Sacrament of Confession
By Father Thomas
Wells, SJCC, CSF
In Orthodox Catholic Christianity, that which is called in the west as a
"Sacrament" is called a "Mystery" in the East. For the Holy Mysteries are
not limiting or limited to Seven (Sacraments) but are far more extensive by the
Grace of God and the Holy Spirit. The seven Sacraments are an invention of
the Western Church so as to define certain Mysteries as being primary in the
Church. However, those "Sacraments" have become all to much a 'rally'
point which follow the disease of "correctness" and "Scholasticism".
For many who are of the Old
Roman Catholic path, and other "Catholic" paths, this article by Rev. Father
Thomas Wells goes further and covers much that you may not have known...
One cannot limit the actions of God and the Holy
Spirit. Why does one want to limit the Holy Mysteries except as an attempt
to explain a 'thing' which cannot be fully explained when it appertains to God's
un-limitedness. However, in this endeavor we applaud Father Thomas Wells,
an Old Roman Catholic, for his writing is true according to the path he follows,
practices, prays and believes in which is truly a struggle in this life.
Reasons for inner discord
he greatest paradox of our life is that while we all instinctively strive for
happiness, most of the time we are unhappy and dissatisfied even when no danger
threatens us. Philosophy is helpless in satisfactorily clarifying the reason for
this paradox. The Christian faith, however, explains that the reason for our
dissatisfaction and dark feelings lies within ourselves. It results from our
sinfulness — not only from our personal sins but also from our very nature that
is marred by the primordial sin. Sinful corruption is the main source of our
grief and suffering.
Sin is a
spiritual sickness that grows and expands with time like cancerous cells. Left
unchecked, sin gains in strength and enslaves its victim, and in doing so, it
taints his mind, weakens his will towards good, permeates him with uneasiness
and bitterness, arouses in him passionate feelings and evil thoughts and compels
him to sin again and again.
We all are, to
a greater or lesser degree, damaged by sin, although we often fail to recognize
the full extent of our inner sickness. The main reason that the Lord Jesus
Christ came to our world was to eradicate in us the roots of sin and return to
us spiritual health and with it eternal bliss. However, because sin is so
intimately interwoven with our mind and will, with our subconscious, it cannot
be removed instantly or by external means. It is essential that we become
actively involved with its extermination, but even our own efforts are not
enough to accomplish total eradication of sin. Only the grace of Christ can give
us complete spiritual recovery.
is the essence of the great advantage of the Christian faith. In contrast to
other religions and philosophical teachings that are powerless in spiritual
warfare, only the Christian faith has all the necessary resources and can
strengthen us to overcome sin and achieve moral perfection.
turning point of spiritual healing is in the Sacrament of Baptism. Here the
believer is cleansed from all sins and is spiritually reborn for righteous
living. However, the predisposition towards sin, which is interwoven with his
free will, is not completely eliminated. As time passes, an individual falls
into sin due to carefree ways, inexperience, and different temptations.
Supposedly eliminated, sin, similar to cancerous cells left after surgery,
begins to propagate once again, gaining strength and striving to totally control
the individual's will. The individual once again becomes spiritually sick and
consequently unhappy and bitter.
difficult and dogged battle with sin, the Sacraments of Confession and Communion
are powerful tools available to us. In the Sacrament of Confession the penitent
Christian, in the presence of the spiritual confessor, opens to God his darkened
and sick heart and allows the heavenly light to enter, cleanse and heal it. In
Confession, as in Baptism, the great rebirthing power of the crucified Son of
God is concealed. This is the reason that after this Sacrament, the truly
penitent person feels cleansed and renewed, as a newly baptized infant. He
obtains new strength to battle the evil within himself and to restart a
To help our
reader gain the most benefit from Confession, we will explain here the meaning
and strength of this Sacrament and provide some aids in preparation for
confession and prayers read during this Sacrament.
Looking into oneself
In observing the course of our feelings and
thoughts, we become quickly convinced that within us constantly battle two
entities: one good and one evil. Real Christian life begins only after we
consciously elect the good and reject the evil. When we disregard our spiritual
growth, passively succumbing to our desires and tendencies, whatever they may
be, not making any evaluation of them, we are not yet living a Christian life.
Only when we become painfully aware of our shortcomings, when we judge ourselves
in the light of the Gospel and decide to improve our moral condition, only then
can we begin to ascend on the path to salvation. The Gospel has many vivid
examples of the sudden change in people who decided to turn to God. One of them
is illustrated by the parable about the Pharisee and the Publican (Lk. 18:4-14).
