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On the sacraments. Sacrament of Penance

The Concept of the Sacrament of

Repentance is a sacrament in which a confessor of his sins, with a visible statement of forgiveness from the priest, is invisibly resolved from his sins by Himself Jesus Christ (Catechism).


At its beginning, repentance, like other sacraments of the Orthodox Church, is the institution of the Divine. The grace to bind and solve sins was promised to the apostles Jesus Christ even during His earthly life. Thus, in a conversation with a sinner who forgave those who sinned, he said to the apostles: "Elika, if you will bind to the earth, they will be bound in heaven, and if you will permit them to the earth, they will be permitted in the heavens" (Matthew 18, 18). This grace was taught to the apostles and their successors, Jesus Christ, after the resurrection, when he often talked with disciples about the organization of His Church and established ordinances for her. One day, after appearing to the disciples after the resurrection, the Savior said: "Peace be unto you: as ambassador Me My Father, and I send you. And these rivers, the dunes and the words to them: receive the Holy Spirit. Immediately release your sins, they will be released to him, and hold them, keep them "(John 20, 21-23). Here, grace and power to bind and solve sins is called the Holy Spirit, and thus permission or retention of them is a matter of God. This is the mystery.


About the Sacrament of Penance in the Christians of the Apostolic Age, we find instructions in the books of the Holy Scriptures (Acts 19, 18, Jak. 5, 16). According to the explanation of the interpreters, these places are Sv. The Scriptures show that the confession was well known to the Christians of the apostolic age and that they confessed their sins to the builders of the mysteries of God (1 Corinth 4, 1). Already in the apostolic age, the confession of sins, depending on the circumstances, was either secret, or open, public. Public repentance was required of those Christians who, with their sins, tempted the Church.

The confession of sins was combined with spiritual punishments, which were of three kinds:

1) deprivation for a certain time of the right to make offerings and participate in the communion (appointed for less important crimes);

2) for more important sins the Church forbade to be present at the meetings of believers, especially during the liturgy.

3) The highest degree of punishment for sinful sins (murder, adultery), combined with impenitence, was an exception among believers. Guilty bishop expelled from the meeting. And only if they expressed sincere repentance, the bishop, on the petition of the deacons, allowed them to attend meetings of believers with the catechumens, and then admitted to the number of penitents.

By the end of the first half of the third century, public repentance is formalized in the form of a special, precisely defined by the rules of the Church, the acceptance of Christians into the Church, with their crimes that have broken with it. The reason for this was the persecution of Emperor Decius. During the thirty years of rest that preceded this persecution, the initial living faith and pure morality in both ordinary Christians and the church clergy became noticeably weaker. Therefore it is not surprising that in the persecution of Decius there were many fallen (renounced Christ). This important phenomenon in itself was the beginning of a dispute about the fallen. Occasionally, the fallen ones themselves, who thought the lack of repentance, filled in with the testimonies of the confessors, partly the confessors, partially testified themselves and, finally, partly the presbyters themselves, who did not always cautiously accept the fallen in communion with the Church, gave cause for this dispute. In the Church of Carthage and Rome in the third century there was even a schism produced by Felicissim (in Carthage) and presbyter Novatian (in Rome). Felicissim formed a party of his supporters, who stood for the acceptance of all the fallen without repentance. Novatian also went into the other extreme, arguing that the fallen can not be taken into communion with the Church at all, for then it would no longer be holy. At those meetings convened under such circumstances, the Carthaginian and Roman Councils were determined to receive communion with the Church through the public repentance of those Christians who had fallen away from the faith, who sacrificed idols or burned incense to them, or, through bribery, received false testimonies about their sacrifice to idols, This class was joined after the persecution of Diocletian by traitors who betrayed the persecutors of books of Holy Scripture, church synodics (diptychs) and their Christian congregations.

All these persons, who have terminated communion with the Church, if they sincerely wished to return to the Church, came to the presbyter-confessor with an expression of his desire. The confessor, convinced of the sincerity of the desires of the coming, entered their names on the church list for general information and commemoration during the divine service, laid their hands on them to testify to them from being excommunicated and accepted into the penitentiary, and released them. Accepted thus in the number of penitents, they then stayed outside the church in the labors of fasting, prayer and mercy. Being in the church, they had to pass four degrees of public repentance (penance): crying, listening, falling and buying.

Penitent crying could enter only into the outer porch (portico) of the temple, outside the gates of the church, where they begged the faithful, especially the priests of the Church, to pray for them. This degree was preparatory and, as it were, an introduction to the actual church repentance (Gregory the Wonderworker, 11 pr., Basil the Great, 22 Ave).

Listeners were allowed to enter the inner porch of the temple, stand with the catechumens, listen to the faithful singing and reading the Holy Scriptures and teachings during the first half of the Liturgy, after which they went out together with the catechumens (First Ecumenical Council, 11 and 12 etc.).

