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Confession: four in one About the beginning of the Christian life through repentance Tell me, child: wasn’t you a heretic or apostate? Opportunity to allow the Sacrament of repentance to adopt the Sacred Christ Spiritual growth Conclusion

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Confession: four in one

Discussion of the problems of the spiritual life of Orthodox Christians inevitably rests on the sacrament of Repentance. Confession in most cases is the only way for a lay person to communicate with a priest and receive individual spiritual instruction. At the same time, it is with this sacrament that many problems, questions, and sometimes broken destinies and churches are connected. One of the serious problems is that a number of completely different ranks, each of which is important as a separate element, united under one name and ruling. But one rank cannot fulfill different functions at the same time. Below I will try to describe each of the elements.

About the beginning of the Christian life through repentance

Firstly, through the sacrament of Penance, the novice usually joins the Orthodox Church. Although life in the Church must begin in baptism, but the baptism of infants leads to what st. Theophan the Recluse, “in the early summer young men, whether by their own inclination or by temptation from others, forget them, begin to get used to being thin and get used to it. All those have no true Christian life in themselves; they need to start it again. Our holy faith offers for this the sacrament of penance. ” In other words, the first confession is a substitute for the sacrament of Baptism. And it is not by chance that the words “for you are baptized by the second baptism in this Christian sacrament” are heard in rank. You can lament how bad it is, but this is our reality. The real problem is different. A five-minute conversation in a crowded temple is not enough for a novice, worldly person to join the Church. The tradition of the Church involves the announcement of the original. And in general, it would be reasonable to send those who want to become Christians, first for announcement, then for confession in a special time. There is a certain movement in this direction, but, unfortunately, it’s too rare in our temples there are direct written recommendations on the first confession to agree in advance with the priest’s phone number (and, ideally, also WhatsApp and Vkontakte): what to call).

Tell me, child: have you not been a heretic or apostate?

The second role of the sacrament of Repentance is the return to the Church of the fallen. It seems to me wrong to identify those who have fallen away and those who have never been to the Church (even if he was baptized in childhood). In fact, it is about the fallen. It is about the fallen and we are talking about our Requirements. The whole rank is performed on one (“not two, or many”) penitents and implies a lengthy conversation. Although it is believed that this order is performed regularly with us, but the laity are practically unfamiliar with it. A confession does not begin with sins, but with a clarification of what a Christian believes in (the texts of the Requisition are given in the translation by hieromonk Ambrose Timroth):

First of all, he asks about faith: Tell me, child: do you believe like the Catholic Church, the Apostolic Church … gave us and taught us? And if in doubt, in what tradition? And, if he believes in the Orthodox and without doubts, yes, he will read the Creed:

For 10 years in the Church, I have never heard this question. They ask about sins. There is no faith. Even in Anna Karenina, the priest talks to Levin, trying to convince him. Now it has disappeared completely. The main question is not about faith. A confession can be Orthodox, Protestant, Hare Krishna, or superstitious, who was advised to clean karma. If he names a dozen sins, he will most likely be missed by the Chalice. The statement that the current confession "protects" the Chalice from random people is not supported by practice …

A lot is said that Christ cannot forgive a sinner without a priest. This is only partly true. Indeed, the apostle James calls: “Admit one to another in wrongdoing and pray for one another” (James 5:16). But this does not mean that the presbyter should be recognized. Although it is really through people that the repentant sinner experiences the love that “loves the sinner, but hates sin.”

But it is wrong to assume that it is the priest who belongs to the decision on the eternal salvation of man. The right to take and decide, given personally to Peter, after a couple of chapters of the Gospel is addressed to all Christians. And this verse is interpreted (by St. John Chrysostom, Blessed Jerome Stridonsky) as the duty of Christians to forgive sins committed against them. If we talk about the right of the clergy to knit and decide, then the creator of the canonical Latin text of the Bible, blessed Jerome of Stridon, interpreting these words, sharply denies the active role of the priest in the forgiveness of sins:

Bishops and elders, not understanding this place, assimilate to themselves something of the exaltation of the Pharisees, so that they either condemn the innocent, or consider it their right to allow those who are guilty, although it is not the judgment of the priests that is required before God, but the righteous life of the guilty. We read in the book of Leviticus about the lepers, where it is commanded that they should appear to the priests, and if they have leprosy, they are declared unclean from the priest (immundi fiant – become unclean); it is not that the priests make them lepers and unclean, but that they have knowledge of the signs of a leper and not a leper and can discern who is clean or unclean. Thus, as there the priest makes the leper either pure or unclean, so here the priest or presbyter binds and permits not those who are innocent or guilty, but in the duty of his ministry, when he hears the difference of sins, he knows who should be allowed and who is bound (Matthew 16:13).

