OrthodoxChristianity.net
April 20, 2014, 10:03:04 PM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News: The Rules page has been updated.  Please familiarize yourself with its contents!
 
   Home   Help Calendar Contact Treasury Tags Login Register  
Pages: 1   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: Repentance, Amends and Restitution, Life Confession, Reception, and Absolution  (Read 4462 times) Average Rating: 0
0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
Philonella
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox Christian
Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 8



« on: August 19, 2010, 11:01:02 PM »

Greetings! I'm taking advantage of the stated purpose of the convert issues forum "to provide a a place...where inquirers, catechumen, and newly converted could ask their questions about the Orthodox Faith in a safe and supportive forum without retribution or recrimination." Some of these topics--repentance, amends and restitution, life confession, reception, and absolution--have been covered in other forum threads as well as in my reading, but I cannot seem to figure out how this process will work. (Although I've spoken to the parish priest, I still don't have many answers.) If I've missed a thread with the relevant information, please point me in the right direction.

As a cradle Roman Catholic raised in that Church until my early teens, my concept of confession was as follows: (1) examination of conscience and contrition for sins, (2) sacramental confession, (3) receiving penance, which would include appropriate amends and restitution, if not already completed, and (4) absolution, which was contingent on completion of one's penance. (For any 12-step program members out there, the basic sequence would be steps 4, 5, and 9.)

With decades of very sinful living behind me, the Orthodox Church found me about 9 months ago and I became a catechumen. When I realized the process of being received into the Church was potentially complicated, I began stalling the process. Here's what I've pieced together. I should complete restitution and amends as part of repentance before being received into the Church by confession, chrismation, and communion. For some of the difficult discernment issues, the priest established a confessional relationship, in anticipation of my eventual reception, to permit priest-penitent privileged communications to help me determine the scope of restitution and amends. I still don't have much clarity on this point, and we've only discussed one issue (not one of the most serious, either). Since I was validly baptised and willfully chose actions I knew were sinful, I am as culpable for my actions as any Orthodox Christian. As far as I can determine, some of the appropriate penances add up to years of excommunication, which will exceed my expected life expectancy and forestall reception into the Church. The priest seems to think I should be received as soon as possible, but it just doesn't seem feasible to me. Lord, have mercy!

Please feel free to comment and correct any misapprehensions. Thank you in advance for your input.
Logged

O Christ my Savior, save me whether I want it or not!
Alveus Lacuna
Taxiarches
**********
Online Online

Faith: Orthodox
Jurisdiction: Serbian
Posts: 6,672



« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2010, 11:34:14 PM »

Since I was validly baptised and willfully chose actions I knew were sinful, I am as culpable for my actions as any Orthodox Christian. As far as I can determine, some of the appropriate penances add up to years of excommunication, which will exceed my expected life expectancy and forestall reception into the Church. The priest seems to think I should be received as soon as possible, but it just doesn't seem feasible to me. Lord, have mercy!

Welcome to the forum!

Fortunately for you, we do not recognize the "validity", to use your term, of any baptisms outside of the Church. Even if you are to be received by chrismation, this is seen as extreme economy, and the chrismation will fill up what was empty before. At least that's the Greek understanding. The Russian Church, however, does apparently have a long history of recognizing Roman Catholic sacraments, so perhaps the issue is more complicated than you make it out to be. So here's some simpler advice:

Tell your priest that you need to meet with him to talk for a while, so you can hash out all of your concerns. Every single one. Then follow his guidance as the representative of your bishop. Assuming that none of his advice is heresy, then obey his direction.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2010, 11:34:31 PM by Alveus Lacuna » Logged
GregoryLA
Elder
*****
Offline Offline

Faith: Moving toward Eastern Orthodoxy
Jurisdiction: Western Japan
Posts: 377



« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2010, 12:23:23 AM »

I don't know the answer to your questions but welcome to the forum! Cheesy

Oh! And I almost forgot...

God bless you on your journey to Orthodoxy!
« Last Edit: August 20, 2010, 12:23:51 AM by GregoryLA » Logged
sainthieu
Abstractor of the Quintessence
High Elder
******
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox
Jurisdiction: Antiochian
Posts: 621


« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2010, 12:34:03 AM »

What suggests that it is complicated? I think you're overthinking this. There's no quantitative element in this: that is, because you sinned for x years, you must perform x years worth or penance. The thief at Christs's right side was forgiven in an instant.

The priest absolves you of your sins--insofar as he is empowered by God to do so--and you accept the fact that God loves you and  forgives you. In fact, every day He forgives you as you 'forgive those who have trespassed against [you]', so it's in your interest, to forgive--and forget--every unkindness ever done to you, whether committed by yourself or by others. (Hanging on to guilt after God has forgiven you is considered idolatry.) Be reborn and move on to become what God has intended for you to become. Throw your whole self into being a humble servant, and attempt to discern God's will for you. Repent every day. Love. Be the personification of God's glory.

