Wednesday, October 28, 2015

“With the Fear of God and Faith and Love, Draw Ye Near”

With these profound words we draw near to participate in the Body and Blood of our most precious Lord.  A gift above all gifts—a sacrament above all Sacraments.  So precious is His Body and Blood, the Lord instructs us that unless we eat his flesh and drink His Blood we have no life in us (John6:53-55).  Yes, No Life without this great Mystery.

If we are to encounter our God and Saviour in such an intimate fashion, one should wonder what one must do in order to prepare and receive HIM in a manner that brings blessing and life.  For St. Paul warns us to commune in a worthy manner: "Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself not discerning the Lord's body" (Cor. 11:28-29).

And here is the crux of our collective misunderstanding of what one must do to properly prepare for the single most important event in our lives.  I would like to take this opportunity to outline some general principles and way of life that should cause us to reflect on the state of our preparedness to receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.  This is a beginning of a discussion and not an all in all explanation…We will indeed spend the rest of eternity basking in the mystery of Communion with our God.

  1.  “With the fear of God”--- we now begin to dissect the invitation for Communion.  A holy fear, respect, or awe for our heavenly Father should be a way of life, a way of thinking, a position of our heart.  Fearing God is Loving God and all He is and His creation.  It’s about abiding by His principles and ways, not the principles of a pagan society in which we find ourselves in.  It’s a life style that one sees all decisions and relations through the eyes of Jesus---He is our center of gravity and reference point to what we think, do, and behave. As St Paul instructs us  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”(Romans 12:2)
    The Lord of Lords and King of Kings is the mightiest driving force in our work, family, social life, and life trajectory.  His ways are my ways and my ways are His ways—that is practically applying the Lord’s prayer in every dimension and aspect of our life---“Thy will be done”; for me, my family, my life.  The Lord, His ways and His laws are the guiding light and beginning and end of our hearts’ desire ---He indeed is the Alpha and Omega of our Life. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”(Rev 1:8).  Without striving to live a life in Holy Fear and Awe of the Almighty, we should not approach for Communion.

  2.  “And Faith”---faith a word so often misused and misunderstood.  Whose faith are we talking about; our fractured and imperfect faith? The faith of Jesus? The faith of His Body the Church?  The reality is that we oftentimes create a faith or a set of beliefs that is very convenient for ourselves, yet is misaligned with the faith of Jesus and His Body the Church.  One must take the time to discover and align what we think we believe against what our Lord and His body (The Holy Church) actually believes and instructs us.  Mankind, left on his own, often takes the path of least resistance and confuses what we want to believe vs. what the TRUTH actually is.  Developing this TRUE FAITH, does in fact require time and energy: the study of scripture, participation in faith study fellowship opportunities, attending lectures/retreats and of course paying attention and participating fully in all Liturgical/Sacramental opportunities (ie. Vespers, matins, Liturgies).  This is the Sacramental life style that the Church calls us to and the means for spiritual growth and transformation.  Without striving for the Pure Faith of the CHURCH, we should not approach for Communion.

  3. “And Love”---God is Love, the very basic definition of who God is.  And if communion with God is in fact Unity with the Living and Almighty LOVE Himself, then it would seem relevant that we, in this union, slowly but surely become what HE is---and that is Love.  One must examine himself/herself, that after years and decades of receiving the Eucharist—Love in Bodily form---whether in fact we are becoming LOVE as well.  Love for Holiness, for ourselves, for our family, for our neighbor, for all creation.  How do we define this most wonderful Love of God, a sacrificial love by nature---Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.(John15:13).  Are we living for others, considering their wellbeing before our very own, going out on a limb for our brethren, spending time for and with others?  This is Godly Love.  A love where jealousy, pride, ego, envy, and resentment cannot exist and has no place.  A love that makes life worth living.  A Love that transforms us into the new creation in the image of Jesus.  This is the Love that we are to become in the participation of the Eucharist; and if we are not, we must pause and self-examine ourselves: have I been kind, genuine, forgiving, honest, and the list goes on.  This is where the sacrament of Confession comes into play, to make sure we are not deceiving ourselves or being deceived that somehow we are “OK” when in fact we are not.  Without striving for this true Godly Love, we should not approach for Communion.

We have now begun a conversation on the mindset in which we approach the Holy Things; for the Liturgy reminds us that “The Holy Things are for the Holy People”.  Please take the time to read and reflect on the above; there will sure to be more coming in the coming weeks and months.  Talk it over with your brethren after Liturgy during coffee hour.  If there are any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free and welcomed to speak to your priest privately or in a group.  We are all on this Holy Path of Salvation together; we need one another to navigate this Holy and Life Giving Journey.

