Confession in the Orthodox Church

nagareboshi

Sparrow
Hi, I'm a Catholic, was wondering how confession works in the Orthodox Church.

In (modern) Catholic church, for a real believer there's a sense of neuroticism of getting confession after mortal sin to consume the Eucharist, but all the Novus Ordo parishes make confession schedule pretty inconvenient, as there is no confession before Mass, unless you're attending a trad parish. The confession is usually a separate day from the liturgy, and the schedule slot is just 1 hour, which is pretty short. I heard in the old days, Catholics would have been able to ring a bell on the church and an "on-call" priest would listen to them!

How is confession in Orthodox Church for you? I heard that confession is not "mandatory" for every communion, but you definitely have to have it once per year? Thanks for your comments.
 
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Posadskiy

Pigeon
In the Russian Church it is pretty strictly confession every time. In other Churches this has been relaxed, some extremely so.

As a Russian said when telling Russian pilgrims about the practices in other Churches they may visit on pilgrimages: "the practice of offering Communion without Confession each time has perhaps more disadvantages than advantages." (paraphrased) That has been my experience having experienced different frequencies of Confession in several different places.
 

Hermetic Seal

Kingfisher
Gold Member
At my parish, they want you to confess before every time you commune, but twice a month (if you're communing each week) is also acceptable. Note that it's quite different from how Roman Catholic churches handle it - there's no booth, you go straight up to the priest at the corner of the room, he'll cover you head with a sash, and you'll make your confession.

You're really confessing to the Lord, and the priest is sort of like an ordained, spiritual service station attendant rather than an arbiter of forgiveness, which I understand to be a bit different from in the Catholic tradition.
 

DanielH

Pelican
I go to a Greek Orthodox Archdiocese parish in America under the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The Greek tradition is to confess less frequently (between one and two months), but with longer sessions, usually lasting over half an hour between me and my spiritual father. This is scheduled like an appointment. There is confession, then he checks up on my life and my family, I tell him anything troubling me, ask questions. In my parish we have over 500 families who pay dues and only one priest who does confessions so more frequent confession isn't even possible unless you cut out everything else besides the confession itself.

During the lockdowns when my Greek Orthodox church was forcibly closed I went to a Ukrainian Orthodox parish under the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the one my wife was raised in, and started going to confession with their priest since they require it every two weeks at a minimum to receive communion. They do confession before Sunday's Divine Liturgy and the night before at vespers.

I appreciate parts of both methods.
 

nagareboshi

Sparrow
At my parish, they want you to confess before every time you commune, but twice a month (if you're communing each week) is also acceptable. Note that it's quite different from how Roman Catholic churches handle it - there's no booth, you go straight up to the priest at the corner of the room, he'll cover you head with a sash, and you'll make your confession.

You're really confessing to the Lord, and the priest is sort of like an ordained, spiritual service station attendant rather than an arbiter of forgiveness, which I understand to be a bit different from in the Catholic tradition.

If you are confessing before you commune, how does the priest make time for it? If there are 30 people in a church, and each confession takes 3 minutes, wouldn't that be 90 minutes long? Is the confession before the liturgy, or it is scheduled on a different day?

Thanks
 

Hermetic Seal

Kingfisher
Gold Member
You're not supposed to confess before the liturgy, before/during the Vigil the preceding night is the best time to do it. They'll do a few confessions before the Liturgy but strong encourage people to do it before Sunday.

My parish has four priests who can hear confessions and they never have too many people to handle, from what I've seen. But yeah, it would be a problem at a parish with a lot of people and not enough priests.
 

nagareboshi

Sparrow
You're not supposed to confess before the liturgy, before/during the Vigil the preceding night is the best time to do it. They'll do a few confessions before the Liturgy but strong encourage people to do it before Sunday.

My parish has four priests who can hear confessions and they never have too many people to handle, from what I've seen. But yeah, it would be a problem at a parish with a lot of people and not enough priests.

Four priests to hear confessions! What a blessing and a luxury!
 

tractor

Robin
I've had a somewhat heated conversation on confession with my wife recently. I told her about my experience from visiting the Russian Orthodox church and how I found their approach to the communion (with basically mandatory confession) awesome (I also wrote a post on the forum: https://www.rooshvforum.com/threads/my-impressions-from-visiting-russian-orthodox-church.39091/).

