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Author Topic: First Confession as a Former Catholic  (Read 867 times) Average Rating: 0
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JimCBrooklyn
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« on: April 12, 2011, 06:27:14 PM »

So, my entry into Orthodoxy is now to be even sooner than I thought. It has been moved from Holy Thursday to the Entry into Jerusalem, this Sunday! I am to confess, renounce RC beliefs, and recite the creed on Saturday evening, and then receive on Sunday. I voiced my concerns about the method of my initiation to my priest here (albeit in a very deferring manner), and more frankly to a man who may end up our priest in the US, and both assured me that I am being received in a perfectly valid way, and in fact, there WILL be, like I said above, a direct renunciation of Roman Catholicism, and a private recitation of the creed, two things I had thought there would not be, which concerned me.

My question now is regarding confession. I was an avid confession-goer as a RC, and thus am vey familiar with the way things work on that side. I can count on one hand the number of times among hundreds that I actually felt very nervous about confessing, but I feel this way now! How have other former Catholics gone about making their first Orthodox confession? How do I treat the many sins confessed in my past in the RC church? How do I account for so many years of my life? I have gotten input from my priest, obviously, and he suggested I approach it in the way I feel will be best (he also said that he will guide me some), but I was curious for the thoughts of some of you, former Catholics or not.

Looking ahead, grateful and excited, experiencing a lot of feelings about all of this! To think that I will counted worthy to receive within days!
In Christ,
Jim
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« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2011, 06:50:32 PM »

I simply confessed the sins I committed since my last RC confession.

I don't know if they have the very same practice in Russia but in Poland confession usually goes this way:
1. one have to approach this piece of furniture by which the priest is standing, make the sign of the cross, kiss the icon and the book of Gospel and lean over them,
2. one gets covered by the priest with a piece of liturgical vestment,
3. the priest gives a sermonette, usually connected with the feastday, and asks one what sins one has committed,
4. one has to list all the sins,
5. the priest gives some advice concerning one's spiritual progress and -- if the sins are really big or recurrent -- an epitemia (i.e., a penance which may include temporal excommunication) but that happens rarely (I guess that the idea behind this fact is that the whole Orthodox spirituality per se is penitential so, if one follows an Orthodox prayer rule, attends services, etc., there is no need to give him/her an epitemia every time he/she confesses),
6. one is asked if he/she regrets one's sins,
7. one have to say "yes",
8. the absolution formula is recited over one by the priest,
9. one have to, again, kiss the icon and the Gospel and then do a little prostration before the priest and ask for his blessing,
10. some monetary offering would be nice (usualy there is a box for it, etc.).
« Last Edit: April 12, 2011, 06:59:26 PM by Michał » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2011, 07:11:41 PM »

I simply confessed the sins I committed since my last RC confession.

I don't know if they have the very same practice in Russia but in Poland confession usually goes this way:
1. one have to approach this piece of furniture by which the priest is standing, make the sign of the cross, kiss the icon and the book of Gospel and lean over them,
2. one gets covered by the priest with a piece of liturgical vestment,
3. the priest gives a sermonette, usually connected with the feastday, and asks one what sins one has committed,
4. one has to list all the sins,
5. the priest gives some advice concerning one's spiritual progress and -- if the sins are really big or recurrent -- an epitemia (i.e., a penance which may include temporal excommunication) but that happens rarely (I guess that the idea behind this fact is that the whole Orthodox spirituality per se is penitential so, if one follows an Orthodox prayer rule, attends services, etc., there is no need to give him/her an epitemia every time he/she confesses),
6. one is asked if he/she regrets one's sins,
7. one have to say "yes",
8. the absolution formula is recited over one by the priest,
9. one have to, again, kiss the icon and the Gospel and then do a little prostration before the priest and ask for his blessing,
10. some monetary offering would be nice (usualy there is a box for it, etc.).
Absolutely beautiful. Do the Orthodox see the priest as an "Icon of Christ" during the sacrament of confession?
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« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2011, 07:30:27 PM »

Do the Orthodox see the priest as an "Icon of Christ" during the sacrament of confession?

In the formula of absolution used in Eastern Slavic Orthodoxy, the priest makes is clear that he is "[Christ's] unworthy priest" who acts under "the authority committed [to him by Christ]."
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« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2011, 07:34:54 PM »

Absolutely beautiful. Do the Orthodox see the priest as an "Icon of Christ" during the sacrament of confession?

Could you expand on what you mean by "icon of Christ"? Is it sort of an Ignatian "standing in the place of Christ" type of thing? Fwiw, here are two versions of the prayers said in the Antiochian tradition when a priest is concluding a confession:

"God through Nathan the prophet forgave David his sins; and Peter shedding bitter tears over his denial; and the Adulteress weeping at his feet; and the Publican and the Prodigal Son. May this same God, through me, a sinner, forgive you everything in this life and in the life to come. And may he make you stand uncondemned before his awesome judgment-seat, for he is blessed forever and ever. Amen. "

"May our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, through the grace and bounties of his love towards mankind, forgive thee my child, N., all thy transgressions. And I, His unworthy priest, through the power given unto me by Him, do forgive and absolve thee from all thy sins. In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen."
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« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2011, 07:47:16 PM »

Absolutely beautiful. Do the Orthodox see the priest as an "Icon of Christ" during the sacrament of confession?

Could you expand on what you mean by "icon of Christ"? Is it sort of an Ignatian "standing in the place of Christ" type of thing?

