The Sacrament 

Of Confession

Items from St Nicholas Orthodox Church 


Prayer before confession	3

Of St. Symeon the New Theologian	3

A Preparation for Confession	4

by St. John of Kronstadt	4

Preparation for Confession	6

Preparation for Confession	9

From the Vision of Blessed Theodora	9


by Saint Peter of Damaskos	15


A Lament for Sin	18

St. Basil the Great	18

A Brief Confession before One's Spiritual Father	21

From the Full Confession of St. Demetrius of Rostov	21


Compiled by the late Archbishop Tikhon of San Francisco.	22

Based on a longer version by St Dimitry of Rostov.	22

A sincere confession of an Orthodox Christian	23


From "The Way of a Pilgrim"	29


What Is Necessary for a Saving Confession?	32

by Metropolitan Innocent of Moscow	32

A Catechism on Confession	35

The relationship between Confession and Communion	39

LESSONS FROM THE FATHERS - On Confession of One's Sins	41

Page 5 of 46


Prayer before confession

Of St. Symeon the New Theologian

O God and Lord of all! Who hath the power over every breath and soul,
the only One able to heal me, hearken unto the prayer of me, the
wretched one, and, having put him to death, destroy the serpent nestling
within me by the decent of the All-Holy and Life-Creating Spirit. And
vouchsafe me, poor and naked of all virtue, to fall with tears at the
feet of my spiritual father, and call his holy soul to mercy, to have
mercy on me. And grant, O Lord, unto my heart humility and good
thoughts, becoming a sinner, who hath consented to repent unto Thee, and
do not abandon unto the end the one soul, which hath united itself unto
Thee and hath confessed Thee, and instead of all the world hath chosen
Thee and hath preferred Thee. For Thou knowest, O Lord, that I want to
save myself, and that my evil habit is an obstacle. But all things are
possible unto Thee, O Master, which are impossible for man. Amen. 

Translated from the Russian by Priest Viatcheslav Davidenko 

A Preparation for Confession

by St. John of Kronstadt

I, a sinful soul, confess to our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ, all
of my evil acts which I have done, said or thought from baptism even
unto this present day. 

I have not kept the vows of my baptism, but have made myself unwanted
before the face of God. 

I have sinned before the Lord by lack of faith and by doubts concerning
the Orthodox Faith and the Holy Church; by ungratefulness for all of
God's great and unceasing gifts; His long-suffering and His providence
for me, a sinner; by lack of love for the Lord, as well as fear, through
not fulfilling the Holy Commandments of God and the canons and rules of
the Church. 

I have not preserved a love for God and for my neighbor nor have I made
enough efforts, because of laziness and lack of care, to learn the
Commandments of God and the precepts of the Holy Fathers. 

I have sinned: by not praying in the morning and in the evening and in
the course of the day; by not attending the services or by coming to
Church only half-heartedly, lazily and carelessly; by conversing during
the services, by not paying attention, letting my mind wander and by
departure from the Church before the dismissal and blessing. 

I have sinned by judging members of the clergy. 

I have sinned by not respecting the Feasts, breaking the Fasts, and by
immoderation in food and drink. 

I have sinned by self-importance, disobedience, willfulness,
self-righteousness, and the seeking of approval and praise. 

I have sinned by unbelief, lack of faith, doubts, despair, despondency,
abusive thoughts, blasphemy and swearing. 

I have sinned by pride, a high opinion of my self, narcissism, vanity,
conceit, envy, love of praise, love of honors, and by putting on airs. 

I have sinned: by judging, malicious gossip, anger, remembering of
offenses done to me, hatred and returning evil for evil; by slander,
reproaches, lies, slyness, deception and hypocrisy; by prejudices,
arguments, stubbornness, and an unwillingness to give way to my
neighbor; by gloating, spitefulness, taunting, insults and mocking; by
gossip, by speaking too much and by empty speech. 

I have sinned by unnecessary and excessive laughter, by reviling and
dwelling upon my previous sins, by arrogant behavior, insolence and lack
of respect. 

I have sinned by not keeping my physical and spiritual passions in
check, by my enjoyment of impure thoughts, licentiousness and unchastity
in thoughts, words and deeds. 

I have sinned by lack of endurance towards my illnesses and sorrows, a
devotion to the comforts of life and by being too attached to my
parents, children, relatives and friends. 

I have sinned by hardening my heart, having a weak will and by not
forcing myself to do good. 

I have sinned by miserliness, a love of money, the acquisition of
unnecessary things and immoderate attachment to things. 

I have sinned by self-justification, a disregard for the admonitions of
my conscience and failing to confess my sins through negligence or false

I have sinned many times by my Confession: belittling, justifying and
keeping silent about sins. 

I have sinned against the Most-holy and Life-creating Mysteries of the
Body and Blood of our Lord by coming to Holy Communion without humility
or the fear of God. 

I have sinned in deed, word and thought, knowingly and unknowingly,
willingly and unwillingly, thoughtfully and thoughtlessly, and it is
impossible to enumerate all of my sins because of their multitude. But I
truly repent of these and all others not mentioned by me because of my
forgetfulness and I ask that they be forgiven through the abundance of
the Mercy of God. Preparation for Confession

Here are some aids in preparing for her confession and I found in my
files the following which I have given to parishioners at times to help
them prepare. This comes from no single source but is drawn from a
number of places. 


 1.	Thou shalt have no other gods before Me. 

 2.	Thou shalt not make any graven image, or bow down before any 

 3.	creation in heaven or on earth. 

 4.	Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain. 

 5.	Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. 

 6.	Honor thy father and thy mother. 

 7.	Thou shalt not kill. 

 8.	Thou shalt not commit adultery. 

 9.	Thou shalt not steal. 

 10.	Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. 

 11.	Thou shalt not covet that which is thy neighbors. 


 1.	To abstain for servile work on Sundays and Holy Days. 

 2.	To attend Divine Liturgy on Sundays and Holy Days. 

 3.	To fast and to abstain on the days appointed by the Church. 

 4.	To confess our sins and to receive the Holy Mysteries at least 

 5.	once a year. 

 6.	Not to solemnize marriage at forbidden times. 

 7.	To pray to God every day, especially at morning and evening. 


 1.	Pride 

 2.	Covetousness 

 3.	Lust 

 4.	Anger 

 5.	Gluttony 

 6.	Envy 

 7.	Sloth 


By counseling, by commanding, by consenting, by provoking another to
sin; by praise of flattery, by concealment, by silence, or by defending
that which is wrong. 


 T	Have you prayed to God upon rising and before eating and sleeping? 

 T	During prayer were you distracted by other thoughts? 

 T	Did you make the sign of the Cross carelessly? 

 T	Have you attended Church services regularly? 

 T	When in Church, have you been inattentive, laughed or talked 

 T	unnecessarily? 

 T	Have you used the name of the Lord in swearing or in a joking 

 T	way? 

 T	Have you sworn or murmured against God? 

 T	Have you been ashamed to make the sign of the Cross in front 

 T	of others? 

 T	Have you attended parties, movies, etc. during the hours of 

 T	Church services? 

 T	Have you failed to keep the fast or other rules of the Church? 

 T	Have you believed in astrology, superstitions, fortune-tellers 

 T	or the like? 

 T	Have you strayed from the teachings of the Church by unbelief 

 T	or indifference to the Faith? 

 T	Have you failed to ask for God's help in every effort? 

 T	Have you concealed sins at confession? 

 T	Do you show your parents proper respect? Have you been rude 

 T	to them, talked back or otherwise offended them? 

 T	If your parents are reposed, have you prayed for them. 

 T	Have you been disrespectful to members of the clergy, your 

 T	elders, teachers or superiors? 

 T	Have you been angry or irritated? 

 T	Have you abused anyone? Used foul language? Struck someone? 

 T	Offended someone in an argument? 

 T	Have you raised your voice in anger? 

 T	Have you joked or made fun of the handicapped, unfortunate, 

 T	or elderly? 

 T	Are you truly at peace with everyone? 

 T	Have you asked forgiveness of those you may have offended? 

 T	Have you failed to give aid to someone in need, especially 

 T	when asked? 

 T	Have you donated to the needs of the Church? 

 T	Have you been cruel to animals? 

 T	Have you taken something without asking? 

 T	Have you failed to return a book or other thing that you have 

 T	borrowed? 

 T	Have you been stubborn, insistent on pressing your point of 

 T	view? 

 T	Have you plotted or taken revenge on one who's offended you? 

 T	Have you told falsehoods, distorted the truth, cheated, judged 

 T	others or gossiped? 

 T	Have you joked of the faults of others, or exposed the faults 

 T	of another to make yourself the better? 

 T	Have you been vain? Sought glory or praise for yourself? 

 T	Does your inner peace disappear when others are unfair to 

 T	you or judge you? 

 T	Are you proud? Do you brag of your abilities, position or 

 T	possessions? Do you consider yourself worthy or sinless in the 

 T	sight of God? 

 T	Have you been overly concerned with your appearance? Are you 

 T	properly attired in God's house? 

 T	The 7th commandment includes all sins of a sexual nature, 

 T	either by thought, word, or deed, any of these must be confessed. 

 T	Have you been envious of another's possessions, appearance 

 T	or standing? 

 T	Have you fulfilled all obligations faithfully? Have you been 

 T	lazy? 

