Last night, Jesse and I finally made it to confession for the first time since Texas. Yes, it’s been about 2 months (we went to confession with the Metropolitan, right before we left), so we were pretty overdue. Jesse said he felt like he had emotional constipation. Haha!
Over my nearly 5 years of being Orthodox (wow, that long already?), I’ve gone to 7 priests for confession. It’s amazing how all of them are so different, yet all so wonderful. They’ve also been spread out over 3 jursidictions– Antiochan, OCA, and now Greek! But the first confession with a new priest is always a bit hard, since you don’t know what to expect.
Regardless, I just have to say– the prayers before confession are wonderful. They make it so absolutely crystal clear that the priest is just a “stand-in” for Jesus, and that no one has the power to absolve sins but Jesus. I can’t even tell you how absolutely plain and simple that point is made, every single time. For the Greeks, the prayers before confession even starts last longer than 10 minutes! The words are a pleading request to God, not to judge us, for who can stand? They are asking God to remember the mercy He has shown to His people, not to remember his righteous wrath and indignation over our sins.
What follows is a conversation before Christ, attempting to leave nothing out that the Lord has put on your heart. At the very end, the closing prayers ask the Lord to also forgive those things that are unsaid, whether through ignorance or forgetfulness. Jesse and I each took between 30-45 minutes for the entire thing.
I’ve talked many times about confession, but I’ll say it again: the Western world is sorely lacking when it comes to this area. I truly believe that we would have so much less depression and anxiety if we were all able to “unload” our cares in this way. Frankly, I don’t see why more Protestant churches do it! Is it just because it resembles Catholicism? Sorry to be naive– I really, honestly, do not understand.
As usual, I try to share something important that I learned through my confession. After I described all the judgmental thoughts I have on a daily basis, the priest responded by showing me how this is just one more area in which “The Fall” affects our lives. When we judge others, we are trying to be like God, trying to take on one of His attributes. We were not built to handle it, however, which is why it destroys us and destroys our relationships with others. We were not meant to have that kind of knowledge over good and evil. We were built to love and to obey– anything else is detrimental.
I guess I’d never thought of it that way! Anyone else?