About the Holy Mystery of Repentance and Confession
following is by no means a complete treatise on the Holy Mystery
of Repentance and Confession. Rather, it is a humble guide to help
you examine your life and to make a good and complete confession
before God and your priest-confessor.
“Mystery of Holy Repentance,” or “Confession,” is one of the Seven
Sacraments of the Orthodox Church. We believe that three things
are necessary for the complete abolishment of our sins:
forgiveness, remission, and repentance.
“set aside” our sins if we ask Him to forgive us; after all, He
knows our weaknesses and our faults.
paid the price which our sins cost us: our very life; Jesus Christ
remitted our sins by giving His life in payment for our sins when
He, the Sinless One, died on the Cross.
however, must be repentant; this means that we must have a change
of heart, a change of attitude, a change of life.
begins in our heart, just like the Prodigal Son who, “when he came
to himself,” made the decision to confess his sin.
takes real shape when we go to the Priest – who stands a witness
before God – and confess, just as the Prodigal Son did to his
within us is confirmed by the Prayer of Absolution read over us by
the Priest, just as the father restored his Prodigal Son to the
more about preparing to make your confession click on the
do not be afraid or embarrassed to speak in confession of all
things that you have done. Do not let any sin linger on your
conscience and in your soul to condemn you on that dread and awful
day of judgment before God almighty; it will be too late at that
time to repent, to confess, or to ask forgiveness.
From this day
forward, from this moment on, love God above all else, and live your
life as though this day were your last on earth and tomorrow you
expect to stand before God in judgment with the hope of entering His
heavenly Kingdom for all eternity.
For all these
reasons, overcome any obstacles that stand in your way to Holy
Confession. The priest-confessor awaits you with love and much
affection as the representative of Christ. As a man like you he is
capable of understanding and sympathizing with his brothers and
sisters who are fellow sinners.
Do away with
any thought of embarrassment or fear. What is there to be fearful of,
or embarrassed about, when your soul is suffering and being torn by
the terrible consequences of sin? Why let fear and embarrassment keep
you from receiving the great gift of peace and consolation which our
Lord offers to you through His Church and this great Mystery? It is
surely the Evil One who tells you to be afraid and embarrassed; he
does not want you to be healed and to slip away from his clutches. But
remember, he is like a prowling lion, seeking someone to devour.
Do not be
misled by some people who simply ask to have the absolution prayer
read over them without going through the actual confession. Whenever
this takes place through ignorance or negligence, a terrible fraud is
committed which is a sin and mockery of God.
With faith and
sincerity walk toward the Mystery of Holy Confession. Be absolutely
certain that the infinite love of the Crucified Savior will receive
you and deliver you, and will take away the weight that is upon your
shoulders. It is the Lord Himself Who says: “Come to me, all who labor
and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
Preparation for the Holy Mystery of Repentance and Confession
for making your confession, examine your conscience by asking
yourself the following questions about your relationships with
God and with other people:
About my relationship with God
1. Do I believe in God and the Holy Trinity, in the Divinity of Christ, and
in the Holy Spirit? Do I believe in the Church and Her Mysteries (sacraments)?
Do I believe in the existence of Paradise and Hades (hell)?
2. Do I entrust myself always — and especially in difficult times — to the
providence of God; or do I become discouraged and show lack of faith?
3. Do I lose my faith and courage, and/or do I grumble against God, at times
of affliction, illness, and trials in my life?
4. Do I believe in psychics, card-readers, palm-readers, astrologers, and/or
horoscopes? Have I advised others to believe in these false and demonic
5. Do I believe in superstitions, and/or in “bad omens” (such as the number
13, walking under a ladler, crossing the path of a black cat, spilling salt, or
other such foolish “bad luck” beliefs)?
6. Do I believe in “luck” or in “fate”?
7. Do I faithfully recite my prayers in the morning, at mealtimes, in the
evening, and before going to bed? Am I embarrassed to make the Sign of the
Cross in public, or in front of other people (such as in a restaurant or
whenever passing in front of an Orthodox church)?
8. Do I study the Holy Scripture, as well as read other Orthodox religious
books? Do I read religious books or tracts not published by the Orthodox
9. Do I attend Church on Sundays and on major feast days?
10. Do I attend the Divine Liturgy from beginning to end, or do I arrive
late and/or leave early?
