Catechism of Metropolitan Anthony

Preliminary Concepts
* First Part of the Catechism: About the Faith
Second Part of the Catechism: About Piety, or a Godly Life


The Creed (Symbol of Faith) and Its Origin

1) I believe in one God: the Father Almighty, Maker 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 agesLight of Light, true God of true God; begotten, not made; coessential with the Father; by Whom all things were made;

3) Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from the heavens, and became incarnate of the Holy Spirit and of the Virgin Mary, and was made man;

4) And was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried;

5) And arose on the third day according to the Scriptures;

6) And ascended into the heavens, and sitteth at the right of the Father;

7) And shall come again, with glory, to judge the living and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end;

8) And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of life; Who proceedeth from the Father; Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; Who spoke by the prophets.

9) In one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

10) I confess one Baptism for the remission of sins.

11) I look for the resurrection of the dead;

12) And the life of the age to come. Amen.

Q. Who expounded the doctrines of the Faith in this way?

A. The fathers of the First and Second Ecumenical Councils.

Q. From whom did the Church learn to gather together in councils?

A. From the example of the apostles who held the Council in Jerusalem.

Q. Why did the First and Second Ecumenical Councils, in which the Symbol of Faith was composed, gather together in the first place?

A. The first was to establish the true doctrine concerning the Son of God against the false teaching of Arius, who thought impiously about the Son of God. The second was for the confirmation of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, against Macedonius, who thought wickedly of the Holy Spirit.

About the Articles of the Creed

Q. What should be done in order to better understand the universal Symbol of Faith?

A. It should be noted that it is divided into twelve articles, or parts, and each article should be considered separately.

Q. What does each article of the creed talk about separately?

A. The first article speaks of God as the origin of everything, in particular, about the first Hypostasis (Person) of the Holy Trinity, about God the Father, and about God as the Creator of the world.

The second article is about the second Hypostasis of the Holy Trinity, Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

The third article is about the incarnation of the Son of God.

The fourth article concerns the suffering and death of Jesus Christ.

The fifth article is about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In the sixth article the Ascension of Jesus Christ to heaven is taught.

The seventh article is about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to earth.

The eighth article is about the third Hypostasis of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit.

The ninth article is about the Church.

The tenth article concerns Baptism, where it is understood to be referring to the other mysteries as well.

In the eleventh article the future resurrection of the dead is declared.

The twelfth article is about eternal life.

About the First Article

Q. What does it mean to believe in God?

A. To believe in God is to have a living confidence in His existence and good providence for us, and to wholeheartedly accept His manifest word about the salvation of the human race.

Q. Is it possible to show from the Holy Scriptures that this is what faith in God consists in?

A. The Apostle Paul writes that it is impossible to please God without faith; for it is necessary that he who comes to God should believe that He is and that He rewards those who seek Him (Heb. 11:6).

Q. What should be the dearest and most indispensable action of the heart’s faith in God?

A. A confession of faith itself.

Q. What does it mean to profess faith?

A. It means to openly admit that we uphold the Orthodox Christian Faith and, moreover, with such sincerity and firmness so that neither seduction nor threats, neither torment nor death itself, could force us to renounce our faith in the true God and in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Q. How are Christians punished for hiding their faith?

A. The ecumenical councils decreed that those Christians who deny Christ under the threat of execution for their faith be excommunicated for 20 years, and those who do so with yet lesser dangers for themselves, until the hour of death.

Q. What is a confession of faith for?

A. The Apostle Paul testifies that it is needed for salvation: “With the heart one believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth one confesseth unto salvation” (Rom. 10:10).

Q. Why is it necessary for salvation not only to [personally] believe, but also to profess the Orthodox Faith?

A. If someone from shame, or for the preservation of his temporary life, or for earthly benefits renounced the confession of the Orthodox Faith, then he shows by these actions that he does not have true faith in God the Savior and the future blissful life.

Q. Why does not the Creed just say: “I believe in God,” but adds: “in one God”?

A. To reject the false teaching of the pagans, who, considering the creature as God, thought that there were many gods.

Q. How does the Holy Scripture teach about the unity of God?

A. The very words about this are taken in the Creed from following the saying of the Apostle Paul: “There is no other God except one. For even if indeed there are those called gods, whether in heaven or on the earth—just as there are many gods and many lords—but to us there is one God the Father, of Whom are all things, and we to Him, and one Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom are all things, and we through Him” (1 Cor. 8:4-6).

Q. Is it possible to know the very essence of God?

A. No, that is above all knowledge, not only of men, but also of angels.

Q. What does Scripture say about this?

A. The Apostle Paul says that God dwelleth “in light unapproachable, Whom not one of mankind did see, nor is able to see” (1 Tim. 6:16).

[Because God the Father is invisible and incomprehensible, it is impossible to depict Him in images without falling into idolatry. Christ is “the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15). He became incarnate as a visible, depictable Man, and therefore it is possible to depict Him in icons. But any icon that attempts to depict the invisible Father or the Holy Trinity is illegal and wrong. An icon portrays the hypostasis of the one depicted, but no one can paint an image of God the Father or God the Holy Spirit.]

Q. What kind of understanding of the being and essential properties of God can be gleaned from God’s revelation?

A. God is spirit (incorporeal), eternal, all-good, omniscient, all-righteous, omnipotent, omnipresent, and immutable.

Q. Show all of this from the Scriptures.

A. Jesus Christ Himself said that God is spirit (Jn. 4:24). David speaks of the eternity of God: “Before the mountains came to be and the earth was formed and the inhabited world, also from everlasting even till everlasting, Thou art” (Psalm 89:3).

Jesus Christ Himself spoke concerning the goodness of God: “No one is good, except One: God” (Mt. 19:17).

The Apostle John says, “God is love” (1 John 4:16). David sings, “Compassionate and merciful is the Lord, long-suffering and very merciful. Good is the Lord to all things together and His compassions are over all His works” (Psalm 144:8-9).

About the omniscience of God, the Apostle John says: “God is greater than our heart and knoweth all things” (1 John 3:20).

About the righteousness of God David sings, “The Lord is righteous, and loved righteous acts; upon uprightness His countenance looked” (Psalm 10:7). The Apostle Paul says that God “will render to each according to his works” and “that there is no respect of persons with God” (Rom. 2:6, 11).

The psalmist says of the omnipotence of God: “For He spoke and they came into being; He commanded, and they were created” (Psalm 32:9). The archangel says in the Gospel, “For all of that which is spoken shall not be impossible with God” (Lk. 1:37).

David portrays the omnipresent God as follows: “Whither should I go from Thy Spirit? And from Thy presence whither should I flee? If I should go up into the heaven, Thou art there; if I should go down into Hades, Thou art to be present. If I might take up my wings at dawn and settle in the uttermost parts of the sea, aye, doubtless, there shall Thy hand guide me, and Thy right hand shall hold me fast. And I said, ‘Darkness, then, will trample me down; and yet night will be illumination in the presence of my delight.’ For darkness will not be darkened by Thee, and night as day shall be illuminated; as the darkness belongeth thereof, even so the light thereof too” (Ps. 138:7-12).

The Apostle Iakovos writes: “...the Father of the lights, with Whom is no alternation or a shadow cast by turning” (Iakovos 1:17).

Q. If God is Spirit, then how does Holy Scripture ascribe body parts to Him, for example: heart, eyes, ears, and hands?

A. Scripture applies ordinary human language in this case, but these words must be understood in a spiritual and higher way. For example, the heart of God means goodness or the love of God; eyes and ears mean omniscience, handsomnipotence.

Q. If God is everywhere, then how can one say that God is in heaven or in the church [temple]?

A. This means that when you turn to God in prayer, we must renounce earthly cares, and in the temple we must learn about Him through prayers, the mysteries, and the teaching of the pastors. Jesus Christ says, “For where there are two or three gathered in My name, there I am in the midst of them” (Mt. 18:20).

Q. How does one understand the words of the Symbol: “I believe in one God the Father”?

A. This must be understood in relation to the mystery of the Holy Trinity, because God is one in essence, but threefold in Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Trinity coessential and undivided.

Q. Is it said thus about the Holy Trinity in the Sacred Scripture?

A. The main sayings about this from the New Testament pertaining to the essence [of God] is as follows: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt. 28, 19); “there are three bearing witness in the heaven: the Father, the Logos, and the Holy Spirit; and these Three are One” (1 John 5:7).

Q. Is the Holy Trinity also spoken of in the Old Testament?

A. It is, only not so clearly. For instance: “By the Logos of the Lord were the heavens established, and all the might of them by the Spirit of His mouth” (Ps. 32:6). “Who would have known Thy will if Thou hadst not given wisdom and did not send down Thy Holy Spirit from above?” (Wis. 9:17). From the previous words of this chapter, it is clear that by “wisdom,” of course, he means God the Son.

Q. How is there one God in three Persons?

A. We do not comprehend this inner secret of the Divinity, but we believe in it by the immutable testimony of the word of God.

Q. What is the difference between the Persons of the Holy Trinity?

A. God the Father is not begotten or emanated from another Person; the Son of God is eternally generated (begotten) of the Father before all ages; the Holy Spirit eternally proceeds from the Father.

Q. Do the three Hypostases or Persons of the Most Holy Trinity, assume equal dignity?

A. Completely equal divine dignity. Just as the Father is true God, so is the Son true God, and the Holy Spirit is the true God; but moreover so that in the three Hypostases there is only one triune God.

Q. Is it possible on earth to show or demonstrate by any means some similitude of how several or many persons can constitute one being?

A. The Lord foreshadowed some similarity to this in the sons of His kingdom being in close union with Himself and God and with each other, but it will be realized in greater power in the future life: “That they may be one, even as We are one: I in them, and Thou in Me” (John 17:22-23; cf. Acts 4:32 and Eph. 2:15).

Q. Why is God called “Almighty”?

A. Because He maintains everything that is in His power and in His will.

Q. What do these words of the Creed signify: “Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible”?

A. That everything is created by God and nothing can exist without God.

Q. Are these words found in the Holy Scriptures?

A. Surely. Genesis begins with these words: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1).

Apostle Paul says about Jesus Christ, the Son of God: “In Him were all things created, the things in the heavens and the things upon the earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or authorities. All things through Him and to Him have been created” (Col. 1:16).

Q. What should be understood in the Creed by the term “invisible”?

A. That which is invisible, or the spiritual world which belongs to the angels.

Q. Who are the angels?

A. Ethereal spirits, gifted with intelligence, will, and power.

Q. What does the name angel mean?

A. It means “messenger.”

Q. Why are they so named?

A. Because God sends them to proclaim His will. So, for example, Gabriel was sent to proclaim the conception of the Savior to the blessed Virgin Mary.

Q. What was created first: the visible or invisible?

A. The unseen before the visible, and the angels before mankind.

Q. Can you find evidence of this in Holy Scripture?

A. In the book of Job, God Himself speaks of the creation of the earth thus: “Who is he that laid the corner-stone upon it? When the stars were made, all My angels praised Me with a loud voice” (Job 38:6-7).

Q. Where does the term “guardian angel” come from?

A. From the following words of Scripture: “He shall give charge to His angels concerning thee, to guard thee carefully in all thy ways” (Psalm 90:11).

Q. Are there guardian angels for each of us?

A. Without a doubt. You can be sure of this in the following words of Jesus Christ: “Be taking heed that ye do not ever despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in the heavens their angels continually behold the face of My Father Who is in the heavens” (Mt. 18:10).

Q. Are all angels kind and beneficent?

A. No. There are evil angels who are otherwise called devils (demons).

Q. Why are they evil?

A. They were made good, but they broke their duty of perfect obedience to God and thus fell away from Him and fell into self-love, pride, and anger. According to the Apostle Jude, these are “those angels who kept not their first place, but deserted their own habitation” (Jude 1:6).

Q. What does the word “devil” mean?

A. It means “slanderer” or “deceiver.”

Q. Why are the evil angels called devils, that is, slanderers or deceivers?

A. Because they try to deceive people and, deceiving them, inspire them with false thoughts and evil desires.

About this Jesus Christ says to the unbelieving Jews: “Ye are of your father, the devil, and the desires of your father ye wish to do. That one was a manslayer from the beginning, and hath not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he may speak the lie, he speaketh out of the things which are his own; for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44).

Q. How does the all-good God allow the most powerful creatures to deceive the weakest, i.e., men?

A. Just as He allows the more cunning and strong men to deceive the weaker: the Lord Himself protects those resorting to Him with prayer and then makes powerless the tricks of the deceiver, as, for example, in the life of the Righteous Job.

