The Enticement of the Occult. Bishop Alexander Mileant
"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils" (1 Tim. 4:1).
Question: What is the christian Faith?
Answer: The christian Faith is Christ's knowledge of most important mysteries of being and life, which knowledge men can accept only by believing Him and never be able to get by their own efforts.
Q. What are those most important mysteries of being and life, of which Christ alone has the right knowledge?
A. They are:
The mystery of the invisible realities: of God, angels and human soul;
The mystery of the world creation and world end;
The mystery of God's ceaseless guidance of man and mankind by His wisdom and power to the fixed goal;
The mystery of man's sin and depravation, and of his salvation through the God Incarnate;
The mystery of the kingdom of heaven as the aim of man's earthly life, and of the right way to that aim, i.e., of every man's conduct toward himself, toward his neighbour and toward God;
The mystery of the resurrection of the dead, of the Last Judgment and the life eternal.
Q. But did not some other religious teachers, thinkers and philosophers try to elucidate those mysteries?
A. Indeed many did try, but tried only, with all their limited human powers, by intense thinking and by hard study of the world and human nature. Yet all their efforts resulted in diverse theories and guesses contradictory to each other.
Q. In what then consists the superiority of Christ's knowledge over theirs?
A. In Christ's authority as an eye-witness. He testified: "I speak that which I have seen," and again: "No man has ascended up to heaven but that he came down from heaven, even the son of man who is in heaven." To the religious teachers of His time He said: "You are from beneath, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world." To a master of Israel He spoke: "Verily, Verily, I say unto thee: We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen." And again: "I am the living bread which came down from heaven." And many such things He spoke with the authority of an eye-witness on all the mysteries of heaven and earth, so much so that the people were astonished at His teaching. For "never a man spoke like this man."
Q. Of course we in our daily life believe an eyewitness more than any theorist or philosopher. But there were some religious teachers who ascribed their doctrine to an angel. And the angels are also eyewitnesses of great mysteries. What are we to think of that?
A. It is true, that sometimes God's angels were sent to sonic persons to teach or lead them. But more often men saw false apparitions, i.e., evil spirits clothed in the light of true angels. Yet Christ's case is entirely different. He was neither taught nor led by angels, but on the contrary He commanded the angelic hosts, and He drove the evil spirits out of men. The angels served Him and the demons dreaded Him.
Q. In that case ought we to think that the christian religion is above all other religions in the world, is it not so?
A. The christian Faith should not be compared with other religions, and strictly speaking it ought not to be called "religion" at all, in the pagan meaning of the word. For it is not a religion among religions, but it is the Faith in Christ and Christ's revelation. It is God's personal, unique and final revelation to men for the sake of men's enlightenment and salvation. Another God's revelation shall not be given, and another Messiah besides Jesus Christ should not be expected until the end of the world.
Q. How then should we think of the modern tendency in some quarters to level the christian Faith with all other religions?
A. It is a wrong tendency and a dangerous experiment. For "God is not to be mocked" (Gal. 6.7), nor is the blood of the Son of God to be made equal with the ink of the scribes. For though we as the members of our ancient church of the East are bound to unrestricted charity toward all human beings, yet we are strictly forbidden to compromise our inherited God revealed Truth with man made religions or philosophies.
Q. By what means shall we fight against such a tendency of levelling?
A. First of all by profound knowledge of our own Orthodox Faith, by practicing it in daily life, and by sticking to it just as the scientists stick to the discovered fact that the earth is round as against those who still might think it to be flat. Second, by charitable and wise efforts-never by force-to lift up the peoples of lower and the lowest beliefs to the height of our perfect Faith, instead of pulling down what is perfect and mixing it with the imperfect for some convenience's sake.
Q. But why do we call our Faith the living Faith?
A. Because Faith and Life are inseparably connected as the cause and the effect. Jesus said: "He that believeth the Son (of God) has everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him" (John 3:36). It is also said: "The just shall live by faith" (Heb. 10:38).
Q. What is the origin of our orthodox Faith?
A. God's revelation.
Q. From what sources can we get the knowledge of Faith or God's revelation?
A. From two sources: Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition.
Q. What is the Holy Scripture?
A. A collection of sacred books of the Old Testament and the New Testament is called the Holy Scripture or the Bible.
Q. Why do we call it the Holy Scripture?
A. Because our holy God inspired and guided holy men in writing those holy books in order to teach us a holy life.
Q. What is the meaning of the word Bible?
A. It is a Greek word and means: Books. But this word is not used in a collective but in a qualitative sense, i.e., meaning not many books but the books of books, the very top of the pyramid of all books in the world.
Q. How do we classify the Books of the Old Testament?
A. Into four groups: legislative, historical, instructive or moral, and prophetical books.
Q. What are the legislative books of the Old Testament?
A. The five books of Moses, i.e.
1.Genesis, the book of Creation.
2.Exodus, the book of Migration.
S. Leviticus, the book of Priesthood and sacrifices.
4.Numbers, the book of numbers.
5.Deuteronomy, the book of Repeated Laws.
Q. What do we learn from the book of Genesis?
A: We learn first of God's majestic power and wisdom in the Creation of the world merely by His creative Word; second: of God's majestic love in creating man after His image; third: of God's majestic justice in driving out of Paradise our first ancestors, Adam and Eve, who being deceived by Satan turned ungratefully from their Creator to their Destroyer. Thereby and then originated the tragedy of the human race.
Q. What do we learn from other legislative books of the Old Testament?
A. We learn how the Lord God educated a people by severe law of Justice preparing them for acceptance of the law of Love through Christ the Saviour.
Q. What are the historical books of the Old Testament?
A. The book of Joshua, The book of Judges, The book of Ruth, Four books of Kings, Two books of Chronicles, The book of Ezra, The book of Nehemiah, The book of Esther.
Q. What do we learn from those historical books?
A. We learn of the active part God took in all the recorded events with the benevolent intention of curing the vicious nature of men by law, and of diverting the people from the satanic snares of idol-worship and of bringing them to the recognition of Him, the only true and man-loving God.
Q. What are the instructive or moral books of the Old Testament?
A. The book of Job, The book of Psalter, The book of Proverbs, The book of Ecclesiastics, The book of Song of Songs
Q. What do we learn from those instructive or moral books?
A. We learn how to meet everyday happenings, and how to behave in all the vicissitudes of life, never losing from our sight the Lord our God and His law.
Q. What are the prophetical books of the Old Testament?
A. They are:
The books of the four great prophets:
Isaiah Jeremiah Ezekiel Daniel, and
The books of the twelve minor prophets:
Hosea Joel Amos Obadiah
Other books which are used in the church are:
The Wisdom of Solomon, and The Wisdom of Sirach.
Q. Is this classification of the biblical books of the Old Testament very strict?
A. No. For there is a great deal of history in the legislative and prophetical books, and there are some prophecies in the first two. The Psalter has a special place among all other books. For though it is usually put among the instructive or moral books, it is full of prophecies concerning Christ. Moreover it is the greatest prayer book in the whole Bible.
Q. How many books are there in the New Testament?
A. The New Testament is practically one book because it deals with one central subject from the first page to the last.
Q. What is that central subject?
A. It is the one exceptional Personality, i.e.,- Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour.
Q. Of how many little books does consist the great book of the New Testament?
A. Of twenty-seven.
Q. Do they all deserve to be called books?
A. According to their importance yes, but not according to their size. For there are some of the apostolic epistles of one printed page.
Q. What are the books of the New Testament?
A. They are:
1. The Four Gospels
according to St. Matthew according to St. Mark according to St. Luke according to St. John
2.The Acts of the Apostles
3.The Seven General Epistles
By St. James - 1 By St. Peter -2 By St. John -3 By St. Jude -1
4.The Fourteen Specific Epistles by St. Paul
5.The Revelation or Apocalypsis of St. John the
Q. What is the meaning of the word Gospel?
A. Gospel is a translation of the Greek word Evangel. And Evangel means Good News, or Glad News.
Q. Why is it called so?
A. Because of the Personality of Jesus Christ, who is the Absolute Goodness and Absolute Novelty in the history of man.
Q. Who was the first to use this word Evangel in the New Testament?
A. Jesus Himself, who in His first address to men said: "Repent ye, and believe the Evangel" (Mark 1:15).
Q. What do we learn from the four Gospels?
A. We learn how all God's promises to men in the Old Testament and prophecies, from Adam's time on, were fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ.
Q. What more do we learn?
A. We learn on the one hand of Jesus Christ's perfect human character, more perfect than anyone of us could imagine, of His gentleness and loving kindness toward men, of His readiness to forgive and help, of His humility and external poverty, of His sacrifices and sufferings for men's sake; and on the other hand of His perfect divine character, of His supernatural birth, supernatural deeds, supernatural wisdom, power and love, and of his supernatural resurrection and supernatural ascension.
Q. What more?
A. In short: we learn from the Gospels all the basic truths about our Saviour and our salvation.
Q. What then should we call the Gospels as compared with other books of the New Testament?
A. We should call them: The books of basic truths.
Q. What do we learn from the Acts of the Apostles?
A. We learn of the Descension of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, of the apostles' successive activities in preaching the Gospel of Christ, organizing the Church, performing miraculous works in the name of Jesus Christ, and also we learn of the life of the first christians and christian communities.
Q. What then should we call the book of the Acts of the Apostles as compared with the Gospels?
A. We should call it the application of the basic truths, contained in the Gospels.
Q. What do we learn from the epistles of the apostles?
A. We learn how to interpret the basic truths contained in the Gospels.
Q. What then should we call those epistles as compared with the Gospels?
A. We should call them: The books of interpretation of
the basic truths of Christ.
Q. What do we learn from the book of Revelation?
A. We learn of the great struggles of Christ's Church against all the beasts of the world and the underworld, and of the final triumph of Christ, the Lamb of God, over all of those beastly powers of darkness.
Q. What then should we call the book of Revelation as compared with the Gospels?
A. We should call it: The book of the final victory of the basic truths contained in the Gospels, and of the end of the world drama, of which the chief hero from the beginning was and is Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour.
Q. What is the Holy Tradition?
A. All those spiritual treasures, which we inherited from our holy ancestors, which are in absolute accord with the Holy Scriptures, and which help us to understand rightly the Holy Scripture.
Q. Which is older: The Holy Scripture or the Holy Tradition?
A.- The Holy Tradition.
Q. Which is larger?
A. The Holy Tradition. St. John testifies to this by saying: "And there are many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written" (John 31:25).
Q. What does the Holy Tradition comprise in particular?
A. The Holy Tradition comprises:
1. Short definitions and formulations of our orthodox Creed,
2. The doctrine of seven holy Mysteries, and the rites of their performance.
3. The canons of the Apostles,
4. The canons of the seven Ecumenical Councils,
which were held at:
I. Nicaea 325, with 318 Holy Fathers
II. Constantinople 381, with 150 Holy Fathers
III. Ephesus 431, with 200 Holy Fathers
IV. Chalcedon 451, with 630 Holy Fathers
V. Constantinople 553, with 160 Holy Fathers
VI. Constantinople 680, with 170 Holy Fathers VII. Nicaea 787, with 367 Holy Fathers Thus about 2000 representatives of the undivided christian Church all over the world participated at those seven Ecumenical Councils.
5.The canons and regulations of several provincial Synods or Councils;
6.Disciplinary rules of St. Basil the Great and some other Saints;
7.Liturgies, and other church services;
8.Writings of the Fathers of the Church;
9.Life of Cristian Saints and martyrs;
10. Pious usages, signs and symbols as expressions of our Faith, Hope and Love.
Q. Can the Holy Tradition be separated from the Holy Scripture?
A. No, they are inseparable. For in the light of the Holy Tradition we rightly understand the Holy Scripture, and in the light of the Holy Scripture we appreciate and love the Holy Tradition.
Q. What would be the consequences of the separation of the two?
A. The evil consequences of that separation have been recorded in the history of Christendom as: wrong interpretations of the Holy Scripture, quarrels, heresies, schisms, and finally the splitting of the universal Church.
Q. Who is called to watch over the text of the Holy Scripture and the purity of the Holy Tradition so that it will not be corrupted?
A. The Church, which is, according to the apostolic words, "the pillar and the ground of the Truth" (I. Tim. 3:15). In the first place it is the duty of the Church hierarchy.
Q. What is called the christian orthodox Creed?
A. The condensed truths of the christian Faith are stated in the Creed of Eastern orthodox Church. This Creed is also called the Symbol of Faith.
Q. Is there only one composition of the Creed?
A. There are several, as: The Apostolic Creed, the Creed of St. Athanasious and of St. Gregory of Neo-Caesaria. But the following Creed, most used in the orthodox Church, was composed at two of the ecumenical Councils, of Nicea (325 A.D.) and of Constantinople (381 A.D.).
Q. How is it composed?
A. It is composed of the following twelve articles:
1)I believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth, and of all things visible and invisible;
2)And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God the only begotten; begotten of the Father before all times; Light of Light; Very God of Very God, begotten, not created, of one essence with the Father; by whom all things were made;
3)Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and was made man;
4)And was also crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried;
5)And the third day He rose, according to the Scriptures;
6)And ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father;
7)And He shall come again with glory to judge the quick and the dead, and His Kingdom shall have no end.
8) I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Life giver, Who proceedeth from the Father, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, Who spoke through the prophets.
9)And I believe in One Holy Ecumenic and Apostolic Church.
10)I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins.
11)I look for the resurrection of the dead.
12)And the life of the world to come. AMEN.
Q. What is the first article of the Creed?
A. "I believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth and of all things visible and invisible."
Q. Why do we believe in one God?
A. Because only one God is the true God.
Q. What is the nature of God?
A. God is spirit, infinite, unchanging, unapproachable, eternal, without beginning and without end.
Q. What are the essential attributes of God?
A. God is perfectly holy, perfectly good, perfectly just, perfectly true, perfectly free, all-wise, all-powerful, all-merciful, omnipresent, omniscient, self-sufficient.
Q. Why do we call God-the Father?
A. Because He is the Father of Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, and also of all those who by regeneration through Jesus Christ are adopted as His children.
