A few days ago I posted the goals and dreams of my archbishop +Timothy. One of them was ti increase the use of Confession. In the Spiritual Fitness Plan tract, one of the suggestions is to get to confession. But, how?, some might ask. Especially if they've been away awhile.
Here is an excellent [and short!] set of queries preparatory to Confession, courtest of Archpriest William DeBovik, an Orthodox pastor and a listserv acquaintance; first used in his parish bulletin, I believe:
Coming To Confession? Let's Prepare
We all by now should be following the teachings of the Church in
preparing to receive Communion. But, how do we prepare for Confession?
No one lives without sinning. It is sad, but true. Sin is anything
that separates us from God; the missing the mark of the teachings of the
Church, which seeks to united us to God. We may be so cold spiritually
that we are indifferent to sin. Some, even though sincere, may not
recognize sin to the delight of Satan. Others may be confused. It is
through God's Grace--and we must open ourselves to that Grace--that we
come to know our sins.
And, as in all things we do or try to accomplish, we need to pray
as we prepare for this Sacrament of Repentance. We benefit in our
preparation by using the Trisagion Prayers, as well as reading and
praying some of the Psalms, especially Psalm 51. (After Confession we
benefit from Psalms 23, 24 and 116 as well as others.), and the Canons.
We need to examine ourselves, which we should do each day, before
our participation in individual Confession. We need to ask God to open
us up to our weaknesses and guide us through His strength. We need to
look at our attitudes, words, thoughts, actions toward each others;
toward our Church and her clergy and hierarchs; and first and foremost
toward God. When we come to Confession we come to be forgiven by God of
our sins, the authority for which He exercises through His priests.
From there we can work on our repentance-that is the changing of
our minds and hearts, our directions, so that we may live a life more
closely united with God, and thus find true fulfillment in this world
that will carry us into eternity.
What are some areas in which we need to examine ourselves? Here are
some questions to assist us:
1. Do I pray mornings and evenings?
2. Do I attend, whenever possible, and am I attentive at Church
Services Sundays, evenings, Feasts?
3. Do I thank God for all things?
4. Do I use God's name in vain?
5. Do I wish anyone harm?
6. Do I judge persons, or harshly criticize others?
7. Do I envy others?
8. Do I rejoice in the good fortune of others?
9. Do I engage in gossip?
10. Do I respect my children and my parents?
11. Am I obedient to the Church? Her hierarchs? Her clergy?
12. Do I show respect toward the bishops, priests and deacons of the
13. Have I helped others in need?
14. Do I pray for those who need God's mercy?
15. Have I regularly read God's word in the Bible?
16. Do I give joyfully to the Church?
17. Is there anything or anyone that I would not give up for Christ?
18. Do I try to see Christ in each person that I meet?
19. If I had the opportunity, would I physically care for another?
20. Have I physically or mentally hurt my spouse?
21. Have I supported and shown love to my husband or wife?
22. Have I mistreated animals or anything living in God's Kingdom on
23. Have I been a good steward of the earth?
24. Have I forsaken my faith and the teachings of the Church to please
another or to fit in with others?
25. Have I participated in abortion or encouraged someone to do so?
26. Is God and His Church truly the priority in my life? Do I come to
Church to worship and to pray?
27. Have I hurt myself or another physically or spiritually?
28. Do I doubt God in any situation?
29. Am I sorry for my sins?
30. Do I truly desire to be a better Orthodox Christian?