My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
WHY THE MYSTERION (SACRAMENT) OF REPENTANCE/CONFESSION
By Saint Theophan the Recluse
What makes the Mysterion (Sacrament) of Repentance/Confession so necessary is on one hand the nature of sin, and on the other hand, the nature of our conscience. When we sin, we think that the traces of sin do not remain on the outside or the inside of us. Meanwhile, it is leaving deep marks on the inside and the outside of us–on everything around us and especially in heaven, in the ledgers of Divine Judgment. At the hour of sin, it is decided there what the one who has sinned has become; in the Book of the living he is written in the list of the condemned, and that has been bound i heaven. Divine grace DOES NOT DESCEND UPON HIM UNTIL HE IS ERASED FROM THE LIST OF THE CONDEMNED IN HEAVEN UNTIL HE HAS RECEIVED ABSOLUTION THERE. But it was pleasing to God to make heavenly erasing from the list of the condemned dependent upon the absolution of the sins that have been bound on earth. So, receive the Mysterion (Sacrament) of Repentance/Confession, that you may be freed BY ABSOLUTION ON ALL SIDES, AND OPEN THE DOOR WITHIN YOURSELF TO THE Spirit of grace. Now that the conscience has been cleaned and has regained its tenderness and sensitivity to good moral order, it will not give any peace until we are decisively ensured of forgiveness. Thus it is in the usual course of our lives: it will not allow us to show ourselves to the person we have offended until we are sure that he has forgiven us. With respect to God, the conscience is even more meticulous. Although at that time when a person has raised himself to make a decisive vow, a certain assurance that he is no longer repugnant to God comes down to him; but this assurance is his own, and it cannot be durable. It will soon be toppled by doubts: "Is it really true? Perhaps it is self-delusion?" and this doubt brings inner anxiety and from anxiety comes a weakening. Then life will have neither firmness nor good form. Thus, a person needs to hear that all is forgiven from God so that, finally at peace in the assurance in God’s mercy, he can then act more decisively and steadfastly in this assurance. Go and confess–and you will receive a pronouncement of God’s forgiveness.
How to prepare for a salvific Confession
From A SALVIFIC CONFESSION, one must prepare himself sufficiently. Whoever has read this narrative thus far is ready. Proceed with reverence and faith!
1) Firmly convinced of the necessity of this Mysterion (Sacrament), go to it–not as though it were some new part of your life or just a simply custom, but WITH COMPLETE FAITH THAT FOR YOU AS A SINNER, THIS IS THE ONLY POSSIBLE WAY TO BE SAVED. By skipping it, you will be numbered among the condemned, and, consequently, you will be outside of any mercy. By not entering this clinic, your spirit will not regain its health and you will remain as you were, sick and disturbed. You will not see the Kingdom if you do not enter it THROUGH THE DOOR OF REPENTANCE.
2) By these convictions engender the desire for this Mysterion (Sacrament). Go to it NOTas to the slaughter, but AS TO FOUNTAIN OF BLESSINGS. Whoever vividly represents to himself the fruit born in us through Confession could not but long for it. A man goes to it all in wounds from head to toe, and HE RETURNS FROM IT HEALTHY IN ALL HIS MEMBERS, ALIVE, STRONG, AND WITH A FEELING OF SAFETY FROM FUTURE INFECTION. He goes there weighed down by a heavy yoke–the whole sum of past sins on him. It torments him and deprives him of all peace. He returns LIGHT, JOYFUL, AND WITH A CONSOLING DISPOSITION OF SPIRIT THAT HE HAS RECEIVED A CHARTER OF COMPLETE FORGIVENESS.
3) Shame and fear will come up–let them! That is why this Mysterion (Sacrament) was created, to bring shame and fear upon us–and the more shame, and fear, the more it will save us. Desiring this Sacrament, desire great shame and great trembling. If someone wants to be healed, does he not know how painful the treatment is? He knows, but resolving to be healed, he also determines to endure the attendant pain in the hope of recovering…There will be a judgment, and at it will be shame and fear without hope. Shame and fear at confession pay for the shame and fear then. If you do not want the latter, go through with the former. Besides, it always happens that, according to the measure of the trembling that the penitent goes through, he overflows with consolation at the confession. This is where the Savior truly shows Himself to be the Comforter of the laboring and heavy laden! By sincerely repenting and confessing the heart learns this truth by experience, rather than by faith alone.