 T	Have you been impatient? Fallen into despair or apathy? Had 

 T	thoughts of suicide? 

 T	Are you attached to smoking, alcohol, or other drugs? Food 

 T	or drink? 

 T	Do you give up your heart to money or other earthly possessions? 

This information is edited from a post to the ORTHODOX mailing list on
April 1, 1996 by Fr. David Moser , of St Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox
Church, Boise IdahoPreparation for Confession

From the Vision of Blessed Theodora

I, a sinful soul, confess to our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ, all
of my evil acts which I have done, said or thought from baptism even
unto this present day.

First Torment: Idle speech 

 T	Have you spoken without thinking? or spoken too much? or spoken
anything that is impure? or shameless? or without need or order? or
unreasonable? or unclean? 

 T	Have you thought or said angry words or foul words? 

 T	Have you participated with or sung worldly shameless songs in word or

 T	Have you laughed unnecessarily or excessively? or laughed about
things that you shouldn't have laughed about or found funny? 

 T	Have you acted too silly? 

Second Torment: Lying 

 T	Have you kept the vows of your baptism? 

 T	Have you failed to keep oaths or promises to God? 

 T	Have pronounced the name of God without reverence? 

 T	Have you falsely confessed your sins? or was insincere about,
belittled, justified, or kept silent about your sins during confession? 

 T	Have you lied? 

 T	Have you been sly or secretly mischievous? or have you been deceptive
or hypocritical? 

 T	Have you honestly obeyed traffic laws? 

 T	Have been argumentative or stubborn? 

Third Torment: Spoke evil of others 

 T	Have you spread rumors or gossiped in thought or in word? 

 T	Have you slandered anyone wanting to or intending to injure the
reputation of another? 

 T	Have you given bad ideas or words to people? 

 T	Have you laughed at other's deficiencies or misfortunes? 

 T	Have you maligned treated anyone with malice or shown hatred toward
or abused or wronged or injured anyone? 

 T	Have you condemned anyone? or declared others unfit? 

 T	Have you made fun of people in thought, word, or action? or mocked in
a harmful way? 

 T	Have you reproached anyone or reflected on anyone abusively? 

 T	Have you taunted, teased, or tempted anyone? 

 T	Have you insulted anyone? 

Fourth Torment: Gluttony 

 T	Have you eaten before I put on the sign of the cross? 

 T	Have you eaten when you were not hungry? 

 T	Have you eaten too much at one time or became too full during the

 T	Have you eaten without having thankfulness to God? 

 T	Have you eaten like a slob or out of control stuffing food in your

 T	Have you consumed too many alcoholic beverages to the point of being

 T	Have you respected the feasts and fasts as much as I should? 

 T	Have you broken the fasts? 

 T	Have you not looked forward to the fasts taking in mind the true
meaning and purpose of them? 

 T	Have you eaten too many sweet foods for the enjoyment of them or had
a love of sweets? 

 T	Have you had gluttonous fantasies? 

Fifth Torment: Sloth 

 T	Have you taken efforts to remember and extensively learn the
Commandments of God and the precepts of the Holy Fathers by reading
spiritual things? 

 T	Have you kept your physical and spiritual passions in check all the
time? Or had a general carelessness about doing things having to do with
the salvation of your soul? 

 T	Have you devoted yourself to the comforts of life? 

 T	Have you lacked endurance towards my illnesses and sorrows by not
struggling against your passions as much as you should? 

 T	Have you been idle? or not worked as hard as you could have? or
fallen asleep at work? or not wanted to get out of bed? 

 T	Have you complained about having to work or attend long services or
say long prayers? 

 T	Have you cared to praise and thank God as much as I could or should
have throughout the day? 

 T	Have you failed to keep in continual prayer trying always to keep
your mind on serving God? 

 T	Have you dwelled upon your previous sins? 

 T	Have you fallen into despondency? Or given up hope or not having
faith in God that He can and will change you? 

 T	Have you forgotten to pray at certain times during the day? 

 T	Have you rushed through or not said your morning and evening prayers

 T	Have you attended the services completely? 

 T	Have you been fully prepared to go to Church to worship? or have you
gone to Church only half-heartedly, lazily, and carelessly? 

 T	Have you conversed during the services about things not having to do
with the service? 

 T	Have you paid complete attention during the services? 

 T	Have you let your mind wander or daydream or think other ungodly
thoughts during prayer or services? 

 T	Have you left the Church before the dismissal and blessing? 

 T	Have you forced yourself to do good at all times? 

 T	Have you had a weak will? 

Sixth Torment: Stealing 

 T	Have you stolen anything or thought seriously about stealing

Seventh Torment: Avarice and love of money 

 T	Have you loved riches? 

 T	Have you been content with what God gave you? 

 T	Have you wished in your mind that you had more money than you do

 T	Have you acquired unnecessary things? or had and immoderate
attachment to material things? 

 T	Have you been too concerned or caught up with material things? 

 T	Have you been too concerned with things having to do with the flesh? 

 T	Have you bought things in exchange for proper tithing? 

 T	Have you been greedy or selfish? 

 T	Have you worried about money or financial circumstances instead of
putting your trust in God? 

 T	Have you had fantasies about material wealth or having riches? 

Eighth Torment: Usury 

 T	Have you gained riches by exploiting people? 

 T	Have you accepted bribes? 

 T	Have you acquired something that belonged to another? 

Ninth Torment: Injustice 

 T	Have you judged anyone? 

 T	Have you acquitted the guilty and condemned the innocent all for the
sake of gain 

 T	Have you been unjust in anyway? 

 T	Have you accused an innocent person of committing an act that they
did not do? 

Tenth Torment: Envy 

 T	Have you envied anyone? or been jealous? 

Eleventh Torment: Pride 

 T	Have you been prideful? 

 T	Have you thought myself better than anybody else? 

 T	Have you considered yourself worthy while considering others

 T	Have you had a high opinion of yourself in any way? 

 T	Have you talked down to anyone? 

 T	Have you compared or measured yourself up to anyone? 

 T	Have you looked out for other people's faults rather than your own? 

 T	Have you tried to conceal the shortcomings of others while trying to
conceal your virtues? 

 T	Have you been critical of other people or criticized anyone? 

 T	Have you been arrogant, vain, or conceited? 

 T	Have you relied completely on yourself rather than God? 

 T	Have you bragged or boasted of things that you have accomplished?
Have you loved praise and honors? Have you put on airs? 

 T	Have you been prideful of the good deeds that you have done? 

 T	Have you failed to give proper honor or obey your parents or
superiors appointed by God? Have you been disobedient? 

 T	Have you thought yourself self-important? 

 T	Have you been self-willed instead of trying always to do the will of

 T	Have you been self-righteous? Have you self-justified your sins? 

 T	Have you disregarded the counseling of your conscience? 

 T	Have you failed to confess any of your sins through negligence or
false pride? 

 T	Have you been impatient or anxious about anything in which you
shouldn't be that way about? 

 T	Have you been prejudice towards anyone for any reason? 

 T	Have you had prideful fantasies of power, fame, or glory? 

Twelfth Torment: Anger and Ruthlessness 

 T	Have you felt anger? 

 T	Have you said anything unfeeling towards anyone? Have you harmed or
hurt anyone's feelings in any way? 

 T	Have you carried on arguments with anyone about anything in your

Thirteenth Torment: Bearing grudges 

 T	Have you nurtured evil thoughts against anyone? 

 T	Have you returned evil for evil? 

 T	Have you remembered wrongs anyone did to you in the past? 

 T	Have you bore any grudges instead of understanding, loving, and

 T	Have you kept in mind when anyone made offences towards you? 

 T	Have you imagined ways you could have revenge on anyone? 

Fourteenth Torment: Murder 

 T	Have you wounded anyone is some way? 

 T	Have you had any violent or destructive thoughts? 

 T	Have you had any harmful thoughts aimed towards anyone? 

 T	Have you wished evil upon anyone? 

 T	Have you been angry with people without a just cause? 

Fifteenth Torment: Magic, sorcery, poisoning, and incantations 

 T	Have you thought about your past interest in magic and things
relating to magic? 

 T	Have you imaged Holy things having some sort of magical properties? 

Sixteenth Torment: Fornication 

 T	Have you had any sensual or lustful thoughts? carnal thoughts? 

 T	Have you daydreamed about amorous and lustful things and found them

 T	Have you made impure glances? 

 T	Have you touched yourself in a lustful or passionate way that was
pleasing or arousing? 

 T	Have you had blasphemously lustful thoughts about saints and holy

 T	Have you been unchaste in thought, word, or deed? 

 T	Have you waken up from lustful bad dreams and found them pleasing to
think about? 

 T	Have you had fantasies of lust or fornication? 

Seventeenth Torment: Adultery 

 T	Have you had any adulterous thoughts with married people? 

Eighteenth Torment: Sodomic sins 

 T	Have you sinned against your nature? 

Nineteenth Torment: Heresies 

 T	Have you participated in Holy Communion having as much humility or
the fear of God as you should? 

 T	Have you loved and feared the Lord always? 

 T	Have you turned away from the Orthodox confession of faith by
apostatizing and agreeing with false doctrines or beliefs? 

 T	Have you lacked faith? 

 T	Have you doubted or had misconceptions about the faith? 

 T	Have denied holy things or had a negative attitude towards them? 