Asking for your prayers, and assuring you of mine,

Your servant in Christ Jesus,

 Father Spyridon

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Confession Preparation Guideline

The gift of God's forgiveness is received through private prayer, corporate worship, the disciplines of prayer and fasting, penitential services and above all through the sacrament of Holy Confession. 

Holy Confession is appropriate whenever an Orthodox Christian feels the need for it. It is also a part of our total spiritual preparation during the fast periods leading up to the great feasts of Easter, Christmas, the Falling Asleep of the Theotokos and the Feast of Twelve Apostles. However, Holy Confession is especially necessary:

  1. when a serious sin has been committed;
  2. when a habitual sin has overwhelmed a Christian, or
  3. when a Christian has stopped growing spiritually and needs a reexamination of priorities.

We confess our sins to God and the power of forgiveness is God's. However, the gift of God's forgiveness, although assured, is not magical. It does not automatically spare us from spiritual struggle - the continual vigilance against evil and the unceasing warfare against sin. Holy Confession will bear fruits in the Spirit only when the believer hates evil, utterly rejects sin and patiently cultivates positive habits of the life in Christ. "So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to Christ Jesus. Do not yield your members to sin as instruments of wicked ness, but yield yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life" (Rm 6:11, 13) 


1. Think back to your last confession. Did you forget to say something? Did you purposely not say something that you should have?
2. PREPARE for confession. If necessary, write on a slip of paper or an index card what you want to say.
3. Don’t forget that there exist a) sins of commission: bad things that you shouldn’t have done, and b) sins of omission: good things that you should have done, but didn’t.
4. Be specific (i.e., “I told a lie,” “I stole something”).
5. Don’t mention other people’s names or talk about other people. They have to go to confession for themselves.


How does Holy Confession work? In brief, the first thing is to examine your life and your actions. When (notice I didn’t say ?if”) you realize that you have circumstances you need to bring before God for reconciliation, it is time to make an appointment with your priest. At the appointed time you will meet the priest at the place of confession – in front of an icon, in a special room, wherever it is appropriate. The priest will begin the Service of Holy Confession with some petitions and prayers for the blessing and healing of your soul. You will then share your confession. This may also involve some spiritual counseling with the priest.
When you are finished, the priest will typically ask you to kneel. He will then place the Epetrahelion (the long sash around his neck) over your head and read the prayers of absolution. This fulfills the command of Christ given to the Apostles (and through them down to the priests) that, "whosoever sins you remit, they are remitted; and whosoever sins you retain, they are retained."
These prayers invoke God’s promise to work through the hands of the priest as well as giving the penitent the opportunity to physically hear that their sins are forgiven. Once these prayers are completed the Service of Holy Confession is concluded and you are free to go.
ANOTHER AID FOR CONSIDERATION - Confession before the Spiritual Father
NOTE: The following text is used in some traditions as a general confession by the confessor before the priest since it covers sins common to mankind. It has room for any specific additional remarks as shown. Its use may be considered after talking with your priest or Spiritual Father.
I confess to the Lord my God and before you my Spiritual Father, all my innumerable sins which I have, until today, committed in word, deed and thought. Every day and every hour I sin ungratefully towards the Lord Who gives me, the sinner, His great and infinite blessings through His providence.
My sins are the following:
Vain words, criticism of others, disobedience, pride, unmercifulness, envy, spite, jealousy, anger, slander, inattention, neglect for my salvation, carelessness, inconsiderateness, impertinence, irritability, hopelessness, revenge, hard heartedness, contradiction. I complain too much, I am self-righteous, I harm my neighbor, I speak with contempt, I lie, I make fun of my neighbor, I am scandalous, I am egotistical, ambitious, gluttonous, vain, idle. I have evil thoughts, I am greedy, I look at or read immoral photographs, periodicals and books, I am negligent during Church services, I lack concentration during prayer at Church and home.
Generally, I have sinned through words, deeds, thoughts, sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, and with all these feelings, bodily and of the soul.
I repent of all my sins and I ask for forgiveness from my Lord and my God.
(Here we can state other sins that exist in our soul.)
Also, I repent and ask forgiveness for sins which I possibly forgot and did not mention during my confession.
I ask you, please, my spiritual Father, to forgive and release me of all my sins and give me your blessings to partake in Christ’s Holy and Life-giving Mysteries, to the renunciation of sin and the receiving of life-everlasting.
(NOTE: this does not take the place of Holy Confession...)
O LORD our God, good and merciful, I acknowledge all my sins which I have committed every day of my life in thought, word and deed; in body and soul alike. I am heartily sorry that I have ever offended you and I sincerely repent; with tears I humbly pray to you O Lord: of your mercy forgive me all my past transgressions and absolve me from them. I firmly resolve with the help of your Grace to amend my way of life and to sin no more; that I may walk in the way of the righteous and offer praise and glory to the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Some Final Thoughts
Some would say that if you can’t think of anything you need to come to Holy Confession for then you can at least confess the sin of pride! All this self-examination is well and good. However the ultimate self-examination is comparison to Christ. If we find ourselves falling short in any aspect of this comparison then Holy Confession is necessary. Now you may laugh and say, "Ha! With this criteria everyone would need to come to Holy Confession!” And you would be absolutely correct...
The Sacrament of Reconciliation (Holy Confession) is a required sacrament that is supposed to be practiced regularly. For some that might mean once a month. For others that might mean three or four times a year. Although circumstances may prevent some from practicing this frequency (distance from their priest or Spiritual Father for instance), everyone should consider coming a minimum of once or twice a year, and more frequently as time permits.
As with any sacrament, you should discuss any questions you have with your priest or Spiritual Father. You have nothing to lose except a lot of imperfections in the sand. And what you have to gain is a footstep more firmly planted on the road to Theosis. Reconcile yourself to God at your earliest convenience. God desires your unhindered companionship and presence. You just may find that you enjoy His company.