Penitents of the third group - the fugitives - stood in the temple itself, at the back of it, and participated with the faithful in prayers for the penitents, listening to them, fallen prostrate. At the end of these prayers, they kneeled and received a blessing from the bishop, departed from the temple.

The laymen stood with the faithful to the end of the liturgy, not proceeding only to the Eucharist (First Ecumenical Council, 11 Ave, Ankyrsky Cathedral, 4 etc.).

Throughout the continuation of the time appointed for the penitential penance, the Church offered prayers for them in the temple between the liturgy of the catechumens and the Liturgy of the faithful (Laodicean Cathedral, 19 Ave). In their content, they almost do not differ from those prayers that are read at the present time before the confession. One of these prayers was preserved at the end of the Liturgy of the Apostle James, and the other in the Resolutions of the Apostles (VIII, 9).

The final moment of repentance for the execution of penance was that those who had passed through all degrees of repentance, in more or less long time, publicly repented of confessing their sins to the whole Church led by the bishop and received permission, usually on Thursday or Friday of Holy Week, And reading the permissive prayer, and allowed to the Eucharist. The very acceptance of the penitent into the Church was not only a public act, but also included in the public worship and was performed in a solemn manner.

After the persecution ended, the Church in the period of its peaceful existence (in the IV century) extended public repentance not only for falling away from the faith, but also for other crimes: idolatry, fornication, murder, and heretics.

Along with public repentance (public), in the ancient Church there was in custom and private repentance, or confession of sins to only one bishop or presbyter. It was performed at the will of the penitent and consisted in the discovery of sins and the resolution of them with prayer and laying on of hands. About private repentance speak Clement of Rome, Origen, Cyprian, etc. Clement of Rome exhorts not to be ashamed to confess secret sins to the abbot, that from him, with the help of the word of God and instruction, heal. Origen says that for a sinner who wants an excuse before God, the means to acquire it and find healing is to confess his sin to the priest of God.

The practice of public repentance continued in the Church until the end of the fourth century. Under the Patriarch of Constantinople Nectarius (398), the post of presbyter-confessor was abolished, and after that degrees of repentance and ceremonies were gradually abolished, accompanied by acceptance into the number of publicly repentants. By the end of the period of the Ecumenical Councils (VIII-IX century), the public confession finally disappears and is replaced by a secret.

The motivation for the abolition of public (public) confession and the replacement of its secret was that public confession, so beneficial in ancient times, with the rigor of the mores of that time and jealousy towards piety, seemed painful for Christians of the subsequent time. Many began to avoid it because of shame or hide their sins. In addition, sins that were revealed in public could serve as a temptation for some feeble Christians. And so that the medicine for some does not turn into a pernicious poison for others, the Church, in order to avoid this danger, replaced the public confession with a secret.

In the X-XII centuries. In the Eastern Church, repentance and confession take those forms (the spirituality of priest-priests from monastic and secular and secret confession), in which they exist for centuries, and exist to the present, with the right of the confessor to impose a secret or open penance on those Christian sinners , Which were previously subjected to public confession.


The current status of the confession in the Russian Church (placed in the Trebnik) is based on Greek ranks developed in the 16th-17th centuries. The latter was greatly influenced by the oldest rite of the secret confession called Nomocanon John Postnik, attributed to John, patr. Constantinople, who lived in the VI. (+ 596). In the Russian Church in the XV-XVII centuries. The order of confession existed in a variety of diverse and very extensive editions, based on the confession of John Postnik. In the XVII century. first published in Kiev (1620), then in Moscow (1639 and 1658), a short confession from the end of the XVII century (after the publication of 1685), after some additions (supplemented by penitential troparia, permissive prayer from Trebnik Peter The graves: "The Lord our God Jesus Christ" and the admonition to the penitent) remains unchanged until our time.


Baptism and repentance.Through the Sacrament of Baptism - the "bathing house of baptism", the font of a new, renewed life, a person received a pledge of "justification" - righteousness, righteousness, through the mysterious forgiveness of sins, his soul was "enlightened" and sanctified by the body. To fight against sin, repressed, banished as if to the periphery of his nature, he received graceful powers in the sacrament of Confirmation, and in the sacrament of the Eucharist - the "consecration" of body and soul. But through the sins that a person commits after these sacraments, he is deprived of the gracious powers, through the "mediocrity" (barrier) of sin, deprives himself of life in the love of God, placing his self-contained, self-willed will above the will of God and love for God and man. And so, to cleanse from the sins that were made after the baptism, and for the return of the gracious gifts, the Lord instituted the sacrament of Penance, which the Holy Fathers call the second baptism.

What are the main moments of repentance?

