What is necessary for a saving Confession? – Saint Innocent of Alaska (+1879)

http://jesuschristorthodoxy.blogspot.com

JESUS CHRIST – ORTHODOXY

What is necessary for a saving Confession?

Saint Innocent of Alaska (+1879)

What is Confession? Confession is the oral avowal of one’s sins which lie heavy upon the conscience. Repentance cleanses the soul and makes it ready to receive the Holy Spirit, but confession, so to speak, only empties the soul of sins.

Let us present a simple analogy and comparison to confession. For example, suppose you had only one vessel of some kind, which you through negligence or laziness let reach a stage where little by little it accumulated all sorts of dirt so that your vessel became not only unuseable but even unbearable to look at without repugnance. But what if a king wanted to give you as a gift some sort of fragrant and precious balm, one drop of which could heal all infirmities and protect—what then? Would you refuse such a valuable gift only because you had no other clean vessel in which to put it? No! It would be very natural for you to accept such a gift and you would try to clean your vessel. How would you begin to clean your vessel? No doubt, before anything else, you would rid it of all uncleanness; you would begin by washing it with water and, perhaps would even burn it out so that it no longer retained any of its former odors. Isn’t that so?

Now let the vessel represent the soul given to you by God, which you have brought to such a state that it has been filled with all kinds of transgression and iniquities; let the sweet-smelling balm, given by the king, signify the Holy Spirit, Who heals all infirmities and afflictions, Whom the King of heaven and earth, Jesus Christ, freely bestows upon us. To examine your vessel signifies feeling your guilt before God and recalling all sins which have stolen into your heart. To clean out the vessel typifies the confession of your sins before your spiritual father, and washing with water and burning with fire signifies a sincere and even tearful repentance and a voluntary resolve to endure all unpleasantness, needs, afflictions, misfortunes, and even calamities that befall us.

Now tell me: Is Confession profitable or needful? Certainly it is profitable and even essential; because, just as it is impossible to cleanse a vessel without ridding it of all uncleanness, so it is impossible to purge your soul of sins without confession. But tell me, is confession alone enough for the reception of the Holy Spirit? Certainly not, because in order to receive the sweet-smelling and precious balm into a defiled vessel it is not enough to just empty it, but it is necessary to wash it with water and refine it with fire. Just so, in order to receive the Holy Spirit, it is not enough just to confess or recite your sins before a spiritual father, but it is necessary together with this to purge your soul with repentance or contrition and grief of soul, and burn it out with voluntary endurance of afflictions. So then, this is what confession and repentance mean!

What does a true and correct confession consist of? When we wish to cleanse our conscience of sins in the Mystery of Repentance, 1) before everything else it is necessary to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and firmly hope that He is ready to forgive all sins, no matter of what magnitude, if only the sinner repents open-heartedly; it is necessary to believe and hope that the God of all wants and seeks our return. Of this He assures us through the prophet thus: As I live, saith the Lord, i. e., I assure and swear by My life, In desiring I do not desire, i e., I do not at all desire the death of a sinner, but entirely desire his conversion.

2) It is necessary to have a broken heart. Who is God? and who are we? God is the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth; He is the awful and righteous Judge. And we? We are weak and insignificant mortals. All people, even the greatest people, are less than dust before God, and we can never imagine how disgusting to God is any sin and how any transgression offends Him. And we, insignificant and weak, we mortals endlessly benefited by our God, dare to offend Him—the All-Good One? Oh! This is so horrible! We are such debtors before God, such transgressors, that not only should we not dare to call ourselves His children, but are not even worthy of being His lowliest servants.

Therefore, picturing all this, you see what contriteness, what lamentation it is necessary to have then, when we want to purge ourselves of sins. And such a feeling must be had not only before confession and during confession, but also after confession. And even more important, do you want to offer a sacrifice to God such as will be acceptable to Him? Naturally we all gladly want this and as far as possible we offer it. But what can we offer Him really acceptable.?—a broken heart. A sacrifice unto God is a broken spirit; a heart that is broken and humbled, here is an offering to God more priceless than all offerings and oblations!

