Monday, December 23, 2002

Some thoughts on confession

I just came across a fine article on confession at the Holy-Trinity (San Francisco) web site:

Here as an excerpt:

A young monk complained to the great ascetic Abba Sisoes: "Abba, what should I do? I fell." The elder answered: "Get up!" The monk said: "I got up, and I fell again!" The elder replied: "Get up again!" But the young monk asked: "For how long should I get up when I fall?" "Until your death," answered Abba Sisoes.

The process of confession is not a "requirement" to be fullfilled in order to be "a member in good standing" in the Orthodox Church. It is rather, an ordinary part of "walking" on the path of salvation. Often as we walk, we fall. When we fall, we must get back up again. This getting back up again, is confession.

There is the unfortunate circumstance today of certain diocese in the Orthodox Church "requiring" their parishoners to go to confession a certain number of times per year, or before certain feasts, and so on. This sort of trivializing the faith, by making it into a mere set of rules and requirements, has happened in parts of the Orthodox Church due to the unfortunate influence of Western (specifically Roman Catholic) theology in which everything in the Christian faith is seen from a juridicial perspective.

But it is not so in the Orthodox Church. Sure there are canons and rules for fasting and daily life, but such things are there to gently guide us along the path of salvation: rather like a hand-railing along the path, and not like the a heavy yoke placed upon us by a taskmaster.


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