The Pharisee is an example of self deception. He frequents the temple and
observes the established religious rituals. Yet it cannot be said of him that he
is a pious person, because he is quite content with himself, full of pride, and
despises others whom he considers not so religious. He boasts of his
righteousness because he fails to see his own moral deficiencies — lack of
compassion and love, selfishness and formalism — to mention a few. The Publican,
on the other hand, illustrates a sinful person who realizes his poor moral
condition and repents. He judges only himself and wants to become a better
person. He asks God only for mercy and guidance, and God accepts his prayer
while He rejects the boasting of the Pharisee. Jesus Christ makes the repentant
Publican an example for us so that we thoroughly examine our hearts and make
every effort to correct our moral condition!
genuine repentance is seen in St. Mary of Egypt. Having been a reckless and
passionate sinner from her youth, after visiting the Resurrection church in
Jerusalem she repented deeply, went to the desert and after living there the
rest of her life she became one of the greatest saints. (She died at the
beginning of the 6th century.) The Church observes her memory in the 5th week of
Lent as an example of true repentance.
person, even when considering himself a Christian, pays no attention to his
shortcomings and for many years lives unconcerned with any moral improvement.
Then suddenly, sometimes after a personal tragedy and sometimes without any
apparent reason, his spiritual eyes open, and he decides to turn to God. He
becomes a completely different person. In many cases, though, this turning to
God happens slowly after much hesitation and repeated falls.
Let us now
verify whether the above conditions apply to us. Observe carefully your actions
during the last several days, your feelings and intentions, words you said. Just
yesterday, for example, you cruelly hurt someone with harsh words, or with an
insulting suspicion, or by a caustic sneer. It has been three days now that you
have been disturbed by some dirty, base desire, and you not only did not drive
away this sinful desire, but even dwelt on and enjoyed it. Or you were given an
opportunity to do something good for somebody, but you felt that this would
disrupt your peace and comfort, so you failed to do it. If you were observant
and conscientious, you would realize that passions comprise a great deal of your
existence, that your whole life is like a large braid made of small and great
sins: unkind thoughts, feelings, words and deeds. If we pay no attention to the
moral content of our life or think that it is quite normal, we still are pagans
in our mentality. We will have no reason to try to change. Our true spiritual
life will begin only after we say decisively, "No, I do not want to slide down
any more! I want to become a true Christian!"
But as soon as
you choose the path to righteousness, you will discover that the battle against
bad habits and temptations is extremely difficult, painful and exhausting. You
will see how frequently impure thoughts, feelings and desires, often against
your own will, take hold of you and push you toward sinful actions. In many
cases, only some time after you have uttered a cruel or offensive word or have
perpetrated an unkind deed, you begin to realize that you should not have spoken
so or have done that. But before you have actually sinned, you did not
understand where your thoughts and feelings were pushing you. So over and over
again we fall into actions that we later regret. This is the way we start to
learn the great truth of the words of the Apostle Paul: "For what I will to
do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do " (Romans 7:15).
Where do we find help, and how can we be delivered from our inner conflicts?
Some people share their difficulties with someone in the family or a close
friend; some visit a psychiatrist. But these are only partial and often
ineffective solutions. Only after you experience the total difficulty of
spiritual warfare and the ineffectiveness of human means do you begin to realize
how effective is the regenerating power of Divine Grace.
pre-revolutionary spiritual writer, Saint Theophan the Recluse, relates the
following story: "There was a youth who was greatly saddened because of his
numerous sins. Once in grief he fell asleep. And there, in his dream, as if out
of the sky, he saw coming down an Angel. The heavenly visitor slit open his
chest with a knife, took out his heart, cut it into pieces, and removed from it
all the spoiled and corrupt parts. Then he carefully replaced the heart in its
original spot, and finally healed the wound as well. The youth awakened and felt
cleansed of all his sins. He was so happy that God had accepted his repentance
in such a sudden and unexpected way and relieved him from this unbearable
burden. In truth, wouldn't it be good," asks Bishop Theophan, "if we could
experience a similar healing from a light-bearing Angel!" And such an Angel is
available to us. It resides in the healing Grace of our Redeemer which operates
through repentance in the Sacrament of Confession!
