Tag Archives: Confession

Orthodox Church quotes on confession

See also: Repentance

St. Nikolai Velimirovich: About How God Whitens the Repentant Sinners

“Though your sins be like scarlet, they may be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18).

O, the boundless mercy of God! In His greatest wrath upon the faithless and ungrateful people, upon the people “laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters” (Isaiah 1:4), as “princes [rulers] of Sodom” (Isaiah 1:10) and upon the people who have become as the “people of Gomorrah” (Isaiah 1:10) – in such wrath, the Lord does not abandon mercy but rather calls them to repentance. Just as after terrible lightnings, a gentle rain falls. Such is the Lord long-suffering [patient] and full of mercy and “neither will He keep His anger forever” [Psalm 102:9 (103:9)]. Only if sinners cease to commit evil and learn to do good and turn to God with humility and repentance they will become “white as snow.” The Lord is mighty and willing. No one, except Him, is able to cleanse the sinful soul of man from sin and, by cleansing, to whiten it. No matter how often linen is washed in water with ashes and soap, no matter how often it is washed and rewashed, it cannot receive whiteness until it is spread under the light of the sun. Thus, our soul cannot become white, no matter how often we cleanse it by our own effort and labor even with the help of all legal means of the law until we, at last, bring it beneath the feet of God, spread out and opened wide so that the light of God illumines it and whitens it. The Lord condones and even commends all of our labor and effort, i.e., He wants us to bathe our soul in tears, by repentance to constrain it by the pangs of the conscience to press it, to clothe it with good deeds and in the end of ends, He calls us to Him: “Come now,” says the Lord, “and let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18). That is, I will look at you and I will see if there is Me in you and you will look upon Me as in a mirror and you will see what kind of person you are.

O Lord, slow to anger, have mercy on us before the last wrath of that Dreadful Day.Book Prologue of Ohrid Volume 2

+ St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Homily for August 5 in The Prologue of Ohrid Volume II

St. Isaac the Syrian: The sick one who is acquainted with his sickness is easily to be cured . . .

Confession 4The sick one who is acquainted with his sickness is easily to be cured; and he who confesses is pain is near to health.

Many are the pains of the hard heart; and when the sick one resists the physician, his torments will be augmented.

+ St. Isaac the Syrian, “Six Treatises on the Behaviour of Excellence”, Mystical Treatises by Isaac of Nineveh

St. Isaac the Syrian: . . . But do not sin, O man, expecting that you will repent . . .

Icon Confession“Our frail nature would not be strong enough if God’s justice were to rise up to take vengeance. Therefore, He employs mercy, since at all times we are held by debt. But do not sin, O man, expecting that you will repent; and do not succumb [to sin] being confident of forgiveness! Remember that death will not delay. Do not craftily seek means to draw nigh the pleasure of sin with a knavish mind! God is not mocked [Gal. 6:7]. His knowledge precedes your thoughts. Affliction will overtake you suddenly, and when you cry out, He will not answer you.”

+ St. Isaac the Syrian, The Ascetical Homilies, Homily 64

St. John the Wonderworker: Concerning the Reception of the Holy Mysteries on Pascha

Pascha 5“The Lamb of God communicates with us on the holy and light-bearing night of Resurrection. We pray for this when we are just beginning to prepare for Lent, and afterwards many times during the course of the Great Fast: that the lord would vouchsafe us to partake of the Holy Mysteries on the night of Holy Pascha. At that time the grace of God acts in a special way upon men’s hearts. We partake of the Christ Resurrected, we become partakers of His Resurrection. Of course, we must prepare ahead of time, and, having already communed during Great Lent, receive again the Holy Mysteries. Before Paschal Liturgy there is no time for a proper confession; this must be done earlier. And then, on that light-bearing night, having received general absolution, to draw near to the Divine Lamb, the pledge of our resurrection. No one should leave the church prematurely, rushing away to eat the meat of animals instead of receiving the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.”

+ St. John the Wonderworker, Man of God: Saint John of Shanghai & San Francisco

St. John Chrysostom: Are you a sinner? Do not become discouraged, and come to Church . . .

