Bearing the Shame of Confession

ntropi stin eksomologisi

From «Remember thy First Love» by Archimandrite Zacharias Zacharou

Question: In taking the steps which you have presented W to us, the most difficult thing, I think, is to overcome the rear of shame. This is what I try to do in my parish. People will not come to confession although their souls are burdened and things are driving them crazy, because they cannot overcome the shame to admit their sins. How do you lead people in this direction?

Answer: I think that the strength to bear shame is a gift from God. When I was a young and inexperienced spiritual father, Elder read more… Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Elder Ephraim’s radio interview on Sky (ΣΚΑΪ 100,3) on the Dormition of our Lady

The Abbot of Vatopedi monastery, Archimandrite Ephraim, spoke on the radio programme “Η Γκίζα κάπου αλλού” (Gisa somewhere else) of ΣΚΑΪ (Sky) 100,3 FM on Saturday 14th August 2010, on the eve of the feast of the Dormition of our Lady, Mother of God. Elder Efrem was celebrating the feast at the Vatopedi Metohi of Porto Lagos.
Here is the full text of the interview. read more… Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

An exclusive interview by the Abbot of the Great and Holy Monastery of Vatopedi, Elder Efrem (16 May 2010)

to Yianna Papadakou

“Our meeting in 2006 was an initiative by Karamanlis”

Father Efrem unleashes both fire and meaningful messages against members of the Karamanlis government in an interview with the Kyrakatiki (Sunday) Elefterotypia, shortly before the final verdict of the investigating committee for the Vatopedi scandal.

He reveals that it was the then Prime Minster Karamanlis who had the initiative to meet with him at the Holy Mount Athos back in July 2006!However, he insists that the only subject of the discussion was the creation of the ‘Saint Gregorios Palamas’ Foundation. But, he avoids connecting the establishment of the Foundation at the Olympic land, even though its building plans had been in place since 2006, something the then Prime Minister knew about. read more… Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

L’Ancien Éphrem de Katounakia (6/12/1912 – 27/2/1998) – (10) Paroles sur le sacerdoce

L'Ancien Éphrem de Katounakia avec son neveu spirituel, l'Higoumène Éphrem de Vatopaidi, à Katounakia et à Vatopaidi, où il vénère la Sainte Ceinture de la Vierge parmi d'autres saintes reliques

Quand tu célèbres, prends en considération le fait que tu es un médiateur. Que tu reçois du monde souffrance, larmes, maladies, supplications pour les faire monter jusqu’au trône de la divinité. De là tu rapportes au monde la consolation, la guérison, ce dont chacun a besoin. De quelle grande dignité Dieu ne t’a pas jugé digne, mon enfant ! Cultive-la. L’oreille de Dieu est proche de la bouche du Prêtre. Qu’elle est grande la puissance de l’étole ! L’étole, c’est la réconciliation de l’homme déchu avec son Créateur. Encore… Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Q & A: Holy Communion and Confession

Question: How many times a year must one receive Holy Communion? Is the Sacrament of Confession necessarily tied to Holy Communion?

Answer: Holy Communion is not absolutely linked to Confession. In the ancient Church, people had the Grace of God in them; they were in a state of enlightenment of the nous* and they of course prayed and received Holy Communion frequently. When someone committed a sin, it meant that they had forfeited the Grace of God, in which case, they would remain outside the Temple, together with the catechumens. This is because one cannot have the Grace of God and yet deny Christ. When one sins, and especially in the flesh – and I am not referring to the carnal relations within a marriage in Christ – it shows that they are preferring carnal pleasure more than Christ and as such, are denying Christ in practice. This reduces them to the ranks of the repentants, and they will need to re-attain the state of enlightenment of the nous, following a specific procedure.

In Basil the Great and other Fathers, we notice that there were four ranks of Christians. Firstly, there were the «forgiveness-seekers», who sat outside the Holy Temple and asked for forgiveness from the Christians that went into the Temple. Secondly, there were the «beseechers», who remained in the Temple only up to the recitings of the Divine Liturgy and would depart along with the catechumens. Thirdly there were the «aligned», who remained in place until the end of the Divine Liturgy, but without receiving Holy Communion. And fourthly, there were the partakers of Holy Communion. In other words, when someone committed a sin, they would have to go through a period of repentance and repentance meant that the person had to reach the enlightenment of the nous through catharsis – he would have to alter his nous, and from a darkened state make it light again. The Bishop would then read a blessing and that person could afterwards receive Holy Communion.

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What The Church Fathers Say about Confession

Enter into the Church and wash away your sins. For there is a hospital for sinners and not a court of law. St. John Chrysostom .

This, my son, is how you should begin your life according to God. You should continually and unceasingly call to mind all the blessings which God in His love has bestowed upon you in the past, and still bestows for the salvation of your soul. You must not let forgetfulness of evil or laziness make you grow unmindful of these many and great blessings, and so pass the rest of your life uselessly and ungratefully. For this kind of continual recollection, pricking the heart like a spur, moves it constantly to confession and humility, to thanksgiving with a contrite soul, and to all forms of sincere effort, repaying God through its virtue and holiness. In this way the heart meditates constantly and conscientiously on the words from the Psalms: «What shall I render unto the Lord for all that He hath rendered unto me?» (Ps. 115:3). .