You and God

  1. Do you believe in God, the Holy Trinity, and in the divinity of Christ? Do you respect the Holy Virgin Mary, the Saints, and the Angels? Do you believe in the Church and its Mysteries (Sacraments)? Do you believe that Heaven and Hell exist?
  2. Do you trust yourself always, and especially during the difficult times of your life, to the care and Providence of God? Or do you despair and show a lack of faith?
  3. Perhaps in the problems, afflictions, sicknesses, and trials of your life you moan and complain against God and lose your faith and confidence?
  4. Do you believe in mediums, fortune-telling, tarot card reading, or coffee-cup reading? Do you tell other people to believe in such things and go to such people?
  5. Do you believe in superstition?
  6. Do you believe in luck?
  7. Do you pray morning and evening and before and after each meal? Are you embarrassed to make the sign of the cross in the presence of others, for example, in a restaurant or outside a holy church when you are passing by? Do you not make your cross properly?
  8. Do you read the Holy Bible as well as other Orthodox spiritual books daily?
  9. Do you go to church on Sundays and on the major Feast Days? [3]
  10. Do you follow the Divine Liturgy carefully and reverently from the start until the end, or do you go late and leave before the end? Do you let your mind wander in church?
  11. Do you go to church dressed in a proper and dignified way? Are you careful not to laugh, or talk even if it is a Wedding or Baptismal service?
  12. Do you perhaps prevent or restrict your spouse or children from going to church? Or do you tell your acquaintances not to go to church?
  13. Do you commune regularly or only once a year, and then without Holy Confession?
  14. Do you give oaths without need or, if so, lie as well? Did you perhaps not fulfill your oath, vow, or promise? The Bible forbids oaths completely, saying that our "yes" be "yes" and our "no" be "no" (St Matthew 5:7).
  15. Do you blaspheme the Name of God, the Virgin Mary, and our Saints by speaking irreverently of them?
  16. Do you fast (unless you have a serious health problem) on Wednesdays and Fridays and during the appointed periods of the year? [4]
  17. Do you throw religious books or periodicals in unclean places?

You and Others

  1. Do you have hatred and ill-feelings towards someone who did you wrong or insulted you in their anger?
  2. Are you suspicious and do you without reason suspect that everyone supposedly talks about you, that they don't want you, and that they don't love or like you?
  3. Are you jealous and upset over the progress, fortune, possessions and beauty of others?
  4. Are you unmoved by the misfortune and needs of your fellow men?
  5. In your transactions with your business partners, co-workers, and clients, are you honest and forthright?
  6. Have you criticized or slandered your fellow man, wrongly accusing them?
  7. Are you sarcastic and patronizing towards believers, or towards those who fast and endeavor to live a Christian life, or towards those who have physical/mental problems and/or disabilities?
  8. If you heard some information or criticism against someone, did you pass it on to others and harm (even unwillingly) their reputation and respect?
  9. Did you criticize the conduct, actions, faults, and mistakes of another person when they were not present, even if what you said was the truth? Have you ever criticized the clergy? Do you gossip about and criticize the personal lives of others? Did you listen to someone blaspheming God or a holy person, and not protest?
  10. Do you curse those who have harmed you, or curse yourself in difficult moments of your life, or curse the day and hour in which you were born?
  11. Do you send others "to the devil" or give them rude hand gestures?
  12. Do you respect your parents? Do you look after them? Do you put up with their elderly weaknesses? Do you help them with their bodily and spiritual needs? Are you mindful of their spiritual needs by making sure they go to church and partake worthily of Holy Communion? Have you abandoned them?
  13. Have you misguided your parents to leave to you in their will more of their estate than is proper, thus causing injustice to your brothers and sisters?
  14. Perhaps in your anger did you hit anyone with your hands or injure them with your words?
  15. Do you perform your job or occupation properly and with a good conscience? Or are you unfair to others?
  16. Do you steal? Perhaps you have encouraged or helped another person to steal? Have you agreed to cover up a theft? Have you bought or accepted goods known to be stolen?
  17. Are you ungrateful towards God and generally towards your helpers and beneficiaries? Do you grumble and murmur against them?
  18. Do you keep company with bad and sinful people or associates? With your words or example, have you ever pushed anyone to sin?
  19. Have you ever committed forgery? Have you ever embezzled or defrauded the public? Have you borrowed money and/or other possessions and without returning or repaying them?
  20. Have you ever committed murder, in any way?
  21. Do you entangle yourself in the lives of others or in their work or their families and become the cause of strife, quarrels and disturbances?
  22. Do you have mercy and compassion on the poor, on orphans, on the elderly, on families with many children struggling to make ends meet?
  23. Have you lied or added or subtracted from the truth? Do you flatter others in order to get your own way?
  24. Did you craftily ask for a dowry when you declared your intentions to marry?
  25. Have you ever sent an anonymous or cruel letter to anyone?


  1. Are you a slave to materialism and worldly goods?
  2. Are you greedy or a lover of money?
  3. Are you stingy?
  4. Are you wasteful? Do you live by the Gospel command that whatever you have leftover and above your needs belongs to the poor? Do you have too much love towards pets and waste money on them while people are dying of starvation?
  5. Are you conceited and arrogant? Do you talk hack to your elders and superiors?
  6. Do you like to show off with your clothing, wealth, fortunes, and the academic achievements of your children or of yourself?
  7. Do you seek attention and glory from people? Do you wear perfume, make-up, and change the appearance that your Creator gave to you?
  8. Do you accept compliments and praise from others gladly and like to be told that no one else exists who is as good as you?
  9. Do you get upset when others reveal your faults and do you get offended when others examine you and when your seniors make comments about you? Do you get angry?
  10. Are you perhaps stubborn, high-minded, egotistical, proud, or cowardly? Be careful with these sins, as the diagnosis and solution to them are difficult.
  11. Do you gamble or play cards, even without money, with relatives and people at home to "kill time" as the saying goes?
  12. Have sexual sins polluted your body, mind, or soul? For example, have you engaged in fornication (sexual intercourse before marriage), or masturbation, prostitution, homosexuality, lesbianism, etc.?
  13. Do you watch dirty shows on television or at the movies?
  14. Do you read pornographic, immoral books and magazines?
  15. Have you ever considered committing suicide?
  16. Are you a slave to your stomach (i.e. gluttony)?
  17. Are you lazy, careless and negligent? Do you not help out when you can?
  18. Do you say improper, dirty, and immoral words or use swear words for the sake of humor or to insult or humiliate others?
  19. Do you have a spirit of self-denial?
  20. Do you expel from your mind bad or sly thoughts that come to pollute your heart?
  21. Are you careful so that your eyes don't gaze or stare at provocative pictures or people? Do you go to the movies and theatres?
  22. Are you careful what you ears hear? Do you like to hear sinful music and conversations?
  23. Do you dress immorally? If you are a woman, do you wear men's clothing, (e.g. pants) or short skirts, open shirts; transparent shirts, and scandalize others with your appearance? In addition, do you dress in this way when appearing at holy places? If you are a man, do you dress provocatively?
  24. Have you appeared naked in public or semi-naked in a swimsuit or bikini publicly?
  25. Do you dance in a provocative and sinful manner? Do you listen to sinful immoral songs? Do you frequent parties, nightclubs, and bars? Do you celebrate sinful, worldly festivals such as mardigras, gay and lesbian festivals, Halloween etc.?
  26. Are you a drunkard? Do you abuse "recreational" or pharmaceutical drugs?
  27. Do you smoke? Smoking destroys your God-given valuable health and is also wasteful of money, and therefore is a sin.
  28. Do you talk excessively about meaningless things?

For Couples

  1. Do you remain faithful to each other? It is tragic when one of you is unfaithful to the other.
  2. Did one of you embarrass or criticize the other publicly or privately?
  3. Do you not endure the apparent weakness of the other? Do you show harshness?
  4. Do you or your partner permit the other to follow the latest fashion and trend and anything which is opposed to the law of God? Do you perhaps drag the other along to parties on the condition that you will in this way provide the other the means to follow fashion and a worldly life?
  5. Do you take into consideration the struggle the other has outside and inside the home, so that you both help each other bodily and spiritually in the struggle?
  6. As a partner, have you had excessive sexual demands and degraded your relationship? Do you abstain from sexual relations on Wednesdays, Fridays, Sundays, Feast Days, (including the night before) and on the days of the Holy Fasts of the Church?
  7. Do you perhaps prevent your partner from going to church, spiritual gatherings and talks?
  8. Do you bring up your children "in the instruction and counsel of Christ"? Do you only concern yourself with their intellectual growth and not with the nature of their character?
  9. Do you direct your children to go to church regularly, to go to confession, to frequently partake of Holy Communion (properly prepared), and to go to Sunday school? Do you teach holy virtues by word and example? Have you taught them to pray in the morning, evening and before and after at each meal? Have you taught them to pray with respect and reverence?
  10. Are you careful of the things they read? Do you buy books and periodical of religious and cultural subjects for them to read and lean?
  11. Do you watch with whom they keep company and who their friends are?
  12. Do you lead them to sinful shows and entertainment or allow them to watch television unsupervised?
  13. Do you teach them humility and meekness and are you careful that they dress in a dignified way?
  14. Do you curse them when they upset you? Do you "send them to hell" or "to the devil"?
  15. Have you had abortions or do you prevent yourself from having children (i.e. contraception)?
  16. Have you been unjust to your children in the division of your estate?
  17. Do you as a parent believe that the responsibility of raising and educating your children rests only with your partner? You have an obligation to educate them and to read to them so that you can relieve you partner.
  18. Do you scorn your children by giving them insulting hand gestures and reprimand them with improper language?
  19. Does each of you love and respect the parents of the other?
  20. Do the grandparents of your children and other relatives get too involved in the family and cause disagreements and disputes?
  21. Do you interfere in your children's families?
  22. Is your partner a blasphemer? Have patience, and try hard to eliminate cursed blasphemy!
  23. Have you ever considered divorcing your partner?
  24. Do you allow your children to become fanatical about sports and even miss church in order to play (e.g. Sunday morning games)?
  25. Are you fair and just with your family, considering and respecting their views and wishes, or do you behave like a dictator?

FIRST COMMANDMENT: ‘I am the Lord thy God: Thou shalt have no other Gods before me.’
- Have I loved God as much as I should?
- Have I been more interested in my own will rather than God’s?
- Have I failed to pray sincerely and regularly?
- Have I believed in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit?
- Have I failed to trust in God and His mercy?
- Have I complained against God in adversity?
- Have I been thankful for God's blessings?
- Have I doubted the Christian faith and the teachings of the Church?
- Have I tried to serve God and keep His Commandments?
- Have I given way to superstition?
- Have I frequented the religious meetings of heretics and schismatics?
- Have I neglected my duties to God through fear of ridicule or persecution?

SECOND COMMANDMENT: ‘Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.’
- Have I put another person or object before God in my life?
- Have I been insincere about my religion?
- Have I made an idol of any person or thing?
- Have I given to anyone or anything the worship that is due to God alone?
- Have I set before myself the holy life of Jesus and tried to imitate Him?
- Have I read the Holy Scriptures regularly?
- Have I neglected to receive Holy Communion regularly or without due preparation?

THIRD COMMANDMENT: ‘Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain.’
- Have I paid proper attention to holy persons and things?
- Have I broken any solemn promises?
- Have I profaned the holy name of God in any way?
- Have I cursed anyone or anything, or sworn a false oath?
- Have I failed to give proper reverence to holy persons or things?
- Have I had due respect for the clergy of the Church or hindered them in performing God's work?
- Have I broken any solemn vow or promise?
- Have I entered into any unlawful contract or made an unlawful promise?

FOURTH COMMANDMENT: ‘Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.’
- Have I always kept Sunday as it ought to be kept?
- Have I stayed away from Church on Sundays or prevented others from going?
- Have I done unnecessary work on Sundays?
- Have I spent the day in unwholesome fashion or profaned it by improper conduct?
- If I could not go to Church because of illness or other grave cause, have I prayed at home?
- Have I caused anyone else to profane the Lord's Day?
- Have I kept the Fasts and Festivals prescribed by the Church?

