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Confession: A Series of Lectures on the Mystery of Repentance. by Metropolitan Anthony (Krapovitsky)

Confession: A Series of Lectures on the Mystery of Repentance. by Metropolitan Anthony (Krapovitsky)

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Published by Иоанн Дойг
An excellent work on the Mystery of Repentance. While some of the material (as specified in the introduction) is intended more for priests, there are also many chapters which are also beneficial for laymen (these are also specified early in the work)
An excellent work on the Mystery of Repentance. While some of the material (as specified in the introduction) is intended more for priests, there are also many chapters which are also beneficial for laymen (these are also specified early in the work)

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Published by: Иоанн Дойг on Sep 30, 2010
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02/01/2013

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Confession
Metropolitan Anthony (Krapovitsky)A Series of Lectures on the Mystery of Repentance.
Content
Translator’s Introduction.
M
etropolitan Anthony (1863-1936) is best known as the organizer and first primate of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. Even before the Russian revolution he waswell known as a theologian and bishop. After being rector of the Moscow and KazanTheological Academies, in 1900 he was consecrated Bishop of Ufa; in 1902 he wastransferred to the Volynia diocese in the western Ukraine, and then in 1914 he was madeArchbishop of Kharkov. In his theological writings he stressed primarily the moralimplications of Christian doctrine. He fought against the influence of westernscholasticism and stressed the need to turn to the Church Fathers for theologicalinspiration. As a bishop he also fought against all anti-canonical and un-Orthodoxtendencies of Church life, in 1918 he was appointed Metropolitan of Kiev and Galich,and after the revolution, as the senior of the exiled bishops, he was chosen to head theRussian Church Abroad. He kept the exile Church on the path of strict Orthodoxy, bothin refusing to accept Metropolitan Sergei’s declaration of loyalty to the atheistic Sovietstate, and also in opposing all kinds of theological modernism. This modernism was thechief cause of the sad schisms which divided the exile Church and which grievedMetropolitan Anthony very deeply.
 
Holy Trinity Orthodox Mission
2The keynote of Metropolitan Anthony’s personal life, as of his theology, waslove. He unhesitatingly gave away his personal possessions and the income he receivedas a bishop. He was a spiritual abba of countless people, including almost a wholegeneration of monks and bishops. Many testify to his enormous spiritual experience,manifested in the guidance they received from him. Among these is MetropolitanPhilaret, the present primate of the Russian Church Abroad. While he was a young priestmonk in China he corresponded with Metropolitan Anthony and preserved as a precioustreasure for many years the letters he received; he refers to Metropolitan Anthony as the“abba of all abbas.” Vladika Anthony was also granted the gift of tears during prayer: itwas said that all one had to do was look at him praying in church in order to he enflamedwith prayer oneself.The present work,
Confession,
is based on the lectures Vladika Anthony gaveduring his courses on pastoral theology, but it was actually written down in 1920, whilehe was temporarily confined in a Uniate monastery in western Russia, due to thecircumstances of the Civil War. It is primarily a manual for priests, written to show themhow to give spiritual advice and help during confession, and gives great insight into thevarious ways in which the passions afflict the human soul. It is precisely this struggle,and, with the help of God’s grace, gradual victory, which is, in the view of VladikaAnthony, the feature distinguishing Orthodoxy from all other religions — the veryessence of Orthodoxy (see his “How does Orthodoxy differ from the WesternDenominations?” in
Orthodox Life,
1970, No. 2). Although it is addressed to priests, it isobviously of great value to all Orthodox Christians, who are engaged in this struggle(with the exception of chapters 2-5). There are already many books about spiritual life,such as the
Philokalia
and St. John Climacus's
 Ladder,
but these often go over the headsof contemporary lay-people, as they are written primarily for monks, who are generallyable to give more attention to their spiritual life. The special value of MetropolitanAnthony’s
Confession
is that it deals with such problems as are familiar to mostcontemporary Orthodox lay people, but which are not treated elsewhere. Although it waswritten over fifty years ago it is still remarkably relevant to modern life, although of course there are also new problems that have arisen in the last few decades and are notcovered by it. There are some obvious anachronisms: in particular, his comments onChurch life often do not apply today. Nevertheless, the perspicacious reader will easily beable to see the connection between some of the things he touches upon (such as the “massdelusion” movements in Chapter 10), and similar phenomena of contemporary life.A feature that should he of special value to priests today is that Vladika Anthonyis dealing chiefly with situations where the confessor has to elicit some remnant of conscience in someone who is little more than nominally Orthodox — this must be a verycommon situation today!
 
