Many Confess, Few Repent (Part III)

Veneration of the Precious Chains of the Holy and All-Glorious Apostle Peter

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,

PSALM 5O [51]

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight--That You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me hear joy and gladness, that the bones You have broken may rejoice. Hide Your face form my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You. Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, the God of my salvation, and my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise. For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifice of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart--These, O God You will not despise. Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion; Build the walls of Jerusalem, then You shall be pleased with the sacrifice of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering; Then they shall offer bulls on Your altar.

[Please note: This is psalm of repentance and God's mercy, and a prophecy about salvation through baptism (vv. 2, 7). It is also a teaching about worship in spirit (vv. 17-19).]



By Monk Moses of the Holy Mountain

The Delusion Arising From Our Passions

The greatest of evils is pride( Gk.Υπερηφάνεια). It is the mother of many offspring, the first being vainglory (Gk. ματαιοδοξία) and self-vindication. Pride is a form of denial of God; it is an invention of wicked (evil) demons, the result of too much praise, which in turn results in God-despised censure, anger, rage, hypocrisy, the lack of compassion, misanthropy, and blasphemy. Pride is a passion that is formidable, difficult, powerful and hard to cure. Pride manifests itself as vainglory, boastfulness, conceit, arrogance, presumptuousness, swell-headedness, insolence, self-importance, megalomania, ambition, self-love, vanity, avarice, flesh-loving, a lover for leadership, accusations and arguments. Also as smugness, insensitivity, contradiction, obstinacy, disobedience, sarcasm, stubbornness, disregard, indignity, perfectionism and hypersensitivity. Finally, pride can lead to impenitence.

The tongue often becomes the instrument of pride, through unchecked, long-winded, useless talking; gossiping, silliness; vain, insincere, indiscreet, two-tongued, diplomatic, pretended and mocking conversations.

Out of the seven deadly sins many other passions spring forth. Having mentioned the offspring of pride, we then have avarice, which gives birth to the love of money, greed, stinginess, lack of charity, hardheartedness, fraud, usury, injustice, deceitfulness, simony, bribery, gambling. Fornication manifests itself in myriads of ways, for example, envy--with its underhanded and evil spite, insatiable gluttony, anger, as well as suspect negligence and lack of care.

Special attention should also be paid to many un-Orthodox elements in family life. The avoidance of childbearing, the idolizing of one's children (when regarded as the extension of the parent's ego); overprotecting them, or constantly watching their moves and savagely oppressing them.

Marriage is an arena for exercising humility, mutual leeway and mutual respect, and not the parallel journey of two egotisms despite a lifelong coupling and coexistence. The devil dances for joy whenever there is no forgiveness in human weaknesses and in everyday mistakes.

Parents will help their children significantly with their peaceful, sober and loving example in the home, on a daily basis. The participation of the children together with the parents in the Sacrament of Confession will fortify them with Divine Grace in an experiential life in Christ.

When parents ask for forgiveness with sincerity, they simultaneously teach their children humility, which destroys all demonic plots. In a household where love, harmony, understanding, humility, and peace bloom, there the blessing of God will be bounteous and the home becomes a castle that is impervious to the malice of the world around. The upbringing of children with the elements of forgiveness creates a healthy family hearth, which will inspire them and strengthen them for their own futures.

One other huge matter that constitutes an obstacle for repentance and confession is self-vindication, which plagues many people of the Church also. Its basis is, as we mentioned earlier, demonic pride. A classic example is the Pharisee of the Gospel parable. The self-vindicating person has apparently positive elements, which he will over-praise and for which he would like to be honored and praised. He is happy to be flattered and to demean and humiliate others. He has excessive self-esteem; he vindicates himself to excess and believes that God is necessarily obliged to reward him. In the long run, he is a poor wretch, who, in his wretched state makes others wretched. He is possessed by nervousness and agitation and he is demanding, thus imprisoning himself; these are tendencies that will not allow him to open the door to Divine Mercy, through his repentance.

An offspring of pride is censure, which is unfortunately also a habit of many Christians, who tend to concern themselves more with other than themselves. This is a phenomenon of our time and of a society that pushes people into a continuous observation of others, and not of the self.

Modern man's myriad occupations and activities do not want him to ever remain alone to study, to contemplate, to pray, to attain self-awareness, self-critique, self-control and to be reminded of death. The so-called mass media are incessantly preoccupied with scandal-seeking, persistently and at length, with human passions, with sins, with others' misdemeanors. These kinds of things provoke, impress, and, even if they do not scandalize, they nevertheless burden the soul and the mind with filth and ugliness and they actually reassure us, by making us believe that "we are better" than those advertised. Thus, a person becomes accustomed to the mediocrity, the tepidity and the transience of superficial day-to-day life, never comparing himself to Saints and heroes. Censure in our times gives man the impression that he is justly imposing a kind of cleansing, by mud-slinging at others, albeit contaminating himself by generating malice, hatred, hostility, resentfulness, envy and frigidity.

Saint Maximos the Confessor in fact states that the one who constantly scrutinizes other's sins, or judges his brothers based on a suspicion only has not even begun to repent, nor has he begun any research into discovering his own sins.


Many and various things can be said; but in the end, only one thing is opportune, significant and outstanding: salvation is attained, only through sincere repentance and clean confession.

Repentance not only opens the celestial Paradise, but also the terrestrial one, with the foretasting -albeit partial-of the ineffable joy of the endless reign of the heavens and of wonderful peace, in the present time. Those who uphold the practice of confession can be the truly and genuinely happy people; pacifist and peace-bearing; heralds of repentance, of resurrection, of transformation, freedom, grace, and with the blessing of God in their souls and their lives. "God's bounteous Grace turns the wolf into a lamb," says Saint John Chrysostom.

No sin can surpass God's love. There is not one sinner who cannot become a saint, if he desires to. It has been proven, by the innumerable names that are recorded in the Book of Saints.

The confessor listens to confession and absolves those confessing, under his blessed stole (epitrachelion). He cannot however confess himself and place the stole over his own head to obtain forgiveness in the same manner. He must necessarily kneel underneath another stole to confess and be absolved.

That is the way the spiritual law functions; that is the way God's Wisdom and Mercy have ordained. We cannot confess others, but not submit ourselves to confession; to not practice what we preach; to talk about repentance, but not to repent; to talk about confession, but not confess ourselves regularly. None of us can dethrone himself and none can absolve himself. The unadvised, the disobedient, the unconfessed are a serious problem for the Church.

Dear brothers and sisters, the confessor's stole can be a miraculous scalpel for the removal of malignant tumors; it can raise the dead, renew and transform the indecorous world, and bring joy to earth and heaven. Our Church has entrusted this grand ministry, this sacred service, to our priests and not to the Angels, so that we might be able to approach them with ease and without fear, as fellow-sufferers and corporeal counterparts.

All the above have been deposited with sincerity and not at all pretentiously, by a co-sinner, who did not aspire to play the teacher, but a co-struggling, co-student, together with you. It was merely his desire to remind you with simple and inartistic words the Tradition of our holy mother, the Church, on the ever-opportune matter of divinely-spun and divinely-blessed Repentance and the divinely-delivered and God-favored, blessed Sacrament of Confession.

(Source: Orthodox Heritage)

Please note: Sadly, the contemporary Orthodox Christian has never participated in the Sacrament of Repentance and Confession. It is never too late to begin, if not with your parish priest, at least with a priest from a sister parish or a monk-priest from one of our Orthodox Monasteries. May our Lord guide and enlighten you to find your way to this most important Mysteries of Our Church. It is a matter of salvation!



The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.


With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George