In Armenian the word “apachekharel” (penance) is a combination of two components: the “achekharel” verb meaning “to cry”, “regret”, “deplore” an error, transgression, damage, and the suffix “apa”. Together this means to “cry”, “repent”, “regret” a committed sin.


A human being is sinful. Although the sacrament of baptism and confirmation expiate our sins by making us children of God, the human being often continues to sin even after the adoption of God. And when he realizes his sins, he regrets them and begins to cry, that's where repentance and penance begin to purify the human being and restore the adoption of God. This change in the spiritual life of a human being is a sacrament.


Here, some of you may conclude that the sacrament of penance encourages sin, but you will be wrong. The principle of the Christian religion is to keep alive the grace and divine anointing in the soul and spirit. When a Christian person, despite his sincere efforts, commits a sin and understands that this sin taints his Christianity, and confesses his sins in his soul before God and repents them, ie does penance, that is where he is forgiven. But if the person commits sins deliberately, having in view that penance can give him absolution, abuses his spiritual life, whereas abuse is already a sin.


God does not want the sinner's death. His mercy is infinite and unlimited. But this is no excuse for the Christian person to misinterpret the meaning of God's mercy. Rather, the Christian has the duty to remain vigilant and to be prepared for any accident or any temptation to avoid the seductive charms of sin.


Therefore, the sinner must:

1. Repent with all his heart for sins committed and decide not to sin again deliberately.

2. Pray with fervor and fear and confess to God all his sins and ask forgiveness because the patience and goodness of God help the sinner to repent and become righteous.

3. Remember that it is the blood of Christ who saved him and he has the obligation to follow the innocent life of the Savior.


Prayer is a practical way against sin. It is difficult to commit a deliberate sin for one who truly prays.


When the Christian recognizes and accepts his transgression before his conscience, but also before God and his Church that confesses his sin. Penance comes right after the confession.


So the confession is first in the consciousness of the person, and confession, therefore, is the foundation of penance: we cannot do penance without confession.


Our Church remains faithful to the canons of the ancient Christian Church: fasting, prayer, public confession, penance, virtuous and charitable acts and obligations, etc.


During the days of penance, psalms and prayers, hymns and readings, as well as the public confession have such an arrangement and such a design it is difficult to resist their influence and avoid penance.


These tools and the external rites contribute to the achievement of the sacrament of penance. The church is an integral union of all its participants who are united not only through the various relationships and connections, but also have become brothers and sisters by virtue of baptism in the baptismal font. And therefore, the benefit or lack of one of them affects the whole Church. That is why the public confession, as a precondition to build the Church, rises from the same people, which is the Church.


Some say there is no need for confession in church especially in front of the ignorant and unworthy priests. This view is entirely without foundation because when people appear before the court to defend their innocence and their rights, they do not care about guilt or the virtues of judges. Similarly, all those who think they are righteous, while everything else is wrong, or they are worthy and that everything else is unworthy, should remember the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18 (9 -14). If only every religious person was a holy man. This does not refer to the merits of clergymen, but the duty of every Christian to first judge oneself before judging others. We need to pay attention to the remarks of the apostle if you want to learn more about the act of judging one another (Rom. 14). The Gospel offers a good solution to this dilemma when our Lord said “The scribes and the Pharisees sat on Moses’ seat. Do and observe everything they teach you, but don’t do as they do...” (Matt. 23: 2-3).


If someone believes he is more holy and more worthy than his spiritual shepherd, he must humble himself before him with all its pretended sanctity and dignity, because it is only the cleric who has the function to listen the confession of the faithful in the name of God and the Church.


Whether we are religious or secular, it is the obligation of all of us to make efforts to present ourselves pure before God and our conscience to respect the order and canons of our Holy Church with love and an open heart, and to work practically on its discipline and prosperity without laziness and without worrying only on individual needs.


Unfortunately, not only some people ignore the importance of confession and penance and do not realize the necessity of these sacraments in their lives, but there are also those who therefore see them as something formal, and superfluous.



*This explanation written by the website is from the book “Christian” the Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia Pabken I Gulesserian. (4th edition, Antelias 1971)