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Author Topic: Confession in Various Orthodox Churches  (Read 3839 times) Average Rating: 0
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Mary
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« on: December 22, 2003, 10:39:01 PM »

When is confession usually done in an OCA church?  How often?

I am going to be switching churches but I live 2 hours away from the nearest church, so obviously I don't want to drive in for Vespers, turn around and then drive back in for an early Liturgy.  It's too expensive to rent a motel room and I know no one who lives there.

I once went to an OCA church where there were 2 or 3 priests with 2 hearing confessions during Matins.  That same priest is also a mission priest elsewhere (in the private OCA mission I wrote about in another folder).  He said he would commune us but wanted us to confess during Matins.  He didn't even have the little book, I don't have that memorized!

Anyway, my husband and I declined communion that morning.  Our spiritual father said that some priests want confession all the time.  I am use to 3 or 4 times a year, during Matins.  Good thing I don't do anything majorly wrong....as far as I know! Smiley  Our spiritual father said every Sunday is a bit excessive and unnecessary, unless one is committing a sin and needs to confess it.


Mary
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« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2003, 10:58:09 PM »

It depends on the priest and the bishop in the diocese.  I belong to the OCA, and my mission is in the Diocese of the West.  I know +Bishop TIKHON requires that it be done 4 times a year as a minimum.  The guideline is that frequent communion requires frequent confession.  My priest thinks if you are taking Communion frequently that you should do confession once a month.  The best thing to do is ask that particular priest what his guidelines are.  Also, talk to him beforehand (either by phone or e-mail, if he has it) and explain your situation.  He might be willing to hear it before liturgy, but he may need to rearrange his schedule to get there early enough to get things done that need to be done.  Alsoo, he may require you to get there early so that he can hear your confession.   I know my priest does confession totally in private (in other words he will not do them while any services are going on).  I know that sometimes a group of people come from Great Falls (which is about 90 miles away) to attend services the once a month we have liturgy and he will get there earlier than usual so that he has about 45 mins to an hour to hear their confessions before Hours.
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« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2003, 10:58:12 PM »

Mary,

What is concerning to me in what you are posting here is the fact that many of these items are things that you should be talking about with your spiritual father. Often times your spiritual father is also the one you goto for confession on a regular basis so that is why I say you should talk to him.

This forum is great for talking about general issues and engaging in dialog among fellow Orthodox and seekers. The personal spiritual issues, is this priest doing the right thing, and other such items really should be left to your spiritual father or with a priest.

Please don't take this as me being harsh but rather a suggestion on helping you deal with your problems. Talk to your spiritual father about what to do and even though the answer may not be what you are looking for often times it may be what is best for you.
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« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2003, 12:51:20 AM »

Oh no....a letter of good standing.  This is getting way too complicated! Shocked  I signed my checks, I didn't sign a pledge card since I didn't know it existed!  I thought we were "in" since we receive envelopes and our names are in the parish directory.

We have a spiritual father, 3000 miles away from me.  We have never met him.  He agreed to be my spiritual father because he knows my husband well through the internet and knew we needed some sort of guidance since no one else would guide us.  He never said anything about the frequency of confession.

I am feeling really frustrated now.  I am sorry I posted here since it was inappropriate for me to do so.

I don't know what to do now.

Bye,
Mary
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« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2003, 01:59:58 AM »

Mary,

In attempting to grow in our life in Christ, we are often frustrated.  We must pray and have faith that God will reveal to us the path we should we take.  Perhaps you will find in this new parish a priest who can help you in this.  I would hope that perhaps after visiting once or twice the priest might be able to help you find a solution to your accomodations problem.  I would call and talk to the priest(s) at that parish and confirm what is said with your spiritual father.

To answer your first two questions...in my area (SE USA) the OCA parishes seem to offer confession after Vespers/Vigil on Wed/Sat almost always and before Liturgy and other times by appointment.  My bishop (His Eminence Archbishop +DMITRI of Dallas and the South) requires confession at least four times a year but has stated on his most recent visits that he encourages every member to go to confession montly.  This is followed well at my parish, with 80% of our 100 or so members confessing about once a month.  