We know that
Jesus Christ brought to earth the holy life. Through the Holy Sacraments of the
Church this life is transmitted to all of us. Confession or Repentance is one
such sacrament. It is not just a ritual or a venerable old tradition but is an
extremely powerful tool for moral healing and correction. It responds to one of
the most essential demands of our damaged nature. To decline Confession is the
same as suffering from some physical ailment and knowing the right medication
but, due to laziness, not using it and thereby letting the illness run rampant.
Power of Confession
Following the teaching of Our Savior and His
Apostles, we believe that the Sacrament of Repentance cleanses the soul of the
repentant Christian and heals his spiritual ills so that after the absolution of
his sins, he once more becomes innocent and sanctified, as he was after Baptism.
Confession reinstates the living ties between the Christian and the Body of
Christ, i.e. the Church. The power of this Sacrament comes from the blood of the
Lamb of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, who because of his infinite love and
compassion toward us took upon Himself all our sins, nailed them to the cross
and suffered what we had to suffer as transgressors of God's commandments. Freed
from the burden of sins, the Christian once again rises to spiritual life and
gains strength to strive for moral perfection.
To receive the
most from the Sacrament of Repentance, a person must prepare for it with prayer,
reading of Scripture and introspection. Fasting is an old and a helpful tool for
repentance and spiritual renewal.
external aspect, the Sacrament of Repentance consists of two parts: a) the
verbal confession of all sins done by the repentant, and b) the prayer of
absolution administered by the pastor-confessor. The loud articulation of one's
sins, i.e. confession, is an indispensable factor of true repentance because it
forces the penitent to overcome pride, which is the source of most of our
spiritual ills. Besides, the acknowledgment of one's faults and bad habits draws
a person closer to overcoming them. This is a well known psychological fact.
Many non-religious people go to psychiatrists and receive help just by openly
discussing their inner difficulties. The Sacrament of Confession, beyond the
psychological, has a sacramental aspect, because through it operates the healing
power of the Grace of Jesus Christ.
be effective, should not be limited just to awareness of ones sinfulness or to a
cold admission of unworthiness. It should be accompanied with a deep feeling of
regret and a sincere desire to become a different person. It requires the
decision to battle with one's evil inclinations and the will to correct one's
way of life. The penitent opens his soul to God, the true and loving Physician,
and asks for mercy and help in the battle with bad tendencies. Such heartfelt
contrition is necessary so that the effectiveness of the Sacrament will extend
not only to the removal of committed sins but also to bring the Divine remedy
into the receptive soul and strengthen it against future temptations.
his confession the penitent kneels before the cross and the gospel, and the
priest-confessor places the stole upon his head and prays for the absolution of
sins. The priest requests the heavenly Father not to turn away from the
repentant as He did not turn away from the prodigal son but to again make him a
new creature and a worthy member of His Divine Kingdom. At this time the
invisible Grace of God descends upon the Christian and renews within him the
spirit of righteousness.
spoke twice of the Sacrament of Repentance. The first time He said to the
Apostle Peter that He will give him the keys of the kingdom of heaven so that
whatever he will bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever he will
loose on earth will be loosed in heaven (Matthew 16:19). Some time later He gave
the authority to forgive and to retain sins to all the apostles. This was done
in conjunction with their task to resolve problems among the members of the
Church: "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between
you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will
not hear, take with you one or two more, that by the mouth of two or three
witnesses every word may be established. And if he refuses to hear them, tell it
to the Church. But if he refuses even to hear the Church, let him be to you like
a heathen and a tax collector. Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on
earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in
heaven " (Matthew 18:15-18). The Lord solemnly established the Sacrament of
Confession soon after His Resurrection. He appeared to His disciples and said to
them, "`Peace unto you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.' And when
He had said this, He breathed on them and said: `Receive the Holy Spirit. If you
forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any,
they are retained'" (John 20:21-23). The apostles transmitted this power to
absolve and to retain sins to their disciples — bishops and priests — who were
to continue their task of saving human souls.
Chrysostom, commenting on the authority given to the pastors of the Church
"to bind and loose ," wrote, "What the priests determine on earth, God
affirms on high in Heaven. Here the Master conciliates with the opinion of His
servants." However, the priest-confessor does not absolve sins by his own power,
and there is nothing mechanical in the prayers of absolution. The
priest-confessor is only a witness of one's repentance and a mediator of Divine
Grace. God appointed him to be an instrument of His mercy. Ultimately it is up
to the repentant to make his soul receptive to the healing Grace.
