Why confess to a priest and how ought it be done? – Part 3

August 8, 2017

Why confess to a priest and how ought it be done? – Part 3

Previously in our first video we discussed the meaning of repentance and we discovered that repentance is the change of mind and direction back to God.

In the second video we looked into the mystery of confession, what it means and why God instituted it as means of salvation. We saw that there can exist confessions of faith and confessions of sins and in both we are called to speak using the same language as god according to the standards He has revealed to us.

In today’s video we will speak to the question of why we confess to a priest and how we ought to confess.

Many people will shy away from confession because they are ashamed to speak their sins to a priest. They adopt an attitude of why can’t I confess my sins to God, after all God already knows all that I have done. If we speak honestly, although we say that God is present everywhere and knows our actions, if we were aware of His presence in our lives at all times we wouldn’t’ have sinned at all and its precisely because we don’t acknowledge God’s presence in our lives, the Lord has instituted the Church as a means to reveal His Divine presence amongst us here on earth.

The Lord has chosen the Church and those who are appointed to Holy orders (Bishops and priests) to be his manifestations among us all.   The mysteries of the Church are the gifts that God grants to the Christian believers and all of these are administered by the Lord Himself through those who have been granted the mystery of the priest hood.   What this means is that when we partake of the mysteries, it is our Lord Jesus Christ who is present amongst us and His presence is manifested in the person of the Bishop or in the person of the Priest. This is manifested in confession.

For instance when our Lord Jesus was preparing His disciples and Holy apostles to go into the world and begin their ministry, the lord tells them when He appears to them after His resurrection: “So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you. And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” John 20:21-23

The Lord could not be any clearer, He is saying what I have said and done for the world now you my disciples also do and He gives them the Holy Spirit and grants them the power of loosening and binding sins.

St John Chrysostom writes a book in the 4th century called ‘ On the priesthood’ and he comments beautifully saying the following: “ Priest have received a power which God has given neither to angels nor archangels. It was said to the, His disciples, whatsoever you shall bind in earth shall be bound in heaven and whatsoever you shall loose shall be loosed. Temporal rulers have indeed the power of binding but they can only bind the body, priests, in contrast, can bind with a bond which pertains to the soul itself and transcends the very heavens. Did God not give them all the powers of heaven? Whose sins you shall forgive He says they are forgiven, whose sins you shall retain they are retained. What greater power is there than this.   The Father has given all judgment to the Son and now I see the Son placing all this power in the hands of men his priests his bishops. They are raised to this dignity as if they are already gathered up to heaven.”

When we build up the confidence to go see our father of confession the priest we are following a process that is instituted by God and has been observed since the very early church.

Now that we have seen why we confess to a priest let’s take a moment and discuss how we ought to confess. Let’s first clarify between three separate and unique conversations that can be held with a priest. The first one is the one we are talking about today which is true confession, usually a 15-20 minute dialogue where I speak my sins aloud to God before a priest and can sometime include a prescribed spiritual canon given by the priest to help in repentance. We ought to prepare ahead of time through prayer and offering sincere repentance and come ready to list out our confessions with an attitude that is free of excuses and justifications. At the end of this the priest prays the absolution over the believer and the mystery is complete.

The second type of conversation that can be held with the priest is that of spiritual counseling where we come to the priest with questions and concerns not always revolving around confession of sins. Often times we have believers that have their father of confession as a spiritual counselor as well. Sometimes people can have two fathers one for confession and the other as a spiritual counselor.

The third type of conversation is one that can be therapeutic in nature. Although we can speak to our spiritual fathers about anything there is nothing wrong when priests advice their children to seek professional help when it is needed. The priest is there to administer the mysteries of the Church to believers and to guide them to God but he is not specialized in professional aspects like academics, psychological or medical advice therefore you shouldn’t be offended in anyway if your priest (out of genuine love for you) guides you to seek a professional for your own sake in matters he cannot best advice you.

We conclude that our relationship with our father of confession is one that is crucial in the life of the orthodox believer. So if any of us are hesitant to come forward and offer true and sincere repentance let us be encouraged by the grace of God. Let us hold true God’s promises, let us set aside our pride and our shame and let us go to Gods priests.   Let us humbly confess our sins, all of this for the sake of the remission of our sins and our salvation


Remember know your faith, live your faith and teach your faith

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