Our parish priest usually uses a book(not sure which, I never have really paid attention to it, as I usually have other things on my mind), and has a short prayer for about 2 minutes before the confession.  Afterward, I list my sins, and the priest offers counseling, often suggesting a spiritual discipline not as a penance, but to grow in faith.  Then I get on my knees, he places his stole over my head, and performs absolution.  I have seen confessions carried out in this manner by at least 6-7 priests in the area, so I am pretty sure this is the norm for my deanery/diocese.  

I hope you find the help you seek.  I will most certainly pray for you and ask your prayers.  As Arimethea has stated, internet forums such as these are far from the best medium of communication in delicate matters such as these, but if we can be of any help, we remain willing to try.  Please let the community know if we can help in any way.

By the way, I'm not sure a letter of good standing will be a vital thing.  Probably all that will happen is the priest might call your old parish just to confirm when and where you were received into The Church.
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« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2003, 10:44:52 AM »

Hey Vicki

You forgot Phil - the OO here [ and this also includes subdeacon Peter too does it not ? ]

Let's face it everyone is here
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« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2003, 11:06:14 AM »

Yes. I'm in the COP. Is Phil in the SOC?

PT
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« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2003, 11:17:16 AM »

Phil's a Mar Thoma Anglican Wink

Bobby
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« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2003, 11:17:22 AM »

He's Indian - but don't ask which - it's too complicated for my poor brain - I get them mixed up
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« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2003, 11:40:29 AM »

You guys have to understand....I just don't know the "norm" for what to expect from a priest.  I am isolated here.

I have had two priests say in person...move to the city if you want to Orthodox.   So naturally, my husband and I feel as though we don't belong.

When searching for a church, my husband did make a phone call to a mission in the city and was told to go to another church instead!  Which led us to the priest and his wife who said....move!

My husband is very, very religious.  I, on the other hand, grew up without religion so all of this is fairly new to me.  My husband even knows Jim Forest who has written several books.  He was instrumental in bringing in many Orthodox converts in his former church one which is a deacon and the other who is becoming a priest.    So, there is a background here.

I have only been in two other Orthodox homes, both 3000 miles away.  I have no one in person to talk to who is Orthodox.  I have NO WHERE to turn.


Mary
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« Reply #10 on: December 23, 2003, 01:30:54 PM »

I live where I live because I have a job here - very well paid job with a high position.  There happens to be a lot of unemployment in this country so why give up a job?

I own my home.  I moved here before knowing that I would ever become Orthodox....as in 28 years before I knew.   I was married before.

I never considered Orthodoxy while growing up.   They have the word "GreeK" in front of it.  I don't speak Greek.

Maybe we don't get to go to all the services due to traveling, work, SAFETY on the winter mountainous passes BUT we do arrive for Liturgy DURING Matins...not just prior to Communion.....as is the case with a very high percentage of those who do.

Motels cost a lot, btw.  Why do I have to move to where a church is?  

Haven't you ever wondered why there is no presence of Othodoxy as in book stores or TV, etc.?   When you tell people you are a Christian Orthodox...do they ask what on earth is that?  OR do they run the other way? Why no Orthodox priest at the 9/11 Memorial when other religions had representatives?  As I recall, an Orthodox church was also lost on 9/11.

Mary


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« Reply #11 on: December 23, 2003, 02:48:11 PM »

I am glad you live in a perfect world.  

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« Reply #12 on: December 23, 2003, 02:55:52 PM »

"Why don't we have any God bearing elders anymore?"

"Because there are no disciples"
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« Reply #13 on: December 23, 2003, 02:58:49 PM »

At my parish the general "flow" of things is this:

Confession is preferrably heard after Vespers on Saturday night.  However, our priest places great emphasis on frequent confession/communion, so he will do it after weekday services, occaisionally during Matins (usually reserved for those that live far away) or he will even do it after the Liturgy just to make himself available if that's the only time someone could do it.

