Advice about Confession
Saint Paisios of Mount Athos, Greece (+1994)
ST. JOHN THE FORERUNNER
We all know the importance of Confession, but yet so few take advantage of it. Here Saint Paisios of Mount Athos, Greece (+1994) shows us why it is so important.
A young man went to see the Elder. I arrived the moment he was ringing the bell, and waited behind him. After a while, Father Paisios opened the door and came to the fence.
-What’s up, young man, what do you want? asked the Elder.
-Father, I would like to see you and get your advice on something.
-Have you gone to confession? Do you have a spiritual father?
-No, Father, I don’t have a spiritual father and I haven’t gone to confession.
-Well, then you better go to confession and then come to see me.
-Why can’t I see you, Father?
-I will explain to you, so you can understand. Your mind is confused and troubled by the sins you have fallen into; as a result, you cannot realize the situation you are in. So, you will not be able to give me a clear picture of your problem. However, if you confess your sins, your mind will clear up and you will see things very differently.
Note how he relates confession to a clearing of the mind. So often we think of it as having our names taken off the list for breaking some kind of law. Elder Paisios is lifting this sacrament to its true value, one of clearing our mind so we can more clearly see God, receive His grace, follow His commandments and understand the spiritual nature of our life.
The story continues as the young man does not take heed of the Elder’s advice.
-Father, maybe I am confused and troubled and unable to tell you what exactly is wrong with me, but you yourself can understand the nature of my problem and tell me what to do.
-Listen, even if I can see with a certain clarity what is wrong with you, you still have the problem inside you. Since your mind is troubled, you will neither understand, nor remember what I will say to you. If you go to confession and you are tuned in the same spiritual frequency with us, then we will be ale to communicate. So, go to a spiritual father for confession and I will wait for your visit.
Without the cleansing that comes with confession, all the counseling we receive will fall on deaf ears and without the right understanding. We also need to take responsibility for our troubles and be willing to take them to our spiritual father and to offer them to God seeking forgiveness and direction about how to change our lives. Only then will we be able to listen and do something with the advice we receive. In this way the Holy Spirit works to cleanse our mind. It is only when the mind is cleared of our troubles are we able to be open to hear the wisdom of an Elder like Paisios.
From the Book: Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain, p 120