By its wide
magnitude and power, the invisible work of Grace in the Sacrament of Repentance
covers all of man's lawlessness. There is no sin which is beyond forgiveness.
What is crucial here is to have sincere regret for committed sins and to decide
to become a better Christian. Our Lord Jesus Christ said, "I did not come to
call the righteous, but sinners to repentance " (Matthew 9:13). New
Testament Scriptures are full of examples of God's mercy to sinners. Great was
the Apostle Peter's sin of denial, but when he repented, Jesus forgave him and
reinstated him as an Apostle. After the Pentecost, when the Apostle Peter
started to preach the Gospel, he called to repentance even those Jews who
crucified the Messiah (Acts 2:38), and later he called to repentance Simon, who
was a sorcerer and at the end became a heretic (Acts 8:22). Saint Paul, before
becoming an apostle, hated the Christian faith, persecuted the Church and took
part in the death of the first martyr, the deacon Stephen. Later he was forgiven
by God and received from Him abundant grace. Remembering God's infinite mercy,
St. Paul once absolved a person guilty of incest, subjecting him first to
temporary excommunication (2 Corinthians 2:7).
With all this
one should remember that absolution of sins in the Sacrament of Confession is an
act of mercy, not of thoughtless pity. It is given for the spiritual benefit of
man "for edification and not for your destruction" (2 Corinthians 10:8).
This fact places a great responsibility on the priests when they perform this
Scripture mentions instances or conditions in which sins are not forgiven.
Specifically, it mentions that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be
forgiven either in this world nor the next (Matthew 12:31-32). In addition it
speaks of especially devastating "mortal sins." "All wrongdoing is sin,"
explains the Apostle John, "but there is a sin leading to death. I do not say
that he should pray about that [person who commits such mortal sin" (1 John
5:16). The Apostle Paul teaches that "it is impossible for those who were
once enlightened and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of
the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age
to come, if they fall away, to renew them again through repentance, since they
crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame"
(Hebrews 6:4-6). All these warnings refer to people with a cynical attitude
toward God; they either reject His mercy or they don't want to abandon their
In all cases
the reason for unforgiveness comes not from any limitations of the Sacrament of
Confession but from the unrepentance of the sinner. Indeed, in the case of
speaking offensive words against the Holy Spirit, how can any sins be forgiven
when His mercy is ridiculed and rejected? On the other hand we must believe that
even the sin of blasphemy can be forgiven when it is followed by a true
repentance. St. John Chrysostom says the following about this: "For even this
guilt [blasphemy against the Holy Spirit] was forgiven to many repentant Jews.
Many of them who blasphemed against the Holy Spirit [during Jesus Christ's
preaching] later believed, became Christians and everything was forgiven to
them" (Sermon on the Gospel of Matthew). The Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical
Council (787 A.D. in the city of Nicea, near Constantinople) said the following
about mortal sins: "A mortal sin is the one which remains unrepented ... These
[sinners] will have no share with the Lord, unless they humble themselves and
turn away from their transgressions."
teaches that all must be allowed to repent, "I say to you that there
will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine
just persons who need no repentance" (Luke 15:7). These words include
Christians who have fallen into sin.
contemporary Christians mistakenly believe that their faith alone makes them
holy and free of sin and that for this reason there is no necessity to repent of
anything. Referring to these self-satisfied "righteous" ones, the Apostle James
writes, "For we all stumble in many things" (James 3:2). The Apostle John
teaches that even Christians, not only pagans, need to cleanse their conscience:
"If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
If we confess our sins, He [Jesus Christ] is faithful and just to forgive us our
sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9-10).
Fathers of the Church explain that the absence of a penitent attitude occurs in
people not because they are actually sinless but because of their spiritual
hardening. Indeed, the brighter the light, the clearer one detects the dust and
other defects on objects. Similarly, the closer man approaches God, the clearer
he sees his shortcomings and the humbler he becomes. In the lives of saints we
see that the more they succeeded in Christian virtues, the more unworthy they
felt about themselves. Even saints who performed great miracles repented with
grieving and tears of their insignificant faults and considered themselves
Aid to Repentance
spiritual leaflet from Mount Athos gives the following directive: "Intending to
confess, before going to the priest, seclude yourself, beloved brother, even if
for an hour. Put aside all secular matters, collect your thoughts and thoroughly
examine your conscience: How did you sin in thought, word or deed? In what did
you offend God and your neighbor? Try to remember all the sinful events and
their details. After this pray, grieve and wash your conscience with tears of
repentance. Feeling relief in your heart, make a firm resolve to fight your bad
habits and to become a better Christian. After preparing yourself in this way,
go to the priest-confessor believing that God will forgive you ¾
for He has never rejected a contrite and humble heart. When you come to the
priest, confess without shame, do not hide anything, do not try to `save face.'
