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Author Topic: Confession : Mandatory or Optional?  (Read 1561 times) Average Rating: 0
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kx9
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« on: September 21, 2012, 02:21:22 AM »

If an EO Christian has committed one sin (or many sins), is it mandatory or optional for him to go for confession to a priest before receiving the Eucharist?

Can he confess directly to Jesus (without a priest) and repent and then receive the Eucharist?
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« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2012, 02:40:24 AM »

If an EO Christian has committed one sin (or many sins), is it mandatory or optional for him to go for confession to a priest before receiving the Eucharist?

Can he confess directly to Jesus (without a priest) and repent and then receive the Eucharist?

Everyone receives the Eucharist with multiple unconfessed sins. But as sin builds up or if there's a particulary bad or habitual sin, then one would go to Confession before receiving the Eucharist.

You can confess directly to Jesus at any time.

The priest does not witness confession so that you can reconcile with God individually, but rather to the body of Christ which is the Church. That is, you must confess to your fellow believers. This is why, in addition to going to confession, one must reconcile or attempt to reconcile with anyone you've been in conflict with if you want to receive the Eucharist. This is because of Christ's command:

"Leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering."

And the words of the Apostle James:

"Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed."

In the Orthodox Church, the Presbyter (priest) is a representative of the Christian community and a member of the Christian community. So you can either confess your sins to everyone (which would include the presbyter) or you can confess to the Presbyter, because he was chosen to re-present the entire community.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2012, 02:41:08 AM by NicholasMyra » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2012, 04:14:21 AM »

If an EO Christian has committed one sin (or many sins), is it mandatory or optional for him to go for confession to a priest before receiving the Eucharist?

Can he confess directly to Jesus (without a priest) and repent and then receive the Eucharist?

That would depend on which Orthodox Church you go to. In our church nobody apart from children receives the Eucharist unless they have prepared by fasting and confession. When we used to attend a Greek church it wasn't required that you confess every time (in fact confessions seemed to be very rare). Even though it has lead to very infrequent communion being the norm in Romania (which is undoubtedly bad) I greatly prefer it to the approach I found in that Greek parish (and I don't know if that is usual for Greek churches or not but there is some information on the GOARCH website regarding confession that sounds equally lax).

Having said that, the priest is to guard the chalice and so to my mind the way to encourage more frequent communion is to encourage more frequent confession (which in the case of some Romanians seems to mean making them understand that fasting means keeping the normal fasts that are prescribed by the calendar, not that they should only confess during a major fast period) not to encourage people to receive the Eucharist despite not having confessed. I know that we always have unconfessed sins when we receive but there is a big difference between doing our best to confess and missing something and not even trying in the first place.

James
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« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2012, 02:52:04 PM »


That would depend on which Orthodox Church you go to. In our church nobody apart from children receives the Eucharist unless they have prepared by fasting and confession.
So OO don't commit any sins between their confession and receiving the eucharist?  police
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« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2012, 03:27:43 PM »


That would depend on which Orthodox Church you go to. In our church nobody apart from children receives the Eucharist unless they have prepared by fasting and confession.
So OO don't commit any sins between their confession and receiving the eucharist?  police

I think he is a Romanian EO, not an OO.
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« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2012, 03:38:15 PM »


That would depend on which Orthodox Church you go to. In our church nobody apart from children receives the Eucharist unless they have prepared by fasting and confession.
So OO don't commit any sins between their confession and receiving the eucharist?  police

I think he is a Romanian EO, not an OO.
Ah, my mistake, I thought I recognized that avatar from one of our OO posters.

In any case, the majority of us sin several times after confessing before receiving the eucharist.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2012, 03:38:32 PM by NicholasMyra » Logged

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if Christ does and says x. And someone else does and says not x and you are ever in doubt, follow Christ.

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« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2012, 08:42:35 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

We should be repenting and confessing our sins daily and at every instance to Our Lord Jesus Christ in prayer.  When we come to the Priest to hear our Confession, it is not a mere confessing of sins and faults, but a participation with the Divine Mysteries to receive healing.  The Priest consoles us through the Holy Spirit to teach us what we must change in our lives to get nearer to God and further from our self-defeating sins.  The Absolution heals us and prepares us to return to God in body, mind, and soul through the Holy Communion. The entire act is both symbolic and literal.  We symbolically connect with God and repent from our sins through the ritualized actions of Confession.  Underlying this process, God actually in the Spirit acts in Synergy with our actions.  So the symbolism becomes literal through the actions of prayer and the Holy Spirit.  That being said, when we are physical ill in some way, sick or wounded or having some kind of sore/infection, we can't just rush to the doctor right away.  The doctor cooperates with our body's own dynamics to help us heal and assist in the process, but it takes time.  He can't just instantly cure many ailments, rather the body's own natural functions must be assisted towards this recovery which can take time.  

In our own lives, there is a degree to our sins and how far they push us from God, just as there is a degree of illness.  Confession is like the spiritual Emergency Room, you go there when it gets as bad as its ever going to get.  Your Confessor will let you know which is an Emergency needing of Confession to him, and which is a minor malady which can be cured the old fashioned way through taking it easy with bed rest (i.e. confessing to God at home in your prayers).  So essentially, it is up to our priests who will tell us after Confession how frequent and at which instances we should return to them before receiving Holy Communion.  My own priest has me Confess with him once a month, yet I am absolved to receive Holy Communion to any frequency between each Confession during the month as the Spirit and my own conscience invite me to celebrate.  So with that I would say (a) your own conscience will tell you when to go to the Priest and (b) Confession is indeed mandatory and the priests will advice you as to what is most effective and appropriate for your own individual spiritual recovery from sin.  Confession is also the Church's form of spiritual therapy, so some priests ask for frequent Confession like some folks need to go to therapy once a week, and other folks are content for less frequent visits.  Either way, Confession in my life is about the only thing that can keep my head straight Smiley

stay blessed,
habte selassie
« Last Edit: September 21, 2012, 08:42:51 PM by HabteSelassie » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2012, 04:50:04 PM »

Why wouldn't one go to Confession?
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« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2012, 04:46:02 PM »

it's optional.
unless you want peace, direction, encouragement and a close relationship with God.
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« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2012, 05:19:59 PM »

If an EO Christian has committed one sin (or many sins), is it mandatory or optional for him to go for confession to a priest before receiving the Eucharist?

Can he confess directly to Jesus (without a priest) and repent and then receive the Eucharist?

That would depend on which Orthodox Church you go to. In our church nobody apart from children receives the Eucharist unless they have prepared by fasting and confession. When we used to attend a Greek church it wasn't required that you confess every time (in fact confessions seemed to be very rare). Even though it has lead to very infrequent communion being the norm in Romania (which is undoubtedly bad) I greatly prefer it to the approach I found in that Greek parish (and I don't know if that is usual for Greek churches or not but there is some information on the GOARCH website regarding confession that sounds equally lax).

Having said that, the priest is to guard the chalice and so to my mind the way to encourage more frequent communion is to encourage more frequent confession (which in the case of some Romanians seems to mean making them understand that fasting means keeping the normal fasts that are prescribed by the calendar, not that they should only confess during a major fast period) not to encourage people to receive the Eucharist despite not having confessed. I know that we always have unconfessed sins when we receive but there is a big difference between doing our best to confess and missing something and not even trying in the first place.

James
It's as you described in our little Greek parish.  Our priest is OCA (on loan) and when he talked to me about confession he mentioned how difficult it was to get Greeks to confess.  Having said that, there were several people I never saw take the Eucharist.  I always assumed it was for the same reason I didnt, having not been to confession lately.  My priest told me I should go at a minimum every other month, but every week is better.

For me, if I have not been lately, I don't feel right taking the Eucharist, so I wait.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2012, 05:21:41 PM by Kerdy » Logged
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« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2012, 01:40:43 AM »

In the Russian Orthodox Church, a person who is taking Holy Communion must have been to confession within the last week.

At the Austin parish, we have a lot of communicants (compared to some places), but we also have a lot coming to confession.
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« Reply #11 on: September 24, 2012, 02:14:55 AM »

If an EO Christian has committed one sin (or many sins), is it mandatory or optional for him to go for confession to a priest before receiving the Eucharist?

Can he confess directly to Jesus (without a priest) and repent and then receive the Eucharist?

Everyone receives the Eucharist with multiple unconfessed sins. But as sin builds up or if there's a particulary bad or habitual sin, then one would go to Confession before receiving the Eucharist.

You can confess directly to Jesus at any time.

The priest does not witness confession so that you can reconcile with God individually, but rather to the body of Christ which is the Church. That is, you must confess to your fellow believers. This is why, in addition to going to confession, one must reconcile or attempt to reconcile with anyone you've been in conflict with if you want to receive the Eucharist. This is because of Christ's command:

"Leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering."

And the words of the Apostle James:

"Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed."

In the Orthodox Church, the Presbyter (priest) is a representative of the Christian community and a member of the Christian community. So you can either confess your sins to everyone (which would include the presbyter) or you can confess to the Presbyter, because he was chosen to re-present the entire community.


Your answer is fine, however it seems to imply that confession to a priest is mandatory overall. Is that true?
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« Reply #12 on: September 24, 2012, 02:20:29 AM »

I see that I have got different answers from different EO posters. Could it be because different EO churches (Romanian EOC, Russian EOC, Greek EOC etc have different traditions?

I thought all of them agree with each other completely in traditions and other religious views.
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« Reply #13 on: September 24, 2012, 02:31:49 AM »

I see that I have got different answers from different EO posters. Could it be because different EO churches (Romanian EOC, Russian EOC, Greek EOC etc have different traditions?

I thought all of them agree with each other completely in traditions and other religious views.
Some priests and regions, for various reasons, became more or less strict. This is what you would expect.
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if Christ does and says x. And someone else does and says not x and you are ever in doubt, follow Christ.

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« Reply #14 on: September 24, 2012, 02:33:05 AM »

Your answer is fine, however it seems to imply that confession to a priest is mandatory overall. Is that true?
Yeah, it's pretty impossible to live the Christian life without confessing to an elder (that's what presbyter means) and reconciling with the community, as history has shown.

We believe Christ gives the presbyter the duty to witness a confession and bestow reconciliation on that person (see John 20:19-23).

This is the prayer the priest says over you when you receive absolution:

"My spiritual child, who has confessed to my humble self, I, humble and a sinner, have no power on earth to forgive sins, but God alone; yet through that divinely spoken word which came to the Apostles after the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, saying: Whoever sins they remit, they are remitted, and whoever. sins we retain, they are retained, we too are emboldened to say: Whatever you have said to my most humble self, and whatever you have not succeeded in saying, either through ignorance, or through forgetfulness, Whatever it may be: God forgive you in this present world, and in that which is to come."
« Last Edit: September 24, 2012, 02:43:03 AM by NicholasMyra » Logged

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if Christ does and says x. And someone else does and says not x and you are ever in doubt, follow Christ.

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« Reply #15 on: September 24, 2012, 05:45:04 AM »


That would depend on which Orthodox Church you go to. In our church nobody apart from children receives the Eucharist unless they have prepared by fasting and confession.
So OO don't commit any sins between their confession and receiving the eucharist?  police

I think he is a Romanian EO, not an OO.
Ah, my mistake, I thought I recognized that avatar from one of our OO posters.

In any case, the majority of us sin several times after confessing before receiving the eucharist.

Carl is correct and it seems to me that you at best skim-read my post as well as my jurisdiction (and why would an OO use an avatar which is the icon of a 14th century EO saint?). I will quote myself from my first post in this thread with the salient part emboldened - maybe then you might be able to see what I actually wrote rather than what you thought I did:

Quote
I know that we always have unconfessed sins when we receive but there is a big difference between doing our best to confess and missing something and not even trying in the first place.

James
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« Reply #16 on: September 24, 2012, 07:53:04 AM »

Confession is in the orthodox church a very important part-sacrament of it`s life and as of partaking in the life of the church. As a christian, how can for example I live a fully christian life if I let my sins take control and drive me away from God. That can hamper your spiritual growth and the ultimate goal for all orthodox is in the end to gain mercy and salvation. Right?
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« Reply #17 on: September 24, 2012, 10:28:14 AM »

Can he confess directly to Jesus (without a priest) and repent and then receive the Eucharist?

First of all, we should be doing this. We should confess our sins to Christ in private prayer every day.

But the Church is Christ's Body, so if our sins separate us from God, they also separate us from the Church. Therefore we must be reconciled with the Church as Christ's Body, so we confess in the presence of a priest so we can be sacramentally restored to communion with the Church.