Lay people reading
Confession
should be on their guard againsta temptation to judge their confessor’s “technique.” Also, after reading VladikaAnthony’s advice to show love and concern, to ask questions in a certain way, and soforth, priests should beware of trying to act the part of a “Russian Spiritual Father.”When
Confession
was written, people were closer to the roots of an Orthodox culture —now it is so easy to be infected by the many pseudo-Orthodox tendencies that areprevalent in the ecclesiastical world today.In
Confession
, Metropolitan Anthony often advises the reader to refer to otherbooks, many of which are not available in English. In footnotes the translator has tried to
 
Holy Trinity Orthodox Mission
3indicate which of these can be found in English, and sonic source material is included inthe appendices. However, in the face of this difficulty we should bear in mind VladikaAnthony’s own words (at the end of Chapter 5) that “the priest should he concerned notso much to have the printed material for guidance through confession in perfectreadiness, as to immerse his attention in this field of spiritual pathology and therapy,which is revealed by the holy ascetics.”The footnotes were all written by the translator, with one exception: note 5 toChapter 15, which was in the original text. The scriptural references that were in theoriginal have been left in the body of the text, and some others have been added asfootnotes. The Russian word “dukhovnik,” which means “spiritual father,” has beenrendered sometimes as “spiritual father” and sometimes, for convenience, simply as“priest.” In the Russian Church all priests have the right and duty to be spiritual fathers,hence the two terms coincide in meaning, whereas in the Greek Church only those priestswho have been blessed for the task (pneumatikoi) have this right.“Metropolitan Anthony had a deep knowledge of human souls. That is why hiswritings on pastoral theology are so striking. His book 
Confession
can be compared onlywith St. Gregory the Great’s
Pastoral Rule
,” writes Protopresbyter George Grabbe (in
The Church and Her Teaching in Life,
Vol. 2, Montreal, 1970, p. 113).Chapter One
1. The Significance of Confession for Christians.
W
hen I was teaching theology in two of the theological academies in Russia, mystudents always gathered with particular interest to hear the lectures on confession, of which I gave four or more each year. At that period, and also much later, after I hadfinished my academic career, people begged me to write these lectures down and thenhave them printed. But, since I had only the briefest summary of their contents with meand I have always been overburdened by work and people, I have not managed to startworking until now. I have always had to write about many things, and the only free time Ihad was at night.At present I am confined in a Uniate monastery and so I have ample time at mydisposal. However, I am afraid that my work will suffer no little detriment from the factthat I have not even my very short (one might almost say, symbolic) summaries with me,and of course my memory cannot retain everything that I said in the academy auditorianineteen years or more ago. But, putting aside all pretence at a complete exposition of thesubject, I will share with the reader what the Lord helps me to remember.In a certain sense, confession is a thing which should accompany all of a priest’srelationships with the faithful. When Christians refer to priests as spiritual fathers, theyare acknowledging the fact that these people chosen by God have the right and obligationconstantly to call their conscience to account and demand that their soul be opened tothem. Of course, as life becomes more complicated and we become more worldly, as doour flock and our relationships with people, it is not possible in all circumstances to makeuse of this right — or rather, fulfill this duty — of our calling. But nevertheless, evenpoor Christians admit that essentially the matter should be otherwise. They will never bereconciled to regarding a priest in any other light than as a mediator between themselves

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