Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
12th September 1999
In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
I was asked to give a certain number of sermons on Confession; because
many come to Confession and repeat only things which they have read in
manuals of devotion or which other people have told them about. And I
would like to start where I start with a child and attract your
attention to the fact that our situation is the same.
When a child comes to Confession, usually he brings either on paper or
by memory a long list, or a short list, of sins. And when he has
finished, I always say, ▒Are these things which break your heart? Are
these things which you feel are wrong in you? Did you invent for
yourself this confession?▓ And most of the time the answer is, ▒No, my
mother gave me this list because that makes her cross!▓ After that I
usually have a conversation with the mother. But as far as the child
is concerned, it has nothing to do with him, it is not his confession.
It is the judgement which the parents have established, accusations
against him. And the same could be asked about grown-up people who
come with lists of sins which they have found in manuals, or been told
to consider by their spiritual fathers. And the answer is always the
same: it is not my confession, yet it is a challenge which I was
And then, the next move, indeed, is to ask, ▒What do you know of
Christ? Does He attract you? Do you like Him? Does He mean anything to
you? And the answer is varied. Some say, ▒No, I know Him from afar
off, I know Him from the Church, from what I was taught, but I never
had a personal attitude to Him.▓ Then the answer is, ▒Find out. Read
the Gospel and try to find out what Christ is like.▓
And the next move: ask yourself, ▒Do I like Him? Would I wish to be
His disciple, His friend? If the answer is ▒no▓, then begin to think
about your whole situation, because if Christ means nothing, if you
dislike Him, if He is no image of what you would like to be, then you
must start a long, long way away. But if you can say, ▒Yes! I like
Him, I can respect Him, I can admire Him. Yes, I would like to be His
personal friend if He was here,▓ then my next question will be, ▒Do
you know what friendship is?▓
Friendship consists most of all in choosing someone among all the
people to be to you the one you treasure above all, whom you admire,
by whom you are prepared to stand in case of danger or unpleasantness;
one to whom you wish to give joy.
Ask yourself these questions with regard to Christ; and ask yourself,
in what way have you tried in the past week to give some joy to the
Lord Jesus Christ, or in what way have you been for Him a cause of
pain. ▒I have loved him to the point of giving My life and My death to
him and he does not care at all. Not for My suffering or My death, but
If that is the conclusion, begin to re-examine all your status as a
Christian. If you can say, ▒yes, I choose Him as a friend,▓ begin to
ask yourself every day, every day: what have I done, said, thought,
felt, been, which can be to Him a joy or a pain?
And when you will come to Confession that is what you must bring to
Confession; between the last Confession and today▓s Confession this is
what I have been: an unfaithful friend, an indifferent friend, a
cowardly friend, or on the contrary, no, I have chosen Him for my
friend and I stood by Him . . .
Think in those terms; and we will see in the following sermons of mine
what else we can think and do, and prepare, to pronounce a Confession
that will be your own; the truth, the rock bottom of your life and
heart, the truth about your relationship with Christ. Amen.
Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh Library