Venerable Ambrose of Optina on Confession

From the letters of the Venerable elder Ambrose of Optina.

Saint Ambrose of Optina

It is useful to confess everything with self-reproach, however, if you do it with indignation at others, what is the use of full explanations?.

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<From the memoirs of a spiritual daughter> to my confession - "I am sinful in everything," <the elder> asked: "Did you steal horses?" I answered: "No". “Well, you see, not in everything,” the elder said, smiling. In response to my words that I do not know how to confess at all, the father remarked: "You leave confession like a saint."

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If you are carried away by something through weakness, do not be faint-hearted and embarrassed, but try to correct this by self-reproach and confession first to God, the reader of the human heart, and to your spiritual father in due time. Let the events happening teach you to eschew, be careful and guard yourself, through the fear of God. Surrender yourself to the will of God and wait with patience for the decision of your fate.

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Question: "What does it mean to sincerely confess?" Answer: "It means not to hide anything, to speak directly, not to smooth over."

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Whoever has an evil heart, should not despair, because with the help of God a person can correct his heart. You just need to carefully watch yourself and not to miss the opportunity to be useful to your neighbor, often open yourself to your elder and do almsgiving according to your possibilities. This, of course, cannot be done at once, but the Lord is patient for a long time. He ends a person's life only when he sees him ready for the transition to eternity, or when he sees no hope for his correction.

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In order for a person to correct himself, this person does not have to go heavy on something at once, this is rather pulling the barge: pull-pull-pull, give away – give away! - Not all of a sudden, but little by little. - Do you know what is a rod on the ship? This is such a pole to which all the ropes of the ship are tied, and if you pull for it, then slowly everything stretches, and if you take it right away, then you destroy everything with the shock.

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Once the elder came out to the hut to give a blessing, and said: "The owner had geese, and he used to nourish and cherish them, and they are still the same.

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The question: “Father, pray for me to improve.” The answer: “You need to improve you yourself. The prophet Nathan prayed for King David, and he shed tears on the bed, prayed for Saul, but he was sleeping and snoring.”