Fragment of the new book “God’s Law”
Before the revolution in primary and secondary schools, the law of God was an obligatory subject. Now times have changed, but people are eager to study this most important discipline on their own or in Sunday schools, helping them to touch the Holy Scriptures and the Tradition of the Church.
Were widely known for the publication of manuals on the Law of God, prepared by archpriest Seraphim Slobodsky, Alexander Vvedensky, Maxim Kozlov. Before you, dear reader, a completely new book. Its authors are representatives of two generations of the priestly dynasty of the Gumerovs: the father is a resident of the Sretensky monastery, the hieromonk Job, and his sons, priests Alexander and Paul. The authors hope that their book will help readers to enter the world of Orthodoxy, will awaken interest in learning the basics of the Christian faith.
We bring to the attention of readers of the portal
Seven Sacraments of the Church
“The Church,” wrote the great shepherd St. John of Kronstadt, “sympathizes and meets all the essential needs of the Christian’s soul and body with active help or giving help by the power of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, in whom every soul lives.”
Of all the sacred actions that are performed in the Orthodox Church, the most significant are Sacraments, in which the invisible grace of God, spiritual, uncreated energy is communicated to the believer in a visible way. It nourishes and heals our spiritual and bodily nature.
Sacraments have Divine origin, as established by Jesus Christ Himself. In each of them, a certain grace is given to the Christian, which is characteristic of this particular Sacrament. The seven sacraments through which the gifts of the Holy Spirit are communicated meet all the essential needs of our spiritual life.
Confession or the sacrament of penance
From sins in confession, God Himself resolves us through a priest who witnesses the Sacrament and has the power from God to knit and solve human sins (see: Matthew 16:19; 18:18) The clergy received this authority in succession from the holy apostles.
You can often hear this statement: “As you, believers, everything is easy: I have sinned – repented, and God forgave everything”. In the Pafnutievo-Borovsky Monastery there was a museum in Soviet times, and after examining the monastery and the museum by the visitors, the guide included a record with the song “Twelve robbers lived” performed by Chaliapin. Fyodor Ivanovich with his velvet bass deduced: “He threw his comrades, threw in the raids, Kudeyar himself went to God and people to serve in the monastery.” After listening to the recording, the guide said something like: “Well, this is what the Church teaches: sin, steal, rob, then you can repent anyway.” Such is the unexpected interpretation of the famous song. Is it so? Indeed, there are people who perceive the sacrament of confession in this way. It seems that such a “confession” will not bring benefit. Man will approach the Mystery not in salvation, but in judgment and condemnation. And formally, “having been confessed,” he will not receive the resolution of sins from God. Not so simple. Sin, passion causes great harm to the soul. And even having repented, a person feels the consequences of his sin. As in a patient having had smallpox, scars remain on the body. It is not enough just to confess sin, you need to make an effort to overcome the inclination to sin in your soul. Of course, it’s not easy to leave passion right away. But the repentant should not be a hypocrite: “I will repent – and I will continue to sin.” A person must make every effort to take the path of correction and not return to sin, to ask God for help to fight passions: “Help me, Lord, for I am weak.” The Christian must burn the bridges behind him that lead back to sinful life.
Why do we repent if the Lord already knows all our sins? Yes, he knows, but he expects repentance from us, recognition and correction. God is our Heavenly Father, and our relationship with Him must be viewed as a relationship between a parent and children. Let’s give an example. The child was guilty in front of his father, for example, he took something without demand. The father knows perfectly well who did this, but waits for the son to come and ask for forgiveness. And of course, he expects the son to promise not to do so again.
Confession, of course, must be private, not common. By common confession is meant practice when a priest reads a list of possible sins, and then simply covers the confessor with a stole. Thank God, there are very few temples where they do it. The common confession became almost a universal occurrence in the Soviet times, when there were very few temples in operation and on Sundays, public holidays, as well as fasting, they were overwhelmed with worshipers. It was impossible to worship anyone. Making confessions after evening service was not allowed either. Of course, such a confession is an abnormal phenomenon.
