The Sacrament of Repentance
Repentance and remission of sins is one of the seven sacraments of the New Law ordained by our Lord when He breathed on His disciples, saying: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive a man his sins, they shall be forgiven to him; and if you withhold forgiveness of a man’s sins, they are kept. (John 20:22-23)”
This sacrament was ordained of our Lord in the form of a law, giving power and authority to His ministers to declare and pronounce absolution to the faithful who confess and repent of sins willingly committed after baptism.
The faithful repenter should consider the many sins which he or she committed and must truly and earnestly repent of them. One should then confess them to the priest without concealing or hiding them and, consequently, accept the canonical penalty.
- The priest should be well acquainted with the divine as well as the ecclesiastical laws that he may be able to determine whether or not this repenter is worthy of absolution. Consequently, the priest, in the likeness of a spiritual physician, should treat the faithful penitent and take great care for his or her soul’s health.
- The priest should take great heed never to reveal anything of the penitent’s confession, but rather keep it secret even until death.
- Whenever the priest is called to make confession to some faithful repenters, he must show himself always ready to respond to the call and to earnestly beseech the Lord that he may be assisted to fulfill his service fittingly and piously.
- The confession ought to be made only in church. The priest wears a stole around his neck and sits on a chair which must be put in a special place so as to be seen by the congregation. However, on account of sickness, or for any other compelling reason, the priest is allowed to go to the sick person’s home who wishes to make confession, but is unable to go to church. While the penitent is making confession, the priest must be sitting in a special place where he may be seen by those who are present.
- If the priest finds out that the penitent is not acquainted with the fundamental truths of the Church, then he must try to enlighten and instruct the person with such truths at the time of confession, but if it would be impossible, then he must do so at a more convenient opportunity.
- If it may happen that, by reason of extremity of sickness or by any other impediment, one of the faithful is deprived of the power of speech and is unable to make confession except by making gestures to indicate his or her sins, the priest should grant the individual absolution.
Prayer of Repentance
Have mercy upon me, O Almighty Father, You do we praise and do we bless. You do we worship, humbly kneeling, that You should show us Your great mercy. O Christ, Fountain of mercy, show me Your compassion on the day of judgment as You did to the thief on the Cross, the publican and the woman taken in iniquity. Amen.
Prayer Before Confession
O God, Who does not will the death of the sinner, but rather that he repent and live, I confess before You that I have sinned before heaven and in Your sight, while enjoying Your great goodness. By this ungratefulness have I fallen from the estate of sons and am no more worthy to be called a son of Your grace. Make me, O Father, as one of thy hired servants. But blot out my transgressions in Your mercy. Cleanse me from my sin. O Merciful Father, turn Your face from my sins and look not upon my iniquities. Cast me not from before Your face, O Gracious Lord. Rebuke me not in Your anger, but listen to the voice of my sorrow, O Lord, and look upon my tears. May they wash me clean in Your sight, O God, for I do repent most humbly and am heartily sorry for all that I have done wrong. Moreover, I have determined not to return to the hateful paths of sin again. Receive my confession and help me in Your mercy and grace to live a life that brings Your glory and praise. Amen.
Prayer Upon Confession of Sin Before the Priest
I confess to God the Father Almighty, and to His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, and to the Holy Spirit, in the presence of our Lady the Virgin, ever sacred in her virginity, and all the holy angels, of Michael, of Gabriel, both chief of angels, and St. John the Baptist, of the holy apostles St. Peter and St. Paul, the twenty-four prophets, the twelve apostles, the four evangelists and the seventy-two sent forth.
I confess the holy faith of the three Ecumenical Councils of Nicaea, Constantinople and Ephesus in the most noble priesthood ascribed unto You, Father Priest, by which You loose and bind.
I have sinned through all my senses, both inwardly and outwardly, in word, in deed and in thought. My sin is great, very great, and I repent of it most sincerely, purposing not to fall again into the same ever, preferring death rather than embrace sin. And I ask you, by the authority of the sacred priesthood, that you absolve me and forgive, asking God to pardon me through His grace. Amen.