3) It is necessary to forgive all our enemies and offenders all the harmful and offensive things they have done to us. Forgiveness—what does it mean to forgive? To forgive means never to avenge, neither secretly nor openly; never to recall wrongs but rather to forget them and, above all, to love your enemy as a friend, a brother, as a comrade; to protect his honor and to treat him right-mindedly in all things. This is what it means to forgive. And who agrees that this is difficult? So, it is a hard matter to forgive wrongs, but he who can forgive wrongs is for this reason great—truly great, both before God and before man,—Yes, it is a hard matter to forgive your enemies; but to do nothing, it is necessary to forgive, otherwise God Himself will not forgive. Jesus Christ said: If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will forgive you also your trespasses. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your heavenly Father forgive you your trespasses. On the contrary to this, though you pray to God every hour, though you have such faith that you can move mountains, even though you give away all of your belongings to the needy, and give your body to be burned,—if you do not practice forgiveness and do not wish to forgive your enemy, then all is in vain, for in such circumstances neither prayer, nor faith, nor charity, will save you, in short, nothing will save you.

But if it is needful to forgive our enemies, so likewise it is indispensable to ask also forgiveness of those people whom we have offended. Thus, if you have offended anyone by word, ask forgiveness of him, come and bow down at his feet and say, “Forgive me.” Have you offended by deed? Endeavor to expiate your guilt and offenses and recompense his damage, then be certain that all of your sins, no matter how heavy they be, will be forgiven you.

4) It is necessary to reveal your sins properly and without any concealment. Some say, “For what reason should I reveal my sins to Him Who knows all of our secrets?” Certainly God knows all of our sins, but the Church, which has the power from God to forgive and absolve sins, cannot know them, and for this reason She cannot, without confession, pronounce Her absolution.

Finally, it is necessary to set forth a firm intention to live prudently in the future. If you want to be in the kingdom of heaven, if you want God to forgive your sins—then stop sinning! Only on this condition does the Church absolve the penitent of his sins. And he who does not think at all about correcting himself confesses in vain, labors in vain, for even if the priest says, “I forgive and absolve,” the Holy Spirit does not forgive and absolve him!

From Orthodox Life, vol. 38, no. 4 (July-August, 1988), pp. 20-22.

Source:

http://www.pravoslavie.ru/101542.html

ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY

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Concerning Angels – Saint John of Damascus (+749)

http://easternorthodoxchuch.blogspot.com

EASTERN ORTHODOX CHURCH

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SynaxisAngels

Concerning Angels

by Saint John of Damascus (+749)

He is Himself the Maker and Creator of the angels: for He brought them out of nothing into being and created them after His own image, an incorporeal race, a sort of spirit or immaterial fire: in the words of the divine David, He maketh His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire: and He has described their lightness and the ardor, and heat, and keenness and sharpness with which they hunger for God and serve Him, and how they are borne to the regions above and are quite delivered from all material thought.

An angel, then, is an intelligent essence, in perpetual motion, with free-will, incorporeal, ministering to God, having obtained by grace an immortal nature: and the Creator alone knows the form and limitation of its essence. But all that we can understand is, that it is incorporeal and immaterial. For all that is compared with God Who alone is incomparable, we find to be dense and material. For in reality only the Deity is immaterial and incorporeal.

The angel’s nature then is rational, and intelligent, and endowed with free-will, change. able in will, or fickle. For all that is created is changeable, and only that which is uncreated is unchangeable. Also all that is rational is endowed with free-will. As it is, then, rational and intelligent, it is endowed with free-will: and as it is created, it is changeable, having power either to abide or progress in goodness, or to turn towards evil.

It is not susceptible of repentance because it is incorporeal. For it is owing to the weakness of his body that man comes to have repentance.

It is immortal, not by natures but by grace. For all that has had beginning comes also to its natural end. But God alone is eternal, or rather, He is above the Eternal: for He, the Creator of times, is not under the dominion of time, but above time.

They are secondary intelligent lights derived from that first light which is without beginning, for they have the power of illumination; they have no need of tongue or hearing, but without uttering words they communicate to each other their own thoughts and counsels.

Through the Word, therefore, all the angels were created, and through the sanctification by the Holy Spirit were they brought to perfection, sharing each in proportion to his worth and rank in brightness and grace.

They are circumscribed: for when they are in the Heaven they are not on the earth: and when they are sent by God down to the earth they do not remain in the Heaven. They are not hemmed in by walls and doors, and bars and seals, for they are quite unlimited. Unlimited, I repeat, for it is not as they really are that they reveal themselves to the worthy men to whom God wishes them to appear, but in a changed form which the beholders are capable of seeing. For that alone is naturally and strictly unlimited which is uncreated. For every created tiring is limited by God Who created it.

Further, apart from their essence they receive the sanctification from the Spirit: through the divine grace they prophesy: they have no need of marriage for they are immortal.

