Aid to Repentance
A spiritual leaflet from Mount Athos gives the following directive: "Intending to confess, before going to the priest, seclude yourself, beloved brother, even if for an hour. Put aside all secular matters, collect your thoughts and thoroughly examine your conscience: How did you sin in thought, word or deed? In what did you offend God and your neighbor? Try to remember all the sinful events and their details. After this pray, grieve and wash your conscience with tears of repentance. Feeling relief in your heart, make a firm resolve to fight your bad habits and to become a better Christian. After preparing yourself in this way, go to the priest-confessor believing that God will forgive you for He has never rejected a contrite and humble heart. When you come to the priest, confess without shame, do not hide anything, do not try to `save face.' For many of us have become accustomed to putting up a front for others, and try to appear better than we really are. Being used to hypocrisy, we are often ashamed to honestly admit our faults, omitting some and leaving others incomplete. Remember, my brother, that the Holy Spirit says in the Scripture: `Whoever hides his sin receives no benefit.' So speak openly without self-justification and without blaming others. If someone offended you, make peace with him and forgive him with all your heart, according to the words of the Lord: `If you forgive others then God the Father in heaven will forgive you. But if you do not forgive those who sin against you, then the Father will not forgive you your sins.' Amen."
The following prayers of repentance with enumeration of sins can help an individual to repent at home and to come to church prepared for Confession:
I bring to You, my merciful Lord, the heavy burden of my innumerable transgressions, which I have committed from my very youth and up till today.
Mental and sensual sins: I have sinned, my Lord, by being insensitive towards Your mercies, by neglecting Your commandments and by being ungrateful. I have sinned by being indifferent towards Your Truth, by having doubts about faith, by being superstitious and curious about unorthodox teachings. I have sinned by thirst for pleasure, love for money and luxury items, by passionate interest in another person and sinful thoughts. I have sinned by spiritual weakness, vanity, suspicion, jealousy, envy, irritability and anger. I have sinned by excessive sadness, depression and despair. I have sinned by contempt for people, gloating over misfortunes others, self-reliance, pride and blasphemous thoughts. Forgive me, O Lord, and help me to become a better Christian.
Sins of the tongue: I have sinned, my Lord, by idle talk, unnecessary laughter, speaking in the church and by using Your Holy Name in vain. I have sinned by criticizing of others, by using rude words, yelling, and by making sarcastic comments. I have sinned by cursing people and wishing them evil, by mockery and insults. I have sinned by telling indecent jokes, bragging and breaking my promises. I have sinned by complaining, irreverent conversations and damning. I have sinned by spreading unkind rumors, gossiping, lying, slandering and denunciation. Forgive me, O Lord, and help me to become a better Christian.
Sins through deeds: I have sinned, my Lord, by not loving You, my Creator and Benefactor, with all my heart and all the time as I should. I have sinned, by being selfish, lazy and by wasting time. I have sinned by careless and disoriented prayer, by missing church services and coming late to church. I have sinned by being disrespectful with my parents, by refusing to help them and to do what they said, by disobedience and stubbornness. I have sinned by negligence towards family needs and by failing to instruct my children in the Christian faith. I have sinned by self centeredness, over-preoccupation with my career and success in life, greediness, stinginess and by failing to help the needy. I have sinned by over-eating, over-indulgence, breaking fasts, smoking, abusing alcohol, using stimulants, squandering resources and by gambling. Forgive me, O Lord, and help me to become a better Christian.
I have sinned, my Lord, by looking at someone with lust, looking at indecent films or magazines, listening to music which evokes crude or lustful desires, listening to indecent jokes and stories. I have sinned by wasting too much time in front of a TV, by watching scenes of violence and sin. I have sinned by being obsessed with my appearance, by behaving in a tempting matter, masturbation, lasciviousness, sexual perversions, adultery, and other corporal sins which are too shameful to say aloud. I have sinned by losing my temper, displaying anger, by crudeness, rude treatment of close ones, by non-reconciliation and revenge. I have sinned by hypocrisy, insolence, impertinence and careless handling of sacred objects. I have sinned by being cruel, deceitful, stealing, and taking bribery. I have sinned by consenting to abortion, having interest in occult subjects, astrological forecasts and by visiting fortune tellers.
Dear brother or sister in Christ, never despair! Remember that there is no sin which is beyond God's mercy. For the Lord Himself promised through His prophet, "Though your sins may be like scarlet, I shall whiten them as snow; Though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isaiah 1:18).