Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The good confessor

Some years ago I was at Holy Archangels Greek Orthodox Monastery in Kendalia, TX, and picked up a copy of the book Wounded by Love which the below quoted passage is from. The monks let you borrow books from the bookstore while you're there and I found the writing style to be engaging enough for the occasion (the mix of heat and physical activity there can be soporific). The blog Discerning Thoughts had republished one of the sections I remember most fondly:

After two years they made me a confessor (Presbyters/’priests’ are not ‘made’ confessors due to the event of their Ordination to the Presbytery). On a great feast day when there were lots of people present they took me to the bishop’s residence and they officially read the prayer for becoming a spiritual father (confessor). I was very young. What did I know about it! And. foolish wretch, I was thick-headed into the bargain. I was still uneducated; I didn’t know the penitential canons. And, with incredible stupidity. what did I do? I bowed my head in obedience. Now I realize my folly. At the time I wasn’t so aware of it.

How the monks and lay people that came for confession loved me! I heard confessions there day and night non-stop. I started early in the morning and I continued all through the day and throughout the night and the next day and the next night without interruption. I went forty eight hours without eating. Fortunately, God took care of me and gave my sister the inspiration to bring me some milk to drink. There was a stairway with lots of steps leading up to the confessional and the people would come up to make confession. They waited all night long for their turn. When they left they would say to each other, ‘Now there’s a priest who’s a knower of hearts!’ I remember they used the Albanian word for priest, priftis. I stayed there for fifteen years. (@ the Monastery of Saint Charalambos/Χαράλαμπος)

When they would come I used to ask questions. I would ask: ‘How old are you? Whom do you live with?’ One would say, ‘With my wife’, another would say, ‘With my parents’, and another, ‘I live on my own’. Then I would continue: ‘What have you studied? What’s your job? How long is it since you made confession? How long is it since you received Holy Communion?’ and so on. And then depending on what he said to me I would speak to him a little and. because there was a queue waiting outside, I would say, ‘What do you remember now, my child? What do you feel is weighing on your soul, on your conscience? What transgressions have you committed, what sins?’ And he would gradually begin to confess his errors and I would help him along a little, having told him first that truly he must say everything just as he feels it...

Complete post here.


  1. Replies
    1. Certainly. His stories about life on Athos were eye-opening as well.