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How To Do An Orthodox Confession How To Do An Orthodox Confession

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How To Do An Orthodox Confession

Written by: Mark Waite

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Peter Smith
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Reviewed by
Peter Smith

Peter Smith, Editorial Director at Christian.net, combines deep insights into faith, politics, and culture to lead content creation that resonates widely. Awarded for his contributions to religious discourse, he previously headed a major organization for religious communicators, enhancing dialogue on faith's societal impacts.

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Learn the steps to perform an Orthodox confession and embrace a deeper spiritual journey in your Christian life. Discover the significance and process of this sacred practice.

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Table of Contents


How to do an Orthodox confession is a significant aspect of the spiritual life of Orthodox Christians. Confession, also known as the Sacrament of Penance, is a vital practice in the Orthodox Christian tradition. It is a means through which believers seek forgiveness for their sins and reconcile with God and the Church. In this article, we will explore the purpose of confession, the preparation for confession, the process of confession, receiving absolution, and maintaining a repentant heart. Understanding the significance of confession and the steps involved can help individuals approach this sacrament with reverence and sincerity.


Understanding the Purpose of Confession

  1. Seeking Forgiveness: Confession serves as a means for individuals to seek forgiveness for their sins. By confessing their transgressions to a priest, Orthodox Christians acknowledge their wrongdoings and express genuine remorse. This act of contrition is essential for spiritual growth and renewal.

  2. Reconciliation with God and the Church: Confession allows believers to reconcile with both God and the Church. Through the sacrament of confession, individuals acknowledge their sins before God and the community of believers, seeking to restore their relationship with both.

  3. Spiritual Healing: Confession provides spiritual healing to the penitent. By openly acknowledging their sins and receiving guidance from a priest, individuals can experience inner healing and find the strength to overcome their weaknesses.

  4. Accountability and Guidance: Confession offers a form of accountability and spiritual guidance. By confessing their sins to a priest, individuals receive counsel and pastoral care, helping them to address their shortcomings and grow in their spiritual journey.

  5. Renewal and Transformation: The purpose of confession extends to the renewal and transformation of the individual. Through the act of confessing and receiving absolution, believers are empowered to make positive changes in their lives, striving for holiness and virtue.

Understanding the purpose of confession underscores its significance in the Orthodox Christian tradition. It is a sacred practice that fosters spiritual growth, reconciliation, and inner healing.


Preparing for Confession

  1. Self-Examination: Before approaching the sacrament of confession, it is essential for individuals to engage in thorough self-examination. This involves reflecting on one's thoughts, words, and actions, and honestly assessing where one has fallen short of living according to the teachings of the Church. Self-examination allows for a deeper awareness of one's sins and the genuine desire for repentance.

  2. Prayer and Reflection: Engaging in prayer and reflection is a crucial aspect of preparing for confession. Through prayer, individuals seek God's guidance and strength, asking for the grace to recognize their sins and the humility to confess them. Reflection allows for introspection and the acknowledgment of areas in one's life that require repentance.

  3. Making a List of Sins: It can be helpful to make a list of one's sins before confession. This practice aids in the recollection of specific transgressions and ensures that nothing is overlooked during the sacrament. The list should be made with sincerity and without omitting any serious sins that weigh on the conscience.

  4. Seeking Guidance from Scripture and Tradition: Drawing wisdom from the Scriptures and the teachings of the Church can provide valuable insight into the nature of sin and the path to repentance. Reading relevant passages from the Bible and the writings of the Church Fathers can offer spiritual guidance and encouragement in the process of preparing for confession.

  5. Examination of Conscience: An examination of conscience involves reviewing one's life in light of the teachings of the Church. This examination helps individuals to identify patterns of sin, areas of weakness, and the underlying causes of their transgressions. It is a time for honest introspection and the recognition of the need for God's mercy.

  6. Seeking a Quiet and Reverent Environment: Finding a quiet and reverent environment for the preparation of confession is important. This setting allows for focused prayer, reflection, and the sincere examination of one's conscience without distractions. Creating a sacred space for this preparation contributes to the seriousness and reverence of the sacrament.

  7. Repentance and Resolve for Amendment: True preparation for confession involves genuine repentance and a firm resolve to amend one's ways. This includes the sincere intention to avoid repeating the same sins and the commitment to pursue a life in accordance with the teachings of the Church. The preparation for confession is not merely a ritual but a heartfelt turning towards God and a desire for spiritual renewal.

  8. Humility and Openness: Lastly, preparing for confession requires humility and openness. Individuals are encouraged to approach the sacrament with a humble and contrite heart, ready to lay bare their sins before God and the priest. This attitude of humility opens the door to receiving the grace of God's forgiveness and healing.

In summary, preparing for confession is a deliberate and introspective process that involves self-examination, prayer, reflection, and the sincere acknowledgment of one's sins. It is a time of seeking God's mercy and grace, with the genuine desire for spiritual renewal and transformation.


The Process of Confession

  1. Approaching the Priest: When the individual is ready to confess, they approach the priest with reverence and humility. It is customary to begin by addressing the priest as "Father" as a sign of respect and recognition of the priest's role as a spiritual guide.

  2. Making the Sign of the Cross: The penitent begins the confession by making the sign of the cross, invoking the presence and blessing of the Holy Trinity. This act signifies the individual's reliance on the grace of God in the sacrament of confession.

  3. Opening Prayer: The priest and the penitent may begin with an opening prayer, invoking the guidance of the Holy Spirit and seeking God's mercy and forgiveness. This prayer sets the tone for the sacrament and acknowledges the presence of God in the confession.