Q. What has Scripture revealed to us about the creation of the world?

A. In the beginning God created heaven and earth out of nothing. The land was formless and void. Then God gradually created:

on the first day of the world, light;

on the second day the firmament or visible sky;

on the third the reservoirs of waters on earth, the land, and plants;

on the fourththe sun, moon, and stars;

on the fifth, fish and birds;

on the sixthfour-legged animals living on dry land, and finally man. Creation ended with man, and on the seventh day God rested from all His works. Therefore, the seventh day is called the sabbath, which being translated from the Hebrew language means “rest” (see Gen. 2:2).

Q. Were the visible creatures created as we see them now?

A. No. At creation, everything was very good, that is: immaculate, beautiful, and harmless.

Q. How could there be light on earth before the sun, moon, and stars appeared?

A. The Bible puts it this way: “On the first day...Thou commanded a ray of light to come forth from Thy treasures, so that Thy work might appear. On the fourth day Thou hast commanded the brightness of the sun to shine, and the moon to give her light, and the stars should come to be, and all in order” (4 Esd. 6:38, 40, 45).

Q. Can those scientific teachings be consistent with the Bible and with Christianity in general that represent the formation of the world and living beings as a gradual process, mainly through the struggle for survival?

A. By no means, since this doctrine, denying the providence of God, suggests that a vicious struggle between created things began long before the creation of man. Indeed, even the human race, according to this false teaching, existed for a long time without any understanding of virtue and was in constant struggle against one another.

Q. Is there anything special known about the creation of man?

A. God the Holy Trinity said: “Let us create man in Our image and in Our likeness" (Genesis 1:26). And God created the body of the first man Adam from the earth; breathed the breath of life into his face; brought Adam to Paradise; gave him for food, besides the other fruits of Paradise, the fruits of the tree of life; and finally, taking a rib from Adam during sleep, He created the first woman Eve from Adam (see Genesis 2:21-22).

Q. What is the image [and likeness] of God?

A. It consists, as the Apostle Paul put it, “in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Eph. 4:24).

[According to Saint Basil, the image of God refers to man’s possession of reason, free will, and the power of speech. Saint John of Damascus writes, “The phrase ‘after His image’ clearly refers to the side of [human] nature which consists of mind and free will, whereas ‘after His likeness’ means likeness in virtue so far as that is possible” (Exact Exposition, Bk. 2, Ch. 12).]

Q. What is the breath of life?

A. The soul—a spiritual and immortal entity.

Q. What is Paradise?

A. The word Paradise means “garden.” This is the name of the beautiful and blissful dwelling of the first man, described in the book of Genesis as a garden.

Q. The Paradise in which the first humans dwelt, was it material or spiritual?

A. For the body, material, as a visible blissful dwelling, but for the soul spiritual, as they were in graceful communion with God and had a spiritual contemplation of creation (see St. Gregory the Theologian, Homily 38, 42; St. John Damascene, Exact Exposition, Bk. 2, Ch. 12, Art. 3).

Q. What is the tree of life?

A. It was a tree, feeding on the fruits of which, a man’s body would become without sickness, and the soul immortal.

Q. Why was Eve created from Adam’s rib?

A. In order that the whole human race in its origin would be of one body and so that people would naturally be inclined to love and cherish each other.

Q. For what purpose did God create man?

A. In order for him to know God, to love and glorify Him, and through this be eternally blessed.

Q. Does the will of God to vouchsafe a person eternal bliss have a special name in the doctrine of Faith?

A. It is called the predestination of God.

Q. Does God’s predestination (foreordination) for the bliss of man change if a person is not following the path to beatitude?

A. It remains unchanged, because God, by His foreknowledge and by His infinite mercy, even for a person who has deviated from the path of bliss, predetermined to open a new path to blessedness through His only-begotten Son Jesus Christ. “He chose us for Himself before the foundation of the world,” says the Apostle Paul (Eph. 1:4).

Q. How should the predestination of God be understood in respect to mankind in general, and to each one separately?

A. God has ordained that all men be granted and, indeed, has bestowed anticipatory grace and everything necessary for achieving bliss. Those who voluntarily accept the grace bestowed by Him, use the means of salvation granted by Him, and follow the path of beatitude revealed by Him, in truth, were predestinated to glory.

Q. How does the word of God speak about it?

A. “Whom He foreknew, He also foreordained” (Rom. 8:29).

[Saint Chrysostom states, “As, then, Pharaoh became a vessel of wrath (Rom. 9:22) by his own lawlessness, so did these become vessels of mercy by their own readiness to obey....Whence, then, are some vessels of wrath, and some of mercy? Of their own free choice” (Homily 16 on Romans).

And Saint Ambrose says, “He did not predestinate them (Rom. 8:29) before He knew them, but He did predestinate the reward of those whose merits He foreknew” (Exposition of the Christian Faith, Bk. V, Ch. VI, ¶ 82).]

Q. How does the Orthodox Church explain this?

A. In the statement of the Faith of the Eastern patriarchs it is stated: “Forasmuch as He foresaw that some will use their free will well, while others, badly: then, therefore, He predestined some to glory, and others to condemnation” (“Message of the Eastern Patriarchs about the Orthodox Faith,” Article 2).

Q. After the creation of the world and man, what directly follows the action of God in relation to the world and especially to man?

A. The providence of God.

Q. What is the providence of God?

A. The providence of God is an unceasing action of omnipotence, wisdom, and goodness of God, by which God preserves the essences and powers of creatures, directs them to good goals, helps them with all kinds of good, and the evil that arises through removal from good He suppresses or corrects and turns it to good consequences.

Q. How does Sacred Scripture speak about the providence of God?

A. Jesus Christ Himself says: “Look at the birds of the heaven, for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor do they gather into storehouses; and yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Ye much more excel them, do ye not?” (Mt. 6:26). In this saying is seen both the general providence of God for creation, and especially for man. The whole of Psalm 90 is an image of the special and diverse providence of God for man.

About the Second Article

Q. How should one understand the names: Jesus Christ, the Son of God?

A. The Son of God is the second Person of the Holy Trinity. This very Son of God was called Jesus when He was born on earth as a man. His prophets called Him the Christ, while still awaiting His coming upon the earth.

Q. What does the name Jesus signify?

A. Savior.

Q. Who gave the name Jesus?

A. Archangel Gabriel.

Q. Why is this name given to the Son of God at His birth on earth?

A. Because He was born to save man.

Q. What does the name Christ mean?

A. Anointed One.

Q. Where did the name of the anointed One come from?

A. From the anointing with the holy Chrism, through which the gifts of the Holy Spirit are given.

Q. Is only Jesus the Son of God called “anointed One”?

A. No, since ancient times, kings, high priests, and prophets have been called “anointed ones.”

Q. Why is Jesus the Son of God called the “anointed One”?

A. Because His humanity has immeasurably received all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and thus the knowledge of a prophet, the holiness of the high priest, and the power of the king apply in the highest degree [to Him].

Q. In what sense is Jesus Christ called Lord?

A. In the sense that He is the true God. For the name Lord is one of the names of God.

Q. How does Scripture talk about the deity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God?

A. “In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God” (John 1:1).

Q. Why is Jesus Christ called the only-begotten Son of God?

A. It means that He alone is the Son of God, begotten of the essence of God the Father, and therefore He is of one single essence with God the Father, and therefore, beyond any comparison, He is superior to all the holy angels and holy men who are called sons of God by grace (see John 1:12).

Q. Does Scripture name Jesus Christ “only-begotten”?

A. Yes. For example, in the following sayings of the Evangelist John: “And the Logos became flesh and tabernacled among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of an only-begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). “No one hath seen God at any time. The only-begotten Son, Who is in the bosom of the Father, that One declareth Him” (John 1:18).

Q. Why does the Creed say also that the Son of God was “begotten of the Father”?

A. This depicts the personal property by which He is different from the other Persons of the Holy Trinity.

Q. Why is it said that He was begotten “before all ages”?

A. So that no one would think that there was a time when He did not exist. In other words, this signifies that Jesus Christ is also the eternal Son of God, just as God the Father is eternal.

Q. What do the words mean in the Creed: Light of Light?

A. Those words are using visible light to approach a similarity to the incomprehensible generation of the Son of God from the Father. When we look at the sun, we see light; from this light, light is begotten [generated], visible throughout the whole world under the sun, but also the one and the other are one indivisible light, one nature. Likewise, the Father is eternal Light (see 1 Jn. 1:5); from Him the Son of God is begotten, Who also is eternal Light; but God the Father and the Son of God are one eternal Light, indivisible, one divine nature.

Q. What is the force of the words of the Creed “true God of true God”?

A. That the Son of God is called God in the same true sense as God the Father.

Q. Are these words from the Holy Scriptures?

A. Yes. They are taken from the following saying of Saint John the Theologian: “But we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, in order that we may know Him Who is true; and we are in the true One, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and Life Eternal” (1 John 5:20).

Q. Why are the words also added in the Creed that the Son of God was “begotten, not made”?

A. This is added to the denunciation of Arius, who wickedly taught that the Son of God was created.

Q. What does “coessential with the Father” mean?

A. In other words, the Son of God is one and the same divine being with God the Father.

Q. How does Scripture speak about this?

A. Jesus Christ Himself talks about Himself and about God the Father thus: “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).

Q. What do these words of the Creed indicate: “by Whom all things were made”?

A. That God the Father created everything by His Son, as by His eternal Wisdom and His eternal Word. “All things came into being through Him, and without Him not even one thing came into being that hath come to be” (John 1:3).

Q. Why is it so necessary for a Christian to equate the Son of God with the Creator of the universe?

A. Because the Son of God has brought us a teaching demanding a struggle against our sinful nature and against the world (see John 15:19), and therefore it is revealed to us: “Greater is the One in you than the one in the world” (1 John 4:4).

About the Third Article

Q. About Whom is it said in the Creed “Who came down from the heavens”?

A. About the Son of God.

Q. How did He come down from the heavens when He, as God, is everywhere present?

A. It is correct to say that He is omnipresent, and therefore He abides always in heaven and always on earth. But in earlier times on earth He was invisible, but then He appeared in the flesh; in this sense it is said that He came down from the heavens.

Q. How does the Scripture speak about this?

A. Here are the words of Jesus Christ Himself: “No one hath gone up into the heavens, except the One Who came down from out of the heavens, the Son of Man, Who is in the heavens” (John 3:13).

Q. Why did the Son of God descend from the heavens?

A. “For us men, and for our salvation,” as said in the Creed.

Q. To what effect is it said that the Son of God came down from the heavens for us men?

A. It means that He came to earth not for any one nation, and not for a few people, but for all of us, humanity in general.

Q. For what exactly did the Son of God come to earth to save people from?

A. From sin and eternal death.

Q. What is sin?

A. Transgression of the law of God. “Sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4).

Q. Where does sin come from in humans when they were created according to to the image of God, and God cannot sin?

A. From the devil. “The one doing sin is of the devil; for the devil hath been sinning from the beginning” (1 John 3:8).

Q. But God created the devil; how then could sin appear in the world?

A. Through disobedience. The Lord created both spirits and humanity inclined to good, but in order for the good to achieve spiritual value, it must be freely chosen by created beings; the fallen angels rejected obedience to God, and Satan persuaded Eve and Adam, the protoplasts, to do the same.

Q. How did sin pass from the devil to men?

A. The devil deceived Eve and Adam and persuaded them to transgress the commandment of God.

Q. What was the commandment?

A. God commanded Adam in Paradise not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and, moreover, said to him that as soon as he tastes of it, he will die mortally.

Q. Why was it deadly for a man to eat of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil?

A. Because it was connected with disobeying the will of God and thus separated man from God and His grace and alienated him from the life of God.

Q. How is the name of “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” fitting in this instance?

A. It is fitting because a person through this tree knew by experience itself what kind of good is comprised in obeying the will of God and what kind of evil in opposing it.

Q. How could Adam and Eve obey the devil contrary to the will of God?

A. God in His goodness at the creation of man gave him a will naturally disposed to love God but nonetheless free, but man used this freedom for evil.

Q. How did the devil deceive Adam and Eve?

A. Eve saw a serpent in Paradise which assured her that if she ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, then she would know good and evil and would be like a god. Eve was seduced by this promise and by the beauty of the fruit and tasted it; Adam tasted it after her example.

