The Sacrament of Confession: Remedy for a sick soul
The greatest paradox of our life is that while we all instinctively strive for happiness, most of the time we are unhappy and dissatisfied even when no danger threatens us. Philosophy is helpless in satisfactorily clarifying the reason for this paradox. The Christian faith, however, explains that the reason for our dissatisfaction and dark feelings lies within ourselves. It results from our sinfulness — not only from our personal sins but also from our very nature that is marred by the primordial sin. Sinful corruption is the main source of our grief and suffering.
Sin is a spiritual sickness that grows and expands with time like cancerous cells. Left unchecked, sin gains in strength and enslaves its victim, and in doing so, it taints his mind, weakens his will towards good, permeates him with uneasiness and bitterness, arouses in him passionate feelings and evil thoughts and compels him to sin again and again.
We all are, to a greater or lesser degree, damaged by sin, although we often fail to recognize the full extent of our inner sickness. The main reason that the Lord Jesus Christ came to our world was to eradicate in us the roots of sin and return to us spiritual health and with it eternal bliss. However, because sin is so intimately interwoven with our mind and will, with our subconscious, it cannot be removed instantly or by external means. It is essential that we become actively involved with its extermination, but even our own efforts are not enough to accomplish total eradication of sin. Only the grace of Christ can give us complete spiritual recovery.
Indeed, this is the essence of the great advantage of the Christian faith. In contrast to other religions and philosophical teachings that are powerless in spiritual warfare, only the Christian faith has all the necessary resources and can strengthen us to overcome sin and achieve moral perfection.
The first turning point of spiritual healing is in the Sacrament of Baptism. Here the believer is cleansed from all sins and is spiritually reborn for righteous living. However, the predisposition towards sin, which is interwoven with his free will, is not completely eliminated. As time passes, an individual falls into sin due to carefree ways, inexperience, and different temptations. Supposedly eliminated, sin, similar to cancerous cells left after surgery, begins to propagate once again, gaining strength and striving to totally control the individual's will. The individual once again becomes spiritually sick and consequently unhappy and bitter.
In this difficult and dogged battle with sin, the Sacraments of Confession and Communion are powerful tools available to us. In the Sacrament of Confession the penitent Christian, in the presence of the spiritual confessor, opens to God his darkened and sick heart and allows the heavenly light to enter, cleanse and heal it. In Confession, as in Baptism, the great rebirthing power of the crucified Son of God is concealed. This is the reason that after this Sacrament, the truly penitent person feels cleansed and renewed, as a newly baptized infant. He obtains new strength to battle the evil within himself and to restart a righteous life.
To help our reader gain the most benefit from Confession, we will explain here the meaning and strength of this Sacrament and provide some aids in preparation for confession and prayers read during this Sacrament.
Next: Looking into oneself
Copyright © 2001 Holy Trinity Orthodox Mission. 466 Foothill Blvd, Box 397, La Canada, Ca 91011. Editor: Bishop Alexander (Mileant) Missionary Leaflet # E36.