 T	Have you been grateful for all of God's great and unceasing gifts,
His mercy, His long-suffering, and His providence? 

 T	Have you fulfilled the Holy Commandments of God, the canons, and the
rules of the Church? 

 T	Have you blasphemed or swore in thought or word? 

 T	Have you thought curse words when you pray? 

 T	Have you turned words of prayer into profane words or filthy

 T	Have you feared man instead of God? 

 T	Have you been too attached to parents, relatives, and friends? 

 T	Have you answered the telephone during prayer? 

Twentieth Torment: Lack of compassion and cruelty of the heart 

 T	Have you lacked mercy, forgiveness, compassion, and love for anyone? 

 T	Have you felt hatred toward anyone? or any other manifestation of

 T	Have you been unfriendly to anyone? or been cruel? 

 T	Have you ridiculed anyone? 

 T	Have you rejoiced at the misfortunes of other's? 

 T	Have you had abusive or violent thoughts? 

 T	Have you been polite and friendly while driving on the roads and

I have sinned in deed, word, and thought, voluntarily and involuntarily,
knowingly and unknowingly, in knowledge and in ignorance, willingly and
unwillingly, thoughtfully and thoughtlessly, by day and by night, and it
is impossible to enumerate all of my sins because of their multitude.
But I truly repent of these and all others not mentioned by me because
of my forgetfulness and I ask that they be forgiven through the
abundance of the mercy of God. 


by Saint Peter of Damaskos

The passions are: 

harshness, trickery, malice, perversity, mindlessness, licentiousness,
enticement, dullness, lack of understanding, idleness, sluggishness,
stupidity, flattery, silliness, idiocy, madness, derangement,
coarseness, rashness, cowardice, lethargy, dearth of good actions, moral
errors, greed, over-frugality, ignorance, folly, spurious knowledge,
forgetfulness, lack of discrimination, obduracy, injustice, evil
intention, a conscienceless soul, slothfulness, idle chatter, breaking
of faith, wrongdoing, sinfulness, lawlessness, criminality, passion,
seduction, assent to evil, mindless coupling, demonic provocation,
dallying, bodily comfort beyond what is required, vice, stumbling,
sickness of soul, enervation, weakness of intellect, negligence,
laziness, a reprehensible despondency, disdain of God, aberration,
transgression, unbelief, lack of faith, wrong belief, poverty of faith,
heresy, fellowship in heresy, polytheism, idolatry, ignorance of God,
impiety, magic, astrology, divination, sorcery, denial of God, the love
of idols, dissipation, profligacy, loquacity, indolence, self-love,
inattentiveness, lack of progress, deceit, delusion, audacity,
witchcraft, defilement, the eating of unclean food, soft living,
dissoluteness, voracity, unchastity, avarice, anger, dejection,
listlessness, self-esteem, pride, presumption, self-elation,
boastfulness, infatuation, foulness, satiety, doltishness, torpor,
sensuality, over-eating, gluttony, insatiability, secret eating,
hoggishness, solitary eating, indifference, fickleness, self-will,
thoughtlessness, self-satisfaction, love of popularity, ignorance of
beauty, uncouthness, gaucherie, lightmindedness, boorishness, rudeness,
contentiousness, quarrelsomeness, abusiveness, shouting, brawling,
fighting, rage, mindless desire, gall, exasperation, giving offence,
enmity, meddlesomeness, chicanery, asperity, slander, censure, calumny,
condemnation, accusation, hatred, railing, insolence, dishonor,
ferocity, frenzy, severity, aggressiveness, forswearing oneself, oath
taking, lack of compassion, hatred of one's brothers, partiality,
patricide, matricide, breaking fasts, laxity, acceptance of bribes,
theft, rapine, jealousy, strife, envy, indecency, jesting, vilification,
mockery, derision, exploitation, oppression, disdain of one's neighbor,
flogging, making sport of others, hanging, throttling, heartlessness,
implacability, covenant-breaking, bewitchment, harshness, shamelessness,
impudence, obfuscation of thoughts, obtuseness, mental blindness,
attraction to what is fleeting, impassionedness, frivolity,
disobedience, dull wittedness, drowsiness of soul, excessive sleep,
fantasy, heavy drinking, drunkenness, uselessness, slackness, mindless
enjoyment, self-indulgence, venery, using foul language, effeminacy,
unbridled desire, burning lust, masturbation, pimping, adultery, sodomy,
bestiality, defilement, wantonness, a stained soul, incest,
uncleanliness, pollution, sordidness, feigned affection, laughter,
jokes, immodest dancing, clapping, improper songs, revelry, flute
playing, license of tongue, excessive love of order, insubordination,
disorderliness, reprehensible collusion, conspiracy, warfare, killing,
brigandry, sacrilege, illicit gains, usury, wiliness, grave-robbing,
hardness of heart, obloquy, complaining, blasphemy, fault-finding,
ingratitude, malevolence, contemptuousness, pettiness, confusion, lying,
verbosity, empty words, mindless joy, daydreaming, mindless friendship,
bad habits, nonsensicality, silly talk, garrulity, niggardliness,
depravity, intolerance, irritability, affluence, rancour, misuse,
ill-temper, clinging to life, ostentation, affectation, pusillanimity,
satanic love, curiosity, contumely, lack of the fear of God,
unteachability, senselessness, haughtiness, self-vaunting,
self-inflation, scorn for one's neighbor, mercilessness, insensitivity,
hopelessness, spiritual paralysis, hatred of God, despair, suicide, a
falling away from God in all things, utter destruction -- altogether 298

These, then, are the passions which I have found named in the Holy
Scriptures. I have set them down in a single list, as I did at the
beginning of my discourse with the various books I have used. I have not
tried, nor would I have been able, to arrange them all in order; this
would have been beyond my powers, for the reason given by St. John
Klimakos: 'If you seek understanding in wicked men, you will not find
it.' For all that the demons produce is disorderly. In common with the
godless and the unjust, the demons have but one purpose: to destroy the
souls of those who accept their evil counsel. Yet sometimes they
actually help men to attain holiness. In such instances they are
conquered by the patience and faith of those who put their trust in the
Lord, and who through their good actions and resistance to evil thoughts
counteract the demons and bring down curses upon them. 

A LIST OF THE PASSIONS, Saint Peter of Damaskos The Philokalia; The
Complete Text compiled by St. Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain and St.
Makarios of Corinth, Volume Three Translated from the Greek and edited
by G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherard, Kallistos Ware faber and faber, 1984


A Lament for Sin

St. Basil the Great 

Weep over your sin: it is a spiritual ailment; it is death to your
immortal soul; it deserves ceaseless, unending weeping and crying; let
all tears flow for it, and sighing come forth without ceasing from the
depths of your heart. 

In profound humility I weep for all my sins, voluntary and involuntary,
conscious and unconscious, covert and overt, great and little, committed
by word and deed, in thought and intention, day and night, at every hour
and minute of my life. 

I weep over my pride and my ambition, my self love and my boastfulness;
I weep over my fits of anger, irritation, excessive shouting, swearing,
quarreling and cursing; 

I weep for having criticized, censured, gossiped, slandered, and
defamed, for my wrath, enmity, hatred, envy, jealousy, vengeance and

I weep over my indulgences in lust, impure thoughts and evil
inclinations; covetousness, gluttony, drunkenness, and sloth; 

I weep for having talked idly, used foul language, blasphemed, derided,
joked, ridiculed, mocked, enjoyed empty gaiety, singing, dancing and
every pleasure to excess; 

I weep over my self indulgence, cupidity, love of money and miserliness,
unmercifulness and cruelty; 

I weep over my laziness, indolence, negligence, love of comfort,
weakness, idleness, absent-mindedness, irresponsibility, inattention,
love of sleep, for hours spent in idle pursuits, and for my lack of
concentration in prayer and in Church, for not observing fasts and not
doing charitable works. 

I weep over my lack of faith, my doubting, my perplexity, my coldness,
my indifference, my weakness and unfeelingness in what concerns the Holy
Orthodox Faith, and over all my foul, cunning and reviling thoughts; 

I weep over my exaggerated sorrow and grief, depression and despair, and
over sins committed willingly. 

I weep, but what tears can I find for a worthy and fitting way to weep
for all the actions of my ill fated life; for my immeasurable and
profound worthlessness? How can I reveal and expose in all its nakedness
each one of my sins, great and small, voluntary and involuntary,
conscious and unconscious, overt and covert, every hour and minute of
sin? When and where shall I begin my penitential lament that will bear
fitting fruit? Perhaps soon I may have to face the last hour of my life;
my soul will be painfully sundered from my sinful and vile body; I shall
have to stand before terrible demons and radiant angels, who will reveal
and torment me with my sins; and I, in fear and trembling, will be
unprepared and unable to give them an answer; the sight and sound of
wailing demons, their violent and bold desire to drag me into the
bottomless pit of Hell will fill my soul with confusion and terror. And
then the angels of God will lead my poor soul to stand before God 's
fearful seat of judgment. How will I answer the Immortal King, or how
will I dare, sinner that I am, to look upon My Judge? Woe is me! have no
good answer to make, for I have spent all my life in indolence and sin,
all my hours and minutes in vain thoughts, desires and yearnings! 

And how many times have I taken the Name of God in vain! 