Q. What were the consequences of Adam’s sin?

A. 1) The expulsion from Paradise and the general mortality of humanity and every living thing.

2) The distortion, or sinful corruption, of human nature and the mortality associated with it.

Q. Has all of nature been subjected to the sad consequences of the fall of Adam and Eve?

A. Certainly so. Death and corruption and mutual destruction became the lot of the animal kingdom and plants. The Lord said to Adam, “Cursed is the ground on account of thee” (Genesis 3:17). Also, the Lord cursed the serpent, or rather, the devil, who seduced our progenitors.

Q. What is the immediate meaning of these words?

A. It is evident from the further words: “In pain shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herb of the field” (Gen. 3:17-18).

Q. What kind of death came from Adam’s sin?

A. It was two-fold: bodily, when the body is deprived of the soul, which enlivened it; and spiritual, when the soul is deprived of the grace of God that vivified it by a higher spiritual life. The latter is called sinful corruption.

Q. Can the soul really die as well as the body?

A. It can die, but not like the body. When the body dies, it loses feeling and collapses; and the soul, when it dies in sin, is deprived of spiritual light, joy, and bliss but is not destroyed, and does not dissolve into nothing but remains in a state of darkness, sorrow, and suffering.

Q. How come not only the protoplasts died, but everyone dies?

A. All men die because everyone was born of Adam, who was contaminated with sin, and because they themselves sin. As from a contaminated source there naturally flows a contaminated stream, so from an ancestor contaminated with sin and therefore mortal, obviously there arises offspring also contaminated with sin and therefore mortal.

Q. How does Holy Scripture speak of this?

A. “As through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and thus death passed to all men, on account of which all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12).

Q. Were the fruits of the tree of life useful to man after sinning?

A. After sinning, he could not eat them, since he was expelled from Paradise.

Q. Is it in accordance with God’s justice that we were born of sinful progenitors and would carry their condemnation?

A. Our birth from sinful ancestors is not the only reason for our sinful state: God knew that each of us would sin just as Adam, and therefore we are his descendants.

Q. What kind of benefit was there for our ancestors to lose paradisiacal bliss and receive the lot of disease, suffering, and death?

A. These conditions of an earthly, pitiful life humbled our ancestors, and they died as righteous ones in anticipation of a better life through redemption.

Q. Was it with this intention, then, that the Lord arranged our appearance in this vale of sorrow [of earthly life]?

A. Yes. Knowing in advance that each person would choose Adam’s self-will, the Lord allows us to inherit Adam’s weak nature, sickly and mortal with sinful inclinations, in the struggle against which, and even more so, in succumbing to them, we would acknowledge our insignificance and humble ourselves.

Q. Was there still hope for humanity for salvation?

A. When the first humans confessed their own sin before God, then God, by His mercy, gave them hope for salvation.

Q. What was this hope?

A. God promised that the Deliverer would come—Jesus Christ—and would conquer the devil who deceived men and deliver them from sin and death.

Q. When was this promised?

A. Words of such promises are preserved in the Bible from the time of Abraham, but Holy Tradition says that our progenitors were given a similar promise [in the words “I will put enmity between thee (the serpent) and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed. He (Christ) shall watch against thy head, and thou shalt watch against his heel” (Gen. 3:16)], and for that reason Eve rejoiced exceedingly having given birth to her first son, and exclaimed: “I have gotten a man from the Lord!” (Gen. 4:1)in the hope that one of her descendants would be the Reconciler of men with God.

Q. What promises about a Savior are known from the Bible?

A. To Abraham, God made a promise of a Savior in the following words: “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 22:18).

He repeated the same promise to David in the following words: “I will raise up thy seed after thee.... I will establish the throne of His kingdom forever” (2 Kgs. [2 Sam.] 7:12-13).

Q. What is meant by the word “incarnation”?

A. That the Son of God took on human flesh, except for sin, and was made man, while not ceasing to be God. [In Latin, incarnat- means “made flesh.”]

Q. Where does the word incarnation come from?

A. From the words of John the Evangelist: “The Logos became flesh” (Jn. 1:14).

Q. Why does the Creed not simply say that the Son of God became incarnate, but it is also added that He “was made man”?

A. So that no one should think that the Son of God took on just flesh, or a body, but that He should be recognized as a perfect man, consisting of both body and soul.

Q. Is there any testimony about this from the Holy Scriptures?

A. The Apostle Paul writes: “For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).

Q. So, is there only one nature in Jesus Christ?

A No. In Him are two natures inseparable and not commingled, divine and human, and, in accordance with these two natures, two wills.

Q. Are there not therefore two persons?

A. No. There is one person, God and man together, in a word: God-man.

Q. How does Scripture speak about the incarnation of the Son of God through the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary?

A. The Evangelist Luke narrates that when the Virgin Mary asked the angel who announced her conception of Jesus, “How shall this be, since I know not a man?” then the angel answered her: “The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; wherefore also that Holy One Who is born of thee shall be called Son of God” (Lk. 1:34-35).

Q. Who was the Virgin Mary?

A. The holy Virgin was from the tribe of Abraham and David, from whose offspring the Savior was to arise, according to the promise of God. She was betrothed to Joseph, a man from the same tribe, in order to be her guardian, since she was dedicated to God with a vow to remain always a virgin.

Q. Was the most holy Mary really always a virgin?

A. She was and is a virgin before giving birth, during, and after giving birth to the Savior, and therefore she is called the Ever-Virgin.

Q. With what other great name does the Orthodox Church honor the blessed Virgin Mary?

A. By the name of the Theotokos, the Mother of God.

Q. Is it possible to show the origin of this name in Holy Scripture?

A. It is taken from the following words of the Prophet Isaiah: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive in the womb, and shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Emmanuel” (Isa. 7:14).

Also, the righteous Elizabeth calls the most holy Virgin Mother of the Lord. And this name is tantamount to the name Mother of God. “And whence is this to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Lk. 1:43).

Q. In what sense is the most holy Virgin named Mother of God?

A. Although Jesus Christ was not born of her according to His divinity, which is eternal, but according to His humanity, she is worthily named the Mother of God, because He Who was born of her in the very conception and birth from her was, just as He always is, the true God.

Q. How should the high dignity of the most holy Virgin Mary be discussed?

A. According to the quality of her being the Mother of the Lord, she surpasses all in grace and in her closeness to God and, consequently, surpasses in dignity every created being, and therefore the Orthodox Church honors her above the cherubim and seraphim.

Q. What else should be observed about the birth of Jesus Christ from the most holy Theotokos?

A. Among the punishments for sin, God stipulated that Eve would give birth to children in travail. Since the childbearing of the Virgin was perfectly holy and alien to sin, it was also painless (see Saint John of Damascus, Exact Exposition, Bk. 4, Ch. 14, sec. 6).

Q. What were the signs prepared by God’s foresight so that mankind would be able to recognize the Savior born of her?

A. There were many accurate predictions about the different circumstances of His birth and earthly life. For example, the Prophet Isaiah predicted that the Savior would be born of the Virgin (see Isa. 7:14).

The Prophet Micah predicted that the Savior would be born in Bethlehem, and the Jews understood this prediction even before they knew that this came to pass (see Mt. 2:4-6).

Prophet Malachi, on the building of the second temple in Jerusalem, predicted that the coming of the Savior drew near, that He would come to this temple, and that the Forerunner would be sent before Him in the likeness of the Prophet Elias, which clearly indicated John the Baptist (see Mal. 3:1; 4:5).

Prophet Zechariah (Zacharias) predicted a solemn procession of the Savior into Jerusalem on an ass (see Zech. 9:9).

The Prophet Isaiah predicted with amazing clarity the sufferings of the Savior (see Isa. 53).

David in Psalm 21 depicted the suffering of the Savior on the Cross with such precision that it was as if written at the foot of the Cross itself.

Prophet Daniel predicted that in 490 years the Savior would appear, would die on the Cross, and following this the temple and Jerusalem would be destroyed and the Old Testament sacrifices would terminate (see Dan. 9).

Q. Did men really recognize Jesus Christ as Savior at the time when He was born and lived on earth?

A. Many recognized this, but by different means. The wise men from the east recognized Him by means of a star that appeared in the east before His birth. The shepherds of Bethlehem learned about Him from the angels, who told them precisely that the Savior was born in the city of David. Simeon and Anna, by special revelation from the Holy Spirit, recognized Him when He, upon the completion of forty days from His birth, was brought into the temple. John the Baptist, at the time of the baptism in the River Jordan, recognized Him by revelation, after the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in the form of a dove and at the voice from the heavens of God the Father: “This is My Son, the Beloved, in Whom I am well pleased” (Mt. 3:17). A similar voice spoke about Him to the Apostles Peter, Iakovos, and John during His Transfiguration on the mountain: “This is My Son, the Beloved; be hearing Him” (Mark 9:7). Besides this, very many recognized Him by the excellence of His teaching and, especially, through the miracles that He performed.

Q. What miracles did Jesus Christ perform?

A. People who were possessed by incurable diseases and demonic possession He healed in the twinkling of an eye, with one word or touch of the hand, and even through them touching just His garment. Once with five, and at another time with seven loaves He nourished in a desert place several thousand people. He walked on the waters and with a word He tamed the storms. He resurrected the dead, namely, He raised the son of the widow of Nain, the daughter of Jairus, and Lazarus on the fourth day after his death.

Q. Since the Son of God was incarnate for our salvation, how did He accomplish our salvation?

A. By His teachings, by His life, by His death and Resurrection.

Q. What was the teaching of Christ?

A. The Gospel of the kingdom of God, or in other wordsthe doctrine of salvation and eternal blessedness, the same that is now taught in the Orthodox Church (see Mk. 1:14-15).

Q. How is the teaching of Christ salvational for us?

A. When we accept it with all our heart and act upon it. For, as the false word of the devil, which was accepted by the protoplasts, became in them the seed of sin and death, so, on the contrary, the true word of Christ, assiduously accepted by Christians, becomes in them the seed of holy and immortal life.

They are, according to the Apostle Peter, “begotten anew, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Logos of God Who liveth and abideth forever” (1 Pet. 1:23).

Q. How does the life of Jesus Christ bring us salvation?

A. When we imitate it. As He says: “If anyone serve Me, let him keep on following Me; and where I am, there My servant shall be also. And if anyone serve Me, the Father shall honor him” (John 12:26).

Q. What should be thought of those people who say, “I do not recognize Jesus Christ as the Son of God, but nothing prevents me from imitating His life as the life of a most holy person”?

A. One can be sure that such people speak either completely thoughtlessly or insincerely.

Q. Is it possible to honor Jesus Christ simply as a man, albeit a perfect man?

A. In no wise. If Jesus Christ was not the Son of God, then He would be a deliberate deceiver, posing as the Son of God and presenting false miracles.

Q. But would not His teaching have remained holy and wise even if that was the case?

A. Not at all. The Lord, in all His commandments, beginning with the nine beatitudes, put a tight link between the lot of a man after death and His own judgment over men’s souls; such is the meaning of the majority of His parables, for example, about the rich man and Lazarus, about the unfaithful ruler, about the merciful king, etc. Finally, the Lord requires more love for Himself than for father, mother, or children. All this is meaningless if the Savior was not the Son of God and the Judge of all humanity.

Q. What follows from this concerning the dogma of the divinity of Jesus Christ?

A. Inasmuch as even those who disbelieve in His divinity do not allow themselves to consider Him to be either a self-deluded man or a deliberate deceiver, since His sublime words, deeds of mercy, meekness of character, and long-suffering do not allow such blasphemous assumptions, then even unbelievers should admit that He was wise, righteous, and a sincere teacher, and since He taught about His divine dignity, then no reasonable reader of the Gospel can doubt this.

Q. Can these considerations be taken as proof of Christ’s divinity and the truth of Christianity?

A. Undoubtedly. Over and above the five already mentioned signs of the truth of divine revelation, this sixth and strongest sign cannot be refuted by any denier of our Faith.

Q. Why are there still deniers of the divinity of Christ?

A. It is due to their frivolity and stubbornness that they will not delve into the testimony of the truth, as the Evangelist John says about the Jews who did not come to reason by the miracle of the raising of Lazarus, using the words of God to the Prophet Isaiah: “This nation hath blinded their own eyes and hardened their heart, that they should not see with their eyes and understand with their heart and should be converted so that I should heal them” (John 12:40).

About the Fourth Article

Q. How did it happen that Jesus Christ was crucified, when His teaching and deeds were to inspire in all men reverence for Him?