For many of us have become accustomed to putting up a front for others, and try
to appear better than we really are. Being used to hypocrisy, we are often
ashamed to honestly admit our faults, omitting some and leaving others
incomplete. Remember, my brother, that the Holy Spirit says in the Scripture:
`Whoever hides his sin receives no benefit.' So speak openly without
self-justification and without blaming others. If someone offended you, make
peace with him and forgive him with all your heart, according to the words of
the Lord: `If you forgive others then God the Father in heaven will forgive you.
But if you do not forgive those who sin against you, then the Father will not
forgive you your sins.' Amen."
prayers of repentance with enumeration of sins can help an individual to repent
at home and to come to church prepared for Confession:
I bring to
You, my merciful Lord, the heavy burden of my innumerable transgressions, which
I have committed from my very youth and up till today.
Mental and sensual sins
I have sinned,
my Lord, by being insensitive towards Your mercies, by neglecting Your
commandments and by being ungrateful. I have sinned by being indifferent towards
Your Truth, by having doubts about faith, by being superstitious and curious
about unorthodox teachings. I have sinned by thirst for pleasure, love for money
and luxury items, by passionate interest in another person and sinful thoughts.
I have sinned by spiritual weakness, vanity, suspicion, jealousy, envy,
irritability and anger. I have sinned by excessive sadness, depression and
despair. I have sinned by contempt for people, gloating over misfortunes others,
self-reliance, pride and blasphemous thoughts. Forgive me, O Lord, and help me
to become a better Christian.
Sins of the tongue
I have sinned,
my Lord, by idle talk, unnecessary laughter, speaking in the church and by using
Your Holy Name in vain. I have sinned by criticizing of others, by using rude
words, yelling, and by making sarcastic comments. I have sinned by cursing
people and wishing them evil, by mockery and insults. I have sinned by telling
indecent jokes, bragging and breaking my promises. I have sinned by complaining,
irreverent conversations and damning. I have sinned by spreading unkind rumors,
gossiping, lying, slandering and denunciation. Forgive me, O Lord, and help me
to become a better Christian.
Sins through deeds
I have sinned, my Lord, by not loving You, my Creator and Benefactor, with all
my heart and all the time as I should. I have sinned, by being selfish, lazy and
by wasting time. I have sinned by careless and disoriented prayer, by missing
church services and coming late to church. I have sinned by being disrespectful
with my parents, by refusing to help them and to do what they said, by
disobedience and stubbornness. I have sinned by negligence towards family needs
and by failing to instruct my children in the Christian faith. I have sinned by
self centeredness, over-preoccupation with my career and success in life,
greediness, stinginess and by failing to help the needy. I have sinned by
over-eating, over-indulgence, breaking fasts, smoking, abusing alcohol, using
stimulants, squandering resources and by gambling. Forgive me, O Lord, and help
me to become a better Christian.
I have sinned,
my Lord, by looking at someone with lust, looking at indecent films or
magazines, listening to music which evokes crude or lustful desires, listening
to indecent jokes and stories. I have sinned by wasting too much time in front
of a TV, by watching scenes of violence and sin. I have sinned by being obsessed
with my appearance, by behaving in a tempting matter, masturbation,
lasciviousness, sexual perversions, adultery, and other corporal sins which are
too shameful to say aloud. I have sinned by losing my temper, displaying anger,
by crudeness, rude treatment of close ones, by non-reconciliation and revenge. I
have sinned by hypocrisy, insolence, impertinence and careless handling of
sacred objects. I have sinned by being cruel, deceitful, stealing, and taking
bribery. I have sinned by consenting to abortion, having interest in occult
subjects, astrological forecasts and by visiting fortune tellers.
or sister in Christ, never despair! Remember that there is no sin which is
beyond God's mercy. For the Lord Himself promised through His prophet,
"Though your sins may be like scarlet, I shall whiten them as snow; Though they
be red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isaiah 1:18).