Prayer of Absolution for the Laity
The priest lays his right hand on the head of the penitent and says:
May God have mercy upon you, and may He guide you to everlasting life through the authority of priesthood which was entrusted by our Lord Jesus Christ to His disciples who, in turn, entrusted it to their successors until it was given me; I who am weak and sinful, absolve you, brother (sister) of all the sins that you have confessed and are repentant of them, as wellas of all the transgressions which have escaped your memory in the Name of the Father +, amen, and of the Son +, amen and of the Holy Spirit + for everlasting life. Amen.
Prayer of Absolution for the Clergy
May God, Who blessed his holy disciples, bless you. May He preserve you from all evil deeds and perfect you in the gracious ones that you may be the keeper of His commandments and the fulfiller of His laws. May He make you a chosen vessel that is fit for the service of His glory. May you enjoy peace in Him, and may He be pleased with you and according to His Good Will, may you be blessed, absolved and consecrated, in the Name of the Father +, amen, and of the Son +, amen and of the Holy Spirit + for everlasting life. Amen.
Prayer After Confession
O Lord Jesus Christ, our great Physician, and Fount of mercy, behold me now in Your presence, the blind to receive sight within from You, to behealed of all my sickness and to be made rich in my poverty. I believe that You have accepted my confession and are pleased to acknowledge my supplications; that You have forgiven me and cleansed me from my sin. Ever do I render thanks to You, O Lord, and Your praise is at all times upon my lips, in accordance with the multitude of Your loving kindnesses. I beseech You, by Your grace, to confirm me in my purpose and promise that I may never return unto sin; and to grant me triumph over all my temptations that I may love You alone upon earth, and my spirit may be exalted in Your praise until that day when I shall see You in Your heaven above for ever more. Amen.
Prayer Before Receiving the Holy Eucharist
O Bread coming down from heaven to nourish everyone, grant that I may partake of You in all pure desire, adoration and godly fear. O happy Wine of Life, may I be intoxicated by Your love. O You Who did cry, saying: “Whosoever is athirst let him come to Me and drink,” behold my soul in thirst has come to You to be satisfied by the Water of Life. O God, I am not worthy that You should come into my heart. Speak a word to heal my soul which is athirst for You even more than the thirst of the deer to the streams of water, O Cup of Blessing and Salvation. O Heavenly Manna and Bread of Life, dwell in me forever more. Amen.
Prayer After Receiving the Holy Eucharist
With what tongues shall I utter Your praise, O God, most high and greatly to be praised, for this Your wondrous grace. It passes all telling; forYou have even been pleased to give of Yourself to Your servant for nourishment; and have rejoiced his heart with the wine of Your sacrifice. You have sanctified me by Your Spirit, and have satisfied my hunger from out of the bounty of Your house. My heart is Your perpetual dwelling place that You may preside over all my faculties and my desires, controlling them as You will. And I beseech You that this my Communion increase my faith and strengthen my trust in You that it rekindle the fire of Your love within me, causing me to grow in every virtue; that it be a weapon to shield me from all the tricks of the enemy of my soul until I become one with You in that life above where You are with all saints, so that I may join in the chorus of praise and adoration to Your Father and Your Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.
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A week ago, 21 Coptic Christian souls were Martyred simply for their undefiled and firm faith in Christ. Today they are rejoicing with our Lord in paradise wearing the glorious crown of Martyrdom. As we travel through this lenten season, let their faith be a testimony for us. May their memories be eternal!
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? …..For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8: 35-39
Sunday School Association of the Malankara Archdiocese of the Syrian Orthodox Church in North America has successfully concluded another academic year. Congratulations to all the examines who have excelled on the 10th grade Sunday School Final Exam. We also wish to recognize this years 1st rank holder, Mr. Jobin Jospeh, for his outstanding achievement.
1st Rank: Jobin Jospeh
St. Mary’s Church, Lynbrook, New York
2nd Rank: Sonia Ninan
St. Ignatius Cathedral, Dallas, Texas
3rd Rank: Shalet Baby
St. Ignatius Cathedral, Dallas, Texas
Holy Qurbono by Rev.Fr.Faustino Quintanilla. Associate Vicar of St. John’s Church, Staten Island, New York. — with Faustino Quintanilla at St. Mary’s Malankara Jacobite Syriac Orthodox Church, Lynbrook, New York.