A. Jewish elders and scribes hated Him because He denounced their false teaching and lawless life, and they envied Him because through His teachings and miracles the people respected Him more than them; therefore, they slandered Him and condemned Him to death.

Q. Why is it said that Jesus Christ was crucified by Pontius Pilate?

A. To signify the time when He was crucified.

Q. Who was Pontius Pilate?

A. Roman ruler of Judea, which was subdued by the Romans.

Q. Why is this circumstance worthy of note?

A. Because it shows the fulfillment of the prophecy of Jacob: “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from his loins, until the Reconciliator comes, and unto Him is the submission of the nations” (Gen. 49:10). Namely, it was only before the coming of Christ that the Jews were ruled by descendants of Judah, and Pilate was the first Roman, a pagan, who ruled over the people of God.

Q. Why is it not just said in the Creed that Jesus Christ was crucified, but that “He suffered” also?

A. To show that His crucifixion was not just an appearance of suffering and death, as some false teachers have said, but a genuine suffering and death.

Q. Why is it also mentioned that He was buried?

A. This also applies as another confirmation that He really died and rose again, since His enemies even set a guard at His sepulcher and sealed it.

Q. How could Jesus Christ suffer and die, being God?

A. He suffered and died, not in His divinity, but as a man, and not because He could not avoid suffering but because He willed to suffer. He Himself said, “I lay down My soul, that I might take it again. No one taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it again” (John 10:17-18).

Q. What did the Lord pray for in the garden of Gethsemane, saying: “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me” (Mt. 26:39)?

A. One must not think that the Lord was terrified of the upcoming crucifixion and prayed for deliverance from it, because the martyrs did not walk with fear but with joy to martyrdom, and this joy did not leave them amidst terrible torments by the torturers of their bodies.

[Saint Hilary of Poitiers writes, “Could fear induce Him to pray for the removal from Him of that which, in His zeal for the divine plan, He was hastening to fulfill? To say He shrank from the suffering He desired is not consistent.” (On the Trinity, Bk. X, § 30)]

Q. What word of Holy Scripture certifies this?

A. The Apostle Paul writes about Christ: “...Who, in the days of His flesh, having offered up both entreaties and supplications to the One Who was able to save Him from death, with strong crying and tears, and having been heard on account of the reverence” (Heb. 5:7).

If the Savior prayed for deliverance from the suffering of crucifixion, it means that He was not heard.

Q. For what, then, did He pray so fervently that even the sweat fell from His face like drops of blood. What was He talking about, so deeply grieved, saying to His disciples: “My soul is very sad unto death” (Mark 14:34)?

A. The Savior grieved over human hardness throughout His whole life, exclaiming sometimes: “O unbelieving and wayward generation, until when shall I be with you? Until when shall I bear with you?” (Mt. 17:17). On the same terrible day when the worst atrocity in the history of all humanity happened, when the servants of the one God out of malice and envy decided to kill the Son of God, their Savior, His sorrow for the beloved human race had reached the highest degree. He took upon his soul every generation of humanity and was tormented by the sinfulness of every person.

Q. What do the words mean: “And having gone forth a little, He fell upon His face on the ground, and was praying that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him” (Mk. 14:35)?

A. Here should be understood not the hour of the crucifixion, but the present hour of His spiritual suffering, and He was heard, as the Apostle Paul says, because “an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him” (Lk. 22:43).

Q. How did these spiritual torments of Christ for human sinfulness become our redemption?

A. Because co-suffering love, in a mystery, united His spirit with our souls, and we draw from the spirit of Christ as it were a fountain of holiness for our souls, and by this we conquer sin.

Q. May you show this from the Holy Scriptures?

A. The Lord, a few moments before the indicated supernatural prayer, as it is called in our liturgical books, prayed aloud for His disciples: “And on behalf of them I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. And I do not make request for these only, but also for those who shall believe on Me through their word; in order that all may be one, even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us, that the world might believe that Thou didst send Me forth” (John 17:19-21).

Q. Did the Lord foretell that this mysterious union of redeemed humanity with God, as He prayed, would come to pass?

A. The Lord, going to His suffering and promising to His disciples that they would soon (i.e., after His Resurrection) see Him again, added, “In that day ye shall know that I am in the Father, and ye in Me, and I in you” (John 14:20).

The Apostle Paul writes that he strives for eternal life: “Not that I already received, or already have been perfected; but I pursue, if I might also apprehend that for which I also was apprehended by the Christ, Jesus” (Phil. 3:12).

Q. Did the Old Testament prophets also foretell the fact that the Messiah, having suffered in Himself the sins of mankind, will become their spiritual head and their source of revival?

A. This is exactly what the Prophet Isaiah predicted (cf. Is. 53:10).

Q. How do the Church fathers teach about the influence of Christ’s Passion or His compassionate love for our souls?

A. Saint Symeon the New Theologian in the prayer before Communion expressed it as follows: “With the oil of co-suffering Thou dost purify and illumine them that fervently repent, and makest them partakers of the light, partakers of Thy divinity without stint.”

[Saint Leo the Great states, “It was in our humility that He was despised, with our grief that He was saddened, with our pain that He was racked on the Cross. For His compassion underwent the sufferings of our mortality with the purpose of healing them.” (“Sermon LVIII, On the Passion,” § IV)

Saint Ambrose says concerning the agony in Gethsemane, “He Who had no reason to grieve for Himself did grieve for me; and, having set aside the delight in eternal divinity, He is afflicted by the weariness of my infirmity. For He took my sadness, in order to bestow on me His joy, and came down to our footprints, even to the hardship of death, in order to call us back to life in His own footprints.... Thus, Lord, Thou art pained not at Thy wounds, but at mine, not at Thy death, but at our infirmity; and we have thought Thee to be in grief when Thou grievest, not for Thyself, but for me, for Thou art ‘wounded,’ but ‘on account of our sins’ (Is. 53:5).... Here He is at work with profound compassion, so that since He destroyed our sins in His own flesh, the sadness of His soul would abolish also the sadness of our soul.” (Commentary on Luke, Bk. X, §§ 56-58)]

Q. So, what is the name of the power of Christ’s love which helps us fight sin?

A. The grace of God.

Q. How and when is it granted to believers?

A. It is granted to us through prayer, and especially in the holy mysteries; also when reading the words of God and when performing deeds of love and other ascetic struggles.

“By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace which was toward me did not become void; but I toiled more abundantly than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Cor. 15:10).

Q. In what sense are the sufferings of Christ called a sacrifice, and to whom was this sacrifice made?

A. The Lord Jesus Christ was well-pleased to save humanity, that is, to return to it the possibility of communion with God and spiritual perfection. Men, infected with sin, could not achieve this themselves without the co-participation of the suffering Christ, and therefore He is a sacrifice for human sins.

Q. Why is He called the sacrifice offered to the heavenly Father or the sacrifice of divine justice?

A. It depended on the Creator to arrange human nature in this way so that a person who has fallen into sin cannot pick himself back up, but needs the help of the co-suffering God-man.

Q. Why did the Creator not deign to arrange our soul so that one’s repentance is enough for the restoration of his former purity and holiness?

A. It was so required by divine justice, which necessitates that repentance and regeneration from the Fall be accomplished through podvigs (spiritual exploits) of suffering; therefore Christ’s redemptive Passion is called a sacrifice offered to divine justice on our behalf.

Q. Why was the compassionate sorrow of Christ not enough for receiving mankind into His fellowship, but His bodily sufferings were also needed?

A. First, in order to sanctify our nature not only spiritually but also bodily, for the sinful contagion nestled not only in human souls but also in our bodies; and secondly, so that His love for us would be more apparent to people, for spiritual suffering is not understood by all; and finally, in order to fulfill the prophecies and prefigurations of the Old Testament. “Whenever ye lift up the Son of Man, then ye shall know that I am, and I do nothing of Myself,” says the Lord about His forthcoming crucifixion, “and I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all to Myself” (John 8:28; 12, 32). “And even as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, thus it is needful for the Son of Man to be lifted up; that everyone who believeth in Him should not perish, but may have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:14-15).

Q. What is Christ’s redemption for us from the curse of the Law which the Apostle Paul wrote about to the Galatians: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us” (Gal. 3:13)?

A. This is about a different curse than God’s curse on the serpent and the earth after the fall of our progenitors: it is the curse of the Law which was pronounced on Mount Geval and recorded in Deuteronomy. The representatives of the people cursed murderers, adulterers, and other kinds of criminals (see Deut. 27:13-26) and in conclusion proclaimed: “Cursed is everyone who continueth not in all the things which have been written in the book of the Law to do them” (Gal. 3:10; cf. Dan. 9:11).

Q. Why did the Apostle Paul write about this to the Galatians?

A. Christians, under the influence of the Jews, were confused by the question of whether or not this curse lies on them, as those who do not keep the Law of Moses.

The apostle refuted this doubt by stating that the Redeemer, having voluntarily died on the Cross, Himself “became a curse for us (for it hath been written: ‘Cursed is everyone who hangeth on a tree’)” (Gal. 3:13; cf. Deut. 21-23).

Q. Is it even possible that Jesus Christ was cursed?

A. This word should not be understood in the literal sense. In Deuteronomy, one hanged on a tree or a crucified criminal is called cursed, of which it is said thus: “And if there be sin in anyone, and the judgment of death be upon him, and he be put to death, and ye hang him on a tree: his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but ye shall by all means bury it in that day; for everyone that is hanged on a tree is cursed of God; and ye shall by no means defile the land which the Lord thy God gives thee for an inheritance” (Deut. 21, 22-23). So, this curse concerns criminals who are hanged, but our Savior was crucified without any guilt.

Q. Why did He deign to accept death precisely in this manner?

A. To take away the fear from His followers concerning the curses of the Law for failure to comply with its rituals that have lost their meaning for the redeemed human race.

Q. So the cross, which was the instrument of the execution of cursed criminals, ceased to be a symbol of a curse?

A. That which has been sanctified by the Son of God can no longer be cursed, and if from the day of His willful crucifixion the ones condemned to such an execution cease to be cursed, then there is even less need to be confounded by the covenant requirement of circumcision and all the prohibitions of the old Law on food and drink, on the sabbath, and so on. This is the meaning of the Epistle of the Apostle Paul to the Galatians.

Q. How can we personally comprehend our participation in the sufferings of Christ?

A. The Apostle Paul answers this: “But they who are of the Christ crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts” (Gal. 5:24).

Q. How can you crucify your flesh with the passions and the lusts?

A. By abstaining from passions and lusts and by performing deeds that are repugnant to them. For example, when anger encourages us to curse the enemy and do evil to him, then we resist this desire, and remembering how Jesus Christ on the Cross prayed for His enemies, we also pray for our enemy, and thus we crucify the passion of anger.

Q. What is the significance to our salvation that the Lord had a death that lasted such a short time?

A. The answer to this is given by the Apostle Paul: “Since, then, the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He also Himself in like manner partook of the same, in order that through death He might bring to nought the one who hath the power of death, that is, the devil, and might set free those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb. 2:14-15).

The sinless Lord was not Himself subject to the law of death, just as He did not need baptism, but He voluntarily underwent both in order to sanctify with His own body that which poisoned the whole life of men, and make death itself nothing to be afraid of.

The joyous hymn of Pascha proclaims this: “Christ is risen from the dead, by death hath He trampled down death, and on those in the graves hath He bestowed life.” On the same day the words of Saint John Chrysostom [are heard]: “Let no one be afraid of death, for the Savior’s death has liberated us.”

About the Fifth Article

Q. What is the greatest proof Jesus Christ gave that His suffering and death grant us salvation?

A. That He rose from the dead and thus laid the foundation of our own blessed resurrection.

“But now Christ hath been raised from the dead; the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep did He become” (1 Cor. 15:20).

Q. What should one believe about the state Jesus Christ was in after His death and before His Resurrection?

A. This is depicted in the following Church hymn: “In the grave with the flesh, in Hades with the soul as God, in heaven with the thief, and Thou wast on the throne, O Christ, with the Father and the Spirit, filling all things, O uncircumscribable One.”

Q. What is Hades?

A. Hades, according to its derivation from Greek, means “a place devoid of light.” In Christian teaching, by this name is meant a spiritual prison, that is, the condition of souls which through sin are alienated from the sight of God and the light and bliss that accompanies that vision (cf. Jude. 16; Octoechos, Mode 5, stichera 2 and 4).

Q. Why did Jesus Christ descend into Hades?

A. In order to preach even in Hades victory over death and deliver the souls who received His preaching of glad tidings with love.

Q. Does Scripture speak about this?

A. The following saying applies here: “For Christ also once for all suffered for sins—the just One for the unjust ones—that He might bring us up to God, after He indeed was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the Spirit, in Whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison” (1 Pet. 3:18-19).

Q. What should be noted about the words of the Creed: “and arose on the third day according to the Scriptures”?

A. The holy Apostle Peter quotes the words for this from Psalm 15: “For Thou wilt not leave behind my soul in Hades, nor wilt Thou give Thy Holy One to see corruption” (Acts 2:27).

Q. Do the Old Testament Scriptures also say that Christ was to rise from the dead on the third day?

A. The prophetic image of this is presented by the Prophet Jonah: Jonah was in the belly of the sea monster for three days and three nights (Jonah 2:1; cf. Hos 6:3).

Q. How did we come to know that Jesus Christ rose from the dead?

A. The soldiers who guarded His tomb found out with great fear because the angel of the Lord rolled away the stone with which His tomb was closed, and, moreover, there was a great earthquake. Angels also announced the Resurrection of Christ to Mary Magdalene [and the Virgin Mary] and some others. Jesus Christ Himself, on the very day of His Resurrection, appeared to many, namely: the myrrh-bearing women, Peter, two disciples who went to Emmaus, and finally, to all the apostles, in the house of which the doors were locked. Then He appeared to them many times for the duration of forty days; on a certain day He appeared to no less than five hundred faithful together (see 1 Cor. 15:6).

Q. Why did Jesus Christ appear to the apostles for forty days after His Resurrection?

A. During this time He continued to teach them the mysteries of the kingdom of God (see Acts 1:3).

Q. Why is it necessary for our salvation to believe in the Resurrection of Christ and in the resurrection of the flesh?

A. The apostle answers this: “And if Christ hath not been raised, then is our preaching empty, and your faith is also empty” (1 Cor. 15:14).

For Christians who are always persecuted for their faith in this life, in this world of untruth, there is comfort in believing that a righteous life will come after the separation of the soul from the body, for that life will be accompanied by completely different conditions. [According to this hope, we act] as if it were not we ourselves, but as if we were different, incorporeal beings, and therefore for the holy martyrs it was through belief in the resurrection of the flesh that they gained the courage to endure sufferings, as can be seen in the descriptions of their lives.

So, the Righteous Job, having experienced the unrighteousness of this life, gained confidence in God granting a glorious end for his human flesh. Thus did the Righteous Job believe in ancient times, in the fifth generation from Abraham: “For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall in the last day raise from the dust this my corrupting body, and in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another’s. My heart is consumed within my bosom” (Job 19:25-27).

Q. How does the holy Church express for us her faith in the saving significance of the event of Christ’s Resurrection?

A. In how she devotes a feast day every week to glorifying it, and the annual feast day of the Resurrection (Pascha) is called the feast of feasts and the celebration of celebrations and devotes a whole week to it, as well as with an afterfeast of forty days.

Q. What does the joyful state of Orthodox souls on the day of Christ’s holy Resurrection consist of?

A. In the gracious anticipation of the eternal bliss promised to the faithful, as the Church sings: “We celebrate the death of death, the destruction of Hades, the beginning of a new, eternal life.”

[Q. On what date is Pascha celebrated?

[A. It changes every year. It is always on the Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox.

[Q. How does the Church keep track of its feast days?

[A. The Church has a calendar for the moveable feasts, the Paschalion, and a fixed calendar based on the Julian Calendar, which lists the saints and feasts that are commemorated for every day of the year.

[Q. Is the calendar a dogma of the Church?

[A. No. Historically, Christians have had a variety of traditions for when to celebrate the saints and feasts of the Church, even Pascha. Even after the Church resolved the exact day that Pascha should be celebrated by all Christians, for several centuries some people, particularly in the British Isles, due to a different method of astronomical calculation, celebrated Pascha on a different day than the rest of the Church, but no one considers them to be heretics.

[Q. What should one think about the change of Church calendar that was imposed on the Church of Greece in 1924 by the Archbishop of Athens, when the Gregorian (papal) Calendar was introduced?

[A. This was a senseless and reprehensible innovation that resulted in a schism in the liturgical unity of the Church and was resisted by many zealous Greeks and Athonite monks. In the years to come, the pious zealots would state that the New Calendarist State Church of Greece had fallen outside the Church, but this statement is erroneous and illogical, leading to many contradictions, and in hindsight should not be believed. A calendar is not a heresy.

[Q. But were there not three councils in the sixteenth century that condemned the Gregorian Calendar of 1583 and anathematized those who follow it?

[A. First of all, the Church of Greece only adopted a new Menologion for the fixed calendar but did not change the Orthodox Paschalion used to determine the date of Pascha. But more importantly, one cannot anathematize something that is not a heresy, like a calendar, and Orthodox Christians are not obliged to obey local councils when they stray from the truth.]

About the Sixth Article

Q. Is the sixth part of the Creed, depicting the Ascension of the Lord, borrowed from the Holy Scriptures?

A. It is taken from the following sayings of Holy Scripture: “The One Who descended is the same also Who ascended above all of the heavens, in order that He might fill all things” (Eph. 4:10).

“We have such a High Priest, Who sat down on the right of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (Heb. 8:1).

Q. Did Jesus Christ ascend to the heavens in His divinity or in His human nature?

A. As a man, although in His divinity He was always and now continues to dwell in the heavens.

Q. How is it that Jesus Christ sits at the right of God the Father, when God is everywhere present?

A. This must be understood spiritually, that is: Jesus Christ has the same power and glory as God the Father.

About the Seventh Article

Q. How does Scripture talk about the Second Coming of Christ?

A. “This Jesus, the One Who was taken up from you into the heaven, so shall He come in the manner ye beheld Him going into the heaven” (Acts 1:11). This was said to the apostles by the angels at the very time of the Ascension of the Lord.

Q. How does it speak of His future Judgment?

A. “An hour is coming in which all those in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall go forth—they who did good things to a resurrection of life, but they who practiced bad things to a resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28-29). These are the words of Jesus Christ Himself.

Q. How does Scripture speak of His never-ending kingdom?

A. “He shall be great, and shall be called Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give to Him the throne of His father David. And He shall reign over the house of Jacob to the ages, and of His kingdom there shall be no end” (Lk. 1:32-33)the words of the angel to the Mother of God.

Q. The future coming of Christ, will it be the same as it was before?

A. It will be very different from the former one. To suffer for us, He came in humiliation, but to judge us, “the Son of Man will come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him” (Mt. 25:31).

Q. Will He judge all men?

A. All without exception.

Q. How will He judge?

A. The conscience of every person will be revealed before all, and not only all deeds will be revealed, which one has done throughout all his life on earth, but also all the words he said, his secret desires and thoughts, and the constant disposition of his heart and the direction of his will, good or bad. “Until the Lord should come, Who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then to each one there shall be the praise from God” (1 Cor. 4:5).

Q. Will He judge us for bad words or thoughts?

A. No doubt He will judge us, if we do not make up for them in repentance, faith, and correction of life. “But I say to you that every idle word, whatsoever men shall speak, they shall render an account concerning it in the day of judgment” (Mt. 12:36).

Q. Is Jesus Christ coming soon to Judgment?

A. The time of His coming is unknown, and therefore it is necessary to live in such a way so that we are always ready for it. “Be watching then, for ye know not the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man cometh” (Mt. 25:13).

Q. Are not there some signs revealed to show the closeness of the coming of Christ?

A. In the word of God there are some signs revealed to us, namely: a decrease in faith and love between people, a multiplication of vices and calamities, the preaching of the Gospel to all nations, and the coming of the Antichrist (cf. Mt. 24).

Q. Who is the Antichrist?

A. The adversary of Christ who will try to destroy Christianity, but instead he himself will perish in a terrible way (see 2 Thess. 2:8).

About the Eighth Article

Q. In what sense is the Holy Spirit called Lord?

A. In the same sense as the Son of God is called Lord, that is, as true God.

Q. Does Scripture bear witness to this?

A. It is evident from the words spoken by the Apostle Peter in rebuke to Ananias: “Ananias, why did Satan fill thy heart for thee to deceive the Holy Spirit?” And further on: “Thou didst not lie to men, but to God” (Acts 5:3-4).

Q. How does one understand that the Holy Spirit is called “the Giver of life”?

A. This should be understood to mean that He, with God the Father and Son together, gives life to all creatures and to men, especially spiritual life. “Unless one should be born of water and of the Spirit, he is not able to enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).

Q. How do we know that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father?

A. We know this from the following words of Jesus Christ Himself: “But whenever the Paraclete should come, Whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of the truth Who proceedeth from the Father, that One shall bear witness concerning Me” (John 15:26).

Q. Can the teaching about the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father be subject to some kind of change or addition?

A. It cannot. Firstly, because the Orthodox Church in this teaching repeats the exact words of Jesus Christ Himself, and His words are, without a doubt, the sufficient and perfect expression of truth. Secondly, because the Second Ecumenical Council, of which the main subject was the establishment of the true teaching about the Holy Spirit, no doubt satisfactorily set forth this teaching in the Creed; and the Catholic Church recognized this so emphatically that the Third Ecumenical Council, by its seventh canon, forbade anyone to compose a new Creed.

There is a [heretical] teaching that the Holy Spirit comes from the Father and Son, but it is refuted by the narrative of the Holy Gospel that when the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, was baptized in Jordan, then the Holy Spirit descended on Him in the form of a dove. Therefore, Saint John of Damascus writes, “We speak of the Holy Spirit as deriving His being from the Father, and call Him the Spirit of the Father. And we do not in any wise speak of the Spirit as deriving His being from the Son but yet we call Him the Spirit of the Son” (Exact Exposition, Bk. 1, Ch. 8).

Q. Whence is it evident that it is befitting to offer the Holy Spirit worship and glorification equal to the Father and the Son?

A. This is evident from what Jesus Christ commanded: “[Baptize] them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt. 28:19).

Q. Does Scripture testify that the Holy Spirit “spoke by the prophets”?

A. The Apostle Peter writes: “Prophecy was not brought about at any time by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke while borne along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21).

Q. Did the Holy Spirit also speak through the apostles?

A. Certainly. To the prophets, says the Apostle Peter, “it was revealed that not to themselves, but to you, were they ministering the same things which now were announced to you by those who preached the Gospel to you in the Holy Spirit Who was sent forth from heaven, into which things angels desire to look into” (1 Pet. 1:12).

Q. Did not the Holy Spirit reveal Himself to some men in a special way?

A. He descended upon the apostles in the form of fiery tongues on the fiftieth day after the Resurrection of Christ.

Q. Is the Holy Spirit communicated to men today?

A. It is communicated to all true Christians. “Know ye not that ye are God’s temple, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16).

Q. How can one become a partaker of the Holy Spirit?

A. Through earnest prayer and the sacraments (mysteries). “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall the Father, the One beyond heaven, give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” (Lk. 11:13).

Q. What are the principal gifts of the Holy Spirit?

A. The principal and more general are, according to enumeration of the Prophet Isaiah, the following seven: the spirit of the fear of God, the spirit of knowledge, the spirit of strength, the spirit of counsel, the spirit of understanding, the spirit of wisdom, the spirit of the Lord, or the gift of piety and inspiration to the highest degree (see Isa. 11:1-3).

About the Ninth Article

Q. What is the Church?

A. The Church is a society of people established by God united by the Orthodox Faith, by a common law, priesthood, and mysteries.

Q. What is the purpose of this society?

A. Firstly, to preserve and correctly interpret the Holy Scriptures and the Holy Tradition; secondly, to spread the true Faith among all nations; and thirdly, to build up her own spiritual children to spiritual perfection.

Q. What does it mean to believe in the Church?

A. It means to reverently honor the true Church of Christ and obey her teachings and commandments, according to a confidence that what dwells in her acts for our salvation, teaches, and administers the grace poured out from her one eternal Head, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Q. How can the Church be an object of faith, when it represents a society of men?

A. 1) The object of belief in the Church is proper to the grace that dwells in her.

2) The Church, being a visible society, because she is on earth and all Orthodox Christians living on earth belong to her, at the same time she is invisible, since she is in heaven, and all those who have died in the true Faith and holiness belong to it.

Q. What can be used to confirm the concept of the Church, which exists on earth and at the same time is heavenly?

A. The following words of the Apostle Paul to Christians: “Ye have come to Mount Sion and the city of the living God, a heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, a festal assembly and Church of the firstborn ones who have been registered in the heavens, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous who have been perfected, and to Jesus, Mediator of a new covenant” (Heb. 12:22-24).

Q. How can we be assured that the grace of God abides in the true Church?

A. First, by the fact that its head is the God-manJesus Christ, full of grace and truth, and His body, that is, the Church, is filled with grace and truth (see John 1:14-17).

Second, by the fact that He promised His disciples the Holy Spirit, so that He would be with them forever, and that, by this promise, the Holy Spirit sets up shepherds of the Church (cf. Jn. 14:16).

The Apostle Paul says about Jesus Christ that God the Father “put in subjection all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him Who filleth all things in all” (Eph. 1:22-23).

The same apostle says to the pastors of the Church, “Be taking heed therefore to yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit set you for Himself as bishops, to shepherd the Church of the Lord and God, which He preserved for Himself through His own blood” (Acts 20:28).

Q. How else can we be sure that the grace of God remains in the Church to this day and will remain until the end of the age?

A. This is confirmed by the following sayings of Jesus Christ Himself and His apostles: “I will build My Church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against her” (Mt. 16:18).

“‘I am with you all the days until the completion of the age.’ Amen” (Mt. 28:20).

“To Him be the glory in the Church in Christ Jesus, to all the generations of the age of the ages. Amen” (Eph. 3:21).

Q. Why is the Church one?

A. Because it is not merely a society, like the societies of men, but an incomparably more close union of believers with Christ; therefore the Church is also called the body of Christ, for it is like a living spiritual body, which has one head, Christ, and is animated by the one Spirit of God.

“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye also were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism; one God and Father of all, Who is over all, and through all, and in you all” (Eph. 4:4-6).

Q. Then, can it be accepted that a division of the Church has ever occurred or will occur, or a separation of churches?

A. In no case. From a single indivisible Church, heretics and schismatics separated or fell away at different times and through that ceased to be members of the Church, and the Church cannot lose her unity, according to the words of the Savior.

[Q. Is it absolutely necessary to believe that the Orthodox Church is the only true Church and path to salvation?

[A. Yes; otherwise you would fall into the heresy of Ecumenism.

[Q. What is this heresy?

[A. Ecumenism is the heresy of heresies, the last great heresy that will inundate the world before the coming of Antichrist. It is the false teaching that all religions are valid and salvific, that there is no absolute truth, that there is no one true Church.

[Q. When did this heresy appear?

[A. The false ideas of Ecumenism have been around in one way or another since ancient times, specifically in the hypocritical intercommunion of Christians with heretics, in theological formulas that attempted to compromise with heretics and mix the truth with falsehood, and in false councils with Roman Catholics that proclaimed a union between Orthodoxy and Papism.

In the twentieth century, as the result of a decadent post-Orthodox culture, this heresy became rampant in the West and even began to seep into the Orthodox world. In 1920, the Patriarchate of Constantinople issued a disastrous letter entitled “To the Churches of Christ, Wheresoever They May Be,” addressing heretics as “Christians” and calling all into unity in Christ according to a false “love.” Ecumenical gestures continued to be displayed, including the unlawful introduction of the Gregorian Calendar (1924) in Greece, until the breaking point was finally reached in 1965. On December 7th, 1965, Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople “lifted” the Anathema of 1054 on the Roman Catholics, boldly proclaiming that the papists are part of the Church. This was the moment of betrayal, the Great Apostasy foretold by the Apostle Paul (cf. 2 Thess. 2:3), and in horror, true Christians broke communion with all those churches involved in this blasphemy, separating themselves from the apostates who had now undeniably lost the grace of the Holy Spirit and cut themselves off from the Orthodox Church.

[Q. Did the other Orthodox patriarchates object to the actions of Athenagoras in 1965?

[A. Not at all. They followed him in the heresy of Ecumenism and showed themselves to be blasphemers just like him, as their later actions proved. In this way, World Orthodoxy, that is to say, the Patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Moscow, as well as all the autonomous and autocephalous churches fell away from the Church in one fell swoop, a catastrophe that is unprecedented in Church history. The only churches that protested against this heresy and broke communion with World Orthodoxy were the Russian Church Abroad (Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia) and the Old Calendarists of Greece. Metropolitan Saint Philaret of the ROCOR wrote three open letters (the sorrowful epistles) between 1969 and 1975 exhorting the World Orthodox to repent and turn back from this heresy, but his warnings were ignored.

[Q. Why is it necessary to break communion with a heretical church? If one personally remains Orthodox, what does it matter what a different church believes?

[A. Communion means you share the same faith. If you are in communion with heretics, you are a heretic. All heretics and schismatics have not the grace of the Holy Spirit; they can have no unity with the body of Christ.

As Saint Theodore the Studite says, “Even if someone should relinquish all his worldly possessions, if he is yet in communion with heresy, he cannot be a friend of God, but is rather an enemy” (“Epistle 32, To son Thalaleos”).

Saint Basil the Great states, “As for all those who pretend to confess the Orthodox Faith, but are in communion with the heterodox, if they are admonished and still remain stubborn, not only must you not be in communion with them, but you must not even call them brothers” (quoted by St. Mark of Ephesus, Confession of Faith).

[Q. Does this mean we should shun all contact with the non-Orthodox?

[A. No. You can continue to live with them, conduct business, talk, and interact with those outside the Church. In this way, you can persuade them about the truth, especially by your pious way of life. On the other hand, Orthodox Christians are forbidden to pray with those outside the true Church, either privately or in a church, under the penalty of excommunication. For this would be equivalent to yoking darkness with light, joining truth with error. You should also not give the non-Orthodox the impression that their religion is valid or ask for a blessing from a heretical priest.

[Q. Cannot Orthodox Christians be a part of the Ecumenical Movement and the World Council of Churches in order to evangelize and bring Protestants and Roman Catholics to the Orthodox Faith?

[A. This intention would be commendable if that was actually happening nowadays. Before 1965, Orthodox clergy who attended gatherings of the World Council of Churches did in fact profess Orthodox truth and call on heretical sects to return to the unity of the true Church, but the discussions that take place in our time are completely different. The World Orthodox have become organic members of the World Council of Churches, an organization that states that no one member can claim to be the only true Church. This is a betrayal of the Faith. “Orthodox” participants now engage in dialogues with heretics and come up with theological compromises filled with blasphemy (Chambesy Agreement, Balamand Union, etc.).

[Q. Why does it matter if I have a bishop that is an Ecumenist or preaches some heresy? If I remain Orthodox in my beliefs, how does his faith affect me?

[A. This is a Protestant mentality, an erroneous opinion that is utterly foreign to the tradition of the Church and the mind of the holy fathers. The bishop is the head of the local church. A body cannot survive with a dead (or severed) head. If a bishop falls into heresy, all those who remain with him will also perish.

The Apostolic Constitutions state: “[God] will judge between one bishop and another, and between one lay person and another, and between one ruler and another (for these sheep and these rams are not irrational, but rational creatures); lest at any time a lay person should say, ‘I am a sheep and not a shepherd, and I am not concerned for myself; let the shepherd look to that, for he alone will be required to give an account for me.’ For as that sheep that will not follow its good shepherd is exposed to the wolves, to its destruction; so that which follows a bad shepherd is also exposed to unavoidable death, since his shepherd will devour him. Wherefore care must be had to avoid destructive shepherds” (Bk. II, Sec. III:XIX).

[Q. I am just a lay person. Who am I to judge my bishop in matters of theology?

[A. It would be correct not to judge a clergyman (or anyone) for his personal sins and shortcomings, but when it comes to the Faith, everyone must judge between Orthodoxy and heresy.

Saint John Chrysostom says, “If from a ship thou take away the helmsman, thou wilt sink the vessel; so too if from a flock thou remove the shepherd, thou hast overthrown and destroyed all.... When the ruler is bad,...no small evil it is, but even a far worse evil than anarchy. For it is better to be led by no one than to be led by one who is evil. For the former indeed are oftentimes saved, and oftentimes are in peril, but the latter will be altogether in peril, being led into the pit of destruction. How then does Paul say, ‘Be obedient to those who lead you, and keep on submitting’ (Heb. 13:17)? Having said above, ‘whose faith keep on imitating, observing attentively the end of their conduct’ (Heb. 13:7), he then said, ‘Be obedient to those who lead you, and keep on submitting.’ ‘What then (you say), when he is wicked should we obey?’ Wicked? In what sense? If indeed in regard to the Faith, flee and avoid him; not only if he be a man, but even if he be an angel come down from heaven; but if in regard to life, be not overly-curious.... ‘Cease judging, that ye be not judged’ (Mt. 7:1) concerns life, not faith.”

[Q. Were there any councils that discussed Ecumenism?

[A. Yes. In 1983, a synod of the Russian Church Abroad issued an anathema against this heresy: “To those who attack the Church of Christ by teaching that Christ’s Church is divided into so-called ‘branches’ which differ in doctrine and way of life, or that the Church does not exist visibly, but will be formed in the future when all ‘branches’ or sects or denominations, and even religions will be united into one body; and who do not distinguish the priesthood and mysteries of the Church from those of the heretics, but say that the Baptism and Eucharist of heretics is effectual for salvation; therefore, to those who knowingly have communion with these aforementioned heretics or who advocate, disseminate, or defend their new heresy of Ecumenism under the pretext of brotherly love or the supposed unification of separated Christians, Anathema!”

[Q. Does this mean that until the anathema in 1983, the ecumenist heretics were still part of the Church or still had the grace of the Holy Spirit?

[A. Absolutely not. It is heresy itself which separates a man from the Church, not a council. The Holy Spirit does not wait to take orders from men to depart from a heretic or schismatic. Such a person is “self-condemned” (Tit. 3:11) and is not part of the Church even before a council officially severs him from the visible assembly of the Church. Opposition to this simple truth has yielded an extensive heresy in our time that has swallowed up almost all Old Calendarists.

[Q. What heresy is that?

[A. The heresy of Cyprianism, created by a renegade Greek clergyman named Cyprian Koutsoumbas, who was deposed by the Greek Old Calendarists in 1979 for making a conspiracy to have himself consecrated a bishop. He later started his own church (and religion), called the “Synod in Resistance,” and in order to get donations would give the Eucharist to any Ecumenist heretics that came to his monastery. Cyprian taught that heretics are still part of the Church and their mysteries are effectual until they are condemned by a pan-Orthodox council.

[Q. What became of his church?

[A. Conniving by any means to get recognition, Cyprian first polluted the Romanian Old Calendarist Church by convincing them to go into communion with him and thereby fall away from Christ. He also managed to destroy the Russian Church Abroad in 1994 by establishing communion with them too. In this way the ROCOR, by accepting Cyprian’s heresy, fell under its own anathema of 1983 that states “...who do not distinguish the priesthood and mysteries of the Church from those of the heretics.” It was after this fatal union in 1994 that Archbishop Gregory left the apostate ROCOR. More recently, Cyprian’s synod has established communion with the Old Calendarists of Greece, Serbia, and Russia, thereby utterly destroying whatever semblance of true Orthodoxy they once had. He died the ghastly death of a heresiarch in 2013 after a six-year coma; his body became rock-hard with his mouth wide open and a terrible stench.

In 2009, the Synod of the Genuine Orthodox Church of America issued an anathema against Cyprianism that reads: “To the deposed Metropolitan Cyprian Koutsoumbas, ‘the Exorcist,’ who propagates demonic teaching, and to all those who follow him, who teach that those who fall into heresy are still part of the Church of Christ, and that their mysteries are grace-filled, and who teach that the Church of Christ is divided into two parts—one ailing with heresy and one healthy without heresy—and thus maintain that the holy body of Christ not only can be divided but also be infected with the disease of falsehood, who oppose the holy Apostle Paul who says that the holy Church is a ‘glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such things’ (Eph. 5:27), and who commune heretics and have therefore succumbed to the heresy of Ecumenism, Anathema!”]

Q. What must be said about the teaching which, based on the oneness of the high priest of the old covenant, wants to see a similar single high priest (pope) in the new testament Church?

A. This teaching is not false, but the Holy Scriptures are clear about who will replace the Old Testament high priests: none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. “And they on the one hand who have become priests are many, being hindered from continuing by reason of death; but He on the other hand, because He abideth forever, hath the intransitive priesthood” (Heb. 7:23-24).