4) Then, again recalling al the sins you have committed and renewing the now ripened, inner commitment NOT TO REPEAT THEM, RISE UP IN THE LIVING FAITH THAT YOU STAND BEFORE THE LORD HIMSELF WHO RECEIVES YOUR CONFESSION; AND TELL EVERYTHING THAT BURDENS YOUR CONSCIENCE, WITHOUT HOLDING ANYTHING BACK…"
5) Now the confession is over. The spiritual father lifts his epitrachelion, covers the head of the penitent with it, and keeping it in his hand, pronounces the absolution OF ALL SINS, making the sign of the Cross on the head. What OCCURS AT THIS MOMENT IN THE SOUL IS WELL KNOWN TO EVERYONE WHO SINCERELY REPENTS. STREAMS OF GRACE POUR FROM THE HEAD INTO THE HEART AND FILL IT WITH JOY. This is NOT from human beings, not from the penitent, not from the absolver–THIS IS THE MYSTERY OF THE LORD HEALER AND COMFORTER OF SOULS. Sometimes it happens at this time that some hear clearly in their hearts, a Divine word to strengthen and inspire them for future works. This IS A SORT OF SPIRITUAL WEAPON ENTRUSTED BY CHRIST THE SAVIOR TO THE MAN WHO NOW ENTERS THE RANKS OF THOSE WARRING IN HIS NAME…
6) With this EVERYTHING IS DONE. All that remains is to fall at God’s feet with feelings of thankfulness for His unspeakable mercy and kiss the Cross and Gospels AS A SIGN OF YOUR VOW. Go unwaveringly along the path shown to you in the Gospels, WITH TE, A COMMITMENT TO FOLLOW CHRIST THE SAVIOR, AS DESCRIBED IN THE GOSPELS, UNDR His blessed yoke, only now taken upon yourself. Having complete this, GO IN PEACE, WITH THE INTENTION TO INTENTLY ACT ACCORDING TO WHAT YOU HAVE PROMISED, REMEMBERING THAT THE JUDGMENT OVER YOU FROM NOW ON WILL BE FROM YOUR OWN WORDS. YOU HAVE MADE A PROMISE–KEEP IT. IT HAS BEEN SEALED BY THE SACRAMENT AND THEREFORE YOU MUST BE EVER MORE FAITHFUL TO IT, SO THAT YOU DO NOT FALL AGAIN INTO THE RANKS OF THOSE WHO HAVE WASTED GRACE.
7) If the spiritual father gives you A PENANCE (κανών), ACCEPT IT WITH JOY. If the spiritual father does not give you one, then ask him to. This will be not only a send-off to you as you depart on your good path but also a shield and protection from outside enemy attacks ON YOUR NEW WAY OF LIFE…
Whoever finishes this course OF SPIRITUAL TREATMENT AS GIVEN AND, MOST IMPORTANTLY, CONFESSES HIS SINS WITHOUT HIDING ANYTHING, RETURNS FROM THE HOUSE OF GOD THE WAY CRIMINALS RETURN FROM COURT WHO HAVE RECEIVED MERCY AND ACQUITTAL OF THEIR CRIMES INSTEAD OF A DEATH SENTENCE. He returns with a deep feeling of THANKFULNESS TO THE SAVIOR OF OUR SOUSL, WITH THE FIRM RESOLVE TO DEDICATE HIMSELF TO HIM AND TO THE FULFILLMENT OF HSI COMMANDMENTS OF ALL THE REST OF HIS LIFE, WITH EXTREME DISGUST FOR AL OF HIS FORMER SINS, and with an unrestrainable desire to wipe away all traces of his former error. The one who has received absolution feels within himself that he is not useless, that he has been visited by a special power. Divine grace, which has thus far only acted on him from without in helping him conquer himself, now with the words: "I FORGIVE AND ABSOLVE" has entered into him, mingled with his spirit and filled it with a burning and longing with which he now proceeds into action until the evening of his life. [Source: The Path to Salvation. A Manual of Spiritual Transformation]
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God