Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral

Houston, TX

 

Holy Confession

The sacrament of Holy Confession has always been a central part of an Orthodox Christian’s spiritual journey during our pilgrimage with the Lord in life. Orthodox Christians interested in participating in this Holy Sacrament of Confession and Reconciliation can meet with one of the priests by appointment. Please call the clergy office at 832-242-9260 

A young monk said 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. —Sayings of the Desert Fathers

Confessional Prayers

The Scriptures exhort us to repent and confess our sins. “Repent and turn from all your transgressions… and get yourself a new heart and a new spirit” (Ez 18:30-31)! “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean… cease to do evil, learn to do good” (Is 1:16-17). “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk 1:15). “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn 1:9).

Like faith, repentance is a turning from self and the world to God as the source of life. The biblical words for repentance suggest a complete “turning around” (shub), a radical “change of mind” (metanoia), abandoning evil thoughts and deeds and adopting by God’s grace a new way of life. Jesus emphasized the joy of repentance because of its results: forgiveness, reconciliation, renewal of life and personal communion with God. The Church Fathers speak of repentance as “a gateway to heaven,” “second baptism,” “new birth,” and “renewal of the soul.” They also teach that repentance is a permanent part of Christian life and that, since no person is perfect, everyone needs to repent and confess his or her sins frequently.

Repentance is a gift of God. However, it definitely lies within our powers to seek repentance. The prodigal son “came to himself” and said, “I will arise and go to my father” (Lk 15:17-18)! Acting upon his decision he went forth, confessed his sin and was joyfully welcomed by his father as one who had come alive from the dead (Lk 15:22-24).

Come to God in repentance whenever you are burdened by sin and guilt, or whenever you feel lost and separated from God. Confess to Him your sins. Be specific and resolve to do your utmost not to repeat them. Trust that God will receive you with open arms and that there will be more joy in heaven over your repentance than over ninety-nine righteous who do not need repentance (Lk 15:7).

Preparation for Holy Confession

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 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 toward spiritual growth, all of which are universally recognized as extremely beneficial to personal life.

Holy Confession is appropriate whenever an Orthodox Christian feels the need for it. It is also a part of our total spiritual preparation during the fast periods leading up to the great feasts of Easter, Christmas, the Falling Asleep of the Theotokos and the Feast of The Twelve Apostles. However, Holy Confession is especially necessary a) when a serious sin has been committed; b) 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 God’s. 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 hates evil, utterly rejects sin and patiently cultivates positive habits of the 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 can one prepare for the 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 the personal religious life, but also family relationships, social activities, job conduct, business dealings, political commitments and even recreational pursuits, because our entire existence should be lived in Christ. The goal of this sincere search of conscience under the light of the Holy Spirit is not 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.

Pray and think about your confession over several days. Ask God to help you perceive your sins and to make a thorough confession of them. Sometime before the sacrament of Holy Confession, offer selected prayers from the previous Confessional Prayers or the following prayer of repentance.

The Ten Commandments

I am the Lord your God, and you shall have no other goads before me.

Has God been the source, center and hope of my Life? Have I put myself, others or things before God? Have I failed to trust in God’s existence, love and mercy? Have I failed to pray to God, to worship Him and to thank Him for His blessings? Have I tried to serve God and keep His commandments faithfully? Have I murmured or complained against God in adversity? Have I praised and glorified God through my words and deeds?

You shall not make for yourself a graven image in order to worship it.

Have I valued anyone or anything above God? Have I given to anyone or anything the love, honor and worship that belong to God alone? Have I made an idol of any person, idea, occupation, or thing?

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

Have I blasphemed God’s holy name in any way? Have I sworn a false oath? Have I broken any solemn vow or promise? Have I entered into an agreement, promise or contract against God’s law? Have I cursed or used foul language?

Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.

Have I worshipped regularly on Sundays and major feastdays and have I helped others to do the same? Have I worked unnecessarily on Sundays or major feast days or caused other to do so? Have I spent the Lord’s Day in wholesome and edifying ways?

Honor your father and mother.

Have I loved and respected my parents as I should? Have I neglected them or failed to help them? Have I disobeyed them, deceived them or caused them pain by my words or deeds? Have I treated all my family members with patience and love?

You shall not Kill.

Have I caused the harm, injury or death of anyone? Have I wished my own anyone’s harm or death? Have I been cruel to animals or destroyed any life unnecessarily?

You shall not commit adultery.

Have I committed any immoral acts alone or with others? Have I caused others to commit immoral acts? Have I committed immoral acts in my heart or mind?

You shall not steal.

Have I taken anything that was not mine from anyone or from anywhere? Have I cheated anyone? Have I caused others to steal or cheat? Have I tried to find the owners of lost things I have found? Have I damaged or destroyed anything that belongs to another? Have I defrauded anyone of rightful wages? Have I paid my debts? Have I given to the poor and to philanthropic causes in proportion to my means?

You shall not bear false witness.

Have I given false testimony against anyone? Have I spoken evil, told lies or spread rumors about anyone? Have I disclosed to anyone the sins and faults of another? Have I made careless statements or done anything else to harm the name and reputation of another? Have I engaged in idle gossip?

You shall not covet.

Have I looked with envy, jealousy or hatred toward the possessions, talents or achievements of others? Have I desire the downfall or loss of others out of evil intent that I might benefit? Have I grieved that God has bestowed greater blessings on others than on me?

Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral
3511 Yoakum Boulevard
Houston, TX 77006
Office: (713) 526-5377
Fax: (713) 526-1048
Office Hours: Weekdays 8am-4:30pm