Q. How can we be sure that Jesus Christ is the only head of the one Church?

A. The Apostle Paul writes that for the Church, as the building of God, “No one is able to lay any other foundation beside the One being laid, Who is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11). Therefore, for the Church, as the body of Christ, there cannot be another head besides Jesus Christ.

The Church as it must abide in all generations of the age, requires also a head that is always abiding; and such is the one Jesus Christ. For this reason, the apostles are called no more than ministers of the Church (see Col. 1:24-25).

[In another sense, the bishop is the head of the Church, which is a confederacy of Eucharist-centered communities. Every regional church has its principal leader: the bishop, who is a symbol of Christ. When the bishop remains Orthodox, as an icon of Christ he continues to guide the souls entrusted to him on the path of salvation. But if the bishop falls into heresy and refuses correction, he is a pseudo-bishop and no longer a symbol of Christ, and the faithful must flee from him and have no communion with him if they wish to be saved (Canon 15 of the First-Second Regional Council). They must rather be joined to a bishop who proclaims true Orthodoxy.]

Q. And what should one answer those who disagree thus: “Jesus Christ ascended to the heavens, but the Church needs a physical high priest here on earth leading men to God”?

A. This idea is utterly refuted in the following words of the apostle: “Wherefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He ever liveth to intercede on their behalf” (Heb. 7:25). From here it is clear that the above objection is based on lack of faith in Christ as the Pilot of the Church.

Q. What obligation does the unity of the Church impose on us?

A. Be “giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3).

Q. How does one reconcile the unity of the Church with the fact that it is made up of many separate and independent churches, e.g., of Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople, Russia, and Serbia?

A. These are the particular churches, or parts of the one universal Church [before 1965]. The separateness of their visible organizations does not prevent them from being spiritually great members of the single body of the universal Church, or to have a single head, Christ, and one spirit of Faith and grace. Moreover, unity is expressed externally by the same confession of Faith and communion in prayers and the mysteries.

Q. Is there also unity between the Church abiding on earth and the heavenly one?

A. Without a doubt there is, inasmuch as they both share a single Head, our Lord Jesus Christ, thus do they also share in mutual communion between each other.

Q. What means of communion does the Church on earth have with the one in heaven?

A. The prayer of faith and love. The faithful, belonging to the Church on earth, while bringing prayer to God, at the same time are calling upon the help of the saints belonging to the heavenly Church; and this Church, enjoying higher degrees of boldness towards God, through their mediating prayers cleanse, strengthen, and bring before God the prayers of the faithful living on earth; and by the will of God, they act on them graciously and beneficially either by an unseen power, or through their revelations, or through some other means.

Q. What is the basis of the rule for the Church on earth that it must call upon the saints in prayer?

A. Sacred Tradition, the foundations of which are visible even in Scripture.

Q. Is there any Scriptural evidence of the mediation of the saints in heaven?

A. The holy Evangelist John in the Revelation saw in the heavens an angel, to whom was given “much incense, in order that he should give it with the prayers of all the saints upon the altar, the golden one, which is before the throne. And the smoke of the incense with the prayers of the saints ascended before God out of the hand of the angel” (Rev. 8:3-4).

The apostles exhort us to pray for one another, and one of them adds, “The entreaty of a righteous man hath much strength” (Iak. 5:16-18), and proceeds to bring to mind the power of the prayer of the Prophet Elias.

Q. But was not that the prayer of a righteous one who was still alive on earth?

A. For God there is no dead or alive. As He said, “Now He is not the God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to Him” (Lk. 20:38).

Q. What words of Scripture show us that the saints hear us?

A. The Apostle John, while foretelling the fall of Babylon, addresses the slain prophets and apostles of God with the words: “Be rejoicing over her, O heaven, and ye the saints and the apostles and the prophets, for God judged your judgment on her” (Rev. 18:20).

Q. Is there any evidence in Holy Scripture of the fact that the saints are involved in the salvation of men?

A. This is clear from the words of Christ: “Thus, I say to you, joy ariseth in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repenteth” (Lk. 15:10). The Apostle Peter writes to Christians that he intends to remind them of the virtues of Christ’s love while he is in the body, but since the Lord revealed to him that he would soon lay aside his body, i.e., he would die soon, he then adds, “But I will also endeavor for you to have after my decease these things always, so that ye may be able to put yourselves in remembrance” (2 Pet. 1:15).

Q. Is there any Scriptural evidence of beneficial appearances of the saints from heaven?

A. The holy Evangelist Matthew narrates that after the death on the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, “many bodies of the saints who were asleep were raised, and came out of the sepulchers after His arising, and entered into the holy city and were manifested to many” (Mt. 27:52-53). Since a miracle so important could not be without an important purpose, then it must be assumed that the resurrected saints appeared to proclaim the descent of Jesus Christ into Hades and His victorious Resurrection, and by this proclamation to assist those born in the old testament Church to pass over to the revealed new testament one.

Q. By what evidence are we confirmed in the belief that the saints, after their repose, work miracles through some means?

A. The Fourth Book of Kings testifies that from touching the bones of the Prophet Elisaios a dead man was resurrected (see 2 Kings 13:21).

The Apostle Paul not only himself directly performed healings and miracles, but the same was happening from the “handkerchiefs or aprons [taken] from his skin” (Acts 19:12), in his absence. From this example, it is clear that the saints even after their repose can act beneficially just as well through earthly means received from their consecration.

Saint John Damascene writes, “The Master Christ made the remains of the saints to be fountains of salvation to us, pouring forth manifold blessings.” As if in explanation of this he notes, “Through means of the mind, God dwelt even in their bodies” (Exact Exposition, Bk. 4, Ch. 15, sec. 3-4).

Q. Does not the veneration of the saints diminish the glory of God?

A. Not at all, since this is in accordance with the words of Christ: “And the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given them” (Jn. 17:22). “And whosoever shall give to one of these little ones only a cup of cold water to drink in the name of a disciple, verily I say to you, in no wise shall he lose his reward” (Mt. 10:42).

Q. Why is the Church holy?

A. Because it is sanctified by Jesus Christ through His suffering, through His teachings, through His prayer, and through the mysteries. “Even as the Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself up for her, in order that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her in the laver of the water with the word, that He might present her to Himself the glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any of such things; but that she may be holy and unblemished” (Eph. 5:25-27).

Q. How is the Church holy when there are sinners in her?

A. There are sinners, yet those who are purifying themselves in true repentance do not prevent the Church from being holy, but unrepentant sinners, either through a visible action of the Church authorities or by the invisible action of the judgment God, like dead members, are cut off from the body of the Church, and thus it is preserved holy in this respect.

“Remove the evil one from among yourselves” (1 Cor. 5:13).

Q. Why is the Church called Catholic, or what is the same, Universal?

A. Because she is not limited to any place, time, or nation, but she contains the true believers of all times and nations together.

The Apostle Paul says that in the Christian Church “there is no Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free, but Christ is all things and in all” (Col. 3:11).

Q. What is the important advantage of the Catholic Church?

A. To her properly belong the lofty promises that the gates of Hades will not prevail against her, that the Lord will abide with her until the end of the age, that the glory of God in Christ Jesus would abide in her unto all the generations of the age, and that, consequently, she can never apostatize from the Faith nor err in the truth of Faith or fall into error.

“Undoubtedly, we confess as a firm truth that the Catholic Church cannot sin or err and speak lies instead of the truth; for the Holy Spirit, always acting through the faithfully serving fathers and teachers of the Church, protects her from every delusion” (“Epistle of the Eastern Patriarchs about the Orthodox Faith [1723],” Article 12).

Q. If the Catholic Church consists of all the true believers in the world, should it not be recognized as necessary for salvation that every believer belong to her?

A. Quite so. Since Jesus Christ, according to the Apostle Paul, “is head of the Church, and is Himself Savior of the body” (Eph. 5:23), that in order to have a share in His salvation, you must be a member of His body, that is, the Orthodox Catholic Church.

The Apostle Peter writes that Baptism saves us according to the image of Noah’s ark. All who escaped the worldwide Flood were saved only in the ark of Noah; so all who receive eternal salvation receive it in union with the Catholic Church.

[Q. Is “Catholic Church” an appropriate name for the institution currently headed by the Pope of Rome?

[A. No. The papal religion is no longer part of the Catholic Church due to its many heresies and innovations.

[Q. What heresies and innovations?

[A. First of all the filioquethe both unlawful and erroneous change of the Nicene Creed to say that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son. Their other errors include papal infallibility, papal supremacy, an incorrect form of Baptism, unleavened wafers, corruption of the epiklesis and partial lay communion, Purgatory, the Immaculate Conception, compulsory clerical celibacy, shaved clergy, the Gregorian Calendar, misuse of Unction, original sin, Augustinian predestination, stigmata, statues in lieu of holy icons, seated temples, pope-sanctioned crusades, inquisitions, and genocide, etc.]

Q. What thoughts and memories should one associate with the name of “the Eastern Church”?

A. In the Paradise planted in the east, the very first Church was created of our sinless predecessors, and in the same place, after the Fall, a new foundation of the Church was laid for those who would be saved in the promise of the Savior. In the East, in the land of Judea, our Lord Jesus Christ, having completed the work of our salvation, laid the foundation of His own Christian Church. From there it spread throughout the entire inhabited world; and to this day [1924] the Orthodox, Catholic, universal Faith, approved by the seven ecumenical councils, is immutably preserved in its original purity in the ancient Eastern Churches and in those like-minded to the eastern ones, whatsoever they are, by the grace of God, and the All-Russian Church. [This was before the Great Apostasy.]

Q. Why is the Church called Apostolic?

A. Because it continuously and unchangingly preserves from the apostles the doctrine and succession of gifts of the Holy Spirit through the sacred laying on of hands, and therefore the Church is also called Orthodox [“proper glory”], or “right-believing.”

“So then ye are no longer strangers and sojourners, but fellow citizens of the saints and of the household of God, who were built up on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the cornerstone” (Eph. 2:19-20).

Q. What is the Creed teaching when it names the Church Apostolic?

A. It teaches us to hold fast to the apostolic doctrine and tradition and to stay away from such teaching and such teachers as are not founded upon the apostolic doctrine.

The Apostle Paul says: “So then, brethren, be standing firm and holding fast the traditions which ye were taught, whether by word or by our epistle” (2 Thess. 2:15).

“A heretical man, after a first and second admonition, be rejecting” (Titus 3:10).

“If [your brother] should take no heed of them, tell it to the Church. But if also he should take no heed of the Church, let him be to thee even as the heathen and the tax collector” (Mt. 18:17).

Q. What institution exists in the Church to safeguard the succession of the apostolic ministry?

A. The church hierarchy, or holy authority.

Q. Where does the hierarchy of the Orthodox Church come from?

A. From Jesus Christ Himself and from the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, and since then it uninterruptedly continues through the successive laying on of hands in the Mystery of the Priesthood.

“And He gave some to be apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some shepherds and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, to the work of ministering, to the building up of the body of the Christ” (Eph. 4:11-12).

Q. What holy authority can extend its influence on the entire Catholic Church?

A. An ecumenical council.

Q. To what holy authority are the main parts of the universal Church subject to?

A. The Orthodox Patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, All-Russia, and of Serbia.

Q. To which holy authority are the lesser Orthodox regions and cities subordinate to?

A. Metropolitans, archbishops, and bishops.

Q. How does the holy Church teach about this?

A. Canon 34 of the Holy Apostles says, “Let the bishops of every country know who is the first among them, and let them revere him as their head.”

About the Tenth Article

Q. Why is Baptism mentioned in the Symbol of Faith?

A. Because faith is sealed by Baptism and by the other mysteries.

Q. What is a mystery?

A. A mystery is a sacred action, through which grace secretly acts on a person, or, what is the same, the saving power of God.

Q. What mysteries (sacraments) are there in the Church?

A. The Confession of the Eastern Patriarchs answers this question as follows: “We will name them seven according to the number of gifts of the Holy Spirit.”

1. Baptism.

2. Chrismation.

3. Communion.

4. Repentance.

5. Priesthood.

6. Marriage.

7. Holy Unction.

However, some of the other most important liturgical rites were named by the ancient Church fathers and liturgical books as holy mysteries: the blessing of water on the day of Theophany, the kneeling prayers on the day of Pentecost, as well as the consecration of a temple and the tonsure of monks. But for the teaching of piety it is important for us to know the seven mysteries already named.