How often, lightly and freely, at times even boldly, insolently and
shamelessly have I slandered others in anger; offended, irritated,
mocked them! 

How often have I been proud and vainglorious and boasted of good
qualities that I do not possess and of deeds that I have not done! 

How many times have I lied, deceived, been cunning or flattered, or been
insincere and deceptive; how often have I been angry, intolerant and

How many times have I ridiculed the sins of my brother, caused him grief
overtly and covertly, mocked or gloated over his misdeeds, his faults or
his misfortunes; how many times have I been hostile to him, in anger,
hatred or envy! 

How often have I laughed stupidly, mocked and derided, spoke without
weighing my words, ignorantly and senselessly, and uttered a numberless
quantity of cutting, poisonous, insolent, frivolous, vulgar, coarse,
brazen words! 

How often, affected by beauty, have I fed my mind, my imagination and my
heart with voluptuous sensations, and unnaturally satisfied the lusts of
the flesh in fantasy! How often has my tongue uttered shameful, vulgar
and blasphemous things about the desires of the flesh! 

How often have I yearned for power and been gluttonous, satiating myself
on delicacies, on tasty, varied and diverse foods and wines; because of
intemperance and lack of self-control how often have I been filled past
the point of satiety, lacked sobriety and been drunken, intemperate in
food and drink, and broken the Holy Fasts! 

How often, through selfishness, pride or false modesty, have I refused
help and attention to those in need, been uncharitable, miserly,
unsympathetic, mercenary and grasped at attention! 

How often have I entered the House of God without fear and trembling,
stood there in prayer, frivolous and absent-minded, and left it in the
same spirit and disposition! And in prayer at home I have been just as
cold and indifferent, praying little, lazily, and indolently,
inattentively and impiously, and even completely omitting the appointed

And in general, how slothful I have been, weakened by indolence and
inaction; how many hours of each day have I spent in sleep, how often
have I enjoyed voluptuous thoughts in bed and defiled my flesh! How many
hours have I spent in empty and futile pastimes and pleasures, in
frivolous talk and speech, jokes and laughter, games and fun, and how
much time have I wasted conclusively in chatter, and gossip, in
criticizing others and reproaching them; how many hours have I spent in
time-wasting and emptiness! What shall I answer to the Lord God for
every hour and every minute of lost time? In truth, I have wasted my
entire life in laziness. 

How many times have I lost heart and despaired of my salvation and of
God's mercy or through stupid habit, insensitivity, ignorance,
insolence, shamelessness, and hardness sinned deliberately, willingly,
in my right mind, in full awareness, in all goodwill, in both thought
and intention, and in deed, and in this fashion trampled the blood of
God 's covenant and crucified anew within myself the Son of God and
cursed Him! 

0 how terrible the punishment that I have drawn upon myself! 

How is it that my eyes are not streaming with constant tears?.. If only
my tears flowed from the cradle to the grave, at every hour and every
minute of my tortured life! Who will now cool my head with water and
fill the well of my tears and help me weep over my soul that I have cast
into perdition? 

My God, my God! Why hast Thou forsaken me? Be it unto me according to
Thy will, 0 Lord! If Thou wouldst grant me light, be Thou blessed; if
Thou wouldst grant me darkness, be Thou equally blessed. If Thou wouldst
destroy me together with my lawlessness, glory to Thy righteous
judgment; and if Thou wouldst not destroy me together with my
lawlessness, glory to Thy boundless mercy! 

A Brief Confession before One's Spiritual Father

From the Full Confession of St. Demetrius of Rostov

I confess to the Lord my God and before thee, venerable father, all my
countless sins, committed by me unto this very day and hour, in deed,
word and thought. I sin daily and hourly by mine ingratitude toward God
for His great and countless blessings and benevolent providence over me,
a sinner. 

I have sinned through: idle talking, judging others, stubbornness,
pride, hard-heartedness, envy, anger, slander, inattention, negligence
concerning my salvation, carelessness, indifference, impertinence,
irritability, despondency, rendering evil for evil, bitterness,
disobedience, complaining, self-justification, contradicting others,
self-will, being reproachful, gossiping, lying, light-mindedness,
tempting others, self-love, ambition, gourmandizing, eating and drinking
to excess, vanity, laziness, entertaining unclean thoughts,
acquisitiveness, impure glances, absence from divine services because of
laziness and carelessness, absent-mindedness at prayer both in church
and at home; I have sinned in deed, word thought; in sight, hearing,
smell, taste, touch and the rest of my mental and physical senses; of
all my sins I repent and beg forgiveness. 

(Here one should mention specifically any other sins which may be
burdening the soul.) 

I also repent and ask forgiveness for all those sins that I have not
confessed because of their multitude and my forgetfulness. 

Forgive and absolve me, venerable father, and bless me to commune of the
holy and life-creating Mysteries of Christ unto the remission of sins

Compiled by the late Archbishop Tikhon of San Francisco. 

 Based on a longer version by St Dimitry of Rostov. 

I confess to the Lord my God before thee, reverend father, all my sins
which I have committed up to the present day and hour, in deed, word and
thought. Every day and every hour I sin through ingratitude to God for
His great and numberless blessings to me and His most gracious
providence and care for me, a sinner. I have sinned through: 

 T	T	idle talk 

 T	saying unseemly things 

 T	condemnation of others 

 T	laughter 

 T	scorn 

 T	self-love 

 T	insubordination 

 T	love of glory 

 T	pride 

 T	love of honor 

 T	envy 

 T	gluttony 

 T	anger 

 T	love of sensual pleasure 

 T	slander 

 T	over-eating 

 T	inattention 

 T	drunkenness 

 T	listlessness 

 T	attachment to things 

 T	negligence 

 T	love of money 

 T	carelessness 

 T	vainglory 

 T	resentment and remembering wrongs 

 T	laziness 

 T	disobedience 

 T	acceptance of lustful and grumbling impure thoughts 

 T	self-will 

 T	missing church services 

 T	reproaching others 

 T	dozing and sleeping in church 

 T	evil speech 

 T	neglect of prayer 

 T	lying 

 T	concealing sins at confession 

I have sinned with all my senses, both spiritual and physical, wherefore
I repent to the Lord and ask forgiveness. Absolve all my sins, reverend
father, and bless me to partake of the Mysteries of Christ. A sincere
confession of an Orthodox Christian

Bless me, O Lord and Savior, 

to confess to Thee not only with words, but also with bitter tears. 

and there is much to weep for... 

My faith in Thee vacillates, O Lord! 

Thoughts of skepticism and disbelief push themselves in to my soul much
more often than they ever have. 


Of course, the spirit of the times is to blame, 

and people that I meet are to blame, but even more to blame am I myself,
because I do not struggle with disbelief, because I do not pray to Thee
for aid. 

I am still more to blame if I am a temptation for someone else, by deed
or word or just by cold silence when people speak of the faith. 

I have sinned in this, O Lord: forgive and have mercy, and grant me

My love for other people, even my relatives, is diminishing. 

Their continual requests for help and their forgetfulness of how much I
have already done for them causes mutual hard feelings. 

But I am more guilty than they are: guilty because although I have the
means to help them, I help them only grudgingly; guilty because I help
them not for pure, Christian motivations, but out of pride and a desire
for gratitude and praise. 

Forgive me, Oh Lord, soften my heart and teach me to look not at how
people treat me, but at how I treat other people. 

And if they treat in a hostile way, inspire me, Oh Lord, to pay them
back with love and goodness and pray for them. 

I have also sinned in that I think very, very little about my sins. 

Not only at ordinary times of the year, but even when I am preparing for
Communion I do not remember them, I do not try to call them to mind for

General phrases come to mind: "Nothing special, I am sinful like

Oh Lord, it is as if I did not know that in Thy eyes both every "idle
word" and even the sinful desire in my heart is a sin. 

And how many of these words and desires pile up within me in just one
day, not to mention in a whole year! 

Thou alone, Lord, knowest them; grant me to see my transgressions, have
mercy on me, and save me. 

Further: I acknowledge as my constant sin the lack of almost any
struggle with evil. 

As soon as any occasion or provocation appears, I plunge headlong into
the pit of sin, 

and then, just as soon as I have fallen, I ask myself: what have I done?

A fruitless question, because it does not help me to become better. 

And if at this point I feel sorrow, it proceeds from my self-esteem
having suffered, 

and not from the realization that I have offended Thee, Oh Lord. 

I neglect struggling not only with gross evil, but even with the most
frivolous and harmful habit. 

I do not know how to master myself and I do not even try. 

I have sinned; forgive me! 

Furthermore, the sin of irritability, which predominates in me, is not
withdrawing from me in the least. 

When I hear a sharp word, I do not reply with good-natured silence but
behave like a heathen: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. 

And hostility flares up for trifles and lasts for days and weeks. 

I do not think of conciliation, but try to get revenge when an
opportunity presents itself. 

I have sinned without number, Oh Lord. 

Have mercy, forgive me, and calm my heart! 

Besides these most grievous sins, my whole life is a chain of sins: I do
not value the time that You have given for gaining eternal salvation. 

I very often stand irreverently, pray mechanically, judge others while
they are praying, but do not look after myself. 

At home I sometimes pray with great reluctance and absent-mindedness, so
that often I do not hear my own prayer, and sometimes I simply omit it. 