2014 Christmas Carol Dates & Locations
12/6/14: Elmont, Valley Stream, Bellerose, Queens Village, Floral Parks, Glen Oaks, New Hyde Park.
12/13/14: New Hyde Park, Manhasset, Garden City Park, Williston Park, Care Place, Glen Cove, Roslyn Heights
12/20/2014: East Meadow, Bethpage, Hicksville, Plainview, Sysosset, Melville, Dix Hills
KOODOSH EETHO (Sanctification of the Church)
Happy New Year! Am I nuts! Greeting Happy New Year on the first Sunday of November, then really I must be crazy. But some of you may know why we wished happy New Year today. Because today is the first Sunday of the Church Calendar year; we call this Sunday Koodosh Eetho, which means sanctification of the church. We are also commemorating the perunnal of St. Gregorios of Parumala. Unfortunately we do not realize the purpose and meaning of many of the arrangements, many of the important days, rituals, feasts that are important for us. And that’s the unfortunate part; we do not know when we are celebrating the all saints day / all apostles day. But we do know when and how to celebrate Halloween; that’s again “the all saints day”. We make deliberate efforts to celebrate Halloween, we throw parties, we dress up, we invite friends and family- because it’s fun; but is it appropriate to commemorate the feast days of the Church. Of course yes! What I’m trying to say; it has nothing to do with Halloween celebration, please; but I’m trying to present how this Sunday is important to us; and how the Sundays are arranged in the Church Calendar. How many Sunday’s are there in a year? 52/53 Sundays depending on the day a year starts. As I said the Church Calendar starts on the Sunday that falls between October 30th and November 5th, which is called Koodosh Eetho. The Sundays are arranged beginning from Koodosh Eetho to the 7/8th Sunday after Sleebo. Again, we need to know that the entire church calendar is divided into 6 / 7 cycles; just like the seasons in a year.. I. Sanctification of the Church* to Christmas (Yeldho) II. Yeldho to Epiphany (Dan’ho) III. Dan’ho to the Beginning Sunday of Great Lent (Kothine) IV. Kothine to Easter Sunday (Kymtha) V. Kymtha to Pentecost VI. Pentecost to the Transfiguration VII. Sleebo to Sanctification of Church (Koodosh Eetho) Knowing this arrangement will help us to better appreciate and understand the logical connection between different feasts, days of the church, gospel readings and what the gospel messages are intended to be. Moreover, there are general themes for each cycle; for example, theme for the first Cycle is confession, affirmation and purification, which helps us to prepare to welcome the Savior on the Christmas day. I’m not sure whether we teach this in the Sunday school. But the bottom line is, this needs to be on your fingertips. Otherwise, you won’t be able to appreciate or understand the logical connection between different feasts/ days of the church, gospel readings and what the gospel messages are intended to be. Coming back to the Gospel reading for today, from ST Mark 8: 27-33. The first part depicts St. Peter’s declaration; and on the way to a village Jesus “asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” If he asks the same question today in 2013, there will be millions of different responses. I was going through a blog that describes what people say about Jesus today. “There’s the Republican Jesus—who is against tax increases; who argues for the family values, pro-life and at the same time owning firearms, against gun controls, against food stamps and so on. “There’s Democrat Jesus—who is against Wall Street and Wal-Mart, demonstrating for minimum wages, lenient on pro-choice and so on. “There’s Therapist Jesus—who helps us cope with life’s problems “There’s Starbucks Jesus—who drinks fair trade coffee, loves spiritual conversations, drives a hybrid, and goes to film festivals. “There’s Open-minded Jesus—who loves everyone “There’s Touchdown Jesus—who helps athletes run faster and jump higher than non-Christians and determines the outcomes of Super Bowls. “Martyr Jesus—a good man who died a cruel death so we can feel sorry for him. “There’s Gentle Jesus –”There’s Spirituality Jesus–”There’s Revolutionary Jesus—”There’s Guru Jesus—”There’s Boyfriend Jesus—”There’s Good Example Jesus—who shows you how to help people, change the planet, and become a better you. 2000 years back Jesus asks this question to his disciples. “Who do people say I am?” They gave him ‘others’ opinion; some think you are John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets and so on! Jesus further asks this question seeking some personalized answers from his