In the realm of feeling and consciousness, it is the "affliction of committed sins," the judgment of conscience, the condemnation of one's sinful past, the loathing of sin, the hatred of sin and (as a result, the will) the desire and determination to break with this sinful past, The sinful direction of his will, a firm pledge to continue to guard against sins and correct his life. And all this must be combined with a fervent prayer to God for the forgiveness of sins and liberation from sin as the inner power that exists in man.

The meaning of confession before the priest.The end of this spiritual breakthrough and the rebirth of a person is a confession before the priest, when in front of the priest as a witness ("I am the witness") and together with the doctor the innermost wounds of conscience, the whole shame of sin, are revealed. Here this spiritual breakthrough, the final spiritual breakthrough, which makes a person worthy of the Divine grace-filled forgiveness through a permissive prayer from the priest ends here. For only God in His miraculous help, given in the sacrament (confession), is really able to truly shave, like a wave seeking His soul, by His miraculous touch to kill the power of sin in the soul of the sinner, to give peace, strength and strength to the sinful soul, exhausted by the sin. Here, Christ "invisibly to receive confession" (through the "witness") and forgives sin, and the Holy Spirit descends and cleanses the penitent soul with his burning fire.

But in order to be regenerated in the sacrament of Penance, man himself must prepare his own revival. Without this, the sacrament can not act on it.

"Coming to a good Doctor," writes the Monk Ephraim the Syrian, "a sinner must bring tears from his side - this is the best medicine. For this is what the Heavenly Doctor wants, so that everyone tears himself with his own tears and escapes, and not only involuntarily endured only salvation. Before proceeding to grace, a person in advance must arbitrarily remove from himself all sinful, must destroy in himself the beginning of sin (through repentance), so that grace could impose in him the beginning of a new life. "[1]

Heartbreak and confession of their sins create conditions for the revival of man by the grace of God.

"And if the confessor is not sufficiently imbued with penitential intent, and the confessor reads the permissive prayer over him, then what? "Then it may happen that when the spiritual father says:" I forgive and permit, "the Lord will say:" but I condemn "(St. Theophan the Recluse).

The help of God sent through the sacrament - grace - is the natural consequence of a sorrowful cry to the God of the soul seeking salvation, and a firm determination not to sin, and not the result of a formal ceremony of confession; For the loving Lord is always close to man and constantly "yearns, Blessed, our salvation and extends forgiveness to those who seek Him diligently and with love working."[2]


Confession is a test and a test of pastoral love."The confession for the priest," writes the holy righteous John of Kronstadt, "is a feat of love for one's spiritual children, love that does not look at the person, long-suffering, merciful, not exalted, not proud, not looking for its own (peace, self-interest), not Annoying, all suffering, nikolizhe falling away. "

Here it is revealed, what is the priest: he is a shepherd or a mercenary, a father or a stranger for his children.

"My God, how difficult it is to properly confess! - writes John of Kronstadt. - How much from the enemy obstacles! How hard it is to sin against God, not properly confessing! As the word becomes scanty! How the source of the word is blocked in the heart! How language changes the mind! Oh, how much preparation for confession! How much to pray for the successful passage of this feat! "" And what ignorance spiritual children! .. Do not know the Trinity, do not know who Christ, do not know why they live on earth. And what about the fall of sin? .. "" Oh, what a great love is needed for the souls of our neighbors, so that we will be worthy, without haste and without sorrow, with patience to confess them. "

The priest's love, or, what is the same, the true jealousy of the salvation of souls, is full of patience, meekness and firmness (under instructions). And the priest himself, who in the confession is a judge and a connoisseur of the morals and life of others, should, as a man of God, succeed in good morals, piety and the purity of life; His life should serve as an example of those virtues that he demands from penitents. "There must be a clean hand that wants to wash the impurities of others."[3]"The priest must first of all purify himself," says Gregory the Theologian, "then purify others, come to God, and then bring others, be sanctified, and then consecrate, become light, and then enlighten others."[4]"If we have virtues," writes John Chrysostom, "if we are meek, humble, merciful, pure, peacemakers, then we who look to us will attract this not less than miracles, and voluntarily everyone will rush to us."[5]But if the priest puts on the face of virtue, affectionate towards the flock, and at the same time hiding his wicked life, his iniquity, always open to God, will not hide from the people. The shepherd's soul is felt by the flock. Only what comes from the heart can have an effect on the heart. What priest can persuade from the heart to abandon sins when his heart is in slavery to sin?

Oh, how the priest should be approved in virtue!

There are innumerable temptations to him, both in life and in confession.

For it often happens to a Christian man, when he, who before rejecting temptation with horror, ceases to fear him, hearing and seeing a multitude of people exposed to the sin that is imprinted on him in temptation. Of all the sins most likely is an infection from sins against chastity, which the priest has to listen to in confession; and the great struggle is for the priest with all kinds of memories and evil thoughts. The priest must have unceasing sobriety over his feelings and clear his conscience with a more frequent confession. A priest who neglects his own confession will never have the gracious power of teaching people repentance and confession.