Q. Why do we call God-the Creator?
A. Because He created all things visible and invisible by His power and wisdom, and nothing could have come into existence nor exist without Him. He is the Creator and the Keeper of all.
Q. What is meant by heaven?
A. The angels, who are invisible spirits and whose number is countless.
Q. Are the angels similar to men?
A. Yes. Like men the angels are individuals, with intelligence, feelings, power and personal name. And like men they find their happiness in God.
Q. In what do the angels differ from men?
A. The angels are bodyless and deathless.
Q. Who are guardian angels?
A. Guardian angels are those angels who are attached to everyman for guidance and protection. Christ Himself confirmed this by saying: "Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 18:10).
Q. Are ail the angels equal?
A. All the angels are of the same nature, but they are different in glory, power and action. There are nine angelic orders: Thrones, Cherubim and Seraphim, Dominions, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels and Angels.
Q. Are the angels called by some other name in the Bible?
A. Yes. Very often they are called "The hosts of heaven" or "The hosts of the Lord."
Q. Why are they called by such a military name?
A. Because they are a divine fighting force against evil spirits, which are opposing God and attacking men.
Q. What are the evil spirits?
A. The former angels, who fell away from God and became foes of God and men.
Q. What is the other name of evil spirits?
Q. What does that name mean?
A. Calumniser, or false accuser. For the devils are constantly calumniating and accusing God and men.
Q. To what evil things are the devils ceaselessly alluring men?
A. To all bad passions and evil deeds contrary to God's law, but chiefly to hatred, falsehood and violence. As the Lord Jesus told the Jews, His persecutors: "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He has been man-murderer from the beginning and abides not in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar, and the father of lie" (John 8:44V
Q. How can we know the persons beguiled by the devils to evil ways?
A. By their hatred of God and men, and by their falsehood and violence.
Q. Whose name do the devils dread most of all?
A. The name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Q. Whose name do the godless men hate most of all?
A. The name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Q. What is the second article of the Creed?
A. "And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all times; Light of Light, Very God of Very God; begotten not created, of one essence with the Father, by whom all things were made."
Q. What is the meaning of the name Jesus Christ?
A. Jesus means Saviour, because He came to save men from the power of Satan, sin and death. Christ means- the Anointed (King, Priest, Prophet).
Q. How is Jesus Christ-the Son of God?
A. He is the only Son of God the Father, who is begotten and not created.
Q. Is there a great difference between "begotten" and "created?"
A. Yes, and a very great one. Just as a man gives birth to a child, which is of his own essence, but makes different instruments which are not of his essence, even so God the Father gave birth to His only Son in eternity of His own essence, but created innumerable beings and things, which are not of His own essence.
Q. Why is He called Light of Light?
A. Because His Father is the eternal Light of wisdom and love; therefore the Son of such a Father logically is Light of Light.
Q. Why is He called Very God of Very God?
A. For the same reason. And it is so even in the nature of this world; for instance, what is born of a man we can call a "very man of a very man." For the son always and everywhere is of the same essence as his parents. Thus our Lord Jesus Christ being the Son of God is indeed Very God of Very God, as He Himself said: "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30).
Q. Why do we say: "By Whom all things were made" ?
A. Because through the Son God created all things which were created in heaven and on earth. As it is testified in the Bible: "All things were made by Him and without Him nothing was made that was made" (John 1:3).
Q. What is the third article of the Creed?
A. "Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and was made man."
Q. In whose behalf did the Son of God, Jesus Christ, come down from heaven, i.e. from His eternal glory and bliss to this world of suffering?
A. In behalf of men for their salvation.
Q. By what cause was He moved to come down from heaven?
A. By his compassion and love of men beyond comparison.
Q. Did He come for the sake of all men?
A. Yes, He came to offer salvation to all men. But only those have gained that salvation, who have believed Him and responded by love to His love.
Q. What does it mean: incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary?
A. Incarnate means clad in flesh or embodied. The Most
Holy Virgin Mary conceived Him, not in a natural way, but supernaturally by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Q. How was it possible for a virgin to give birth to a son without being married?
A. All things are possible to the almighty God. By His power He created in the beginning the first man and woman, Adam and Eve. Also by His power He made the Virgin Mary conceive Jesus Christ, the true Man and the true God.
Q. In what way is Jesus Christ like all other men?
. A. He had a human body and a human soul like every other man, except sin. He was a perfect man, without sin or blemish.
Q. In what way is Jesus Christ different from all other men in history?
A. In the unity of two natures, the divine and the human, in one person. Men are men, but He was God-man.
Q. Why do we call the Virgin Mary the Mother of God, Bogoroditza?
A. Because the two natures of our Saviour, the divine and the human, were united already at her conception in such a way that God and Man inseparably were born of her in one person.
Q. Why do we call Bogoroditza-Ever Virgin?
A. Because She was a virgin both before the birth and during the birth, and also She remained a virgin after the birth of Jesus Christ, for ever and ever.
Q. Does the orthodox church consider the Bogoroditza a saint?
A. Yes. She is considered above all other saints, and even above the angelic hosts. For She was elected to be God's chief instrument for men's salvation through the birth of the Saviour of the world.
Q. Why do we call Christ the Saviour?
A. Because He came from heaven to save men from the power of Satan, sin, and death. For Satan caused sin, and sin caused death.
Q. When did the first sin of man happen?
A. In Paradise, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and obeyed Satan.
Q. What have all other men to do with Adam's sin?
A. They all inherited that sin from their first sinful ancestors. Just as we may inherit some disease from our parents, even so we inherited the sin from the first progenitors of mankind.
Q. Is that the only sin Christ came to save men from?
A. No. To that primary sin have been added innumerable other sins, so that in the long run men came entirely under the power of Satan, and sinning became their second nature (I John 5,19; 1,7).
Q. Why did not God raise a great man-a genius-to accomplish the work of Christ and thereby spare His eternal Son?
A. Because all men were sinful and mortal, even the greatest and the best. The whole world was lying in evil, and Satan and death reigned in the world, until the only possible Saviour, stronger than Satan, sinless and immortal, descended from heaven and brought liberation and salvation to mankind.
Q. What is the fourth article of the Creed?
A. "And was also crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried."
Q. Who were the accusers of Jesus Christ?
A. The Jewish priests and scribes, who envied Jesus Christ because He did great miracles they could not do, and because the people stood for Him more than for them.
Q. Who was the judge who condemned Jesus to death ?
A. Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Palestine, as the representative of the emperor of Rome.
Q. Why is the name of Pontius Pilate specially mentioned?
A. To show the historicity of the death of Jesus Christ, just as emperor Augustus was mentioned in the evangelical story of His birth.
Q. For what sin or crime did Pilate sentence Jesus to death?
A. For none. Pilate himself declared to the Jewish priests and people saying: "I find no fault in this man," and repeated, "I, having examined him before you, have found no fault with this man"; and also the third time said he unto them: "What evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him." But merely for the fear of the Jews he delivered Him to be crucified.
Q. How then could the eternal justice of God allow that Jesus should die a cruel death being wholly innocent?
A. He died for no sin of His own but for our sins. Eternal justice of God required such an innocent and priceless sacrifice for Adam's sin and ours.
Q. Is there any other reason for such a tremendous sacrifice?
A. Yes. By such a sacrifice God showed His inexpressible love of men. "He (God) loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (I John 4,10).
Q. Why is Jesus Christ called Redeemer?
A. Because He redeemed us from sin and death by His own suffering and death on the cross.
Q. Being immortal God, how could he die?
A. He did not die as God but as Man. Neither His divinity nor His soul ever tasted death.
Q. In what does consist the unique greatness of Christ's sacrifice?
A. First, in His absolute innocence; second, in His infinite love toward men and His obedience to His Father, and third, in His willingness to die for sinners in order to save them.
Q. What is the fifth article of the Creed?
A. "And the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures."
Q. What event was Christ's greatest triumph?
A. His resurrection from the dead.
Q. What did supremely prove His omnipotent God-hood?
A. Again, His resurrection.
Q. What event proved Christ's victory over Satan?
A. His descent into Hell.
Q. What is Hell?
A. The realm of darkness in the underworld, where Satan holds the power of death. It is said of Christ that through "death He might destroy him that had the power of death, i.e., the devil" (Heb. 2:14).
Q. What did Christ do in Hell?
A. By His presence He made Satan tremble and flee be-for His countenance. Myriads of human souls however, which were languishing there, rejoiced at His coming.
Q. What did Christ do for those human souls?
A. He preached His Gospel-Glad News-to them and declared His victory over Satan and death. And as many as joyfully adhered to Him were liberated.
Q. On what day did Christ's resurrection happen?
A. On the third day after His death, just as He many times had foretold to His disciples. He died on Friday and rose on Sunday.
Q. Who were the first witnesses of Christ's resurrection?
A. The sentinels, ordered by the Jews to watch the sepulchre.
Q. To whom did they report of Christ's resurrection?
A. To the Jewish chief priests and elders.
Q. How did the chief priests and elders react to that report?
A. They were frightened and confused. And they bribed the sentinels with "large money" and ordered them to go around and spread the false story that "His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we slept" (Matt. 28:11).
Q. Who of Christ's followers first experienced the fact of His resurrection?
A. The women of Galilee were told by the angels at His empty tomb: "Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but He is risen."
Q. Did Christ Himself prove beyond any doubt His rising from the dead, and to whom?
A. Yes, He did. He showed Himself in His body alive to His disciples and followers, and not once but many times during 40 days; as it is written in the Gospels, in the Acts of the Apostles, in the apostolic epistles and in the book of Revelation.
Q. What did Christ do during those 40 days between His resurrection and ascension into heaven?
A. He instructed His disciples more extensively and deeply about the mysteries of the Kingdom of God (Acts 1:3).
Q. Why is it said that Christ rose on the third day "according to the Scriptures?"
A. Because His resurrection was foretold in the Old Testament (Ps. 16, 9-10; Isa. 53). And Christ Himself compared His destiny with that of the prophet Jonas, saying: "For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Matt. 12:40). And again after His resurrection He said to the apostles: "Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day" (Luke 24:46).
Q. What is the sixth article of the Creed?
A. "And ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father."
Q. When did the Lord ascend from the earth into heaven?
A. On the fortieth day after His resurrection.
Q. What do we call that day?
A. The Ascension day.
Q. From what place did the Lord Jesus ascend into heaven?
A. From the Mount of Olives.
Q. Who were the eye witnesses to His ascension?
A. All His faithful disciples.
Q. Why did the Lord ascend into heaven?
A. After He perfectly finished His service to men, He went to His eternal habitation where He descended from.
Q. Did He ascend into heaven with His real human body?
A. Yes, with His real human body, which was raised from the dead.
Q. With what purpose did He ascend visibly, before many eyewitnesses?
A. To give the assurance to all His faithful that they also will be taken into heaven after the general resurrection of the dead.
Q. What is the meaning of the words: "sitteth at the right hand of the Father?"
A. Jesus Christ shares with His Father the same majesty, glory and power. Before His ascension He testified this to the disciples saying: "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth."
Q. What is the seventh article of the Creed?
A. "And He shall come again with glory to judge the quick and the dead, and His Kingdom shall have no end."
Q. What are we taught by the seventh article of the Creed?
A. Three things: of Christ's second coming, of His judgment over the living and the dead, and of the final establishment of His eternal Kingdom of heaven.
Q. Will Christ's second coming be different from the first?
A. Very different indeed. His first coming was in great humility with the aim to serve men and suffer for men. His second coming will be in majesty and glory with the aim to judge men, both the living and the dead.
Q. How did He describe His second coming?
A. He said: "When the Son of man shall come in His glory and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory. And before Him shall be gathered all nations, and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats" (Matt. 25:31). And after that He will judge the just and the unjust according to their deeds.
Q. Is there any other description of His coming?
A. Yes, several. For instance St. Paul, consoling those who sorrow for their dead ones, said: "the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise" (I Thessal. 5:16).
Q. Is there any other testimony from heaven of His second coming?
A. Yes. At His ascension two angels appeared and spoke to the apostles: "Why stand ye gazing up into heaven? The same Jesus, who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11).
Q. What more is revealed to us of the Last Judgment?
A. Christ Himself said that when He comes again in power and glory "then He shall reward every man according to his works" (Matt. 16:27).
Q. What shall He say to the faithful and good?
A. "Come ye, blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."
Q. And what shall He say to the faithless and evil?"
A. "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."
Q. And what shall be the conclusion?
A. The blessed ones shall go into eternal and blissful life, and the cursed ones into everlasting punishment.
Q. How shall the second coming of the Lord be?
A. Sudden! "As the lightning cometh from the east and shineth even unto the west, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be," said He (Matt. 24:27).
Q. When shall be His second coming, and the Last Judgment, and the end of the world?
A. The time of those staggering events has not been revealed to us. Only our Lord Jesu6 warned us to be always ready to meet Him. "Therefore, said He, be ye ready; for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh; watch therefore!" was His strong warning.
Q. How can we get ready for that fearful day ?
A. By right thinking, right feeling and right doing, according to His teaching, to the advice of the Church and to the given examples of His saints.
Q. Did Christ mention any sign of the nearing end?
A. He did. He mentioned these signs: Wars, revolutions, earthquakes, storms, famines, pestilences, tribulations, false teachers, mutual betrayal, increase of hatred
and decrease of love, fearful sights, great signs from heaven, distress of nations with perplexity, etc. (see Matt. 24 and Luke 21).
Q. But are we certain that under all those circumstances Christ shall prevail?
A. Quite certain. Under all circumstances our Lord Saviour shall have the full number of the saved souls as He foresaw at the beginning of the world drama. And none of those who believe in Him and invoke His name shall perish.
Q. What is the eighth article of the Creed?
A. "And I believe in the Holy Spirit the Lord, the Life-giver, Who proceedeth from the Father, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, and Who spake through the prophets?"
Q. Why is the Holy Spirit called the Lord?"
A. He is called the Lord with the same right as the Father is called the Lord and as the Son is called the Lord.
Q. Then is the Holy Spirit God?
A. Indeed He is; Very God of Very God. But not begotten, of the Father like the Son, but proceeding from the Father.
Q. How then can we say that we believe in one God?
A. We certainly believe in one God, whose innermost mystery is revealed to us by Christ as the absolute harmony of three divine persons of the same divine essence. Therefore we speak of a Triune God, or Trinity in unity . . . One God.
Q. Did God reveal Himself as the Holy Trinity in the Old Testament?
A. Not very clearly. Isaiah in his vision heard the great seraphim sing to God on a throne: "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of Hosts" (ISA. 6,3). The three times repeated word Holy responds to the three persons in God. See also Genesis 1,26.
Q. Why did God not reveal Himself clearly as Holy Trinity in the Old Testament?
A. Just as a man does not reveal his innermost secrets to servants and strangers but to his children, even so God did not reveal the mystery of His being to a people of "strangers" who were the servants and slaves of the law, but reserved this revelation for His children of love in the New Testament.
Q. How has the Holy Trinity been revealed in the New Testament?
A. Just as clearly as men could bear while in the body. The archangel Gabriel announced to the Holy Virgin: "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee, therefore that Holy one which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35). Thus all three are mentioned here: The Holy Spirit, the Holy Father, and the Holy Son.
heaven was opened and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon Him, and a voice came down from heaven which said: "Thou art my beloved Son, in thee I am well pleased" (Luke 3,21:22).
Q. Is there another?
A. St. John the evangelist distinctly says: "There are three that bear record in heaven: The Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one" (I John
5:7). By the Word John means the Son, as it is seen from his Gospel (1:14).
Q. Still another?
A. The Lord Jesus gave the order to His disciples: "Go ye and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Matt. 28-19).
Q. Why is the Holy Ghost called the "Life-giver"?
A. Because there is no real life without God the Holy Spirit either in heaven or on earth.
Q. Why does the Orthodox Church alone teach that the Holy Spirit "proceedeth from the Father" only, and not also from the Son, as the unorthodox denominations teach?
A. Because the Orthodox Church logically thinks that God knows about Himself better than men do. And our Lord and God Jesus Christ, the Revealer of all the divine mysteries, revealed to His disciples about the Holy Spirit that He proceedeth from the Father only, saying: "The Spirit of truth who proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of me" (John 15:26).
Q. Why is it said that the Holy Spirit spake through the prophets?
A. Because that was a fact. St. Peter writes: "No prophecy of the Scripture is of any private opinion. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (II Peter 1, 20:21).
Q. Were not the apostles also inspired and moved by the Holy Spirit?
A. Certainly. But this fact was not mentioned in the Creed because it was obvious, and never denied by anyone. The prophets alone were mentioned because in
those days heretics denied the fact that the Old Testament was written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Q. Did the Holy Spirit ever appear in some visible shape?
A. He appeared in the shape of a dove at Christ's baptism. He appeared also in the shape of the "cloven tongues' as of fire" and sat upon the apostles on the day of Pentecost, which is the fiftieth day after Easter.
Q. Can every christian become a partaker of the Holy Spirit?
A. Yes; according to the rebuking words of Christ: "If ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?" (Luke 11:13). St. Paul wrote: "Know ye not, that ye are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (I Cor. 3:16).
Q. What gifts may we obtain by gaining the Holy Spirit?
A. All possible good gifts as: wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fear of God, fortitude, humility, purity, holiness, and others.
Q. How can we make ourselves worthy of the Lord the Holy Spirit and His gifts?
A. Through the strict control over our heart and tongue; through prayer and love; and through the Holy Mysteries.
Q. What is the ninth article of the Creed?
A. "And I believe in One Holy Ecumenic and Apostolic Church."
Q. What is the Church?
A. An exceptional community in human history. For it is God's family created by the word and blood of Jesus Christ and guided and vivified by God the Holy Spirit.
Q. What did Christ say of the Church?
A. He said: "I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matt. 16:18).
Q. Who is the head of the Church?
A. The ever-living Christ, who said: "And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world, Amen" (Matt. 28:20). And the apostle said how the heavenly Father glorified His Son Jesus Christ "and gave Him to be the head, over all, to the church, which is His body" (Eph. I, 22:23).
Q. What are the relations between Christ and the members of His Church?
A. That is clearly stated by St. Paul in these words: "Ye are the body of Christ and members in particular" (I Cor. 12, 27). The pains and joy of one member of that body are felt by other members.
Q. Who are the members of the Church?
A. All of those, both male and female, who are united by the same Faith and Hope, bound by the same God's law of Love, sanctified by the same Mysteries, and directed by the lawful bishops and priests.
Q. In what does the Church differ from all other secular communities and organizations concerning the membership?
A. The dead are also counted as members of the Church, which is not the case in any secular community.
Q. How is that?
A. When the members of the Church on earth die, they
separate themselves from their bodies, but not from the Church. Their souls enter the Church in heaven. For there are two wings of the same Church: The visible wing, and the invisible.
Q. Who are the members of the visible church?
A. All of those christians who are living in visible bodies and combating for christian perfection.
Q. Who are the members of the invisible Church?
A. All of those christians who have died with Faith in Christ during the last 19 centuries, including also the righteous ones of old whom the Lord saved by descending into hell.
Q. Do our departed parents, brothers, sisters, children, relatives and friends belong to that invisible Church?
A. Positively, under the condition that they lived and died as christians.
Q. Which Church is more numerous, the visible or the invisible?
A. The invisible, by far. And it is constantly increasing.
Q. Is there any intercourse between Church visible and invisible?
A. Yes. We call it the communion of saints.
Q. In what does the communion of saints consist?
A. In prayers and charitable works of the living members for the departed souls on one hand, and in the prayers and intercessions of the departed for the living on the other.
Q. What are the characteristics of Christ's Church?
A. Christ's Church is one, holy, universal, and apostolic.
Q. Why is the Church called one?
A. Because she is one spiritual body with one head, who is Jesus Christ, and with one Holy Spirit who is dwelling in it. The apostle speaks of the sevenfold unity of the Church by saying: "There is one body, and one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one Faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all" (Eph. 4, 4-6).
Q. What about the many independent churches within the Eastern Orthodox Church?
A. They are independent as to the use of their own national (people's) language and, in certain measure, as to the external structure, subject to the Canon Law. Otherwise, they are interdependent among themselves as members of the same body of Christ, as branches of the same tree, which are taking food from the same root through the same veins.
Q. Which churches of the Eastern Orthodox Church are independent at present?
A. The church of Constantinople, Jerusalem, Alexandria, Antioch, Greece, Cyprus, Sinai, Serbia, Bulgaria, Russia, Rumania, Georgia, and Albania.1
Q. Are they all equal?
A. They are all equal among themselves, therefore they are called sister churches. Yet the Balkan nations and the Russians call the church of Constantinople the Mother Church, because they received Christianity from Constantinople.
Q. What is the highest authority in the Eastern Orthodox Church?
A. The Ecumenical (or Universal) Councils consisting of the representatives of all of the independent sister churches.
Other independent churches in the East, akin to the Orthodox Church, are: Coptic, Abyssinian, Armenian, Jacobite (in India) and Assyrian.
Q. What is the highest authority in the provincial Churches?
A. The Patriarch or the Archbishop, with a Synod of bishops.
Q. Can a man be saved outside the Church?
A. No. For the Church is the depository of God's grace, without which, no man can be saved. As an arm cut off the body.
Q. Why is the Church called holy?
A. Because she was made holy by the holiness of her founder, Jesus Christ, by His holy words, deeds, and sacrifice, and because the Holy Spirit is abiding within her through the Holy Sacraments; also because her aim is to make men holy, and finally because she has produced and is still producing a great number of saints and a host of martyrs.
Q. What is said in the Scripture of the holiness of the Church?
A. Here is one instance: "Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word; that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without a blemish" (Eph. 5, 25-27).
Q. Do the sinners within the Church defile the Church by their sins?
A. The sinners defile themselves, not the Church as a whole, just as the smoke from chimneys cannot defile the whole atmosphere around the earth.
Q. Does the Church help sinners to correct themselves?
A. Very much. For it is a very important task of the
Church to cleanse the sinners from their sins and to make them holy members of God's holy family.
Q. What does the Church do with the sinners who stubbornly refuse the Church's call for repentance?
A. She cuts them off her body as foul members, according to Christ's words: "If he neglect to obey the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen" (Matt. 18:17).
Q. Why is the Church called universal?
A. Because she is not limited either to a space or to a time or to a race or tongue. She makes an appeal to mankind. The risen Christ directed His disciples: "Go ye, and teach all nations . . ." (Matt. 28:19).
Q. Is there any reason other than that why the Church is called universal?
A. The Church is called universal also because she includes all the universal truths and means necessary for the salvation of every human soul in the world.
Q Why is the Church called apostolic?
A. Because the spirit, the doctrine and the practices of Christ's apostles are fully and carefully preserved in our Church.
Q Should the Church obey the apostles in everything?
A. Because Christ elected them and authorized them to speak and act in His name. He said to them: "Ye shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning" (John, 15:27).
Q. Should we then listen to the apostles as we listen to Christ?
A. Just so. For He said to the apostles: "He that receiveth you receiveth me" (Matt. 10:40). And moreover
He threatened those cities terribly which would not
receive the apostles with these terrifying words: "Verily
I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for the land
of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of Judgment than
for that city" (Matt. 10:15).
Q. What particular authorities did the Lord give to His apostles?
A. To bind and to loose. "Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matt. 18:18), and also correspondingly: "Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained" (John 20:23).
Q. What is called the apostolic succession?
A. The lawful hierarchy, i.e., the unbroken chain practice of transferring the grace and authority in the Church from the apostles to bishops and from bishops to priests and deacons by the laying on of hands.
Q. Has our ancient Eastern Church faithfully preserved that apostolic succession?
Q. Is it not a glory and privilege that we have been born and educated in that Church?
A. Certainly it is. And we ought to be thankful to God and to our parents for that.
Q. What is the tenth article of the Creed ?
A. "I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of
Q. What is Baptism?
A. It is the initial Holy Mystery, or Sacrament, by which we become lawful members of the Church.
Q. How many Mysteries are there in the Holy Orthodox Church?
A. There are seven Holy Mysteries.
Q. Why is only Holy Baptism mentioned in the Creed?
A. First, because through Baptism we receive grace as the new born children of God to be christians, after which we are permitted to all other Holy Mysteries for our spiritual growth.
Q. Is there any other reason?
A. The other reason is because there were controversies between the Orthodox Fathers of the Church and a few heretics about Baptism at the time of the Creed's formation, whereas the other Holy Mysteries were not controversial.
Q. Why do we say "one" Baptism?
A. Because Baptism is performed only once and cannot be repeated on the same person. As we are only once physically born, even so we are spiritually born only once. And Baptism is our spiritual birth.
Q. What is the eleventh article of the Creed?
A. "I look for the resurrection of the dead."
Q. What does it mean: "the resurrection of the dead?"
A. It means that God, by His limitless power will make not only our souls immortal but our bodies as well. And it also means that every immortal soul shall be clothed in an immortal body according to its deeds.
Q. Are there different kinds of bodies ?
A. Yes. There are natural bodies and there are spiritual bodies (I Cor. 15:44).
Q. Shall the dead rise in their own bodies which are buried in the grave?
A. No. For those mortal bodies are corruptible. They shall rise in spiritual bodies, which are incorruptible.
Q. How will God raise the dead?
A. By His word, just as He created the world by His word, and just as He once raised a dead girl, and a dead boy, and Lazarus by His word. Even so it will happen at the universal resurrection: "The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God" and shall come to life (John 5:25).
Q. And what shall happen with those who shall be living in the body at the moment of the resurrection of the dead?
A. Their bodies shall be changed in "the twinkle of an eye" into spiritual bodies, according to their deeds and character.
Q. When shall the universal resurrection take place?
A. At the end of the world; when God finds that the number of the saved, the elect ones, is completed.
Q. What is the state of the souls of the departed ones before the resurrection?
A. It is a foretaste of everlasting bliss or of everlasting torments, according to their deeds while in the bodies on earth.
Q. By what Judgment is a soul destined to temporary bliss or to temporary torment?
A. By the so called Separate or Temporary Judgment.
Q. When does the Separate Judgment take place?
A. Immediately after the death of a person.
Q. By what Judgment is a soul destined to everlasting bliss or to everlasting torment?
A. By the general or Last Judgment, which is also called the Terrible Judgment.
Q. When shall the Last Judgment take place?
A. At the end of this world, after the resurrection of the dead.
Q. What is another different feature of the Separate and the Last Judgment?
A. At the Separate Judgment the soul of a person alone is judged, and at the general or Last Judgment both the soul and the body united shall be judged.
Q. Why shouldn't the souls of the righteous after departing from this life enjoy the final bliss in the Kingdom of heaven?
A. Because they are awaiting the rest of us, the memory of whom they have not lost and for whom they are in anxiety making constant intercessions.
Q. Is there any reason more?
A. Yes. They are awaiting to be united with their risen bodies like Christ. For the host of human beings shall differ from the hosts of angels in the Kingdom of heaven by being clad in spiritual bodies, whereas the angels are entirely bodiless.
Q. What is the twelfth article of the Creed?
A. "And the life of the world to come."
Q. What is the life of the world to come?
A. It is the future life, after our death and resurrection.
Q. What shall be the life of the righteous in that world to come?
A. A true and full life in the presence of and union with God and God's family in heaven; a life of crystal purity and divine glory, light and joy everlasting.
Q. What did Christ say of the righteous in the world beyond?
A. He said: "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father" (Matt. 13:43).
Q. Shall all the righteous have the same glory and bliss?
A. Although all of them shall enjoy glory and bliss beyond words (II Cor. 2, 4), they shall differ as the sun, moon and stars differ from each other, according to the saying: "There is one glory of the sun, and another of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory" (I Cor. 15:41).
Q. Why should not God by His infinite mercy save the stubborn sinners, evil doers and atheists?
A. Because they do not want to be saved. They reject God's call, despise Christ's cross, trample under foot God's law, persecute the Church, insult the priests and the faithful; in a word: they take the side of Satan against God and they never repent. "They believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (II Thess. 2:12).
Q. Can sinners repent after death?
A. No. For only in this world men have to choose: either to be the willing servants of Christ or of Satan. After death everyone shall join his master whom he chose and followed in this life. The Lord Jesus said of His servants: "Where I am, there shall also my servant be" (John 12:26).
Q. What is called a Holy Mystery?
A. A Holy Mystery or Sacrament is a visible ritual performance, through which the invisible saving power, called God's grace, bestows wonderful gifts upon the recipients.
Q. What is God's grace?
A. God's grace are God's gifts, which the Father gives to men through the Holy Spirit because of the merits of the Son.
Q. What are these gifts ?
A. All possible good gifts necessary for our regeneration, sanctification and salvation.
Q. Are we then saved only by God's grace ?
A. Yes, if we willingly accept God's grace by faith expressed in good works.
Q. How many Holy Mysteries are there in our Orthodox Church?
A. There are seven: Baptism, Chrismation, Communion, Penitence, Priesthood, Matrimony, and Unction.
Q. What Mysteries are unrepeatable and what repeatable?
A. The unrepeatable Mysteries are: Baptism, Chrismation, and Priesthood. Others are repeatable.
Q. What is Holy Baptism ?
A. It is a Holy Mystery by which the baptised person is
cleansed from all sins, both the original and the personal, and as a new born child of God is incorporated into the Church of Christ.
Q. What is most important in the performance of this Holy Mystery?
A. Thrice repeated immersion in water in the name of the Holy Trinity: of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, with appropriate prayers and supplications of the priest.
Q. On whose authority do we hold Baptism as indispensable for every member of the Church?
A. On Christ's authority:
First, by following His own example;
Second, by following His clear commandment to His disciples: "Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 28:19);
Third, by following His stern warning: "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God" (John 3, 5).
Q. What is the meaning of thrice repeated immersion and rising up of the person baptised?
A. Three immersions mean death to the sins against the Holy Trinity, and three risings up mean the life in and to the Holy Trinity.
Q. What three things does the priest demand from the person baptised?
A. Renunciation of Satan, repentance, and profession of the right Faith (Creed).
Q. In the case of children, who is to speak in their behalf, i.e., to renounce, to repent and to profess?
A. The god-father, who is the sponsor in the case.
Q. What is the duty of a god-father ?
A. To instruct, or to help instruct, the baptised child in all christian truths and christian conduct.
Q. How is the god-father respected?
A. The god-father is highly respected as a spiritual father among the orthodox people.
Q. Why should children be baptised ?
A. First, for fear that an unbaptised child, if it died, might be excluded from the christian family and appear at the Last Judgment among the heathen. Second, because to baptise children was an apostolic practice (Acts 10:44; 16:15) (I Cor. 1:16). Third, the Lord Jesus loved children so much that He gave the command: "Let the children come to me!" (Mk. 10:14).
Q. How then are considered the parents who carelessly let their little ones die unbaptised?
A. As the killers of their own children.
Q. What should be done if a priest is not at hand and a child is very sick?
A. In such grave cases, the Church allows that any christian layman or laywoman may perform the baptism in the simplest form, i.e., by immersing the child in water and saying: "The servant of God (name) is baptised in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; Amen." If the child survives, the priest shall complete the baptism and perform the Chrismation.
Q. What is Holy Chrismation?
A. It is a divine Mystery through which a baptised person is armed by the Holy Spirit with strength and wisdom
and other gifts to keep the right faith and to live a holy life.
Q. How is this Mystery administered to a baptised person?
A. The priest anoints certain parts of the body of the baptised person with holy chrism pronouncing these words: "The seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit. Amen."
Q. Where are those words taken from?
A. From St. Paul's saying: "He who establisheth us with you in Christ has anointed us, is God, who has also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts" (II Cor. 1, 21-22).
Q. Why is the forehead anointed ?
A. To sanctify mind in order to think of God and His law.
Q. And the Breast?
A. To sanctify the heart in order to love God. Q. And eyes?
A. To sanctify them in order to see what is good from God in every creature.
Q. And ears?
A. To sanctify them in order to listen to God's words. Q. And the cheeks?
A. To sanctify them in order to be able to express radiance of doing good and blushfulness because of sins.
Q. And the mouth?
A. To sanctify it in order that it may magnify the Lord God and speak always what is true and good.
Q. And the hands?
A. To sanctify them in order to be always ready to do good and charitable works before God.
Q. And the feet?
A. To sanctify them in order to go always the right christian path, which leads into the kingdom of God.
Q. How can we say it in short?
A. To sanctify the whole man, soul and body, to be holy as God is holy.
Q. Is it right to administer Holy Chrismation immediately after Baptism?
A. It is right, according to both the Holy Scripture and the Holy Tradition. For Baptism with water means purification, and Chrismation means sanctification by the Holy Spirit. Read to this effect: I John 2, 20-27; II Cor. 1, 21-22; Acts 7, 14-16. They ought not to be separated (read also Exodus 29, 4-7).
Q. Does a priest perform Holy Chrismation?
A. Yes, but not without the bishop's part in it.
The bishops prepare and consecrate the chrism, without which a priest cannot perform Chrismation.
Q. Was there any usage in the Old Testament foreshadowing Holy Chrismation?
A. Yes. The ancient kings were anointed. Samuel I, 10:1; 16:13, Ps. 89:20). And now we christians are all anointed because Christ "made us kings and priests unto God and His Father" (Rev. 1-6).
Q. What is Holy Communion?
A. It is a Holy Mystery in which the faithful christians take the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ in the visible form of bread and wine.
Q. Who first instituted the Mystery of Holy Communion?
A. Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the eve of His crucifixion and death at the last supper with His disciples.
Q. How did He institute it?
A. It is described in the Gospel: "And as they were eating, Jesus took bread and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said: Take, eat, this is my body. And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them saying: Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Mat. 26:26).
Q. At what church service is Holy Communion prepared and used?
A. At the most important Church service called the Divine Liturgy.
Q. Why is the divine Liturgy the most important of all Church services?
A. Because it displays the whole drama of Christ's life from His birth on to His ascension into heaven.
Q. What is the central moment in the divine Liturgy?
A. The consecration of bread and wine by the bishop or priest.
Q. Why is this Mystery perpetuated in the Church?
A. Because of Christ's commandment: "This do in remembrance of me" (Luke 22:19).
Q. Why ought we to communicate?
A. Because on that depends our eternal life. For Christ said: "Who eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 7:54).
Q. What if we do not communicate ?
A. In that case we are in mortal danger. For the Lord said emphatically: "Unless ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, ye have no life in you" (John 7:53).
Q. How ought we to prepare for Holy Communion ?
A. By fasting and praying, by confessing our sins and forgiving those who have sinned against us.
Q. What benefit do we get from Holy Communion?
A. We are taking the living Christ into ourselves, and thus being united with Him we have life everlasting, according to His words:
"He that eateth my flesh and drinketh. my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him" (John 6:55). "So he that eateth me, even he shall have life by me" (-57).
Q. Can we explain that by some comparison?
A. Children take milk from their mothers, which is the mother's flesh and blood, and by that food their bodies grow. Similarity we are taking Christ's flesh and blood in the communion, and by that food our souls are growing and ripening.
Q. What more can be said about that food of our souls?
A. Our bodies are of earth, therefore they are fed by earthly food; but our souls are of heavenly substance, therefore they must be fed by heavenly food. And Christ
said of Himself: "This is that bread which came down from heaven" (John 6:58).
Q. How often should we receive Holy Communion?
A. At least four times a year, during the four fasts. But it is recommendable to receive it more frequently, depending on a communicant's preparedness, and specially in sickness.
Q. What prayer do we have to say before receiving Holy Communion.
A. "I believe, O Lord, and I confess, that thou art truly the Christ, the Son of the living God, who didst come into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst.
And I believe, that this is truly thine own most pure body, and that this is truly Thine own most precious blood.
I pray to Thee therefore, have mercy upon me and forgive me all my sins both voluntary and involuntary, whether by word or by deed or by thought, done knowingly or unknowingly; and make me worthy to partake without condemnation of Thine most pure Mysteries, unto the remission of my sins and unto life everlasting."
Q. What is Holy Penitence?
A. It is a Mystery through which our sins, when confessed, are forgiven, and our reconciliation with God restored.
Q. What sins are forgiven in the Mystery of Penitence and what not?
A. All our sins which we commit after our baptism and which we confess to a priest and repent for.
The original sin however cannot be forgiven by mere repentance without baptism. Also some mortal sins can
not be forgiven "either in this world or in the world to come," according to Christ's own saying (Matt. 12:31).
Q. What are the requisites for this Mystery?
A. The confession of sins before a priest, after which the priest reads prayers and grants through the Holy Trinity remission-absolution to the repentant person.
Q. How do we know that sins are forgiven to a penitent person?
A. From the Holy Scripture and from Holy Tradition. Christ forgave sins to the penitant, and also the apostles did the same. From Tradition we know many instances of sinners, who repented their sins, corrected their life, and became saints.
Q. Who gave the authority to bishops and priests to forgive sins?
A. The Lord Christ Himself who said to His apostles: "Receive ye the Holy Spirit. Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them, and who soever sins ye retain, they are retained" (John 20:23).
Q. When an offender is forgiven by the person offended, is it necessary that he still should go to the priest for confession?
A. It is recommendable. For every sin which we commit against men we are committing it against God too. For there is no sin which does not hurt God. Therefore we ought to go to God's priests for confession and forgiveness.
Q. With what disposition of the soul shall we go to the priest for penitence?
A. With sincere repentance and with a contrite heart; also with hearty forgiving those who trespassed against us, and with willingness to obey the priest concerning the penance (epytimiya) imposed.
Q. What penance may the priest impose upon us?
A. Penance varies according to the gravity of our sins, as for instance: to fast, to pray, to make retribution for damages done to somebody, to give charity, and even to abstain from Holy Communion for a certain period.
Q. How often shall we go to penitence?
A. The more often the better. It is indispensable before going to Holy Communion. And it is urgently needed in sickness. For we do not know the time of our death. Therefore we ought to be ready, quite ready, to join God's family in heaven, as repented, forgiven and blessed children of God.
Q. What is the Mystery of Holy Priesthood?
A. It is the Mystery in which the Holy Spirit, through the laying of hands of bishops, gives grace and authority to the ordained bishop or priest to perform other Mysteries and to conduct the religious life of the people.
Q. What are the degrees of Holy Priesthood?
A. There are three: bishop, priest and deacon.
Q. What is the distinction between these three offices?
A. The bishop can administer all seven Holy Mysteries; the priest-all expect Holy Priesthood, and the deacon assists both the bishop and the priest, but alone he cannot perform any of the Holy Mysteries.
Q. What are the lesser degrees of the Orthodox hierarchy?
A. Readers (Lectors), hypodeacons (sub-deacons) and deaconesses.
Q. Who ordains a bishop?
A. Two or more other bishops.
Q. Who ordains a priest?
A. A bishop.
Q. Who ordains a deacon?
A. A bishop.
Q. Whose successors are the bishops?
A. The bishops are successors of the apostles.
Q. Who instituted the Hierarchy in the Church?
A. Christ Himself as the very High Priest (Heb. 5:4-6). He, as the source of all power and authority in His Church, gave the power to the apostles to teach, to heal and to forgive sins of men.
Q. What then is the whole ladder of the Hierarchy?
A. First Christ as the eternal High Priest and the head of the Church; then from Christ-the apostles, then from the apostles-the bishops, and from bishops the priests and deacons.
Q. Why is the laying of hands indispensable in this Holy Mystery?
A. Such was the practice of the apostles (I Tim. 4:14, 5:22). For through the touch of hands in this Mystery the spiritual power is communicated to the person ordained, and thus the lawful continuity of authority and ministry in the Church is secured.
Q. Can an orthodox church community exist without recognizing and obeying a bishop?
A. Not at all. For such a church community cuts itself off the body of the universal orthodox Church, and deprives itself of the grace of God.
Q. Why do we call the priests "fathers"?
A. Because through them in Holy Baptism we are reborn into children of God; in Holy Communion we are fed by them with the heavenly food (body and blood of Christ), in Holy Repentance we are through them freed from our sins, and in other Mysteries we are enriched by special gifts of the Holy Spirit. Besides, they are constantly praying for us, teaching, consoling, exhorting and guiding us. Therefore they are indeed our spiritual fathers. But of course they must be worthy of that name and their great office.
Q. What is Holy Matrimony?
A. Holy Matrimony or Marriage is a Mystery through which the Holy Spirit unites into one a christian man and woman who pledge before the priest life long bond of mutual love and fidelity, and receive the blessing for bearing and educating children.
Q. When was the first couple blessed by God?
A. In Paradise the Lord God blessed our first ancestors Adam and Eve and said: "Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth" (Gen. 1:28).
Q. How close is this union of married man and woman?
A. The closest of all other human relations. For it was said: "A man shall leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh" (Gen. 2:24).
Q. Did the Lord Christ confirm this ancient law of marriage?
A. Yes. He repeated the same words of the Old Testament, and speaking against divorce He warningly added: "What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder" (Matt. 19:5-6).
Q. Did He Himself sanctify the Marriage?
A. He did: by His presence at the marriage in Cana of Galilee, and by turning water into wine (John 2).
Q. Did He thereby give a deeper meaning to Marriage?
A. He did. Just as water was changed into wine, even so the bodily love changes into the spiritual love of the two souls-through His presence.
Q. Has the New Testament brought any change concerning the bearing of children?
A. The bearing of children in the pre-christian marriage aimed "to replenish the earth," whereas the christian marriage has for its aim to replenish Christ's Church on earth and in heaven. Finally, to replenish Paradise.
Q. Has the christian marriage any deeper symbolic meaning?
A. It has. St. Paul compares the conjugal bond of a man and a woman with the bond of Christ and His Church: "The husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the Church." As a man and a woman become one in marriage, so Christ and His Church are one and inseparable.
Q. What is Holy Unction?
A. The Mystery of Holy Unction consists of the priest's prayers and anointment of a sick person with blessed oil, through which God's grace effects recovery of the sufferer.
Q. What sickness is meant here?
A. The sickness of the body or of the soul.
Q. How does God's grace operate in this Holy Mystery?
A. It heals the body of its infirmities and cleanses the soul of its sins.
Q. Since when has this Mystery been practiced in the Church?
A. Since the time of Christ. Directed by Christ, the apostles went out to preach the Gospel, and among other miracles they "anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them" (Luke 6:13).
Q. How was the administration of this Mystery transferred unto the bishops and priests?
A. By the order of the apostles. St. James writes very clearly: "Is any sick among you, let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him" (James 5:14-15).
Q. Is Holy Unction administered only to the deadly sick and dying?
A. No, but also to those who are lightly ill this wonderful Mystery is administered.
THE EASTERN CHURCH'S DOCTRINE OF SACRAMENTS
A Scheme of Sevenfold Mystery Encompassing and Sanctifying All Human Life
The Church Says:
I. Baptism: Cleansing men from all sins (immersion), which corresponds to worldly teaching of cleanliness.
II. Confirmation: Strengthening, enlightening by Holy Spirit, which corresponds to worldly request of learning, education
III. Communion: Feeding the soul by God-bread, wine, which corresponds to physical need of nourishment
IV. Marriage: Self-giving-sharing, which corresponds to social help and multiplication.
V. Repentance: Self condemnation, washing personal sins by tears, which corresponds to worldly teaching of justice
VI. Anointment: ("the last unction") Healing, sanitating the soul, which corresponds to medical treatment; hospitals
VII. Ordination: ("Holy Orders") Administering- leading to God, which corresponds to the necessity of order, authority and service in social life
The World Says:
There are three laws of God: the most ancient, the ancient, and the new or ultimate.
The most ancient law of God was unwritten. It was impressed in human hearts and consciences, as St. Paul says of the pagan peoples who though "have not the law (written) are by nature doing the things contained in the law; they having not the law are the law unto themselves," namely, "the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness" (Rom. 1:19-20; 2,14-15).
This most ancient unwritten law was universal among the posterity of Adam. It was also conveyed orally from generation to generation by the long living forefathers, and kept alive as a holy tradition for many centuries.
But by Satan's ceaseless influence and men's depravity this primordial and natural law was obliterated from the hearts of men. Therefore God issued a written law through Moses, about 15 centuries before Christ. This written law we call God's ancient law.
None of these two laws could have saved mankind from three chief evils: >From Satan, sin and death. They were only preparatory laws for the new and ultimate law of God. And this new and ultimate law of God was given by our Lord Jesus Christ.
Q. What is called the ancient law of God?
A. The law given by God through Moses on the Mount of Sinai, written on two tables of stone and consisting of 10 commandments.
Q. What are those ten commandments?
A. I. I AM THE LORD THY GOD; THOU SHALT HAVE NO OTHER GODS BESIDE ME.
2.THOU SHALT NOT MAKE UNTO THEE ANY GRAVEN IDOL NOR THE LIKENESS OF ANYTHING THAT IS IN THE HEAVEN ABOVE, OR IN THE EARTH BENEATH, OR IN THE WATERS UNDER THE EARTH. THOU SHALT NOT WORSHIP THEM NOR SERVE THEM.
3.THOU SHALT NOT TAKE THE NAME OF THE LORD THY GOD IN VAIN.
4.REMEMBER THE SABBATH DAY TO KEEP IT HOLY. SIX DAYS SHALT THOU LABOUR AND DO ALL THY WORK; BUT THE SEVENTH DAY IS THE SABBATH TO THE LORD THY GOD.
5.HONOR THY FATHER AND THY MOTHER, THAT" IT MAY BE WELL WITH THEE, AND THAT THOU MAYEST LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH.
6.THOU SHALT NOT KILL.
7.THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT ADULTERY.
8.THOU SHALT NOT STEAL.
9.THOU SHALT NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS AGAINST THY NEIGHBOUR.
10. THOU SHALT NOT COVET THY NEIGHBOUR'S WIFE; THOU SHALT NOT COVET THY NEIGHBOUR'S HOUSE, NOR HIS LAND, NOR HIS MANSERVANT, NOR HIS MAIDSERVANT, NOR HIS OX, NOR HIS ASS, NOR ANY OF HIS CATTLE, NOR ANYTHING THAT IS THY NEIGHBOR'S.
Q. How were these ten commandments arranged on two tables?
A. On the first table of stone were written four commandments regulating our relations to God; and on the second table of stone were written six commandments regulating our relations to man.
Q. What are we commanded by the first commandment of God?
A. To believe in one God, who alone is a true God, and to reject the belief in many gods as an error and falsehood.
Q. Was it not natural for the people in those days to believe in one God as it is now for us?
A. It was natural in the beginning, but in the long run the increased sins and vices of men darkened their minds, and they invented by phantasy many gods according to their passions and under satanic suggestions.
Q. How do we sin against the belief in one God?
A. 1) By worshipping so called great men instead of God; (*1)
2)By worshipping anything as God, be it a creation of God or a work of men; (*2)
3)By allowing a doubt to enter our hearts concerning the existence of one God; (*3)
4)By teaching a doctrine of God different from the faith of our Fathers; (*4)
5) By separating from the universal Church; (*5)
-1. As the Romans worshipped their emperors; *2. As some worship the sun, stars and nature in general; It is called scepticism; -4. It is called heresy; *5. It is called schism.
Q. Does this commandment forbid us to venerate the Holy Virgin Mary, the angels and the saints?
A. No. For we do not worship them as God, but we honour them as the worthiest members of God's family.
Q. Why then do we pray to the saints?
A. Because it is said, that God does the will of those who love Him. And the saints are the greatest lovers of God. By their intercession God helps us, as we know by experience.
Q. What are we commanded by the second commandment of God?
A. We are commanded not to worship anything else as God and God alone. As has been said before: We are forbidden to worship any creation of God or of men as God. For God is above all of His own and of men's creations.
Q. Why then do we honour ikons?
We honour ikons as the blessed representations of one living God and His angels, saints and martyrs, our friends and intercessors.
Q. When we pray before an ikon, to whom do we pray?
A. To the living saint in heaven, whose face is painted on the ikon, and through that saint to one God, the King of all the saints.
Q. When we kiss an ikon, what do we kiss?
A. With our lips we kiss the picture of a saint, but with our minds and hearts we kiss that very saint as a living and holy person in the heavenly church.
Q. What kind of people reproach the Orthodox christians because of their veneration of and prayers to the saints?
A. The extreme protestants who have had no experiences of the communion of saints, and who do not understand that Christ's chief work was to create of the faithful and regenerated men a family of God with most intimate relations and mutual intercourse of God's children in heaven and God's children on earth.
Q. How else might we sin against the belief in one God?
A. When we make our god of our belly by immoderate eating and drinking (Philipp. 3:19), or of our money and possessions (Colos. 3:5), or of our own person, or of our state, nation, civilization, etc.
Q. What are we commanded by the third commandment of God?
A. Not to use the holy name of God in trifling matters and in profane conversations.
Q. What especially are we forbidden by this commandment of God7
A. We are forbidden:
To use bad and disgraceful language while speaking of God;
To use God's name to confirm our stories of no importance, or even lies;
To use slandering language, blasphemy and cursing;
To break a vow given to God with an oath,
Q. How ought we to use the name of God?
A. Rarely, except in worship, and always with great reverence. For it is the most holy name, by which demons are frightened, persons and things blessed, diseases cured and the lips pronouncing it sanctified.
Q. What are we commanded by the fourth commandment of God?
A. To keep holy the Lord's Day, which is the day of rest.
Q. What does Sabbath mean in the original language?
A. It means the Rest-day. For in six days the Lord God created heaven and earth, and rested on the seventh day.
Q. Why do, we keep Sunday as the Day of Rest?
A. Because our Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead on Sunday, whereas on Saturday He was at work in Hell, preaching the Gospel to the departed and saving them.
Q. What was the Day of Rest for Christ?
A. The Sunday, on which He won the victory over the "last enemy", i.e. death. On Good Friday He won the victory over our sins; on Saturday he won the victory over Satan's realm of Hell, and on Sunday He won, by His resurrection, the victory over death. Thus He gloriously finished the work of human salvation. And then only He was at rest. Therefore Sunday is His and our Rest day.
Q. How shall we keep Sunday as a holy day?
A. By rejoicing over Christ's victory over death; By abstaining from our usual weekday's work; By praying at home and in the Church;
By reading the Bible and other spiritual books;
By reviewing our deeds and thoughts during the past six week-days;
By offering hospitalities and giving charities;
By resting and inwardly praising God, the Holy Virgin, angels and saints.
Q. What are we commanded by the fifth commandment of God?
A. To honour our father and our mother.
Q. How ought we to honour our parents?
A. We ought to respect them; to obey their counsels; to heed their experiences; to be thankful to them and love them as they love us; to support them in their old age, and after their death to remember them in prayers and to do charities to their memory.
Q. Why should we honour our parents so much?
A. First, for obvious reasons: through them God gave us life and being, and by their loving care and incalculable anxieties and sacrifices we were brought up and educated;
Second, because our parents as one body symbolize God the Father, as we symbolize God the Son. Thus our relations toward our parents are a symbol of our relations toward God, the Holy Trinity in Unity.
Third, just as much as we honour or dishonour our parents, even so our children shall honour or dishonour us, as age long experiences of mankind prove.
Q. What is the penalty of disobeying this commandment of God?
A. It is most severe. In the Old Testament God ordered
that "He that revileth his father or his mother, shall surely be put to death" (Exod. 21:17). And Ham's posterity was cursed by Noah, because Ham ridiculed his father's nakedness. Also Absalom met a dreadful death because of rebelling against his father King David (II Sam. 18:9).
Q. Is there in the Scriptures examples of how children were blessed because they obeyed their fathers?
A. Yes, many. But a wonderful example is offered to us by the sons and grandsons of Rechab, who obeyed their father's commandment not to drink wine and were therefore blessed by God (Jeremiah 3:5).
Q. Did our Lord Jesus confirm this commandment?
A. Yes He did. Both by His own example and by His words (Luke 2:51; Matt. 15:3-7; and John 19:26).
Q. Does the honouring of our parents help us in some other way?
A. Yes. By honouring our parents, we are trained and prepared to honour all those in authority, whether spiritual or secular.
Q. What are we forbidden to do by the sixth commandment of God?
A. We are forbidden to kill our neighbours out of envy, or hatred, or gain, or revenge.
Q. Why are we forbidden to kill our neighbours?
A. God created man after His own image, and He gave him life. Consequently: by killing a man we are making an attempt against God's own image and against God's property. What we cannot give, we have no right to take.
Q. How are we to think of suicide?
A. It is equal to murder. Our life is not ours but God's.
Q. How are we to think of killing in war?
A. There are different kinds of war. In the Old Testament it is often spoken of a war as "God's war". By this is meant a war for justice as against flagrant injustice. In such a war it is justifiable to kill and meritorious to be killed (Exod. 14:13-14; Duet. 31:6-8; II Chronicles 20:15).
Q. Are there different kinds of murder in peace time?
A. There are murderers of bodies and murderers of souls. The murderers of souls are those who kill the human souls by corrupting them and separating them from God, being themselves corrupt and godless.
Q. Why are duels forbidden?
A. Because those engaged in a duel disregard the Church and the state laws against duels. For an innocent person might be killed in a duel and the wrong one spared.
Q. How then are we to understand the Bible's approval of the duel between David and Goliath?
A. It was not a duel because of a personal feud between David and Goliath, but a fight of the hosts of a true God against a host of God's enemies, the idol worshippers. David went against the champion of heathenism by God's inspiration and was victorious by God's power. It is a wonderful lesson to us of God's guidance and power, and it has no similarity with usual duels of our times.
Q. Who is the oldest and greatest murderer of men in the world?
A. The devil, of whom Christ said: "He is a murderer from the beginning" (John 8:44). Were he not prevented by God, he would kill all human beings. Other murderers of men are the devil's tools and instruments.
Q. What are the devil's motives to wish the extermination of mankind?
A. Hatred and envy. For he knows that men are destined to inherit the Kingdom of heaven which he foolishly lost. Therefore the devil is called the hater of man.
Q. What are God's motives to protect and preserve human lives?
A. God's love for men. Therefore God is called the Lover of man.
Q. What are we forbidden to do by the seventh commandment of God?
A. To have unlawful sexual intercourse such as: adultery, fornication, and other kinds of "vile affections", as St. Paul says, by which the natural use of the body is "changed into that which is against nature" (Rom. 1:26).
Q. What was God's aim with this commandment?
A To preserve the sacredness, purity, happiness, and purpose of a married life.
Q. What is the cause of violating this sacred commandment?
A. First of all, the lures of Satan, who is the enemy of every purity and holiness, and who hates the multiplication of the human race and the increase of God's spiritual family, i.e. the Church:
Secondly, the ignorance of men and women who lustfully look at each other's bodies instead of their souls, and know nothing of men and women as spiritual beings and God's children. This ignorance is due to bad education and to the emulation of depraved associates.
Q. With what other sin is adultery compared in the Bible?
A. All through the Old Testament the worshipping of idols is called adultery, fornication or whoredom. And idol worshipping is considered the greatest sin against God.
Q. What are the fruits of adultery?
A. Corruption of body and soul, self illusion, anger, ugly diseases, mental disturbances, nervousness, bad luck everywhere, sick and crippled children, despair, and finally insanity.
Q. What are we forbidden to do by the eighth commandment of God?
A. We are forbidden to steal. The person that steals is called a thief. We are forbidden to be thieves.
Q. What is called a stealth?
A. Taking secretly some property belonging to one's neighbour or community;
Open robbery, by violence, of someone else's property;
Cheating the poor and ignorant in buying or selling;
Shirking one's duty in public offices and working less than required and paid for;
Living on frauds, trickeries and falsifications.
Q. What does God expect us to do in a positive way as to this commandment?
A. To respect everyone's property; to be honest and upright in all our dealings with men: to live on our own work, and to help our less fortunate neighbours; to be faithful and diligent in public offices and eventually to do even more than we are expected to do.