disciples as a group; I mean he was seeking for the understanding and affirmation of Apostles as a faith community; “Who do you say I am?” He was not happy with “they say…Someone says…kind of responses; rather seeking their affirmations; looking for a “we say, we believe- kind of affirmations. Peter, the first among the Apostles, he opened his mouth, representing the other Apostles, representing the church; declared that you are the son of God! You are the Messiah. “Who do you say I am?” No other question will ever be as important to us, as this one question. This kind of a situation is true for us too. We always depend on jargons, philosophies and text book definitions to answer this question. But Christ is straight away rejecting ‘second-hand’ testimonies! What is your affirmation as a faith community, as the church; this is what Jesus looking for. Remember, he is not asking for your personal opinion; Ningalkku Njan Aranu? He clearly seeking the opinion of the disciples as a Group; he is not asking for Perter’s opinion, or Mary’s opinion. But as a faith community; who do you say I am? We have affirmed our faith in him on the Baptism day; we repeat our faith every day though reciting our Creed; but this is the time to reaffirm our faith together as a community. “Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. Not just another prophet. Not just another Rabbi. Not just another wonder-worker. He was the one they had been waiting for: God in the flesh, the one to heal the sick, give sight to the blind, freedom to the prisoners and proclaim good news to the poor, the Lamb of God, come to take away the sins of the world; our savior and liberator Jesus Christ. If you further read, from verses 31-33; just after Peter’s affirmation Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection; But Peter do not understand what he talks about; Then Jesus rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things, but on human things”. This may be confusing; therefore, I request you all to read further Mark 8 up to the last verses. You will further understand Peter’s declaration was indeed a confession; and this declaration and confession leads to holistic purification. This kind of an affirmation, confession and purification helped St. Peter and his fellow Apostles to take up the cross and follow their master. In verses 34 Jesus says, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me”. And the Apostles denied themselves and took up their cross and followed their Master. Again, this is true with Parumala thirumeni. He denied his self, took up the cross and followed his master. In Christian life; you can see the Salvation is free; but discipleship is costly. Self-denial is the cost of discipleship. We call Parumala thirumeni a saint; not because he is a wonder-maker; not because he can do miracles in people’s lives. Rather he did things, served God’s people, not in the actual estimate of others; not in the estimate of human norms; but he counted everything in the estimate of God. Jesus Christ idea of a New Testament Saint is not the one who proclaims the Gospel merely; but one who becomes broken bread and poured out vine in the hands of Jesus Christ for others’ lives. Parumala thirumeni was indeed was a broken bread in the hands of lord for the sake of others. We are also called to be living a saintly life; deny our self and submit ourselves in the hands of God for the sake of others. But we remain as ourselves (as …) because we fail every day to pay the cost of Christian discipleship. As I said earlier, Koodosh Eetho means sanctification of the church. But it is not about the sanctification of church buildings! Rather, this Sunday is meant to call for reaffirmation, confession and purification of ourselves; the members of the church. Only through repentance, confession, affirmation and purification one will be able to prepare to welcome God on Christmas Eve. As we read in the Beatitudes/ the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see the Lord”. I hope this year you can appreciate why the church calendar starts with purification; what it aims for; this cycle of the calendar year, constantly reminds us to purify ourselves to prepare for the birth of our lord Jesus Christ. May the almighty father help us to re-affirm our faith as a community, and confess and purify ourselves to prepare for the birth of our lord, to see lord, to feel the real heavenly joy on the birth of Savior; may the Holy Spirit help us to ‘deny self’ and pay for the cost of discipleship; and follow the master by taking our cross and to be faithful to the Christian way of life! Amen.