Such are my attitudes towards Thee, Oh Lord, and I can say nothing else
but "forgive and have mercy! 

In my relations with people I sin with all my senses; I sin with my
tongue by pronouncing false, foul, reproachful, or suggestive words; I
sin with my eyes; I sin with my mind and heart by judging others and I
am contentious often and for long periods of time; I sin not only
against my soul, but against my body as well, by immoderately consuming
food and drink. 

Accept, Oh Lover of Mankind, my repentance, that I might approach Thy
holy and life-giving Mysteries in peace, for the remission of sins, for
the correction of this temporary life, and for the inheritance of
eternal life. 


"I am not worthy to ask forgiveness, Oh Lord!" 

So the great teacher of penitence, Saint Ephraim the Syrian, once
exclaimed of himself. 

"How can we resist the attack of sin? How can we deny entry to the
passions?", Saint Basil the Great asked Saint Ephraim, who answered only
by shedding tears. 

What can I, the consummate and incorrigible sinner, say to thee now, O

Through the prayers of our holy fathers, Ephraim and Basil, grant me, Oh
Lord, repentance, and words, and tears. 

Help me to spew out of myself, like deadly poison, my evil deeds, idle
words, and wicked thoughts. 

If I have forgotten to tell anything, Thou knowest know all and will
remind me; for I do not want to conceal anything. 

Thou commandest command me, "tell your iniquities before thou seekest

But I say: "My sins are multiplied, Oh Lord, and they multiply

They have no limit. 

I know and I remember that even an impure thought is an abomination in
Thy sight, but I not only think, but also do, things that grievest Thee.

I know that I am doing evil, but I do not refrain from it... 

Thus, my repentance has not yet even begun, and the end is not in sight
for my evil carelessness about sin. 

There is truly no limit to my foul thoughts, bursts of self-esteem,
vainglory, pride, gossip, resentment, and vengefulness. 

I quarrel often, and I become angry, cruel, envious, lazy, and blindly

Although I am of no importance, I think very highly of myself. 

I do not want to honor those worthy of honor, but at the same time I
demand undeserved deference for myself. 

I lie ceaselessly, but I get angry at liars. 

I judge those who speak evil or who are thieves, but I myself am a thief
and an evil-sayer. 

I defile myself by lustful thoughts and stimuli, but sternly judge
others for immodestly. 

I cannot bear being joked about, but I myself love to taunt others,
respecting neither persons nor places, even doing it in church. 

I consider as an enemy anyone who tells the truth about me. 

I do not want to put myself out by doing a good turn, but I get angry if
someone does not do me a good turn. 

I coldly refuse a neighbor in need, but when I myself am in need, I
tiresomely appeal to him. 

I do not like to visit the sick, but if I am sick, I expect everyone to
care for me without my asking. 

Lord, send down in to the depths of my soul a ray of heavenly light,
that I might see my sins. 

My confession is almost always limited to only a superficial naming of
some sins. 

Oh my God, my conscience gave You a promise to start a better life, but
I broke the promise and live as before. 

Unless I have turned over a new leaf, I am ashamed to appear before a
mere human with whom I have often not been true to my word. 

How could I stand before Thee, my God, without shame and self-reproach,
when so many times before Thy Throne, before the angels and saints, I
have given promises and have not fulfilled them. 

How base I am! 

How criminal! 

To Thee, Oh Lord, is truth, and to me are shameful faces" (Book of

Only your boundless goodness can endure me. 

Thou dost not destroy the sinner; do not destroy the penitent. 

Teach me how to bring to mind and count the sins of my past life, the
sins of an empty-headed youth, the sins of proud manhood, the sins of
day and of night, sins against Thee, my Lord and Savior. 

How can I count them in the few minutes in which I stand in this Holy
Place? I remember, Lord, that thou didst heed the few words of the
publican and the thief. 

I know that thou mercifully greetest even a readiness to repent, 

and I pray to Thee with all my soul, "My Lord, accept as my repentance
the daily confession of sins that the sacred book contains. 

I have many more sins than it lists, and I have no way to make amends
for them. 

I offer now only a striving for thee and a desire for the good, but I
have no strength to reform. 

Oh Lord and Lover and Mankind! 

Thou dost not drive away the sinner who comes to Thee, beseeching Thee
for forgiveness. 

Before he even comes to the door of Thy mercy, thou hast already opened
it for him; before he falls down before Thee, thou hast already
stretched out Thy hand to him; before he confesses his sins, thou hast
granted him forgiveness. 

Grant it to me who repents, grant it according to Thy great mercy;
forgive all the bad things that I have done, said, and thought. 

and while granting forgiveness, send me also, Oh Lord, the strength, so
that I might be able henceforth to live according to Thy will and not to
offend Thee. 

Help me, and I will be saved; help me by granting me to receive Thy holy

and that I may receive them worthily, declare to me by the lips of Thy
priest, declare by Thy Holy Spirit, the grace of pardon and forgiveness,
which can not be heard by the ear, but are heard in a deeply-moved heart
and in peace of conscience. 


Translated by Seraphim F. Englehardt from a leaflet published on Mount


From "The Way of a Pilgrim"

Turning my eyes carefully upon myself and watching the course of my
inward state, I have verified by experience that I do not love God, that
I have no religious belief, and that I am filled with pride and
sensuality. All this I actually find in myself as a result of detailed
examination of my feelings and conduct, thus: 

1. I do not love God. For if I loved God I should be continually
thinking about Him with heartfelt joy. Every thought of God would give
me gladness and delight. On the contrary, I much more often and much
more eagerly think about earthly things, and thinking about God is labor
and dryness. If I loved God, then talking with Him in prayer would be my
nourishment and delight and would draw me to unbroken communion with
Him. But, on the contrary, I not only find no delight in prayer, but
even find it an effort. I struggle with reluctance, I am enfeebled by
sloth, and am ready to occupy myself eagerly with any unimportant
trifle, if only it shortens prayer and keeps me from it. My time slips
away unnoticed in futile occupations, but when I am occupied with God,
when I put myself into His presence every hour seems like a year. If one
person loves another, he thinks of him throughout the day without
ceasing, he pictures him to himself, he cares for him, and in all
circumstances his beloved friend is never out of his thoughts. But I,
throughout the day, scarcely set aside even a single hour in which to
sink deep down into meditation upon God, to inflame my heart with love
of Him, while I eagerly give up twenty-three hours as fervent offerings
to the idols of my passions. I am forward in talk about frivolous
matters and things which degrade the spirit; that gives me pleasure. But
in the consideration of God I am dry, bored and lazy. Even if I am
unwillingly drawn by others into spiritual conversation, I try to shift
the subject quickly to one which pleases my desires. I am tirelessly
curious about novelties, about civic affairs and political events; I
eagerly seek the satisfaction of my love of knowledge in science and
art, and in ways of getting things I want to possess. But the study of
the Law of God, the knowledge of God and of religion, make little
impression on me, and satisfy no hunger of my soul. I regard these
things not only as a non-essential occupation for a Christian, but in a
casual way as a sort of side-issue with which I should perhaps occupy my
spare time, at odd moments. To put it shortly, if love for God is
recognized by the keeping of His commandments (If ye love Me, keep My
commandments, says our Lord Jesus Christ), and I not only do not keep
them, but even make little attempt to do so, then in absolute truth the
conclusion follows that I do not love God. That is what Basil the Great
says: 'The proof that a man does not love God and His Christ lies in the
fact that he does not keep His commandments'. 

2. I do not love my neighbor either. For not only am I unable to make up
my mind to lay down my life for his sake (according to the Gospel), but
I do not even sacrifice my happiness, well-being and peace for the good
of my neighbor. If I did love him as myself, as the Gospel bids, his
misfortunes would distress me also, his happiness would bring delight to
me too. But, on the contrary, I listen to curious, unhappy stories about
my neighbor and I am not distressed; I remain quite undisturbed or what
is still worse, I find a sort of pleasure in them. Bad conduct on the
part of my brother I do not cover up with love, but proclaim abroad with
ensure. His well-being, honor and happiness do not delight me as my own,
and, as if they were something quite alien to me, give me no feeling of
gladness. What is more, they subtly arouse in me feelings of envy or

3. I have no religious belief. Neither in immortality nor in the Gospel.
If I were firmly persuaded and believed without doubt that beyond the
grave lies eternal life and recompense for the deeds of this life, I
should be continually thinking of this. The very idea of immortality
would terrify me and I should lead this life as a foreigner who gets
ready to enter his native land. On the contrary, I do not even think
about eternity, and I regard the end of this earthly life as the limit
of my existence. The secret thought nestles within me: Who knows what
happens at death? If I say I believe in immortality, then I am speaking
about my mind only, and my heart is far removed from a firm conviction
about it. That is openly witnessed to by my conduct and my constant care
to satisfy the life of the senses. Were the Holy Gospel taken into my
heart in faith, as the Word of God, I should be continually occupied
with it, I should study it, find delight in it and with deep devotion
fix my attention upon it. Wisdom, mercy, love, are hidden in it; it
would lead me to happiness, I should find gladness in the study of the
Law of God day and night. In it I should find nourishment like my daily
bread and my heart would be drawn to the keeping of its laws. Nothing on
earth would be strong enough to turn me away from it. On the contrary,
if now and again I read or hear the Word of God, yet even so it is only
from necessity or from a general love of knowledge, and approaching it
without any very close attention, I find it dull and uninteresting. I
usually come to the end of the reading without any profit, only too
ready to change over to secular reading in which I take more pleasure
and find new and interesting subjects. 

