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Question

Your blessing, Father. I’d like to confess but I don’t know anything about it and I don’t know what to say. Do I need to find a priest in the church and ask him to hear my confession or should I simply come to a church when there is a confession according to the timetable? Do I need to say a prayer or simply say, “I have sinned...” and list my sins? I’m young but I have already sinned a lot. I’m afraid that the priest will oust or refuse to hear my confession. Please advise me on what I should do.

Answer
Come to the church when there is a confession in the timetable. You shouldn’t overthink it too much. You don’t come to a priest: you come to God, and it is God who you entrust your heart and your life to. You should recall every bad action in your life and confess it. A priest won’t drive you away: in fact, he will be glad that you have so much courage to openly speak about your sins. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound (Cf. Romans 5: 20). Be sure to tell the priest that it is your first confession: that’s important. The Lord came to save sinners. An individual receives graceful help during a confession, which empowers him or her to struggle with sins and try abstaining from them. That’s why you shouldn’t doubt and worry: go and confess as soon as you can. After the confession, if God lets you and the priest blesses you, you should partake of the Holy Mysteries.

Archpriest Andrey Lemeshonok

Question

I’ve been to a confession recently. I was certain that I’d receive a penance because I had committed a lot of mortal sins and I hadn’t confessed for 7 or 8 years and hadn’t been to church. However, the priest allowed me to take communion. Is it right?

Answer
I’d do the same because you hadn’t taken communion for seven years so you practically got yourself excommunicated. You became too weak to resist mortal sins, that was why you committed them. Now you have to regain what you’ve lost. When you become stronger, you’ll get a penance. Obey the priest who told you that you are to take communion. For some reason, we think we are smarter than we really are. We are sceptical and wonder whether the priest was right or not. The Lord has shown you his mercy and lets you receive his Body and Blood but you don’t seem to appreciate it. We, humans, are hard to please, aren’t we? In fact, when one comes back to the Church after a long absence, we ought to help that person and support him or her because it’s quite challenging to cross the threshold of the church, to confess and take communion again. Praise God that you’ve managed to do it. Please make sure that you don’t stay away from the Church for so long. Go to church regularly. Confess and take Communion, participate in worship – that’s necessary. You’ve noticed how much your soul lost during that period, haven’t you? May the Lord help you.

Archpriest Andrey Lemeshonok

Question

What role does a priest play during a confession? In one church they simply absolved me of my sins without even hearing my confession (maybe because there were a lot of people); in my parish where I usually go, after having confessed my sins, I heard nothing but the absolution of my sins from the priest. Could this be the right way? They say on TV that after a person lists his sins in confession, the priest should talk to the person and see if he understands his sins, why they happened, etc. There are so many questions and a spiritual father is vital to guide and keep you from falling into despair. Can you tell me how to find him?

Answer
A spiritual father is not a needle to be looked for, it is up to God to reveal him. You have to feel confidence in that priest. I believe that all of those people who are seeking and asking God to give them such an opportunity get it. There are different priests and different backgrounds. Probably, when there were a holiday and crowds of people, the priest did not read the prayers that are meant to be read at the beginning of the confession. That's his obligation and he is accountable for it. If you repent (and regret) of your sins earnestly and with all your heart, then God accepts your confession and the Sacrament is valid – as long as the priest said the absolution prayer. So do not get confused. We should follow Christ, we should live, work, and look for a genuine connection with God. We do not talk with the priest when we confess, and neither does the priest tell us anything from himself. We talk to God with the priest as a witness of our repentance. Of course, it would be desirable if you had a priest whom you knew, trusted, and who would know your life. This would make your conversation very different. However, you risk switching to human communication in this case. Of course, we all need human communication, but we should not forget that it is not the priest who forgives sins, but Christ, and we should turn to Him in the first place.

Archpriest Andrey Lemeshonok

Question

Sometimes a person feels God’s grace after Communion, and this grace supports him for some time. However, one might sometimes think that he does not deserve Communion. Should one worry about it or not?

Answer
You must not rely on yourself. When your soul is sick, you disinfect its wounds by Communion. It can hurt. The Lord may grant comfort and joy one time and you may have to withstand a spiritual battle the other time and feel depressed. The medicine works anyway, and you should not go by your emotions because it may be a trial sent by God. We hear that there used to be ascetics who spent decades praying despite the fact that they could not feel anything. God regarded it as a great feat of ascetic devotion. Naturally, we would like our souls to be soaring high after a Communion; sometimes they feel pain and suffer instead. It doesn’t mean that we are unworthy. In fact, no one deserves the Holy Gifts—who can be worthy of it? Do you really think that the fact that you don’t eat something or read some prayers means that you deserve the Communion? Of course not! Speaking of worthy Communion, the less worthy of it you feel, the more you deserve it. If you acknowledge that you are guilty and that the Lord loves you as you are: the dirty, ungrateful, and ill-spirited person that you are; if you feel sorry for that, this is what makes you worthy. The other kind of “worthiness”, i.e., when you deem yourself better than someone else; when you feel superior because you have read all there was to read because you have prepared properly to receive this love—that’s a shameful condition. We’d better avoid it.

Archpriest Andrey Lemeshonok

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