Published on March 13, 2014
The Sacrament of Confession
Sacrament of Confession • H Qurbanakramam 1. Remember the sins committed 2. Repent of those sins 3. State them without shame before a priest 4. Fulfill Penances set by priest 5. Resolve to not commit those sins again • Only 3 and 4 are controversial
What is confession? • Confession is the oral statement of one‘s sins to God in the presence of a priest. • To God! • Forgiveness is from God. • Fundamental aspect of Orthodox Spirituality • Reluctance to receive this sacrament is reluctance to accept the Orthodox Faith
Why do I need to confess my sins? • In Baptism we were forgiven of our sins • If we commit sins after baptism how can they be forgiven? • Ezek 18:23 Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?
Confession in NT (Gospels) • John 20:22-23 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ―Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.‖ • Matt. 16:19 ―I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."‖ (Matt 18:18)
Confession in NT (St Paul) • (I Cor. 5:3-5) ―The man who has done such a thing should be expelled from your fellowship. And even though I am far away from you in body, still I am there with you in spirit; and as though I were there with you, I have in the name of our Lord Jesus already passed judgment on the man who has done this terrible thing. As you meet together, and I meet with you in my spirit, by the power of our Lord Jesus present with us, you are to hand this man over to Satan for his body to be destroyed, so that his spirit may be saved in the Day of the Lord.‖ • 2 Cor 2:10-11 10 Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive— I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, 11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.
Confession in NT • ―Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.‖ James 5:16 • ―If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.‖ 1 John 1:9 •
Confession in the tradition of the Church • Confession evolves through out the centuries • Public confession of sins • Different ways to remain away from communion • ―Confess your sins in church, and do not go up to your prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of life. . . . On the Lord‘s Day gather together, break bread, and give thanks, after confessing your transgressions so that your sacrifice may be pure‖ • (Didache 4:14, 14:1 [A.D. 70]).
Confession in the tradition of the church • St. Ignatius of Antioch • ―For as many as are of God and of Jesus Christ are also with the bishop. And as many as shall, in the exercise of penance, return into the unity of the Church, these, too, shall belong to God, that they may live according to Jesus Christ‖ • St. Hippolytus of Rome • ―[The bishop conducting the ordination of the new bishop shall pray:] God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. . . . Pour forth now that power which comes from you, from your royal Spirit, which you gave to your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, and which he bestowed upon his holy apostles . . . and grant this your servant, whom you have chosen for the episcopate, [the power] to feed your holy flock and to serve without blame as your high priest, ministering night and day to propitiate unceasingly before your face and to offer to you the gifts of your holy Church, and by the Spirit of the high priesthood to have the authority to forgive sins, in accord with your command‖ • (Apostolic Tradition 3 [A.D. 215]).
Confession in tradition of the church • St. Cyprian of Carthage • ―Of how much greater faith and salutary fear are they who . . . confess their sins to the priests of God in a straightforward manner and in sorrow, making an open declaration of conscience. . . . I beseech you, brethren, let everyone who has sinned confess his sin while he is still in this world, while his confession is still admissible, while the satisfaction and remission made through the priests are still pleasing before the Lord‖ • St. Aphraahat the Persian • ―You [priests], then, who are disciples of our illustrious physician [Christ], you ought not deny a curative to those in need of healing. And if anyone uncovers his wound before you, give him the remedy of repentance. And he that is ashamed to make known his weakness, encourage him so that he will not hide it from you. And when he has revealed it to you, do not make it public, lest because of it the innocent might be reckoned as guilty by our enemies and by those who hate us‖ • (Treatises 7:3 [A.D. 340]).
Confession in tradition of the church • St. Basil the Great • ―It is necessary to confess our sins to those to whom the dispensation of God‘s mysteries is entrusted. Those doing penance of old are found to have done it before the saints. It is written in the Gospel that they confessed their sins to John the Baptist [Matt. 3:6], but in Acts [19:18] they confessed to the apostles‖ • (Rules Briefly Treated 288 [A.D. 374]). • St. John Chrysostom • ―Priests have received a power which God has given neither to angels nor to archangels. It was said to them: ‗Whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose, shall be loosed.‘ Temporal rulers have indeed the power of binding; but they can only bind the body. Priests, in contrast, can bind with a bond which pertains to the soul itself and transcends the very heavens. Did [God] not give them all the powers of heaven? ‗Whose sins you shall forgive,‘ he says, ‗they are forgiven them; whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.‘ What greater power is there than this? The Father has given all judgment to the Son. And now I see the Son placing all this power in the hands of men [Matt. 10:40; John 20:21–23]. They are raised to this dignity as if they were already gathered up to heaven‖ • (The Priesthood 3:5 [A.D. 387]).
Role of Priest • Witness before God • To Give Counsel
Making a good Confession • Examination of conscience • 1 Cor 11:28 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. • Repentance • Decision to not sin again • Recite Sins before Father • Absolution by priest • Acts of Penance prescribed
Making a good confession • Suggested Resources: • Prayers before H. Confession • Ten Commandments • Beatitudes • Pampakuda / Nithya prarthana • Pray the 7 Psalms of Repentance
Common Questions and Responses: • Can‘t I confess directly to God? • You should confess directly to God. But you should also confess to God in the presence of a priest. • Do you have gift of tears? Over sins of world • Since God knows your sins already you don‘t need to even confess daily? • Why do I need to get married in a Church? Can‘t my partner and I get married directly before God? • Why do I need to be baptized by a Priest? • If you can confess directly to God and don‘t need a priest‘s absolution then why do you receive absolution before Holy Qurbana? •
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