The Forgotten Medicine: The Mystery of Repentence

The Forgotten Medicine: The Mystery of Repentence

Book Review/Summary by Rev. Richard Andrews
1-12-2003

  • CONFESSION
    • The way to become worthy again.
    • Done when repentance is sincere and deep with a desire to start a new life.
    • Heart is cleansed from waste of sin.
    • Demons are chased away (deadly parasites of the heart).
    • Windows of soul are opened. God’s fresh grace blows in.
    • Thoughts, ideas, feelings, desires put in order (chaos overcome).
    • Soul is adorned, decorated to accept most marvelous guest—Jesus Christ.
  • SIN
    • Greater evil than any disease, poverty, death, disaster (p.18).
    • Misfortunes can be used to bring the soul closer to God thru humility, faith and patience.
    • Causes discord, quarrels, disagreements, malice.
    • Makes soul proud, embittered. Makes heart envious. Drives out holiness. Invites demons. Separates us from God. Brings darkness. Teaches lies, gluttony, selfishness, slander, judging, stealing.
    • Fills us with anger, rage, revenge (p.18-19).
    • Diseases of the body can be external (visible) and internal (hidden). Sin, a disease of the soul, can be visible and invisible. God’s eyes are like spiritual x-rays that see everything.
    • Is a transgression of the law (1John 3:4). The highest law is the will of God. Punishments can be temporary or eternal. Temporary punishments- often sent by God to awaken or correct us (p.20).
    • St. John Climacus speaks of two kinds of waters that can wash away sin: 1) baptism, 2) tears of repentance (p.21).
  • FORGOTTEN MEDICINE
    • God promises to remit sins (Isaiah 1:18).
    • St. Mark the Ascetic- We condemn ourselves not because of the multitude of our evils, but because we do not want to repent.
    • Jesus, the Son of God, granted the power to forgive sins to the Apostles and their successors in the bishops and priests (John 20:22-23; Matthew 18:18)
    • Sacrament of Confession- can cure spiritual leprosy (see Luke 17:14).
  • OBJECTIONS TO CONFESSIONS
    • I’m so sinful! Can God forgive my sins? God is all-merciful and all-powerful. We cannot save ourselves.
    • I have no special sins! We become too accustomed to the stench of our own sins (see 1John 1:8-9). Wild beasts versus microbes. Clock stops because of dust.
    • Why confess when I know I’ll sin again tomorrow? How can we expect to grow and mature without trying. Abba Sisoes- get up until your death. Swamp—shore. Washing hands.
    • I confess before God. Why do I need a priest? Holy Communion (see John 20:23) We are not ashamed before the Omnipotent God because we don’t see Him. Confidentiality of priest. Priest’s sinfulness does not hinder God’s grace (sunray in muddy water). Confessing to one man (the priest) will prevent our sins from being discussed by many people.
    • I need the priest only for prayer of absolution! Problem often created by priests. Holy Communion preparation (see 1Corinthians 11:27). Knots of conscience need to be touched to be untied. Water must be touched to wash. Illness must be diagnosed correctly to be treated properly (morphine).
  • RULES FOR SAVING CONFESSION (p.41)
    • Is confession enough? No, we must have faith/trust in God’s mercy. Compare Judas with Peter.
    • How to prepare? Get away from noise of everyday life, gather thoughts, pray, remember sins, write them down.
    • With the Priest-
    • Christ’s Infirmary- Priest prescribes remedies; God works miracles.
    • No False Fear or Shame- St. Basil says, “The hidden sin is an incurable sickness of the soul.”
    • No Excuses- This is not repentance. We must suffer self-exposure.
    • Do not Conceal- We double our sin if we conceal it. Confession breaks friendship with demons.
    • Be Specific-
    • Be Brief and Accurate-
    • Do not Tell of Other People’s Sins- Do not mention names
    • Do not Boast- Do not say what sins you have not done. Spiritual pride is a result of dulled moral sense which happens when we stay away from the church/sacraments too long.
    • Blame No One Else- Adam and Eve are an example of blaming.
    • Desire to Sin No More- Proof of repentance is a changed life. Ex. of smoker who goes against doctor’s advice
    • After Confession- fulfill any penance given.
      • Forgive with all your heart (see Matthew 6:14-15)
      • Give up bad road forever. Close your eyes to temptation.
      • Return anything stolen. Confession of stealing without restoration cannot be forgiven.
      • God will not despise a broken and humbled heart (Psalm 50:19)
      • Superficial, cool, formal, slack confessions have no benefit.
  • CLOSING QUESTIONS
    • What priest to confess to? 
      • Any Orthodox priest. Experience is helpful but not necessary.
    • When to confess?
      • Don’t wait until Great Lent or sick in the hospital when your tongue may be tied or your conscience dimmed.
      • ASAP when necessary
      • Burdened by guilt
      • Conscience tweaked by God
      • Four fast periods of church year (Great Lent, Advent, Theotokos, Apostles).
      • Preparation for Holy Communion- HC is a two-edged sword. It sanctifies and burns. Ex. Giving the best food to a sick stomach can upset it even more. Confession cleans the wounds of the soul. HC is the ointment that prepares the soul for the Bridegroom.
    • Our conscience is a watchful guard in front of a clean house.
    • Revelation 3:20 Christ is knocking at the door of our heart.
    • Psalm 31:1 Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.

You may contact Fr. Rick to schedule an appointment for the Sacrament of Confession