11. Do I go to Church dressed modestly, or do I dress to look good or to be
attractive to others? Am I careful not to start conversations with others
during the services of the Church, or even to make comments to them?
12. Do I hinder my spouse, children, parents, brothers or sisters, or any
other person from attending Church? Do I tell others not to attend Church, or
not to attend certain services?
13. Do I receive Holy Communion often? Although no one is worthy to receive
Holy Communion, do I prepare myself to receive the Body and Blood of our Savior
14. Do I swear for no reason, or falsely? Have I broken an oath or a
15. Do I use the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, or of the Virgin Mary, the
Panagia, or of the saints in any other way than with the deepest of respect and
in my prayers? Do I use these names as a curse, or as idle, obscene, and/or
16. Do I use obscene and/or vulgar words?
17. Do I abide by the fasting rules of the Church: Wednesdays and Fridays
throughout the year; Great Lent; Holy Week; the Apostles Fast (the days before
June 29); the Dormition Fast (August 1 through 15); the Nativity Fast; the day
before the Feast of Theophany (January 5); the feast day of the beheading of
Saint John the Baptist (August 29); the feast day of the Exaltation of the Holy
Cross (September 14)? Do I fast before Holy Communion (from after the evening
meal the night before)? Do I have health problems that mitigate or affect my
ability to abide by the fasting principles?
18. Do I treat religious objects carelessly (such as piling papers or books
on top of icons; or tossing religious books or pamphlets in dirty places or in
About my relationships with other people
1. Do I have hatred, or a strong dislike, toward someone, even if they may
have treated me badly or insulted me?
2. Am I suspicious of others, or do I distrust others without good reason or
cause? Do I think that others may be talking about me, that they do not want
me, that they do not like me, or that they do not love me?
3. Am I jealous and/or bothered by the progress, happiness, beauty, or
possessions of others?
4. Am I untouched and/or unmoved when I see or hear about the misfortune(s)
or serious need(s) of another person?
5. Am I honest, straightforward, sincere, and upright in my every day
dealings with friends, partners, co-workers, and/or customers?
6. Have I slandered, libeled, or accused another person?
7. Do I speak sarcastically or make fun of others? Do I belittle or make fun
of those who are pious and devout? Do I put down or make fun of those who are
handicapped by physical, emotional, or spiritual weakness?
8. If I heard some information or an accusation about someone, did I repeat
it to another person? Have I damaged the reputation and honor of another
person? Do I gossip about others?
9. Do I judge the behavior, deeds, mistakes, shortcomings, or weaknesses of
others? Do I do so even if such attributes appear to be true?
10. Do I curse those whom I dislike, or who have done wrong to me, or who
have hurt me? Have I cursed myself in difficult times or circumstances in my
life? Have I regretted the day I was born?
11. Have I sent people “to hell” in my words, either in idle talk or in
anger? Have I used insulting gestures toward others?
12. Do I respect my parents, despite their faults? Do I care for my parents,
and do I put up with their weaknesses if they have any? Do I help them with
their physical and spiritual needs? Do I help them go to Church and to receive
Holy Communion? Have I deserted my parents, or do I treat them with
indifference and neglect?
13. Have I sought to receive a greater share of inheritance from my parents,
and thus dealt unfairly with my brothers and/or sisters?
14. Do I get mixed up in other people's lives, work, family, or personal
affairs; do I cause arguments and/or fights?
15. Did I strike any one in my anger, or abuse anyone verbally?
16. Did I ever kill anyone; have I committed murder in any way?
17. Have I had an abortion, or have I urged or encouraged someone else to
have an abortion? Have I helped someone have an abortion?
18. Do I carry out my vocation in life with integrity and honor?
19. Do I steal? Have I robbed any one, or embezzled from my employer? Do I
suggest these acts to others, or have I helped them do it? Have I covered for a
thief, or have I knowingly received stolen items?
20. Have I committed forgery? Have I taken advantage of my position or
authority for my own gain? Have I borrowed money or other objects and failed to
21. Do I hang around with the “wrong crowd,” and/or am I involved in sinful
relations or actions with others? Have I pushed or encouraged someone to sin
either by my example or through my words?
22. Am I ungrateful and thankless to God, and to those people who are good
23. Do I give to the poor, to the needy, to orphans, to widows, to the
elderly, to large or disadvantaged families?