4. I am full of pride and sensual self-love. All my actions confirm
this. Seeing something good in myself, I want to bring it into view, or
to pride myself upon it before other people or inwardly to admire myself
for it. Although I display an outward humility, yet I ascribe it all to
my own strength and regard myself as superior to others, or at least no
worse than they. If I notice a fault in myself, I try to excuse it, I
cover it up by saying, 'I am made like that' or 'I am not to blame'. I
get angry with those who do not treat me with respect and consider them
unable to appreciate the value of people. I brag about my gifts: my
failures in any undertaking I regard as a personal insult. I murmur, and
I find pleasure in the unhappiness of my enemies. If I strive after
anything good it is for the purpose of winning praise, or spiritual
self-indulgence, or earthly consolation. In a word, I continually make
an idol of myself and render it uninterrupted service, seeking in all
things the pleasures of the senses, and nourishment for my sensual
passions and lusts. 

Going over all this I see myself as proud, adulterous, unbelieving,
without love to God and hating my neighbor. What state could be more
sinful? The condition of the spirits of darkness is better than mine.
They, although they do not love God, hate men, and live upon pride, yet
at least believe and tremble. But I? Can there be a doom more terrible
than that which faces me, and what sentence of punishment will be more
sever than that upon the careless and foolish life. that I recognize in

From "The Way of a Pilgrim" ("Otkrovennye rasskazy strannika dukhovnomu

What Is Necessary for a Saving Confession?

by Metropolitan Innocent of Moscow

What is Confession? Confession is the oral avowal of one's sins which
lie heavy upon the conscience. Repentance cleanses the soul and makes it
ready to receive the Holy Spirit, but confession, so to speak, only
empties the soul of sins. 

Let us present a simple analogy and comparison to confession. For
example, suppose you had only one vessel of some kind, which you through
negligence or laziness let reach a stage where little by little it
accumulated all sorts of dirt so that your vessel became not only
unusable but even unbearable to look at without repugnance. 

But what if a king wanted to give you as a gift some sort of fragrant
and precious balm, one drop of which could heal all infirmities and
protect - what then? Would you refuse such a valuable gift only because
you had no other clean vessel in which to put it? No! It would be very
natural for you to accept such a gift and you would try to clean your
vessel. How would you begin to clean your vessel? No doubt, before
anything else, you would rid it of all uncleanness; you would begin by
washing it with water and, perhaps would even burn it out so that it no
longer retained any of its former odors. Isn't that so? 

Now let the vessel represent the soul given to you by God, which you
have brought to such a state that it has been filled with all kinds of
transgression and iniquities; let the sweet-smelling balm, given by the
king, signify the Holy Spirit, Who heals all infirmities and
afflictions, Whom the King of heaven and earth, Jesus Christ, freely
bestows upon us. 

To examine your vessel signifies feeling your guilt before God and
recalling all sins, which have stolen into your heart. 

To clean out the vessel typifies the confession of your sins before your
spiritual father, and washing with water and burning with fire signifies
a sincere and even tearful repentance and a voluntary resolve to endure
all unpleasantness, needs, afflictions, misfortunes, and even calamities
that befall us. 

Now tell me: Is Confession profitable or needful? Certainly it is
profitable and even essential; because, just as it is impossible to
cleanse a vessel without ridding it of all uncleanness, so it is
impossible to purge your soul of sins without confession. 

But tell me, is confession alone enough for the reception of the Holy
Spirit? Certainly not, because in order to receive the sweet-smelling
and precious balm into a defiled vessel it is not enough to just empty
it, but it is necessary to wash it with water and refine it with fire.
Just so, in order to receive the Holy Spirit, it is not enough just to
confess or recite your sins before a spiritual father, but it is
necessary together with this to purge your soul with repentance or
contrition and grief of soul, and burn it out with voluntary endurance
of afflictions. So then, this is what confession and repentance mean! 

What does a true and correct confession consist of? 

When we wish to cleanse our conscience of sins in the Mystery of
Repentance: Before everything else it is necessary to believe in the
Lord Jesus Christ and firmly hope that He is ready to forgive all sins,
no matter of what magnitude, if only the sinner repents open-heartedly;
it is necessary to believe and hope that the God of all wants and seeks
our return. 

Of this He assures us through the prophet thus: "As I live, saith the
Lord," i. e., I assure and swear by My life, "In desiring I do not
desire", i.e., I do not at all desire, "the death of a sinner, but
entirely desire his conversion." 

It is necessary to have a broken heart. Who is God? And who are we? God
is the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth; He is the awful and
righteous Judge. And we? We are weak and insignificant mortals. All
people, even the greatest people, are less than dust before God, and we
can never imagine how disgusting to God is any sin and how any
transgression offends Him. 

And we, insignificant and weak, we mortals endlessly benefited by our
God, dare to offend Him - the All-Good One? Oh! This is so horrible! We
are such debtors before God, such transgressors, that not only should we
not dare to call ourselves His children, but are not even worthy of
being His lowliest servants. 

Therefore, picturing all this, you see what contriteness, what
lamentation it is necessary to have then, when we want to purge
ourselves of sins. And such a feeling must be had not only before
confession and during confession, but also after confession. And even
more important, do you want to offer a sacrifice to God such as will be
acceptable to Him? Naturally we all gladly want this and as far as
possible we offer it. But what can we offer Him really acceptable? A
broken heart. A sacrifice unto God is a broken spirit; a heart that is
broken and humbled, here is an offering to God more priceless than all
offerings and oblations! 

It is necessary to forgive all our enemies and offenders all the harmful
and offensive things they have done to us. Forgiveness?what does it mean
to forgive? To forgive means never to avenge, neither secretly nor
openly; never to recall wrongs but rather to forget them and, above all,
to love your enemy as a friend, a brother, as a comrade; to protect his
honor and to treat him right-mindedly in all things. This is what it
means to forgive. 

And who agrees that this is difficult? So, it is a hard matter to
forgive wrongs, but he who can forgive wrongs is for this reason great -
truly great, both before God and before man. Yes, it is a hard matter to
forgive your enemies; but it is necessary to forgive, otherwise God
Himself will not forgive. Jesus Christ said: If ye forgive men their
trespasses, your heavenly Father will forgive you also your trespasses.
But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your heavenly
Father forgive you yours. 

On the contrary to this, though you pray to God every hour, though you
have such faith that you can move mountains, even though you give away
all of your belongings to the needy, and give your body to be burned, if
you do not practice forgiveness and do not wish to forgive your enemy,
then all is in vain, for in such circumstances neither prayer, nor
faith, nor charity, will save you, in short, nothing will save you. 

But if it is needful to forgive our enemies, so likewise it is
indispensable to ask also forgiveness of those people whom we have
offended. Thus, if you have offended anyone by word, ask forgiveness of
him, come and bow down at his feet and say, "Forgive me." Have you
offended by deed? Endeavor to expiate your guilt and offenses and
recompense his damage, then be certain that all of your sins, no matter
how heavy they be, will be forgiven you. 

It is necessary to reveal your sins properly and without any
concealment. Some say, "For what reason should I reveal my sins to Him
Who knows all of our secrets?" Certainly God knows all of our sins, but
the Church, which has the power from God to forgive and absolve sins,
cannot know them, and for this reason She cannot, without confession,
pronounce Her absolution. 

Finally, it is necessary to set forth a firm intention to live prudently
in the future. If you want to be in the kingdom of heaven, if you want
God to forgive your sins - then stop sinning! Only on this condition
does the Church absolve the penitent of his sins. And he who does not
think at all about correcting himself confesses in vain, labors in vain,
for even if the priest says, "I forgive and absolve," the Holy Spirit
does not forgive and absolve him! 

From Orthodox Life, vol. 38, no. 4 (July-August, 1988), pp. 20-22.

A Catechism on Confession 

When preparing to go to confession, every Orthodox Christian should try
to remember all the sins that he has committed, whether voluntary or
involuntary, and should examine his life in detail. If there are sins
that were committed before his last confession, but which he then forgot
to confess, he should mention these also. 

When you come to confession, you should confess your sins sincerely,
remembering that you are not confessing them to the priest, but to God
Himself, Who already knows, but wants you to admit your wrongs and your
guilt. You should not feel embarrassed before your spiritual father,
because, being a man like yourself, he knows human weaknesses and the
inclination that all people have towards sin, and thus he cannot judge
you harshly when you come to confession. But maybe you are embarrassed
to confess your sins before your spiritual father because you are afraid
of losing his good opinion? On the contrary, if you value his good
opinion, you should understand that he will respect you all the more for
the sincerity of your confession. Also, if you are ashamed and afraid to
lay bare your sins before your spiritual father, how will you bear it
when at the Dread Judgment your sins?if you have not been freed of them
by true repentance?will be revealed before God Himself, His angels, and
all mankind, both people you know and strangers? If you remember this,
you will want to free yourself from your sins and from the punishment
that they bring upon you, and will confess them in all sincerity before
your spiritual father. You should hide nothing wrong that you have done,
but at the same time you should not add anything extra, and not blame
yourself for what you have not done by simply saying, ?Everything I have
done is sinful,¦ or some such catch-phrase. Nor should you admit every
sin you are asked about whether you have done it or not, as some people
mistakenly think they should Your confession must be realistic and
therefore true. 

