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Before confession one should attempt to recall all the sins which one has committed voluntarily or involuntarily. One must attentively reexamine one’s life in order to recall not only those sins committed since the last confession, but also those which have not been confessed through forgetfulness. Then, with compunction and a contrite heart, approach the Cross and the Gospel and begin the confession of your sins.
- Confess your sins honestly, remembering that you open them not to a man, but to God Himself. God knows your sins already and only wants your admission of them. You should not be embarrassed before your spiritual father: he is a person just as you are. He knows human shortcomings well, man’s tendency towards sin. For this reason your spiritual father cannot be your terrible judge at confession. Is the reason that you are embarrassed before your spiritual father that you are afraid to lose his good opinion of you? On the contrary, your spiritual father will have all the more love for you when he sees your open, honest confession. Furthermore, if you are afraid to reveal your sins before just one person, your spiritual father, how will you overcome your embarrassment when you appear at God’s Last Judgment? There, all your sins which you have not confessed will be opened before God Himself, the Angels and all the people.
- Be specific when you confess, listing all your sins separately. St. John Chrysostom says: “One must not only say: I have sinned, or I am sinful, but one must declare each type of sin.” “The revelation of sins,” says St. Basil the Great, “is subject to the same law as the Declaration of physical ills…” The sinner is spiritually ill, and the spiritual father is the physician or healer. It stands to reason that one must confess or tell about one’s sins in the same way as one who is physically ill describes the symptoms of his illness to a physician from whom he expects to receive healing.
- Do not mention anyone else during confession, i.e. do not complain about anyone – what sort of confession is this? It is not confession, but judgement and a new sin.
- Do not attempt to justify yourself in any way during confession: blaming weakness, custom, etc. The more one justifies himself during confession, the less one is justified by God. The more one denounces, judges and accuses oneself, the more one is justified in the eyes of God.
- When questioned by your spiritual father, do not say: “I can’t remember, maybe I committed that sin.” God commanded us to always remember our sins. In order not to justify ourselves with not remembering, we must confess our sins as often as possible. Those who, because of carelessness, confess and take communion infrequently, and because of this forget their sins, have no one to blame but themselves. They cannot hope for remission of the sins which they failed to confess. Thus, it is imperative that we try to recall all our sins. When someone owes us something we are sure to remember this. Yet we forget our own debts before God! Does this not reveal an utter absence of concern for our soul on our part?
- Unless asked by your spiritual father, do not list the sins you have not committed or things you have not done. Doing this, you liken yourself to the Pharisee of the Gospel. You do not confess your sins, but boast, thereby increasing your judgment.
- We must confess with sorrow and a contrite heart the sins by which we have grieved our Lord God. It is not good that many tell of their sins matter-of-factly, without any remorse. They speak as though they are engaged in some casual conversation. What is worse, some even allow themselves to laugh during confession. These are all signs of unrepentedness. Confessing in this manner, we do not cleanse ourselves of our sins, but rather increase them.
- Finally, confess your sins with faith in Jesus Christ, with hope in His mercy. Only with faith in Jesus Christ and hope in Him can we receive forgiveness of our sins. Without faith, we cannot receive remission. An example of this is Judas the traitor—who was remorseful of what he did, but did not have faith in Jesus, no hope in His mercy, and thus ended his own life.
Bp. Nikolai Velimirovich
Bp. Nikolai Velimirovich was a Serbian bishop in the last century who spoke out courageously against Nazism until he was arrested and taken to Dachau.
Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.
Enemies have driven me into your embrace more than friends have.
Friends have bound me to earth, enemies have loosed me from earth and have demolished all my aspirations in the world.