Joining the Orthodox church is not a 12-step program, but it often take 2 or 3 years to prepare oneself because becoming a member of the body of the church is based on sincerity. If you are sincere in your belief, success comes when it should, and not a moment before.

And remember John 15:1: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. " After you become Orthodox, you can expect to be pruned every day. If you approach God in all sincerity of heart, He will shape you into the Christian you wish to be.
Logged
Thomas
Moderator
Archon
*****
Offline Offline

Faith: Eastern Orthodox
Jurisdiction: Antiochian
Posts: 2,711



« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2010, 10:11:48 AM »

Dear Philonella,

Bishop Ignaty Brianchaninov left us the following precious instruction: "In order to live spiritually and draw breath from grace, we must continually exhale the ashes of sin." We sin almost constantly, if not in our deeds, then in our thoughts and feelings. Therefore it is essential to continually cleanse our souls. In the language of asceticism (teaching on religious struggle) it is known as "internal activity" or "attentiveness."  

I would not dwell on the issues of what you have done in the past, repent of them. Many Orthodox Priests at the time of your Baptism/Chriosmation will offer you the opportunity to do a life confession prior to the sacrament. This enables him, as your spiritual father, to gain insight into what he will be working with you as you grow in the faith. The Greek word for sin is hamartia and simply means to miss the mark. By recognizing, confessing, and repenting of the sin, we begin our way to the event of theosis that Christ says we have as our goal of the Christian Life. Your Priest represents the Divine Physician , Our Lord Jesus Christ, he will provide the medicine that the Holy Spirit tells him is necessary to bring you to spiritual health.

You mentioned penalties or penances. I assume you are referring to the compilation of recommendations listed in "The Rudder". [The Rudder is a compilation of  the sacred and divine canons of the holy and renowned Apostles, of the holy Councils, ecumenical as well as regional, and of individual fathers, as embodied in the original Greek text].t is used as guidelines to assist the priest in determining how serious a sin is, and  recommend the maximum penances for sin done after one enters the Orthodox Church. The Rudder also speaks of mercy and love  under the influence of the Holy Spirit that should guide a Priest as he assigns penances. One must remember that it is not you as the sinner that determines what those penances are (that is not your charism) but rather the Priest and Bishop (who do hold  that charism or gift form the Holy Spirit to do so).

Here are various articles written by Orthodox theologians on the subject that may help you to understand this issue:

Repentance: Life's Continual Effort located at http://www.stjohndc.org/Russian/homilies/e_9803a.htm

Repentance located at http://www.orthodoxphotos.com/readings/beginning2/repentance.shtml

Repentance in Worship located at
http://www.orthodoxresearchinstitute.org/articles/liturgics/wilson_repentance.htm

Confession and Repentance by Bishop Job located at
http://www.orthodoxresearchinstitute.org/articles/liturgics/wilson_repentance.htm

Reopentance and Confession- An Introduction located at
http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith8493

Penance by  Archpriest John Hopko located at
http://www.oca.org/OCchapter.asp?SID=2&ID=54

What Is Necessary for a Saving Confession? by Metropolitan Innocent of Moscow
http://www.orthodox.net/confess/what-is-necessary-for-a-saving-confession-metropolitan-innocent-of-moscow.html

CONFESSION: Time, Space & Age by Father Joseph Honeycutt
http://southern-orthodoxy.blogspot.com/2007/02/confession-time-space-age.html


You may wish to locate the following books on this topic:

1)Repentance and Confession in the Orthodox Church by John Chryssavgis

2)Do You Have a Ticket?, by Metropolitan Cyprian of Oropos and Fili: a very concise and inspiring small book on confession in the Orthodox Church.

3) Confession, by Met. Anthony Khrapovitsky (Jordanville, NY: Holy Trinity Monastery):  It is mainly geared towards Priests (to teach them to be better confessors); however, there is a wealth of information for laypeople as well.

4) The Forgotten Medicine: The Mystery of Repentance, Archimandrite Seraphim Aleksiev.


I hope that this will help you in your studies.

