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Author Topic: So what happens in Confession?  (Read 3300 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: April 24, 2009, 11:41:41 PM »

We don't have a sacrament of confession.  The closest we come is two fold: confessing to brothers and sisters what we did wrong, and sitting down and sorting things out with the pastor, which usually involves confession as well as other things.

Over on another forum I read horror stories of Catholic priests yelling at people confessing their sins. Does that happen in Orthodoxy? Do you make a distinction between venial and mortal sins? Is confession a rite, and if you don't go then are your sins not forgiven? I understand you are not judically oriented in confession and more oriented towards healing the soul, but I am not sure what is meant when someone told me that.

I've had, and heard of pastors, who had prophetic insight into people and known what was going on and were able to give incredibly wise advice in puzzling circumstances. Do the priests tend to "hear from the Lord", to use Pentecostal terminology?  Do you always go to the same priest?  Do you have to do penance, and if so, what do you have to do? Catholics have told me they usually "get three hail Mary's and they are out of there." Is Orthodox penance different? Do you go to Fr. Nice because he lays on a lighter penance than Fr. Onerous?
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« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2009, 12:04:18 AM »

We don't have a sacrament of confession.  The closest we come is two fold: confessing to brothers and sisters what we did wrong, and sitting down and sorting things out with the pastor, which usually involves confession as well as other things.

Over on another forum I read horror stories of Catholic priests yelling at people confessing their sins. Does that happen in Orthodoxy? Do you make a distinction between venial and mortal sins? Is confession a rite, and if you don't go then are your sins not forgiven? I understand you are not judically oriented in confession and more oriented towards healing the soul, but I am not sure what is meant when someone told me that.

Priests should never yell at those who confess. If they did, that person should not be in a position to hear confessions, and in all likelihood, would be removed from pastoral duties by their bishop. There is no distinction made between sins. Sin is a symptom of separation from God, therefore all sin has the same affect on the person. It is entirely possible that God may forgive one's sin without going to confession, however it is always advisable to go to confession, in order to receive guidance from your confessor.

Quote
I've had, and heard of pastors, who had prophetic insight into people and known what was going on and were able to give incredibly wise advice in puzzling circumstances. Do the priests tend to "hear from the Lord", to use Pentecostal terminology?  Do you always go to the same priest?  Do you have to do penance, and if so, what do you have to do? Catholics have told me they usually "get three hail Mary's and they are out of there." Is Orthodox penance different? Do you go to Fr. Nice because he lays on a lighter penance than Fr. Onerous?

I have had priests give very valuable advice that was exactly what I needed to hear. Other times, they have given very little advice. It would typically depend on the priest, and whether or not he is your usual confessor. The best case scenario is that you do confess always to the same priest, unless there are extenuating circumstances. For example, certain Orthodox churches require you go to confession each time you intend to receive Communion, and in that case, I would go to confession before hand, even though it is not my usual priest. It is not advisable to "shop" around for spiritual advice.

Confession as a Holy Mystery consists of two parts.

First, the priest will tell you that God forgives you and already has for your sins. The act of verbalizing them is not to receive forgiveness from God, but rather to admit to yourself in front of God and a priest those times were you have fallen away from the Christian path. By verbalizing it, the person confessing is then able to "depart in peace" having heard the Good News of God's forgiveness and mercy.

The second part is "medicine." depending on a person's spiritual health, the confessor priest will assign them a "medicine." The rough equivalent in the west is penance, but that is of a different nature. The "medicine" is not to balance out the sin, but it is to help heal the soul, where it has been damaged by sin.
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« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2009, 01:00:20 AM »

The second part is "medicine." depending on a person's spiritual health, the confessor priest will assign them a "medicine." The rough equivalent in the west is penance, but that is of a different nature. The "medicine" is not to balance out the sin, but it is to help heal the soul, where it has been damaged by sin.

