A sincere confession of an Orthodox Christian

Bless me, O Lord and Savior,

to confess to Thee not only with words, but also with bitter tears.

and there is much to weep for...

My faith in Thee vacillates, O Lord!

Thoughts of skepticism and disbelief push themselves in to my soul much more often than they ever have.

Why?

Of course, the spirit of the times is to blame,

and people that I meet are to blame, but even more to blame am I myself, because I do not struggle with disbelief, because I do not pray to Thee for aid.

I am still more to blame if I am a temptation for someone else, by deed or word or just by cold silence when people speak of the faith.

I have sinned in this, O Lord: forgive and have mercy, and grant me faith.

My love for other people, even my relatives, is diminishing.

Their continual requests for help and their forgetfulness of how much I have already done for them causes mutual hard feelings.

But I am more guilty than they are: guilty because although I have the means to help them, I help them only grudgingly; guilty because I help them not for pure, Christian motivations, but out of pride and a desire for gratitude and praise.

Forgive me, Oh Lord, soften my heart and teach me to look not at how people treat me, but at how I treat other people.

And if they treat in a hostile way, inspire me, Oh Lord, to pay them back with love and goodness and pray for them.

I have also sinned in that I think very, very little about my sins.

Not only at ordinary times of the year, but even when I am preparing for Communion I do not remember them, I do not try to call them to mind for confession.

General phrases come to mind: "Nothing special, I am sinful like everyone.

Oh Lord, it is as if I did not know that in Thy eyes both every "idle word" and even the sinful desire in my heart is a sin.

And how many of these words and desires pile up within me in just one day, not to mention in a whole year!

Thou alone, Lord, knowest them; grant me to see my transgressions, have mercy on me, and save me.

Further: I acknowledge as my constant sin the lack of almost any struggle with evil.

As soon as any occasion or provocation appears, I plunge headlong into the pit of sin,

and then, just as soon as I have fallen, I ask myself: what have I done?

A fruitless question, because it does not help me to become better.

And if at this point I feel sorrow, it proceeds from my self-esteem having suffered,

and not from the realization that I have offended Thee, Oh Lord.

I neglect struggling not only with gross evil, but even with the most frivolous and harmful habit.

I do not know how to master myself and I do not even try.

I have sinned; forgive me!

Furthermore, the sin of irritability, which predominates in me, is not withdrawing from me in the least.

When I hear a sharp word, I do not reply with good-natured silence but behave like a heathen: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.

And hostility flares up for trifles and lasts for days and weeks.

I do not think of conciliation, but try to get revenge when an opportunity presents itself.

I have sinned without number, Oh Lord.

Have mercy, forgive me, and calm my heart!

Besides these most grievous sins, my whole life is a chain of sins: I do not value the time that You have given for gaining eternal salvation.

I very often stand irreverently, pray mechanically, judge others while they are praying, but do not look after myself.

At home I sometimes pray with great reluctance and absent-mindedness, so that often I do not hear my own prayer, and sometimes I simply omit it.

Such are my attitudes towards Thee, Oh Lord, and I can say nothing else but "forgive and have mercy!

In my relations with people I sin with all my senses; I sin with my tongue by pronouncing false, foul, reproachful, or suggestive words; I sin with my eyes; I sin with my mind and heart by judging others and I am contentious often and for long periods of time; I sin not only against my soul, but against my body as well, by immoderately consuming food and drink.

Accept, Oh Lover of Mankind, my repentance, that I might approach Thy holy and life-giving Mysteries in peace, for the remission of sins, for the correction of this temporary life, and for the inheritance of eternal life.

Amen.

"I am not worthy to ask forgiveness, Oh Lord!"

So the great teacher of penitence, Saint Ephraim the Syrian, once exclaimed of himself.

"How can we resist the attack of sin? How can we deny entry to the passions?", Saint Basil the Great asked Saint Ephraim, who answered only by shedding tears.

What can I, the consummate and incorrigible sinner, say to thee now, O Lord?

