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catechumen07
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« on: June 21, 2007, 11:46:01 AM »

I am a new catechumen in the Orthodox faith.  There are sins, including an abortion, promiscuity, and blasphemy, that I will be confessing when I'm accepted into the Church that I want to talk about now; but I feel like I can't tell my parish priest now because I have to save it for confession.

The things I did before I was a believing Christian trouble my soul constantly; I believe that although I was agnostic/atheist that I did indeed know deep in my heart that what I did was wrong, but that the prevailing culture and bad influences around me convinced me that it was just my personal choice to do these things.  I regret my choices with every fiber of my being; I know that it's a miracle that Christ's voice penetrated my darkened mind, but my horrible sins are putting a damper on the joy of finding a new life in Christ.  I know I deserve every condemnation for my actions.

I haven't gotten counseling for these things, and don't really know who to turn to.  I feel like the parish priest would be horrified to have me in the Church if he knew what I'd done, but I feel like no one else in my life wants to hear about it.  (My friends and family are not practicing Christians, and for the most part are very socially liberal).
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« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2007, 12:30:18 PM »

I am a new catechumen in the Orthodox faith.  There are sins, including an abortion, promiscuity, and blasphemy, that I will be confessing when I'm accepted into the Church that I want to talk about now; but I feel like I can't tell my parish priest now because I have to save it for confession.

The things I did before I was a believing Christian trouble my soul constantly; I believe that although I was agnostic/atheist that I did indeed know deep in my heart that what I did was wrong, but that the prevailing culture and bad influences around me convinced me that it was just my personal choice to do these things.  I regret my choices with every fiber of my being; I know that it's a miracle that Christ's voice penetrated my darkened mind, but my horrible sins are putting a damper on the joy of finding a new life in Christ.  I know I deserve every condemnation for my actions.

I haven't gotten counseling for these things, and don't really know who to turn to.  I feel like the parish priest would be horrified to have me in the Church if he knew what I'd done, but I feel like no one else in my life wants to hear about it.  (My friends and family are not practicing Christians, and for the most part are very socially liberal).

Most Orthodox priests that I have spoken to have shared there isn't any sin they haven't heard before so you have no need to worry that you will shock or scandalize him. You may want to speak to your priest first before you take confession about these issues from your past since they are troubling you so much. Then he can help you prepare for your first confession.
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« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2007, 12:34:07 PM »

This is a million dollar question... I have been pondering about it, too, being also guilty of some serious sins prior to my chrismation as an Orthodox. My parish priest, however, told me, when I was preparing for chrismation, that I did not need to confess specifically of those sins and he (the priest) would not give me absolution anyway; what would cleanse me from those sins would be not my confession and his absolution, but the act of chrismation (as the "completion" of the Holy Mystery of Baptism). I am interested, too, in what different traditions and jurisdictions say on this matter.
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« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2007, 12:40:44 PM »

I had many of the same feelings that you are having been effected by many of the same sins as you.  I actually asked my priest if I could confess before I was chrimated.. he allowed it, although he could not say the absolution until it was closer to the Chrismation.   I was quite sure after my first confession was done, the Priest would show me to the door... but that didn't happen.. thank GOD!

You will be my prayers..

In Christ,
chacci
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Thomas
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« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2007, 03:16:22 PM »

When we were chrismated into the Church, my family members met individually with the priest and discussed our previous sinns and he offered counsel.  he did not require them to be confessed prior to  chrismation and also said the act of Chrismation  renewed us.  He invited us to confess any future thoughts or problems we had with those sins in confession as we used the sacrament of Holy Confession to work towards Theosis.

I personally have discussed my own problems frequently as part of confession following and have learned to do the hardest thing, I had to learn to forgive myself for my past actions and learn to truely accept tht the Most Holy Trinity accepted my repentance and did grant absolution. My priest told me it is Satan who seeks to keep me  mired in my past sins, the Most Holy trinity wants me free from all remembrance and looking back at the sin and instead wants me to love others and not be judgemental because of the forgiveness that the Holy Trinity has given me.  Now that is true freedom.

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« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2007, 12:16:32 PM »

Having been chrismated into the Antiochian Orthodox church, our priest said that true confession at your chrismation cleanses you of past sin. Of course confession remains necessary as part of the lifelong commitment to the church since we will still sin but do not deprive yourself of this blessed sacrament. Our saviour has sacrificed himself for all of us and as Orthodox Christians we share a duty to help those seeking his mercy. Mark 3:28-30 (and also in Luke and Matthew) indicates that all sins and blasphemies will be forgiven except those against the Holy Spirit (which seems to imply intentional impenitence, definitely not you). Ask your priest if the church has a copy of a pamphlet titles: Confession: the Healing Sacrament by conciliar press ( www.conciliarpress.com) it may be helpful. God bless you.
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« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2007, 01:00:29 PM »

My priest told me it is Satan who seeks to keep me  mired in my past sins, the Most Holy trinity wants me free from all remembrance and looking back at the sin and instead wants me to love others and not be judgemental because of the forgiveness that the Holy Trinity has given me.  Now that is true freedom.