Can you give examples? I've never received anything that could be considered "penance."
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« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2009, 01:19:51 AM »

The second part is "medicine." depending on a person's spiritual health, the confessor priest will assign them a "medicine." The rough equivalent in the west is penance, but that is of a different nature. The "medicine" is not to balance out the sin, but it is to help heal the soul, where it has been damaged by sin.

Can you give examples? I've never received anything that could be considered "penance."

Well like I said, the rough equivalent is a penance, although it is treated entirely differently in the Orthodox Church. For example, if I perhaps stole something, or cheated on my taxes, then a priest may ask me to donate a certain amount to charity.
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« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2009, 01:20:19 AM »

There is a great book called something like the forgotten medicine of confession that is really good. Maybe someone can recall the title and author for me? It is a thin purple book

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« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2009, 03:02:22 AM »

The second part is "medicine." depending on a person's spiritual health, the confessor priest will assign them a "medicine." The rough equivalent in the west is penance, but that is of a different nature. The "medicine" is not to balance out the sin, but it is to help heal the soul, where it has been damaged by sin.

Can you give examples? I've never received anything that could be considered "penance."

Well like I said, the rough equivalent is a penance, although it is treated entirely differently in the Orthodox Church. For example, if I perhaps stole something, or cheated on my taxes, then a priest may ask me to donate a certain amount to charity.
And most likely make restitution to the person(s) from whom you stole the money, just as Zaccheus resolved to do when Jesus came to pay him a visit.
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« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2009, 03:50:37 AM »

Can you give examples? I've never received anything that could be considered "penance."

I went to the Christmas retreat at St. Vlad's a couple years ago, and the priest to whom I confessed suggested that I might start praying the Magnificat when I say my daily prayers, because I confessed that I was having a hard time getting my pride under control. Penance is DEFINITELY a foreign word in Orthodoxy. Praying the Magnificat was just pastoral advice, or "medicine" if you will.
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« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2009, 04:29:27 AM »

We don't have a sacrament of confession.  The closest we come is two fold: confessing to brothers and sisters what we did wrong, and sitting down and sorting things out with the pastor, which usually involves confession as well as other things.
This is more or less what we do, just in a formal way.

Quote
Over on another forum I read horror stories of Catholic priests yelling at people confessing their sins. Does that happen in Orthodoxy?
I should hope not.

Quote
Do you make a distinction between venial and mortal sins?
Show me a sin whose wages are not death, and I'll start making a distinction.

Quote
Is confession a rite, and if you don't go then are your sins not forgiven? I understand you are not judically oriented in confession and more oriented towards healing the soul, but I am not sure what is meant when someone told me that.
It is a rite, but we will not say that it is the only way sins can be forgiven. Christ has on many occasions  simply told someone their sins were forgiven, and it was so. What we do know is that sins are forgiven in confession. To put it medically, your cancer might clear up on its own, but you should probably take the treatments.

Quote
I've had, and heard of pastors, who had prophetic insight into people and known what was going on and were able to give incredibly wise advice in puzzling circumstances. Do the priests tend to "hear from the Lord", to use Pentecostal terminology? 
You could put it that way. The priest is like Christ's translator. We confess directly to Christ, Who hears us and heals us of our sins, but we have trouble understanding Him. Therefore, we listen to the priest, who prods us to confess honestly and fully, and gives advice as necessary.

Quote
Do you always go to the same priest?  Do you have to do penance, and if so, what do you have to do? Catholics have told me they usually "get three hail Mary's and they are out of there." Is Orthodox penance different? Do you go to Fr. Nice because he lays on a lighter penance than Fr. Onerous?
Penance is done differently in Orthodoxy than it is in Catholicism. For example, once when I confessed a disagreement I was having with a friend, my priest gave me the penance of repenting to my friend. Every penance I've had is very similar. It's not a matter of serving a sentence but of making right the wrongs one has done.

We always go to our spiritual father, except in case of emergency. It's much more effective that way; my spiritual father remembers the things I've struggled with, and therefore can give me very specific advice. Another priest may be able to give me good advice based on their experiences with others in similar situations, but it won't be as good as if the advice is for my situation.