Icon of St. John Chrysostom“Are you a sinner? Do not become discouraged, and come to Church to put forward repentance. Have you sinned? Then tell God, ‘I have sinned.’ What manner of toil is this, what prescribed course of life, what affliction? What manner of difficulty is it to make one statement, ‘I have sinned’? Perhaps if you do not call yourself a sinner, you do not have the devil as an accuser? Anticipate this and snatch the honor away from him, because it is his purpose to accuse. Therefore, why do you not prevent him, and why do you not tell your sin and wipe it out, since you know that you have such an accuser who cannot remain silent? Have you sinned? Come to Church. Tell God, ‘I have sinned.’ I do not demand anything else of you than this. Holy Scripture states, ‘Be the first one to tell of your transgressions, so you may be justified.’ Admit the sin to annul it. This requires neither labor nor a circuit of words, nor monetary expenditure, nor anything else whatsoever such as these. Say one word, think carefully about the sin and say, ‘I have sinned.'”

+ St. John Chrysostom, On Repentance and Almsgiving, Homily 2

St. John Chrysostom: Wouldest thou learn words of thanksgiving? Hearken unto the Three Children . . .

Icon of St. John Chrysostom“Wouldest thou learn words of thanksgiving? Hearken unto the Three Children, saying, ‘We have sinned, we have transgressed. Thou art righteous, O Lord, in all that thou hast done unto us, because thou hast brought all things upon us by a true judgment’ (Prayer of Azariah; Book of Daniel LXX). For to confess one’s own sins, this is to give thanks with confessions unto God: a kind of thing which implies one to be guilty of numberless offenses, yet not to have the due penalty exacted. This man most of all is the giver of thanks.”

+ St John Chrysostom, Homily III., Matt. I. 1

St. Theophan the Recluse: . . . Either do not sin, or repent.

Icon Confession“If you have sinned, acknowledge the sin and repent. God will forgive the sin and once again give you a new heart…and a new spirit (Ez. 36:26). There is no other way: Either do not sin, or repent.”Book St Theophan The Path to Salvation

+ St. Theophan the Recluse, The Path to Salvation: A Manual of Spiritual Transformation

St. Theophan the Recluse: . . . be sober, watch, and pray—and the enemies will do nothing to you.

Christ Tempted By SatanThe devil approaches the God-man with temptations.
Who among men is free of them?

He who goes according to the will of the evil one does not experience attacks, but is simply turned more and more toward evil. As soon as one begins to come to himself and intends to begin a new life according to God’s will, immediately the entire satanic realm enters into action: they hasten to scatter good thoughts and the intentions of the repentant one in any way they can.

If they do not manage to turn him aside, they attempt to hinder his good repentance and confession; if they do not manage to do that, they contrive to sow tares amidst the fruits of repentance and disrupt his labors of cleansing the heart.

If they do not succeed in suggesting evil they attempt to distort the truth; if they are repulsed inwardly they attack outwardly, and so on until the end of one’s life. They do not even let one die in peace; even after death they pursue the soul, until it escapes the aerial space where they hover and congregate.

You ask, “What should we do? It is hopeless and terrifying!”

For a believer there is nothing terrifying here, because near a God-fearing man demons only busy themselves, but they do not have any power over him. A sober man of prayer shoots arrows against them, and they stay far away from him, not daring to approach, and fearing the defeat which they have already experienced.

If they succeed in something, it is due to our blundering. We slacken our attention, or allow ourselves to be distracted by their phantoms, and they immediately come and disturb us more boldly.

If you do not come to your senses in time they will whirl you about; but if a soul does come to its senses they again recoil and spy from afar to see whether it is possible to approach again somehow.

So be sober, watch, and pray—and the enemies will do nothing to you.Book Thoughts for Each Day of the Year

+ St. Theophan the Recluse, Thoughts for Each Day of the Year: According to the Daily Church Readings from the Word of God

St. Theophan the Recluse: Every Christian is chosen . . .

Icon of St. Theophon the RecluseThe Lord chose the apostles, that they should be with Him, and that he might send them forth to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils.

Every Christian is chosen—chosen for similar deeds, namely: to be with the Lord, through unceasing remembrance of Him and awareness of His omnipresence, through the preaching and fulfillment of His commandments, and through a readiness to confess one’s faith in Him. In those circles where such a confession is made, it is a loud sermon for all to hear.

Every Christian has the power to heal infirmities—not of others, but his own, and not of the body, but of the soul—that is, sins and sinful habits—and to cast out devils, rejecting evil thoughts sown by them, and extinguishing the excitement of passions enflamed by them.

Do this and you will be an apostle, a fulfiller of what the Lord chose you for, an accomplisher of your calling as messenger. When at first you succeed in all this, then perhaps the Lord will appoint you as a special ambassador—to save others after you have saved yourself; and to help those who are tempted, after you yourself pass through all temptations, and through all experiences in good and evil.

But your job is to work upon yourself: for this you are chosen; the rest is in the hands of God. He who humbles himself shall be exalted.Book Thoughts for Each Day of the Year

+ St. Theophan the Recluse, Thoughts for Each Day of the Year: According to the Daily Church Readings from the Word of God

St. John of Kronstadt: ‘If you fall, rise and you shall be saved.’ You are a sinner, you continually fall, learn also how to rise . . .

Icon of St. John of Kronstadt‘If you fall, rise and you shall be saved.’ You are a sinner, you continually fall, learn also how to rise; be careful to acquire this wisdom. This is what the wisdom consists in: learning by heart the psalm, ‘Have mercy upon me, O God, after Thy great goodness,’ inspired by the Holy Spirit to the king and prophet David, and say it with sincere faith and trust, with a contrite and humble heart. After your sincere repentance, expressed in the words of King David, the forgiveness of your sins shall immediately shine upon you from the Lord, and your spiritual powers will be at peace. The most important thing in life is to be zealous for mutual love, and not to judge anyone. Everybody shall answer for himself to God, and you must look to yourself. Beware of malice.

+ St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ [paperback]  or  [hardback]

You don’t need a Kindle device to read the Kindle version of this book, which is available a very reduced cost. Try Amazon’s FREE Kindle Cloud Reader app for your computer, phone, or tablet.

 

Canon of St. Andrew: There has never been a sin or act or vice in life that I have not committed . . .

Icon of St. Andrew of CreteThere has never been a sin or act or vice in life that I have
not committed, O Savior. I have sinned in mind, word and
choice, in purpose, will and action, as no one else has ever
done.

Therefore I am condemned, wretch that I am, therefore I am
doomed by my own conscience, than which there is nothing
in the world more rigorous. O my Judge and Redeemer Who
knowest my heart, spare and deliver and save me, Thy servant.

+ The Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete, Mon 4.4
Text of the Canon

Canon of St. Andrew: Thou art the good Shepherd . . .

Jesus Good ShepherdThou art the good Shepherd; seek me, Thy lamb, and neglect not me who have gone astray. [John 10:11-14]

Thou art my sweet Jesus, Thou art my Creator; in Thee, O Savior, I shall be justified.

I confess to Thee, O Savior, I have sinned, I have sinned against Thee, but absolve and forgive me in Thy compassion.

+ The Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete, Mon 3.5-7
Text of the Canon

Canon of St. Andrew: The end is drawing near . . .

Icon of the Last JudgmentThe end is drawing near, my soul, is drawing near! But you neither care nor prepare. The time is growing short. Rise! The Judge is near at the very doors. Like a dream, like a flower, the time of this life passes. Why do we bustle about in vain? [Matthew 24:33; Psalm 38:7]

Come to your senses, my soul! Consider the deeds you have done, and bring them before your eyes, and pour out the drops of your tears. Boldly tell your thoughts and deeds to Christ, and be acquitted.

+ The Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete, Mon 4.2-3
Text of the Canon

Canon of St. Andrew: Where shall I begin to lament the deeds of my wretched life? . . .

Icon of St. Andrew of CreteWhere shall I begin to lament the deeds of my wretched life? What first-fruit shall I offer, O Christ, for my present lamentation? But in Thy compassion grant me release from my falls.

Come, wretched soul, with your flesh, confess to the Creator of all. In future refrain from your former brutishness, and offer to God tears in repentance.

+ The Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete, Mon 1.1-2
Text of the Canon

St. Mark the Ascetic: You should continually an unceasingly call to mind all the blessings which God . . .

Icon of St. Mark the Ascetic“You should continually and unceasingly call to mind all the blessings which God in His love has bestowed on you in the past, and still bestows for the salvation of your soul. You must not let forgetfulness of evil or laziness make you grow unmindful of these many and great blessings, and so pass the rest of your life uselessly and ungratefully.

For this kind of continual recollection, pricking the heart like a spur, moves it constantly to confession and humility, to thanksgiving with a contrite soul, and to all forms of sincere effort, repaying God through its virtue and holiness. In this way the heart meditates constantly and conscientiously on the words from the Psalms: ‘What shall I give to the Lord in return for all His benefits towards me?’ (Psalm 116:12).”

