The gift of God’s forgiveness is received through private prayer, corporate worship, the disciplines of prayer and fasting, penitential services and above all, through the sacrament of Holy Confession.
The value of Holy Confession is twofold. First, through this sacramental act of the ordained priest and the Orthodox Christian believer we have the assurance of Divine forgiveness, according to the words of Christ (Jn 20:23). Secondly, Holy Confession provides the opportunity to talk about one’s deep concerns, to receive counsel and to be encouraged towards spiritual growth, all of which are universally recognized as extremely beneficial to personal life.
Holy Confession is appropriate whenever an Orthodox Christian reasonably feels the need for it. It is a sad consequence of the modern age that Confession cannot be offered regularly in large part due to the limited number of clergy within the community and the continued growth of our parishes. Nevertheless, confession should be a part of our total spiritual preparation during Holy Seasons. Furthermore, Holy Confession is especially necessary when a serious sin has been committed, when a habitual sin has overwhelmed a Christian, or when a Christian has stopped growing spiritually and needs a reexamination of priorities.
We confess our sins to God and the power of forgiveness is Gods. However, the gift of God’s forgiveness, although assured, is not magical. It does not automatically spare us from spiritual struggle – the continual vigilance against evil and the unceasing warfare against sin. Holy Confession will bear fruits in the Spirit only when the believer combats evil, utterly rejects sin and patiently cultivates the positive habits of a life in Christ. “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to Christ Jesus… Do not yield your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but yield yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life” (Rm 6:11, 13).
How does one prepare for Holy Confession? Preparation for Holy Confession is a prayerful examination of feelings, thoughts, words, acts, attitudes, habits, values, priorities, goals, direction and way of life. This prayerful self-examination includes not only one’s personal religious life, but also one’s family relationships, social activities, professional conduct, business dealings, political commitments and even recreational pursuits, because our entire existence should be lived under the light of the Holy Spirit. Confession is not an opportunity to condemn ourselves, but to affirm our true selves in Christ who has given us access to God’s mercy and forgiveness and who has taught us to live for God’s glory.
The priest in the sacrament of Confession speaks for the Church as well as for God when he reads the prayer of absolution for forgiveness and reconciliation. The priest is not the source of forgiveness, but serves as a visible instrument of the Lord. Thus, when the priest offers the prayers of forgiveness within the sacrament, he is expressing God’s forgiveness of the truly penitent heart. Just as there is no sin which in some way is not an offense against the Lord our God, our neighbor and our Church, there is no abiding peace without reconciling ourselves with God, His Church and our fellow man. The sacrament of confession is not something abstract and invisible. It has to do with our real relationship with God and actual people in our life.
In order to partake of the sacrament of Confession one must make an appointment by contacting the Church office to arrange a day and time to meet with Fr. Nicholas. According to Tradition, Confession takes place inside the Sanctuary and the faithful are guaranteed absolute and strict confidentiality.