Q. What are we forbidden to do by the ninth commandment of God?
A. We are forbidden to speak lies of our neighbours, whether privately, or in public, or in a law court.
Q. What lie is the most harmful?
A. False witness at a law court against a man, where we swear by the name of God a lie to be the truth.
Q. What are the consequences of false witnessing?
A. The material and moral damage to the person falsely accused, but still greater damage to the false witness. For by speaking lies he is darkening, poisoning and destroying his own soul.
Q. Is it possible that a false witness never will be detected and punished?
A. No. The guarantor of that is God Himself Who said: "There is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, and hid that shall not be known" (Matt. 10:26).
Q. What is a classic instance in the history of Christendom of a covered truth being revealed?
A. When the watchmen over the tomb of Christ came to the chief priests and elders and told them the truthful story of Christ's resurrection, "they gave them large money saying: Say ye, His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we slept" (Matt. 28:11-15).
But this lie did not only succeed in concealing the fact of Christ's resurrection, but it covered the liars with eternal shame.
Q. Do the apostles warn the Christians to abstain from speaking falsehood?
A. As the paramount champions of the Truth incarnate, the apostles are of course speaking very sternly against any falsehood. So St. James writes: "If any man among you is seen to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is in vain" (James 1:26). Read also what St. Peter says (I Pet. 3:10).
Q. From where do all lies and falsehoods stem?
A. From Satan, whom the Lord Christ called "a liar and the father of lies." "When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own" (John 8:44). Therefore all men who speak lies, speak in behalf of Satan and not in behalf of God.
Q. What are we forbidden to do by the tenth commandment of God?
A. To have selfish desires and unlawful cravings for anything that belongs to our neighbours.
Q. Why are the mere desires forbidden since they are not deeds?
A. Because evil desires generate evil deeds. Our heart is the workshop of whatever we think, say or do. Our Lord Jesus said: "Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man" (Matt. 15, 19-20).
Q. Is there any sense in our evil desires concerning our neighbour's possessions?
A. Not at all. By those desires we are thinking to make ourselves happy by making our neighbour unhappy. Therefore those desires are senseless.
Q. How can we check those evil desires?
A. By controlling our desires, by purifying our hearts through prayer and fear of God, by confession of all our sinful desires to the priest, and by remembering death and the Terrible Judgment of God, when everyone shall be rewarded "according to his deeds."
Q. What is the new law of God ?
A. The law revealed and ordered by Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah.
Q. How else is that new law called?
A. The ultimate law of God.
A. Because it is the final law of God, and no other shall be given until the end of the world.
Q. How else is that new law called ?
A. The inner law of God. For it deals with the innermost motives of all our external actions.
Q. How then are we to name Christ's law?
A. The new, the ultimate, or the inner law of God: consequently the most perfect and the only salvatory divine law.
Q. Why did not God give through Moses the same law as through Christ?
A. For the same reason that we teach children to do this, or not to do that, as the alphabet of right conduct, without going deep and explaining to them the invisible motives of actions. St. Paul explains it with these words: "And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual but as unto carnal, as unto babies of Christ. I have fed you with milk and not with meat" (I Cor. 3:1-3).
Q. What are other different characteristics of the external law given through Moses and the inner law given by Jesus Christ?
A. The external law was given as an experiment to a small pastoral tribe, knit together by the blood of their common ancestors, whereas the inner law was given to all nations on earth, which are knit together as a spiritual and universal family of God by the precious blood of Christ Himself.
Q. What are the two greatest commandments of Christ, or of the new and ultimate law of God?
A. The first commandment is this:
"THOU SHALT LOVE THE LORD THY GOD WITH ALL THY HEART, AND WITH ALL THY SOUL, AND WITH ALL THY MIND, AND WITH ALL THY STRENGTH;
"And the second is like unto it: THOU SHALT LOVE THY NEIGHBOR AS THYSELF" (Matt. 22:37-40; Mk. 12:30-31).
Q. What did Christ say about the greatness of these two commandments?
A. He said: "ON THESE TWO COMMANDMENTS HANG ALL THE LAW (ancient) AND THE PROPHETS."
He also said: "THERE IS NONE OTHER COMMANDMENT GREATER THAN THESE."
Q. Does it mean that the ancient law of the Ten Commandments have become null and void after the Two Commandments were proclaimed?
A. No. It means only that love of God and of one's neighbour consummates all the ancient law, as the apostle says: "Love is the fulfilling of the law" (Rom. 13:10). In other words: Love is above all commandings and for-biddings, because it is forebearing more than asked and doing more than expected.
Q. What does it mean to love God?
A. It means to love Him beyond understanding, beyond our loving ourselves or our family or the world or anything in the world.
Q. What does it mean to love God with all our heart?
A. It means to transform all the feelings of our heart into one feeling-the love of God.
Q. What does it mean to love God with all our soul?
A. It means to illuminate and warm up all our soul with the love of God.
Q. What does it mean to love God with all our mind?
A. It means to concentrate all our thoughts on the loving thought of God.
Q. What does it mean to love God with all our strength?
A. It means to concentrate all the energies of our will on doing what pleases God, our Lover.
Q. What is the meaning of the second commandment of the new law: "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself"?
A. It means first of all that we ought to Jove our Lord Jesus Christ, the perfect Man, as our nearest and dearest neighbour, and then through Him all our other neighbours.
Q. Is not our love of Jesus Christ included in the first commandment ?
A. It is indeed, but there is meant the love of Him as God, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and here it is meant the love of Him as Man, the very model of a true man, the "fairest of the sons of man."
Q. Did Jesus speak of our obligation to We Him?
A. Yes, and very strongly. He said: "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me" (Matt. 10:37).
Again He said: "If a man loveth me ... my Father will love him." "He that hateth me, hateth my Father also." "The Father Himself loveth you, because ye have loved Me."
He asked Peter: "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me?" He puts the same question to everyone of us: "Lovest thou me?"
And St. Paul says: "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema!" (I Cor. 16:22).
Q. What then can be said of our love of other men?
A. Just as we love God by loving Jesus Christ, even so we love men by loving Jesus Christ.
Q. Is our love of Jesus Christ then the touchstone of our love both of God and of men?
A. Precisely so. If we love our Lover, Christ, we love also those whom He loves, and for whom He died. Thus both commandments oblige us to love Jesus Christ, the loving Mediator between God and men. For without loving Him, our love, be it toward God or toward men, cannot be true or perfect.
Q. What more is said about love in the New Testament?
A. Very much indeed. For instance: Our knowledge of God depends on our love of God: "Everyone that loveth, knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love." Also our peace depends on our love of God: "God is love, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God and God in him", and "there is no fear in love," and where is no fear there is peace. Also our strength and happiness, yea, and above all our salvation and life eternal depend on our love of God and our brethren.
Q. What is the practical expression of our love of God ?
A. Prayer and the doing of God's will.
Q. What is the practical expression of our love for our neighbour?
A. Charity. In other words: Charitable deeds, words, thoughts and prayers, all and always in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and for His sake.
Q. What is Christian prayer?
A. It is our communication with God, in which we express our Faith, Hope and Love.
Q. What kinds of prayer do we use?
A. Four kinds:
The inward prayer The outward prayer The private prayer The public prayer
Q. What is the inward, and what is the outward prayer?
A. Inward prayer is also called mental prayer. It is done in silence. Outward prayer is said loudly.
Q. How often should we pray ?
A. It depends on how much we love our God. The more we love Him the oftener we are in prayerful communication with Him. The perfect ones are constantly praying to God, according to Christ's word: "men ought always to pray" (Luke 18:1).
Q. How is it possible to pray always?
A. It is possible to pray always mentally or inwardly. We can offer to God our inaudible prayers even while travelling or working: praising Him, thanking Him and invoking His help.
Q. What is the shortest mental prayer?
A. "O Lord Jesus, have mercy upon me!"
Q. What is private and what is public prayer?
A. When a person prays by himself, either mentally or audibly, it is called private prayer. When he joins other people for prayer either in the church or in some other place, this is called public prayer.
Q. Which of these are obligatory for every Christian?
A. All of them are obligatory for every Christian. We ought to pray secretly within ourselves and also openly and loudly. And we ought to pray alone, wherever we are, and we ought to pray together with other Christian folk in the Church. The saints did the same.
Q. What should be the leading ideas in every regular prayer?
A. Every regular prayer usually has three parts: thanksgiving, petition and glorification. First, we give thanks to God for what we already have received from Him; second, we ask from Him what we actually need, and third, we glorify and praise His goodness, power and glory.
The best prayer that we use at home and in the church is the Lord's prayer. It is called by that name because our Lord Jesus Christ communicated it to His disciples as a model prayer.
Q. How do we read the Lord's prayer in the Gospel?
A. "OUR FATHER, WHO ART IN HEAVEN, HALLOWED BE THY NAME, THY KINGDOM COME,
THY WILL BE DONE ON EARTH AS IT IS
IN HEAVEN. GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD, AND FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO TRESPASS
AGAINST US, AND LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION, BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL ONE FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM, AND THE
POWER, AND THE GLORY, FOR EVER,
Q. What is the content of the Lord's prayer?
A. First, the invocation, or salute, then seven petitions^ and finally the glorification.
Q. How do we begin?
A. We begin with an invocation to God naming Him- "Our Father."
Q. Why do we not say "My Father"?
A. The only uncreated but begotten Son of God Jesus Christ has the right to call God "My Father," but we who are created and adopted sons and daughters of God through the loving sacrifice of Christ are honoured to call His Father Our Father (John 1:12).
Q. Is there any other reason for calling God Our Father?
A. Yes, a great social reason. Christ wanted us to love each other as brothers. But only those who recognize one father can be regarded as brothers.
Q. That is to say: When we call God OUR FATHER, we consequently call each other: OUR BROTHERS. Is it not so?
A. Perfectly so. There is no brotherhood without a common fatherhood.
Q. Why do we not call God: "Our Creator"?
A. Because God is Creator of all things, but He is more than Creator, yea, He is the Father of those men who are reborn by the Holy Spirit and thereby made "Children of God." For they are no more mere creatures but children.
Q. Why do we say: "Who art in heaven?"
A. Because the eternal abode of the true God is in heaven, i.e. beyond time and space, and not limited to earth as the false gods of idol-worshippers, nature worshippers, or men-worshippers.
Q. What is our first petition in the Lord's Prayer?
A. "Hallowed be Thy name."
Q. What do we want by this petition?
A. We ask God's help that His name may be respected by men and kept holy above all other names in the world. In the Old Testament, when God was known only as Creator and Judge, men were forbidden "to take the name of God in vain." But through the new law of love we are obliged to do much more beyond that, i.e. to establish in our own life and everywhere around us the veneration of the most holy name of our Father, and even to die for that name, as myriads of Christian martyrs died.
Q. What is our second petition in the Lord's prayer?
A. "Thy Kingdom come."
Q. What do we want by this petition?
A. We ask God's help that the heavenly Kingdom of the Holy Trinity in Unity be established in our souls, in our families, in our nation, and in the whole world.
Q. Can we say it more explicitly?
A. As the Holy Father and Holy Son and Holy Spirit are one in eternal harmony, peace, power and glory, even so we wish that our mind and heart and will may be one, like our divine original of which our souls are the image. Thus that which is in the original, may be in the image, too.
Q. How can we know that the Kingdom of God has come?
A. "The kingdom of God is righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 14:17). When we see this realized in our souls, and also among men around us, then we may be sure that the Kingdom of God has come.
Q. What is the third petition in the Lord's Prayer?
A. "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
Q. What do we want by this petition?
A. We ask God's help that we may stop vacillating between God and Satan, between good and evil, and that by flatly rejecting Satan's will we may wholly surrender to our Father's will, as our Lord Jesus Christ did while praying in Gcthsemanee: "Thy will be done and not mine."
Q. Why do we say: "As it is in heaven"?
A. Because in heaven the angels and the saints wholeheartedly and joyfully obey the will of God. God's will is their will, which makes them eternally happy. And that is what we ask for ourselves on earth too.
Q. What is the fourth petition in the Lord's prayer?
A. "Give us this day our daily bread."
Q. What do we want by this petition?
A. First, we confess by it that without God's power and mercy we are unable to keep ourselves alive even for one single day;
Second, since we may die any day we ask God to save us from foolishness of accumulating riches for a distant future, while our neighbours may be dying for want of daily bread. In other words we ask of God to give us neither less nor more than we need.
Q. What kind of bread is meant here?
A. Two kinds, the physical and the spiritual. For we cannot get either without God's grace and mercy. The physical bread is grown from the earth, and the spiritual comes from heaven. The first is for the body, the second for the soul. About the physical bread Christ said: "Man shall not live by bread alone" . . . (Matt. 4,4), and about the spiritual bread He said: "I am the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die" (John 6:48). Thus our principal daily bread is Christ Himself, and the other is added to it.
Q. What is the fifth petition in the Lord's prayer?
A. "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."
Q. What do we want by this petition?
A. We are asking God's help that we may be ready to forgive our neighbour's trespasses against us, and accordingly that He may forgive our trespasses. For it is also said from the same lips: "If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses" (Matt. 6:14-15).
Q. What is the sixth petition in the Lord's prayer?
A. "And lead us not into temptation."
Q. What do we want by this petition?
A. We are asking God to remember our human weakness and not to try us by heavy afflictions for our edification, nor to allow the devil to tempt us to our destruction.
Q. What is the difference between God's trying us and the devil's tempting us?
A. A very great difference indeed. For when God tries us by some losses or sufferings, He is doing it in order to strengthen our virtues, as a piece of iron is put into fire to become steel. The devil on the contrary, tempts us by some sin or vice with the intention to make us worse, impurer, weaker, and finally to separate us from God and destroy us altogether.
Q. What is the seventh petition in the Lord's prayer?
A. "But deliver us from evil."
Q. What do we want by this petition?
A. We are asking God's help to liberate ourselves from evil doings and from evil doers. As if we were praying: Prevent us, O Father, from doing evil, and protect us from evil doers.
Q. Who is the greatest evil doer from whom we are praying to God to deliver us?
A. Satan. All sins and other subsequent evils originate in Satan. Therefore we, by this petition, are chiefly imploring our God, who is light and love, to deliver us from the Evil one, who is darkness and hatred itself.
