Written by Valeriu Gafencu – While in the Communist Gulag
(Continued from the previous post)
The Seven Deadly Sins
Pride: is the source of all spiritual evil. It is a spiritual greed through which the demons fell from the grace of God.
1) Are you proud, haughty, conceited?
2) Do you put too much faith in your own beauty or your wealth, have you grown proud because of them?
3) How do you behave with those who are rich or important?
4) Do you despise anyone?
5) Are you willing to talk to anyone?
6) Are you hypocritical (you say one thing, and do another)?
7) Have you bragged through deeds, words, or clothing?
8. Have you said something in order to be praised?
9) Have you slandered your neighbor in order to lower his honor and in order to raise up your own?
10) Have you born the offenses of him who offended you?
11) Have you forgiven those who upset you?
12) Have you prided yourself on your learning and knowledge?
Greed: Starting out as something abstract, egotism is put into effect through greed.
The Holy Apostle Paul is looking from this point of view when he says that greed is the root of all evil.
1) Are you greedy for food and drink [gluttony]?
2) Do you want to collect wealth or other things?
3) Are you greedy in accumulating money, have you deceived your neighbor for this reason?
4) Have you eaten or drunk secretly?
5) Have you eaten on fast days or before the Holy Liturgy?
6) Have you eaten carrion?
Laziness: is the failure to make use of the physical and spiritual powers that God has granted us to use in our lives.
1) Are you lazy?
2) Do you waste time without working?
3) Do you occupy yourself with things that are vain or pointless?
4) Do you pray regularly?
5) Do you look after your soul?
6) Do you do your duty as a clerk, worker, servant?
7) Do you force those smaller than you to do your work?
8. Have you sought a spiritual father who is more lenient?
9) Have you fulfilled your penance?
Anger: is also based upon the pivot or axis of greed.
When a man cannot fulfill his desires, he becomes angry because he is prevented from achieving his evil goal. Man is allowed to be angry only against sin.
1) Have you done evil through anger, cursing, beatings, etc.?
2) Do you get angry often? How long do you stay angry? You should know that St. Paul said, “Do not let the sun set on your anger.” (Eph 4:26)
3) Are you presently angry with anyone?
4) Have you beaten or struck anyone with a stick, a club, or your palm?
5) Have you angered or scolded anyone without good reason, spitefully?
6) Have you wished evil to someone who did you evil? Or to someone who did you good?
7) Have you gotten angry with a neighbor because he is somehow better than you? Have you envied him?
8. Have you shed anyone’s blood (in drunkenness)?
9) Have you engaged in a duel?
10) Have you prayed, in anger, that evil come upon your enemies?
Avarice (Greed): is material and spiritual.
Material when someone does not want to provide physical comfort to the poor, while spiritual when one does not want to steer someone away from evil.
1) Are you stingy?
2) Have you ever deprived a neighbor of necessary things out of stinginess?
3) Have you helped the poor?
4) Have you called both the rich and the poor to eat at your table? You should know that the Savior urges us to call to our table those who cannot repay us.
5) Do you sell items at too high a price?
6) Do you cheat people?
7) Do you regret any good deed that you have done?
8. Do you eat little and clothe yourself or your family poorly in order to grow rich?
9) Do you neglect the health of your children, wife, parents, brothers, in order to avoid spending money?
Envy (Quarreling or Jealousy): When an angry man cannot prevail over the obstacles that are in his way by anger, unable to do anything else, he sweetens his heart with the passion of envy, so that he might conceal his neighbor’s spiritual and physical honor and exalt himself.
1) Have you argued with anyone?
2) Do you like to argue?
3) Do you hate anyone?
4) Do you deride or disdain anyone?
5) Do you give advice maliciously?
6) Are you presently jealous of anyone?
7) Are you on speaking terms with everyone?
8. Have you given anyone a bad nickname?
9) Have you sown dissension between brothers?
10) Have you been jealous of anyone because he is somehow better than you and enjoys more honor, wealth, social standing, etc.?
Lust: is also a form of greed, but not of a material or spiritual order, but of a sentimental order. The sin of dissoluteness, unlike all other sins, is committed with the body.
The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. (You can commit the sin of dissoluteness by looking at or hearing things that cause you to sin. Even eating, sleeping too much, speaking, etc.)
1) Have you fallen into fornication?
2) Or adultery?
3) Do you like to see or read books that cause you to sin in your thoughts, do you like to hear or to speak vulgar or shameful words? You should know that St.
Paul tells us that there should not be heard from our mouth any foul or filthy words, nor silly jokes that are improper, nor words that are imprudent.
4) Do you like to speak sensibly or senselessly?
5) Are you mastered by any passion?
6) Do you eat or sleep too much? You should know that St. Paul also said “All things are permitted to me, but not all things are useful.” (1 Cor. 6:12)
7) Do you have in your home paintings with naked bodies? Do you look at them passionately?
8. Have you committed sexual sins with blood relatives or spiritual relatives (godchildren, godparents)?
9) Have you touched someone’s body, overcome by the passion of lust?