— St. Mark the Ascetic, Letter to Nicolas the Solitary, The Philokalia Vol. 1

St. Maximos the Confessor: Every genuine confession humbles the soul. . .

Icon of St. Maximos the Confessor“Every genuine confession humbles the soul. When it takes the form of thanksgiving, it teaches the soul that it has been delivered by the grace of God.”

+ St. Maximos the Confessor, Various Texts on Theology, the Divine Economy, and Virtue and Vice 3.62, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 2)

St. Dorotheos: What is the result of pride?

Icon of St. Dorotheos of GazaOh, Brethren, what is the result of pride? Oh, see what humility can do? What was the need for all these sufferings? For, if from the beginning Man had humbled himself, obeyed God, and kept the commandment he would not have fallen.

Again, after his fall, God gave him an occasion to repent and to receive mercy but he kept his stiff-neck held high. He came to him and said “Adam, Where are you?” instead of saying “What glory you have left and what dishonor you have arrived at?” After that, He asked him “Why did you sin? Why did you transgress the commandment?” By asking these questions, He wanted to give him the opportunity to say, “Forgive me.” However, he did not ask for forgiveness. There was no humility, there was no repentance, but indeed the opposite.

He answered, “The woman whom You gave to be with me” (Gen 3:9-12), he did not say, “the woman deceived me,” but “The woman whom You gave to me,” as if he wanted to say: “This catastrophe has come upon me because of You.” So it is, brethren, since Man is not accustomed to blame himself. He does not hesitate to consider even God as the cause of evil.

Then God came to the woman and said to her, “Why did you not keep the commandment?” as if He wanted to say, “At least you, say forgive me, so as to humble your soul and to receive mercy.” Again, there was no request for forgiveness. She also answered, “The serpent deceived me,” (Gen 3:13) as if she wanted to say, “If the serpent sinned, where is my mistake?”

Why did you act in this way, you pitiable ones? Make a bow of repentance, recognize your fault, be sorry for your nakedness. Neither one of them could blame himself, neither of them had the least bit of humility.

— St. Dorotheus

St. Anthony the Great: . . . expect temptation to his last breath.

Icon of St. Anthony the Great“This is the great work of man: always to take the blame for his own sins before God and to expect temptation to his last breath.”

+ St. Anthony the Great, said to Abba Poeman
The Sayings of the Desert Fathers: The Alphabetical Collection

St. John of the Ladder: At no time do we find God revealing . . .

Icon of St. John Climicus“At no time do we find God revealing the sins which have been confessed to Him, lest by making these public knowledge, He should impede those who would confess and so make them incurably sick.”

— St. John of the Ladder, To the Shepherd, PG 88, 1196B

St. Nicodemus of The Holy Mountain: Nothing else remains after confession . . .

Icon of St. Nikodemus of Mt. AthosNothing else remains after confession, Spiritual Father, except to keep the sins you hear a secret, and to never reveal them, either by word, or by letter, or by a bodily gesture, or by any other sign, even if you are in danger of death, for that which the wise Sirach says applies to you: “Have you heard a word? Let it die with you” (Sir. 19:8); meaning, if you heard a secret word, let the word also die along with you, and do not tell it to either a friend of yours or an enemy of yours, for as long as you live. And further still, that which the Prophet Micah says: “Trust not in friends… beware of thy wife, so as not to commit anything to her” (Mic. 7:5).

For if you reveal them, firstly, you will be suspended or daresay deposed completely by the Ecclesiastical Canons, and according to political laws you will be thrown in jail for the rest of your life and have your tongue cut out. Secondly, you become a reason for more Christians not to confess, being afraid that you will reveal their sins, just as it happened during the time of Nektarios of Constantinople when the Christians did not want to confess on account of a Spiritual Father who revealed the sin of a woman. The divine Chrysostom both witnessed these things and suffered because of them on account of his trying to convince the people to confess. It is impossible for me to describe in words how much punishment this brings upon you, who are the cause of these things.

— St. Nicodemus the Holy Mountain (St. Nicodemus the Hagiorite), Exomologetarion. A Manual of Confession

St. John of Kronstadt: When you pray that your sins may be forgiven . . .

