General confession, or why repent of the "sin of the murder"?
What is a general confession? Why is it necessary for future priests and is not intended for laymen at all? Do I need to repent of those sins that you have never committed? Why do priests oppose mass repentance of the "sin of the murder"? How to treat a complete list of sins? Look for answers in the article.
Why should a man go to confession?
Every person wants to be better. And this desire is associated not only with the appearance or professional capabilities. We want to be kinder, more attentive to our relatives, more gracious, more sympathetic. This can be said to be a basic spiritual need. After all, man is created for holiness, which implies constant moral improvement.
St. John of the Ladder has a work called “The Ladder”. The saint compares this spiritual growth with a ladder: step by step, step by step, a person rises higher and higher.
But the movement of each of us can hardly be called direct and unlimited.On the path of life can not do without a lot of sinful falls - from mental conviction to many years of resentment, and even murder.
And how to be in such situations when a person realizes his guilt, repents of it, wants to change? A merciful God accepts our repentance in the Sacrament of Confession.
When we feel the spiritual need for cleansing and healing from sin, we go to confession, in the presence of the priest we repent of our vices. But we bring repentance not to the father, but to God himself. The priest is only a witness and an experienced mentor. He can wisely advise us how best to act in a given situation, overcome in himself the attachment to this or that sin. The very same confession takes the Lord. And you cannot hide anything from Him: God sees everyone's heart.
Why not hide your sins?
If a person deliberately harbored some kind of sinner in himself, it turns out that he wanted to deceive God, and this is an even greater offense. That is why in the prayer before the Mystery of Confession there are such words:Here is His icon before us, and I (the priest) are only a witness, in order to testify before Him all that you tell me; but if you hide anything from me, you will fall into a double sin.
What does it mean? If you have already come to a spiritual hospital, that is, to the temple to confess, repent before God in everything that torments you. Then you will be relieved. Many believers really do feel about themselves, like a stone falls from their hearts.
This is another confirmation that the sacrament of confession has the result: the Lord has forgiven our sins. One thing remains: to correct my life not in words but in deeds, and try not to return to the confessed vice.
How not to turn a confession into a formality
In our time, the sense of repentance in the presence of a priest has been somewhat distorted. Some consider it unnecessary, others fall into another extreme - in every detail they run to the priest for advice and “demand” to hear the general confession. How to reach the golden mean?
In monasteries there is the practice of confessing thoughts: a monk reveals to the confessor not only his actions, but also all sinful thoughts. An experienced tutor gives wise recommendations, to which the monk necessarily listens. After all, monastic life involves giving up one's will and “submission” to the pastor.
In the world, everything is different. The man himself is responsible for his life and deeds.The priest, knowing your situation, can only give advice. Therefore, it is not necessary to run to the father with all household trifles and ask whether to go on vacation by train or bus and take the child to kindergarten.
Need to deal with spiritual problems. In order not to turn the Sacrament of Confession into a kind of indulgence and formality, it is worth remembering its purpose and adhere to these recommendations.
- Approach repentance in the temple when you feel a special spiritual need.
- Repent of your sins consciously. First of all, call that which torments you the most.
- If you use lists of sins for confession, then in no case do not rewrite everything without understanding and awareness.
- Do not turn a confession into a formality. After all, the God of the Church is a living God, a Person. And with the person is to maintain a lively, trusting relationship. If you “repent” in words of some kind of misconduct, but deeply in your soul you do not consider this to be a sin at all, then do you not act hypocritically?
- After the Sacrament of Confession, try to bear the fruits of repentance. Ideally, discard the professed vice. If there is a temptation to return to it, then control your thoughts and, if possible, cut off the sinful manifestations already at this stage. After all, as you know, every sin begins with a thought.At one time, Eve entered into dialogue with the sinful thoughts that the devil inspired in her. If she had immediately thrown them away, then perhaps everything would have ended completely differently.
- No matter how pessimistic this may sound, but approach the Sacrament of Confession with the feeling that this may be the last chance. Therefore, try to maximize your spiritual state and get relief.
General confession: a test for a priest for aptitude?
In the Orthodox Church, it is customary to confess to adults and children over seven years old.
Of course, the repentance of an adult is significantly different from childish, because a child has not had time to sin as much as a father or mother.
The confession of clergymen looks somewhat different. It is performed not very often, because the parish priest, if he serves himself, cannot leave the church and go to the confessor to confession. Such an event is exactly planned.
With the representatives of the clergy, or rather, with those who are preparing to take the dignity, so-calledgeneral confession. This means that a person repents of all the sins that he can remember (regardless of whether he confessed them before or not).Such a Sacrament must be carefully prepared so that, whenever possible, nothing is missed. And this “procedure” lasts not the usual 5-10 minutes, and sometimes even 1.5-2 hours.
What is it done for? Not just to prepare to receive the grace of the priesthood. The clerk must find out if the candidate has any barriers to becoming a deacon, and then a priest, and perhaps even a bishop. There are sins, after committing which, even when a person sincerely repented, confessed and gave the word to never return to this vice, anyone who wants to become a priest cannot be ordained.
