Renewal: The Wondrous Beauty of Confession and Communion
There are a number of experiences in life that can be considered transformational. Every day we learn something new that ‘transforms’ us changing our approach to life, some greater than others, but none, in my mind, are as powerful as the healing qualities of confession and communion. As Orthodox Christians we confess our sins to God and receive the Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in Communion, the most intimate union with God. This has always been a mystery to me as to how God could actually ‘suffer’ death as God can’t die. The answer lies in Christ, in His human ability to feel both joy and pain for if God became human He could then suffer a human death and then, through his Divine nature, conquer death and rise again, a most profound concept, the very backbone of our Orthodox Christian faith. We are reborn as Christ conquered the hopelessness of human death. Christ also brings us the hope of salvation and life eternal. Remarkable and beautiful.
The act of confession, though, is more than just a recitation of words. It is a sincere examination of our lives, our consciences, our misdeeds and, most importantly, our separation from God. If we openly admit our sins we can begin to get ‘back on track’ in our lives with it’s very real struggles and very real achievements. Christ did not promise easy paths nor easy victories. No, but He did promise His love and salvation. And if we are to ‘fight the good fight’ that so desperately needs to be fought these days we need Christ in our lives. We may carry our ‘fight’ to our jobs, our children’s schools, our government and even within our families. Maybe our battle is to helping a sickly child or struggling elderly or just to pay our bills. All are worthy causes for Christ is there beside us every step of the way. So long as we keep Him in our heart we will have the strength to keep fighting.
Finally it is the joy experienced after confession and communion that is the most wondrous to me. It is also one of the most beautiful of all Christian experiences as the radiance of Christ’s love becomes illuminating. There is a certain measurable relief in knowing that we can be cleansed of our sins no matter how serious. It is a rare opportunity to become renewed in Christ. Whether it is Pascha or any other day this renewal is like fresh water from a cool mountain stream to those who have become lost in the wilderness of our own sins. It lights our paths to new ways as old bad habits are broken. How wonderful it is to know that Jesus offers us this ‘rebirth’ if we only approach Him with sincere love and respectful fear as a disobedient child approaches a just and loving parent.
Let us then embrace the wondrous beauty of confession and communion knowing that it is a good thing, a very good thing. Something that opens our hearts, our eyes and something that renews our very souls.
Serge G. Mihaly, Jr.