Confessing in the Ukrainian Church

It is presumed that a penitent will have properly prepared for the Confession by prayer, fasting, and an examination of conscience. Pre-Confession prayers usually include Psalm 50 (Have mercy upon me, O God…) and a prayer of penitence. These are recited together in larger repentance services.

Confession At St. EliasWhen a person is ready for the grace of the sacrament, the form—sitting, standing, kneeling, what words are said in what order, and so on—is adjusted in the East to best fit the circumstances. The only essentials of form are that the priest wears his epitrachelion (stole) and prays the prayer of absolution. The prayer of absolution is traditionally offered with the priest’s epitrachelion (stole) placed over the head of the kneeling penitent, which symbolizes the mercy of God running down our heads and over our bodies like an anointing of oil flowing over us.

Confession is held inside a church unless there is a serious reason to have it elsewhere. Some Eastern Catholic churches in the United States offer confessionals or counseling rooms as one would find in a Roman Catholic church. Most also offer confession in front of the icon of Christ, which is the traditional place for Byzantines to offer the Mystery of Repentance. St. Sophia has both available.

The full Rite of Repentance is a beautiful short service, usually used when multiple people are confessing at the same time. A guidebook is typically available for such services.

When only one or two individuals are confessing, a short form like those available on our website are more commonly used because the rite itself is secondary to the crucial aspects of the Mystery of Repentance: an honest confession of sins, a sincere sorrow for them, a firm resolve to avoid them in the future, and a willingness to make restitution when called for.

The priest is a physician of souls who is blessed to administer this sacrament of healing to all who sincerely seek it. That means if you are ready to confess your sins, you shouldn’t let anxiety over how to do it get in the way of going to Confession. Just go and know that any essentials will be provided.