I hope that answers your questions. Coming from a Pentecostal background myself, I can understand your unfamiliarity. Confession took some getting used to, but it's actually a dreadful, wonderful experience now (in that order).
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« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2009, 04:40:29 AM »

Is confession done in a "formal" and ordered way like we do on Divine Liturgy, or is it sort of an ad lib? I've never seen or experienced Orthodox confession, so I'm curios if there's a particular order that we follow..
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« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2009, 04:43:53 AM »

Is confession done in a "formal" and ordered way like we do on Divine Liturgy, or is it sort of an ad lib? I've never seen or experienced Orthodox confession, so I'm curios if there's a particular order that we follow..
A little of both. The opening and absolution are scripted. Everything else should be honest and unconstrained.
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« Reply #10 on: April 25, 2009, 04:46:48 AM »

Prior and after the part where we actually tell the priest the sins we have committed, what are the things that the confessor and the priest do?
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« Reply #11 on: April 25, 2009, 04:51:27 AM »

Prior and after the part where we actually tell the priest the sins we have committed, what are the things that the confessor and the priest do?
First, the priest asks what sins you have to confess. Then you confess them. Then he asks for absolution: "May Our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, through the grace and bounties of His love towards mankind, forgive you, my child, all your transgressions, and forgive and absolve you from all your sins."
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« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2009, 04:55:31 AM »

Prior and after the part where we actually tell the priest the sins we have committed, what are the things that the confessor and the priest do?
First, the priest asks what sins you have to confess. Then you confess them. Then he asks for absolution: "May Our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, through the grace and bounties of His love towards mankind, forgive you, my child, all your transgressions, and forgive and absolve you from all your sins."

Many Thanks!  Smiley

I see that it is less formal than RC confession.
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« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2009, 04:57:26 AM »

Prior and after the part where we actually tell the priest the sins we have committed, what are the things that the confessor and the priest do?
First, the priest asks what sins you have to confess. Then you confess them. Then he asks for absolution: "May Our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, through the grace and bounties of His love towards mankind, forgive you, my child, all your transgressions, and forgive and absolve you from all your sins."

Many Thanks!  Smiley

I see that it is less formal than RC confession.
You're welcome.
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« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2009, 08:35:48 AM »

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Dear Truthstalker,

On the theory of one picture being worth a thousand words, here are a couple of pictures of Confession.

On the small reading stand in front of the person confessing is a copy of the Gospels and a Cross.   At the beginning of the Confession the priest says to the person confessing:  "Behold, my child, Christ stands here invisibly present to receive your confession and I am only a a witness....."

http://02varvara.files.wordpress.com/2008/05/confession-sretensky-2.jpg

http://fatherstephen.files.wordpress.com/2007/12/confession.jpg
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« Reply #15 on: April 25, 2009, 08:35:49 AM »

Dear Truthstalker,

This adds another facet to the Confession question...

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,19695.msg295946.html#msg295946
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« Reply #16 on: April 25, 2009, 09:16:06 AM »

Prior and after the part where we actually tell the priest the sins we have committed, what are the things that the confessor and the priest do?

There are some prayers, and a few petitions for the benefit of the soul of the person confessing, that come before.  This part usually takes just a few minutes.
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« Reply #17 on: April 25, 2009, 09:23:12 AM »


I have not received the sacrament of confession yet. This is because our church opens once in a while for the holy liturgy and none of the priests coming for celebration speaks English. Since I cannot speak Greek, I can never communicate with the priest apart from greeting him and asking him how he is. Sad
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« Reply #18 on: April 25, 2009, 11:41:53 AM »


I have not received the sacrament of confession yet. This is because our church opens once in a while for the holy liturgy and none of the priests coming for celebration speaks English. Since I cannot speak Greek, I can never communicate with the priest apart from greeting him and asking him how he is. Sad

Could be why the EP is having such a time converting the Turks. Roll Eyes
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« Reply #19 on: April 25, 2009, 11:56:04 AM »

