come receive the light
When I reject the way of repentance, I reject God.
When I chose to remain in sin, I expel God from my heart.
But as soon as I turn from my sin, God enters my heart.
And when He does, I discover my place in the Church,
which is His body and His bride.
Elder Aemilianos of Simonopetra
The Sacrament of Confession, is for an Orthodox Christian, the turning from sin and coming to one’s senses. One is conscious of their unworthiness, yet joyfully receives the longed for, heartwarming embrace from the Father.
It is the lost sheep returning to the flock, borne on the shoulders of the Good Shepherd.
The Church Fathers tell us that gift of repentance is the work of divine grace, which we, then, wholeheartedly offer and return to God. Saint John Chrysostom says that “repentance opens up heaven“.
While the Sacrament of Confession is the same for Orthodox world-wide, different localities may offer their own customs.
Over the summer, at a monastery retreat, Confession was available during the Divine Liturgy, in a side nave of the Church. The nave was dark except for a candle stand with one lit candle and a monk priest.
“The light of Christ illumines.” (1)
Only a few partook of Confession, but as each communicant received the prayer of absolution, she lit a new candle from the flame of the Confesson before her, so that with each new flame, the blaze and glow of each Confession literally overcame the darkness of that little chapel.
A powerfully striking impression that says more than words ever could. What a joy to behold – that as each woman left, heart lightened and unburdened – the tiny chapel became lighter and brighter. Repentance overcoming darkness and returning to the light of Christ, which illumines the faithful.
Like the Resurrection service of Pascha, Confession invites us again and again, to “discover our place within the Church” and continue on this journey redeeming the time.
“Come take ye light, that is never overtaken by night, and come glorify Christ, Who is risen from the dead“.(2)
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(1) Orthodox Service of the Presanctified Liturgy
(2) Orthodox Christian service of Pascha