Prayers for this Sacrament
The best time for confession is on the eve of
Communion, usually on Saturday before or during Vespers. If one cannot come to
the Vespers service, he can confess on the day of Communion. In that case, it is
necessary to come before the Liturgy starts, because the priest should not be
distracted from the altar during the service. Those who come late must
understand that Confession during Liturgy delays the church service, causes
other worshippers to wait and forces the priest to rush. This kind of haphazard
Confession can hardly accomplish what this great Sacrament was intended for. It
lowers Confession to the level of a meaningless ritual.
Sacrament of Confession, after the commencement prayers and the 51st Psalm, the
priest-confessor reads the following Troparia:
Have mercy on
us Lord, have mercy on us; for being devoid of all defense, we sinners offer to
Thee, as Master, this supplication: Have mercy on us.
Glory to the
Father and Son and Holy Spirit. Lord have mercy on us, for in Thee have we
trusted. Be not very angry with us, neither remember our iniquities, but as One
tender of heart, look down upon us even now and deliver us from our enemies. For
Thou art our God, and we are Thy people, all being the work of Thy hands, and we
call upon Thy name.
Now and ever,
and unto ages of ages. Amen. Open unto us the door of Thy loving-kindness, O
Blessed Birth-giver of God, so that hoping in Thee we may not perish, but
through Thee may be delivered from adversities, for Thou art the salvation of
Christian people. Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy.
the following prayer:
O God our
Savior, Who by Thy prophet Nathan granted unto repented David pardon of his
transgressions, and have accepted the Manasses' prayer of penitence! Do Thou, in
Thy love towards mankind, accept also Thy servant [name] who repents of
his sins which he has committed, overlooking all that he has done, pardoning his
offenses and passing by his iniquities. For Thou hast said, O Lord: I have
desired not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn from the
wickedness which he has committed, and live. And that even unto seventy times
seven sins ought to be forgiven. For Thy majesty is incomparable, and Thy mercy
is limitless, and if Thou shouldst regard iniquity, who should stand? For Thou
art the God of the penitent, and unto Thee we ascribe glory, to the Father, and
to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.
further reminds the repentant: "Behold, my child, Christ stands here invisibly
receiving your confession. Do not be ashamed and do not fear, and do not
withhold anything from me; but without doubt tell all you have done and receive
forgiveness from the Lord Jesus Christ. Lo, His holy image is before us, and I
am only a witness, bearing testimony before Him of all things which you say to
me. But if you conceal anything from me, you shall have the greater sin. Take
heed, therefore, lest having come to the physician, you depart unhealed."
stands before the lectern, crosses himself, kisses the cross and the holy
gospel, and in a repentant attitude confesses sins before the priest. After he
finishes, the priest gives needed advice and sometimes instructs him to do
certain things in order to help the penitent to overcome some bad habits --- to
read Scriptures, pray, fast, do some kneeling, to make certain acts of mercy,
At the end the
penitent kneels before the cross, and the priest, covering the head of
the penitent with his stole, reads the following prayer of absolution:
O Lord God of
the salvation of Your servants, merciful, compassionate and long-suffering; Who
repents concerning our evil deeds, not desiring the death of a sinner, but that
he should turn from his way and live. Show mercy now on Your servant [name]
and grant to him (or her) an image of repentance, forgiveness of sins and
deliverance, pardoning all his (or her) sins, whether voluntary or involuntary.
Reconcile and unite him (or her) to Your Holy Church, through Jesus Christ our
Lord, to Whom, with You, are due dominion and majesty, now and ever and unto
ages of ages. Amen.
May our Lord
and God, Jesus Christ, by the grace and compassion of His love for mankind,
forgive you, my child, [name] , all your transgressions. And I His
unworthy Priest, through the power given me, forgive and absolve you from all
your sins, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
prayer, the penitent rises, kisses the Cross and the Gospels and, receiving a
blessing from the priest, steps away thanking God.
Thus, in the Sacrament of Confession God gave us a
powerful tool to battle sin. In preparing for our confession of sins, we learn
to watch over our inner life more carefully, to realize our weak points and the
cunning methods of our temptor, the devil. Sincere confession before a priest
helps us combat our pride and thus to become free from the bonds of passion with
which the devil wants to ensnare us.
After a deep
repentance and the Divine cleansing that follows it, a Christian feels as if a
heavy stone was removed from his heart. He finds himself renewed and
enlightened, willing to love God and other people. This feeling should be the
most obvious proof of the great spiritual power of the Sacrament of Confession.
