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Prayers for the Sacrament

The best time for confession is on the eve of Communion, usually on Saturday before or during Vespers. If one cannot come to the Vespers service, he can confess on the day of Communion. In that case, it is necessary to come before the Liturgy starts, because the priest should not be distracted from the altar during the service. Those who come late must understand that Confession during Liturgy delays the church service, causes other worshippers to wait and forces the priest to rush. This kind of haphazard Confession can hardly accomplish what this great Sacrament was intended for. It lowers Confession to the level of a meaningless ritual.

During the Sacrament of Confession, after the commencement prayers and the 50th Psalm, the priest-confessor reads the following Troparia:

Have mercy on us Lord, have mercy on us; for being devoid of all defense, we sinners offer to Thee, as Master, this supplication: Have mercy on us.
Glory to the Father and Son and Holy Spirit. Lord have mercy on us, for in Thee have we trusted. Be not very angry with us, neither remember our iniquities, but as One tender of heart, look down upon us even now and deliver us from our enemies. For Thou art our God, and we are Thy people, all being the work of Thy hands, and we call upon Thy name.
Now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen. Open unto us the door of Thy loving-kindness, O Blessed Theotokos, so that hoping in Thee we may not perish, but through Thee may be delivered from adversities, for Thou art the salvation of Christian people.
Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy.

Then the priest reads the following prayer:
O God our Savior, Who by Thy prophet Nathan granted unto repented David pardon of his transgressions, and have accepted the Manasses' prayer of penitence! Do Thou, in Thy love towards mankind, accept also Thy servant [name] who repents of his sins which he has committed, overlooking all that he has done, pardoning his offenses and passing by his iniquities. For Thou hast said, O Lord: I have desired not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn from the wickedness which he has committed, and live. And that even unto seventy times seven sins ought to be forgiven. For Thy majesty is incomparable, and Thy mercy is limitless, and if Thou shouldst regard iniquity, who should stand? For Thou art the God of the penitent, and unto Thee we ascribe glory, to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

The priest further reminds the repentant: "Behold, my child, Christ stands here invisibly receiving your confession. Do not be ashamed and do not fear, and do not withhold anything from me; but without doubt tell all you have done and receive forgiveness from the Lord Jesus Christ. Lo, His holy image is before us, and I am only a witness, bearing testimony before Him of all things which you say to me. But if you conceal anything from me, you shall have the greater sin. Take heed, therefore, lest having come to the physician, you depart unhealed."

The repentant stands before the lectern, crosses himself, kisses the cross and the holy gospel, and in a repentant attitude confesses sins before the priest. After he finishes, the priest gives needed advice and sometimes instructs him to do certain things in order to help the penitent to overcome some bad habits - to read Scriptures, pray, fast, do some kneeling, to make certain acts of mercy, etc.

At the end the penitent kneels before the cross, and the priest, covering the head of the penitent with his stole, reads the following prayer of absolution:

"O Lord God of the salvation of Your servants, merciful, compassionate and long-suffering; Who repents concerning our evil deeds, not desiring the death of a sinner, but that he should turn from his way and live. Show mercy now on Your servant [name] and grant to him (or her) an image of repentance, forgiveness of sins and deliverance, pardoning all his (or her) sins, whether voluntary or involuntary. Reconcile and unite him (or her) to Your Holy Church, through Jesus Christ our Lord, to Whom, with You, are due dominion and majesty, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
May our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, by the grace and compassion of His love for mankind, forgive you, my child, [name], all your transgressions. And I His unworthy Priest, through the power given me, forgive and absolve you from all your sins, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."

Following this prayer, the penitent rises, kisses the Cross and the Gospels and, receiving a blessing from the priest, steps away thanking God.

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OFFSITE: The Sacrament of Confession - The original article.
OFFSITE: Photography of Ioann Makal