About myself and the world
1. Have I been attached to material things and/or to worldly items?
2. Have I been selfish, stingy, or “cheap,” or a lover of money?
3. Have I been greedy?
4. Have I been a spendthrift? I must remember that my surplus belongs to the
poor, and what I have kept back from them is theft.
5. Have I been conceited, or “puffed up” with pride?
6. Do I like to show off my clothes, my wealth, my success, my — or my
child's — grades or accomplishments? Do I brag about myself or my family?
7. Do I crave admiration and adulation from the people around me?
8. Do I accept praise with pleasure, and/or do I seek praise? Do I want
others to flatter me, and/or do I get angry when they offer suggestions or
constructive criticism? Do I say that there is no one like me, or better than
me in some aspect of my life?
9. Do I get upset when someone points out my mistakes and errors; or when I
am corrected or reprimanded by my seniors and/or supervisors?
10. Am I stubborn, obstinate, egotistical, self-proud, or self-centered? I
must pay attention to these sins because it is very hard to get rid of
11. Do I engage in useless and/or idle pastimes that have no purpose or
good? Do I play cards to “kill time”? Do I gamble?
12. Have I polluted my body and soul with carnal sins? Do I masturbate? Do I
read “dirty,” lewd, indecent, or obscene material? Do I look at “dirty,” lewd,
or indecent pictures or photographs? Do I purchase or look at pornographic
materials? Do I go to places of “entertainment” that have such displays? Do I
watch movies or television shows that have such images, words, or
13. Do I control my eyes so that they do not curiously examine provocative
people or pictures?
14. Do I dress indecently? Do I wear clothing appropriate to the opposite
sex? Do I dress provocatively, or cause scandal by my appearance? Have I
entered a Church dressed in these ways?
15. Do I take part in frantic or sinful dancing? Do I sing or listen to
immoral, violent, or negativistic songs — especially to many of the songs and
music that are produced today and such as are featured on MTV?
16. Do I expel from my mind any bad thoughts that come to pollute my
17. Have I ever considered suicide? Have I been seriously or severely
18. Have I been using obscene, insulting, or improper words for the sake of
being comical or to insult or humiliate another person?
19. Do I drink alcohol heavily or to excess? Have I been drunk?
20. Do I take drugs without proper medical supervision? Am I adlicted to
drugs or other substances?
21. Do I smoke tobacco? I must remember that smoking destroys health and is
a sinful waste of money.
22. Do I practice humility; do I have a spirit of self-denial?
23. Do I practice obedience; do I quietly accept the directions of others
who are my seniors, my guides, my leaders, or my supervisors?
For those who are married: About my relationship with my spouse
1. Am I loyal and faithful to my spouse? I must remember that it is terrible
when one of the partners is having extramarital relations, whether these are
physical or even if they are simply an affection for another that is more
important or more “interesting” than the relationship with their spouse.
2. Have I offended or sadlened my spouse publicly or in the presence of
3. Do I overlook my spouse's weaknesses? Have I been insensitive?
4. Do I encourage my spouse to follow the latest fashions or popular
attitudes which contradict God's Law and my Orthodox faith? Do I influence my
spouse to attend parties or social gatherings so that I — or both of us — can
“be seen”? Do I insist on having money to spend on myself, on clothes, new
fashions, or other selfish pursuits?
5. Am I sensitive to the personal struggles that each of us may have outside
the house and inside the home, so that we can support each other in the daily
struggle by providing emotional, psychological, physical, and spiritual comfort
for each other?
6. Am I overly demanding of my spouse?
7. Do I inhibit or prevent my spouse from going to Church or from attending
spiritual gatherings, sermons, or instruction?
8. Is my spouse guilty of a habitual sin or a sinful habit; if so, have I
patiently urged him/her through example and through kind words to
9. If I am the husband, have I assumed my ordained role as a Christ-like
head of the family by sacrificing myself in every way to love, cherish, and
care for my wife and my children? Do I make the “tough decisions” fairly and
with total self-denial for the good and welfare of my wife and children? Do I
come home at an early and reasonable hour from work? Do I spend unnecessary or
excessive time away from my family with friends or associates in business,
athletic, or social activities? Do I put my wife and my children first, or do
other pursuits, occupations, or my career come before them? I must remember
that I will learn humility by being a Christian husband and father; and the
gates of heaven will open unto me.
