Michael Prokurat, Alexander Golitzin, Michael D. Peterson
The A to Z of the Orthodox Church

EPIPHANY EPITIMION ERICKSON, JOHN H

EPITIMION

EPITIMION. Part of the sacrament of confession (q.v.), or penance and reconciliation, the epitimion is the penance set by the confessor or elder for the penitent. In ancient practice, this could be quite severe-for example, up to seven years exclusion from the Eucharist (q.v.), accompanied by arduous ascetic exercises, for the gravest sins (q.v.). Even so, the epitimion was never conceived of in the East as a penalty or punishment, still less a “satisfaction,” for the sins committed, but was always understood as medicinal, part of the cure for the disease of sin. The confessor stands thus in the role of physician, diagnosing the malady and prescribing the cure. Modern usage tends to assign lighter penances, when indeed such are assigned at all. Such amelioration begins with the Desert Fathers (q.v.), who often resisted the over-exacting penances imposed by the ecclesiastical hierarchy. (See Economy.)


EPIPHANY EPITIMION ERICKSON, JOHN H