The sober, invigorating and prayerfulness of the priest-confessor. Prayer is of great importance for growth in virtue.

A shepherd is a constant prayer book.Internal constant prayer is a condition of pastoral power. She is called to shepherd everyone who comes to him (invisibly for this latter, but visibly for God and for the angels who rejoice in this prayer, and is palpable for the forces of evil oppressed by it). Then even his and a small word will be "with salt," convincing, regenerating. A true priest is a self-assassinated, constantly awake in prayer man, with his whole life, with all his words and deeds, which ennobles the world. A pastor who has a spiritual content is a source of living water for souls seeking no abstract teachings of dogmas or morals, but revealing the heavenly reality of faith.

What should be the priest-confessor, it is said in "The Preface and the Tale, about what befits a spiritual father" placed in the Great Book (Chapter 12).[6]Here we read: "Accept the thoughts of men, you must eat the image of the good of all, and the benefactor, is humble and virtuous, praying for God at all times, and will give him the word of reason, in which you will correct him who comes to him. First of all (all) must eat himself Wednesday and heels of all summer, as if divine rules command: yes, from them, he himself, and commands others to create. And if he himself is ignorant, and a non-confidant, and a voluptuary, what other virtues can teach? But whoever is unintelligent can listen to him, speak about him without words, in vain his detainee and pianist, and others do not get drunk, or have some kind of virtue pass through, does not he himself create? The eyes of the descendants are more faithful, they say the Divine Scripture. Take care of yourself, about the clergyman! Zane, if a sheep of negligence is lost for your own sake, she will be found from your hands. Cursed beau [Jer. 48, 10]) The work of the Lord with the negligence of doing. "

Experience spiritual.On the priest lies the duty of spiritual nourishment of the penitents. He explores the innermost twists of the soul, the secret movements and thoughts of the heart, examines all his evasions, and through this he learns how profoundly the ulcers of the soul are, opens the beginning of illnesses (which main passion battles man), finds means for spiritual healing of them, and with full confidence prescribes that it is necessary to do and what to avoid. To do this, it is extremely necessary for the priest to acquire knowledge of his own heart and of human nature in general, acquire his own spiritual experience, as well as knowledge, by reading the Holy Scriptures, writings and lives of the holy fathers and devotees of the Church,

It is a great mistake of the shepherd to think that anyone who confesses to him, is below him spiritually and therefore needs a lesson. There are confessions such penitential, deep, that the shepherd is left alone: ​​thankfully, silently read permission, learning the power of repentance of man and the mercy of God to the human soul. After such confessions, the true shepherd always feels heavenly joy in the heart (Luke 15, 7). But there are other confessions, painful for the priest: penitents have nothing to say; they are silent or say common phrases: "I have nothing special", "sin like everyone else", "sin in everything", etc. The lazy shepherd is so displeased with such confessions, when the penitent shows too much zeal in repentance and too subtly perceives the phenomena of spiritual life (which is incomprehensible to the soul, who is at a lower stage of development). A cautious, considerate and reverent priest can do a great and wonderful thing with a man who has not known his sinfulness and his sins that have not yet come to repentance. He can help the soul find its repentant depth. With the love of the soul of a sick and bitter priest in sin, as an experienced doctor, a sinner can lead a sinner to the knowledge of his sinfulness and deep repentance in the committed sins, to strengthen his determination to correct his life according to the commandments of Christ.

Is a common confession acceptable? The spiritual meaning of expressing one's sin in confession.A lot of souls awoke from a sinful sleep in moments of confession. But, of course, much more would have been saved from the analogy, if the pastors to whom they entrusted their conscience paid more attention, soul and heart to this holy mystery. For the priest, the Sacrament of Confession is often the only time when he can speak to the human soul. But also this priest deprives himself and comes to repentance, owing to the practice of committing the so-called "general confession" that has become very widespread in our Church. Many of the laity (and many are already priests) do not understand the full depth and spiritual significance of just seeking out and confessing their sin at confession. The sin that a person "hesitated" to confess to a priest is undoubtedly a thorn in the human soul; and once a person can easily fall into this sin. With a general confession, there is almost no such personal statement and confession of one's sins. A common confession is essentially just a kind of sermon with a general enumeration of sins and the subsequent imposition on the head of each epitracheal, with reading permissive prayer. At best, the general confession currently held in many places is only a good preparation for a sincere repentance and confession of their personal sins to the priest at the analogy. General confession is permissible only in exceptional cases of a large influx of confessors, for example, in Lent, when it is physically impossible for a priest to confess all individually.

So, as a rule, confession must be individual, being preceded by a penitential word to all those who begin the sacrament. Common confession for the most part disaccustoms parishioners from proper true repentance, consciousness - the "sight" of their sins, the contrition of their sins. There is no hot shame about your sin, disgust for your sin, that deep spiritual breakthrough and rebirth, as it is possible when revealing personal sinfulness in personal confession. And it happens that with a general confession, many parishioners leave without confession, that is, without bringing true repentance and not receiving, therefore, the forgiveness of sins ...

