Author Topic: Question to Ethiopians abot Holy Confession  (Read 3110 times)

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Offline Heorhij

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Question to Ethiopians abot Holy Confession
« on: September 17, 2009, 09:24:02 PM »
Dear brothers and sisters,

Viktor Zhivov, a Russian Orthodox scholar, recently (in June 2009) wrote an article (if you are interested, I'll be happy to provide you with a link, although it is in Russian), saying, among other things, that the Ethiopian Orthodox Church has never recognized the Holy Mystery of Confession (Penance), and that Ethiopian Christians generally do not even know about the practice of individual, personal confession of their sins to teir priest. Is this true?

Thank you,

Love never fails.

Offline deusveritasest

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Re: Question to Ethiopians abot Holy Confession
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2009, 09:27:58 PM »
I thought that this was true of a number of the Non-Chalcedonian churches?

Offline Orthodox11

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Re: Question to Ethiopians abot Holy Confession
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2009, 09:36:37 PM »
I thought that this was true of a number of the Non-Chalcedonian churches?

It is certainly not true of the Coptic Church, where private confession is an integral part of spiritual life. I think Salpy mentioned that general confession (a la what is common in many Russian churches) is the norm in the Armenian Church, but for historical reasons relating to the post-genocide situation, not that the Armenian Church had never known of individual confession.

Offline EkhristosAnesti

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Re: Question to Ethiopians abot Holy Confession
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2009, 09:42:34 PM »
Dear George,

How strange! No, not true at all my friend. For some official verification of my sentiment I appeal to a book entitled, The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church: Faith, Order of Worship, and Eceumenical Relationships, which was endorsed by the Holy Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and which is the product of about 20-30 prominent Ethiopian Orthodox bishops, priests and theologians, who are mentioned by name in the preface. Chapter 4 of that work is concerned with the Sacraments, and subsection F is dedicated to, 'The Mystery of Penance.' It is not a very comprehensive account of Ethiopian practice, but it does make specific mention of the individual needing his/her own private Confession Father.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2009, 09:45:07 PM by EkhristosAnesti »
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Offline Jake

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Re: Question to Ethiopians abot Holy Confession
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2009, 09:43:50 PM »
Please provide the link, I would like to read the article.

I remember from a course on Eastern Orthodoxy in my university days that private confession was not common in the Ethiopian orthodox Church.  Also the Armenian Church.

My biggest surprise was learning that privaye confession is not required for Greek Orthodox. (Avaialable but not required). This was confirmed by the Greek Orthodox students in the class who had never been to private confession,  So different from the strict rules of the Eastern Slavic Orthodox churches.

Offline Alveus Lacuna

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Re: Question to Ethiopians abot Holy Confession
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2009, 12:28:25 AM »
My Serbian church really emphasizes confession, pretty much on a weekly basis for those receiving weekly communion.

Offline deusveritasest

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Re: Question to Ethiopians abot Holy Confession
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2009, 12:40:04 AM »
Was private confession ever done in the Armenian church?

And what about the Syrian and Malankaran churches?

Offline Salpy

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Re: Question to Ethiopians abot Holy Confession
« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2009, 12:47:26 AM »
Prior to the Genocide, yes there was private confession in the Armenian Church. 

Regarding the Indian Orthodox:,5570.0.html

Offline Gebre Menfes Kidus

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Re: Question to Ethiopians abot Holy Confession
« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2009, 01:31:21 AM »
"The sacrament of Penance is necessary for repentance and sorrow for sins committed. It is administered before receiving Holy Communion; 'Let a man examine himself, and let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself not discerning the Lord's body' (I Corinthians 11:28-29). 'Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out' (Acts 3:19). Through this sacrament, remission of sins and reconciliation with God are granted (Luke 15:18-24; John 8:11, 6:37; I Timothy 2:4; Acts 3:19). The Ethiopian Church teaches that this sacrament was instituted when Christ said, 'Whatsoever thou shall bind on earth shall be boun in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven' (Matthew 16:19, 18:18; John 20:21-23)
     In this sacrament, confession is made to the priest, who can rebuke the sinner, ask him to fast some days or pass a longer time in daily prayer, or tell him to give money to the poor, or to do some kind of discipline. However, the priest should be very careful in exercising this right. He is considered a spiritual doctor. Therefore, he must be careful in applying the various kinds of medicine. A slight disease is not in need of the same drug that is needed in serious cases.
     'Treat as a kind physician - the sick person. Use some medicines for his salvation. Do not use a severe medicine, but as very mild one. Clean his wounds and make him firm through the words of consolation. If the wound is deep, use the medicines which build up the flesh. If it is filled with pus, clean it with a disinfectant medicine (with rebuking words). If the wound becomes wider, use a severe unguentum, terrify him with the Day of Judgment. If it becomes wider, burn it, and order him to fast for some days. If you find that there is no use of any kind of treatment, consult very experienced physicians - do not pass one sentence upon all kinds of sins; but examine every sin in order to give the suitable judgment. If you pass any sentence unjustly upon anyone, you should know that this sentence returns upon your own head.' [From The Ethiopian Didaskalia (The Teachings of the Apostles)]
     This judgment and punishment, of course, does not mean it can pacify the justice of God, because nothing can pacify His justice except Jesus Christ, who was crucified for the redemption of man (Romans 3:25). This sacrament is administered by any local priest who has a close contact witht he community."

-From Archbishop Abuna Yesehaq's book The Ethiopian Tewahedo Church (p. 108-109)-

"Penance is the sacrament in which a Christian receives, through the mediation of a priest, forgiveness of sins on repenting and confessing them to a priest.
     The doctrine of penance is based upon the command of Our Lord who breathed upon the face of His disciples and told them to receive the Holy Ghost; whosesoever sins they remitted, they would be remitted (John 20:21-23). Again He told His disciples that whatsoever they should loose on earth should be loosed in heaven (Matthew 18:18).
     In the Mass, absolution is given twice. Auricular Confession is the rule of the Church, confession being made only to a priest. The Lenten Fast (Fast of Hudade) and particularly Good Friday are appointed as special days for Confession. Confession is a requisite for the sacrament of Unction. Absolution includes a blow over the shoulder administered with a branch of the Woira tree as a sign that the penitent has been delivered from sin and Satan. When the faithful fall into sin, they confess what they have committed, whether great or small, and the priest gives them penance according to the number and gravity of their offences. The penance may be in the form of fasting, prayer, alms or prostrations. (II Chronicles 7:14; Matthew 7:7, 9:13) This is a punishment for the sins; sins are not cancelled by this, true repentance is shown when the sinner restores what he stole, forgives him who has injured him, asks pardon in humility of the man whom he has harmed, forsakes his accustomed sins, keeps away from all evil and returns with the whole heart to the Lord who is merciful and will cleanse him from sins. There is no forgiveness without true repentance by showing real sorrow and resolve not to repeat the evil.
     Every family has a Soul-Father, Confessor or Ya-nafs Abbat who enjoys a confidential status. It frequently happens that he wills are deposited with him. The seal of confession is the obligation of secrecy imposed upon the priest with regard to every thing revealed to him in confession. It is absolute, with no exception."

-From The Ethiopian Orthodox Church by Aymro Wondmagegnehu and Jouachim Motovu-

« Last Edit: September 18, 2009, 01:32:09 AM by Gebre Menfes Kidus »
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Offline surajiype

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Re: Question to Ethiopians abot Holy Confession
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2009, 03:49:49 AM »

Individual confession is well known in the Indian Church and in the Syrian Church.  I guess anecdotal I could say that the number of people confessing regularly has gone down.  And many priests and monastics make it a point to encourage private confession. For ex retreats are often held prior to major feasts where people are encouraged to confess and only then receive the Eucharist.
Prior to major events like baptism of children, a wedding etc , the parents , god parents and relatives are all required to confess and receive absolution.  Prior to my wedding and my child's baptism , both me and my wife with our respective parents were required to confess.

In my parents generation, one could commune only after confession and absolution, this led to a situation where people only communed once or twice a year (prior to Easter , and during Great Lent).  To correct this problem, a pastoral provision was allowed where one could commune after receiving the absolution from the priests , if according to his conscience he had not committed a major sin.  Still, it was encouraged that one should not stay away from confession beyond a period of 40 days.
So if you had confessed a month ago and you felt that you had not committed a mortal sin (forgive the latinism :)), you could approach a priest, receive absolution and then commune.

To an extent what has ha penned is that this economia has been misused, some people seem to  feel that private confession is not required at all and so on.  This important pastoral issue is being addressed (although I personally want more done).  Some priests now try to introduce the prayer of communal penitence before the Eucharist is celebrated. 

It is mandatory to confess at least once a year and one cannot serve on  parish bodies without complying. This has led to some people complying with it as a legal requirement and not perhaps in the spirit in which it was instituted.

In any case, private confession is well known in the Indian and Syrian Churches and I would say in the entire OO communion. I do not understand why it is felt that the OO don't have confession.