10) Have you wanted to see the shameful parts of the body?
Sins That Cry Out to Heaven
A. Voluntary Killing
1) Have you killed anyone?
2) Have you sought to kill?
3) Do you want to kill anyone?
4) Have you sought to gain revenge by killing someone?
5) Have you beaten anyone?
6) Have you quarreled with or threatened anyone?
B. Sodomy (coupling against nature)
1) A man with a man or any kind of animal?
2) A man with a woman against nature?
3) Masturbation. Have you masturbated?
C. Withholding the pension or the wages of orphans, widows, workers, employees, or servants.
1) Have you withheld pensions or salaries?
For what reason, as reimbursement for something broken, or other reasons?
2) Have you withheld pay partially or unjustly?
3) Have you always compensated others for the work they have done?
D. Oppressing widows, orphans, invalids, or the helpless.
1) Have you beaten children, old people, or orphans?
2) Have you derided or made fun of them?
3) Have you oppressed anyone weaker or smaller than you?
4) Have you laughed at the crippled or the helpless?
5) Have you angered or irritated them?
6) Have you somehow been obligated to help them and failed to do so?
7) Have you helped those whom you were not required to help, or did you pass them by like the priest and the Levite in the Gospel in the story of the good Samaritan?
8. Have you deliberately caused a blind man to fall by guiding him wrong?
9) Have you made fun of anyone who is helpless, deaf, a stutterer, lame, crippled, one-eyed?
Obligations Regarding the Spiritual Life of our Neighbor
1) To protect our neighbor from sin
2) To teach the uneducated (ignorant)
3) To give good advice to those who have need of it
4) To pray to God for others
5) To comfort the sad/grieving
6) To suffer patiently when we are treated unjustly
7) To forgive the sins of others
Commandments Regarding the Physical Life of Our Neighbor
1) To give food to the hungry. Have you given or not?
2) To quench the thirst of the thirsty
3) To clothe the naked
4) To care for the sick
5) To take in and show hospitality to strangers
6) To inquire after those in prison
7) To bury the dead
1) When you advise someone to sin
2) When you order someone to sin
3) When you permit someone to sin
4) When you help someone to sin
5) When you praise someone who sins
6) When you were able to but didn’t want to prevent someone from sinning
7) When you know that someone is sinning but you don’t tell him
Sins against the Holy Spirit
1) Disregarding the grace of God and having excessive trust in one’s own self
2) To believe that God does not have the power to forgive you is a very great sin.
3) To believe that you are everything and that
God has no power in the world
4) Lack of trust in God
5) Opposition to the Truth established by the
6) Leaving the Orthodox Church. Guard yourself from this sin, for Christ says, “He who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit has no forgiveness, but is guilty of eternal condemnation.” (Mk 3:29)
The Nine Church Commandments
1) Church attendance every Sunday and every feast day
2) Keeping the four fasting periods of the year
3) Respect toward the Church’s representatives (priests, monks, nuns)
4) Confession of sin during the four fasts
5) Guarding ourselves from heretics
6) To pray for our country’s leaders and the officials of the church
7) To abstain from weddings and parties during the fast periods
8. To protect those things belonging to the church from inappropriate use
9) To keep the fasts and to say the prayers that the bishop ordains in times of trouble
1) Failure to carry out one’s obligations:
a) Have you carried out all your obligations to God, to your own self, to your neighbor?
b) Have you carried out the penance given to you in confession?
2) Theft of holy things
a) Have you lied at confession?
b) Have you avoided telling everything and for what reason have you done so?
a) Go to confession at least four times a year, during the fasts.
b) Fast before confession.
c) Maintain the same spiritual father.
d) Make a serious examination of conscience before going to confession.
e) Write down all your sins, otherwise you might forget them. After confession, burn the paper
f) Confess not only sins you have committed, but also those of your heart.
g) Do not conceal any sin.
h) Be reconciled with those who have offended you.
i) Avoid occasions of sin.
j) Give up your sins – make a promise that you will no longer sin.
k) Feel contrition for your sinfulness.
l) Guard yourself from sins.
m) Receive Communion only if you feel clean.
Otherwise, it will be for condemnation.
n) Fulfill in a holy manner the penance given to you by your spiritual father.
o) Judge only yourself for the sins you have committed.
Each one of us has his or her own mission to fulfill, but we must heed the advice of our spiritual father, who puts aside our own ill-informed will, making room for the will of God in each one of us. Our spiritual father reveals the will of God in us. If we don’t heed him, we can wander astray and make mistakes that are even worse than the passions. I consider a friend anyone who sends me even one thought of love. And I wish and request that every one of my friends copy down this guide to confession. I have written this as best as I could, in great haste, out of a genuine wish to send you this guide to confession.
With all my love, Valeriu.
The end and glory be to God!
(Taken from the book “The Saint of the Prison”, Translated by Monk Sava – an American convert to Orthodoxy from Oasa Monastery)