Her response can be summarized around two things:
1. There's no difference between confessing to a priest and confessing "in your thoughts".
2. Even if you confess regularly and sencerely, Jesus dind't say anything about confession. Only about His blood and body.

I'm kinda confused.

1. How can you confess in your thoughts and also do it sincerely, if most of the time you're not able to really think in coherent sentences, are you? My thoughst just fly around in small pieces. If I want to confess I want to put those pieces together and I can do it either by articulating them orally or at least by writing them down.

2. I'm not that far in the New Testament but did Jesus really say nothing about confession? (I opened it only yesterday because I started with the Old Testament). Why is this a sacrament then? Yes, even in my current Lutheran church! The Lutheran pastor who I gave me classes in faith (as a preparation for my baptism) also told me that he as a priest decides who enters His Kingdom through the sacrament of confession (there're should be a verse in the Bible) - to which my wife responded "well, he's wrong".

Can you please clarify me on this? I will also consult the Orthodox priest.

I don't want to "win" in this "war" with my wife. I don't even want to wage it. I just want peace. She's been acting somewhat possessed, since I announced to her that I'm considering converting to the Russian Orthodox church. That bothers and frustrates me deeply. Any advice how to approach it?
 

DanielH

Pelican
I've had a somewhat heated conversation on confession with my wife recently. I told her about my experience from visiting the Russian Orthodox church and how I found their approach to the communion (with basically mandatory confession) awesome (I also wrote a post on the forum: https://www.rooshvforum.com/threads/my-impressions-from-visiting-russian-orthodox-church.39091/).

Her response can be summarized around two things:
1. There's no difference between confessing to a priest and confessing "in your thoughts".
2. Even if you confess regularly and sencerely, Jesus dind't say anything about confession. Only about His blood and body.

I'm kinda confused.

1. How can you confess in your thoughts and also do it sincerely, if most of the time you're not able to really think in coherent sentences, are you? My thoughst just fly around in small pieces. If I want to confess I want to put those pieces together and I can do it either by articulating them orally or at least by writing them down.

2. I'm not that far in the New Testament but did Jesus really say nothing about confession? (I opened it only yesterday because I started with the Old Testament). Why is this a sacrament then? Yes, even in my current Lutheran church! The Lutheran pastor who I gave me classes in faith (as a preparation for my baptism) also told me that he as a priest decides who enters His Kingdom through the sacrament of confession (there're should be a verse in the Bible) - to which my wife responded "well, he's wrong".

Can you please clarify me on this? I will also consult the Orthodox priest.

I don't want to "win" in this "war" with my wife. I don't even want to wage it. I just want peace. She's been acting somewhat possessed, since I announced to her that I'm considering converting to the Russian Orthodox church. That bothers and frustrates me deeply. Any advice how to approach it?
James 5:16 KJV
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

During the early years of the Church people confessed publicly but people didn't forgive easily so they eventually had people confess privately to a priest. My Greek Orthodox priest told us that sins confessed in public are forgiven as if you confessed to a priest. A priest won't judge you like everyone else though. No idea where the idea of confessing in your thoughts comes from. Sounds demonic.
 

tractor

Robin
2. I'm not that far in the New Testament but did Jesus really say nothing about confession? (I opened it only yesterday because I started with the Old Testament). Why is this a sacrament then? Yes, even in my current Lutheran church! The Lutheran pastor who I gave me classes in faith (as a preparation for my baptism) also told me that he as a priest decides who enters His Kingdom through the sacrament of confession (there're should be a verse in the Bible) - to which my wife responded "well, he's wrong".
James 5:16 KJV
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

During the early years of the Church people confessed publicly but people didn't forgive easily so they eventually had people confess privately to a priest. My Greek Orthodox priest told us that sins confessed in public are forgiven as if you confessed to a priest. A priest won't judge you like everyone else though. No idea where the idea of confessing in your thoughts comes from. Sounds demonic.

I found the verses I had in my mind. Yes, from Jesus Himself.

Luke 5:24
But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins

John 20:21-23
Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.
 

nagareboshi

Sparrow
James 5:16 KJV
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

During the early years of the Church people confessed publicly but people didn't forgive easily so they eventually had people confess privately to a priest. My Greek Orthodox priest told us that sins confessed in public are forgiven as if you confessed to a priest. A priest won't judge you like everyone else though. No idea where the idea of confessing in your thoughts comes from. Sounds demonic.

