RUSSIA OF MY HEART
FRANCE OF MY HEART
L’église orthodoxe de St Andrew au milieu du lac Vuoksa, en Russie
HOLY CONFESSION OF YOUR HEART
RUSSIA OF MY HEART
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.”
Diary Russian Priest Alexander Elchaninov
ANIMALS OF MY HEART
Saints & the animals that served them – PDF
Saint Artemon of Laodicea, Syria
Saint Brendan of Ireland
Saint Elijah the Prophet
Saints Florus & Laurus, Martyrs in Illyria, Croatia
Saint Gerasimus of Jordan Desert
Saint Kevin of Ireland
Saint Mamas of Caesarea, Cappadocia, Asia Minor
Saint Menas, Great Martyr of Egypt
Saint Seraphim of Sarov, Russia
Saint Sergius of Radonezh, Russia
Saint Tryphon of Campsada, Apamea, Syria
SCHISMATICS RETURN TO CHURCH
AMERICA OF MY HEART
The Eastern Orthodox Church have 2 calendars. The New Calendar and the Old Calendar.
Some Orthodox countries have the new calendar and some the old calendar.
The Orthodox Church of Serbia, Russia, Mount Athos in Greece, Poland, Holy Land-Jerusalem and Sinai have the Old Calendar and the have Christmas on January 7.
The Orthodox Church of Greece, Romania, Asia Minor etc. have the New Calendar and the have Christmas on December 25.
But all these are local Churches are One Church: Eastern Orthodox Church.
But be careful!
There is a team who founded in Greece on 1924 that is a SCHISMATIC TEAM. They called “Genuine Orthodox Christians” but is out of Church.
If you have a “Genuine Orthodox Christian” near you don’t go there, because is out of Church!
Here in Greece the Old Calendarists are schismatics.
Only the Mount Athos Monasteries have the Old Calendar but they are in the Church like Russians, Serbians etc.
Only the Monastery of Esfigmenou in Mount Athos is a schismatic monastery that is “Genuite Orthodox Christian” monastery, now.
Here you find a Canonical Orthodox parish in North America:
Saint Nectarios of Aigina Island in Greece who died on 1920 prophesied the schism of old calendar of Greece!
St. Nectarios of Aegina (+1920) saind to the Nuns of his Monastery in Aegina Island, Greece:
“After my death will take place a great schism. You will follow the Main-Executive Church” (St. Nektarios of Aegina – Written in the Proceedings of the Monastery of Saint Nectarios).
With love in Christ,
RUSSIA OF MY HEART
SAINTS OF MY HEART
Orthodox Quotes of Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk, Russia (+1783)
Feast days: August 13 & May 14
HOLY CONFESSION OF YOUR HEART
Up: St Nikon of Optina, Russia (+1931)
Down: St Silouan the Athonite in Greece, from Russia (+1938)
About the Spiritual Father
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)
ORTHODOXY IN CHINA
ROMAN CATHOLICS MET ORTHODOXY
Saint Xenia of St. Petersburg, Russia,
the Fool-for-Christ & Wonderworker (+1809)
Feast day: Jan 1 & Sep 11
The conversion of a Roman Catholic French man to Orthodoxy –
A miracle of Saint Xenia of St. Petersburg, Russia
Saint Xenia of St. Petersburg, Russia, the Fool-for-Christ and Wonderworker…
We follow with an account by a resident of France, who was benefited by the Saint in our days.
A French dentist with a private clinic in Paris was injured in a car accident and had to stay in hospital for a few days.
Roman Catholic by creed, but indifferent to the faith, he watched as the Continue reading “Paris, France: The conversion of a Roman Catholic French man to Orthodoxy – A miracle of Saint Xenia of St. Petersburg, Russia”