Thomas


« Last Edit: August 20, 2010, 10:12:38 AM by Thomas » Logged

Your brother in Christ ,
Thomas
Philonella
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox Christian
Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 8



« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2010, 12:11:11 PM »

Thanks, all! Guess I lapse into Scholastic thinking too readily, forgetting the Orthodox and Roman Catholic mindsets are radically different. You've been extremely helpful (and reassuring). Thank you for the list of references.
Logged

O Christ my Savior, save me whether I want it or not!
Thomas
Moderator
Archon
*****
Offline Offline

Faith: Eastern Orthodox
Jurisdiction: Antiochian
Posts: 2,711



« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2010, 02:28:40 PM »

Your welcome, that why we get paid the big bucks in the afterlife. Wink

Thomas
Logged

Your brother in Christ ,
Thomas
Philonella
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox Christian
Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 8



« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2010, 06:22:37 AM »

Now, having had a chance to read most of Thomas's recommended references, I would like to add another book to the list: The Reconciling Community: The Rite of Penance by James Dallen. The author traces the history of penance from the early church to the post-schism and post-reformation Western churches. I stumbled across this book after my original post, and found it to be the single most valuable resource in resolving the apparent disconnect between the Orthodox Christian and the Roman Catholic (and Protestant) approaches to penance, confession, and absolution. If anyone else is struggling with similar issues, I recommend the book very highly. (As an aside, portions of the book are reminiscent of the writings of Fr. Alexander Schmemann.)

Karen (aka Philonella)
Logged

O Christ my Savior, save me whether I want it or not!
OrthodoxSitkan
Jr. Member
**
Offline Offline

Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 27



« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2010, 04:23:57 PM »

Glory to Jesus Christ!

I had Father Dallen when I went to Gonzaga University.  I took his Contemporary Ecclesiology class.  He is a great priest and his book is a great resource on the history of the Mystery of Reconciliation.  I am not sure I would recommend it for an Orthodox catechumen though.  Catechumens need to spend more time in prayer and participating in the Liturgy than reading books.  As it is said, "be a person of one book."  Stick to one really good book like His Grace Bishop Kallistos' The Orthodox Church (Non-Revised Edition) and learn the prayers and tones of the Church and be in the Temple anytime it is open for Liturgies, paraliturgical services or just to pray before the Holy Ikons and offer the sacrifice of candles and a broken and contrite heart.  Find a Spiritual Father and know God forgives.  When converts get too bogged down with texts and online resources, along with the multifarious Orthodox and Non-Orthodox opinions on the Church, they can become confused and even doubt their decision to convert was the right one. Simplicity is needed for the convert, especially ones that come from the Latin and Calvinist traditions who need left brain linear answers and discussions to convince them of the truth of a matter.  Achieving the Orthodox mindset comes through participation in Church Services, prayers before the Icon Corner in the domestic church, visiting monasteries, making good Orthodox friends, and even joining in the local church community for social events and joining in pan-Orthodox prayer services and Liturgies at other nearby Orthodox parishes.   

In Christ,


Alexis
Logged
PrincessMommy
High Elder
******
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox
Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 734


OCA


« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2010, 02:03:49 PM »

Philonella/Karen  Grin

Welcome to the forum.

I want to make sure I'm understanding you a bit.  Are you saying that your priest told you that that sins you willfully committed when you were outside the fellowship of any church will require years of penitence, or is this what you have pieced together from your readings?   I'm no expert but I don't think it will work that way.  Have you specifically asked him about this?  I just can't see a priest welcoming you into the arms of the Orthodox church and then saying "Now you have to spend xyz years in penitence until you can approach the chalice." 

Thanks for the book recommendation.  As a former Protestant confession is still a struggle for me.
Logged
Philonella
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox Christian
Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 8



« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2010, 01:50:04 PM »

Hi PrincessMom,

Thank you for the welcome to the forum. It's great to be here!

All responses to my original post in this thread are excellent. I think I may have muddied the waters in my message about The Reconciling Community.  

Fr. Dallen's book was extremely helpful to me in understanding how--despite the external similarities of the modern rites--the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Church arrived at such different approaches to and understandings of "confession" from a common tradition. In addition, it was an epiphany to find that he clearly articulated in two pages the nagging issue I've struggled to define for nearly 8 months without success: it would be more appropriate for me to be classified as a penitent rather than as a catechumen! I don't think my dear, kind parish priest had the slightest idea what I was trying to say or what was bothering me. I'm so excited that I can hand him the book at our next appointment, point to three paragraphs, and say, "This is what I meant!"

Although I am very grateful to have found the book, I did not mean to imply it was a good choice for all catechumens--only for a very specific subset (i.e., confused former Roman Catholics who can't figure out why Orthodox confession looks so much like Roman Catholic confession/reconciliation but is, in fact, so radically different). If you've never been exposed to sacramental confession in another tradition, I recommend that you stick with Orthodox Christian resources.

Hope this eliminates any confusion I may have created.

Karen
« Last Edit: September 13, 2010, 01:51:53 PM by Philonella » Logged

O Christ my Savior, save me whether I want it or not!
Tags:
Pages: 1   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.18 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!
Page created in 0.067 seconds with 38 queries.