Short Questions for Preparation for Confession
According to the Ten Old Testament Commandments:
1. «I am the Lord thy God, Thou shalt have no other gods besides Me.» (Exodus 20: 2-3)
Those who sin against the first commandment do not love God with all their heart and all their soul, do not try to discover the truth of the Holy Orthodox faith, do not regularly pray to God, who at the time of prayer let their mind wander, do not trust in God but rely on their wealth, powerful friends, etc. The first commandment teaches us to avoid and not fall into atheism, polytheism, sorcery, divination, astrology, superstition, non-orthodox and heterodox divisive pseudo-religious education, sects.
Think: do you love anyone or anything as much as you love God, do you honor and listen to anyone more than God, do you turn to God in full confidence, do you ever complain about God?
2. «Do not create unto yourselves an idol or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above or on earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Do not worship them or serve them, for I am the Lord thy God.» (Exodus 20: 4-5)
The second commandment also includes the words of the Saviour: “Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only” (Deuteron. 6:13, Mt. 4:10)
The second commandment prohibits the worship of idols or people as God. It also prohibits any superstition, avarice, lust. Similarly the second commandment instructs us to worship and honor God, “Holy Trinity of One Being”, i.e. One being in three persons, his saints, i.e. people who glorify God with their lives and by their deaths, for our edification and of course the one thanks to whose faithand through whose life occurred the Incarnation, the Mother of God, the Most Pure Virgin Mary. Worship and pray to God, Mother of God and the holy saints in church and at home. For prayer we use holy icons — the artistic image of the Saints, through which we turn to the prototype — someone who is depicted on the icon (just as we use photos of our loved ones.)
Questions on the Second Commandment: Do you serve Mammon more than God? Your belly, pride,covetousness, gluttony, drunkenness, worldly powers to the exclusion of God, etc.?
3. «Do not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain» (Exodus 20:7)
The third commandment forbids us to use God’s name in vain. It is very sinful (i.e. wrong, bad for a person, even destructive in the spiritual sense) to speak without respect of God, of the Orthodox faith, of the Holy Church, to violate an oath, not fulfill vows, request something obscene from God. The name of God should be used only in prayer, teaching God’s law to others, in order to explain the truths of our faith and even then with great reverence and caution.
Do you use the name of God in humorous conversations and in general without reverence? Do you make the sign of the cross without any thought about the crucifixion of our Lord, haphazardly and sometimes jokingly? Do you pray to God only with your mouth — coldly, distractedly and not with all your heart and soul?
4. «Remember the Sabbath day (i.e. the day of the Lord), to keep it holy; six days shall you lab our and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God. (Exodus 20:8-10)
The fourth commandment enjoins everyone on all Sundays and holidays to leave their work and come to church, to listen, to read spiritual teachings and at home, to teach and instruct their children and servants in scripture; to try to be careful every day and especially on holidays and Sundays to avoid dishonest affairs and activities, particularly drunkenness, watching too much television, computers, shameful and disgraceful entertainment.
Questions on the fourth commandment: How do you spend your Sundays and holidays? Do you have a habit of working on holidays? It is not enough not to work on holidays; you must also spend these days in holiness, in thinking about God, reading the word of God and spiritual books, praying, in charitable works, in visiting the sick and alleviating their plight,etc. Do you look after this?
5. «Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the earth.» (Exodus 20:12)
The fifth commandment of the Lord God commands us to honor and obey our parents as well as our spiritual shepherds (Metropolitan, the Diocesan Bishop, our parish priest, our spiritual father), civil rulers (if their directions do not contradict our Christian consciences, the commandments of God, the Holy Orthodox faith and the Church, our responsibilities as Orthodox Christians). Our Lord also teaches us in this commandment to respect and honor seniors and civil authorities.
Responsibilities of parents and children.
Parents should educate their children in the Holy Orthodox faith, teach them scripture, to pray, to always think of God, to accustom them from early on to be industrious, to look after their home, household and family, instruct them to treat people honestly, protect them from bad friends and acquaintances, and especially in their presence do not say or do anything tempting. Try to educate them more with love and gentleness than with strictness. Children should love, respect, honor and obey their parents, feed and care for them in their old age and in this way, pay off their debt of love and gratitude.
Duties of husband and wife.
The husband should love his wife, treat her with tenderness, take care of her and have her as his faithful partner in the household and in raising children. A wife should love and honor her husband, care for him and help him and they both need to keep faithful to the sanctity of their marital bed.
General duties of all people to others.
Everyone must love their neighbor and get along with them, be courteous, respectful, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick, lead the sinner away from sin, instruct the ignorant in the law, give good advice and pray to merciful God for the salvation of all.
Questions about the fifth commandment: Here you remember your entire family life with your parents, siblings, children and then your societal and church life. How much have you improved in fulfilling your duties? Have you been devoted to your spiritual fathers? Have you carried out your responsibilities to your godfather, godmother and godchildren? This is a broad commandment. Are you guilty of anything against it?