Wow that is crazy. "public confession" is literally the opposite of Islam. In Christianity (to speak poetically, not literally), the confession opens up the heart to the light of God, by which the evils come forth and are burned away. Sort of reminds me how sunlight is used to kill bacteria.

In Islam, on other hand (probably due to desert culture), God is rather viewed as possessing a wonderful shade that protects you from the scorching of the sun, and He "covers away" your sins, so anyone who confesses and "reveals" the sin is seen as scandalous and harmful.

I'm sure many Muslims in Middle East must have been extremely confused or even outraged to see Orthodox Christians confessing in public.
 
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DanielH

Pelican
I found the verses I had in my mind. Yes, from Jesus Himself.

Luke 5:24
But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins

John 20:21-23
Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.
Thank you, how could I have forgotten those but remember that verse from James? Time to reread the Gospels.
 

Aboulia

Woodpecker
I've had a somewhat heated conversation on confession with my wife recently. I told her about my experience from visiting the Russian Orthodox church and how I found their approach to the communion (with basically mandatory confession) awesome (I also wrote a post on the forum: https://www.rooshvforum.com/threads/my-impressions-from-visiting-russian-orthodox-church.39091/).

Her response can be summarized around two things:
1. There's no difference between confessing to a priest and confessing "in your thoughts".
2. Even if you confess regularly and sencerely, Jesus dind't say anything about confession. Only about His blood and body.

I'm kinda confused.

1. How can you confess in your thoughts and also do it sincerely, if most of the time you're not able to really think in coherent sentences, are you? My thoughst just fly around in small pieces. If I want to confess I want to put those pieces together and I can do it either by articulating them orally or at least by writing them down.

2. I'm not that far in the New Testament but did Jesus really say nothing about confession? (I opened it only yesterday because I started with the Old Testament). Why is this a sacrament then? Yes, even in my current Lutheran church! The Lutheran pastor who I gave me classes in faith (as a preparation for my baptism) also told me that he as a priest decides who enters His Kingdom through the sacrament of confession (there're should be a verse in the Bible) - to which my wife responded "well, he's wrong".

Can you please clarify me on this? I will also consult the Orthodox priest.

I don't want to "win" in this "war" with my wife. I don't even want to wage it. I just want peace. She's been acting somewhat possessed, since I announced to her that I'm considering converting to the Russian Orthodox church. That bothers and frustrates me deeply. Any advice how to approach it?
I hope he didn't sincerely mean that, but being a offshoot of the Western Church, that attitude may be ingrained due to the theology. Priests do not have the power to decide who enters the Kingdom or not. Would a Father drive away a son who desired to repent? God desires to save sinners, he would not let prideful men get in the way of that, if he rebuked apostles for this, how would a priest have an excuse on the day of Judgement (Luke 9:51-56)? The priest administers the sacraments, and cares for the flock, he will have to answer to God for those lost sheep that he drove away, or were lost due to his negligence.

Is she hostile to even attending a church service? Don't put any pressure on her, ask her to come along the next time you go, and don't express any disappointment if she declines.

How long has your wife been attending the Lutheran parish? She may be comfortable where she is, and doesn't want to change, and could see your looking elsewhere to be an attempt to uproot her.

Alternatively, from her hostility to confession, she may have some buried demons, and is suffering anxiety on the thought of them coming out. The idea of confession is horrifying for those who don't want to do it, and it may not even be anything that is her own fault, it may be some buried childhood trauma. Tread carefully.

Wow that is crazy. "public confession" is literally the opposite of Islam. In Christianity (to speak poetically, not literally), the confession opens up the heart to the light of God, by which the evils come forth and are burned away. Sort of reminds me how sunlight is used to kill bacteria.

In Islam, on other hand (probably due to desert culture), God is rather viewed as possessing a wonderful shade that protects you from the scorching of the sun, and He "covers away" your sins, so anyone who confesses and "reveals" the sin is seen as scandalous and harmful.

I'm sure many Muslims in Middle East must have been extremely confused or even outraged to see Orthodox Christians confessing in public.

I assume they get the idea to cover sins from the story of Japeth, Ham, and Shem finding their father Noah naked, and Ham was cursed for pointing it out to his brothers, rather than covering his father. In Islam that makes perfect sense, since they reject the trinity, and everything is for Allah. There is no individuality, there is just the Borg. Confessing sins are completely antithetical to that, for that would assume there is something higher than the integrity of the group identity.
 
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