The word confession itself means that a Christian has come to tell, confess, tell about your sins. A priest in prayer before confession reads: “This is your servant, by word be resolved. ” Man himself is allowed from his sins by the words and receive forgiveness from God. Of course, sometimes it is very difficult, ashamed to open our sinful wounds, but this is how we get rid of our sinful skills, overcoming shame, pulling them out like a weed from our soul. Without confession, without cleansing from sins, it is impossible to fight passions. First you need to see the passion, pull out, and then do everything so that they do not grow back in our soul. Not seeing your sins is a sign of spiritual illness. Why did the devotees see their sins countless like the sand of the sea? It’s simple. They were approaching the source of light — God, and they began to notice such secret places of their soul that we simply see. They observed their soul in its true state. A fairly well-known example: let’s say the room is dirty and not cleaned, but now it is night and everything is hidden by the gloom: everything seems to be more or less normal. But then the first ray of the sun dawned in the window, lit part of the room – and we began to notice the mess; further more. When the sun shines brightly on the whole room, we see what a mess it is. The closer to God, the fuller the vision of sins.
A noble citizen of the small town of Gaza came to Abbe Dorofey and Abba asked him: “Distinguished gentleman, tell me, for whom do you consider yourself in your city?” He replied: “I consider myself great and first.” Then the monk asked him again: “If you go to Caesarea, for whom will you consider yourself there?” The man replied: “For the last of the nobles there.” – “If you go to Antioch, for whom will you consider yourself there?” – “There,” he answered, “I will consider myself one of the commoners.” “If you go to Constantinople and approach the king, for whom will you consider yourself?” And he answered: “Almost for a beggar.” Then Abba said to him: “And this is how the saints: the closer they approach God, the more they see themselves as sinners.”
Confession is not an account of spiritual life and is not a conversation with a priest. This is exposing oneself, without self-justification and self-pity. Only then will we get satisfaction and relief and move away from the lectern easily, like on wings. The Lord already knows all the circumstances that led us to sin. It is absolutely unacceptable to tell in confession what kind of people pushed us to sin. They will answer for themselves, but we must answer only for ourselves. Husband, brother or matchmaker served our fall – it does not matter, we need to understand what is to blame ourselves. Holy righteous John of Kronstadt says: it will be easy for those who are used to repenting and giving an answer for their lives to be answered at the Last Judgment of God.
Do not postpone the confession for later. It is not known how much time the Lord gave us to repent. Each confession must be taken as the last, for no one knows what day and time God will call us to Himself.
Sins should not be ashamed to confess; we should be ashamed to commit them. Many people think that a priest, especially an acquaintance, will condemn them, they want to appear at a confession better than they are, to justify themselves. Meanwhile, any father, who more or less often professes, cannot be surprised by anything, and you can hardly tell him something new and unusual. For the confessor, on the contrary, it is a great consolation when he sees sincerely repentant, even if in grave sins. It means that he knowingly stands at the lectern, accepting the repentance of those who come to confession.
In confession, the repentant is not only given the forgiveness of sins, but also the grace and help of God is given to fight against sin. Confession should be frequent and, if possible, with the same priest. A rare confession (several times a year) leads to heartfelt petrification. People stop noticing their sins, forget their deeds. Conscience is easily reconciled with the so-called petty, everyday sins: “Well, what’s wrong? It feels good. I do not kill, do not steal. ” Conversely, the frequent confession makes the soul, conscience worry, wakes her from drowsiness. Sins cannot be tolerated. Starting to fight even with some sinful habit, you feel how it becomes easier to breathe both spiritually and physically.
People who confess rarely or formally sometimes sometimes stop seeing their sins. Any priest knows this well. A person comes to confession and says: “I am not sinned by anything” or: “I am sinful to everyone” (which is actually the same thing).