All this is a huge responsibility for the priest. "It's hard for everyone to survive," says John Chrysostom, "but most of all to the priests, and I think that few priests are saved ..."

The priest needs constant invigoration.The soul of even a zealous at the beginning of a priest can be seized by vices, which especially hinder the correct and saving fulfillment of the sacrament of Penance. Each priest awaits on the way the formation of a cold habit to all the saints, to all the sacraments and ordinances, the coldness of the soul to the salvation of penitents. This is the state when, from the pastor and father of the spiritual, he becomes a cold "demandor", a mercenary.

The coldness of the soul from the shepherd to the salvation of the penitents is revealed in the fact that he confesses the time of confession to be heavy and boring and accepts the penitents with displeasure, hidden irritation; He hurries to let go of penitent with some cold words of instruction, often beaten, memorized, himself asking questions and hastily answering them; Grieving and upset, who would like to discover more about their ailments and temptations and thereby to relieve the heart, he does not listen or hurry and let go with cruel words, and much more.

And the spirit-priest and spiritual spirit can master the priest-confessor. The spiritual master must not lose heart in fear of the difficulties that await him in the performance of the sacrament of Penance. "To save yourself from this decline and anxiety of the heart, you, priest, resort with humble prayer to God, whose power is infinite, and who chose you to his great service; by His infinite wisdom and goodness He will grant you grace and help for the worthy accomplishment of this difficult service. He who trusts in the Lord God, he unexpectedly and marvelously receives help among the great difficulties. If anyone is looking only for God, he will find Him and with Him will receive light and strength. "[7]

Some remarks on the commission of the confession.The right to profess is enjoyed by bishops and legally appointed priests who are not under prohibition.

No priest has the right to refuse confession to an Orthodox Christian turning from sin (the Apostolic Rule of 52), especially when it is necessary to immediately confess the patient.

The confession of sins before a priest is usually preceded by a so-called sham, which, according to the Charter, goes on for a whole week. At this time, the aspirant must observe the established fast, strengthen the feats of church and domestic prayer, try to curb passions and sinful habits, believing the beginning of the correction of life. Preferential time of persecution and confession are posts: in honor of the Holy. the Apostles Peter and Paul, the Assumption, the Nativity, and especially the Great Lent. But this does not exclude the necessity and practice of confessing more frequently and at another time, when conscience requires cleansing through the sacrament of Penance.

One can not approve of the practice when clergymen are practicing during the Liturgy. The priest, having begun the liturgy, should no longer depart from the throne and be distracted. Confession must be made before the service, better from the evening. And as an exception, confession is allowed during the parting verse. Sometimes it is possible to confess, in crowded places, and for 1-2 days, and only permission to give on the day of communion.

Before embarking on confession, the priest must himself initiate a proper spiritual mood with prayer, inner self-assembly with meditation.

During confession, he must remain modest in everything; Do not foolishly look into the face of the penitent, especially the other sex; He must listen, not look, so as not to confuse the penitents and not be caught by unclean thoughts. During confession, listening and asking, in exhortation, admonition and reproof, the confessor must always invariably maintain extreme indulgence, gentleness and pastoral love, a decent disciple of Eternal Love, in whose name he commits the judgment of the sinner's sin.

On the confession the priest should show great sensitivity and wisdom. You need to know what questions you can ask the penitent according to his spiritual state. It is necessary to fear that, asking questions about sins, not to offer those about which a person had no idea (in particular, questions about sins against chastity).

The priest needs to know about the proper qualities of the confession. Confession must be complete and detailed. The penitent must confess all the sins that he remembers and knows for himself. Confession must be simple and humble. In confession, the penitent should reveal only his own sins, and not other people; Blame only themselves, and not others, not reducing their sins by circumstances or infirmity. Confession must be sincere, that is, be alien to all kinds of crooks, deceit and hypocrisy, and with the good intention of correcting oneself, to erase sins by sincere repentance.

About what the repentance of the penitent should be, it is said in the "Test before confession to the penitent" (see the Grand Book, chapter 13). It is highly desirable to transmit it in Russian to a penitent before confession. The "Meeting" says:

"Beloved in the Holy Spirit, a child (name), good came to holy repentance: for by the spiritual cup of the flesh you have washed away the sins of your soul, as if by heavenly healing you will be healed from the deadly plagues of it: for you are urged to crush your heart for all your sins, and To the Lord your God, we are invisible to us, before me humble, the power of permission from Him we accept, truly confess, nothing less than melting and insignificantly applying, but as if you were doing something, and remember, such and confess ... Not Imashi is the sin of the Tahiti and the One shame for ... Yes, do not hide that and fear for the sake of ... Confess, however, reprove, but do not apologize to you: your sins, and do not open aliens. Do not tell me the faces of the sinners who are in society with you ... Just point out your sins and confess it, do not just talk, but with a heartfelt pity, and with the good intent that from now on be saved from those similar sins: without that there can not be true repentance ... "

Confession is often incomplete or has no true repentance. This can be the following reasons:

1) ignorance of the penitent, in what the essence of repentance, ignorance of the requirements of the law of God, and what sins against it;

2) carelessness of those who came to confession about the test of their conscience;

3) shame and shyness;

4) fear of penance;

5) perseverance, bitterness and shamelessness;

6) lack of confidence that you can avoid sin.

