8 Augusta Avenue, St. Catharines, Ontario, L2M 5R2, Canada
Ukrainian Orthodox Church
of St. George


CHRISTIAN ORTHODOXY


Why Should We Confess?

Confession is one of the sacraments of the church which contributes greatly to our spiritual and Christian growth. It is probably true to say that there is little or no true spiritual development in the Christian life without it.  We come to confession to confess our sins. We are to say them clearly and openly, not indulging in gross details, but not skirting the full force of their evil by such generalities as “the normal, everyday sins, etc.” A clear understanding of Christ’s teaching is the only thing that can help us confess our sins as well. We should also make it a practice to confess all sins well. We should also make it a practice to confess all sins no matter how insignificant they may seem to us.

Struggle to Overcome!

God forgives our sins not merely on the condition that we confess them, but on the condition that we truly hate them and try to overcome them. When one saint was asked how we would tell if we were forgiven by God, he saint answered: “If you hate your sins you are truly forgiven.” In Christian repentance there is no place for pitying our sins, or justifying them, or explaining them away, or blaming them on others or on the “situation” or on human weakness. Sins can only be recognized, confronted, despised and rejected by men – and forgiven by God. In confession, therefore, we must promise that we will try by every method known to us to overcome our sins and to correct our life. Our only premise, however, can be that we will try. We cannot seriously guarantee any food results. And this is, in fact, all that God desires: a firm struggle to overcome. If we make this struggle with all the strength and courage in us, then God himself will give the victory – and at the time when He alone sees fit to do so. Our sole task is to remain faithful.

Preparing for Confession
Holy Confession is a Mystery (Sacrament), in which Christians, with sincere sorrow, recognize and confess their sins before God and, through the prayers of the priest, receive forgiveness from the Lord.  In order to receive forgiveness for our sins in the sacrament of Holy Repentance, it is important to prepare for confession through sincere prayer, fasting and reconciliation with others. This enables us to look into ourselves, to see our own sins and most importantly, to recognize our own sinful state. Having recognized our transgressions, we should have sincere sorrow and pain for having acted in such a sinful manner. We should rebuke ourselves. With faith in God, hope in His mercy and a firm resolve to better ourselves by avoiding sin, we should start a new life in God. In order to benefit greatly from holy confession, it is important to prepare and think about our transgressions. The following questions based on the Ten Commandments will help you prepare:
SIXTH COMMANDMENT:
Thou shall not kill.
Have I caused the injury or death of anyone, or wished that I were dead?
Have I done anything to shorten my own life or that of someone else by injuring health, or through evil and unreasonable living?
Have I defamed others who needed help, or failed to stand up for those unjustly treated?
Have I been cruel to anyone?
Have I mistreated animals or destroyed any life unnecessarily?
Have I failed to forgive anyone or harboured evil thoughts against them?

SEVENTH COMMANDMENT:
Thou shall not commit adultery.
Have I given to impure thoughts, words or deeds?
Have I committed any unworthy actions alone or with others?
Have I degraded myself in any way, or forgotten human dignity?
Have I read immoral books or magazines or delighted in obscenity of any kind?
Have I associated with bad companions or frequented unsavoury places?
Have I eaten or drank or smoked too much?
Have I been lazy, idle, or wasted my time?
Have I led others to commit sinful acts?
Have I been unfaithful to any trust confided in me?

EIGHTH COMMANDMENT:

Thou shall not steal.
Have I stolen anything or wished to do so?
Have I kept anything that didn’t belong to me?
Have I tried honestly to find the owners of lost articles I have found?
Have I cheated anyone?
Have I paid my debts?
Have I lived within my income and not wastefully or extravagantly?
Have I given to the Church and charitable causes in proportion to my income and means?
Have I been honest and upright?

NINTH COMMANDMENT:
Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
Have I told lies, or added to or subtracted from the truth?
Have I made careless statements or spoken evil of anyone?
Have I gossiped about anyone or harmed their reputation?
Have I concealed the truth, assisted in carrying out a lie, or pretended to commit a sin of which I was not guilty?
Have I tried to see the good in others rather then their shortcomings?

TENTH COMMANDMENT:
Thou shall not covet (desire) thy neighbour’s goods: thou shall not desire thy neighbour’s wife; thou shall not want thy neighbour’s house, or his /her land, or anything that is thy neighbour’s.
Have I envied anything good that has come to others?
Have I been jealous of another’s good fortune?
Have I wished for anything that was another’s?
Have I damaged or destroyed the property of others?
Have I wished for things God has not given me, or been disconnected with my lot?
Have I been stingy?
Have I held back anything due another?
Have I hoped for the downfall of anyone so that I might gain by it?
Have I failed to be generous to anyone?
Have I expected God to give me that which I would refuse to my fellow man?


Source: “Coming to Confession” by Ver Rev. Victor Lakusta
FIRST COMMANDMENT:
I AM the Lord your God, thou shall have no other gods besides me.
Have I believed in god the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit?
Have I failed to trust God and His mercy?
Have I complained against God in misfortune?
Have I been thankful for God’s blessings?
Have I doubted the Orthodox Faith and the teaching of the Church?
Have I tried to serve God and keep His Commandments?
Have I given way to superstition?
Have I frequented the religious meetings of heretics?
Have I neglected my duties to God through fear or ridicule or prosecution?
Have I failed to pray to God faithfully?
Have I put myself before God?

SECOND COMMANDMENT:
Thou shall not make for yourself a graven image, or fashion the likeness of anything in heaven above, or on earth below, or in the waters under the earth, to bow down and worship.
Have I made an idol of any person or thing?
Have I given to anyone or anything the worship that is due to God alone?
Have I set before myself the holy life of Jesus and tried to imitate Him?
Have I read the Holy Scriptures regularly?
Have I been disrespectful during Church Service, let my attention wander, or have I been insincere?
Have I neglected to receive Holy Communion regularly during the year or without due preparation?

THIRD COMMANDMENT:

Thou shall not take the Name of the Lord in vain (contempt).
Have I profaned the holy name of God in any way?
Have I cursed anyone or anything or sworn a false oath?
Have I failed to give reverence to holy persons and things?
Have I had due respect for the clergy of the church or hindered them in performing God’s work?
Have I broken any solemn vow or promise?
Have I entered into any unlawful contract or made any unlawful promise?

FOURTH COMMANDMENT:
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy: six days shall thou labour, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath to the Lord thy God.
Have I stayed away from Church on Sundays or prevented others from going?
Have I done unnecessary work on Sundays?
Have I spent the day in unwholesome fashion or profaned it by improper conduct?
If I could not go to Church because of illness or other grave cause, have I prayed at home?
Have I caused anyone else to profane the Lord’s Day?
Have I kept the fasts and feasts prescribed by the Church?

FIFTH COMMANDMENT:
Honour thy father and thy mother, that it may be well with thee, and that thy days may be long upon the earth.
Have I respected my parents and been obedient to them?
Have I been guilty of deception, or caused them pain by my words or actions?
Have I neglected them or failed to help them?
Have I done my duty towards my family?
Have I been lacking in love or kindness towards my husband or wife, or harmed him or her in any way?
Have I set my children a good example and tried to bring them up properly?
Have I corrected their faults with patience and not with anger?
Have I over-indulged or spoiled them?
Have I worked for my employers honestly and diligently?
Have I treated fairly all those who have worked for me?
Have I honoured God as my Heavenly Father by treating others as my brothers or sisters, and have I honoured the Church as my Spiritual Mother by honouring and practicing my religion in accordance with her teaching?


A SELF-EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE:

Confession