We're generally encouraged to go about every 6-8 weeks or more frequently if we feel we need to go.  

However, like others have said, it is really up to the spiritual father/confessor.  We have people in our parish that probably confess twice a month, because they are more spiritually advanced and have a more "monastic" relationship with the spiritual father than many do, while others go every other month, etc.  

Its one of those things that it should be between the individual and the spiritual father.
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« Reply #14 on: December 25, 2003, 02:50:38 AM »

I'm in a Russian Orthodox Church, Moscow Patriarch.  I'm expected to be at confession weekly.  Confessions are heard between 5-5:30 on Saturday before Vespers, and from 8:30-9:30 Sunday morning before 10:00 Divine Liturgy.  As Fr.  says each Sunday morning, our tradition is that the Eucharist is only for those who have properly prepared themselves by going to confession the night before or that morning, have said their pre-communion prayers, have fasted from all foods and liquids from midnight the night before, and have forgiven their brothers and sisters from their heart.
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« Reply #15 on: December 30, 2003, 04:11:41 PM »

I think it is better for confession to happen as often as possible because it keeps us focused on living a Godly life.

Unfortunately for me, that would mean going to another Church to do it.
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« Reply #16 on: January 03, 2004, 04:08:42 PM »

Oh...I forgot...When you transfer jurisdisctions from Antiochian Orthodox to OCA, they WILL ask the Antiochian parish you were at for some sort of letter of good standing...usually involving: were you paid members....

Vicki,
I have to disagree with this since it wasn't the case for my wife and me.  Maybe it was because we both grew up Eastern Orthodox, but when we moved we went from an Antiochian parish to an OCA parish - and neither of us ever gave our priest the contact information to verify that we were in good standing.  My guess is that while this practice may happen, it's probably widely variable.

Concerning confession - I personally find that the more often I confess the better I feel and the more solid I feel in my spiritual life.  I firmly believe that confession is not a punishment (as it's often portrayed) but a spiritual gift from God, and those who partake of it will reap the benefits.  I grew up Greek Orthodox and never confessed once - not until I was in college and the only Orthodox parish was OCA and it was required during Lent.  I was very anxious, but my first confession went OK and I've gradually gotten more used to it.  One spiritual father of mine recommended confessing at least 4x per year, and that's what I do now - I try to make it around the 3rd, 6th, 9th, and 12th months of the year.  Of course that's only a guideline.  4x a year is also what my Bishop (His Grace TIKHON - OCA West) requires.  

Confession is food for the soul - I think it's the most misunderstood sacrament out there.
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« Reply #17 on: January 03, 2004, 04:11:29 PM »

And also, concerning confession, if anyone thinks that you'll run out of things to say if you confess too often -- just read any Orthodox "examination of conscience" that's out there to help you prepare for confession.  I sin enough that I could confess every week (I don't).
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« Reply #18 on: January 04, 2004, 12:02:10 AM »

Orthodox presence at 9/11 memorial services:

http://www.oca.org/pages/ocaadmin/documents/Official/NYCTrag/prayerforamerica.html

http://oca.org/pages/events/2001/TheoWTC919/index.html
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« Reply #19 on: January 04, 2004, 12:18:02 AM »

My 2 kopecks...

In my parish, the relation of frequency of confession to communion is very much between the penitent and his/her spiritual father.  However, the usual and STRONGLY encouraged practice is not to approach for Holy Communion without Confession and a blessing to receive after absolution.

Confession is available during Matins and before Liturgy during the reading of the Hours, for all Sundays and feast days (we have 3 priests in the parish - all unpaid...).

Myself - I confess before each Communion, which I started doing as an Eastern Catholic.  I found it was just too easy to pile sin upon sin.

For the record, I absolutely hate going to Confession.  Doing an Examination of Conscience is a killer every time - but I know the Church is right about Confession, so I grit my teeth and get through it, usually accompanied by several Jesus Prayers.
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