Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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How does one go about finding a truly spiritual Father of Confession? Not all priests take the spiritual life as seriously as a person may desire. In such a case, should one look for a bishop, monk, or other to confess to?

"Not all priests take the spiritual life as seriously as a person desires" is a very strong statement. While I am extremely pleased that you are taking the Sacrament of Confession very seriously (as you should); I want to discuss with you the relationship between the mind and faith. This as important for someone seeking spiritual consciousness and maturity.

By faith we unite with God, with our minds we believe in the details of things. All Confession Fathers are granted the same sacrament of Priesthood. All can pronounce God's absolution of sins. The Sacrament of Confession needs to be clearly understood by all. In the sacrament of forgiveness of sins, the repentant sinner confesses his sins to the LORD JESUS CHRIST in the presence of the priest. The priest simply pronounces God's absolution from those sins. Please read the Holy Gospel of St. John 20:22-23 and the Holy Book of I John 1:9.

What perhaps is the meaning behind this?

We are to confess by faith (to the Lord Jesus Christ) rather than by the limited mind. God gave us physical eyes and a mind; but to truly lift Him up, we must make His dwelling place in our inner eyes in order for Him to open the windows of our hearts. For true confession to take place, we have to believe in what we do not see, for the sake of what we see. This is the Lord Jesus Christ (what we do not see) and the priest (what we see). We have to believe in what we do not fully understand to comprehend what we actually do understand.

Therefore, we should focus on the Holy Sacrament of Confession and Repentance rather than on what  has been  physically committed before. The objective here is to receive forgiveness not to select a priest to match a personality, desire, or perception. If everyone found the perfect Father of Confession, this would indeed be great. If you and I were both perfect in our walks of life, it would be even greater!

But indeed, we have to be thankful for the blessings God has given unto us. Many here in the United States are not lucky enough to have a Father of Confession accessible whenever the need for confession arise; and if they do, they do so perhaps only through technological means, (telephone, letter, or long distance traveling) rather than direct.

In summary, the mind has its worth, distinguishing man from animals. It is not in conflict with faith. However, the mind has its limits and cannot think more highly than it ought to think (Romans 12:3). It may lead you to the road of confession, but the Sacrament of Confession can only be partaken of with faith. Faith surpasses the mind's capacity and is capable of accomplishing what the mind cannot begin to undertake. Focus on faith rather than preferences with Confession and you will truly have partaken of this Holy Sacrament.

"For the spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God." (I Corinthians 2:11-13,9,10)

Saint Augustine said, "Believe and you become worthy to understand. Faith comes before understanding, so that understanding becomes part of faith."

May God bless you and guide you in your search for spiritual answers.
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