суббота, 21 ноября 2009 г.

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh. ON CONFESSION.

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
                      ON CONFESSION
                       2nd sermon
                   26th September 1999

In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

I  have  been asked to give a couple of sermons on Confession. This is
my second sermon on the subject.

When  we  come to Confession we come to meet a friend face to face. We
are not coming to be judged and condemned. We do not come in terror of
what will happen. We come to the One who, being God, beyond suffering,
beyond  death,  has chosen, for the love of us, to become Man, to take
upon  Himself  all  our human destiny and to give His life for us. His
life, His death are to us evidence that we are so loved of God that we
can  come  up to Him whether we are good or bad with hope that He will
receive  us  with  open  arms;  that  if  anyone  is  to  cry over our
unworthiness  and  our  sins  it is Him, for compassion, for pity, for
love  - with a readiness, as He said in a vision to one of the saints,
that  if  there was only one sinner in the world He would again become
Man  and  again  die  for him, because He cannot endure the thought of
anyone perishing.

This  is  the  God,  the  Christ,  to  Whom  we  come  when we come to
Confession - to the One who is open to us with all His life and death;
One  who  waits  for  us  to  come to be healed, to be consoled, to be
supported - not to be condemned, not to be judged.

And  then, what is the role of the priest? In the prayer which is read
before  Confession  we  are  told,  'I am but a witness'. What does it
mean?  A  witness  to what? To the fact that you have come? That would
not  be  enough.  But  if  you  think of what witnesses are: there are
accidental,  occasional  witnesses. You are present in the street when
an  accident  takes  place.  You  are  asked: what did happen? You are
neither in favour of the ones or the others. You are just telling what
your eyes have seen. It's for others to judge and to know.

There are other forms of witness. At times a friend of ours is brought
to  judgement.  And we come to defend him, to testify for him, to save
him. That's another kind of witness.

And  then there is the witness which the Holy Gospel mentions speaking
of  St. John the Baptist: as the friend of the Bridegroom, the one who
comes  to  the  wedding, invited both by the bride and the bridegroom,
because  he is the nearest, the closest, to them both. And he is there
to  share  their joy, the miracle of their encounter, the miracle of a
blessing  that will come upon them and out of two make one, unite them
so  that they are inseparable for ever in the mystery of eternal love,
of divine love shared with them.

This  is  the  position  of  the  priest. He is called by Christ to be
before  the  person,  the  sinner,  a witness to the fact that he, the
sinner, is loved, that Christ is there, that He has no other desire or
intention  but  the  salvation  and the joy eternal of the one who has
come  today.  And  the  priest  comes  also  in the name of the sinner
saying:  Christ,  my  God,  our Lord, this person has sinned, yes, but
look,  he  trusts in You, he believes in You, we all love him with the
same love as You possess. We are prepared to give our lives for him to
be reconciled and find peace and joy and be at one with You, our Lord,
our God, our Saviour, our Lover.

When you come to Confession next time, think of these things. Think of
the way you come: not with fear of punishment or of rejection but with
open  heart  to  pour out everything evil or doubtful there is in this
heart.  And  Christ  will receive you. Your confession may be to Him a
new  crucifixion  but He accepts it. He doesn't reject it. He does not
reject  you. Come, open your heart, speak in all truth to Him, knowing
that  you  are  loved  beyond judgement, to the point of sacrifice and
death: His death, and your life - life in time and life eternal. Amen.


 * All texts are copyright: Estate of Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

           Metropolitan Anthony of  Sourozh Library

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