It doesn't sound all that different from what we do, just more ordered. What about the binding and loosing passage, which we regard as declarative and the RC regard as mandating something like an exhaustive inventory of each sin, line by line and item by item? Where are you at on the Church having authority to forgive sin?
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« Reply #20 on: April 25, 2009, 01:15:34 PM »

The Church has authority to forgive sin.
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« Reply #21 on: April 25, 2009, 02:10:47 PM »

It doesn't sound all that different from what we do, just more ordered. What about the binding and loosing passage, which we regard as declarative and the RC regard as mandating something like an exhaustive inventory of each sin, line by line and item by item? Where are you at on the Church having authority to forgive sin?

As Ukie pointed out, we do believe that the Church has the authority to forgive sin, only because Christ gave it to the Church (and its leaders) from the Father (just as the Father shared the ability with the Son - sharing all things as He Willed).  We do have language in our prayers, at confession and at other times (like Unction and Communion), for sins forgotten or inadvertently omitted.  However, we hope for as complete a recount as possible - not in order to count the strikes against the person in the confession, but so as to understand the depth of the illness; just as a doctor is looking for an exhaustive list of symptoms in order to correctly diagnose the illness, so too is the confessor looking for all the spiritual symptoms of the illness of sin in order to provide the right prescription that will work on eradicating the disease.
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« Reply #22 on: April 25, 2009, 03:56:36 PM »

Can you give examples? I've never received anything that could be considered "penance."

I went to the Christmas retreat at St. Vlad's a couple years ago, and the priest to whom I confessed suggested that I might start praying the Magnificat when I say my daily prayers, because I confessed that I was having a hard time getting my pride under control. Penance is DEFINITELY a foreign word in Orthodoxy. Praying the Magnificat was just pastoral advice, or "medicine" if you will.
Something of which to be very careful:  I believe the strict secrecy of the confessional also covers the counsel your confessor gives to you in reply to your confession.  Just as your confessor is not to reveal what you confess to him, so you may be required to not reveal anything your confessor tells you during your confession.  However, we would do well to have one of our resident priests, Fr. Anastasios or Fr. Chris, confirm this.
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« Reply #23 on: April 25, 2009, 04:01:06 PM »

Prior and after the part where we actually tell the priest the sins we have committed, what are the things that the confessor and the priest do?
First, the priest asks what sins you have to confess. Then you confess them. Then he asks for absolution: "May Our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, through the grace and bounties of His love towards mankind, forgive you, my child, all your transgressions, and forgive and absolve you from all your sins."
Sometimes, depending on the priest, you may even be asked if you're sorry for your sins.  Usually right before giving you absolution, the priest will ask you if you have anything else to confess; the proper answer is something like, "I've confessed all that is on my mind right now."
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« Reply #24 on: April 25, 2009, 05:29:39 PM »

The Church has authority to forgive sin.

Christ has the authority to forgive sins. There is no man alive, even in the church, that has the power to forgive sins.

It would be a grave mistake to say that anybody other than Christ can forgive our sins. That's why even our clergy must confess their sins. That's also why we do our confession with a priest in front of a cross. We are confessing to Christ, not the priest. The priest is only there to provide counsel. The priest prays to Christ that your sins might be forgiven. Ultimately it is up to our Lord to heal us from sin.
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« Reply #25 on: April 25, 2009, 05:54:01 PM »

The Church has authority to forgive sin.

Christ has the authority to forgive sins. There is no man alive, even in the church, that has the power to forgive sins.

It would be a grave mistake to say that anybody other than Christ can forgive our sins. That's why even our clergy must confess their sins. That's also why we do our confession with a priest in front of a cross. We are confessing to Christ, not the priest. The priest is only there to provide counsel. The priest prays to Christ that your sins might be forgiven. Ultimately it is up to our Lord to heal us from sin.
You're right that a priest has no power nor authority within himself to forgive sins, that only Christ can do this.  But what if we were to see the priest as an icon of Christ whom Christ uses to make Himself present and to speak His words of forgiveness?
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« Reply #26 on: April 25, 2009, 06:04:29 PM »

There is a great book called something like the forgotten medicine of confession that is really good. Maybe someone can recall the title and author for me? It is a thin purple book




The book is called, "The Forgotten Medicine: The Mystery of Repentance."  It is by Archimandrite Seraphim (Aleksiev).  It is published by the St. Xenia Skete Press and the St. Herman of Alaska Monastery in Plantina, CA.