Enemies have made me a stranger in worldly realms and an extraneous inhabitant of the world. Just as a hunted animal finds safer shelter than an unhunted animal does, so have I, persecuted by enemies, found the safest sanctuary, having ensconced myself beneath your tabernacle, where neither friends nor enemies can slay my soul. Continue reading
Prayer to the Holy & Right-believing Prince Peter & Princess Fevronia
For Inclusion at Liturgical Services and to be Read at the Conclusion of the Divine Liturgy On the Holy Couple’s Day of Commemoration
O great favorites of God and all-wondrous wonderworkers, right-believing Price Peter and Princess Febronia, intercessors for the city of Murom, preservers of honorable marriage and diligent advocates for all of us before the Lord! In the days of your earthly life ye showed forth a model of piety, Christian love and fidelity one to another, and thereby glorified lawful and blessed marriage. Wherefore, we have recourse unto you and pray with mighty zeal: Offer your holy supplications unto the Lord God for us sinners, and ask for us all things of goodly benefit to our souls and bodies: right faith, good hope, unfeigned love, unshakable piety, success in good works*; and by your supplications grant even more unto those united by the bond of matrimony chastity, love for one another in the bond of peace, oneness of mind of souls and bodies, an unsullied marriage bed, an undisgraced sojourn, long-lived progeny, the favor of children, homes full of goodness, and the imperishable crown everlasting glory in eternal life. Yea, O holy wonderworkers, disdain not our prayers which are offered unto you with compunction, but be ye our faithful helpers before the Lord, and vouchsafe that through your intercession we may receive eternal salvation and inherit the kingdom of heaven, that we may glorify the ineffable love for mankind of God Who is worshiped in Trinity – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – unto ages of ages. Amin. Continue reading
THE HODIGITRIA OF THE RUSSIAN DIASPORA
On the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God
The foundation for the iconographic type, or composition, of the Icon of the Mother of God “of the Sign” are the words of Prophet Isaiah: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).
In the 13th century, the Kursk region, as well as the rest of Russia at the time, was subjected to terrible decimation by the Tatar invasion. The city of Kursk was completely destroyed and grew into a wild, overgrown forest, populated by wild animals. The residents of the city of Ryl’sk, 90 versts (60 miles), who had somehow been spared from a Tatar invasion, would go there to hunt. And it happened that in 1295, on the feast day of the Nativity of the Mother of God, a small troupe of hunters from Ryl’sk arrived at the Tuskor River, 27 versts (18 miles) from Kursk, to hunt. One of them, a pious and honorable man, seeking prey in the woods, found a small icon lying face down at the root of a tree. He had barely lifted the icon from the ground to inspect it, when a strong wellspring of pure water burst forth from the very spot where the icon lay. The icon turned out to be of the Mother of God “of the Sign” type. The hunter realized that this was no ordinary icon. He summoned his fellow hunters, and together they cut down timber and erected a small chapel where they placed the newly-found icon. The people of Ryl’sk, learning of the icon, began to visit it for veneration, and many miracles occurred as a result. Continue reading
At first reading of this verse I thought, “Good grief that, at least, can’t have anything to do with women today.”
I was a new convert to Christianity and making a valiant effort to read the Bible “as if it were true.” St. Paul was hard to swallow, and so were angels—along with fairies and trolls! My grudging acceptance of Christianity was based on honest doubt rather than conviction. No one had proved to me that it was true, but neither could I prove it false. On that flimsy hope I chose to make what Kierkegaard called “a leap of faith over the abyss of the absurd.” It was a desperate act. I was at the end of my rope, at a loss to explain the painful contradiction between my good intentions and the reality of my life. I was no longer able to pretend success as a wife, mother of four, or writer (even though my book had been sold on first submission to a leading publisher). In truth I didn’t even know who I was, although I loudly proclaimed my manifesto as atheist, humanist, and feminist, with strong opinions on most issues. I had spent most of my young life trying to define myself by “proving” I could do anything a man could do, only better. (What man could bear children!) But inside was a black hole and I was about to f all in. Continue reading
By Metropolitan Kallistos Ware
“Why do we need to go to confession? Is it not enough to confess our sins with sincerity in our private prayers each evening, will not God forgive us from the very moment that we confess our sins? Yes, as soon as we turn to God in true repentance He forgives us. God is always more ready to forgive than we to repent. Even the slightest turning of our heart will be blessed by God. Why then are we taught also to go to the sacrament of confession? Continue reading