THE MYSTERY (SACRAMENT) OF REPENTANCE AND CONFESSION

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

THE MYSTERY(SACRAMENT) OF REPENTANCE AND
CONFESSION

The soul which is not transformed by repentance does not know grace. It ceases to make progress in the way of ascent. This is the insensibility of a heart of stone, and the symptom of spiritual death. Saint John Climacus (Ladder) counsels: "The fount of tears after Baptism has become greater than Baptism, though this be a bold saying." But repentance IS THE FRUIT OF BAPTISMAL GRACE. This gift of tears is the infallible sign that the heart has been overwhelmed by the love of God. "When our soul departs from life," says Saint John of the Ladder, "WE SHALL NOT BE ACCUSED BECAUSE WE HAVE NOT WORKED MIRACLES, OR HAVE NOT BEEN THEOLOGIANS, OR HAVE NOT SEEN VISIONS, BUT WE SHALL ALL CERTAINLY HAVE TO GIVE ACCOUNT BEFORE GOD BECAUSE WE HAVE NOT WEPT UNCEASINGLY ON ACCOUNT OF OUR SINS." The spiritual gift of these tears not only consummates repentance but also produces THE FIRST FRUITS OF INFINITY JOY.

From The Way of a Pilgrim, let us hear how an Orthodox confession leads the inward man to humility. "Turning my eyes carefully upon myself and watching the course of my inward state, I have verified by experience that I do not love God, that I have no religious belief, and that I am filled with PRIDE and SENSUALITY. All this I actually find in myself as a result of a detailed examination of m y feelings and conduct, thus:

"I do not love God. For if I loved God I should be continually thinking about Him with heartfelt joy. Every thought of God would give me gladness and delight. On the contrary, I much more often and much more eagerly think about earthly things, and thinking about God is labor and dryness. If I loved God, then talking with Him in prayer would be my nourishment and delight and would draw me to unbroken communion with Him. But, on the contrary, I not only find no delight in prayer but even find it an effort. I struggle with reluctance, I am enfeebled by sloth, and am ready to occupy myself eagerly with any unimportant trifle, if only it shortens prayer and keeps me from it. My time slips away unnoticed in futile occupations, but when I am occupied with God when I put myself into His presence, every hour seems like a year. If one person loves another, he thinks of him throughout the day without ceasing, he pictures him to himself, he cares for him, and in all circumstances, his beloved friend is never out of his thoughts. But I, throughout the day, scarcely set aside even a single hour in which to sink deep down meditation upon God, to inflame my heart with love of Him, while I eagerly give up twenty-three hours as fervent offerings to the idols of MY PASSIONS. I am forward to talking about frivolous matters and things that degrade the spirit; THAT GIVES ME PLEASURE. But in the consideration of God, I am dry, bored, and lazy. Even if am unwillingly drawn by others into spiritual conversations, I try to shift the subject quickly to one which pleases my desires, I am tirelessly curious about novelties, about civic affairs and political events, I eagerly seek the satisfaction of my love of knowledge in science and art, and in ways of getting things I want to possess. But the study of the law of God, the knowledge of God and of religion, make little impression on me and satisfy no hunger of my soul. I regard these thins not only as a nonessential occupation for a Christian but in a casual way as a sort of side issue with which I should perhaps occupy my spare time, at odd moments. To put it briefly, if love for God is recognized by the keeping of His Commandments, ("If ye love Me, keep My Commandments" [John 14:15), and I not only do not keep them but I even make an attempt to do so, then in absolute truth, the conclusion follows that do not love God.  That is what Basil the Great says:  "THE PROOF THAT A MAN DOES NOT LOVE GOD AND HIS CHRIST LIES IN THE FACT THAT HE DOES NOT KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS."


   In order to assist PENITENTS to make a thorough confession, Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite created a questionnaire, largely based on the Ten Commandments, prescribed in the New Testament.  Although the list and recommendations for further examination into one's conscience is extensive herein it is not meant to be exhaustive, since "every man seemeth to himself righteous, but the Lord strengtheneth out the hearts [ Prov. 21:21].

The Gospel of Saint Matthew: "Everyone therefor who shall confess in Me before men I also will confess before My Father Who is in the heavens. But whosoever shall deny Me before men, him I WILL I ALSO DENY BEFORE MY FATHER WHO IS IN THE HEAVENS" (Matthew 10:32-33).

SOME QUESTIONS OF THE QUESTIONNAIRE:

I have doubted the existence of God
I have doubted God, complaining against His divine providence
I gave credence to dreams
I have put my trust and hope in men more than in God
I put confidence in my own powers
I have grown proud n my success
I have despaired/despondent in my misfortunes
I have not been patient in my sufferings and hardships
I have been angry with God
I am stubborn in not repenting
I have accused God
I prefer the love of men to God
I have left off doing my prayers
I have uttered my prayers carelessly
I do not bother to prepare myself for prayer
In may things I am proud
I lack proper reverence for holy things
I do not wish to wear a Cross
I have rendered evil for evil
I do not honor or venerate the Saints
I have committed perjury
I have stolen and lied
I do not fear God
I fail to show proper respect to clergy or monastics
I am angry with God and judge the Judge
I have not kept the fast
I have judged my priest
I have disobeyed my father confessor
I have deliberately not confessed all my sins in confession
I have given all my attention and efforts in attaining material things
I lack humility
I lack compassion for my fellow man
I have used cruel words to attack those around me
I am not willing to change my ways
I have given in to the lust of the eyes
I have used obscenity and blasphemous words
I have engaged in fornication
I have committed the sin of adultery
I have committed abortion
I have ignored the Divine Commandments of God and the Holy Canons of the Church
I have slandered and gossiped against others
I have refused to forgive others
I have felt hatred for my enemies
[Source: The Great Synaxristes of the Orthodox Church]

_____________________

"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!"

– Saint John Chrysostomos

+ + +

With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+ Father George

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