Another reason why you should not simply say, ?I have sinned in
everything, word, deed, and thought, and by omission,¦ without giving
further details, is because your spiritual father needs to know exactly
what you have done in order to give you good advice. Also such a short,
undetailed confession means that you are avoiding what confession is
intended to achieve, i. e. to bring you to admit what you have done and
to admit that you were wrong in doing it. Your spiritual father already
knows that you are a sinner, for no man is without sin; even the holy
Apostle Paul described himself as the ?chief of sinners.¦ Each sin must
be mentioned in turn, just as you would enumerate all your symptoms to a
doctor. You should not just think of a couple of main trends to
?discuss,¦ and neglect to mention the innumerable other sins. 

Do not mention the sins of others in your confession, unless this is
necessary for your spiritual father to understand how and why you
yourself have sinned. If you have a personal problem involving other
people, which you would like to discuss with your spiritual father, or
if you are in need of advice or some consolation for some unkindness
that has been done to you, make an appointment to see your spiritual
father at some other time. Also, do not use the fact that many people
commit some sin that you have committed as an excuse for it. Still less
say ?but everyone does that.¦ For one thing, you have come to confess
your own sins, not those of others. How can you be sure that without
exception every human being commits any given sin? Or even though you
might know of their sin, how can you be sure they have not repented of
it in their heart? Pay no heed to the sins of others. Oftentimes we
imagine the motives and intentions and sinful inclinations of others,
for no man knows the heart of another. 

Confess your sins fully but concisely; one does not have to make a story
of them! That in itself can be an evidence of pride. Particularly
regarding carnal sins, do not go into detailed descriptions of sin. If
your spiritual father feels that you need to confess any particular sin
in fuller detail, he will ask you about it, and then you should not
hesitate to describe it fully and to answer all his questions. 

Before going to confession make a thorough preparation, and examine your
life so that you recognize your sins. If you wish you can write out a
list, or keep a list day by day. In order to check your sins, it is wise
to check them against some list. One can use the Ten Commandments, the
Beatitudes, or the list of sins in the prayer of daily confession of
sins read before going to sleep each day, or that in the prayer at the
end of the Canon to the Guardian Angel in the Prayer Book. Such checking
against a list is very beneficial, otherwise one tends to remember only
the most serious sins, or the most noticeable or most extraordinarily,
and to forget, perhaps deliberately, the underlying ones, the ones that
have become habitual, and the things that we have forgotten even to
remember as sins because they have become so much a part of our life.
Sins of neglect, omission, and laziness often fall into this category,
as do the ones that are seemingly respectable: pride, vanity, etc. 

Do not try to make excuses for your sins, for the more that you justify
yourself, the less forgiveness you will receive. It is important that
you yourself should fully realize how wrong each sin you have committed
is?and the more you understand the wrongfulness of any sin, the easier
it will be for you to make an effort of will to avoid committing it in
the future. However, you may mention if there is any special
circumstance, such as some particular temptation or outside pressure,
that it would be useful for your spiritual father to know, so that he
can advise you how to deal with it. 

It is important not to overlook any sin, but to mention all the sins
that you have committed. 

If you are asked whether you have committed a particular sin, it is not
good enough to reply, ?I can-t remember.¦ This is, of course, much less
likely to happen if you go to confession regularly. It is good at the
end of your confession to admit that there may be other sins which you
have forgotten or have not realized that you have committed?such a sin
might be by a careless word or action which has upset someone and
perhaps caused them to sin. 

Unless your spiritual father asks you about them, do not mention sins
that you have not committed, nor good deeds that you have done. If you
are asked whether you have committed some sin and have not, simply say
?No.¦ Do not say, ?I have committed no serious sins,¦ because this means
that you do not realize how sinful what you have done is, and how sinful
your insensitivity is. 

Also do not be insensitive to the feelings and weaknesses of others,
including your spiritual father. If you have not confessed for some
time, or have some particular difficulty and are likely to need a long
confession, try not to come on the eve of a great feast or when there
will be many other people going to confession, but come on a day when
there are likely to be few, or make a special arrangement with the
priest. Also, unless it is otherwise completely impossible (because, for
instance, you live far from the church), do not come for confession
either immediately before the Divine Liturgy (when the priest will be
preparing the gifts) or during the service, when you will cause the
entire congregation to wait while your confession is heard. 

If after your confession you are hoping to receive a blessing to partake
of the Holy Mysteries, it is best to come for the confession after the
evening service on the previous night. 

You must be truly sorry for the sins you have committed. Unless you
really regret having done them, and intend to try to avoid them in the
future, you lack true penitence, without which your sins are not

It is also necessary to confess with faith in Jesus Christ and to trust
in His mercy. Only if we believe and trust in Jesus Christ can we
receive remission of our sins. Judas Iscariot, for example, repented of
his sin, not before one man, but before all, and he returned the pieces
of silver. But instead of believing in Jesus Christ and trusting in His
mercy, he fell into despair and, receiving no remission, he died a
terrible death. Thus, in addition to careful confession and true
repentance, faith and hope are essential for the salvation of a sinner. 

Penances ? Their Nature and Purpose 

Penance is a form of discipline or a prohibition administered by the
priest (in accordance with the canons or laws of the Church) to those
repentant Christians for whom it is necessary, much as a doctor
prescribes a suitable medicine or treatment. It is a form of treatment
for a moral sickness. Examples of penances are: fasting over and above
what is required of all Orthodox Christians, special prayers of
repentance with prostrations, reading books which will help in
overcoming one-s weakness, and the performance of- good works. 

Penances are not given to all who come to confession, but only to those
who, by the nature or seriousness of their sins, require this special
medicine. An example of this is St. Paul-s excommunication of a
Christian of the Church of Corinth for incest; then, because of his
penitence, he received him back into the Church (11 Cor. 2:6-8). 

Although penance would seem to be a punishment, its purpose is not to
make retribution for sins, to pay back a debt, but is rather corrective,
medicinal, and instructive?to cure the sinner from his sinful habits, to
instruct him regarding both the harmful nature of what he has been
doing, and ways to change his life, so that he shall not repeat his sin.
Penance is intended to deepen and increase the penitent-s regret for
what he has done, and to strengthen the desire of his will for
correction. The Apostle says, ?For godly sorrow worketh repentance to
salvation not to be repented of¦ (II Cor. 7:10). This is upheld by the
canons of the Ecumenical Councils and the teaching of the Fathers, who
describe penance as a means of spiritual treatment to cure the diseases
of the soul. The 102nd canon of the Sixth Ecumenical Council says: ?The
character of a sin must be considered from all points and conversion
expected. And so let mercy be meted out.¦ 

Moral Guidance or ?The Opening of One-s Thoughts¦ 

It is necessary to distinguish between the mystery of confession itself,
and the moral guidance of a spiritual father in ?the opening of
thoughts¦ which is still used, especially in some monastic communities,
but is something quite different from confession. The telling of one-s
thoughts and actions before a spiritual elder, from whom one seeks moral
guidance, has a vast psychological significance. It is very useful for
moral training, the correction of bad inclinations and habits, and the
overcoming of doubts and indecisiveness. In some monasteries this is
practiced daily, but it is not a course to be entered upon lightly.
Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov says, ?An indispensable condition of such
submission is a Spirit-bearing guide, who by the will of the Spirit can
mortify the fallen will of the person subject to him in the Lord, and
can mortify all the passions as well.¦ And he issues dire warnings about
heeding ?Elders¦ falsely so-called. Nonetheless, some writers (notably
Prof. Andreyev) suggest that some form of ?opening of the thoughts¦ can
form part of Christian family life, so that husband and wife open their
thoughts to each other each day. Of course such a practice is far
removed from the spiritual discipline of Eldership of which Bishop
Ignatius writes. Either way, this type of spiritual guidance, although
very beneficial when rightly ordered, does not have the significance of
a mystery or grace-bearing Church rite like confession, which is why
confession itself, the sacrament of penitence, can take place only
before a priest. 

Reprinted from The Shepherd, published by the Brotherhood of St. Edward
the Martyr, London, England. 

The relationship between Confession and Communion 

In the various topics of confession, there have been some questions
that, I think, exhibit a (common) misunderstanding of the relationship
between mysteries of Holy Confession and Holy Communion. There often
seems to be a predominant idea that the link between these two is
somehow a legal concrete thing - that there must be a 1:1 correspondence
or some specific ratio and that any deviation from that ratio
constitutes an abrogation of tradition or requires some kind of formal
"dispensation". But this is not the relationship that really exists.
While it is true that there is often a functional relationship that
appears as though a formal ration exists, this is actually a
coincidental observation. These two mysteries, actually form part of a
larger whole of the spiritual life and both form a closely connected but
not dependant link in producing a spiritual life. There are of course
other components such as fasting, prayer, self denial, obedience,
righteous deeds, etc. to living a spiritual life which are also a part
of this picture, but in this case I wish to confine myself only to the
issue at hand - confession and communion. 

