The Sacrament of Confession
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, God who is faithful and righteous, will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His Word is not in us.
– 1 John 1:8-10
WHAT IS THE SACRAMENT OF CONFESSION?
What is the sacrament of Confession? Confession is the recognition that there is rubbish in my life—things done and left undone—that damage my connection to God and to the people in my life. Confession is facing up to all in my life that I find painful to know about myself and struggle to keep hidden or camouflaged. Though we often dread it, the sacrament of Confession is something truly beautiful. Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997) once wrote: “The other day a man, a journalist, asked me a strange question: Even you, do you have to go to confession? I said: Yes, I go to confession every week. Confession is a beautiful act of great love. It is a sacrament of love, a sacrament of forgiveness. Only in confession can we go as sinners with sin and come out as sinners without sin. Confession is nothing but humility in action. Confession is a place where I allow Jesus to take away from me everything that divides, that destroys.” What wise words! Like Mother Teresa, Orthodox Christians should see the sacrament of confession as “a beautiful act of great love.”
Metropolitan Anthony Bloom (1914-2003) spoke of the sacrament of confession as “in the first place, an encounter and a reconciliation. It is our encounter with Christ whose love for us knows no limits, who loves us with all His life and with all His death, who never turns away from us, but from whom we sometimes – perhaps even often – walk away. In the second place, in confession there is the recognition of one’s need, the courage to face oneself, the readiness to be seen as we are and not as we try to appear. There is an effort to achieve integrity in an act which is not an escape, but an act of courage and honesty.”
Orthodox Christians should participate in the Sacrament of Confession at the very minimum of once a year, preferably three to four times a year during the fasting periods of our Church – Great Lent, before Easter; the Advent Fast before Christmas; the Fast to honor the Apostles in June; and the fast to honor the Theotokos during the first two weeks of August. Just as we need an annual check-up with our doctor even though we may not feel sick, so we also need to have a regular spiritual check-up for our spiritual health and well-being. The Church believes that Confession is a sacrament indispensable for our salvation!
Please make your appointment with Father Steve or Father Theofanis for the Sacrament of Confession by calling the Church Office at 949-733-2366. Our Saint Paul’s Bookstore has pamphlets and books to help us better understand and prepare for this vital and life-transforming sacrament!
Confession in Age of Self-Esteem by Jim Forest
The Orthodox Experience of Confession by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware
Reflections on Confession by Father Alexander Schmemann