6. «Thou shalt not kill»(Exodus 20:13)
In the sixth commandment, God requires that we not offend anyone, neither by ourselves or through others, by deed, word, or even thought, but moreover, to protect each other from all harm. Therefore, it is very sinful before God to kill a person in some way or to give advice about this or to assist or allow killing or injury. For example, to know that someone has a harmful and dangerous intent and not avert this disaster, not report it, shelter thieves, sell drugs or help sell drugs, to see a fight and not break it up, to see a fire and not extinguish it, to see someone perishing and not help, not to aid the poor and the sick. This commandment also strictly forbids suicide and moreover, commands us to take care of our health as a precious gift from God, forbids abortion and the use of antiabortion contraceptives. In addition, you must not slander, judge, hate and show contempt for others. In these and other ways, you could be a murderer. A person could suffer from want, struggles with all his might and although sick, still go to work. You could have helped him but did not and he died from overexertion. Who was his killer? By the law of conscience, you are responsible for his death. You should have helped, if not personally, then through others and he would still be alive. So if you had no compassion for the unfortunate, did not comfort the sad, did not help your neighbor, did not direct the misguided to the path of truth and goodness, did not turn away from temptation and perhaps killed someone’s soul with temptation, you are no doubt, to your great misfortune, guilty of the sixth commandment which prohibits murder. Can you say that you have not sinned against it?
7. «Thou shalt not commit adultery» (Exodus 20:14)
The seventh commandment forbids fornication, adultery and all sorts of sinful carnal uncleanliness and all that leads to them, namely: drunkenness, idleness (laziness, indolence), foul language and swearing, shameless dancing, games, songs, shameful magazines and books, shameless and shameful pictures and television programs, as well as movies, sinful computer images and videos, web sites, theatrical plays, etc. Are you not guilty of this?
8. «Thou shalt not steal». (Exodus 20:15)
In the eighth commandment, God requires that we neither secretly or openly take anything away from anyone; not conceal found things, not seize the property of others, not cheat anyone in financial transactions, not withhold wages from employees, not lend money luxuriously to the poor and indigent, not steal from the church and government, and in no other way steal and conceal. Avoid idleness, laziness and indolence. You should be industrious because only through honest work can you keep yourself and your loved ones in comfort and also help the poor. In addition, any deception, fraud, concealment is also stealing. What is more, to the category of theft should be added all those who do not want to work, and live at the expense of others, parasites, people looking for easy profit, the merciless, misers of all types, wasteful householders who ruin their families, etc. Are you guilty of any of this?
9. «Thou shalt not bear false witness against your neighbor.» (Exodus 20:16)
In the ninth commandment, God forbids us to falsely testify against another, falsely accuse someone, slander, defame, ridicule, condemn, gossip, evilly interpret others’ words. In general, avoid all lies, deceit and gossip.
10. «Do not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his house, nor his field, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s.» (Exodus 20:17)
In the tenth commandment, God forbids us to envy others. Not only are we not to do anything bad to another, but we are not even to think about that. Nor should we in our souls wish another person anything bad or evil because bad thoughts and wishes very easily can result in bad and evil deeds.
In general, we should act according to Christian duty, as our Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Orthodox Church command and require of us. Therefore, we must continually pray to God that we should never distance ourselves from the Orthodox Church but retreat from any heresy (false teachings) and any kind of schism that audaciously and falsely interprets the meaning of Holy Scripture contrary to the teachings of the Apostles, preserved in the Holy Orthodox Church.
Additional questions for confession according to the plan of the Gospel commandments and nine church commandments (from: “To help the penitent, assistance for confession (for clergy and those confessing)”).
1. Do you try to cultivate a spirit of humility, a sense of your own unworthiness?
2. Do you grieve and regret your own sins and weaknesses?
3. Do you treat or try to treat your neighbors with kindness?
4. Do you strive to lead a righteous and holy life?
5. Are you attentive to the needs of your neighbor? Do you consider yourself obligated to help the needy, comfort the sad, visit the sick, warn the foolish and in general to be merciful to all?
6. Do you strive for purity of heart? Do you not cultivate envy and evil wishes in your heart?
7. Do you endeavor to be a peacemaker?
8. Are you prepared to suffer for the truth?
9. Do you love the Lord Jesus enough to die for him?
10. Do you pray to God morning and evening, with contrition and tenderness of heart, without reserve, without indifference, without distraction, but as if standing face to face before the throne of God? Do you go to pray on Sundays and holidays to the temple of God, the place specially graced by God’s presence?
11. Do you fast according to the statutes of the Church? Do you connect physical fasting with the spiritual, i.e. with curbing the passions, with abstinence from bad habits?
12. Do you respect the pastors of the Church, as servants of Christ? Do you ask their advice on the direction of your life on the road to salvation?
13. How often do you partake of the holy sacraments of Confession and Holy Communion? Are you using these salutary means with appropriate preparation? Do you begin improving your life after partaking of these sacraments?
14. Have you been captivated by works that are hostile to the word of God and the teachings of the Church?
15. Do you pray for all Orthodox Christians, both living and dead?
16. Have you sincerely participated in the prayers of the Church?
17. Have you withheld or hidden or purloined anything belonging to the Church?
18. Have you attended immodest entertainment which arouses unchaste thoughts and feelings? Have you especially not been in those places of entertainment on the eve of Sundays and holidays which should be devoted to prayer and charitable deeds?