The Sacrament of Confession, as “a great sign of God’s love”, which offers man the opportunity to be spiritually renewed, was presented by Archbishop Makarios of Australia, in front of a large audience at the Parish of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple, in North Balwyn, Melbourne, on the night of Saturday, March 19th, 2022.
His Eminence, with an understandable and accessible speech, and with the narration of his personal experiences, as well as didactic stories from the Gerontikon (Book of spiritual sayings from the Holy Fathers), described at length the theological content of the Holy Confession and addressed spiritual counsel to the faithful as well as to the clergy who were present at the talk.
In the introduction to his position, he wanted to make it clear that there is no human being who has not committed sins, while pointing out that the most serious sin is not acknowledging our mistakes and sins.
He then reminded that the foundation of the Sacrament of Confession was the words of Christ to the Apostles, after His Resurrection: “Whoever’s sins you forgive, they are forgiven them. Whoever’s sins you retain, they have been retained.” He explained that this is one of the obligatory Mysteries of our Church, noting among other things: “If without Holy Baptism we can not become members of the Church, then without Confession we can not become co-heirs of the Kingdom of God.”
Then, the Archbishop referred to the crucial role of the Spiritual Father – Confessor, explaining first how historically it has prevailed that the Bishops entrust to certain Priests the responsible task of confession. “The work of the Spiritual Father is very important,” he stressed, noting that it is not limited to listening to the sins of the faithful. “The spiritual father follows the course of his spiritual child. “It is an effort and a care that every spiritual person is obliged to have for his spiritual children”, he added.
Addressing the faithful, he advised them on the criteria they should have when choosing their Spiritual Father, breaking down a number of stereotypes that exist on this issue and insisting that the criteria should be primarily spiritual.
To describe the way in which a believer should prepare when he comes to confess, Archbishop Makarios of Australia invoked and quoted the definition given by Saint Nicodemus of Mount Athos.
Specifically, Saint Nicodemus states in his book, “Exomologitarion”: “Confession is a voluntary verbal manifestation of evil deeds and words and thoughts, all-encompassing, categorical, straightforward, without shame, decisive, to a legal spiritual product.”
The Archbishop analysed with simple words and examples the content of the above definition, presenting at each stage the essential meanings that arose and giving the corresponding advice to the faithful.
Finally, he referred to the obstacles that prevent us from participating in the Sacrament of Confession, such as feelings of shame, procrastination, disbelief in the role of the spiritual father or feelings of despair, and the view that there is no salvation after our sin.
Noting that these are obstacles that Satan raises before us, in order to prevent our reconciliation with God, he described the ways in which one can overcome them, while he maintained that “confession works as a wall of protection”, as man who confesses regularly ceases to be easily accessible to satan.
Archbishop Makarios closed his speech with an encouraging and inspiring message: Comparing sins with burning coals and God’s love with the ocean, he emphasised to those present that “your sins, no matter how great, no matter how burning, if you throw them into the ocean of God’s love, you will be free. That is confession! ”
It is noted that present among the large audience that attended the speech were, among others, Metropolitan Ezekiel of Dervis , Their Graces, Bishop Kyriakos of Sozopolis, Bishop Evmenios of Kerasounta, and the High Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus, Mrs Martha Mavrommati.