All this happens, of course, from spiritual laziness, unwillingness to conduct at least some work on your soul. The books “To the Help of the Repentant” by St. Ignatius (Brianchaninov), “The Experience of Building Confessions” by Archimandrite John (Krestyankin) and others can help prepare for confession, in detail, without having missed anything. Confessions can be disturbed by excitement and forgetfulness, so it is quite possible to write down your sins on a piece of paper and read them to a priest.
How to prepare a child for the first confession
The first confession is a special event in the lives of children. She can determine for a long time not only the attitude towards confession, but also the direction of his spiritual life. Parents should prepare the child for it all previous years, living in the grace-filled experience of the Church. If they were able to cultivate piety in a child, they could prepare him for the first confession so that this day would be a holiday for him.
In a child, thinking is primarily visual-figurative, and not conceptual. His idea of God is formed gradually, in the image of his relationship with his parents. He hears a prayer every day: “Our Father …” – “Our Father …” The Lord himself in the parable of the prodigal son uses this comparison. As the father embraces the son who returned to him, so God accepts the penitent with great joy. If relationships in a family are built on love, then it is not difficult to explain to a son or daughter why you need to love your Heavenly Parent. For children, it’s as natural as loving parents. The child should talk about Divine love as often as possible. The thought of a loving God causes him a sense of repentance and a desire not to repeat bad actions. Of course, by the age of seven, children already know that there is a paradise, that there will be a trial once, but the motives for their behavior are not determined by this. It is absolutely unacceptable to frighten children and say that God will punish. This can completely distort the child’s perception of God. He will have a feeling of fear in his soul. Later such a person may lose faith.
In preparation for confession, it is important to give the child a sense that he is already old enough and can himself evaluate his actions. The conversation should not resemble a lesson that he must remember. No need to restrain his freedom. He can sincerely repent only of what he recognizes as a wrong and bad deed. Then desire and determination to be corrected are born. After the confession, the child should feel relief, similar to what he feels when parents forgive their children with trust and love.
Vanya Shmelev remembered his first confession all his life: “I come out from behind the screen, everyone looks at me – I have been very long. Maybe they think what a great sinner I am. And the soul is so easy-easy “(Shmelev
Children at the age of seven are often shy. Parents should begin conversations about confession long before this event. Then the child will gradually get used and will wait with some excitement, but without timidity. Every time you need to talk with him about it very calmly, emphasizing that he is already big and can do a lot on his own.
The first participation of a child in the sacrament of repentance is not the general confession of an adult who has been burdened with many sins over the decades. At the age of seven, children do only the first experiences, they pass the first lessons in the school of repentance, in which they will learn all their life. Therefore, it is not so much the fullness of the confession that is important, but the correct attitude of the child. Parents should help him realize that there may be a danger to his spiritual development, which can take root and acquire the power of skill. Such dangerous sins are: slyness, lies, self-conceit, boastfulness, selfishness, disrespect for elders, envy, greed, laziness. In overcoming harmful, sinful habits, parents must show wisdom, patience and perseverance. They should not suggest sins and not point directly to the unkind habits formed in the child’s soul, but convincingly show their harm. Only such repentance, which is accomplished with the participation of conscience, bears fruit. Parents should look for reasons for the appearance of sinful skills in the child’s soul. Most often, they themselves infect the child with their passions. Until they defeated them in themselves, the correction will not give noticeable results.
When preparing for confession, it is important not only to help the child see his sins, but also to encourage him to acquire those virtues without which it is impossible to have a full spiritual life. Such virtues are: attention to one’s inner state, obedience, skill of prayer. Children can see God as their Heavenly Parent. Therefore, it is easy for them to explain that prayer is communion with Him. A child needs communication with his father and mother, as well as a prayer appeal to God.
After confession, parents should not ask the child about her; one should show the fullness of affection and warmth so that the joy of this great event be imprinted in the child’s soul as deeply as possible.