And the opening of the doors to repentance
In the Orthodox Church, the seal of confession is absolute, and there is no situation that will allow for the revelation of anything said in confession. As a member of the International Conference of Police Chaplains, I, as an Orthodox priest, am one of a handful of chaplains in the Northwest Region who has been told I am exempt under the mandatory reporting laws, due to “the sanctity of the confessional”. That said, if there is a case in which a priest hears a very serious confession, one that could become a police issue, the confessor must explain to the penitent that this must be brought before the authorities. If he meets with refusal, the priest should explain that he is not supposed to give absolution for that sin.
Confession is between God, Who is quick to forgive, and the penitent, with the priest as the witness, as well as the mediator by which absolution is bestowed. Without repentance, there is no salvation, and any priest who would endanger the integrity of the Sacrament of Confession by breaking the seal of confession, exposes himself to the possibility of being deposed from the priesthood, and excommunicated. In Imperial Russia a cleric who violated the seal was liable to the civil courts and subject to the death penalty!
Refusing to pronounce absolution without the penitent agreeing to report himself/herself to the authorities, is really the only approach that a priest can take, without burdening himself with the knowledge that the molestation of either a spouse, or a child, will continue, or that a murderer will not pay the price for his crime.
The Church’s strict insistence on the sanctity of the Seal of Confession has been handed down from Apostolic times, and is imperative because it keeps open the doors of repentance to so many people who would otherwise fear going to confession, lest their sins become common knowledge. Yet the penitent must also be made aware that an important part of repenting of one’s sins, is the willingness to embrace the consequences under the law.
With love in Christ,
Thursday January 30, 2020 / January 17, 2020
33rd Week after Pentecost. Tone seven.
Venerable Anthony the Great (356).
Venerable Anthony, abbot of Dymsk (Novgorod) (1224).
New Hieromartyr Victor priest (1931).
New Hieromartyr Paul priest (1938).
Venerable Anthony of Chernoezersk, monk (16th c.).
Emperor St. Theodosius the Great (395).
Venerable Anthony of Krasny Kholm, monk (1481).
Venerable Anthony the Roman, of Novgorod (1147).
St. Anthony the New, of Berrhia in Macedonia (11th c.) (Greek).
Venerable Achilles the Confessor, hermit of Egypt (5th c.).
New Martyr George of Ioannina (1838) (Greek).
St. Macarius Kalogeras, hierodeacon of Patmos (1737).
The Scripture Readings
27 All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. 28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.
18 Pray for us; for we are confident that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honorably. 19 But I especially urge you to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner.
Benediction, Final Exhortation, Farewell
20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Jesus Heals a Great Multitude
17 And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases, 18 as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed. 19 And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all.
20 Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples, and said:
“Blessed are you poor,
For yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are you who hunger now,
For you shall be filled.
Blessed are you who weep now,
For you shall laugh.
22 Blessed are you when men hate you,
And when they exclude you,
And revile you, and cast out your name as evil,
For the Son of Man’s sake.
23 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy!
For indeed your reward is great in heaven,
For in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.