Monday, November 28, 2016

Sunday Morning Confessions by Appointment Only beginning January 1, 2017

For some years we have struggled with Sunday morning confessions ending on time at 9:45 a.m. It is understood that those who are very ill/infirm, the very young, the very aged, and those who live more than one hour away from St. Vladimir’s almost certainly cannot participate in person in the Vigil (or come to church from 3:00-5:00 p.m. when we have scheduled open time when confession could take place) on Saturday nights and will need to confess on Sunday mornings. However, for as long as anyone can remember, we have struggled to start the Liturgy at 10:00 a.m. sharp due to the need to hear confessions not just after 9:45 a.m., but even after 10:00 a.m. As we have grown as a parish this has become more of an issue. Thus, beginning on Sunday, January 1, 2017, it will be necessary to schedule one’s confession on Sunday morning.

Is the message here that we want less people partaking of Holy Communion? OF COURSE NOT! Ideally every believer should partake of Holy Communion every Sunday having worthily prepared by attending the Vigil the night before, having read the pre-Communion prayers, and having fasted from midnight. But that is not reality and that is fine. Perhaps some day we will attain to that, but that day is not likely to be anytime soon. We want to encourage folks to partake of Holy Communion to the greatest extent possible! But we need everyone to be responsible, to prepare themselves appropriately, and to make this a high priority in their lives.

Let me restate clearly: those who just cannot come to the Vigil service but wish to partake of Holy Communion and who wish to confess on Sunday morning (and who fit the criteria outlined above in this regard) may do so. We are HAPPY to have you do so. But those who don’t fit those criteria will need to reorder their priorities so that they attend Vigil on Saturday nights if they desire to partake of Holy Communion on a given Sunday.

This is not a punishment. We want to be as flexible as we possibly can – we want to help everyone who wishes to partake of Holy Communion to do so. But we can only do so much. And making everyone who has come on time to the Liturgy wait, and making the live audience on Orthodox Christian Network and the others listening to our Live Stream wait, is not reasonable. And so we will change. Everyone hates change. I hate change. But I too am going to put some more “skin into the game” so to speak, since we are going to move the moleben that used to be at the end of the Divine Liturgy to 8:00 a.m. every Sunday. That means I’ll be there about an hour earlier than I am now. That is OK – this is a good thing for me. And that means that there will be time for Proskimide to be served (the preparation of the Holy Gifts that will become Holy Communion during the Divine Liturgy) and still be ready to start Confession at 9:00 a.m. sharp.

Exceptions will be made, of course. But ONLY in the most dire of circumstances. We are not doing this to be mean, or to exercise power, or prove that we can do it. We are doing this because the present system simply doesn’t work for us anymore. Let me be very clear: you can confess at any time during the week during open time. That is 10 hours that I set aside each week so that we can meet for any reason. And that time can certainly be used for confession in preparation for the partaking of Holy Communion on the coming Sunday. Confessions will be held before, during, and after every evening Divine Service during the week, as well as after every Divine Liturgy during the week. If you are at church and would like to confess, but don’t intend to partake of Holy Communion on a given day, after Liturgy is the perfect time to do that. Just let me know you’d like to do that and we can make it happen as a rule.

Certainly some folks are thinking: how will this possibly work? People who do not have an appointment will try to go to Confession on Sunday morning. Or those who have scheduled at 9:00 a.m. will arrive at 9:45 a.m. Indeed – that almost certainly will happen. :) We will post the list of those who have made an appointment on a stanchion in front of the confessional so that that there are no questions about this. And again – if someone is in a dire need to confess and to commune on Sunday that will be allowed of course!

Here is the new schedule that we will follow beginning on Sunday, January 1, 2017:

8:00 a.m.: Moleben to St. Vladimir

  • Asking St. Vladimir's prayers before the Lord for our parish family, our building project, and our school project

9:00 a.m.: Confessions by Appointment

9:45 a.m.: Confessions End

10:00 a.m.: Divine Liturgy

Here are important resources for preparing for Holy Communion:

Schedule a Confession with Fr. Gregory

Preparation for Confession & Holy Communion

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Please share thoughts and especially concerns with me. Change is not easy. I absolutely acknowledge that and find change difficult myself. But, I do not see another reasonable option. If we all stick together and support each other lovingly – as brothers and sisters in Christ – I believe once we adjust to this new schedule we will all be much happier, since we will KNOW that the Divine Liturgy will start at 10:00 a.m. every Sunday.

I will begin making announcements in Church and on our web site and social media soon. That way everyone – even those who don’t have internet access – will be aware of this change well in advance. Thank you for your support and understanding!

With Love in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Fr. Gregory

2 comments:

  1. I think this is WAY too drastic!!! Confessions NEVER start on time and usually run past 9:45 due to this and to people that take 15 minutes or more. This has ALWAYS been the issue. It is not possible to hit a 5 minute spot when driving a long distance or to prevent people from partaking of the Holy Mysteries because they did not attend the Saturday services.

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  2. I don’t generally publish anonymous comments, but this is a good one – with information that needs to be addressed – and so I am making an exception here. Thanks to whomever sent this.

    It is true – confessions often do not start right at 9 a.m. However, this will change beginning January 1 since I will be there from probably about 7:30 a.m. each Sunday. We’ll have the moleben at 8 a.m., and then there will be a little time to prepare the gifts before we begin confession at 9 a.m. So – valid point, and this will be solved by me getting there earlier.

    Long confessions (15 minutes or more) – also a valid point. This is why we are limiting to 5 minutes on Sunday morning. Some folks will likely go over 5 minutes, but if we are all in agreement that we will try to make these confessions short then most of them will be. I invite folks to make an appointment if they’d like/need to have a longer confession at one of the 10 open hours I have each week using this web site:

    https://calendly.com/ogrisha

    Getting there on time for a scheduled confession. Essentially we have 10 slots for confession on Sunday morning if we start at 9 a.m. and go until 9:45 a.m. If you are scheduled for 9 a.m. and you arrive at 9:05 a.m. I am certain there will not be a problem. But if you take a 9 a.m. slot and you arrive at 9:40 a.m. it might not work. I think the key here is just to be directionally correct – not absolutely exact. But there will also be a need for those seeking confession on Sunday morning to make an effort too. I need to make more of an effort because I need to get there 2.5 hours before Liturgy starts. I am good with that. This is my responsibility. But those who want to confess on Sunday morning also have a responsibility – to come on time so that we can start on time. In other words, we ALL have a responsibility in this regard. This is how a family works – everyone in the family has a responsibility. No one person can fulfill all responsibilities, but the family – as a whole – can and must. If we work together I am certain we can find a way to make this successful for everyone involved. I am willing to be flexible and I ask that you all do the same. If we do this, and if we ask the Lord’s help, all will be well.

    Fr. Gregory

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