For this reason let us cherish this Divine tool of spiritual healing and ask God
to give us wisdom and willingness to lead the remaining days of our life in
righteousness, so that all our thoughts, words and deeds will be directed toward
His glory and our salvation. Amen.
or penance is to be understood as an interdiction which, according to Church
canons, the priest as a spiritual physician has to apply in certain cases in
order to treat the moral diseases of his spiritual children. For example he
might impose a fasting beyond that which others do, some additional prayers of
repentance, performing of a certain amount of prostrations, works of mercy,
reading of the Holy Scripture and other righteous exercises.
penance or epitimia imposed sometimes by the priest-confessor is not a
punishment but represents an action for correction or pedagogical healing. The
purpose is to deepen contrition for sinning and to support the will for
correction. The Apostle Paul said, "For godly sorrow produces repentance to
salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death"
(2 Corinthians 7:10). One of the canons of the Sixth Ecumenical Council
declares: "Receiving from God the power to bind and loose, the priest must
evaluate the nature of sin and preparedness of the repentant, and thus utilize
appropriate means of healing. But if not applying appropriate means to this or
the other, salvation will not be available to the sinner. For all sins are not
similar, but different and specific, and represent many aspects of harm from
which evil develops and disperses further, unless it is stopped by the healing
In the ancient
Church Confession was accomplished somewhat differently from the contemporary
Russian practice. At that time Christians had Communion every Sunday, or in any
case often, so that Confession was not necessary each time. Christians came to
Confession as needed, when they had committed a serious sin if their behavior
was a temptation to other Christians. Usually the Confession of sins was done
aloud before the priest and the congregation as well. At present time in the
Greek Orthodox Church, Confession is not done before each communion and is
separate from the Liturgy. Confession is heard at a time assigned by the priest
and in a place specifically designated for this purpose, a confessional .
Closer to our times the Russian St. John of Kronstadt, having no opportunity to
hear individual confessions, often performed communal Confession, in which
thousands of people participated. During this Sacrament many confessed their
sins aloud and repented in front of the whole congregation. These communal
confessions had a very beneficial effect on those who took part in them.
outward form the Confession is performed, it is necessary to remember that it is
a great Sacrament and requires our most serious and reverent attitude. Its
purpose is to achieve beneficial healing of the soul. That is the reason that a
quick Confession just before the presentation of the Chalice is not the proper
attitude towards this Sacrament. It is imperative to appear for Confession in
advance, and one must repent with heartfelt sorrow and faith in the power of the
healing grace of God.
In the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts,
V. Rev. Fr. W.
Thomas Wells, SJCC, CSF
VISITORS ABOUT OUR sending and receiving - E-MAIL POLICY
Apostle1.org and Apostle1.net
an educational, News-informational and research Web Site dedicated to providing such
as befits those who seek things pertinent to the Orthodox Catholic
Christian Faith and life.
There are unscrupulous people on the internet these days.
Some of them are not who they claim to be and in order to disrupt honest
spiritual pursuits, they are known to send out e-mail under someone else's name
or the name of another church or jurisdiction with attachments. Anyone can
do this, if they want. Some of them exist in Toledo, Ohio... Some in
Texas... Others in Michigan, California and many other places... Some are "haters of
truth" who follow (whether they are willing to admit it) those who have
sway over less educated or ignorant... as their are also those
who do not even know what they are doing because they seek glory to satisfy
their own vanity and selfish pride to take over a church or jurisdiction of
another, or to wreck havoc over those whom they hate without considering the
Gospel Message of Jesus Christ.
If you should ever receive an e-mail with an attachment
purporting to be from anyone at "apostle1.com" - "apostle1.org" or even
"apostle1.net" - - - know that our policy is to not send out e-mail from any of
our domain names with an attachment. Therefore, don't open it!
If you receive any e-mail from apostle1.com, apostle1.org or apostle1.net and
have never before communicated with us... even if you have communicated with
us... verify, verify and again, verify.
Unless we know
exactly from whom an e-mail comes... nothing is clicked on or opened, not even
attachments! You would be surprised from whom 'hate' e-mail arrives and
what attempts and extremes they go to make their e-mails "look" official when it
is a lone person or persons who hate TRUTH and love lies, hate anything from
being posted that involves TRUTH because they may be affected with exposure to
the LIVING TRUTH of Jesus Christ's Love.
