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Recently, I was hearing one of my new convert’s confession, and she admitted that she was having trouble figuring out what to say. I sympathized with her and told her that was very common in the early days of participating in this spiritual discipline of regular confession. Hey, I’ve known folks who’ve been Orthodox their whole lives who struggle with the same thing!

And do you know why? It isn’t because we don’t have any sins to confess. It’s because either we are still not sure of what is a sin and what isn’t and/or we still don’t know ourselves well enough to see where the spiritual wounds are located in our hearts. That’s why people tend to talk about their actions or behaviors as sins. Or they think certain feelings are sins.

To be sure, our actions and choices can be symptoms of spiritual illness, but most of the time, we don’t spend enough time with a gifted spiritual father long enough or often enough to get to the root of our brokenness.

And make no mistake, the purpose of confession is healing. It isn’t punishment or the correction of rule-breaking. All of the Divine Mysteries of the Church are about healing you and forming the character of Christ within you. They are never meant as bats to beat you or make you feel shame. The Lord loves you and He wants you healed, but to get to the deepest healing of our deepest wounds we need to grow in humility and honesty about ourselves. And that takes time in the healing ministry of confession.

So, when you are wondering what to say in confession, I always recommend you read The Beatitudes and ask yourself “Do I live like this?’ And “Where have I stumbled in living like Jesus describes here?” Jesus is giving us a tremendous gift with this teaching. In fact, it is a central revelation about what a healthy human person looks like. Is this you?

Look at Matthew 4:23-25;5:1-13:

At that time, Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every infirmity among the people. So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them. And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Dekapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan.

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.

“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men.”

The passage starts out by saying Jesus is doing three activities throughout the area. He is Teaching, Preaching the “gospel of the kingdom” (significant), and “Healing every disease and every infirmity.” No wonder His fame spread like wildfire through this part of the world! Someone Who does this is certainly going to get people’s attention. But remember, all the physical healings were temporary since every person healed physically eventually died. These physical healings were meant to teach us that a deeper spiritual healing was really the key to true freedom and peace!

But think about it, every person the Lord healed physically eventually died, just like Lazarus. Every person whose ailment was healed still faced the mortality of their physical body.

That’s why the Lord gave us the spiritual healing treasures of these divine Beatitudes. He goes on to reveal to us that physical healing is one thing, but true and eternal healing of our inner lives is the healing that lasts forever! Become what He says of you in this beautiful list of virtues and faithfulness and you will not only gain eternal salvation but even your physical body will be caught up in His eternal life at the Resurrection of the dead. Now that’s what I call being Healed! Forever!

On this 1st Tuesday after the Feast of Pentecost, the Church calls us to consider why the Lord gave us His Holy Spirit and why we continue to give the Spirit in the mystery of chrismation to all the Orthodox. This power that is enabled by the Christian being filled with the Spirit is meant to give you the courage, and the tenacity to seek into your own heart all the places where this healing power of the Spirit needs to go. The Gift of the Holy Spirit empowers you to do the hard work of seeking out the broken places in your heart that need repentance and the healing power of God’s grace. Without this active participation in the life of the Holy Spirit through the mysteries of the Lord’s Church, we run out of steam to stick with the lifetime of honest confession we need to be transformed into the person God made us to be!

Today, why not abandon the narcissistic notion of “Please make my boo-boo go away” for the long-term joys of a life disciplined and shaped by eternal healing that penetrates the deepest need of your soul? Why not allow the power of the Holy Spirit to transform your inner life so that your outer life reflects the change inside you? Allow the wisdom of the Faith to reveal you to the world as “Blessed” because of your priorities, choices, and love. This is the only path that truly leads to being Healed! Forever! This is what it means to live a Normal Orthodox Life!

P.S. Blessed are You, O Christ our God, who made fishermen all-wise, sending upon them the Holy Spirit and, through them, netting the world. O Loving One, glory to You.

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