Through the prayers of our holy fathers, Ephraim and Basil, grant me, Oh Lord, repentance, and words, and tears.

Help me to spew out of myself, like deadly poison, my evil deeds, idle words, and wicked thoughts.

If I have forgotten to tell anything, Thou knowest know all and will remind me; for I do not want to conceal anything.

Thou comandest command me, "tell your iniquities before thou seekest justification.

But I say: "My sins are multiplied, Oh Lord, and they multiply incessantly.

They have no limit.

I know and I remember that even an impure thought is an abomination in Thy sight, but I not only think, but also do, things that grievest Thee.

I know that I am doing evil, but I do not refrain from it...

Thus, my repentance has not yet even begun, and the end is not in sight for my evil carelessness about sin.

There is truly no limit to my foul thoughts, bursts of self-esteem, vainglory, pride, gossip, resentment, and vengefulness.

I quarrel often, and I become angry, cruel, envious, lazy, and blindly stubborn.

Although I am of no importance, I think very highly of myself.

I do not want to honor those worthy of honor, but at the same time I demand undeserved deference for myself.

I lie ceaselessly, but I get angry at liars.

I judge those who speak evil or who are thieves, but I myself am a thief and an evil-sayer.

I defile myself by lustful thoughts and stimuli, but sternly judge others for immodestly.

I cannot bear being joked about, but I myself love to taunt others, respecting neither persons nor places, even doing it in church.

I consider as an enemy anyone who tells the truth about me.

I do not want to put myself out by doing a good turn, but I get angry if someone does not do me a good turn.

I coldly refuse a neighbor in need, but when I myself am in need, I tiresomely appeal to him.

I do not like to visit the sick, but if I am sick, I expect everyone to care for me without my asking.

Lord, send down in to the depths of my soul a ray of heavenly light, that I might see my sins.

My confession is almost always limited to only a superficial naming of some sins.

Oh my God, my conscience gave You a promise to to start a better life, but I broke the promise and live as before.

Unless I have turned over a new leaf, I am ashamed to appear before a mere human with whom I have often not been true to my word.

How could I stand before Thee, my God, without shame and self-reproach, when so many times before Thy Throne, before the angels and saints, I have given promises and have not fulfilled them.

How base I am!

How criminal!

To Thee, Oh Lord, is truth, and to me are shameful faces" (Book of Daniel).

Only your boundless goodness can endure me.

Thou dost not not destroy the sinner; do not destroy the penitent.

Teach me how to bring to mind and count the sins of my past life, the sins of an empty-headed youth, the sins of proud manhood, the sins of day and of night, sins against Thee, my Lord and Savior.

How can I count them in the few minutes in which I stand in this Holy Place? I remember, Lord, that thou didst heed the few words of the publican and the thief.

I know that thou mercifully greetest even a readiness to repent,

and I pray to Thee with all my soul, "My Lord, accept as my repentance the daily confession of sins that the sacred book contains.

I have many more sins than it lists, and I have no way to make amends for them.

I offer now only a striving for thee and a desire for the good, but I have no strength to reform.

Oh Lord and Lover and Mankind!

Thou dost not drive away the sinner who comes to Thee, beseeching Thee for forgiveness.

Before he even comes to the door of Thy mercy, thou hast already opened it for him; before he falls down before Thee, thou hast already stretched out Thy hand to him; before he confesses his sins, thou hast granted him forgiveness.

Grant it to me who repents, grant it according to Thy great mercy; forgive all the bad things that I have done, said, and thought.

and while granting forgiveness, send me also, Oh Lord, the strength, so that I might be able henceforth to live according to Thy will and not to offend Thee.

Help me, and I will be saved; help me by granting me to receive Thy holy Mysteries.

and that I may receive them worthily, declare to me by the lips of Thy priest, declare by Thy Holy Spirit, the grace of pardon and forgiveness, which can not be heard by the ear, but are heard in a deeply-moved heart and in peace of conscience.

Amen.

Translated by Seraphim F. Englehardt from a leaflet published on Mount Athos





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