They HATE some of the news,
quotes, and such as to inform the general public. Some of them pose as
clergy, while a few are actually clergy from various "other" offshoot AMERICAN
ORTHODOX CHURCH jurisdiction(s)
of the same name of which we are, in some instances, their former MOTHER CHURCH (as is the same
named Toledo, Ohio based an offshoot);
having joined in and with "Independent"
churches who have nothing to do with us or even true Orthodoxy, but seek to go out of their way to
character assassinate and disparage religious web sites who do not meet their
own brand of standardization which is evidence of their being not truly
"Orthodox" "Christian" or even "Catholic" no matter what their nomenclatured
corporate name may be. The Toldeo, Ohio based same name group under their
so-called leader has been deposed, defrocked and excommunicated four different
times by various bishops. He, and several others, have become just as bad
as the modern day Ecumenists of the National Council of Churches, World Council
of Churches, the World Council of Bishops and more. Their ultimate aim and
goal is destruction to those from whom they had either originated from or gone
through to obtain the same named "church" they claim to hold to by civil law
Remember, anything that is a HALF TRUTH is not truth but a
lie! Many there are that you may know who fit those descriptions... pray
for them. Pray that God will send his Spirit of Truth upon them and lead
them to Salvation through tears of Repentance, conversion of their cold and
calculating hearts toward seeking forgiveness from God and those whom they
attempt to harm.
Those who receive e-mail from us, know who we are and from
where we send mail. There are also many who know that they can send e-mail
under another group or person's e-mail address, which has been happening.
If you receive e-mail that purports itself to be from us, verify first by
hitting your "reply" button and ask, "I received this e-mail but would like
verification it is from you."
If you are of another jurisdiction, you too could find
that your parishioners, clergy and faithful might become subject to the same as
we have recently found.
Let this be a warning to visitors so as to be safeguarded
against unscrupulous e-mails which contain viruses, worms and unsavory material
from person(s) organizations or institutions that are more self-serving than
uplifting and informatively news worthy.
For ourselves, we have, as in the past, so once again,
acquired the assistance of those who are able and capable of tracing e-mails
back to their source and taking appropriate action in North America.
We have learned that the organization we
subscribe to, whose members come from various legal and law enforcement
backgrounds amongst other areas of society, are committed to the faith even
though they may hold different theologies. Yet, in their monitoring of
electronic communications of various persons or people, they do not always make
haste to bring perpetrators to justice until after enough evidence has been
gained in order to build a solid case. We do not always know what
information they have gained, but we do know the organization, whom we've been
asked not to name, has had a 97% success rate in bringing to justice and
obtaining a conviction against individuals, people, and sometimes even religious
organizations of a persona that gives the appearance of both secular and
religious bearing but who abuse and misuse technology. The organization views
those who abuse and misuse the internet and other technologies as nothing more
than a form of "domestic terrorism" - - - - and, it would seem to appear that
the courts are in agreement!
of people, organizations, etc. who misuse and abuse communication technologies
are no different than those who
attempt to use coercive measures, and in some instance,
even blackmail for the same idea is
involved... to cause havoc and wreckage, to destroy the spirit and activity of
those who struggle in the faith out of pain of heart for the Orthodox Church
which is TRUTH. The degree that some have been known to go to, as seen by other
jurisdictions, is to take advantage of questionably mentally challenged or those
who have a lack of education and understanding to get them to make statements,
even outright lies, in writing, in order to destroy. Such persons or
groups are spiritual terrorists for unholy and un-Orthodox causes, aims and
Yes, our Metropolitan Archbishop, +Joseph Thaddeus, SSJt., Ph.D. strongly defends the Seals of the Confessional for such leads to
true Repentance in thought, word and deed whereby the penitent is required to
make amends, where possible, to seek forgiveness of those harmed by his actions
whether real or imagined, and to give his forgiveness to those who have harmed
him before taking the Holy Body and Blood in the Eucharist. The reality of
this understanding is bound up in and with the findings for which cause he,
himself, had been character assassinated by his detractors who claim the courts
prevented him from breaking the Seals of the Confessional which is not the truth
Click here to see what another bishop's findings are...
The workings of Holy Spirit will not be daunted by those
who attempt to cause disruption! It is for these and other reasons that
you are urged to read what true
repentance and forgiveness means for real "Christians".
For further information about how spammers, hackers and
those who are angry with you can or will attempt to do damage, we offer the
following link as regards some of the computer - internet problems:
Monastic Holy Orders: a basic
+Society of St. Jude
Order of Friars Minor
(In Service) to Christ (SC)
A Message from Our metropolitan Archbishop
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Is Christianity At The Cross
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