Sunday, November 4, 2018

Met Ephrem (Kyriakos): Confession

Arabic original here.


They say that the Orthodox Church doesn't have confession.

But how can this be, when Saint Isaac the Syriac says, "One who confesses his sins is greater than one who raises the dead"? He adds, "One who confesses his sins, repenting of them, is like one brought from death to life."

The Lord Jesus Himself, after the resurrection, appeared to the disciples and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" (John 20:22-23).

The mystery of repentance and confession is the renewal of our baptism. The priest first of all performs this mystery-- I mean, hearing the confessions of his spiritual children-- by providing them spiritual guidance, keeping up with their life and forgiving their sins.

I know very well that many people go to monasteries and take monks as their spiritual fathers. This is blessed and the Church does not prevent this. But this never negates the fact that the priest of their parish is expected to be, before anyone else, a spiritual father for them in every sense of the word.

The priest's duties are not limited to performing prayers, most importantly the Divine Liturgy, and performing religious duties such as the mystery of baptism, weddings, and funerals. He must keep up with things in the life of his parish from every angle, naturally with the assistance of the members of his parish council.

He is the one primarily responsible for providing instruction, by gathering his flock under the shelter of the Orthodox Church: children, youth and families...

Each parish has an obligation to have continuous weekly instruction of children, youth and families.

Likewise the priest must get to know his parish closely and keep up with the situation and problems of each family, especially problems in marriages, before disputes build up between husband and wife and they resort to the spiritual court.

Of course, he can cooperate with those whom he finds capable of helping him: parishioners, members of the parish council, and specialized diocesan departments.

I will say it again: the priest's calling is first and foremost to be a "father" according to the words of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians, "For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the Gospel" (1 Corinthians 4:15).

Of course, the Church saw fit to grant, by way of the bishop, the priest to become a spiritual father and to perform the mystery of confession, on the basis of his discerning and supervising talents.

Beloved, today we live in an age where new difficulties have multiplied for young people and families, whether with regard to electronics and social media or through the spread of heresies and deviant practices.

Therefore we must remain eager to keep the tradition of our holy fathers in our Orthodox Christian Church in which the priest plays a leading role, not only in matters of material administration, but also and especially in matters of social and spiritual behavior.

Metropolitan of Tripoli, al-Koura and their Dependencies

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