AMEN!

This is some of the most sound advice on confession.  I remember a monk once telling me that the hardest thing for people to do is to actually forgive themselves and move on.  God forgives the most heinous thing but we often cannot do the same to ourselves.  Of course, our sins should make us sad and lead us into repentence and metanoia, helping us to not judge others, but it does no good to remain focused on specific things we've done, especially after we've confessed and received absolution.  By all means, if you feel so inclined, do penance for things you've done, but do such things to get away from past sins, not to remain tied to them.

It's so very palpable how Satan grabs and pulls us back to him when we've finally thrown off the shackles he has offered us.
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« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2007, 09:47:59 PM »

In Orthodox teaching, there is no sin which is any greater or any less than any other sin. All sin, of whatever kind, sickens the soul. You are right to believe that your sin deserves condemnation--I know mine does. But the Church is exactly the place where you should be. A common metaphor in Orthodoxy is that the Church is the hospital for the soul. Just as you would go to a medical hospital when your body is sick, so you come to the Church to heal a sick soul. The fact that you feel profound remorse for your sins and a sincere desire to change is indication that you are able to receive Christ's healing. Go to confession confidently, knowing that you must repent, but also knowing that God is more than willing to forgive you.
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« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2007, 10:23:53 PM »

In Orthodox teaching, there is no sin which is any greater or any less than any other sin. All sin, of whatever kind, sickens the soul. You are right to believe that your sin deserves condemnation--I know mine does. But the Church is exactly the place where you should be. A common metaphor in Orthodoxy is that the Church is the hospital for the soul. Just as you would go to a medical hospital when your body is sick, so you come to the Church to heal a sick soul. The fact that you feel profound remorse for your sins and a sincere desire to change is indication that you are able to receive Christ's healing. Go to confession confidently, knowing that you must repent, but also knowing that God is more than willing to forgive you.
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catechumen07
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« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2007, 11:55:33 PM »

Bless you all for your responses; I will be speaking to my priest about all this next week.
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« Reply #10 on: June 23, 2007, 02:04:40 AM »

I must say this entire thread has confused me to a degree. Catechumen07, you essentially confessed your transgressions to the world (this is the world wide web, after all) but are worried about confessing to your priest? I think my best advice is to relax, your priest is just a man. There's nothing special, nothing magical...his approval of you or lack there of is not a life or death matter. Furthermore, based on the sins you confessed to us all here, it's probably what he expects to hear, or at least what he has heard from the VERY few Orthodox who have actually bothered to go to confession (you'd be surprised how many Orthodox I've spoken to who thought that we don't do confession, it's a 'Catholic thing'), I wouldn't worry too much, especially since you wern't even Orthodox when you did these things (Chrism, like Baptism, heals all sins, confessed and unconfessed, willing and unwilling, and all sins are of the same degree, so that isn't even an issue for us like it is for the papists). The most important thing to do is to relax and not to lose your self respect, that is to say dont worry too much about what others think of you; it's ultimately God, not man, who forgives sins...and he has seen far worse than is even within your ability to commit (at least I haven't figured out how to do that genocide thing, but you may be smarter than me Wink).
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« Reply #11 on: June 23, 2007, 11:52:47 AM »

You have recieved very good advice from this forum. The only thing I can add is that confession helps with feelings of guilt. It helps you with moving on. Usually your preist or spiritual adviser will perscribe a antidote for a particular sin you have commited. It will help ease your pain. Lord have mercy on you.
 
It's also important to know that it's not the preist who absolves you. Adsolution only happens through the grace of God. When you are telling your sins, it is god hearing them.
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« Reply #12 on: June 23, 2007, 02:17:20 PM »

To greekischristian:

I "confessed" anonymously on this forum when I was severely upset.  Maybe it was cowardly, but I've only been a catechumen for a month and I don't feel comfortable talking about these things with anyone in person.  I come from a lax Protestant background where having a personal relationship with a spiritual father was a non-issue.  I'm also not very good at being relaxed or articulate around older men, which is something I'll obviously have to work on.  I didn't confess to the whole world as you said; it wasn't my intention to seem egotistical or shameless or whatever you're implying.  So please forgive me for confusing you.
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« Reply #13 on: June 23, 2007, 02:54:31 PM »

To greekischristian:

I "confessed" anonymously on this forum when I was severely upset.  Maybe it was cowardly, but I've only been a catechumen for a month and I don't feel comfortable talking about these things with anyone in person.  I come from a lax Protestant background where having a personal relationship with a spiritual father was a non-issue.  I'm also not very good at being relaxed or articulate around older men, which is something I'll obviously have to work on.  I didn't confess to the whole world as you said; it wasn't my intention to seem egotistical or shameless or whatever you're implying.  So please forgive me for confusing you.

Dear catechumen,

You didn't appear to be egotistical or shameless when you shared your past. You obviously are burdened by your past and you are looking for healing. Christ loves you so much He has lead you to His Church so you kind find healing and salvation. If you are a female and find it difficult to discuss your past with your priest for whatever reason you may want to find an Orthodox nun to speak with at some point on your journey.

sincerely, Tamara
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« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2007, 03:37:13 PM »

To greekischristian:

I "confessed" anonymously on this forum when I was severely upset.  Maybe it was cowardly, but I've only been a catechumen for a month and I don't feel comfortable talking about these things with anyone in person.  I come from a lax Protestant background where having a personal relationship with a spiritual father was a non-issue.  I'm also not very good at being relaxed or articulate around older men, which is something I'll obviously have to work on.  I didn't confess to the whole world as you said; it wasn't my intention to seem egotistical or shameless or whatever you're implying.  So please forgive me for confusing you.

I fear you misunderstood me, I was simply implying that if you felt comfortable enough to post like this on an internet forum, you've already done something that is probably more difficult than confessing to a priest. As far as seeming 'sameless or egotistical', well I am amongst the few here who would view those as virtues, far be it from me to condemn anyone for the same...then again I'm probably not the best person to ask spiritual advice either (canonical, perhaps, but not spiritual Wink)
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« Reply #15 on: July 05, 2007, 01:02:50 PM »

catechumen07, I was just reading about how priests find confession very boring as it is always the same sins just different people confessing them.

Please do not feel as though your priest would be horrified. I recall how whilst I stalled in joining The Church I heard people speak of how loving our confession Father is and how he just sits their blessing you whilst you could be saying some terrible things which would shock any normal man. When I finally agreed to be baptised, I found that they were exactly right!

Remember that your priest probably hears confessions from people in prison as well and there is nothing new under the sun so whatever sins you have comitted have been comitted by others before you.

Also, do not feel bad if your first confession takes a long time. I tried to order mine so that I had a mix of things which I felt were easy to confess then a few harder ones to allow for some time to work through them and I had some questions to ask throughout  if ever I felt like I needed a break. Some breaks were longer than others.

You may well find that your priest is able to provide some counselling or perhaps direct you to somebody who can.

Hope that assists somehow and may the good Lord reward your faithfulness in returning to Truth.  Cool
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« Reply #16 on: July 05, 2007, 03:51:20 PM »

While I absolutely agree with brother Didymus and others, I would still say that there is a difference between Holy Confession (a Sacrament or a Holy Mystery of the Church) and spiritual conversation. If you are not yet baptized and chrismated Orthodox, your eye-to-eye conversations with your priest and your admittance of your sins is still NOT a Holy Confession. UNTIL you are fully received into the Church, the priest has no power of "binding and loosing," no authority to absolve you. WHEN you go through Holy Baptism and Holy Chrismation, it is these Sacraments that absolve you, not your confession of sins. So, from all viewpoints - connoisseurs, correct me if I am wrong! - your talking about your sins to your priest while you are not yet a member of the Body of Christ are just spiritual conversation, maybe comforting, maybe helpful, but not absolving. If you commit sins AFTER you have been baptized and chrismated (as we all do), then you must go through the Sacrament, or Holy Mystery, of Confession, and then your priest will exercise his unique authority to "bind and loose."
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« Reply #17 on: July 05, 2007, 04:26:49 PM »

^

Good point. Different traditions have different practices about first confession. Some will count baptism as an absolution in itself, and others will have the newly chrismated convert give a full confession of their entire life.

Catechumen, it sounds like your tradition is the latter. The important thing is to do as your priest says. If he wants you to confess, then it is because he believes that it will bring healing to your soul, which is what I believe you want.

In my tradition, OCA, I had to make a full confession of my entire life, and although it was horribly painful, it was a great relief to finally be rid of all those sins which had troubled be since I was young. I'm sure you will find relief in confession, as well.
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« Reply #18 on: July 05, 2007, 04:48:37 PM »

^

Good point. Different traditions have different practices about first confession. Some will count baptism as an absolution in itself, and others will have the newly chrismated convert give a full confession of their entire life.

Catechumen, it sounds like your tradition is the latter. The important thing is to do as your priest says. If he wants you to confess, then it is because he believes that it will bring healing to your soul, which is what I believe you want.

In my tradition, OCA, I had to make a full confession of my entire life, and although it was horribly painful, it was a great relief to finally be rid of all those sins which had troubled be since I was young. I'm sure you will find relief in confession, as well.

Yes, that's an excellent point. I am sorry, I should have added, "the way it is in my jurisdiction, as explained to me by my parish priest." Indeed, it well may be different in different jurisdictions. Petro Mohyla's chatechism, actually, does mention full confession before baptism.

BTW, as far as "relief" goes... I am not quite sure that "relief" is the *goal* of confession. As Psalm 50 says, "my lawlessness I know, and my sin is always in my sight" (sorry if this is not precise, I am quoting from memory and translating from Ukrainian). There are certain awful things that I have done and I always remember them as they were, just awful things. Confessing them won't bring me "relief" in the sense psychologists, counseling folks seem to attribute to this word. I will always regret that I have done them, as long as I live. I know that God is ready to forgive, but I myself won't "forgive" myself.
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