To the priest, having revealed the reason, it is necessary, with meekness and love, to clarify and locate the penitent towards sincere, without fear, repentance, with full hope for the healing and strengthening grace of God.[8]

For the initiation of faith and the contrition of sins in the Great Book there is placed a very touching prayerful canon to the Blessed Virgin Mary in the confession of a sinner (Chapter 96), which should be recommended to be read for the confessors in the evening rule for Communion.[9]


An essential part of the sacrament of Penance is CONFESSION, or verbal confession of sins. Confession is the necessary consequence and fruit of the heartbreak of sins and the intention to correct one's life. Since repentance and confession involve the consciousness of oneself and the ability to distinguish between good and evil, there are no babies (up to seven years) who are insane and demoniacal in confession.

Chinoposledovanie confession now consists of two parts: preparation for confession by penitential prayers and its very commission.

Before the confession before the icon of the Savior, an anal is placed, on which the priest places the holy cross and the Gospel, to remind of the invisible presence of the Lord Himself. Repentant (or penitent) stand close to the analog.

At the beginning of the confession, the priest, standing at the analogue, reads common penitential prayers for all confessors. Normal start:

Blessed is our God ...

Trisagion of Our Father. Lord have mercy (12 times). Glory and now:

Come, let us worship (three times). 50-th Psalm.

And these repentant troparia: "Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy on us ...". Glory: "Lord, have mercy on us ...". And now: "Open the door of mercy to us ...".

Also: Lord have mercy (40). Then the priest reads two prayers about the penitent. (These prayers are read for all if there are many confessors).

The priest says: "Let us pray to the Lord."

And the first prayer about the penitent: "God, our Savior ...".

"Let us pray to the Lord."

And the second prayer: "Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God ...".

In these preliminary prayers, the Church asks the Merciful Lord to pardon the penitents, accept their heartfelt repentance, forgive them all sins and iniquities, remove from them the anathema and the oath to which they fell for infirmity and negligence, to release them from eternal torment and resolve the guilt gravitating towards them Crime.

After this, the priest speaks to the confessor (or confessors) exhortation:

"Surely, Christ stands invisibly, accepting your confession, do not be shy, lower down, and let not you hide from me: but without embarrassment (that is, without fear, embarrassment) all the riches you made (or did you make) , And take leave of our Lord Jesus Christ. He and His icon are before us, and I am the witness, and I testify to Him all, and speak to me: If you hide anything from me, the sin of Imashi is a sin. Take heed to the ears, and, behold, you have come to the medicine-room, and have not been left without end. "

(According to the Charter it is necessary to read the Symbol of Faith after this).

After this, if there are many confessors, it is good to say a short word explaining the essence of the confession and about the main sins against the commandments of God (one can) adhering to the ten-word or explaining about the eight deadly sins and their ramifications, but only in general terms, without going into details about sins , Consistent with the state of penitent - their parishioners.

Then the priest proceeds to the very confession, which should be in private with each person, even if it was a child.


The proposal of repentant questions in the form as they are printed in the Trebnik is optional. The priest must ask questions of the penitent, in accordance with the age, position and, in general, the moral state of his spiritual children.

Practice regarding the situation of confessors is different for analoy. In some places, confessors become kneeling before confession during confession. In other places the confessor, standing, confesses his sins, humbly bowing his head under the epitaph.

In general, in this respect, the custom that is observed in most of our Church and in the Eastern Orthodox Churches is better, when the penitent confesses, standing before the analogy and looking reverently at the cross and the Gospel or the icon.

The priest himself performs a confession, standing at the analog. In some places, it is customary for the priest to make confession while sitting (especially when there are many confessors), but the priest gives standing prayer.

When the penitent before the priest ends the confession of all his sins, then the priest commands to bow to the ground (or bow to the head) and reads the prayer: "O Lord God of the salvation of your servants ...", in which he asks the Lord to forgive the sins of the penitent, reconcile and unite him with the Holy Church. This prayer - of ancient origin and in the Eastern Churches is permissive. (The priest reads this prayer in the presence of many confessors for their common after the penitential prayers and exhortations.) After the confession (and the indicated prayer), the priest pronounces permissive (perfect) prayer:


Usually, when the author permits from his sins, the confessor covers the penitent penitent, and when he says the end of the permissive prayer, "signifies in the cross the right hand (penitential) of the penitent" (Trebnik).