It is a very good book for this subject.

I hope this helps.
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« Reply #27 on: April 25, 2009, 07:05:47 PM »

If the Church has the authority to forgive sins, then why would it withhold its mercy from all of humanity?  Why not issue a universal declaration for the remissions of all sins of humanity for all times?
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« Reply #28 on: April 25, 2009, 07:40:16 PM »

The Church has authority to forgive sin.

Christ has the authority to forgive sins. There is no man alive, even in the church, that has the power to forgive sins.

It would be a grave mistake to say that anybody other than Christ can forgive our sins. That's why even our clergy must confess their sins. That's also why we do our confession with a priest in front of a cross. We are confessing to Christ, not the priest. The priest is only there to provide counsel. The priest prays to Christ that your sins might be forgiven. Ultimately it is up to our Lord to heal us from sin.

I've just sort of been browing, don't often post, but I have to ask: what is the point of the Mystery then? It's just counsel? Essentially I could do the same thing in front of an icon in my own home with any old witness who could provide spiritual council and pray that my sins might be forgiven. You really don't think there's anything more to it than that?
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« Reply #29 on: April 25, 2009, 07:41:08 PM »

There is a great book called something like the forgotten medicine of confession that is really good. Maybe someone can recall the title and author for me? It is a thin purple book




The book is called, "The Forgotten Medicine: The Mystery of Repentance."  It is by Archimandrite Seraphim (Aleksiev).  It is published by the St. Xenia Skete Press and the St. Herman of Alaska Monastery in Plantina, CA.

It is a very good book for this subject.

I hope this helps.

Thanks!
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« Reply #30 on: April 25, 2009, 10:16:09 PM »

You are welcome! Smiley
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« Reply #31 on: April 25, 2009, 11:09:22 PM »

Something of which to be very careful:  I believe the strict secrecy of the confessional also covers the counsel your confessor gives to you in reply to your confession.  Just as your confessor is not to reveal what you confess to him, so you may be required to not reveal anything your confessor tells you during your confession.  However, we would do well to have one of our resident priests, Fr. Anastasios or Fr. Chris, confirm this.

In pre-Revoluntionary Russia the seal of confession was protected by state law -except in the case where it concerned the safety of the Monarch and of the State.  In other words treason *had* to be revealed to the authorities.

Otherwise the law was stricly applied, to the extent that one or two priests were executed for breaking secrecy.  A few others had their tongues slit.

I have never known of the seal of secrecy being incumbent on the penitent however. 

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« Reply #32 on: April 26, 2009, 12:49:31 AM »

If the Church has the authority to forgive sins, then why would it withhold its mercy from all of humanity?  Why not issue a universal declaration for the remissions of all sins of humanity for all times?
But then, wouldn't that eliminate human free will?
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« Reply #33 on: April 26, 2009, 01:07:01 AM »

The Church has authority to forgive sin.

Christ has the authority to forgive sins. There is no man alive, even in the church, that has the power to forgive sins.

It would be a grave mistake to say that anybody other than Christ can forgive our sins. That's why even our clergy must confess their sins. That's also why we do our confession with a priest in front of a cross. We are confessing to Christ, not the priest. The priest is only there to provide counsel. The priest prays to Christ that your sins might be forgiven. Ultimately it is up to our Lord to heal us from sin.