The priest here does not make decisions: knit or decide. As the Old Testament priest knew the signs of leprosy and was able to confirm healing, so the New Testament priest knows in which case forgiveness is given, and in which case the person remains an unrepentant sinner. But, of course, for this you need to have actual canon law, not canonical arbitrariness, when one can appoint many years of penance "according to the law" and the other considers the situation normal and allows the same person to the Chalice.

Opportunity to allow a penitent to accept the Holy Mysteries of Christ

The inseparable connection between the sacraments of Confession and the Eucharist is generally recognized in the Russian Church. Outside of its borders, it is practically absent, even among the Orthodox. The main argument against repealing this link is well known. In the recently adopted document “On the participation of the faithful in the Eucharist,” it reads as follows: “In conditions where many people who come to churches are not sufficiently rooted in church life, and therefore they sometimes do not understand the meaning of the sacrament of the Eucharist or do not understand their moral and canonical consequences sinful acts, confession allows a confessing priest to judge the possibility of allowing a penitent to receive the Holy Mysteries of Christ. ”

Indeed, Christians are allowed to participate in the Eucharist. But, as I mentioned above, the current confession does not check whether a person is a Christian or not. The form of talking about sins does not interfere with the approach to the person's cup of any convictions. They say that oh. Daniel Sysoev said, enduring the Chalice, that only Orthodox Christians who believe in the Holy Trinity can take communion. But usually this is not the case and "only those who were at a confession and received the blessing of a priest receive communion." Even an atheist (for example, at the insistence of relatives) can take communion without ever lying.

On the other hand, the argumentation of the document looks extremely strange. Saying that those who come to churches are not rooted in church life, the document requires everyone to confess before communion. As an enormous exception, the opportunity with the blessing of the spiritual father to take communion without confession kisses … a week. Attention, the question is: what, all the laity who have been going to the temple for many years, are also “insufficiently rooted”? What, the priest is not sure that the parishioners, whom he has known for many years, did not become pagans in a week? After all, the contradiction is obvious. If the target is cut off by chance, then the faithful priest can give the opportunity to take communion without confession. In any case, in his temple. But it turns out the opposite. The document actually forbids communion if more than a week has passed since the last confession. A very strange position and one gets the impression that “random people at the Chalice” are just an excuse. After all, if confession and communion are divided for well-known parishioners (say, through blessing to confess outside of worship, occasionally, but with dialogue), then the priest will have enough time to seriously talk to people he sees in the service for the first time. And vice versa, when everyone is checked, there is no time to talk seriously with the newcomers.

I would like to add that if this conversation with a priest is exactly a pass to the Chalice, then the priest simply has to make sure that this person is an Orthodox Christian who has no canonical obstacles. No more. The priest is not his confessor, and questions should be quite clearly regulated. As the Service Book says, “first ask about faith.” (And it would be great to ask not in the volume of the Nicene-Tsargrad Icon of the Faith, saturated with complex theological terms. For this purpose, the ancient Apostolic Creed of Faith is understandable enough for everyone, whose positions are easy to answer "yes" or "no" (unlike or "the Lord of the Life-Giving.") Yes, of course, you can also ask about sins. But about the sins of mortals, for which today we are excommunicated. Not a thousand years ago, we were excommunicated, but in modern parish practice. And everyone, half of the priests excommunicates, and half of them consider it a variant of the norm. And, of course, it is unacceptable to demand to talk about those sins that were already confessed to the priest earlier.A very clear list of questions should appear, similar to the one in Trebnik, the correct answer to which means the possibility of admitting a stranger to the Chalice. to solve the problem of random people at the Chalice, and allow the layman to stop the young priest who crossed the border. In the meantime, such a symbol of faith is “sinful with pride, lack of faith, anger, etc.” …

Mystery of spiritual growth

Although this is the last item on the list, it should be first. Confession is an extremely important tool for the spiritual growth of community members. But such confession cannot be combined with confession, through which the fallen ones return. Father Vladimir Vorobiev wrote about this in the early nineties, in his famous lecture on the sacrament of penance https://azbyka.ru/lekcii-vorobjeva#n20. And if you just look at the rank: is it really not strange, after the list of sins, repeated year after year, to give the Penitent the Instructor's admonition "Don't even think about returning to the old, so as not to be a laughing stock for people: is it not appropriate for Christians to do that?" Speaking about the second baptism, if the person did not fall away from the Church?