10. If I am the wife, have I given over my natural inclination and desire to
be the head of the family to my husband? Do I accept his decisions regarding
the family with patience, or do I seek to argue and criticize him? Do I
encourage him with patience and kindness to assume his proper role in the
11. If I am the husband, am I under the false impression that child-rearing
and development is a responsibility of my wife? Do I understand that I also am
responsible to care for them physically, to read to them, to advise them, to
teach them, to spend time with them, to let them feel my kind and patient
presence? Do I teach them by my example that they must hold back, restrain
themselves, and not get into trouble; or do I mislead them through neglect,
abandonment, and/or bad example?
12. Do I love and respect my in-laws? I must remember that the most severe
test of my love for my spouse is the degree to which I can love the parents who
nurtured him/her, who fashioned him/her according to their lives, and who
presented him/her to me as my groom/bride. I must remember that in many cases
the things that I consider irritating in my in-laws are the very things that
are difficulties in my relationship with my spouse; overcoming them in one will
help me deal with them in the other.
For those who have children: About my relationship with my children
1. Do I teach my children that the Lord God is Lord alone, and that they
must love Him with all their heart, all their soul, and all their might?
2. Do I take an interest in the whole education of my children, personal,
emotional, intellectual, and spiritual; or do I ignore certain of these?
3. Do I take my children to Church, to Holy Confession, to Holy Communion,
to the Church (Sunday) School?
4. Do I teach my children by word and example; or does my example contradict
5. Do I teach my children to pray each morning and each night? Do I teach
them to pray at mealtimes?
6. Do I know what my children are reading? Do I encourage them to read books
that will profit them and help them develop intellectually and spiritually?
7. Do I know who my children associate with and play with? Do I encourage
them to associate and play with other moral, Christian, and Orthodox
8. Do I take my children to sinful movies, shows or other such
entertainment? Do I carefully monitor what they are watching on the television,
and listening to on the radio?
9. Do I let my children engage in useless pastimes? Do I allow them to watch
television indiscriminately, or to waste their time in idle pursuits?
10. Do I teach my children humility and obedience — above all, by my
11. Do I encourage my children to dress modestly and appropriately to the
12. Do I curse my children when I am angry with them?
13. Am I unjust or unfair to my children in the distribution of food, toys,
belongings, necessities, or their inheritance?
14. Have I physically struck my children inappropriately?
15. Have I hurt my children emotionally?
16. Have I abused my children physically and/or emotionally?
see how many things there are to consider? Do I see how much I
will discover about myself if I will retreat to a quiet place
and carefully examine my life?
use this opportunity to search deep within myself; I must seek
to be rid of all that is unworthy and undignified in my life.
Instead, I must ask God to fill my life, and I must live my
life in such a way that I will love, honor and serve Him all
the days of my life.
not neglect to approach the Mystery of Holy Confession; this
is the greatest gift that I can — and should — offer myself
All-Good God enlighten me and strengthen me on this uphill yet
beautiful path which passes through Holy Confession and Holy
Communion into the Kingdom of Heaven.
A Brief Form of Confession
indicated to do so by the priest to do so, the penitent may say
“I confess to the Lord my God before you, reverend
father, all my sins which I have committed up to the present
day and hour, in deed, word, and thought. Every day and every
hour I sin through ingratitude to God for His great and
numberless blessings to me and His most gracious providence
and care for me, a sinner. I have sinned through:”
The penitent then mentions those sins from the following list he is guilty
of, for example:
The penitent then mentions any other sins which he is
guilty of, and concludes:
- concealing sins in confession
- gluttony or over-eating
- evil speech
- foul speech
- saying unseemly things
- idle talk
- negligence or carelessness
- love of money
- love of sensual pleasure
- sexual sins
- impure thoughts
- missing church services
- sleeping in church
- neglect of prayer
- attachment to things
- love of glory or honor
- vainglory or false values
- remembering wrongs
- reproaching others
- judging others
- condemnation of others
“I repent of all my sins, and I beg forgiveness of our
“I also ask forgiveness for all those sins I have not
confessed because of their multitude and my
“Forgive and absolve me, reverend father, and bless me to
receive the Holy Communion of the precious, holy, and
life-creating Mysteries of the Body and Blood of our Lord
Jesus Christ, unto the remission of sins and life
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