Christ has the authority, and He told His Apostles that He would "rubber stamp" their decisions!  He essentially said "whatever sins you declare forgiven, I will with My Power forgive, for I trust you."  So while this isn't Him necessarily saying that they are the agents who can forgive sin, they have become de facto forgivers of sin through their relationship to Christ.  We all like to nit-pick on certain issues; sometimes, though, it's best not to.
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« Reply #34 on: April 26, 2009, 01:08:25 AM »

But then, wouldn't that eliminate human free will?

No, free will would remain.  It would eliminate the guilt of sin and its damnation.  People would still sin, they just would have to suffer infinitely for finite sins.  I don't think that the church should do this, because I don't think that they can do it in the first place, and I think it assigns a childish understanding to transgression and forgiveness, as if it were some sort of exclusively judicial transaction.  Sure, the judicial imagery helps us understand the reality, but it is only one of many models, and I feel as though there are more illuminating ones.  Especially within Orthodoxy.

I stand by the fact that God alone forgives sins, and that the presbyter only confirms the reality of it.  If this violates Orthodox dogma, please let me know, because I might have to do a bit more thinking about my baptism.
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« Reply #35 on: April 26, 2009, 01:45:57 AM »

If the Church has the authority to forgive sins, then why would it withhold its mercy from all of humanity?  Why not issue a universal declaration for the remissions of all sins of humanity for all times?

The Church DID do that....in March of 25 AD....
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« Reply #36 on: April 26, 2009, 01:53:33 AM »

The Church DID do that....in March of 25 AD....

I am not following this exactly.  I understand that you are trying to tie it to Christ's Resurrection or something, but I still don;t see how that is the same as Christ giving the apostles authority to forgive sins, and them immediately proclaiming: "This power is mine?  Then now on, from henceforth and forevermore, no sin of any man will go unforgiven.  Humanity is now healed of their sins!"
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« Reply #37 on: April 26, 2009, 02:20:16 AM »

The Church DID do that....in March of 25 AD....

I am not following this exactly.  I understand that you are trying to tie it to Christ's Resurrection or something, but I still don;t see how that is the same as Christ giving the apostles authority to forgive sins, and them immediately proclaiming: "This power is mine?  Then now on, from henceforth and forevermore, no sin of any man will go unforgiven.  Humanity is now healed of their sins!"

The Crucifixion of Our Lord is an event that is essentially cosmic in nature, as He was crucified in a rescue mission for all of humanity; past, present, and future. Thus, in His Crucifixion, all sins have been forgiven. You ask why the Church withheld its mercy from all humanity...but it has not and it will never withold mercy. Sin is ultimately the rejection of a life lived short; of a life lived in the shadow of death, of a life that failed to meet its destiny of a Life in Christ, missing the "mark."

Confession is not a mystery of asking God for forgiveness, all sins were forgiven on the Cross. Confession is a mystery wherein we hear the Good News of God's mercy and forgiveness, and in hearing the Good News, are re-baptized into Christ and go forth to live the Gospel. Confession is a mystery wherein we forgive ourselves, and in doing so acknowledge the reality of God's grace in our lives and in His Creation.
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« Reply #38 on: April 26, 2009, 02:27:13 AM »

Thus, in His Crucifixion, all sins have been forgiven.

If this is so, then why or how can the Church "bind" or "loosen" sins in apostolic authority?
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« Reply #39 on: April 26, 2009, 02:34:50 AM »

Thus, in His Crucifixion, all sins have been forgiven.

If this is so, then why or how can the Church "bind" or "loosen" sins in apostolic authority?

"Sin" is the Rejection of God's grace and mercy inherent in the Crucifixion of Christ. The Mystery of Confession consists of the person confessing re-acknowledging the Power of that Grace and re-accepting the calling that they were given at their reception into the Church. Thus, the Mystery "looses" the sins hold on the sinner.
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« Reply #40 on: April 26, 2009, 03:18:12 AM »

Christ has the authority, and He told His Apostles that He would "rubber stamp" their decisions!  He essentially said "whatever sins you declare forgiven, I will with My Power forgive, for I trust you."  So while this isn't Him necessarily saying that they are the agents who can forgive sin, they have become de facto forgivers of sin through their relationship to Christ.  We all like to nit-pick on certain issues; sometimes, though, it's best not to.

