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The Spiritual Means, book by H. H. Pope Shenouda III

25- Confession and its Elements

  

Confession is one of the spiritual means for ones repentance :

In the church belief, the sacrament of confession is even called The Sacrament of Repentance. It actually leads to repentance if practised in a proper, spiritual way. Confession is not mere words said by the confessor to the priest. It must be mixed with specific feelings that would lead the sinner to true repentance. How is this so?

 Elements Of Confession

What are the elements of confession that make it complete?

Confession consists of four elements that should be completed:

1. Confession to God Himself:

As the Prophet David says in Psalm 51, the Psalm of Repentance: against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight. In this confession, we ask forgiveness from God, as we say in the Lords prayer: Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And you ask God to remove His anger from you, though you deserve it because of your sins. As we say in the Psalm: Lord, do not rebuke me in Your anger, nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure. Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak (Ps 6:1,2).

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St-Takla.org Image: Spiritual father, priest, repentance and confession. صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: أب روحي، كاهن، التوبة و الاعتراف، معترف.

St-Takla.org Image: Spiritual father, priest, repentance and confession.

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2. And as we confess to God, we also confess to our confession father:

We confess to him as a steward of the mysteries of God (1 Cor 4:1), and (Mal 2:7). You confess to him so God may grant you forgiveness and absolution (Jn 20:22,23), and (Mt 18:18). He would also give you permission to partake of Holy Communion, for which you will become worthy (1 Cor 11:27), as we have discussed this issue before here on st-takla.org in other sections. It is also for spiritual guidance, as he will guide and help you in overcoming your problems. You also confess to the priest for a practical reason, as one often feels ashamed when he recalls his sins before a spiritual person, and especially before clergy. This shame will help him not to commit sin in the future. And the Bible says: Confess your trespasses to one another (Jas 5:16), that is, from one human being to another human being.

3. You confess to the one against whom you have trespassed with all offences done against him:

This is to wipe away any anger he may feel, or sadness because of your offence, so you will be able to partake of Holy Communion with a pure heart towards all. This is what the Lord taught in the Sermon on the Mount: Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift (Mt 5:23,24).

And so if you find that in every trespass against others, you will go to that person and reconcile with him, apologizing and confessing the wrong that you have done to him.. this no doubt will lead you to be more careful in your dealings with others, to stay away from offending others, and hence not feel obliged to apologize for it.

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4- There is another type of confession, and that is confessing to yourself that you have sinned..

This is because if you do not confess within your heart and your thoughts that you have sinned, you will never of course confess the sin before God. You will also be reluctant in confessing to the priest. And you will not go to your brother to reconcile with him..

Then confessing the mistake or the sin starts within the person first, by having an inner feeling that he has sinned and that he is mentally convinced that he has done a mistake. He then feels the necessity of confessing it in order to receive forgiveness and achieve reconciliation with God and with people.

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Many lack the inside feeling of being wrong, therefore they do not practise repentance or confession...

Maybe because their spiritual measures are not correct, or because they always justify their deeds. Their ego prevents them from confessing or admitting being wrong. They see themselves as being right, so what would they have to confess?! Many sinners even disguise their sins with the appearance of virtue and they boast about this sin.. just as the scribes and Pharisees used to see themselves right in their enmity towards the Lord Jesus Christ, defending the law of Moses and the traditions of their fathers!! And so they said in boldness and boasting of sin: Do we not say rightly that you are a Samaritan and have a demon? (Jn 8:48). They were insulting and reviling Christ as such and considered themselves righteous!

 

26

Feelings of the Confessor

27

Confession and the Blood of Christ

28

Advices for Confessors


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