It may not come as a surprise that some people of the sixties, along with their many other revolutions against things like wearing a bra, having a haircut or simply refusing to go along with the way things used to be, decided that Confession was "not necessary." The trend caught on, so that it continues even to this very day. Clearly they are wrong...
Defiance is as good a term as I can come up with, as some have said, "I will not go to Confession, I do not believe in it." "He cannot make us go," another said. First, we must acknowledge that we are all sinners, knowingly or unknowingly, whether we admit it or not.
We can all buy into not wanting to. What are the benefits? Are there benefits we are not aware of? One I can think of is the prayer of absolution, removing our sins from us. Literally, a clean slate, so to speak..... Confessing to ones self, what good is that? You know what your shortcomings are, already. Can you really remember each and every one? Going to the Master, you will experience change. Change begins when you are ready to say ... verbally, I did... or I am...he knows already, but like any parent, He wants you to admit it.
We all know that wounds unattended to can fester, and in growing worse, may cause you greater discomfort or death. Are you suffering? Do you need healing from your sins?
It isn't just entirely what the priest says, but what happens to the spirit as you speak about "the hidden" because you are facing an Icon of Christ. The word is "exposure." Your life will change after the release of the unspeakable, because you have the courage to express it, let it out, and then the healing begins.
When I was a child, I used to hear people say, "you know what you are." Sometimes it takes a lot of thought before you can admit what you are. You sometimes don't even know, and even if you do, the first step in admitting it, is very hard. Take the alcoholic, for an example....Once the truth comes out, there is still much work to continue avoiding what makes you (sick) in the first place. Confessing it is only the first step. Not eating of or avoiding the fruit, is the second.
The bible shows us that Jesus is there, when we expose our inner most secrets, secret thoughts --in order to "free us" from any guilt or consequence of our "condition". He died for each and every sin, a free gift to us. Looking at the gospel, the people who had no compassion for the adultress woman, who was about to be stoned, was lovingly saved by Jesus from her death. (Who, without sin cast the first stone?)
During our Great Lent preparation, there is a Hymn of Kassiani, where the words read, the woman who had fallen into many sins, offered Him spices before His burial, as she was at that point, (the ointment bearer). Then, lamenting, before Him, a woman of woe because of her love of adultery and sin, wiped His feet with oils,her hair and tears, perceiving His Divinity. She hid herself because of fear. (Becoming Eve), in the garden of Paradise, was knowing full well His righteous judgments.
Eve, and the woman, attribute their failings and sufferings to sins, which has also given them a dark and lightless night. "O incline Thou to the sighing of my heart," she asks of the Lord knowing that He who can drawest the waters from the sea by clouds from the heavens, can wash her clean and make her renewed and joyful, by cleansing her body and soul.
"Confession is made unto salvation". Healing begins when you go to Jesus and ask Him to release you from the pain and suffering caused by your sin, and He, having heard you ask, does not turn a cold shoulder, but says "I forgive you." He is the only one that can deliver you from your bondage because of His great and rich mercy.
He is waiting to "set you free from the chains that bind you" and heal you from all your pain and suffering. Release your burden unto Him, alone. Confession is necessary for your well-being, healing and salvation. This gift is available through the priest, who has the ability to absolve you of your sins, having no further care for them.
And this, is another of the great mysterys offered by the Orthodox Church, as given by the Apostolic Tradition established by the early Church, appointed by Christ to the twelve. The Early Church understood that the grace of ordination endowed the shepherd of the flock with the discernment and compassion to speak the words of remission, on behalf of Christ, to those who confess and turn from sin. For God has promised the removing of sin from us "as far as the east is from the west" (Ps. 103.12), by the "Stirring up of the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands" (2Tim. 1:6). It is the Grace of the Holy Spirit to enable the priest to serve God and His people.
Sometimes, you can only know these things through experience. There are no words to describe what God can do for you.....if you trust Him. Let go and let God. Receive the gift that God waits to give to you, and just to you alone.
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