"Confession," writes Jim Forest, a member of the Orthodox church who lives in the Netherlands, "is what we do to safeguard and renew our relationship with God whenever it is damaged. Confession restores our communion with God." The author of Praying with Icons and Ladder of the Beatitudes believes that this sacrament of reconciliation is a necessary part of Christian life and community. It is especially important given the pernicious deeds of the ego, which Forest describes in the following way: "The craving to be ahead of others, to be more valued than others, to be more highly rewarded than others, to be able to keep others in a state of fear, the inability to admit mistakes or apologize these are among the symptoms of pride. Pride opens the way for countless other sins: deceit, lies, theft, violence, and all those other actions that destroy community with God and with those around us."
After presenting a short history of confession, the author examines the basic stories in the four gospels that shed light on repentance, confession, and forgiveness. Forest then looks at the key elements in confession and some essential tools of self-examination including the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, the Last Judgment, and the Prayer of Ephraim the Syrian. He concludes that confession is more than a disclosure of sin; it also involves praise of God and the profession of faith. The paperback also contains stories the author has gathered about the catalytic role of confessions in the lives of laypersons, priests, monks, and nuns.