FIFTH COMMANDMENT: ‘Honor thy father and thy mother.’
- Have I argued disrespectfully with my parents?
- Have I respected my parents and been obedient to them?
- Have I been guilty of deception, or caused them pain by my words or actions?
- Have I neglected them or failed to help them?
- Have I done my duty towards my family?
- Have I been wanting in love or kindness towards my mate or harmed my mate in any way?
- Have I set my children a good example and tried to bring them up properly?
- Have I corrected their faults with patience and not with anger?
- Have I over-indulged and spoiled them?
- Have I neglected my God-children and failed in my obligations toward them?
- Have I worked for my employers honestly and diligently?
- Have I treated fairly all those who have worked for me?
- Have I honored the Church as my spiritual mother by honoring and practicing my religion in accordance with her teachings?

SIXTH COMMANDMENT: ‘Thou shalt not kill.’
- Have I harmed others by ridicule & sarcasm or contempt & stubbornness?
- Have I fought with my family and friends?
- Have I caused the injury or death of any one, or wished that they or I were dead?
- Have I done anything to shorten my own life or that of someone else by injuring health, or through evil and intemperate living?
- Have I given way to anger, or harmed others with words or actions?
- Have I defamed others who needed help, or failed to stand up for those unjustly treated?
- Have I been cruel to anyone or have I mistreated or destroyed any life unnecessarily?
- Have I failed to forgive anyone or harbored evil thoughts against them?

SEVENTH COMMANDMENT: ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery (or infidelity).’
- Have I given way to impure thoughts, words, or deeds?
- Have I committed any unworthy actions alone or with others?
- Have I degraded myself in any way, or forgotten human dignity?
- Have I read immoral books or magazines, or delighted in obscenity of any kind?
- Have I associated with bad companions or frequented unsavory places?
- Have I eaten or drunk or smoked too much?
- Have I been lazy, idle, or wasted my time?
- Have I led others to commit sinful acts?
- Have I been unfaithful to any trust confided in me?

EIGHTH COMMANDMENT: ‘Thou shalt not steal.’
- Have I ever stolen or wished to do so, or shared in stolen goods?
- Have I given to my Church what I know I can afford to give?
- Have I kept anything that did not belong to me?
- Have I tried honestly to find owners of lost articles I have found?
- Have I cheated anyone?
- Have I paid my debts?
- Have I lived within my income, and not wastefully and extravagantly?
- Have I given to charitable causes in proportion to my means?
- Have I been honest and upright?

NINTH COMMANDMENT: ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness.’
- Have I exaggerated or let others take the blame?
- Have I told lies, or added or subtracted from the truth?
- Have I made careless statements or spoken evil of anyone?
- Have I told any secrets entrusted to me, or betrayed anyone?
- Have I gossiped about anyone or harmed their reputation?
- Have I concealed the truth, assisted in carrying out a lie, or pretended to commit a sin of which I was not guilty?
- Have I tried to see the good in others rather than their shortcomings?

TENTH COMMANDMENT: ‘Thou shalt not covet.’
- Have I envied anything good that has come to others?
- Have I been jealous of another's good fortune?
- Have I wished for anything that was another's?
- Have I damaged or destroyed the property of others?
- Have I wished for things God has not given me, or been discontented with my lot?
- Have I been stingy?
- Have I held back anything due another?
- Have I hoped for the downfall of anyone so that I might gain by it?
- Have I failed to be gracious and generous to anyone?
- Have I expected God to give me that which I would refuse one of my fellow men?

Remember: It takes a good person to admit that he makes mistakes. You are not bad because you go to confession. You are a good person trying to become even better.

Please contact the priest when you are ready to schedule time for Holy Confession.


  • Excerpted from a “Guide to Confession”. 


  1. Recommended are: 1) Repentance and Confession, by St. Nektarios (Roscoe, NY: St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Monastery, 2002); 2) The Forgotten Medicine: The Mystery of Repentance, by Archimandrite Seraphim Aleksiev (Wildwood, CA: St. Xenia Press Skete, 1994); 3) Exomologetarion: A Manual of Confession, by St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite (Thessaloniki, Greece: Uncut Mountain Press, 2006), Part III, "Counsel for the Penitent".
  2. If you do not have a spiritual father, or do not think you need one, consider these materials on spiritual guidance.
  3. You might also consider whether it is a sin to work on holy days. See Elder Paisios the Athonite's comments on feast days and holidays.
  4. See the "The Rule of Fasting in the Orthodox Church," by Fr. Seraphim (Rose) of Platina, and this excerpt from The Exomologetarion concerning fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christ is Born, Glorify Him!