As the Serbian Patriarch Pavel said:You can become a saint, but never a priest!
Among the canonical obstacles that the general confession can reveal, you will find criminal offenses (theft, murder, etc.) and prodigal sins. And the future priest should have a clean reputation.
If he is a family man, his wife should be Orthodox and, like her husband, preserve chastity before marriage. There can be no talk of divorce in the family of a priest, as well as marriage with a divorced and secondhand marriage.
There are other obstacles for those who want to take holy orders.To reveal their presence or absence will help confession in all their sins ever committed.
Lists of sins and repentance in regicide: how to avoid extremes?
Today, among the believers, a kind of “movement” has emerged for general confession for the laity. Many Orthodox in the world and even some monks urge everyone to go through the rite of national repentance and repent of the whole list of sins. It is noteworthy that a significant part of these offenses was not committed by the person himself.
Also, people are offered to be sure to repent of the “sin of the regicide,” because “the blood of the royal family still lies with us and our children.”
What does this logic lead to?
First extreme- people come to the priest with the longest list of sins. And they did not compile this list, guided by their own conscience, but simply copied from the Internet. Sometimes people don't even know what a sin means. But how can you repent of what you did not commit or do not even understand?
Second extreme- people come to the priest not with what torments them, but to repent of the "sin of the regicide." They suffer from a lack of love, bad relationships with family and friends, condemnation and hypocrisy,but as if they are trying to abstract away from real spiritual problems and repent of the fact that they are not involved in the accomplishment of which.
Observing these extremes, the priests do not call people for a general confession (which is really only needed by those who receive dignity) and the rite of national repentance, but for conscious repentance.
Is there really a “general confession” for the laity?
Although this concept of “generality” is firmly established in everyday life, there is no need for such a confession for the laity. Let's try to explain our thought.
When a Christian comes to church, he regularly confesses, takes communion, and gathers, if possible. If we do it consciously and try to get rid of our vices, then God forgives and has mercy.
In the sacrament of penance we receive the remission of sins. Why repent the second time (if we no longer returned to this sin) that the Lord has already forgiven us?
When a person has committed a particularly serious offense, the priest can appoint him to be a penance. This is a kind of correctional work on your soul - prayer, fasting, alms. Making them, a person acquires a penitential feeling and especially asks God for forgiveness.Usually after the time of penance ends, the believer himself feels that the Lord has accepted his repentance.
First and last
Some people call the first and last death confession. It is believed that if a person at a conscious age comes to faith, then he must go through such a “procedure” - repent of all his sins, which only he will remember.
But it will be nothing more thanfirst confession. At whatever age we may be, the first repentance in the presence of a priest necessarily requires intensive preparation and time.
Even seven-year-old children experience when they confess for the first time. What to say about adults who have accumulated a myriad of sins?
When a believer comes to this Sacrament consciously, and not under the lash of relatives or friends, he experiences two completely different states: sinful gravity and surprising ease after repentance.
Also has a special statusconfession on his deathbedwhich is often called general. For a person, this is the last opportunity to carry out a “general cleaning” in his soul, to remember what has tormented him (sometimes for many years), to forgive all offenders. Therefore, it is always sincere and very honest.
It is scary for a dying person not to reveal his vices, but to die without repentance.But such a confession has nothing to do with long lists of sins. It is unlikely that the dying will repent of everything, which he never did. On the contrary: the patient will tell with the maximum binding to his life.
Revolution in the mind
Sometimes they call the general confession, which has especially affected life. For example, a man went to a monastery for a week, in silence, prayer and work he overestimated his actions, ripe for repentance.
Usually in monasteries on weekdays, when there are few people, there is a time to confess long and carefully. In addition, the monks will not only patiently listen to your confession, but will also give a lot of valuable advice.
But this is also not a general confession. Why? Yes, because for the believer in a sense, every repentance is a general one. The Lord accepts him, so you must open your heart to God. But do not go back to the sins from which we have long been cleansed.
When we clean the house, we try to put everything in order so that every corner is sparkling clean. But we do not remember how much dirt from this room was removed last year. Just enjoy the resulting purity. Similarly in repentance.
Confession and Eucharist - two different sacraments
The modern gradations of confessions to the “general” and “everyday” are associated with the unification of the Sacraments of confession and the sacrament. In the ancient church, in order to receive communion, it was not necessary to go to repentance in the presence of a priest. If you maintain spiritual purity and do not hold offense, then you have no obstacles for the Eucharist. But the first Christians received communion, first every day, then on Sundays ... If a person did not attend the Liturgy for three Sundays and, accordingly, did not take Communion, he was excommunicated.
Today, a lot of people consider it normal to confess and take communion only once a year, during Lent. If we begin to repent as we become aware of our sins and receive communion regularly, then we will not turn to the “general” confession and the longest lists of other people's sins. Its enough.
About the importance of seeing your sins, not repentingregicidetells the theologian Alexey Osipov: