Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers


15 Entries

Do not be ashamed to reveal your scabs to your spiritual director. Be prepared as well to accept from him disgrace for your sins, so that by being disgraced, you might avoid eternal shame. Counsels of Venerable St. Hilarion (Ponomarev) of Optina

Do not go into detail in confessing carnal acts, lest you become a traitor to yourself. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), Step28: On Holy and Blessed Prayer, the Mother of Virtues, and on the Attitude of Mind and Body in Prayer

During the time of one’s confession not only the person who makes his confession is judged, but the confessor as well. In the past, confessors were practical. They did not judge on the basis of the seriousness of a transgression, but rather on the intent. They did not concentrate so much on the sins being confessed as on thinking of how to treat the repentant person’s soul. An Athonite Gerontikon by Archimandrite Ioannikios (Kotsonis)

Father Afanasy's testimony about the Emperor's confession is very moving: "Next to me stood one who had no peer among those living on earth. Up to this moment he was our God-sent Anointed one who, according to the Law of Succession, for 23 years reigned as the Russian Orthodox Czar. And now, the humble servant of God Nicholas, as a meek lamb, benevolent towards all his enemies, forgetting all abuses, is fervently praying for the well-being of Russia, deeply believing in its glorious future, kneeling and looking at the cross and the book of the Gospels, is confessing to the Heavenly Father, with me, an unworthy one, as a witness, the innermost secrets of his long-suffering life, reducing himself to dust before the greatness of the King of Heaven, tearfully asking to be forgiven for his voluntary and involuntary transgressions." The suffering of the Sovereign brings to mind the long-suffering Righteous Job, on whose feast day Nicholas II was born. The Emperor's life was comparable to the suffering of Job - he accepted his cross just as the Biblical righteous one accepted the misfortune which was sent to him - firmly, patiently, meekly, and without a shadow of grumbling. the report of the Moscow Patriarchate commission investigating the possibility of canonizing the Russian Orthodox Emperor Nikolaj II

If you want cure your soul, you need four things. The first is to forgive your enemies. The second is to confess thoroughly. The third is to blame yourself. The fourth is to resolve to sin no more. If we wish to be saved, we must always blame ourselves and not attribute our wrong acts to others. And God, Who is most compassionate, will forgive us. Modern Orthodox Saints I, St. Cosmas Aitolos).Dr. Constantine Cavarnos., INSTITUTE FOR BYZANTINE AND MODERN GREEK STUDIES., Belmont, Massachusetts., pp.81-94

Let us not wait to be convicted by others, let us be our own examiners. An important medicine for evil is confession, and care to avoid stumbling. St. Gregory Nazianzen (On His Father's Silence no. 17)

Let us then not be ashamed to confess our sins unto the Lord. Shame indeed there is when each makes known his sins, but that shame, as it were, ploughs his land, removed the ever-recurring brambles, prunes the thorns, and gives life to the fruits which he believed were dead. Follow him who, by diligently ploughing his field, sought for eternal fruit: "being reviled we bless, being persecuted we endure, being defames we entreat, we are made as the offscouring of the world." If you plough after this fashion you will sow spiritual seed. Plough that you may get rid of sin and gain fruit. He ploughed so as to destroy in himself the last tendency to persecution. What more could Christ give to lead us on to the pursuit of perfection, than to convert and then give us for a teacher one who was a persecutor? St. Ambrose of Milan, Concerning Repentance

Our sins are forgiven us at each confession, but we must remember that there is the "Great Forgiveness," which consists in this, that by God's mercy, we unconsciously stop committing certain specific sins, such as sinful acts. words, deeds and thoughts, but at the same time we continue to feel and be aware of our profound sinfulness. The most perfect man is the one who, precisely as he is a man, sincerely feels that he is a great sinner. An example of this was St. Seraphim of Sarov. Metropolitan Vitaly, Paschal Encyclical, 2001 (

The proof of authenticity of the spiritual condition of a father confessor is, that while he is very strict with himself, he is very lenient with others and does not use the canons of the Church like cannons against them. Elder Paisius of the Holy Mountain (+July 12, 1994)

Two factors are involved in man's salvation: the grace of God and the will of man. Both must work together, if salvation is to be attained.

Repentance is a Mysterion through which he who repents for his sins confesses before a Spiritual Father who has been appointed by the Church and has received the authority to forgive sins, and receives from this Spiritual Father the remission of his sins and is reconciled with the Deity, against Whom he sinned.

Repentance signifies regret, change of mind. The distinguishing marks of repentance are contrition, tears, aversion towards sin, and love of the good. "Modern Orthodox Saints, St. Nectarios of Aegina", Dr. Constantine Cavarnos, Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, Belmont, Massachusetts., 1981., pp. 154-187

When you go to your spiritual father for confession, do not bring yourself as an accuser of other people, saying, "he said this," and "so-and-so said that". . . but speak about your own doings, so that you may obtain forgiveness. Elder Daniel of Kantounakia

You are, I am sure, aware that for you penitence is now no longer limited to disclosing your sins to your confessor, but that you must now bear your sins in mind always, until your heart nearly breaks with their ugly load; and would break, were it not for your firm faith in the mercy of our Lord." St. Makary of Optina

My child, do you want to crush the head of the serpent? Openly reveal your thoughts in confession. The strength of the devil lies in cunning thoughts. Do you hold on to them? He remains hidden. Do you bring them to the light? He disappears. And then Christ rejoices the prayer progresses, and the light of grace heals and brings peace to your nous and heart. Monastc Wisdom: The Letters of Elder Joseph the Hesychast

It is necessary and beneficial for a general self-examination to take place from time to time, remembering all former sins. Elder Amphilochios Makris -

153. If you wish to make a blameless confession to God do not go over your failings in detail, but firmly resist their renewed attacks. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

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