What makes this so special? Well I heard confessions from people who had not been to confession in 35 years and also people who had never had a sacramental confession before. People confessed sins that they had been carrying around with them for most of their live and were finally able to put words to what they were feeling. These were not your typical five minutes before liturgy confessions and I was honored to be asked to participate.
The interesting thing about Emmanuel is that it is a Western Rite Parish. Okay before you liturgical purists out there jump all over me rest assured that the Western Rite is as canonical as the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil, St. James, or any of the other liturgies that we presently use in the Orthodox Church. Liturgy has been around for a long time and did not always look like what we are used too on Sunday morning.
The ritual is actually very beautiful and very simple. I was surprised at how simple it was. No triple litanies, just simple get to it kind of ritual.
Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.
May the Lord be in thy heart and upon thy lips, that thou mayest worthily confess all thy sins; In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
I confess to God Almighty, to all the Saints, and to you, Father, that I have sinned very much in thought, word, deed, and omission, by my own great fault. Since my last confession, which was (how long ago), when I received absolution and performed my penance, I have committed there sins: (get down to it). For these and all my other sins which I cannot remember, I am very sorry. I will try to do better, and I humbly ask pardon of God; and of you, Father, penance, advice, and absolution.
Our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath left power to His Church to absolve all sinners who truly repent and believe in Him, of His great mercy forgive three thine offenses; And by His authority committed to me, I absolve three from all thy sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Penance was new to me. Well not new in the sense of doing penance, I grew up Roman Catholic, but the giving of penance. I don’t think there is a proscription against the giving of penance in the Orthodox Church but it just seems that it is not done. If anyone of the readers has any other information this please leave me some comments. I need to research further this concept of penance in the Orthodox Church.
This was such a wonderful event and I was honored to be part of it. People actually confessed their actual sins, stuff they have been carrying around for years and in most cases while the absolution prayer was being recited, they came to tears, tears of joy that they were once and for all forgiven of all that stuff they had been carrying around for year.
One older woman, she had to be in her late 70’s confessed something from when she was a teenager. She had never confessed it before and had been carry this around with her all those years. She told me she felt like a great weight had been lifted from her shoulders. Praise God!
We do not know how lucky were are to belong to a church with sacramental confession. It is too bad more people do not partake of this on a regular basis. Yours truly included. If you are from St. Mike’s prepare to hear more about this tomorrow.