After that: "Worthy", "Glory and Now" and release. The imposition of the epitrachelis on the head of the confessor has the same significance with the laying on of hands and the blessing of the bishop or presbyter, which was used in these cases in the ancient Church (see the Apostolic Decrees, St. Cyprian, etc.). Epitrachel, covering the head of the penitent, also serves as a symbol of the grace of God covering all his sins.

Having received the permission of sins, the confessor kisses the cross and the Gospel, lying on the analo. This, on the one hand, is a sign of his reconciliation with the Lord after the sacrament of Penance, and on the other - a sign of certification that he sincerely confessed all his sins and has a firm intention to avoid confessions of confession, to be a true follower of the Gospel teaching of Jesus Christ Walk after Him, carrying your life-cross.


After confessing his sins, the priest sometimes gives the "repentant canon against his sin," that is, imposes penance on him. (Usually, penance is imposed at the end of the confession, before the permissive prayer.)

Penance, according to the word-production from the Greek language and according to the original meaning, is a prohibition (2 Corinth 2, 6-8), ie spiritual punishment, consisting in the prohibition to have communion with the Church. But since this punishment, according to the teachings of the apostle, must be dissolved by love for the sinner and connected with the thought of the danger from the devil to the sinner during his stay outside of the communion with the Church, the concept of penance includes an indication of the conditions under which the sinner can resume the disturbed peace with the Church and restore the original communication with her. Therefore, penance in general is also a continuation of repentance, and a fruit worthy of true repentance and confession of sins.

A more particular meaning of penance is that it is spiritual healing, destroying the lusts of the flesh and soul that spawn sin, and protecting from those evil deeds from which the penitent is purified; It is an excellent means of teaching to spiritual deeds and patience, the fruit of which is virtue; Finally, it is a guarantee for the Church itself that the penitent hates sin, a condition without which communication with the Church is impossible.

Penance is not an absolute necessity for confession and is appointed by a priest who is penitent only in certain cases, depending on the severity of sin, age, situation, etc.

In the Trebnik there are extracts from Nomokanon about penances. Placed there penances testify that penitential discipline in antiquity and even in the XVI-XVII centuries. Stood at high altitude. (For example, a free killer was excommunicated from Holy Communion for 20 years, an adulterer for 15 years, a fornicator for 7 years, etc.).

At the present time, when there is not that moral fortress that the ancient Christians made persistent in a long penitential feat and enduring with respect to moral and corrective measures, the ancient penances would be beyond our control. Therefore, at the present time, usually in the form of penance, prayer, charity and other good deeds, reading the akathists, the Psalter, daily additional prostrations with Jesus' prayer, strict fasting for a certain period and, finally, the deposition of permission in sins (especially in cases of persistent impenitence) are usually given in the form of penance. and the prohibition for a certain time of communion. The latter is given for especially grave sins. But here, too, one usually has to show more compassion than rigor (especially to those close to despair), leading the sinner who has sinned to the consciousness of unworthiness to receive the Holy Mysteries. However, there should not be too much relaxation, because when the pastor will give permission for all the most serious and mortal sins, and will hesitate to impose penances on necessary cases, he will thereby promote the affirmation among his flocks of easy eyes and the very grave lawlessness, which leads to a lofty attitude towards the requirements of moral purity and holiness of life, insensitivity to the unapproachable holiness of the Mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ.

Above those who have finished penance, is read "Prayer over the one permitted by the prohibition", to which he is freed from the "proper bond" and is introduced into communion with the Church. According to ecclesiastical rules, no one else can forbid the forbidden except for the ban, excluding the cases of the death of the prohibitor, as well as the death of the penitent.

In the Grand Book there is a prayer for the permission of the excommunicated from communion (Chapter 49), for the resolution of various bonds of conscience (Chapter 46, 49-50).


The sacraments of Baptism and Chrismation, correctly committed, according to the teachings of the Orthodox Church, are not repeated. On this basis and according to the church rules (Carthage Cathedral, 68 pr., Basil the Great, 1, 73, 8 pr, Peter Alexandria, 1-13, Sixth Ecumenical Council, 17 etc.), Christians of other confessions, correct baptized and anointed, and Christians who deny Christ, who have fallen into Judaism or Mohammedanism, or split, the Orthodox Church reunites through the sacrament of Penance. A clergyman who denies Christ, but repents, is accepted as a layman and can no longer be a clergyman (in a sacred dignity) - see the First Ecumenical Council, 10 pr; The Apostolic Rule 62; Peter of Alexandria, 10 pr.

The rite of admission of Christians of other confessions and those who fell into another faith is that a person who is seeking communion with the Orthodox Church is preliminarily tested in the purity of his intention, instructed in the teaching of the Orthodox Church, confesses his sins, but does not receive permission.

