Thursday, May 04, 2006

RE: Confession through letters or mails

Dearest Abraham,
The essential element to all of our activity as Orthodox Christians is "relationship" - to God and to one another.  God saw fit to establish His Church to accomplish this.
You may confess to anyone - to a judge in a secular court, to a secular therapist, to a beggar on the street - however, without the essential element of reconciliation to the Church - the Church that Christ God established through the Holy Apostles that has and continues to exist through time and history - then why confess anything. 
Now, we certainly can use the practice and there are benefits to speaking the truth even when it hurts.  In a selfish way, we may get a reduced sentence or feel better.  We may even overcome grievous mental and physical illness. 
So, from this, mail or letter could be seen as practice and, perhaps, as lancing the boils of our sin. The Saints and Fathers of Holy Church teach us that the sacraments are healing and nourishment for our souls and spirits, for the very core of our existence - and these can only happen in person, in context, in community.  The admission of Truth about ourselves (our shortcomings, our faults, our sins) need not be public, but the resolution and reconciliation must be completed by an agent of our community entrusted with that duty to welcome lost sheep into the flock; to welcome prodigals back into the family. 
Confession, absolution and penance can be private matters, but when the priest or bishop has granted absolution, then who are we to retain our sins or the sins of our brethren?  However, if only secret letters are passed, only psychotherapy received - has the sin been absolved? 
Christ told His Apostles after His resurrection - that supreme act of salvation, of potential reunion for all of us - "whatsoever sins you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven"  We can hang onto our sin as long as we like - we can blame fears of inadequate priests and bishops and remain separate from Holy Church - we may even walk away from being in community with Christ and His successors to follow false prophets (secular or religious or "spiritual") because they have lower expectations - but it is an illusion that we can "get away" with our sins, that we can reconcile by avoiding those whom we need to reconcile, that we can live forever outside Holy Church (which is not as the Church is here). 
Our access to Christ's healing touch is through His successors.  We must be present in body, mind and spirit to receive the gracious and merciful gifts that God gives freely.  It is not abstract.  It is not long distance.  It is intimate and it is everything.
What does Christ say, over and over again to those that are healed? 
And in another place, He asks, which is easier to forgive sins or to heal the sick?  Are not both miracles?
Fr John Brian
Madison, Wisconsin

From: Abraham.Koshy
Subject: [ICON] Confession throgh letters or mails

Respected Achens,
Thanks for the prompt response  to my query. As I understand now,  confession through letter and mails can be done preferably through known Priests and Bishops?

In case the Priests and Bishops are not known personally, is it possible to do confession through Mail or Letter?

Hope Achan will be able to guide me.

Bangalore (India)

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