Sometimes people ask what it is they might have to confess – they haven’t violated the 10 Commandments, so what else do people confess?
The 7th Century martyr, St John of Damaskos , provides us with a list of vices which we might consider as we prepare for our confession. For St. John, even some things we might consider to be normal human traits can be sinful or sins. To uproot them from our own hearts requires us to admit to them so that we can overcome them.
“The passions of the soul are
forgetfulness, laziness and ignorance.
When the soul’s eye, the intellect, has been darkened by these three, the soul is dominated by all the other passions. These are
impiety, false teaching or every kind of heresy,
blasphemy, wrath, anger,
bitterness, irritability, inhumanity,
rancor, back-biting, censoriousness,
senseless dejection, fear, cowardice,
quarrelsomeness, jealousy, envy,
self-esteem, pride, hypocrisy,
falsehood, unbelief, greed,
love of material things, attachment to worldly concerns,
listlessness, faint-heartedness, ingratitude,
grumbling, vanity, conceit,
pomposity, boastfulness, love of power,
love of popularity, deceit, shamelessness,
treachery, pretence, indecision,
assent to sins arising from the soul’s passible aspect and dwelling on them continuously, wandering thoughts,
self-love: the mother of vices,
avarice: the root of all evil (cf. 1 Tim. 6:10),
and, finally, malice and guile.”
(THE PHILOKALIA , Kindle Loc. 22299-311)