Icon of St. John of Kronstadt“When you pray that your sins may be forgiven, strengthen yourself always by faith, and trust in God’s mercy, Who is ever ready to forgive our sins after sincere prayer, and fear lest despair should fall on your heart — that despair which declares itself by deep despondency and forced tears. What are your sins in comparison to God’s mercy, whatever they be, if only you truly repent of them? But it often happens that when a man prays, he does not, in his heart, inwardly hope that his sins will be forgiven, counting them as though they were above God’s mercy. Therefore, he certainly will not obtain forgiveness, even should he shed fountains of involuntary tears; and with a sorrowful, straitened heart he will depart from the Gracious God: which is only what he deserves. ‘Believe that ye receive them,’ says the Lord, ‘and ye shall have them.’ Not to be sure of receiving what you ask God for, is a blasphemy against God.”

— St. John of Kronstadt

Elder Joseph the Heychest: Letter about falling down and getting up

Photo of Elder Joseph the HesychastI received your letter, my child, and I saw your anxiety. But don’t be sad, my child. Don’t worry so much. Even though you have fallen again, get up again. You have been called to a heavenly road. It is not surprising for someone running to stumble. It just takes patience and repentance at every moment.

Therefore, always do a metanoia when you are wrong and don’t lose time, because the longer you wait to seek forgiveness, the more you allow the evil one to spread his roots within you. Don’t let him make roots to your detriment.

Therefore, don’t despair when you fall, but get up eagerly and do a metanoia saying, “Forgive me, my dear Christ. I am human and weak.” The Lord has not abandoned you. But since you still have a great deal of worldly pride, a great deal of vainglory, our Christ lets you make mistakes and fall, so that you perceive and come to know your weakness every day, so that you become patient with others who make mistakes, and so that you do not judge the brethren when they make mistakes, but rather put up with them.

So every time you fall, get up again and at once seek forgiveness. Don’t hide sorrow in your heart, because sorrow and despondency are the joy of the evil one. They fill one’s soul with bitterness and give birth to many evils. Whereas the frame of mind of someone who repents says, “I have sinned! Forgive me Father!” and he expels the sorrow. He says, “Am I not a weak human? So what do I expect?” Truly, my child this is how it is. So take courage.

Only when the grace of God comes does a person stand on his feet. Otherwise, without grace, he always changes and always falls. So be a man and don’t be afraid at all.
Do you see how that brother you wrote about endured the temptation? You, too, should do likewise. Acquire a brave spirit against the temptations that come. In any case, they will come. Forget about what your despondency and indolence tell you. Don’t be afraid of them. Just as the previous temptations passed by the grace of God, these, too, will pass once they do their job.

Temptations are medicines and healing herbs that heal our visible passions and our invisible wounds. So have patience in order to profit every day, to store up wages, rest, and joy in the heavenly kingdom. For the night of death is coming when no one will be able to work anymore. Therefore, hurry. Time is short.

You should know this too: a victorious life lasting only one day with trophies and crowns is better than a negligent life lasting many years. Because one man’s struggle, with knowledge and spiritual perception that lasts one day, has the same value as another man’s struggle, who struggles negligently without knowledge for fifty years.

Without a struggle and shedding your blood, don’t expect freedom from the passions. Our earth produces thorns and thistles after the Fall. We have been ordered to clean it, but only with much pain, bloody hands, and many sighs are the thorns and thistles uprooted. So weep, shed streams of tears, and soften the earth of your heart. Once the ground is wet, you can easily uproot the thorns.

— Elder Joseph the Hesychast

St. Isaac the Syrian: There is no sin which cannot be pardoned . . .

Confession 3“There is no sin which cannot be pardoned except that one which lacks repentance, and there is no gift which is not augmented save that which remains without acknowledgement. For the portion of the fool is small in his eyes.”

+ St. Isaac the Syrian, “Six Treatises on the Behaviour of Excellence”, Mystical Treatises by Isaac of Nineveh

St. Cyril of Jerusalem: Your accumulated offenses do not surpass . . .

Icon of St. Cyril of Jerusalem“God is loving to man, and loving in no small measure. For say not, I have committed fornication and adultery: I have done dreadful things, and not once only, but often: will He forgive? Will He grant pardon? Hear what the Psalmist says: How great is the multitude of Your goodness, O Lord!

Your accumulated offenses surpass not the multitude of God’s mercies: your wounds surpass not the great Physician’s skill. Only give yourself up in faith: tell the Physician your ailment: say thou also, like David: I said, I will confess me my sin unto the Lord: and the same shall be done in your case, which he says immediately: And you forgave the wickedness of my heart”

— St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lecture 2.6