–by Archbishop Gavrilo
“The sick one who is acquainted with his sickness is easily to be cured; and he who confesses his pain is near to health.”
+ St. Isaac the Syrian, Mystic Treatises
My dear brothers and sisters, this is a very brief and rather pragmatic treatise on the importance of Holy Confession in your life. Yes, in yours. And yours. And yours.
Those who know me know that I am no great theologian. No matter my official ecclesiastical title, I am a village bishop, I have a couple small parishes in the Czech Republic, and a handful of families scattered around the country that I regularly visit and serve Holy Mysteries to. But, I am nothing if I am not a shepard to those that God entrusted in my pastoral care. I love my parishioners and our scattered families, I care for them dearly. I help them in both the spiritual way and in my civil capacity (I am a lawyer). In turn, they share their lives with me, their bishop. And this allows me to see the importance of regularly coming to Holy Confession.
Life is hard as it is. Problems in the family, at work or school, problems with money, the house, and let us not forget health, too. The world has a tendency (or ability) to suck us in, to swallow us. When that happens, and it does not happen suddenly, no (we would notice that easily, it happens gradually and slowly), we allow the world to cut us off from God. The channel he were on, the pillar of light in which we walked, is no longer here. Both the dropping of our focus (from God to the World) and our being busy “with mundane things” have the consequence of us easily falling prey to the temptations and seductions of Fallen Angels.
Let us not be mistaken here, let us not fall to the heresy of “modern thinking”. There are millions of Fallen Angels living here with us, in this world. They are ruled by the Enemy, who tempted Christ himself, several times (and failed miserably). They have been in this world for a very long time, since time immemorial. They are very, very skilled at tempting and seducing, oh yes they are. They have mastered this art in tempting and seducing millions of souls before they eventually got to you. But now it is your turn! If we lose focus, if we allow this world to suck us in, we drop our spiritual defenses. Our free will makes it impossible for God to use violence on us, break us into focusing on Him again, even if it were spiritually beneficial to us. The evil spirits will attack us, and eventually we will fall. And not once. As a confessioner I see it clearly. If one falls a little, unless he returns to the bossom of his mother, the Church, as soon as possible, it is easier for him to fall again. And deeper. And again. A spiral of sin is starting to spin, and trust me it leads to dark places.
Thus, I urge you all: never, never, never wait. You stand up and go to confess your sins to your priest or bishop. Christ sees no reason why you should carry your sins on your soul, stained with them and darkenned badly, for a single moment longer. He, as the perfect lamb, gave himself for our sins precisely so that we would not have to be dragged in the mud. Do not give Satan and his army of darkness (and I do not mean the bad taste horror movie from 1992) any room, it is a bad idea.
We all walk on the path leading towards the gates of the Kingdom of Heaven. The path is narrow, and full of thorns. Sometimes, we step outside the path. Sometimes, we stumble, and fall in the mud. But we are not pigs, we do not need to stay in the mud, rolling around and getting even muddier. We need to stand up, wash ourselves, and be on our way again. Ultimately, it is not about how often we fall, not even about how deep we fall, but about how gladly we stand up again and come to Christ, kneel before his Church, bow our heads and ask forgiveness through his blood and through his cross.
I often have a dream, it comes to me regularly. For all the Fallen Angels who tempt us and seduce us, there are two or three around us who pray fervently and without cease that we pierce the veil of darkness that was put over our eyes, look in the mirror and see our sin for what it is. That we then come to confess our sins, right away! And they rejoice beyond human words for every time we, fallen sinners, take up the courge and of our own free will come and receive forgiveness. They, too, have been around for a very long time. They are great, kind, loving, beautiful, we cannot compare to them. And yet their greatest joy in all their long, angelic lives is seeing penitent humans come before the Church that Christ gave us, bow our heads, bend our knees and in repentance ask God to forgive the sin through the blood of Christ. This dream is very powerful, and I have it often. I believe there is a reason. I believe we humans are gradually becoming numb, our conscience is no longer very sharp. It is vital that I share this revelation with you. There is a reason you came across this small treatise. The Holy Spirit leads people where he sees fit. If but a single one of you, dear readers, takes this to his heart and goes to Holy Confession, there you have it, the reason God gives me this dream, in His divine providence, over and over again.
So, let me end with the wise words of Hieroschemamonk St. Anatoly Zertsalov, for all those who seek salvation in the arms of their loving mother, the Church:
“During the time of temptation, flee to the Physician, crying out with the Holy Church, our mother: “O God, number me with the thief, the harlot, and the publican, and save me!”
+ St. Anatoly of Optina, Living Without Hypocrisy
+Gavrilo, Archbishop of Moravia, GOC-A
Archbishop Gavrilo is the Archbishop of Moravia in the Holy Metropolitan Synod of Genuine Orthodox Christians (ΓOX) of the Patristic Calendar, sometimes referred to as the GOC-A. He has been charged with building an True Orthodox diocese in the Czech Republic from scratch. Many years, Vladyka and may God bless you in your missionary journey! – Fr. Irineos