He is then led to the gates of the temple, where the Church meets him singing the 33-th psalm. Here he is popular, kneeling, confessing his repentance and the desire for reunification. Then the Church, with the blessing and laying the priest's hand on the head of the reunited, pleads with the Lord to take him into his verbal herd and decorate him with the glory of the holy name of Christ, and gives new or restores the former, but trampled, Christian name.

Then the reunited, turning to the west, pronounces a renunciation of former errors, and turning to the east, combines Christ, pronounces the confession of the Orthodox faith, accompanying him with an oath in the sincerity of his conversion.

Then he enters the temple, which until now has been closed to him, while singing the 56 Psalm, depicting the hope of God's mercy. In the temple, kneeling before the Gospel, he listens to the penitential psalms: 50, 37 and 142, and two prayers in which the Church prays to the Lord to kindle in him the spark of saving Baptism lying in his soul, and, like the dead and Found sheep, attach it to the chosen herd.

Finally, the reunited person receives permission for sin and, at the same time, the right to communicate with the Church.


In the Great Book (Chapters 97 and 98) there is "Follow the Methodius of the patriarch about the rejection of various persons, and to the Orthodox believers of the true faith." This rank refers to those who disowned (or disappeared) from the Orthodox faith through irrationality, at an early age, or under pain of death, or through their evil will. The first and second are accepted with penance, the latter are separated from the Holy Communion of the Holy Mysteries, which is taught to them only before death. Above the converts, a ritual of bathing is performed (but not Baptism, which does not repeat) as a reminder of the purity of baptism lost through apostasy, then cleansing prayers are read. After that, over those of those who disappeared, who completely denied Christ and confessed pagan atheism, the ceremony of anointing is performed, which serves not as a repetition of this sacrament, but as a sign that those who have fallen away from the faith return again the grace that they lost through the rejection of Christ. This rank is now out of use in the Church. The reception of those who have fallen away is accomplished through repentance with penance.

The rite of joining the seduced into the schism is accomplished on the basis of the previous rank, but differs from it in greater brevity.

After the preliminary preparation, the announcement, the denial of his delusions and the combination of Christ, he is introduced into the temple by singing the 26 psalm and here to him, kneeling, the prayer is read that the Lord will kindle a spark of saving baptism in him. After reading the Creed (standing), the person being attached kisses the Gospel and receives permission. At the same time, the same permissive prayer is used, which also allows other converting apostates from Christianity. After that, the confessor confesses and receives Holy Communion.

If the one who addresses from the schism is not anointed or has anointing from the schismatic priests, then after committing him to the Orthodox Church he will be anointed by the Holy World after the order of being added to Orthodoxy through anointment, and afterwards confesses and receives Holy Mysteries at the Liturgy.[10]

[1]Rev. Ephraim the Syrian. The word 990e // Creation. Part VI, ed. 1848, p. 175.

[2]Thursday is a dull week. Tripes, a song 4.

[3]St. Gregory the Great. Pastoral letters, X, 9.

[4]St. Gregory the Theologian. The word 20.

[5]St. John Chrysostom. Conversations on Matt. 15, 8.

[6]It is also placed in the Trebnik in 2-h h., Part 1.

[7]See "Reminding the Priest of His Responsibilities in the Conduct of the Sacrament of Penance" (Plato, Archbishop of Kostroma). M., 1870. Part 1, p. 50-51.

[8]In the form of a manual for preparing a priest for confession (what should be a priest-confessor, questions on confession, etc.), you can specify the following books: Plato, Archbishop. Kostroma. Reminder to the priest about his duties in performing the sacrament of Penance: in 2 parts (there were several editions: 10 ed M., 1861, 3-e M., 1895).

Gr. Dyachenko, the priest. Questions on confession. M., 1897

Peter Silin, prot. Orthodox confession, or the sacrament of Penance. St. Petersburg, 1902.

Bulgakov. A handbook for the clergymen.

Parvev A., prot. Practical guide for the performance of duties.

The confession of sins is general, spoken before the priest on behalf of the penitent. Kiev, Tigris. Kievo-Pecs. Laurels, 1893.

Anthony (Khrapovitsky), the Metropolitan. Confession. Warsaw, 1928.

[9]The same penitential canon to the Most Holy Theotokos in processing was located in Prayers ed. K.-P. Laurels under the name: "The canon is a moleben for the confession of a sinner".

[10]Admission to the Orthodox Church from the schism (who fell into schism)

Through repentance is performed according to a special following: "Chin, what do you take from the schismatics in conjunction with the Orthodox Church coming?" M., 1891.

See also "Book of accession officials to Orthodoxy": in 2 parts.

10. Ed. St. Petersburg, 1895. Part 1.

A source: Orthodoxy.Ru | Liturgics: Sacraments and Rites

Author: Germogen Shimansky

Tags: Religion, Christianity