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Confession is good (even vital) for the body and the soul!

The renowned Swiss psychiatrist Paul Tournier once wrote: “I could give very many examples, especially of patients who have come to visit me only once, . . . with the sole purpose of finding someone to whom they could confess a sin that has been weighing upon them for years. . . . The tremendous joy brought by forgiveness plays an important part in causing the medical effects [of healing]. . . In many cases I have seen a physical illness disappear overnight after the confession of a lie or an illicit love-affair.” Thus even a Reformed Protestant like Tournier recognized that confession is good for the body, as well as the soul.

And we Orthodox have a special opportunity, rare in the modern world, to avail ourselves of the healing Mystery of Holy Confession at regular intervals in our own churches. A good spiritual rhythm would allow for each of us to come to Holy Confession each month, especially if one hopes to receive the Body and Blood of Our Lord at each Sunday Divine Liturgy. The timing may be extended through the practice of oikonomia (exception for the greater good of both the person and the community) to once every two months, but not a day longer, as our former hierarch Metropolitan Jonah permitted. It has been disappointing to me that Holy Confession is rather (shall we say?) “under-utilized”; here at St. Herman of Alaska Orthodox Church.

Regular opportunities for Holy Confession here in Stafford include the following: each Saturday after Great Vespers, each Wednesday evening (or other evenings when scheduled) before Daily Vespers (that is, from 5:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m.), Sundays during the fellowship hour after Divine Liturgy upon request, and by appointment with me at other times. Of course, a parishioner may have established a previous relation with another Orthodox priest-confessor that you wish to continue. If that is your situation, I ask only that you let me know the name of your priest-confessor, so that I can be confident that the spiritual relation is authentic and strong.

~ Archpriest Alexander

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