Seeing that they are minds they are in mental places, and are not circumscribed after the fashion of a body. For they have not a bodily form by nature, nor are they tended in three dimensions. But to whatever post they may be assigned, there they are present after the manner of a mind and energize, and cannot be present and energize in various places at the same time.

Whether they are equals in essence or differ from one another we know not. God, their Creator, Who knoweth all things, alone knoweth. But they differ from each other in brightness and position, whether it is that their position is dependent on their brightness, or their brightness on their position: and they impart brightness to one another, because they excel one another in rank and nature. And clearly the higher share their brightness and knowledge with the lower.

They are mighty and prompt to fulfill the will of the Deity, and their nature is endowed with such celerity that wherever the Divine glance bids them there they are straightway found. They are the guardians of the divisions of the earth: they are set over nations and regions, allotted to them by their Creator: they govern all our affairs and bring us succor. And the reason surely is because they are set over us by the divine will and command and are ever in the vicinity of God.

With difficulty they are moved to evil, yet they are not absolutely immovable: but now they are altogether immovable, not by nature but by grace and by their nearness to the Only Good.

They behold God according to their capacity, and this is their food.

They are above us for they are incorporeal, and are free of all bodily passion, yet are not passionless: for the Deity alone is passionless.

They take different forms at the bidding of their Master, God, and thus reveal themselves to men and unveil the divine mysteries to them.

They have Heaven for their dwelling-place, and have one duty, to sing God’s praise and carry out His divine will.

Moreover, as that most holy, and sacred, and gifted theologian, Dionysius the Areopagite, says, All theology, that is to say, the holy Scripture, has nine different names for the heavenly essences. These essences that divine master in sacred things divides into three groups, each containing three. And the first group, he says, consists of those who are in God’s presence and are said to be directly and immediately one with Him, viz., the Seraphim with their six wings, the many-eyed Cherubim and those that sit in the holiest thrones. The second group is that of the Dominions, and the Powers, and the Authorities; and the third, and last, is that of the Rulers and Archangels and Angels.

Some, indeed, like Gregory the Theologian, say that these were before the creation of other things. He thinks that the angelic and heavenly powers were first and that thought was their function. Others, again, hold that they were created after the first heaven was made.

But all are agreed that it was before the foundation of man. For myself, I am in harmony with the theologian. For it was fitting that the mental essence should be the first created, and then that which can be perceived, and finally man himself, in whose being both parts are united. But those who say that the angels are creators of any kind of essence whatever are the mouth of their father, the devil. For since they are created things they are not creators. But He Who creates and provides for and maintains all things is God, Who alone is uncreate and is praised and glorified in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

From his Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book II, Ch. 3.

If God is making you wait, you’re in good company

http://orthodoxweb.blogspot.com

ORTHODOX WEB

Joseph waited 13 years.

Abraham waited 25 years.

Moses waited 40 years.

Jesus waited 30 years.

If God is making you wait, you’re in good company.

An early prayer to the Theotokos, Holy Virgin Mary Mother of God

http://heavenonearthorthodoxy.wordpress.com

HEAVEN ON EARTH – ORTHODOXY

An early prayer to the Theotokos,

Holy Virgin Mary Mother of God

https://orthodox-apologetics.blogspot.com

https://orthodox-apologetics.blogspot.com/2013/07/an-early-prayer-to-theotokos.html

ORTHODOX APOLOGETICS

This papyrus fragment is a prayer to the Theotokos written about 250 A.D., per papyrologists who have examined the handwriting style. (Theotokos means “God-bearer,” a term for Mary that was formally affirmed at the Third Ecumenical Council held at Ephesus in 431.) Some initially placed the papyrus in the fourth or fifth century (the John Rylands Library description below lists it as 3rd – 4th century), perhaps because they didn’t think that Christians would have been praying to the Theotokos that early. If the early dating is correct, this prayer must have already been part of the Church’s services or prayers, showing that petitions and prayers to the Theotokos and the Saints go back to the early days of the Church, perhaps to the second century.