  4. Confessing Sins: The individual then proceeds to confess their sins to the priest. This confession is made with sincerity, humility, and honesty, as the penitent lays bare their transgressions before God and the Church. The priest listens attentively, offering a compassionate and non-judgmental presence.

  5. Receiving Counsel and Guidance: As the penitent confesses their sins, the priest may offer counsel, guidance, and pastoral care. This may include spiritual advice, encouragement, and the imparting of relevant teachings from the Scriptures and the tradition of the Church. The priest's role is to provide support and direction for the penitent's spiritual journey.

  6. Expression of Contrition: Following the confession of sins, the penitent expresses genuine contrition and sorrow for their transgressions. This expression of contrition is a heartfelt acknowledgment of the impact of one's sins and the sincere desire for repentance.

  7. Receiving a Penitential Prayer or Penance: The priest may then assign a penitential prayer or a specific act of penance to the individual. This penance serves as a means of spiritual healing and a tangible expression of the individual's commitment to making amends for their sins.

  8. Prayer of Absolution: The priest, acting in the person of Christ, offers the prayer of absolution. This prayer, pronounced over the penitent, conveys the forgiveness of sins through the grace of God. The prayer of absolution is a profound moment of receiving God's mercy and experiencing spiritual renewal.

  9. Final Blessing and Dismissal: The confession concludes with a final blessing from the priest. The penitent is then dismissed with words of encouragement, reminding them of God's love and the opportunity for a fresh start in their spiritual journey.

In essence, the process of confession involves the humble confession of sins, the reception of spiritual counsel and guidance, the expression of contrition, the assignment of a penitential prayer or act, and the reception of God's forgiveness through the prayer of absolution. This sacramental encounter is a deeply transformative experience that leads to reconciliation, healing, and the renewal of one's relationship with God and the Church.


Receiving Absolution

  1. Reverent Posture: The penitent assumes a reverent posture as the priest offers the prayer of absolution. This may involve bowing the head or making the sign of the cross, signifying the individual's openness to receiving God's mercy and forgiveness.

  2. Listening to the Prayer: As the priest pronounces the prayer of absolution, the penitent listens attentively, internalizing the words of forgiveness and grace being imparted. This moment is a profound encounter with the healing power of God's love and compassion.

  3. Embracing God's Mercy: The prayer of absolution serves as a tangible expression of God's mercy and the assurance of forgiveness. The penitent is invited to embrace this mercy wholeheartedly, allowing it to bring about spiritual healing and renewal.

  4. Renewed State of Grace: Through the prayer of absolution, the individual is restored to a state of grace, freed from the burden of sin, and empowered to embark on a renewed journey of faith and holiness. This restoration of grace is a testament to the boundless love and forgiveness of God.

  5. Gratitude and Joy: Upon receiving absolution, the penitent responds with gratitude and joy, acknowledging the transformative impact of God's forgiveness. This moment of reconciliation brings about a sense of liberation and a renewed commitment to living a life in accordance with the teachings of the Church.

  6. Continued Spiritual Growth: The reception of absolution marks the beginning of continued spiritual growth and transformation. The individual is encouraged to carry the grace of absolution forward, striving to live a life of virtue, love, and reconciliation with God and others.

In essence, receiving absolution is a sacred and transformative experience that signifies the restoration of the individual to a state of grace and the assurance of God's forgiveness. It is a moment of profound encounter with the mercy and love of God, leading to spiritual renewal and a deeper commitment to the life of faith.


Maintaining a Repentant Heart

  1. Continual Self-Examination: Maintaining a repentant heart involves ongoing self-examination. It requires individuals to regularly reflect on their thoughts, words, and actions, identifying areas where they may have fallen short and acknowledging the need for ongoing repentance and spiritual growth.

  2. Frequent Prayer and Reflection: Engaging in frequent prayer and reflection is essential for maintaining a repentant heart. Through prayer, individuals seek God's guidance and strength, asking for the grace to remain steadfast in their commitment to living a life of repentance and virtue. Reflection allows for ongoing introspection and the recognition of areas in one's life that require continual repentance.

  3. Lifelong Learning and Growth: Maintaining a repentant heart involves a commitment to lifelong learning and spiritual growth. This includes seeking wisdom from the Scriptures, the teachings of the Church, and the lives of the saints, allowing for ongoing transformation and renewal of the heart.

  4. Accountability and Humility: Individuals committed to maintaining a repentant heart embrace accountability and humility. They remain open to receiving guidance and correction, recognizing that the journey of repentance is ongoing and requires a humble and teachable spirit.

  5. Acts of Charity and Reconciliation: Practicing acts of charity and seeking reconciliation with others are integral to maintaining a repentant heart. This includes extending forgiveness, seeking to mend broken relationships, and actively demonstrating love and compassion towards others.

  6. Regular Participation in the Sacrament of Confession: Regular participation in the sacrament of confession is a vital aspect of maintaining a repentant heart. By humbly confessing sins and receiving absolution, individuals continue to experience the healing and transformative power of God's forgiveness.

  7. Cultivating a Spirit of Gratitude: Cultivating a spirit of gratitude is essential in maintaining a repentant heart. Individuals express gratitude for God's mercy and forgiveness, recognizing the ongoing need for His grace in their lives.

  8. Seeking Spiritual Community and Support: Maintaining a repentant heart is supported by seeking spiritual community and support. Engaging with fellow believers, seeking guidance from spiritual mentors, and participating in communal acts of worship and service contribute to the nurturing of a repentant heart.

In summary, maintaining a repentant heart is a lifelong commitment to ongoing self-examination, prayer, humility, acts of charity, regular participation in the sacrament of confession, and a continual pursuit of spiritual growth and transformation. It is a journey marked by humility, accountability, and a deep desire to live in accordance with the teachings of the Church.

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