Historically, the confession of those who fell away and the practice of revelation of thoughts that existed in monasteries has come together in the same rank. Unlike the sacrament of Repentance, the revelation of thoughts was not associated with sacred dignity (the monks, the elders who received the revelation of thoughts, were usually not priests). But there was regular communication in which the more experienced one helped the less experienced one to move forward. Yes, the monastic form itself does not suit the laity. And all the more inappropriate to try to embed it in our parish confession, which lasts an average of 5 minutes. But it is precisely a serious conversation with each other about real problems that are now very lacking. There is not enough opportunity to share sore with other Christians. And see not a conviction, but love, acceptance. Love that does not destroy the sin of man. Adoption, which recognizes his man with all his weaknesses. He will not condemn him, samovovatit, but he will cry with him, support him. The main thing here is the love of God, which is poured through people on the repentant sinner. It is not by chance that this love, the acceptance of a sinner, the reminder that God still loves him like that is a feature of a good confessor. And waiting for his rebirth. Needless to say, this love is not taught in seminaries and is not given ready at the moment of ordination. This is what every layman and every priest can and should learn. And the Gospel says that this is precisely the sign of the true Church: "By this all will know that you are My disciples."

It is of fundamental importance for us today to create a space where wounded people can share their pain. When the lack of love among Christians forces them to pour out these confessions over the Internet, trouble happens. But the trouble is not in the notorious litter of the hut. The trouble is that, looking for bits of support, people only get even more condemnation from people who call themselves Orthodox. For the sake of rare words of support, people are forced to hear hundreds of hurtful, legal comments. And this, of course, does not help them to know divine love. Yes, of course, love is inseparable from the truth. Do not deny sin. But we must make it clear to the person what he is, and there is a sin that lives in it. And if it is necessary to fight against sin, then we love the person himself, in any case, even the fallen one, who has squandered the whole estate. People who have learned such love talk about the transforming power that helped them in the end to conquer sin. Not at the expense of our own strength, but at the expense of the grace of God, given through the love and support of other people.

Conclusion

I tried to describe the functions that the sacrament of Penance now performs. Performs, in my biased opinion, completely ineffective. It is impossible to unite in one rank the announcement of the beginners, the return of the fallen away, the control of the accidental and the spiritual growth of the faithful. All these are different tasks and they should be solved in different ways. The methods are known, and there are no special obstacles to this. But unfortunately, the current situation resembles the sad story of a lumberjack who is sawing a tree with a blunt saw and does not have time to sharpen it.

He described this problem very well in his interview with Fr. Fedor Ludogovskiy:

“And the service begins, the early liturgy, one priest serves, I confess. In front of me 200-250 people; maybe more. And I understand that during the time from the beginning of the service until the removal of the cup to communion, I have to process all these people somehow, sorry for the expression. I should at least let everyone under the stole, read a prayer, say something, somehow listen or read these sins, if in written form. If you divide time by the number of people, it turns out that, on average, each one is about 30 seconds or more. I'm not talking about the fact that this is a little like confession, because people are more trying to talk about some of their problems, complain about someone, or ask about something. In most cases, it is difficult to call repentance. Yes, and what can be done in 30 seconds? Almost nothing. Here I stand on my feet, around the crowd, feeling a rush: come on, come on, fast on.

And here is the contrast. For example, when I went to a psychologist last year, I was just happy. Because I sat in the chair and knew that there were 50 minutes ahead, that they would listen to me, that I would say that this was my time and I could communicate normally, well, deeply. This is what attracts me to coaching. We can talk for half an hour, forty minutes, an hour if necessary. Slowly, without nerves, paying attention to each other, getting to know each other. ”

I think there are people among us who have come to the conclusion that confession in the existing form does not help much in spiritual growth after the end of the churching stage. On the contrary, people often get stuck in their sins and do not know where to go next. Someone thinks it's normal. Someone believes the guilty believers who do not know how to repent. And I think we were just wrong. Combining the order of reunion of those who fell away with the revelation of thoughts, we got an unviable structure. And to solve the situation, everything must fall into place. Each of these ranks is needed, as different medicines are needed in the first-aid kit. But there must be different medicines, not a universal cure for all diseases at once.

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