Confession

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Confession (or repentance) is one of the holy mysteries (or sacraments) in the Orthodox Church, as well as many other Christian traditions. Through it, the penitent receives the divine forgiveness of Christ for any sins that are confessed. Confession is typically given to a Spiritual Father (usually a parish priest or monastic). Confession can be individual or general. The frequency of required confession (as well as whether or not general confession is permissible) can vary from parish to parish, and from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

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Preparing for Confession

Reflection on the Ten Commandments is often recommended as part of an examination of conscience.

See also:

Frequency of Confession

Confidentiality

The secrecy of the Mystery of Penance is considered an unquestionable rule in the entire Orthodox Church. Theologically, the need to maintain the secrecy of confession comes from the fact that the priest is only a witness before God. One could not expect a sincere and complete confession if the penitent has doubts regarding the practice of confidentiality. Betrayal of the secrecy of confession will lead to canonical punishment of the priest.
St. Nicodemus the Hagiorite exhorts the Spiritual Father to keep confessions confidential, even under strong constraining influence. The author of the Pedalion (the Rudder), states that a priest who betrays the secrecy of confession is to be deposed. The Metropolitan of Kos, Emanuel, mentions in his handbook (Exomologeteke) for confessors that the secrecy of confession is a principle without exception.
From the Guidelines for Clergy (Orthodox Church in America)

General Confession

Sources

Jurisdictional Resources

Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese

Greek Orthodox Resources

Orthodox Church in America

Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCOR)

Other Resources

  • Confession with Examination of Conscience and Common Prayers compiled and annotated by Paul N. Harrilchak (Reston, VA: Holy Trinity Church (OCA), 1996) ISBN 0930055012 (cloth) / ISBN 0930055020 (pbk.)

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