The present form of the prayer in the Greek services and prayer books is:

Υπο την σην ευσπλαγχνιαν
καταφευγομεν Θεοτοκε.
τας ημων ικεσιας μη παριδης εν περιστασει,
αλλ’ εκ κινδυνων λυτρωσαι ημας,
μονη αγνη, μονη ευλογημενη

This roughly translates as (adapted from the Wikipedia entry for “Sub tuum praesidium,” the Latin version):

Beneath your compassion
we take refuge, Theotokos.
Our petitions do not despise in time of trouble,
but from dangers ransom us,
Only Holy, Only Blessed

In uncial (capital) letters this would be:

ΥΠΟ ΤΗΝ ΣΗΝ ΕΥΣΠΛΑΓΧΝΙΑΝ
ΚΑΤΑΦΕΥΓΟΜΕΝ ΘΕΟΤΟΚΕ.
ΤΑΣ ΗΜΩΝ ΙΚΕΣΙΑΣ ΜΗ ΠΑΡΙΔΗΣ ΕΝ ΠΕΡΙΣΤΑΣΕΙ,
ΑΛΛ’ ΕΚ ΚΙΝΔΥΝΩΝ ΛΥΤΡΩΣΑΙ ΗΜΑΣ,
ΜΟΝΗ ΑΓΝΗ, ΜΟΝΗ ΕΥΛΟΓΗΜΕΝΗ.

Read more:

https://theoblogoumena.blogspot.com/2007/08/john-rylands-papyrus-470.html

THEOBLOGOUMENA

Video – From Glory to Glory: The Journey of Fr. Anthony Salzman, GA, USA

http://usaofmyheart.wordpress.com

http://orthodox-heart-sites.blogspot.com

ORTHODOX HEART SITES

USA OF MY HEART

From Glory to Glory:

The Journey of Fr. Anthony Salzman, GA, USA

On Spiritual Deception – Fr. Dcn. Charles Joiner, South Carolina, USA

http://orthodox-heart-sites.blogspot.com

ORTHODOX HEART SITES

On Spiritual Deception

by Fr. Dcn. Charles Joiner

╰⊰¸¸.•¨*

Deacon at Saint George Greek Orthodox Cathedral,

Greenville, South Carolina Area, USA

Source:

http://journeytoorthodoxy.com

http://journeytoorthodoxy.com/2010/10/on-spiritual-deception/

JOURNEY TO ORTHODOXY

The author of the Orthodox Way of Life blog, Fr. Dcn. Charles tells it like it is.

Having recently discovered that throughout much of my Christian life I was involved with “spiritual deception,” I find it necessary now to seek ways to fully understand and totally reject this error.

My deception began with a well meaning pastor at the United Methodist Church where I grew up. I asked him,

“Why are there so many different religions? How can we say that the Christian way the the best way?”

His answer was,

“There are many paths to God. Ours is the most direct and easiest path.”

He did not know how to answer this question from a true Christian perspective and advise me of the struggle that I would necessarily face. I now know that what he taught me was a serious deception. It is very clear now that the other paths will not lead to a God-oriented spiritual life and union with God. They only lead one to a life of self-satisfaction and greater pride.

Jesus Christ came after these early attempts to reach God which were inadequate and showed all mankind how to gain union with God. He showed us the need for extreme humility in our relationship with God. He showed us a path that involves purifying ourselves and continually struggling against many things, yet relying on God’s will. I discovered that the path He opened for us is not an easy path.

It is a difficult one along which we are easily deceived by seeking pleasures though various forms of meditation, yoga and others activities, taught by well meaning teachers from other eastern religions who have not discovered for themselves the way of Jesus Christ.

I now know this from experience, having experimented with Vedanta, a Hindu religion, Buddhism, and Eastern forms of meditation. Regrettably, I even led an effort to find the “universal principles” of all religions and then set up a organization (formally organized as a church under IRS rules, no less) to teach this to others. Oh, how easily we are deceived by psychic level religious experiences which only serve to boost our pride and our sense of self-sufficiency.

Through this experience, I learned that it is essential to recognize that we are engaged in spiritual warfare as Saint Paul so clearly tells us. In my youth I was never prepared for this battle by being properly instructed in the spiritual disciplines.

I didn’t appreciate the power of the Sacraments that Christ initiated for us to help us in this battle. Growing up Methodist, communion was symbolic. It was grape juice and a wafer symbolizing the blood and body of Jesus Christ. Powerless when compared to the actual Blood an Body of Jesus Christ that is offered in the Orthodox Church for remission of sins and eternal life in union with Him. I faced many such deceptions along the path. Fortunately, I have a very strong guardian angel that kept me on a path seeking God and who taught me the Jesus Prayer in the midst of these deceptions.

It was this prayer that protected me and led me back to Orthodoxy.

 

Seraphim Rose saw this attitude I experienced as one that permeates much of Christianity today. He wrote on this sad condition of “Christians” in his book, Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future. Here is an excerpt.