Q. What is the ending of the Lord's prayer?
A. It is the glorification, or doxology, as follows: "For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen."
Q. What do we express by this glorification?
A. We express our faith in God as the most powerful and glorious King, who alone can fulfil all our petitions. Therefore we praise Him, we glorify Him, we love Him.
Q. What is the meaning of the word AMEN?
A. The Amen is one of God's names. The Lord spoke to St. John: "These things saith the Amen, the faithful and the true witness, the beginning of the Creation" (Revel. 3:14). We finish every prayer and every praise of God with this name: Amen. It is as much as to say: God, or Truth. Also in performing an oath we finish with Amen, meaning: what I say is true as the Truth, or as God.
The new or ultimate law of God was given to mankind by Jesus Christ, the God incarnate, in order to form a new character in men, or to create new men, worthy to be called the Children of God, and worthy to inherit the heavenly Kingdom of God.
This new character of man ought to be God-like or Christ-like. It ought to be formed of all the evangelic virtues, individual and social.
The spiritual and moral character of every christian is formed by three factors.
Q. What are those three factors?
A. Obedience to Christ and His Church, the individual efforts in exercising all the virtues, and God's grace through the Holy Mysteries or special inspirations.
Q. What are the greatest Christian virtues ?
A. Faith, Hope, and Love.
Q. Can we express it in other words?
A. Right thinking through faith in Christ; right feeling through hope in Christ, and right doing through love of Christ.
Q. What are other Christian virtues ?
A. There are many, but about seven of them are considered to be above the others.
Q. Which are those seven virtues ?
A. Humility Charity Chastity Benevolence Temperance Patience Fortitude.
Q. How are we to acquire those virtues ?
A. By repetition and repetition, until those virtues become as natural to us as breathing.
Q. Is the repetition of christian virtues very essential to the development of our character?
A. Yes; so much so that true education consists of nothing else but the repetition, i.e., exercises in practice of all the Christian virtues.
Q. What is the obstructive power to the true formation of a Christian character?
Q. What is sin?
A. It is the opposite of virtue. Essentially every sin is falsehood or violence.
Q. What are the satanic sins?
A. All sins are satanic, but the denial of God is the most poisonous source of all sins, because the denial of God leads to the denial of the soul, which leads to the denial of the other world, which leads to the denial of the Last Judgment, which leads to the denial of God's laws, which leads to the denial of the experience of the Saints, which leads to, the denial of the sum total of people's faith, which leads to insanity and suicide.
Q. What are the consequences of all those blind denials?
A. Very sinister, according to the records of the Bible and the experience of our own generation. They are: Fear, uncertainties, wars, revolutions, brutalities, starvation, pestilence, seditions, quarrels, divorces, dissolutions, fragmentations, etc.
Q. What sins are called mortal sins?
A. Those which lead to eternal death. There are seven mortal sins.
Q. How are they related to the seven great virtues?
A. They are just the opposite of the virtues, as: Pride is the opposite of Humility, Avarice is the opposite of Charity, Whoredom is the opposite of Chastity, Envy is the opposite of Benevolence, Gluttony is the opposite of Temperance, Anger is the opposite of Patience, Desperation is the opposite of Fortitude.
Q. Are there other heavy sins?
A. Yes, there are four sins called the sins crying to God for revenge.
Q. What are those sins?
A. Intentional killing with robbery, Sodomy Cheating the poor labourers. Oppression of widows and orphans.
Q. How many lesser sins are there?
A. There are many and many lesser, or venial sins, by thoughts, words, desires, and deeds.
Q. How can we get rid of sins?
A. By the Mystery of Penitence, and by hard self discipline in order to avoid the repetition of sins and to practice virtues.
Our Lord Jesus Christ went up into a mountain and taught His disciples saying:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven."
The poor in spirit are those who consider themselves as nothing under the tremendous majesty of God, craving only for the riches of God and His Kingdom.
"Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted."
Those who mourn in this passing world are like the Son of God who never laughed but often mourned because of men's ignorance, sins and sufferings.
"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."
The meek are humane and kind and long-suffering. Because of His meekness Christ has been called the Lamb of God. The arrogant and angry are the opposite of the meek. They grasp quickly, but also loose quickly. In the long run the meek gain. The christians were persecuted by the heathens and almost exterminated, and yet today they have dominion over the earth.
"Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled."
The people who hunger and thirst after righteousness are those who painfully resent all the injustices in the world. They shall see the victory of the risen Christ over all the powers of evil, and their hearts shall be filled with satisfaction and joy. They shall also see the triumph of the persecuted Church, and they shall rejoice.
"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."
As we treat the children of God, so shall we be treated by God. Mercy for mercy. But God's recompensing mercy is incomparably greater than man's mercy. "They shall receive hundred times," said the Lord of the merciful. To be merciful is both an individual and social virtue. We are merciful to ourselves when we do not forget our soul and its salvation. Egoism, vengeance and brutality are the opposites of mercifulness.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."
The human heart is the real eye for seeing spiritual realities, in the first place - God. By long exercises and by God's grace the heart may be purified from all sinful impurities, as the Lives of Saints testify. Evil thoughts and desires make a heart impure and blind.
"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."
Christ was called the Prince of peace. He was giving peace to His disciples. One gives what one has. If we have peace inside our soul, we can give peace to others. The peace of mind, of heart and of will - a threefold peace in unity - is a real divine peace in a soul. A dis-balanced soul however cannot have peace.
"Blessed are they which arc persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven."
To be persecuted for righteousness' sake means to be like Christ and His apostles. The Eastern Orthodox Church produced numberless martyrs for righteousness' sake, who peopled Christ's kingdom in heaven. St. Peter writes: "It is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing than for evil doing" (I Peter 3:17).
"Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake."
Christ speaks here more extensively of the sufferings of His followers for His sake. They will he reviled, slandered and persecuted. But they ought to endure all that with unshaken faith and hope in Him who shall conic in due time as the final Victor and righteous Judge. He will then separate forever the righteous from the unrighteous.
"Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, fur great is your reward in heaven."
In weeping rejoice, in suffering rejoice, in dying rejoice. For the best in mankind, who travelled the same thorny path as you, are now awaiting you in the world beyond, where Christ reigns, and where there are no sighs, no sadness, and no sufferings, but life and joy eternal.
Besides the Beatitudes, our Lord Jesus Christ gave His followers the instructions to acquire also other virtues, individual and social, essential for the formation of a christian character. Those virtues can be acquired only by conscious and fervent exercises and practices as the Fathers of the Church have taught and practiced.
Praying inwardly. "When thou prayest, enter into thy closet (thy heart), and when thou hast shut the door, pray to thy Father which seeth in secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."
Fasting as to God and not as to men. "When thou fast-eth . . . appear not unto men to fast, but unto the Father which is in secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."
Taking care of the soul. It is necessary to keep mentally the body and the soul separated in order that we may take care of each of them. The soul, different from the body, needs different food, clothing and light. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God" (Luke 4:4).
Keeping the unity of one's soul A united soul means strength and peace, whereas a divided soul means weakness and destruction. "If a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand," said the Lord. And He also said: "No man can serve two masters.... Ye cannot serve God and mammon."
Controlling the heart and the thoughts. Good thoughts are the seed of good works. God sees our thoughts. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said: "Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts." "From within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries" and other evils. Exercise always in thinking and desiring good.
Controlling the tongue. "I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of Judgment."
Avoiding hypocrisy. "Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. For there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed."
To be as a child in humbleness, sincerity and belief. "Verily I say unto you, except ye become as little children, ye shall not enter the Kingdom of heaven."
Endurance. To endure all adversities in accomplishing Christ's law means to secure the salvation of the soul. "He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved."
Forbearance from excessive use of food, drink, and worry. "Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with gluttony, and drunkenness, and cares of this life."
Believing beyond any doubt in Christ's power and mercy. "Be not afraid, only believe." Believe that "with God nothing shall be impossible." Jesus said: "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." Remember that without absolute belief in Christ, hope and love are groundless.
Knowledge of the Scripture and of the power of God must be increased every day. It helps mightily in strengthening our belief in Christ. The Lord rebuked the Sadducees because of their ignorance, saying: "Ye know neither the Scriptures, nor the power of God."
Solitude is very useful for self concentration, reviewing one's own life and conversation with God. It is sweet for him who knows how to use it, and it is annoying for the superficial. The Lord Jesus often went to a solitary wilderness, and "He was there alone."
Freedom from things. "A man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth." The soul of a man is more worth before God than the world. "For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul" (Lk. 12:15; Matt. 16:26)? We ought to be on guard so as not to identify ourselves, our personality or our soul, with our material possession, but to lift our souls above everything in the world.
Standing before the Lord. A truly religious man fully realizes that he is standing before the living and all seeing Lord. Therefore he is ashamed of sin and courageous in doing what is right before God. "The very hairs of your head are all numbered" (Matt. 10:30).
Abiding in Christ. "He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing" (John 15:5). Let Christ therefore enter into your heart as into His own chamber, and let Him direct out from your heart all your thoughts and desires and activities.
Expectation of death and Judgment. He is an unintelligent man who, seeing and hearing how thousands of human beings die every day, never thinks of his own death. To a man who did not think of a nearing death, but hoarded food for a long future, God said: "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be taken of thee: then whose shall those things be?" (Luke 12:16).
Thankfulness toward God is a great virtue. If you have received from God a little, and if you are thankful to Him for it, He will multiply it, as He did multiply five loaves of bread.
Praising the Lord. Do not ask glory from men but give glory to God. The more you give, the more you shall receive. Say as the Holy Virgin said: "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour" (Luke 1:46).
Almsgiving. "When thou doest alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee as the hypocrites do, that they may have glory of men. Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth. And thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."
Giving without hesitation. "Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away" (Matt. 5:42). Give all in the name of Christ and for brotherhood's sake.
Loving the enemies. "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that persecute you" (Matt. 5:44). There is no other way to cooperate with Christ, or to establish peace and brotherhood.
Doing good to men. How? Just as we wish that men would do to us. "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them, for this is the law and the prophets" (Matt. 7:12). After the two great commandments of Christ, this is the greatest.
Forgiving thy brother. "If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him, and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee saying: I repent, thou shalt forgive him" (Luke 17:3-4). Try to experience the joy of forgiving.
Humbleness. Christ was born in a stable. Why should we then strive after the highest honours and first places? "Go down and sit in the lowest seat." "For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted" (Luke 14:10-11).
Pity the sinners. That is the way to help and reform them. Ridiculing and condemning them is of no avail. Christ considered them as sick. He visited them (Zaccheus), ate with them (Matthew), spoke kindly to them (women sinners), and thereby restored their spiritual health and human dignity.
Reconciliation. Before going to the church, and also before being drawn before a law court, a Christian should try to reconcile himself with his adversary (Matt. 5:23-25). However, "If thy brother shall trespass against thee" take just such action gradually as was clearly prescribed by the Lord (Matt. 18:15-17).
Confessing Christ courageously before men. "Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess before my Father which is in heaven." (Matt. 10:32.) "Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed when He shall come in His own glory" (Luke 9:26).
Caution over the false christs. The unbelievers and foes of Christ shall try in the last days to proclaim themselves or some other false and violent persons as "christs" instead of one true Christ the Lord. Foreseeing this Jesus warned: "Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name saying: I am Christ, and shall deceive you" (Matt. 2:4-5).
Responding to duties. "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things which are God's" (Matt. 22:21). It means: render to the worldly authorities the worldly tributes and to God the spiritual tributes. As the image of Caesar is on the money, so the image of God is in man's soul.
Reasonableness. "Unto whomsoever much is given, of him much shall be required" (Lk. 12:47-48), be it health or wealth, knowledge or honour. If you are given less, less shall be required of you. God's justice is precise and absolute. It is unreasonable to hold a grudge against such a law.
Readiness to serve. Service has been ennobled since and through Christ. Thus the willing servants of men in the name of God are the new nobility. "Even the Son of man came not to be served unto, but to serve" (Matt. 20:28). "If I, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet ... I have given you an example" (John 13:13-15).
Readiness to sacrifice, not merely material things but life too, for Christ's sake, which is the same as to say for our eternal salvation's sake. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). We may have many friends, but the greatest of all is Christ.
Hopefulness, or christian optimism. In all afflictions, calamities, persecutions, and even tortures and death, a christian is hopeful. For he remembers Christ's words:
"Great is your reward in heaven."
"Fear not them who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul."
"I have overcome the world."
"All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth."
The Lord Jesus Christ is sanctifying space and time. For He is the Lord of both. Wherever His name is invoked, be it on earth or water or in the air; and wherever a martyr's blood is shed or the relics of His saints are preserved, or a church or any other building consecrated to His glory, or the cross erected, such a place is sanctified.
So it is with time also. Every day and every night He is being worshipped and glorified by Eucharist and other church services all over the globe; and by the sufferings of the new martyrs and the persecutions of the righteous people for His sake.
Therefore all the days of the year are dedicated to Him either directly, or indirectly through His saints.
Q. What are the feast days of Christ?
A. Every Sunday is dedicated to the memory of His glorious resurrection, or His victory over death.
Q. What other major solemn days do we keep in honour of our Lord Jesus Christ?
A. They are: Christmas Epiphany, or Theophany The Presentation of the Lord Palm Sunday Good Friday Easter
The Ascension Pentecost Transfiguration Elevation of the Cross
Q. What are the major solemn days of the Holy Virgin?
A. They are:
The Nativity of the Holy Virgin The Presentation in the temple The Annunciation The Assumption
Q. What are the commemorative days in honour of saints?
A. The days of Archangel Michael and Gabriel with all the angelic hosts; the days of St. John the Baptist; the days of the Apostles, prophets, fathers, saints and martyrs.
Q. Are all of the christian saints written in the church calendar?
A. No, not by far; but only a few, i.e. a few hundred in all, as special examples of righteous living, great wisdom, self discipline, courageous confession of Faith and martyrdom for the orthodox Faith.
Q. Are the week days dedicated to special saints?
MONDAY is dedicated to the holy Angels TUESDAY to St. John the Baptist WEDNESDAY to the Holy Cross THURSDAY to the Apostles and St. Nicholas FRIDAY to the Holy Cross
SATURDAY to all Saints
SUNDAY, as before stated, to Christ's Resurrection.