All confessions are directly to Jesus. The Russians have a beautiful exhortation that the priest says at the beginning of every confession:

Behold, my child, Christ stands here invisibly and receives your confession. Therefore be not ashamed nor afraid; conceal nothing from me, but tell me without hesitation everything that you have done, and so you shall have pardon from Our Lord Jesus Christ. See, His holy icon is before us: and I am but a witness, bearing testimony before Him of all the things which you have to say to me. But if you conceal anything from me, you shall have the greater sin. Take heed, therefore, lest having come to a physician you depart unhealed.

The priest is primarily there to witness and verify that the confession has been made properly and fully. The priest stands beside us, facing Christ with us, helping us make our confession.

As the priest has the authority to teach, he will often make suggestions and give spiritual exercises to help us overcome the sins we commit over and over again. That's important if we actually want to improve ourselves and get out of the rut we may be in.
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« Reply #18 on: September 24, 2012, 10:37:58 AM »


This is also done in Ukrainian churches, and I would venture to guess in many other nations, as well.

It's rather sobering to hear these words, as you are standing in line, waiting....make you rethink what you were going to confess, and usually the list gets a bit longer than originally planned.
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« Reply #19 on: September 24, 2012, 11:04:54 AM »

Bishops, priests, deacons and the laity all have sins that they confess to the Lord at least once, that is before taking communion:

"I believe, O Lord, and I confess that thou art truly the Christ, the Son of the living God, who didst come into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. And I believe that this is truly thine own immaculate Body, and that this is truly thine own precious Blood. Wherefore I pray thee, have mercy upon me, and forgive my transgressions both voluntary and involuntary, of word and of deed, of knowledge and of ignorance; and make me worthy to partake without condemnation of thine immaculate Mysteries, unto remission of my sins and unto life everlasting. Amen.

Of thy Mystical Supper, O Son of God, accept me today as a communicant: for I will not speak of thy Mystery to thine enemies, neither will I give thee a kiss as did Judas; but like the thief will I confess thee: Remember me, O Lord, in thy kingdom. Not unto judgment nor unto condemnation be my partaking of thy Holy Mysteries, O Lord, but unto the healing of soul and body."

In addition, going backwards in time, we have several opportunities each day to confess our sins:

- Fasting, morning and pre-communion prayers before the Divine Liturgy.
- Saturday Vespers with or without the Holy Mystery of Repentance.
- Friday morning and evening prayers plus fasting
- Thursday morning and evening prayers
- Wednesday morning prayers, Vespers with or without the Holy Mystery of Repentance plus fasting
- Tuesday morning and evening prayers
- Monday morning and evening prayers
- Sunday post-communion prayers
- Ad hoc confessions as one is aware of sinning.

So, there is really no question that we confess our sins. Rather the question is when we are to submit ourselves for the Holy Mystery of Repentance. The approach of Father Alexander (Schmemann) of blessed memory was that there is no fundamental difference between the clergy and the laity before the Holy Chalice and that the same requirements should apply across the board. Father Alexander strongly felt that it was a scandal to expect only the clergy not to submit to the Holy Mystery of Penance before each Divine Liturgy--that is, partaking of the Body and Blood of the Lord (why else would we be participating in the Divine Liturgy, the common work?).  So, just as a bishop/priest/deacon submits to the confession guidelines of his father confessor, so must we. The guideline may be different for each one of us, but if there is a general guideline, it should not be different for clergy and laity. This sounds as if the requirements for the laity are relaxed; however, in actual practice, this approach brings the spiritual practices of the laity and clergy closer together. Put another way, the laity is expected to fast, pray and confess as regularly as the clergy. So, this is a more rigorous approach and not a more lax one.
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« Reply #20 on: November 27, 2012, 03:45:59 PM »

Why wouldn't one go to Confession?

We can't trust priests maybe?
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« Reply #21 on: November 27, 2012, 04:03:28 PM »


What?

Why can't you trust your priest?

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« Reply #22 on: November 27, 2012, 07:45:04 PM »

Why wouldn't one go to Confession?

We can't trust priests maybe?

Breaking the seal of the confessional is a very serious thing. If you believe someone has done this, or would do so, then definitely look up the bishop's office.

I think the great majority of priests keep their oath, however, and you are safe talking to them.
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« Reply #23 on: November 27, 2012, 10:00:55 PM »

Other elements also go into the trust, such as: will the priest assign a very difficult penance or not? will the priest hate or despise me or support me in my struggle?

But those who trust in the Lord need not fear His puny little priests. God will preserve such trustful souls and will grant them His heavenly kingdom.
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