A Blueprint to Confession

For some or many of us, it might be the first time you are confessing after a long time, or it might the first time. Whatever the case might be, I want to provide a sort of blueprint on what you have to do before, during and after Confession.

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Before:

Prepare your mind to speak to Christ, not to a Priest. The Priest is the living Icon of Christ on earth and should not be seen as a friend or counselor when he receives “the Anointing” to conduct Qurbana, do special services or hear Confessions. Secondly, it’s easy to confess our sins to God because we don’t get a reply. It’s hard to tell a Priest our sins because it reveals our inner struggles. But once we confess there is a tremendous grace that is given to us that is beyond understanding.

To prepare properly, read Psalm 51 and/or Psalm 6, in any order or you may choose only one to meditate on. Then, it is best practice to write down your sins so that you have a clear idea what you are going to confess. To aid in this process, I have included the seven sins, which you can find below. It should provide you with a matrix to list your sins. You may or may not be comfortable confessing certain details of your sin so then it is permissible to make a general statement. In the end, God knows how to distinguish between a repentant heart and prideful heart.

During:

With your mind and soul prepared properly, you will then sit next to the Priest and begin your confession. The Priest will prayerfully, with a heart of contrition for the penitent, provide meaningful and divine counsel. In the end, he will pray the prayer of absolution and at that moment the sins that have been confessed will be forgiven completely.

After:

After confessing, it is advisable that the penitent recite the Jesus Prayer thirty-three times. ("Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.") Then you can read Psalm 32. After this, it is best to keep away from TV, music or any conversations that might distract you and possibly cause you to sin. The penitent is encouraged after Confession to live a “life of confession,” that is, continuously seek God’s forgiveness and confess on a regular basis. 

Seven Sins

For the Orthodox, anything that takes us away from God, or His presence, or draws us away from Church, prayer life, etc., is considered sin. Sin in Greek means "missing the mark". A person who is Christian knows when they have sinned and missed the mark. The seven sins provide a matrix for the faithful to determine where they have fallen away from God.

  1. Pride is an excessive belief in one's own abilities that interferes with the individual's recognition of the grace of God. It has been called the sin from which all others arise. Pride is also known as Vanity.

  2. Envy is the desire for others' traits, status, abilities, or situation. Also known as jealousy.

  3. Gluttony is an inordinate desire to consume more than that which one requires.

  4. Lust is an inordinate craving for the pleasures of the body. Sexual acts outside of marriage and pornography fall into this category.

  5. Anger is manifested in the individual who spurns love and opts instead for fury. It is also known as Wrath. Anger is manifested toward others after it has entered the mind. Anger that is persistent in the mind of someone even without manifesting, is a sin. 

  6. Greed is the desire for material wealth or gain, ignoring the realm of the spiritual. It is also called Avarice or Covetousness.

  7. Sloth is the avoidance of physical and spiritual work, as well as lack of prayer, fasting or attending Qurbana for non-excusable reasons.

The Divine Liturgy Series