These two mysteries are not part of the same process, but rather are
themselves parallel and often intertwined (interdependent is a good
"social worker" word) processes. Holy Communion is not dependent on Holy
Confession, nor is Holy Confession dependent upon Holy Communion. Each
is independent but at the same time they work together toward the same
goal. Just as a physician might see you and diagnose an illness and then
prescribe therapy that includes many components, (for example
medication, diet, physical therapy & counseling) which all are targeted
toward the goal of recovery so also the spiritual condition might be
diagnosed in confession, and various spiritual remedies prescribed by
the confessor. And one of those spiritual remedies may be to refrain
from receiving Holy Communion for a time (just as a physician might
temporarily restrict your diet for a particular purpose) or perhaps the
remedy prescribed might be to receive Holy Communion (like taking
medication - or to stay with the diet analogy, to eat the proper
nutritional foods). The frequency that one goes to the Dr is determined
by the severity and course of the illness and the various restrictions
on the diet are governed again by the patients condition and
improvement. So also the "ratio" of confession to communion is
determined by the spiritual physician (your confessor) and corresponds
to the severity of your spiritual condition, your relative spiritual
health, your particular spiritual needs, etc. There are times when you
cannot receive Holy Communion (such as a period of epitimia - penance -
following a divorce for example) but when you should receive the mystery
of Holy Confession regularly. OTOH, there may be times when the priest
may permit one to receive Holy Communion weekly but only require
confession on a biweekly basis. And just because you develop a
particular rhythm at one time doesn't mean that it is constant - just as
your frequency of seeking medical help is not constant. 

Holy Confession in and of itself is not a prerequisite to Holy
Communion. To take this position is to subordinate the one mystery to
the other and so lessen its importance. Rather both mysteries are
necessary and often they are combined for the health of the soul. The
"prerequisite" for Holy Communion is not a completely pure soul, but
rather one that is "healthy" and prepared. And most frequently the way
to guarantee that state is through receiving the mystery of Holy

Now on a practical note, there is the question of how to "stay" sinless
from confession on Saturday evening until communion on Sunday morning.
If you structure your Saturday evening such that all overt sources of
temptation are removed (TV, movies, games, parties, etc.) and are
replaced with spiritually beneficial activities (participation in vigil;
the service of preparation, including canons and akathists; spiritual
reading; prayer; psalmody; spiritual conversation; etc.) then you will
have gone a long ways toward avoiding sin. This is all very simple to do
- except for the fact that one must deny oneself to accomplish all this.
In the "wisdom" of the world, Saturday night is a night of parties and
entertainment and leisure and mindless activity. It is hard to rule out
all these things and concentrate only on the fact that you will be
receiving in yourself He Who is an all consuming purifying fire, He Who
is the Creator of All, He Who is Uncontainable; you are about to
encounter God face to face. Read carefully the prayers and hymns that
are appointed to be said in preparation and choose those images (they
are many) which create in your soul the most beneficial effects. Use
those images (verbal icons) as a framework to which you conform your
mind and thoughts. If this is your Saturday night activity, then you
will be able to keep yourself far from sin. 

From a Post to an Orthodox mailing list, dated Fri, 8 Nov 1996 by Priest
David MoserSt Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church, 872 N 29th St, Boise
IDEmail: moserd@PRIMENET.COM Used with permission LESSONS FROM THE
FATHERS - On Confession of One's Sins

Repentance consists in no longer doing the same thing henceforth, while
he who takes up his former (bad) deeds, according to the proverb, cards
wool over a fire and draws water with a sieve.

Hierarch John Chrysostom

Whoever has escaped from a prison will not wish to see it another time.
Whoever has been delivered from captivity prays that he will never fall
into captivity (that is, repentance consists in not returning to one's
former sins). 

Venerable Ephraim the Syrian

Whoever offers repentance ought not only to wash his sin with tears, but
ought to cover his former transgressions with better deeds, lest the sin
be imputed to him.

Hierarch Ambrose of Milan

If the inclination for them (sins) has also been extirpated from our
hearts, this serves as proof that they are forgiven us.

Venerable John Cassian

Reveal not thy thoughts to everyone, but only to them that can save thy

Venerable Anthony the Great

Reveal not thy conscience to him to whom thy heart is not well disposed.

Venerable Pimen the Great

Thou art ashamed and blushest when it is necessary to tell thy sins (to
a priest at confession). It is better to be ashamed to sin than to
confess. Consider: If confession is not offered here, then everything
will be confessed there before the whole world. Where is there more
torment? Where is there more shame? In doing the deed, we are bold and
shameless, but when we ought to confess, then we are ashamed and slow.

Venerable Ephraim the Syrian

If thou wantest God to grant thee tears of contrition and dispassion,
unceasingly bring to mind thy grave.

Venerable Ephraim the Syrian

Do not be ashamed to reveal your scabs to your spiritual director. Be
prepared as well to accept from him disgrace for your sins, so that by
being disgraced, you might avoid eternal shame. 

Counsels of Venerable St. Hilarion (Ponomarev) of Optina 

Do not go into detail in confessing carnal acts, lest you become a
traitor to yourself. 

St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," Step28: On Holy and
Blessed Prayer, the Mother of Virtues, and on the Attitude of Mind and
Body in Prayer 

During the time of one-s confession not only the person who makes his
confession is judged, but the confessor as well. In the past, confessors
were practical. They did not judge on the basis of the seriousness of a
transgression, but rather on the intent. They did not concentrate so
much on the sins being confessed as on thinking of how to treat the
repentant person-s soul. 

An Athonite Gerontikon by Archimandrite Ioannikios (Kotsonis) 

If you want cure your soul, you need four things. The first is to
forgive your enemies. The second is to confess thoroughly. The third is
to blame yourself. The fourth is to resolve to sin no more. If we wish
to be saved, we must always blame ourselves and not attribute our wrong
acts to others. And God, Who is most compassionate, will forgive us. 

Modern Orthodox Saints I, St. Cosmas Aitolos).Dr. Constantine Cavarnos.,
Massachusetts., pp.81-94 

Let us not wait to be convicted by others, let us be our own examiners.
An important medicine for evil is confession, and care to avoid

St. Gregory Nazianzen (On His Father's Silence no. 17) 

Let us then not be ashamed to confess our sins unto the Lord. Shame
indeed there is when each makes known his sins, but that shame, as it
were, ploughs his land, removed the ever-recurring brambles, prunes the
thorns, and gives life to the fruits which he believed were dead. Follow
him who, by diligently ploughing his field, sought for eternal fruit:
"being reviled we bless, being persecuted we endure, being defames we
entreat, we are made as the offscouring of the world." If you plough
after this fashion you will sow spiritual seed. Plough that you may get
rid of sin and gain fruit. He ploughed so as to destroy in himself the
last tendency to persecution. What more could Christ give to lead us on
to the pursuit of perfection, than to convert and then give us for a
teacher one who was a persecutor? 

St. Ambrose of Milan, Concerning Repentance 

Our sins are forgiven us at each confession, but we must remember that
there is the "Great Forgiveness," which consists in this, that by God's
mercy, we unconsciously stop committing certain specific sins, such as
sinful acts. words, deeds and thoughts, but at the same time we continue
to feel and be aware of our profound sinfulness. The most perfect man is
the one who, precisely as he is a man, sincerely feels that he is a
great sinner. An example of this was St. Seraphim of Sarov. 

Metropolitan Vitaly, Paschal Encyclical, 2001

The proof of authenticity of the spiritual condition of a father
confessor is, that while he is very strict with himself, he is very
lenient with others and does not use the canons of the Church like
cannons against them. 

Elder Paisius of the Holy Mountain (+July 12, 1994)

Two factors are involved in man's salvation: the grace of God and the
will of man. Both must work together, if salvation is to be attained.

Repentance is a Mysterion through which he who repents for his sins
confesses before a Spiritual Father who has been appointed by the Church
and has received the authority to forgive sins, and receives from this
Spiritual Father the remission of his sins and is reconciled with the
Deity, against Whom he sinned.

Repentance signifies regret, change of mind. The distinguishing marks of
repentance are contrition, tears, aversion towards sin, and love of the

"Modern Orthodox Saints, St. Nectarios of Aegina", Dr. Constantine
Cavarnos, Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, Belmont,
Massachusetts., 1981., pp. 154-187 

hen you go to your spiritual father for confession, do not bring
yourself as an accuser of other people, saying, "he said this," and
"so-and-so said that". . . but speak about your own doings, so that you
may obtain forgiveness. 

Elder Daniel of Kantounakia 

You are, I am sure, aware that for you penitence is now no longer
limited to disclosing your sins to your confessor, but that you must now
bear your sins in mind always, until your heart nearly breaks with their
ugly load; and would break, were it not for your firm faith in the mercy
of our Lord." 

St. Makary of Optina 

My child, do you want to crush the head of the serpent? Openly reveal
your thoughts in confession. The strength of the devil lies in cunning
thoughts. Do you hold on to them? He remains hidden. Do you bring them
to the light? He disappears. And then Christ rejoices the prayer
progresses, and the light of grace heals and brings peace to your nous
and heart. 

Monastic Wisdom: The Letters of Elder Joseph the Hesychast 

It is necessary and beneficial for a general self-examination to take
place from time to time, remembering all former sins. 

Elder Amphilochios Makris - 

153. If you wish to make a blameless confession to God do not go over
your failings in detail, but firmly resist their renewed attacks. 

Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779