“The life of self-centeredness and self-satisfaction lived by most of today’s “Christians” is so all-pervading that it effectively seals them off from any understanding at all of spiritual life; and when such people do undertake “spiritual life,” it is only as another form of self-satisfaction. This can be seen quite clearly in the totally false religious ideal both of the “charismatic” movement and the various forms of “Christian meditation”: all of them promise (and give very quickly) an experience of “contentment” and “peace.” But this is not the Christian ideal at all, which if anything may be summed up as a fierce battle and struggle. The “contentment” and “peace” described in these contemporary “spiritual” movements are quite manifestly the product of spiritual deception, of spiritual self-satisfaction––which is the absolute death of the God-oriented spiritual life. All these forms of “Christian meditation” operate solely on the psychic level and have nothing whatever in common with Christian spirituality. Christian spirituality is formed in the arduous struggle to acquire the eternal Kingdom of Heaven, which fully begins only with the dissolution of this temporal world, and the true Christian struggler never finds repose even in the foretastes of eternal blessedness which might be vouchsafed to him in this life; but the Eastern religions, to which the Kingdom of Heaven has not been revealed, strive only to acquire psychic states which begin and end in this life” (From Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future by Seraphim Rose, pp 187-188).

Some of my friends will think this is a bit harsh and it is not my intent to condemn those who sincerely seek union with Jesus Christ no matter what their form of Christianity is. But I can say without a doubt, that we can be deceived as I know I was.

For me, I found the fulness of the Truth in the Orthodox Church where the sacramental life is emphasized and practiced with regularity. It was in the context of the Orthodox Church that I found I could surrender and then seek, not my own way, but instead follow the way the Church sets out for all of us.

Mariorie a person in Christ in Piraeus, Greece

http://orthodoxyislove.wordpress.com

ORTHODOXY IS LOVE

Mariorie a person in Christ in Piraeus, Greece

Οur story hero, Mariorie, was an ordinary person. She walked on this Earth. Here she got tired, happy, hurt- most of all she got hurt. She died like all people on a December night. Yet in reality she was found totally different than other people. She took everyday life one step further and rose above it.

She lived simply and humbly someplace in Piraeus, Greece, working hard to bring up her two children who had been abandonned by their father when they were just toddlers. “Who knows what happened, what went wrong” ,Mariorie would say trying to find an excuse for her situation. “Τhe evil one grudged him his happiness! It doesn’t take long for any person to wither like a thunder struck tree when he’s left unprotected from the winds”.

She was careful not to belittle her children’s father and she prayed to God to enlighten him , to make him see more clearly, to repent, to come back. But, years went by, and he didn’t seem to understand. He had already settled down with Kleoniki and he had become the father of another two children.

Kleoniki always considered her marriage to Thodoris her greatest victory.
But what goes around comes around and things can turn upside down. In their prime, people build palaces in their minds and egos and they estimate that they will complete their happiness in them.

But the arrogance of one’s mind builds on the sand. When Autumn comes in their lives, hard and lonesome, then they see that the storms inside them cannot be tamed by any material pride.

So, the last winter in Thodoris’ life arrived. A sudden incurable disease dipped him in an abyss and rose like an avalanche ahead. He was walking side by side with death, and this made a feeling of justice wake up inside him. And one winter night, when winds battled with the rain and the lightning grooved the darkness of the skies, he asked Mariorie to visit him at the hospital. She did,with the discreetness and integrity needed towards a dying person. She sat next to him like Paradise with gates wide open. He lifted his tired eyes and looked at her.

-I want you to forgive me Mariorie…

-With all my heart, Thodoris, she humbly answered.

After some time Kleoniki got sick as well. Her future looked bleak. And her children were still little. When Mariorie heard the bad news, she stood by her like an angel of peace. She stayed all night awake to take care of her on her last days…

-Forgive me , Maririe, forgive me, I ruined your life, Kleoniki said kissing her hands

-I forgive you with all my heart , sister, answered Mariorie wiping her tears…

In a while Kleoniki was recalled by her Creator and passed the borders of this life.

It seemed as though grief and sorrow never ended in this world. Mariorie was left behind to take care of four children

-How can you, how could you, how could she, most people kept saying.

Where did this deep philosophical thinking, this endurance and patience, this selflessness and forgiveness come from?

“What kind of person are you?”, people asked.

-In Christ, Mariorie would answer had she not been hindered by her modesty… A person in Christ.

Sources:

http://multilingual-christianity-orthodoxy.blogspot.com

MULTILINGUAL CHRISTIANITY – ORTHODOXY

&

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqNCEoRaEGYLYyaXLyN89Jw

VASILEIA