and wrongful deeds. Otherwise, according to St. Basil the Great, what you did is not termed a confession, but idle chatter: “When one confesses
without subsequently correcting himself, he has
actually spoken idle words.”
There are three things chiefly you must correct. First:
If you on bad terms with anyone for whatever reason, regardless of whether or not the other person is at fault, you must forgive him with all your heart. For, if you do not forgive, you will
not be forgiven either. It is a decision and ruling
given from Christ Himself:
“If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Mt. 6:14-15)
. Unfortunately, today people mimic what two Athenians once did in ancient Greece. Themistocles and Aristidis were dire enemies and always at odds with each other. At one point, the Greek nation appointed them as ambassadors to represent Greece on a particular matter.
What could they do in this instance?
They necessarily had to be in agreement and work together.
Having set off for their journey, just before
crossing over into the foreign land, Aristidis turned to Themistocles and asked,
“Would you like to leave our enmity here at the borders for now, and, if you like, take hold of it again upon our return?” This is indeed what they did. They dropped off their enmity and hatred at their nation’s borders, they cooperated with each
other and executed their republic’s directive, and when they returned to Greece they took hold of their enmity and became spiteful enemies as before.
Today, this is what Christians who are bitter enemies and always at odds do as well when it comes time for them to go to confession. They drop off their enmity for a time. Where? Right at the entrance of the church. They ask each other for forgiveness so they can go receive Holy Communion. However, as soon as they exit the
doors of the church, where they temporarily set down their enmity, they take hold of it again and become enemies once more. Can their visit to the spiritual father be deemed a true confession? Certainly not! On the contrary, it was idle chatter.
Do you have an immoral tie and sinful relationship with someone?
Sever the bond once and for all, and cut it off permanently. Because it is not possible to love God and fornication simultaneously. A certain philosopher was once travelling by sea. During the course of the journey, such a fierce storm
developed that the ship sank and he was able to save his life by the skin of his teeth. He returned to his home.
Wanting to ensure that he would never be
overcome with the desire to travel by ship again,
he proceeded to close off one of the windows in his house that had a view of the ocean.
If you similarly have run the risk of losing your soul on account of lustful relationships, and have up until now been spared from death of the body and the soul, flee from the causes of sin, no longer walk down that road, never again enter that house, no longer peer through that window, and close your eyes shut, so that the serpent, the devil, does not slither into your heart again. Otherwise, you did not confess; you spoke idle chatter.
Do you have in your possession anything that rightfully belongs to another person? Have you wronged or cheated anyone? Return it immediately, restore what you have acquired unjustly, because otherwise it is not possible for
you to receive forgiveness.
Do you want to make a true and perfect confession?
First, before going to the confessor, examine your conscience.
Second, when you are standing before the spiritual father, confess without shame and without making
Third, when you leave from the spiritual father, carry out the penance he has given you, wholeheartedly forgive your enemies, abandon your immoral and ungodly relationships, repay what you have acquired through injustice, and
then you will indeed be completely forgiven. Then the deaf and mute evil spirit will depart from you
(vid. Mt. 9:17).
O Holy Spirit! Grant to me first, and to everyone who will hear these words in following, Your Divine Grace, so that we may understand them,
and give us the strength to execute them, for they are words containing Your Divine Truth.
adapted from the writings of Elias Miniatis
(Bishop of Kerniki and Kalavryta)