I am praying you all had an edifying and spiritually rich Nativity; celebrating the birth of our new born King with friends and family.  May the joy of the precious gift of His birth ever be with you and your loved ones.  Let us take this opportune moment to rededicate ourselves to the worship of the True SON that never fades or sets; an everlasting LIGHT leading us all to communion with the Holy Trinity.  I pray we not take this Feast in vain, but rather spiritually nourish from the depths of this great mystery:
The WORD became flesh and dwelt among us!

A mystery that has changed the course of humanity forever.  A mystery that has now bridged and united man to God and God to man.  A mystery that reestablishes our rightful inheritance as sons and daughters of the Living God.  A mystery that ushers in a new era; where God has become accessible to those that seek Him.  A mystery in which the heavens has opened and the angels minister unto us.

In these dark and uncertain times, 

let us shout to the world that the King of Kings is born. 

  Let us proclaim to all that Emmanuel

"God is with us" 

is now a reality in our lives and so can be in theirs.  

Let us sing unto the Holy Family a new song of Love, Peace, and Goodwill towards all men.  

Christ is Born, may we Glorify Him

Christ is Born, may we Magnify Him

 Christ is Born, may we live in Him

Wishing you all every spiritual reward from above and peace to your souls.

Your servant in the New Born King,
Ft. Spyridon

Friday, December 12, 2014

Divine Disappointment

As my life is taking its new course and direction, meandering through much fog and darkness at times, I cannot help but ponder the meaning of disappointment.  Disappointment plagues us all and in differing forms; we become disappointed in people, places, situations, and even in GOD.  
What is disappointment?
It is the failure or lack of success of our goals, expectations, and wishes.  Disappointment often leads to anger and bitterness which doubles our ultimate grief.  What is one to think, what is one to feel, what is one to do when his/her dreams shatter and life or relationships goes in a different direction then hoped for?  Why is God allowing all this unmet expectations in my life?
We can either let our disenchantment get the best of us and we become bitter, angry, cynical, and negative; or we can put on the mind of Christ and see through His eyes to perhaps discern what HIS will is for us.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth , So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

As we walk on the path of Salvation and begin living in the Spirit, we must come to a realization that God loves us, wants the best for us, and is ultimately wiser than us.  We, little by little, begin to trust HIM and begin to ascertain the fact that just because we have desired or wished for something, perhaps, just perhaps, it is not for our own good.  We need remove our ego as the focal point of the universe and realize that not every thought we think, or emotion we have, or goal we set, is a good idea or is healthy for our soul. 
Perhaps God is not allowing the fulfillment of our hearts desire for it is not in our best interest.  If He is truly Our Father, as we profess always, then just as our earthly father withholds the 20th piece of candy from his children knowing that it will make them sick and vomit, we must trust that our personal Father, who loves and cares for us to the nth degree, maybe withholding his blessings upon many of our misguided adventures.
Disappointment stings so bad for it makes quite clear our collective human weakness, lack of foresight and understanding,  revealing truly how shallow and lost we are, especially as we force our own objectives at the expense of the Divine.
So What Do We Do?
Believe it or not, disappointment (if understood correctly) is the vehicle by which God blesses us with His gifts which are by far spiritually better than the things we have hoped for.  The denial of our plans must lead us to the thought that our goals are either ill-timed or conceived in Gods overall plan for us or HE has an alternative blessing He is waiting to shower upon us--- if only we Trust.

1.      Express your feelings ( wants, desires, disappointment, grief etc) to the Lord of hosts.
a.      We often stop praying when the dark clouds of uncertainty overtake us.  But this is precisely the time when dialogue with our Saviour is of utmost importance.  I said dialogue and not monologue; in our conversation with Jesus, we must provide significant amount of quiet time so we are predisposed to actually hear what He is trying to say.  Oftentimes we throw a bomb so to speak to God--- I need this now!!!!—then we run away and not spend the quiet time necessary to hear His answer.

2.     Remember God loves you and cares about the details of your Life
a.      For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart”  Jeremiah 29:11
3.     Set a new goal, and wait upon the Holy Spirit to confirm the decision
a.     Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret—it only causes harm.  Psalm 37:7
4.     Reaffirm your trust in your heavenly Father
a.      “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, 
what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns;
 yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not
 of more value than they?  Which of you by worrying 
can add one cubit to his stature? Matt 6:25
5.     Forgive and keep walking on His path
a.     “Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it?
 I will even make a road in the wilderness 
And rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19

As I look back over the last 25 years of my spiritual journey and misadventures, I am only now realizing that I have been wrong in my goals, desires, and wants more often than not.  I am so thankful that most of what I was praying for during those early years never came to fruition.  They say hind sight is 20-20, but through the lenses of time I am beginning to be able to shout with the psalmist our father King David:

Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name!Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercies,Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103
I still continue to struggle with disappointment and failures for sure, but I am confident now that in my weakness I will be made strong and that I trust in His words that He will not leave me orphaned and will be with me even unto the ends of the days.

