says to the Apostles: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you. . . . Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). After the Resurrection, He greets His followers with the words, “Peace be with you” (John 20:19). He instructs His followers that, on entering a house, their first action should be the blessing, “Peace to this house” (Luke 10:5).

Christ is at His most paradoxical when He says, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword” (Matthew 10:34; note that a similar passage, Luke 12:51, uses the word “division” rather than “sword”). Those who try to live Christ’s peace may find themselves in trouble, as all those who have died a martyr’s death bear witness. Sadly, for most of us the peace we long for is not the Kingdom of God, but a slightly improved version of the world we already have. We would like to get rid of conflict without eliminating the spiritual and material factors that draw us into conflict. The peacemaker is a person aware that ends never stand apart from means: figs do not grow from thistles; neither is community brought into being by hatred and violence. A peacemaker is aware that all persons, even those who seem to be ruled by evil spirits, are made in the image of God and are capable of change and conversion.

Questions to consider: In my family, in my parish, and among my coworkers, am I guilty of sins which cause or deepen division and conflict? Do I ask forgiveness when I realize I am in the wrong? Or am I always justifying what I do, no matter what pain or harm it causes others? Do I regard it as a waste of time to communicate with opponents? Do I listen with care and respect to those who irritate me? Do I pray for the well-being and salvation of adversaries and enemies? Do I allow what others say or what the press reports to define my attitude toward those whom I have never met? Do I take positive steps to overcome division? Are there people I regard as not bearing God’s image and therefore innately evil?

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. The last rung is where the Beatitudes reach and pass beyond the Cross. “We must carry Christ’s Cross as a crown of glory,” wrote Saint John Chrysostom in the fourth century, “for it is by it that everything that is achieved among us is gained. . . . Whenever you make the sign of the cross on your body, think of what the Cross means and put aside anger and every other passion. Take courage and be free in the soul.”

In the ancient world, Christians were persecuted chiefly because they were regarded as undermining the social order, even though in most respects they were models of civil obedience and good conduct. But Christians abstained from the cult of the deified emperor, would not sacrifice to gods their neighbors venerated, and were notable for their objection to war or bloodshed in any form. It is easy to imagine that a community that lived by such values, however well-behaved, would be regarded as a threat by the government. “Both the Emperor’s commands and those of others in authority must be obeyed if they are not contrary to the God of heaven,” said Saint Euphemia in the year 303, during the reign of Diocletian. “If they are, they must not only be disobeyed; they must be resisted.” Following torture, Saint Euphemia was killed by a bear—the kind of death endured by thousands of Christians well into the fourth century, though the greatest number of Christian martyrs belongs to the twentieth century. In many countries religious persecution continues.

Questions to consider: Does fear play a bigger role in my life than love? Do I hide my faith or live it in a timid, half-hearted way? When I am ordered to do something that conflicts with Christ’s teaching, whom do I obey? Am I aware of those who are suffering for righteousness’ sake in my own country and elsewhere in the world? Am I praying for them? Am I doing anything to help them?

Finding a Confessor

Just as not every doctor is a good physician, not every priest is a good confessor. Sometimes it happens that a priest, however good his qualities in other respects, is a person not well suited for witnessing confessions. While abusive priests are the exception, their existence must be noted. God has given us freedom and provided each person with a conscience. It is not the role of a priest to take the place of conscience or to become anyone’s drill sergeant. A good confessor will help us become better at hearing the voice of conscience and become more free in an increasingly God-centered life.

Fortunately, good confessors are not hard to find. Usually your confessor is the priest who is closest, sees you most often, knows you and the circumstances of your life best: a priest of your parish. Do not be put off by your awareness of what you perceive as his relative youth, his personal shortcomings, or the probability that he possesses no rare spiritual gifts. Keep in mind that each priest goes to confession himself and may have more to confess than you do. You confess, not to him, but to Christ in his presence. He is the witness of your confession. You do not require and will never find a sinless person to be that witness. (The Orthodox Church tries to make this clear by having the penitent face, not the priest, but an icon of Christ.)

What your confessor says by way of advice can be remarkably insightful, or brusque, or seem to you a cliché and not very relevant, yet almost always there will be something helpful if only you are willing to hear it. Sometimes there is a suggestion or insight that becomes a turning point in your life. If he imposes a penance—normally increased prayer, fasting, and acts of mercy—it should be accepted meekly, unless there is something in the penance which seems to you a violation of your conscience or of the teaching of the Church as you understand it.

Don’t imagine that a priest will respect you less for what you reveal to Christ in his presence, or imagine that he is carefully remembering all your sins. “Even a recently ordained priest will quickly find that he cannot remember 99 percent of what people tell him in confession,” one priest told me. He said it is embarrassing to him that people expect him to remember what they told him in an earlier confession. “When they remind me, then sometimes I remember, but without a reminder, usually my mind is a blank. I let the words I listen to pass through me. Also, so much that I hear in one confession is similar to what I hear in other confessions—the confessions blur together. The only sins I easily remember are my own.”

One priest told me of his difficulties meeting the expectations that sometimes become evident in confession. “I am not a psychologist. I have no special gifts. I am just a fellow sinner trying to stay on the path.”

A Russian priest who is spiritual father to many people once told me about the joy he often feels hearing confessions. “It is not that I am glad anyone has sins to confess, but when you come to confession it means these sins are in your past, not your future. Confession marks a turning point, and I am the lucky one who gets to watch people making that turn!”

