The Sacrament of Confession
What is Confession?
The sacrament of confession, or of repentance, consists in the forgiveness of sins - visibly by the bishop or priest, and invisibly by Christ - of those who confess these sins and do penance for them. Our sinning puts distance or contradiction between us and Christ and repentance brings us back to Him. (Fr Dumitru Stăniloae)
Some Practical Considerations
Sin is not something exterior to us, that does not affect who we are, but disfigures, confuses, and separates us from God and those around us.
When falling into sin, do not postpone your repentance but rise up quickly, asking God to forgive you and then confess with simple words what you did.
The reason why we give confession is so we can have communion with Christ, at the Divine Liturgy - He brings relevance to who we are, relevance that exceeds historical or societal boundaries.
Attached below find two guides to confession, one that is shorter (brochure format), and one that explores in depth the sacrament - please set aside time and read them carefully.
As you approach confession remember the following:
1. Confess your sins honestly and do not be embarrassed before your spiritual father - he is a person just as you are. He knows human shortcomings well. Your spiritual father will have all the more love for you when he sees your open, honest confession.
2. Be specific when you confess, listing your sins separately. St. John Chrysostom says: "One must not only say: I have sinned, or I am sinful, but one must declare each type of sin." (For instance, do not say "I have done them all.")
3. The focus in confession is on my shortcomings and failures and not on my neighbor’s.
4. Do not attempt to justify yourself in any way during confession. Allow God to do it because He will.
5. Do not list the sins you have not committed or things you have not done ("I have not killed anyone...").
6. Confess with humility and a contrite heart the sins by which you have grieved our Lord God.
7. Finally, be of good cheer - Christ loves us more than we understand and forgives EVERYTHING if we approach Him with humility and honesty.