Venerable Mark the Ascetic

From the Letter to Nicolas the Solitary .

Regarding the rest of mankind, you should pray for them unceasingly, for we can always hope that repentance may enable them to find their way to God. Give them a chance to learn from you, or, at all events, from the way you behave. Meet their animosity with mildness, their high words with humility, and their abuse with your prayers. But stand firm against their errors, and if they grow violent, be gentle instead of wanting to pay them back in their own coin. Let us show by our forbearance that we are brothers, and try to imitate the Lord by seeing which of us can put up with the most ill-usage or privation or contempt so that in this way none of the devil’s noxious weeds may take root among you, but that you rest in Jesus Christ in all sanctity and discipline of body and soul. .

Holy Hieromartyr Ignatius the Godbearer of Antioch .

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«Prayer: the test, the source, the driving force… of all things»

First Christians of Kiev. Painting by Vasily Perov (1880)

First Christians of Kiev. Painting by Vasily Perov (1880)

By Fr. Andrew Jarmus

«Prayer is the test of everything; prayer is also the source of everything; prayer is the driving force of everything; prayer is also the director of everything. If prayer is right, everything is right. For prayer will not allow anything to go wrong.» — St. Theophan the Recluse

Perhaps the most popular and basic definition of prayer is that it is a conversation with God. While this is essentially true, Orthodox Christianity, looks upon prayer as something even deeper than «conversation».

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Sacrament of Confession


St. Cosmas Aitolos

Perhaps the most misunderstood sacrament of the Christian Church is confession (or repentance). How did it originate? What role does a priest play? Is there a special procedure for confession? The Holy Scriptures hold answers to these questions.

God’s Word promises «If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness» (1 John 1:9). The faithful are to bring their sins to God in repentance and receive cleansing and forgiveness.

The early Christians would stand and confess their sins to God in the presence of the whole congregation. Jesus encouraged His followers to walk in the light together, to confront problems corporately, to «tell it to the church» (Matt. 18:17). Thus James writes, «Confess your trespasses to one another» (James 5:16). But as time went on and the Church grew in numbers, strangers came to visit and public confession became more difficult. Out of mercy, priests began to witness confessions of sin privately on behalf of the Church.

Jesus, giving His disciples the authority to forgive sin, said, «If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained» (John 20:23; c.f. Matt. 16:19, 18:17-19). From the beginning, Christians understood that the grace of ordination endowed the shepherd of the flock with the discernment and compassion to speak the words of remission, on behalf of Christ, regarding the sins of those who confess and turn from sin. For God has promised the removing of sin from us «as far as the east is from the west» (Ps. 103:12). St. John Chrysostom says, «The priests decree below, God confirms above, and the Master agrees with the opinion of His slaves». Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »


jesus confessional 1By Archpriest Aleksiy Uminskiy Translated by Zhanna Menshikova

If we understand that confession is not merely a conversation with a priest but one’s turning to God, then it should be treated by a penitent not as an opportunity to receive advice and consolation from a wise and kind priest, but as the way to turn to Christ through one’s own spiritual labours. As the Holy Fathers say: «God saves us, but not without our participation». The Sacrament of Penance can be performed in various ways subject to the circumstances of one’s life. A penitent can repent in front of a priest, who is using a stole and prayerbook, or the penitent can repent outside the church without any of the mentioned attributes, as it was the case over the period of religious persecution. The only thing neccesary for the sacrament to take effect is the repentance itself. The sacrament may not have effect even if all conditions of the procedure are met with, that is, the repentance has been received by the priest with the stole, prayerbook, cross and Gospel, all the prayers have been said, the sinner’s head has been covered with the stole and the remission of sins has been granted. How does this sacrament work then? As we have already mentioned, this is one of the most mysterious sacraments. Everything in it can be characterised as ineffable, indescribable or inexplicable. Only by performing the outer part of the rite can we consciously participate in the sacrament. As much as it is beyond our understanding to describe how God created the world with the Word, so much it is impossible to describe how God re-creates man. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Selected Passages From The Teachings of Saint Kosmas

St Kosmas the Aetolian

St Kosmas the Aetolian


It is proper to begin our teaching with God, and when we finish it to thank God – not that I am worthy to mention and utter the name of God, but I am sure that God suffers me to do so through His great and infinite compassion.

God, the all-good and most merciful, my brethren, is one, and whoever says that there are many Gods is a devil. He is triune: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; yet one nature, one glory, one kingdom, one God. He is all light, all joy, all compassion, all love.

This All-holy Trinity we pious Orthodox Christians glorify and worship. He is the true God, and all other so-called gods are demons. And it is not we along that believe, glorify, and worship the Holy Trinity, but angels, archangels, and all the heavenly hosts, as numerous as the stars of the heavens and the grains of the sand of the sea unceasingly praise in hymns and worship and glorify this All-holy Trinity. Again, out of their love for the Holy Trinity men and women as numerous as the stars of the heavens and the grains of the sand of the sea spilt their blood, and as many renounced the world and went to the deserts and led a life of spiritual endeavor, and still as many lived in the world with temperance and virginity, fasting, prayer, almsgiving and other practices; and all went to Paradise and rejoice forever. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »