This is a translation from “Day by Day”, the Russian book of scriptural meditations:

Scripture: “The hidden person of the heart” (1 Peter: 3,4)


"Each of us lives a double life. There is a person’s external life, as seen by others, and a person’s hidden life, as seen by God. Someone even said that in every personality there are four persons: the one whom people know, the one whom close friends know, the one whom he himself knows, and the one whom God knows. As a rule, these four persons do not resemble each other very much. A person is different not only from what he seems to people, but even to himself. The one that is known and seen by God is the hidden person without pretense, without falsehood, without embellishment. I remember that at my parents’ house there was a heavy board which was lying on the ground in the back yard. We children sometimes would run up to it and with great effort would lift it to see what was underneath. What horrors! Grey, disgusting things crawled in all directions, and how they tried to hide from the light! We quickly lowered the board, ran far away, and then again came back to look. Everyone probably has such a board in his life. Perhaps its external side is polished and elegant, we ourselves like it, and we like to show it to others. But there is an internal side, hidden and dark, which has attached itself to the ground and covers everything unclean. We need to lift the board and let it be saturated with God’s light; let what’s inside be cleansed and let there be presented before God the “hidden person” who is pleasing to Him, and whose “sin is covered, and in whose spirit there is no deceit” (Ps. 32: 1-2)

This is what Lewis writes about Confession in a letter of April 6, 1953:

"Where Rome makes Confession compulsory for all, we [the Church of England] make it permissible for any: not ‘generally necessary’ but profitable. But, as your own experience shows, many people do not feel forgiven, i.e. do not effectively ‘believe in the forgiveness of sins’ without it. The quite enormous advantage of coming really to believe in forgiveness is well worth the horrors (I agree, they are horrors) of first confession.

“Also, there is the gain in self-knowledge: most of [us] have never really faced the facts about ourselves until we uttered them aloud in plain words, calling a spade a spade. I certainly feel i have profited enormously by the practice. At the same time I think we are quite right not to make it generally obligatory, which wd. force it on some who are not ready for it and might do harm.”

My understanding is that the Catholic church no longer makes confession compulsory before Communion. In the Russian Orthodox Church, it is generally compulsory. Confessing to a priest is probably the thing that I miss the most in these days of virtual church services, for the reasons Lewis cites above.


“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8)

The Catholic Church makes confession (and Communion) compulsory once a year. If one person just receives Communion once a year, confession should take place just before. But if you receive Communion once a week (or more) you don’t have to confess before every Communion.

Over fifty years ago, a Catholic priest who thought I was confessing too frequently advised me not to do it more than once every two months. I have followed his advice, and for most of my life I’ve confessed once every three months.