A Prayer
I pray to the Lord God, that He will wipe away every tear we shed, that He will comfort our broken hearts and bring peace to our souls.  I pray for us all who are suffering through much disappointment, that He will send His Divine Wisdom to bring clarity to our minds.  I pray that we foster the spiritual discipline to forgive, confess our weakness, and continue our spiritual race leading us to the Giver of Life.

Your servant in our most compassionate King,
Ft. Spyridon


Monday, December 8, 2014


The man who stores up injuries and resentments and yet fancies that he prays might as well draw water from a well and pour it into a cask that is full of holes. Evagrius, On Prayer, 22 c. AD 395
If I had to identify one primary core cause of being miserable, it is living with resentment. This is an ailment that is so insidious; it affects us all without even knowing that it exists.  Unfortunately everyone around us realizes that it exists, especially those that we have resentment towards, although we remain oblivious; for when one harbors resentment, their actions and reactions become seemingly unpredictable, erratic, destructive and downright bizarre. Again for the person, there is no self-awareness that they are acting out of line (and in fact typically justify themselves) , but the fact becomes increasingly obvious to all else.
 It is what our Holy Fathers call “secret anger”. It is when all past transgressions/insults from others (real or perceived), or past difficult life situations (failures, disappointments, hardships)  are left unchecked and without resolution and then all the anger, judgment, and blame will progress and turn into what the Holy Fathers call "secret or hidden anger," leading to chronic and obsessive "remembrance of wrongs," or  what we call "RESENTMENT."
We can harbor resentment towards others, towards ourselves and even towards GOD Himself.  All forms causing a path of destruction for our souls and in all of our relationships.  Resentment becomes an ever enlarging black hole, stealing our inner joy, disrupting the stillness of our hearts, while ushering in chronic interpersonal relational dysfunction.
 St. Tikhon of Zadonsk says: "Just as fire if it is not extinguished quickly will swallow many houses, so anger if it is not stopped right away will do great harm and will cause many troubles.
St. Paul says: Do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil” (Eph. 4:26-7). Did you hear that: “Do not make room for the devil”; holding onto anger and judgment, letting it ferment in our souls will emit such a foul spiritual odor that it will attract our enemy---God Forbid. 
We know that God is Love; this is the center of our understanding of our relationship with the Trinity and therefore with one another.  Resentment is the rejection of love and therefore the rejection of God.  It is making ourselves the center of the universe and the ultimate judge; we begin to play God and try to assume His position of judgment and retribution.
This rejection of Love ultimately poisons our heart, mind, and souls; we cannot think straight, behave strangely and unpredictably eventually blocking our path to holiness and healing---thereby preventing us from participating in the Kingdom (now as well as later).
Are we experiencing inner turmoil, unable to obtain peace, and always feeling unsettled? Does sleep fail us and are up at night tossing and turning? Are we feeling bothered, weighed down, and constrained with no end in sight? Does chronic anxiety plague us, not allowing any rest to our souls? Do we feel empty and at a loss?
If you, like me, can relate to the above symptomology we may be suffering from hidden and secret anger---Resentment. The fact of the matter is that this emptiness comes from our separation from God by allowing the poison of hidden anger burn our souls. When we choose judgment and anger over forgiveness and love, then we force HIS Grace to flee leaving is hollow, bare, and without Life.


This spiritual hollowness and graceless condition leads one to become cynical, passive aggressive, malicious, and an overall negative person. Negative people and negative situations seem to follow us wherever we go; we find ourselves in conflict constantly and we believe we are always right and never in the wrong; the problems then progresses where we feel the need to fill the spiritual emptiness and loneliness with deceit, drugs, alcohol, and/or sex--- trying to numb the pain that we have unwittingly caused ourselves. This spiritual disease then can even progress to physical sickness.

Becoming aware of our condition and having some genuine self-reflection is the starting point.  In the next blog, I will be addressing true forgiveness, the remedy for this spiritual tragedy.  But for now, I would encourage us all, especially during this Holy season of Advent, to see your spiritual father, and reconnect with a life of confession and repentance.
Praying for a edifying Advent for you all,
Ft. Spyridon