Q. Does the Church have a special service for each of the saints?
A. Yes. Those services are written in the book called "Minae," which means "Monthly." Every month has a "Minae." Therefore we have 12 "Minaes" and each day in a month is dedicated in honour of one or more saints.
Q. Who instituted the Fast as necessary for salvation?
A. Our Lord Jesus Christ, both by His personal example (Mat. 4:2) and by His teaching (Mat. 6:16; 17:20).
Q. What is the aim of fasting?
A. To purify the body. To strengthen the will, To elevate the soul over the body, And through all this to glorify God and honour His saints.
Q. In what does fasting consist ?
A. 1. In abstination of rich food,
2.In abstination of evil thoughts, desires and deeds,
3.In increased prayers and charities as well as in more strenuous exercising of all the Christian virtues.
Q. How do we classify the Fasts ?
A. In two groups: The Fast seasons and the single Fast days.
Q. What are the Fast seasons ?
A. There are four Fast seasons of different length:
Christmas Fast, of six weeks
Easter Fast, of seven weeks
The Apostles Fast, of changing duration
The Holy Virgin's Fast, of two weeks
The dates of all these Fast seasons are marked in the orthodox calendar.
Q. Which are the single Fast days?
A. Every Wednesday and Friday throughout the year, except Christmas week, Commemoration week before Lent, Easter week and Trinity week.
Other fast days are: The Eve of the Epiphany St. John's death, and The day of the Exaltation of the Cross.
Q. What is the meaning of the commemoration days?
A. Commemoration days refresh and strengthen our consciousness that we and our departed Christian relatives are an inseparable living organism, one living church.
Also that we are bound together by the Spirit of Life and in a certain measure interdependent.
Q. Then what is our duty on commemoration days?
A. It is our bounded duty on those days to offer prayers in churches and cemeteries, and also charities on behalf of the departed souls, with a deep conviction that God will receive our offerings to the benefit of those for whom they are meant.
Q. What sorts of commemoration days do we keep in the Orthodox Church?
A. Two sorts: The private and the general commemoration days. The first are kept by families for their relatives, and the second are kept by the Church for all her departed members from the beginning of time.
Q. How many general commemoration days are there in a Church year?
A. There are three:
The first is before Easter Fast, or Lent;
The second is, on the eve of Pentecost, and
The third is before the Christmas Fast, on Saturday before St. Dimitry day (Oct. 26).
Besides these days, every Saturday is dedicated to the memory of the dead, as indicated in the Church services on Saturdays (in the books: OCTOECH and TRIOD).
Everything consecrated and dedicated to the worship of God we consider as a sacred object. Such are: Church buildings, altar vessels, banners, clerical vestments, and service books.
Among the most prominent sacred objects we count: the cross, ikons, and relics.
Q. Why do we consider the cross as sacred?
A. Because Christ died on the cross for the sake of our salvation. Ever since the cross has been respected as the universal banner of Christendom, the banner of victory over Satan and over all the enemies of Christ.
Q. Since when have the christians used the sign of the cross?
A. Since the apostolic times.
Q. What benefit do we receive by the sign of the cross?
A. Courage in fear, mitigation of pain, freedom from stress, hope in despair.
Q. Do all those benefits come from the matter of which the cross is made?
A. No, but from Christ through the cross.
Q. Why specially through the cross?
A. To remind us all of the fact that men received eternal salvation through the suffering of our Saviour on the cross.
Q. How does the Church show her reverence of the cross?
A. By using the cross at every church service and at every prayer and religious ceremony outside of the church walls;
By dedicating two days of each week, Wednesday and Friday, to the cross, on which days the sufferings of the crucified Lord and their meaning are recited and besung, throughout the whole year-lest we forget!
Q. What is a special hymn which is sung on Wednesday and Friday in honour of the cross?
A. It is the following hymn called Exaposteilar:
"The Cross is the protection of all the universe,
The Cross is the adornment of the Church,
The Cross is the strength of the rulers,
The Cross is the firmness of believers,
The Cross is the glory of the angels And the offense to the demons."
Q. What do the ikons represent?
A. First of all they represent the countenance of our Saviour Jesus Christ and the events of His dramatic life. That which is written of Him in the Gospel, the same is presented to our sight in colours, in paintings on the walls of the Church, or on wood, or on linen or some other material. What our ears hear from reading, the same shall our eyes see by looking.
Q. Whom else do the ikons represent?
A. The Holy Virgin, the angels and saints.
Q. Why do we not keep pictures of any other created being or thing but angels and men?
A. Because of the unique eternal value of persons, i.e. of angels and human beings, all centred around the divine Personality of Jesus Christ our Saviour. All other creation is of accessory and temporary value.
Q. What is the fundamental significance of the ikons of angels and men?
A. Fundamentally they signify the ruling power of the supernatural over the natural.
Q. Do we worship ikons as material things?
A. Of course not. We worship no-thing and no-body but the Holy Trinity in Unity-One God. But we venerate the saints as the best children of God and followers of Christ, and we highly respect their faces as the children respect the portraits of their parents, or brothers of their brothers.
Q. Are ikons no more than a pictorial presentation of Christ and His saints, and no more than a token of our venerating them?
A. They are much more than that. The consecrated ikons are the channels of God's powerful grace, healing, restoring, enlightening, encouraging and warning.
The Lord God so loves His faithful saints and martyrs, as the inner circle of His family, that He gives the power even to their images when venerated, and also to their names when invoked.
Q. How can we prove that?
A. By the accumulated experiences of the Church in all the past generations as well as in our own, concerning the miraculous effects of ikons.
Q. Why were not the saints venerated and invoked before Christ as after Christ?
A. Because they were all in Hades, before Christ descended and liberated their souls.
Q. What are the holy relics?
A. The imperishable remains of the bodies of saints, which have proved to have miraculous powers.
Q. Is there an instance in the Bible of such miraculous power of the relics of the saints.
A. Yes. See II Kings 13:21.
Q. Do we worship the relics of saints?
A. No. We worship the One true God Who gives of His power to the relics of His beloved saints in order to glorify them as they glorified Him while in the body.
Q. Do we ascribe some magic power to the relics and other sacred objects?
A. No. That is the error of the pagans. The miraculous power of such objects we ascribe to the living God and His living saints, but not to the lifeless matter.
We are taught by the Bible that the all-powerful God sometimes performs miracles through dead, lifeless matter, as for instance:
Through the rod of Moses (Exod. 4:2). Through the serpent of brass (Numbers 21:9). Through Elisha's bones (II Kings 13:21).
Through Christ's garments (Mat. 9:20). Through the clay, and water of Siloam (John 9:7). Through the shadow of St. Peter (Acts 5:15). Through the handkerchiefs and aprons of St. Paul (Acts 19:12).
Therefore there can be no doubt that the Lord God performs miracles through the Holy Cross, Holy Ikons and Holy Relics.
Those miracles are to be understood as God's mercy toward the infirm and suffering people; then as God's testimony that He is an all-present, living God, watching over us and our doings; and also they are God's warning that the more we see His miracles the firmer we ought to believe in Him, with fear and love, as well as to correct our moral life according to His commandments. Otherwise we are in danger to be condemned with those of the Jews at whose sight Jesus "had done so many miracles, yet they believed not on Him" (John 12:37). Therefore said the Lord: "If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin; but now have they seen and hated both Me and My Father" (John 15:24).
1. Every Christian ought to go to Church for public worship every Sunday, and on great holy days, besides the everyday private prayers;
2. To keep the fast seasons and fast days as prescribed;
3. To respect the priests as spiritual fathers;
4. To confess sins with repentance before a priest.
5. To avoid intercourse with unbelievers and to read no atheistic and vulgar books;
6. To pray for the living and for the dead.
7. To keep special fasts and prayers when they are ordered by the Church authorities in times of emergency such as war, pestilence, hunger, drought, etc.
8. To support the maintenance of the Church, Church servants and Church institutions.
9. To educate children by the Faith of our Fathers, and to admonish sinners to return to that Faith.
10. To help in every respect the orthodox Church's mission in this world.
On Faith, Hope, and Love:
"No man can get perfect Love of God except through pure Faith and firm Hope."-St. Simeon the New Theologian.
On sin and virtue:
"The end of sin is death; the end of God's commandments-life eternal."-St. Basil.
"What is sin? Evil thoughts, words and deeds."-St. Simeon the new Theologian.
On the fate of sinners:
"When a child dies in the womb of its mother, it is taken out to be buried. Thus it goes from darkness to darkness. Even so a sinner lives in darkness in this world, and after his death he goes to darker and more terrible darkness."-St. Macarius
On an easy burden:
"We have put away the easy burden of self criticism, and have loaded ourselves with the heavy burden of self justification."-Abba. John Colov
"Every day examine your sins, praying to God for forgiveness and God shall forgive you."
"Compel yourself to abundant prayers. For prayer is the light to the soul."-Abba Isaia
On angels around us:
"Be ashamed before the angels more than before men, for there are many angels around us."
"Keep away from every shameful deed." On prayer:
"Ask from God not what is delightful but what is useful (for salvation)."
"Converse with God much and with men little." To hate sin:
"Whoever does not hate sin, is counted among sinners, even if he does not commit sin."
"Every sin is arms with which we are arming the devil against ourselves."
Prayer in sickness:
"Before seeking the physician in sickness, recur to prayer."
"Love the churches of God, but try to build in thyself the church of God."-St. Nilus of Sinai.
Fear for the body:
"Fear for the body may be so great, that because of such fear men become unable to do anything worthy of admiration and respect. But when fear for the body gives place to fear for the soul, then the fear for the body melts away like wax by consuming fire."-St. Isaak Syrian.
"Every gift of God turns to our ruin when we use it not for God's glory, but for our own."
"In order to know God, it is necessary to have revelation from above." "Without God we cannot know God."
"In the moment of death, the dying man realizes all his past life very vividly . . . and terrible tremor fills his soul. Once this shall be your case too."-St. Tichon of Zadone
Faith and works:
"Neither the strenuous exercise in right conduct without Faith is of avail, nor the right confession of Faith without good works is sufficient to bring us before the face of the Lord, but both together are necessary to make a perfect man of God."-St. Sava, the first Archbishop of the Serbian Church
Teach your folk:
"Repeat to your family at home all that you have heard on that day in the church."
"Poverty is no evil. Sin alone is evil. Wealth in itself is no good. To do God's will is the only good."
"It is easy to be thankful to God in prosperity, but to be thankful in affliction means to gladden God. and to put to shame the devil. Whoever endures affliction with thankfulness to God, shall receive the crown of a martyr."
"Listen to God's commandments and God will listen to your prayers."-St. John Chrysostom
"No one who is outside the Church can be saved just as no one who was outside Noah's ark could have been saved."-St. Dimitry of Rostov
"Ignorance of the Holy Scriptures is self treason."-St. Epiphanius of Cyprus
"Thy Nativity, O Christ our God, Raised the light of knowledge in the world, And those who worshipped the stars Were taught by the stars To worship Thee, O Sun of Justice, And to know Thee as the East of the Heights, O Lord, glory be to Thee."
"The Father well agreed: The Word became flesh, The Virgin gave birth To God incarnate. The star declares, The wise men worship, The shepherds wonder And creation rejoices."
"While in Jordan Thou didst receive baptism, The worship of the Trinity appeared. For the voice of the Father gave The testimony of Thee Naming Thee the beloved Son; And the Spirit, like a dove, Confirmed the truth of the word. Glory to Thee, O Christ God, Who didst appear bringing the light to the world."
"Christ is risen from the dead, By Death He abolished death. And unto those in graves, He freely granted life."
"Thou hast ascended in glory, O Christ our God, And made Thy disciples rejoice Over the promise of the Holy Spirit, Giving them assurance by the blessing. For Thou art the Son of God, Deliverer of the world."
"Blessed art Thou, O Christ our God, Who hast revealed the fishermen As most wise, through sending Holy Ghost upon them. And through them Thou has fished The universe. O Lover of man, Glory to Thee."
O Bogoriditza Virgin,
Hail Mary full of grace
The Lord is with thee,
Blessed art thou among women
And blessed is the Fruit of thy womb,
For thou hast borne
The Saviour of our souls.
Thy martyrs, O Lord, received
Immortal crowns from Thee, our God,
Because of their sufferings.
Strengthened by Thy strength they overthrew
And they crushed powerless impertinences of demons. By their intercessions save our souls.
"Thou wast laid in a tomb,
O Christ the Life, And the angelic hosts being dazzled Glorified Thy condescension."
- * - *
"The One of the Trinity, being in the flesh, Suffered a disgraceful death for our sake The sun therefore feared and the earth quaked."
- * - *
"The Judge stood before the judge, Pilate, And condemned was He to an unjust death On the crossed Tree."
- - * -
"The sun was darkened together with the moon, O Saviour,
Like the faithful servants clothing themselves with black robes of mourning."
- - - -
"Willingly Thou art dying, being man, O Saviour,
But being God Thou didst raise the dead >From the tombs and from the abyss of sin."
- - - *
"Who can express the terrible and unique happening: He Who has dominion over creation Accepts today tortures and dies for our sake."
- - - -
"We magnify Thee, O Jesus King, And we honour Thy passion and burial, By which Thou deliverest us from corruption."
"O ye mountains and hills, And all ye multitudes of men, Weep and lament with me, The Mother of your God."
- - - - "O my blossoming Spring,
My sweetest Child,
Whither did thy comeliness vanish?"
- - - -
"It is suitable to magnify Thee The Lifegiver, Who didst stretch Thy hands Upon the Cross,
Crushing the might of the devil."
By the Holy Spirit all creation is renewed, And returns to its original state
For He is co-omnipotent with the Father and the Word.
By the Holy Spirit is all creation, The seen and the unseen, preserved For He is the most powerful and truly One of the Trinity.
By the Holy Spirit everyone is made divine,
In Him is pleasure, understanding, peace and blessing.
For He is equal to the Father and the Word.
Give rest with the saints, O Christ, To the souls of Thy servants, Where there is no sickness Or sorrow or sighing, But life without end.
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