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What is True Repentance?

First we need to understand that confession is a call of love. Repentance and confession are not a trial or a court. It is a shelter for sinners like me and you, a hospital. The one who confesses is not judged or condemned. S/He is surrounded by love, comfort, sincere interest; s/he is taken care of, healed, assisted, treated by the True Physician [God], instructed, and forgiven. Therefore Confession is the call of our Lord Jesus Christ to the sinner into his kingdom. "From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt 4: 17; Matt 3: 2).

We confess to the Priest because God ordered it :-

  • And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease [Mt 10: 1]

  • And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed] in heaven. [Mt 16: 18-19]

  • “If a person sins or touches any unclean thing ... or if a person swears ... He shall confess that he has sinned in that thing, and he shall bring his trespass offering to the Lord for his sin which he has sinned ..., so the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his sin” (Levi.5:1-6]

What is True Repentance

  1. True repentance because of our love for God, and not for fear of punishment (the most important step in confession).

  2. To have honest intention and steadfast will, and so abandon sin and its causes.

  3. To examine our conscience and self carefully, to be aware of the sins committed by deed or word or thought or senses.

  4. To be truthful in confession, knowing that lying to the confession-father 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).

  5. Not to hide any secrets and hidden thoughts, “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.

  6. 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).

  7. A person must be fair with oneself, not too sympathetic nor too harsh, doubtful or anxious, but rather, should confess with a straightforward, mature conscience.

  8. The confessor must adhere to the advice given them by their confession father, and be diligent in following his advice as a remedy necessary for spiritual life.

  9. To practice all the spiritual exercises given by one’s confession-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.”

  10. 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

“The Lord Jesus Christ rose Lazarus from the death and those around him (the apostles) loosed him from the grave clothes that bound him.” Was the Giver of life unable to loosen the grave clothes? By loosening them, the apostles denoted their authority of absolving and forgiving sins, which the Lord granted to them and their successors. St. Augustine
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