Confession & Absolution - Nisha #
An Examination of Conscience #
True repentance because of our love for God, and not for fear of punishment, we should aim for spiritual healing in order to receive Almighty God’s grace of forgiveness, and gain eternal life.
To be honest with ourselves, without being biased, so as to avoid the Lord’s warning: “He who loves his life will lose it” (St. John 12:25).
To have honest intention and steadfast will, and so abandon sin and its causes.
To examine our conscience and self carefully, to be aware of the sins committed in our thoughts, words and actions, to repent and humble ourselves so that we may not fall into sin again.
To be truthful in making our confession, knowing that lying to the Priest is lying to the Holy Spirit. As in the example of Ananias lying to St Peter : “Why has Satan filled your heart to be lying to the Holy Spirit?” (Act 5:3).
Not to hide any secrets and hidden thoughts, but to reveal all frankly before the Priest to enable him to offer the best remedy in order to build and revive the spiritual life of the confessing person. Jeremiah the Prophet speaks to the human soul saying: “Pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord” (Lamentations 2:19). When water is poured forth, it leaves no trace or smell, but if oil is poured it leaves behind a trace, and if vinegar is poured, it leaves behind a smell. So just like water which leaves behind no residue, we also should pour forth all our Confessions before the Priest in order to be cleansed.
Not to find excuses for yourself, and blame others, for Confession is about blaming yourself for the sins committed, and not condemning others. King Solomon advises us: “Do not say before the messenger (Priest) of God that it was an error” (Ecclesiastes 5:6).
A person must be fair with oneself, not too sympathetic or too harsh, doubtful or anxious, but rather, should confess with a straightforward, mature conscience.
The person making his/her Confession must adhere to the advice given them by the Priest, and be diligent in following his advice as a remedy necessary for spiritual life.
To practice all the spiritual exercises given by the Priest (Spiritual Father), and with love and patience, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). As St Basil the Great says, “As we bear the scalpel of the physician to remedy the body and the medicine’s bitterness, we also should bear the suffering of rebuke, chastisement and various practices so that the soul may be remedied from its sins and weaknesses.”
To confess bravely without embarrassment, all the sins and its details, and if the Priest asks concerning certain points, one must not complain or hide, but answer honestly, knowing that it is for our own benefit that the Priest will provide us with useful advice.
The person making his/her Confession must struggle with God in prayer as the Lord says: “Come now, and let us reason together, though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18).
After repentance, absolution and forgiveness, we must thank God who opened the door of repentance and saved us from the dangerous road of death, as Isaiah said: “For wickedness burns as the fire, it shall devour the briers and thorns and kindle in the thickets of the forest; they shall mount up like rising smoke” (Isaiah 9:18), and our teacher St. Peter said: “The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and the reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanliness” (2 Peter 2:9,10). When the repentant knows that through repentance they are rescued from all this, they will deepen in their love toward God and seek to always abide in God, in order to receive power in their struggle against sin. God will make us victorious over Satan and all his enticements, and bring our bodies and all its weaknesses and lusts into subjection.
Our teacher St. Paul advises us saying: “And having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13). The repentant must walk on the pure path of repentance, and not be willingly returning to sin again.
The confessing person must not go from one Priest too another, as this may be cause delay in one’s spiritual growth. Unless for very strong reasons, one should not change the Priest they go to for spiritual aid.
The person who confesses must have strong love and confidence in the Priest to trust his guidance, obey and benefit from him, like a patient trusting their doctor.