While you may think it is "nitpicking", ask any cleric if he has personally forgiven any sins, and I guarantee the answer will be no.

From the OCA "Q&A" website: http://www.oca.org/QA.asp?ID=154&SID=3
"We do not confess "to" the priest; rather, we confess to God "in the presence of" the priest who, as the prayer before Confession clearly states, is God's "witness" and who, having witnessed our confession of sins offers pastoral advice on how we can better our lives and overcome the very things we can confess. Just as one would not attempt to diagnose, much less cure, one's own physical ailments, so too one should not attempt to diagnose, much less cure, one's own spiritual ailments. "

And here's the verse to which you refer:  John 20:22-23
And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."

It's only through their reception of the Holy Spirit, by the grace of the Lord, that the apostles forgave sins. But still, they did not personally forgive them. Christ forgave sins through them. The same applies to our priests. They don't personally forgive sins. They are forgiven through the priest by the power of Christ, as evident in the prayer recited by the priest after you confess:

May Our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, through the grace and bounties of His love towards mankind, forgive you, my Child [Name] all your transgressions. And I, an unworthy Priest, through the power given me by Him, forgive and absolve you from all yours sins."



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« Reply #41 on: April 26, 2009, 07:04:25 AM »


Indeed, he is risen!

Thanks for this remarkable photograph!


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« Reply #42 on: April 26, 2009, 07:23:10 AM »

While you may think it is "nitpicking",

Of course I do - I've seen to much of it, from myself and from others.  You'd be shocked by the kind of nitpicking one finds at Theological School/Seminary.

ask any cleric if he has personally forgiven any sins,

Why would I do that?  I have my Theology Degree (with High Honors), I know exactly what the answer is.  But the truth is that while he is personally not an agent of forgiving sins, by Christ's own admission and policy he essentially is.

It's only through their reception of the Holy Spirit, by the grace of the Lord, that the apostles forgave sins. But still, they did not personally forgive them. Christ forgave sins through them. The same applies to our priests. They don't personally forgive sins. They are forgiven through the priest by the power of Christ, as evident in the prayer recited by the priest after you confess:

What, are you pontificating?  I've not denied any of the above;

Christ has the authority<snip> So while this isn't Him necessarily saying that they are the agents who can forgive sin

I've only said that after the fact the Apostles (and their successors) have become agents for the forgiving of sins because Christ forgives all sins that they say should be forgiven (and conversely does not forgive the sins they say should not be forgiven).  They do not forgive sins inherently, or directly, because we believe (as the Jews did) that only God can forgive sins; but while everyone is technically correct that it is a right held only by members of the Trinity, the fact is that the clergy, by virtue of their relationship to the Church, to Christ, and to the Apostles' witness, succession, and faith, are the human beings who decide what sins will and will not be forgiven by Christ, making them persons who have a say in the matter and, thus, after the fact make them arbiters of forgiveness of sins.
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« Reply #43 on: April 26, 2009, 12:47:35 PM »

Unless the forgiveness is automatic, then, sometimes priests will retain a confessor's sins.

When would that happen?
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« Reply #44 on: April 26, 2009, 03:23:33 PM »

Unless the forgiveness is automatic, then, sometimes priests will retain a confessor's sins.

I am totally guessing here, but asking my presbyter about it, I believe he said that he "retains" or "binds" sins when the penitent continues to live in a particular sin, as a part of their lifestyle.  For example, if someone is living with someone they are not married to and having a sexual relationship, he will deny them communion until they repent of their sin. 

I don't know the implications of this in terms of God's ultimate forgiveness, but I think the point is to drive home the reality that we must change, we must be sanctified, and we cannot comfortably exist in our same old sins without any true concern as to the severity of them.  A repentant heart eventually repents. 

Christ thought true and genuine repentance was important enough to warn that it is better to cut off your right hand than for your whole body to be thrown into the flames of hell.
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