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Monday, August 08, 2005

O confess unto the Lord, for He is gracious: and his mercy endureth for ever!

I've been thinking about this a fair bit, and have been very Anglican in my approach to individual Sacramental Confession: all may, some should, none must.

However, I'm not so sure now. All that aside, it won't be an issue when I eventually make the jump, as corporate absolution is not practised.

The reason for this post is just really to get an idea of different people's methods of preparing themselves for Confession. Are there any psalms, prayers or portions of Scripture that you find useful? If you feel you can share, I would like that very much.

Thank you.


Huw Raphael said...

Confession is very different in the OC than it was in ECUSA (for me, anyway). Three years into it, I'm still learning it.

I find the following to be useful:
The Preparation for Confession by St Kosmas Aitola.

Canon of Repentance

And a notebook would be helpful so you don't find yourself obsessing over things you wanted to confess, but forgot to later: no priest will look askance at you for needing help during your first confessions (Mine used to say, "now go burn that"). And Paper is a must for the first confession: a life-confession of everything prior to Conversion.

Also, your priest may have things he wants you to do prior to confession (other than these suggestions). and I don't know: is it WRite or ERite?

Anonymous said...

Here's a pretty good short self-examination, similar to many you'll find in Orthodox prayer books (I use a little Russian one that is a facsmile of a much older book published before the Revolution--it has facing pages in Slavonic and English). Anyhow, here's the shorter online version of the questions:

You can also find, in most Orthodox prayer books, a set of prayers to be said before Confession and as a thanksgiving afterward. And as Huw so wisely said, it's a good idea to write things down so you don't stumble over everything.

For the "General Confession", I would certainly seek guidance from the priest so as to approach the sacrament from an Orthodox perspective; for example, you may find that we don't always look at 'degrees' of sin (Mortal, Venial, etc.). Sin is sin. We hates it, we does, we does. :)


Anonymous said...

Oh, I almost forgot... be sure you have a couple of clean handkerchiefs or some tissues handy--you may not need them, but then again, you may! And if you do, that'll be splendid and the angels will rejoice!


Joe said...

I generally chant the Canon of Repentance at home first (whether before Auricular Confession or the general confession at hte start of the BCP Liturgy). I find it very helpful.

Than shudder of shudders and don't tell anyone ( ;) ) I use an old TradLat preperation for Confession that I think was originally fromt eh Lassance Missal for private confessions.

Joe Zollars

Richard said...

The Commination in the Prayer book is always useful.

Ferijen said...

Can't add much to this particular comment, just wanted to say thanks for you comments over on my blog.

Anonymous said...

When making your first confession do you really have to confess everything in your whole life? Doesn't baptism wash away all those sins? (That's my understanding of the RC position anyway.) When I get baptized eventually (not Orthodox), I am so looking forward to having my sins washed away, being "born again" and starting afresh.

Michael said...

Baptism certainly washes away all sins, in the same waay that absolution does after confession, but there is a danger (and I'm not accusing you of this) of coming to view the Sacraments as almost magic tricks - the priest does something and, voila, God's grace is imparted.

The reality is that yes, the priest does something and God's grace is imparted freely, but it is not something he forces upon us. He has given us free will, and while he makes his grace readily available to us, he doesn't force it on us - we must reach out and take it. God knocks on the door of our hearts, waiting to be let in, but he doesn't barge in; he waits for us to open the door.

That's what we do with all of the Sacraments. In the Eucharist, his grace of sustenance within the Body of Christ is readily available to us in his Body and Blood, but it is up to us to approach and receive. His grace of regeneration and forgiveness are available to us in Baptism and Absolution, but we approach by expressing our desire to receive them, and so we express our sorrow for the sins of which we are being rid and our desire to amend our way of life.

I think of Our Lord's parable of the Prodigal Son whenever this comes up, and I was blessed to be Baptised on the Sunday of the Prodigal Son. His Father's welcome and forgiveness was unconditional - indeed, he ran out to meet him when he saw him from a distance, but still the son's words upon seeing his father's love were a confession of his own unworthiness.: "I have sinned against heaven and before you, and am no longer worthy to be called your son". This is the spirit in which we should approach the grace of God, while at the same time being sure of the infinite mercy of God of which we sing in Psalm 102, used as the First Antiphon at the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom.

Of course, we should be wary of taking a legalistic attitude to this. "Well, Father, on Monday, the 1st of July, 1985, I had ill thoughts about my neighbour in the morning, and then that evening, while I was watching Corrie, I had lustful thoughts about one of the characters. The next day, I coveted my neighbour's ass, although thinking about it, it wasn't a particularly nice one", &c. That isn't the approach we take to confession, you'll be pleased to hear. :-D

If I've ignored the phone because I've seen it's a friend whom I know has problems and I can't be bothered with a two-hour conversation, and then if I later eat the last of the cheesecake when I know my housemate, who has been out all day, was really looking forward to it, and then I decline to help my neighbour move house because I want to stay at home and watch The Golden Girls, then I should go and confess the sin of selfishness and work with my spiritual father to develop a mindset rooted in the love of Christ, in which I should be willing to help my friend and neighbour. I may wish to mention some examples of that selfishness to help my spiritual father understand the sort of thing I'm talking about, but legalistically naming each individual manifestation of sin is not the way we go about it. It's much gentler and spiritually healing than that.

Does that help?

Michael :-)