Jim Forest is the author of Praying with Icons, Ladder of the Beatitudes, Confession: Doorway to Forgiveness and a forthcoming book—Resurrection—about the Orthodox Church in Albania. He is secretary of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship (www.incommunion.org) and editor of its quarterly journal, In Communion. His home is in Alkmaar, the Netherlands. He and his wife Nancy are members of St. Nicholas of Myra Orthodox Church in Amsterdam.

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This article is available as a printed booklet from Conciliar Media, a department of the Antiochian Archdiocese, as part of their popular series of attractive and informative booklets and brochures about the basic teachings of the ancient Orthodox Christian faith. To learn more, visit Conciliar’s online booklet catalog. This essay is copyrighted by Conciliar Press.

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Confession – Be the Bee ╰⊰¸¸.•¨* ORTHODOX USA

Holy Confession: Confidentiality – From “Guidelines for Clergy”, Orthodox Church in America

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Holy Confession: Confidentiality

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From “Guidelines for Clergy” (Orthodox Church in America):

“The secrecy of the Mystery of Penance is considered an unquestionable rule in the entire Orthodox Church. Theologically, the need to maintain the secrecy of confession comes from the fact that the priest is only a witness before God. One could not expect a sincere and complete confession if the penitent has doubts regarding the practice of confidentiality. Betrayal of the secrecy of confession will lead to canonical punishment of the priest.

St. Nicodemus the Hagiorite exhorts the Spiritual Father to keep confessions confidential, even under strong constraining influence. The author of the Pedalion (the Rudder), states that a priest who betrays the secrecy of confession is to be deposed. The Metropolitan of Kos, Emanuel, mentions in his handbook (Exomologeteke) for confessors that the secrecy of confession is a principle without exception.”

In St. Nicodemus the Hagiorite’s Exomologitarion, he writes:

“Nothing else remains after confession, Spiritual Father, except to keep the sins you hear a secret, and to never reveal them, either by word, or by letter, or by a bodily gesture, or by any other sign, even if you are in danger of death, for that which the wise Sirach says applies to you: “Have you heard a word? Let it die with you” (Sir. 19:8); meaning, if you heard a secret word, let the word also die along with you, and do not tell it to either a friend of yours or an enemy of yours, for as long as you live. And further still, that which the Prophet Micah says: “Trust not in friends… beware of thy wife, so as not to commit anything to her” (Mic. 7:5).

For if you reveal them, firstly, you will be suspended or daresay deposed completely by the Ecclesiastical Canons, and according to political laws you will be thrown in jail for the rest of your life and have your tongue cut out. Secondly, you become a reason for more Christians not to confess, being afraid that you will reveal their sins, just as it happened during the time of Nektarios of Constantinople when the Christians did not want to confess on account of a Spiritual Father who revealed the sin of a woman. The divine Chrysostom both witnessed these things and suffered because of them on account of his trying to convince the people to confess. It is impossible for me to describe in words how much punishment this brings upon you, who are the cause of these things.”

St. John of the Ladder writes:

“At no time do we find God revealing the sins which have been confessed to Him, lest by making these public knowledge, He should impede those who would confess and so make them incurably sick.”

The Byzantine Nomocanon states, in Canon 120:

“”A spiritual father, if he reveals to anyone a sin of one who had confessed receives a penance: he shall be suspended [from serving] for three years, being able to receive Communion only once a month, and must do 100 prostrations every day.”

Source:

ORTHODOX WIKI

About the Spiritual Father – St Siluan the Athonite (+1938) & St Nikon of Optina, Russia (+1931)

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Up: St Nikon of Optina, Russia (+1931)

Down: St Silouan the Athonite in Greece, from Russia (+1938)

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About the Spiritual Father

by

St Silouan the Athonite & St Nikon of Optina, Russia

Consider that the Holy Spirit lives in the spiritual father, and He will tell you what to do. But if you think that the spiritual father live negligently, and that the Holy Spirit can’t live in him, you will suffer mightily for such a thought, and the Lord will humble you, and you will straightway fall into delusion.
(St. Silouan the Athonite, Writings, II.1)

If a man does not tell everything to his spiritual father, then his path is crooked and does not lead to the Kingdom of Heaven. But the path of one who tells everything leads directly to the Kingdom of Heaven.
(St. Silouan the Athonite, Writings, XIII.9)

Tell everything to your spiritual father, and the Lord will have mercy on you and you will escape delusion. But if you think that you know more about the spiritual life than your spiritual father, and you stop telling him everything about yourself in confession, then you will immediately be allowed to fall into some sort of delusion, in order that you may be corrected.
(St. Silouan the Athonite, Writings, XVII.13)

The Holy Spirit acts mystically through the spiritual father, and then when you go out from your spiritual father, the soul feels her renewal. But if you leave your spiritual father in a state of confusion, this means that you did not confess purely and did not forgive your brother all of his sins from your heart.
(St. Silouan the Athonite, Writings, XIII.11)

The Lord loves us so much that He suffered for us on the Cross; and His suffering was so great that we can’t comprehend it. In the same way our spiritual pastors suffer for us, although we often don’t see their suffering. The greater the love of the pastor, the greater his suffering; and we, the sheep, should understand this, and love and honor our pastors.
(St. Silouan the Athonite, Writings, XIII.2)

The spiritual father only shows to way, like a signpost, but we have to traverse it ourselves. If the spiritual father shows the way and the disciple doesn’t move himself, then he won’t get anywhere, and will rot near the signpost.
(St. Nikon of Optina, Russia)

Source:

http://orthodox.cn/patristics/300sayings_en.htm

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