Yes. I am not suggesting the Latin alter christus concept, but at least the concept described by St. Ignatius of Antioch, that the Presbyter stands in the Place of Christ. Perhaps most specifically  in the ministry of the Sacraments.

 Fwiw, here are two versions of the prayers said in the Antiochian tradition when a priest is concluding a confession:

"God through Nathan the prophet forgave David his sins; and Peter shedding bitter tears over his denial; and the Adulteress weeping at his feet; and the Publican and the Prodigal Son. May this same God, through me, a sinner, forgive you everything in this life and in the life to come. And may he make you stand uncondemned before his awesome judgment-seat, for he is blessed forever and ever. Amen. "

"May our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, through the grace and bounties of his love towards mankind, forgive thee my child, N., all thy transgressions. And I, His unworthy priest, through the power given unto me by Him, do forgive and absolve thee from all thy sins. In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen."
This bolded part seems to tend towards the concept that I was thinking.
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« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2011, 07:54:40 PM »

My Spiritual Father always makes a point of stating clearly just after the initial prayers are said and before I begin confessing, "Now my child, do not fear to confess anything here, for you are not confessing to me, but to Christ, and I am but a witness. Someone who is here to help you."

It's not part of any prayer, but it is reassuring, just in case amidst all the icons of Christ that surround us in the Church we forget who we are confessing to. Wink

In regards to the OP, it has been my experience in Orthodox Confession (mind you, I was never a Catholic) that it's almost more like a counseling session than just a rattling off all that you have done wrong. You tell the priest the troubles of your heart, what is bothering you, what you are struggling with, and he helps you as a physician helps a patient. While the physician does not do the healing himself (for all healing truly comes from God), he acts as a vessel for God to work. The same with is the confessor/penitent relationship.

When one has a good relationship with their Spiritual Father, confession is a beautiful thing that you'll find yourself looking forward to.
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« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2011, 08:03:31 PM »

This bolded part seems to tend towards the concept that I was thinking.

BTW, this particular formula was introduced by St. Peter Mogila (17th century) and is considered to be of Latin origin.
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« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2011, 01:51:48 PM »

This was super helpful.
Can I ask:
Is it common for RC-->Orthodox converts to only confess what has occurred since their last RC confession? Am I limited to this,  or if, for instance, in my youth there was a particularly grave pattern of sins that defined a period of my life, would it be worth bringing that up?
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« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2011, 01:59:06 PM »

This was super helpful.
Can I ask:
Is it common for RC-->Orthodox converts to only confess what has occurred since their last RC confession? Am I limited to this,  or if, for instance, in my youth there was a particularly grave pattern of sins that defined a period of my life, would it be worth bringing that up?

I would say that, sure, you can confess what happened during your whole life but be reasonable: give a detailed list of your sins as far as the time since your last RC confession is concerned and a general overview as far as the rest of your life is.
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« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2011, 02:05:54 PM »

This was super helpful.
Can I ask:
Is it common for RC-->Orthodox converts to only confess what has occurred since their last RC confession? Am I limited to this,  or if, for instance, in my youth there was a particularly grave pattern of sins that defined a period of my life, would it be worth bringing that up?


I confessed what I had done since my last RC confession (which was pretty long, as it had been some 18 months since I did so, having a rather long catechumenate) but, as you noted, I touched on some things that were a "grave pattern of sins". 
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« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2011, 01:39:48 PM »

Like I said, all have you have been very helpful. I ask one more favor:
I'm terrified of making this confession tomorrow: When I first discovered Orthodoxy, having been a firm Roman Catholic, my world turned somewhat upside down, and in the process of inquiry, I got so confused and searched through so many corners that I began to doubt just about everything. I came back into belief, not too long thereafter, and then into Orthodoxy, to be fulfilled entirely this weekend, but in that time of darkness, boy, did I regress, and do some stuff that I can't imagine doing as a self-identified Christian. I'm certain that I'm not alone in this, but I'm just getting nervous. For one, I have the impression that my priest has an overly inflated sense of my own spirituality; I believe he will not expect me to say some of the things I will say tomorrow. This is my pride, the source of many of those sins.
Please pray for me.
Jim
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« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2011, 02:14:03 PM »

Like I said, all have you have been very helpful. I ask one more favor:
I'm terrified of making this confession tomorrow: When I first discovered Orthodoxy, having been a firm Roman Catholic, my world turned somewhat upside down, and in the process of inquiry, I got so confused and searched through so many corners that I began to doubt just about everything. I came back into belief, not too long thereafter, and then into Orthodoxy, to be fulfilled entirely this weekend, but in that time of darkness, boy, did I regress, and do some stuff that I can't imagine doing as a self-identified Christian. I'm certain that I'm not alone in this, but I'm just getting nervous. For one, I have the impression that my priest has an overly inflated sense of my own spirituality; I believe he will not expect me to say some of the things I will say tomorrow. This is my pride, the source of many of those sins.
Please pray for me.
Jim

Lord, have mercy!

If it's any consolation, while I was never Roman Catholic I had been a self identified Christian for most of my life yet somehow found myself doing much during my 20s (yes, the entire decade, sadly) that I really should have known better than to do.  As I approached my first confession my priest gave me a good bit of advice: "Priests really have heard it all, there's no way you're going to shock me.  Whatever you think is the most shocking thing you've done, confess that first."  Good advice: I started off with the worst, and when Father didn't immediately throw me out of the Church the rest was much easier (what a long and sordid list it was).
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