Q. What is the power in each of these mysteries?

A. 1. In Baptism, a person is mysteriously born into spiritual life.

2. In Chrismation, he receives grace that is spiritually regenerating and strengthening.

3. In Communion he feeds spiritually.

4. In Repentance he is healed of spiritual diseases, which are sins.

5. In the Priesthood, one receives the spiritual grace to regenerate and educate others through preaching and the mysteries.

6. In Marriage one receives grace that sanctifies wedlock and natural birthgiving and the upbringing of children.

7. In the Holy Unction, one is healed of bodily diseases through healing of the spiritual ones.

Q. Why are not all these mysteries mentioned [in the Creed], but just “one Baptism”?

A. Because there was a doubt concerning Baptism: should not certain people who temporarily fall away into heresy be baptized a second time, and for this a decision was necessary, which was laid down in the Creed.

About Baptism

Q. What is Baptism?

A. Baptism is a mystery in which the believer, when the body is fully immersed in water three times, with the invocation of God the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, dies to the life that is carnal and sinful and is regenerated by the Holy Spirit into spiritual, holy life.

“Unless one should be born of water and of the Spirit, he is not able to enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).

Q. When and how did Baptism originate?

A. First, “John...baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe in the One coming after him, that is, in the Christ, Jesus” (Acts 19:4). Then Jesus Christ by His own example sanctified Baptism, having received it from John. Finally, after His Resurrection, He gave the joyous command to the apostles: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt. 28:19).

Q. What is the most important thing in the Mystery of Baptism?

A. A full immersion in water three times in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Q. What is required of the one who wishes to accept Holy Baptism?

A. Repentance and faith. Wherefore before Baptism the Creed is read.

“Repent, and let each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

“The one who believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mk. 16:16).

Q. How then can babies be baptized?

A. According to the faith of their parents and godparents, who are then obliged to instruct them in the Faith when they come to age.

Q. Can it really be possible that anyone can be given a grace-filled gift not according to his faith, but according to the faith of others?

A. It is. The story of the Gospel concerning the paralytic convinces us of this, who was brought to the Lord on a bed by four friends. It says, “Jesus, having seen their faith, saith to the paralytic, ‘Child, thy sins have been forgiven thee’” (Mark 2:5).

Q. If Baptism is a mystery that cleanses one [from his sins], then why is it necessary for babies who have not yet sinned?

A. Infants, as already shown, are endowed with a fallen sinful nature, being born, according to the foreknowledge of God, as the descendants of fallen Adam.

[Through Baptism, one is united to Christ and the Church, an absolute necessity for everyone.]

Q. Why are there godparents at Baptism?

A. In order to vouch before the Church for the faith of the baptized, and upon Baptism, to accept him into their care, to establish him in the Faith (see Hieromartyr Dionysius the Areopagite, On the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, Ch. 2).

Q. Why is there an exorcism performed over the one being baptized?

A. To drive the devil away from him, who from the time of Adam’s sin gained access to men and some power over them, as if they were their prisoners and slaves.

The Apostle Paul says that all people outside of grace walk “according to the age of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit now energizing in the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2).

Q. How should one understand that in the Creed it is commanded to recognize Baptism as “one”?

A. It should be understood that Baptism is not repeated.

Q. Why is Baptism not repeated?

A. Holy Baptism is a spiritual birth, and a person is only born once, and therefore baptized once.

[Q. Do those who are baptized in heretical churches need to be baptized again when they join the Orthodox Church?

[A. Yes, they need Baptism. But it is incorrect to say that they are “re-baptized,” since the former ritual was meaningless and utterly bereft of grace. All the Church fathers unequivocally teach that there is no Baptism or any other mystery outside the Church. If the Church wishes to show extreme condescension by using leniency (economy) and receive someone into the Church through Chrismation, that is her privilege.]

Q. What should be thought of those who sin after Baptism?

A. They are more guilty of their sins than the unbaptized of theirs, because they had from God a special help for the good and rejected it.

“For if, after they escaped the pollutions of the world by a full knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they then are again entangled in these and defeated, the last state hath become worse to them than the first” (2 Pet. 2:20).

Q. But for those who have sinned after Baptism, is there not some means to receive the remission of sins?

A. Yes. Repentance.

About Chrismation

Q. What is Chrismation?

A. Chrismation is the mystery in which the believer, with the anointing of the members of his body with consecrated Chrism in the name of the Holy Spirit, receives the gifts of the Holy Spirit, regenerating and strengthening him in the spiritual life.

Q. Is this mystery spoken of in the Sacred Scriptures?

A. About the inner action of this mystery, the Apostle John says this: “Ye have an anointing from the Holy One, and ye know all things.... The anointing which ye received from Him abideth in you, and ye have no need that anyone be teaching you; but as the same anointing teacheth you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and even as it taught you, ye shall abide in Him” (1 John 2:20, 27).

Likewise, the Apostle Paul says, “Now the One Who establisheth us with you in Christ, and Who anointed us, is God, Who also sealed us and gave us the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts” (2 Cor. 1:21-22).

Hence the words spoken at Holy Chrismation: “The seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Q. Is the external action of Chrismation mentioned in Holy Scripture?

A. One is able to think that the words of the Apostle John refer also to a visible anointing, but it is better known that the apostles used the laying on of hands for communicating the gift of the Holy Spirit to the baptized (see Acts 8:14-17). The successors of the apostles, instead, began to use Chrismation, which could serve as an image [or antitype] of the anointing used in the time of the Old Testament (see Ex. 30:25; 1 Kings 1:39; St. Dionysius the Areopagite, On the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, Ch. 4).

Q. What should be noted about the Holy Chrism?

A. That it is reserved for the higher hierarchs to sanctify it, as successors of the apostles, who themselves used laying on of hands to give the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Q. What does the anointing of the brow signify?

A. Sanctification of the mind or thoughts.

Q. Anointing of the breast?

A. Sanctification of the heart or desires.

Q. The anointing of the eyes, ears, and lips?

A. Sanctification of the senses.

Q. Anointing of the hands and feet?

A. Consecration of the deeds and all the conduct of a Christian.

About Communion

Q. What is Communion?

A. Holy Communion is a mystery in which the believer, under the appearance of bread and wine, partakes of the very body and blood of Christ for eternal life.

Q. How was this mystery established?

A. Just before His Passion, Jesus Christ performed this for the first time, foreshadowing in it a living image of His salvific sufferings, and after communing the apostles, He gave them the commandment to perpetually perform this mystery.

Q. What should be noted about the Mystery of Communion in respect to Christian worship?

A. That this mystery constitutes the main and essential part of Christian worship.

Q. What is the name of the service in which the mystery of the Eucharist is performed?

A. The Liturgy.

Q. What does the word liturgy mean?

A. A communal service. But the name of the Liturgy is assigned especially to the divine service in which the Mystery of Communion is performed.

Q. What kind of bread is used for the mystery?

A. Such as what is required by the very name of bread, the holiness of the mystery, and the example of Jesus Christ and the apostles, that is, bread that is leavened, pure, and made of wheat.

Q. What is signified by the fact that the bread used specifically for Communion is only one loaf?

A. This signifies, according to the explanation of the apostle, that “we, who are many, are one bread, one body; for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Cor. 10:17).

Q. What is the important action in the Liturgy?

A. Speaking the words that Jesus Christ spoke at the establishment of the mystery: “Take, eat; this is My body.... Drink of it, all of you; for this is My blood, that of the new covenant” (Mt. 26:26-28); and then an invocation of the Holy Spirit and the blessing of the Gifts, that is, the bread and wine which are offered, with the words: “And make this bread the precious body of Thy Christ. And that which is in this cup the precious blood of Thy Christ. Changing them by Thy Holy Spirit.”

Q. Why is this important?

A. Because in this very action, the bread and wine are transformed, or transubstantiated, into the true body of Christ and into the true blood of Christ.

Q. How is the word transubstantiation to be understood?

A. In the statement of faith of the Eastern patriarchs it is said that the word “transubstantiation” does not explain the manner in which the bread and wine are transformed into the body and blood of the Lord, for it cannot be comprehended by anybody but God; but it only shows that truly, in actuality and essentially, the bread is the most true body of the Lord, and the wine is the blood of the Lord Himself.

Q. What is required of each person, especially those who want to participate in the Mystery of Holy Communion?

A. One must test his conscience before God and cleanse it by repentance of sins, which is assisted by fasting and prayer.

“Let a man examine himself, and thus let him eat of the bread and let him drink of the cup. For the one who eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord” (1 Cor. 11:28-29).

Q. What kind of benefit does one who partakes of the body and blood of Christ receive?

A. He is intimately united with Jesus Christ Himself and becomes a partaker of eternal life in Him.

“The one who eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood abideth in Me, and I in him” (John 6:56).

“The one who partaketh of My flesh and drinketh My blood hath eternal life” (John 6:54).

Q. How often should one partake of the Holy Mysteries?

A. The ancient Christians received Communion on every Sunday, but only a few of our contemporaries have such purity of life as to always be ready to approach such a great mystery. The Church instructs with a motherly voice those zealous for a pious life to confess before a spiritual father and partake of the body and blood of Christ four times a year or even every month, but to all, certainly, at least once a year (see Orthodox Confession, Part 1, Q. 90).

[Russia in the time of Metropolitan Anthony had reached a very low spiritual level for the vast majority. The writings of the holy fathers reflect a tradition of frequent Communion, and it would be better for the faithful to follow their words and receive the Eucharist whenever they attend Liturgy. Apostolic Canon 9 and Saint John Chrysostom forbid the laity to attend the Divine Liturgy without partaking of Communion, assuming they have no impediment. There is no amount of prayers someone can say or ascetic feats he can perform that will make him worthy to receive the Mysteries. None is worthy of God’s great mercy, and Christ gives us His body and blood as a free gift of grace.]

Q. What participation in the divine Liturgy can those have who only listen and do not approach the Holy Communion?

A. They can and should participate in the Liturgy with prayer, faith, and most of all with ceaseless remembrance of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who commanded exactly this to be done in remembrance of Him (see Luke 22:19).

Q. Will the performance of the Mystery of Holy Communion in the true Church of Christ always continue?

A. Certainly, it will continue forever, until the very coming of Christ, according to the word of the Apostle Paul: “For as often as ye may eat this bread and drink this cup, ye proclaim the Lord’s death until He should come” (1 Cor. 11:26).

About Repentance

Q. What is Repentance?

A. Repentance (Confession) is a mystery in which, by confessing his sins, with a visible gesture of forgiveness from the priest, one is invisibly loosed from his sins by Jesus Christ Himself.

Q. Where does this mystery come from?

A. First, many came to Saint John the Baptist, who proclaimed “a baptism of repentance toward remission of sins, and all were confessing their sins” (Mark 1:4-5). To the apostles Jesus Christ promised the power to forgive sins when He said, “Whatsoever ye shall bind on the earth shall have been bound in the heavens, and whatsoever ye shall loose on the earth shall have been loosed in the heavens” (Mt. 18:18). After His Resurrection, He gave them this power in actuality when He said, “Receive ye the Holy Spirit: if ye forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven to them; if ye retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20:22-23).

Q. What is required of one repenting?

A. Contrition for his sins, the intent to rectify his life, faith in Christ, and hope in His mercy.

“The sorrow in accordance with God worketh out repentance to salvation” (2 Cor. 7:10).

“To this One,” that is, Jesus Christ, “all the prophets bear witness that, through His name, everyone who believeth in Him is to receive forgiveness of sins” (Acts 10:43).

Q. Are there any other methods which prepare and assist one towards repentance?

A. Such means are fasting and prayer.

Q. Does the holy Church have another special remedy for cleansing and bringing peace to the conscience of a repentant sinner?

A. Such a remedy is an epitimia (penance).

Q. What is an epitimia?

A. The word means “punishment” (see 2 Cor. 2:6).

Under this name, according to necessity, certain additional, special pious exercises and privations are prescribed, serving to atone for the unrighteousness of the sin and to overcome sinful habits. One example is fasting more than what is required for all, and for grave sins, one is excommunicated from Holy Communion for a certain time.

Q. Have certain epitimias been imposed by the Church for various sins?

A. Yes, they were prescribed by the ecumenical councils, but in this present sinful time amid many temptations their penances are significantly reduced by spiritual confessors, which has been allowed by some councils under the condition of contrite, tearful repentance and deeds of mercy, fasting, and prayers.

About the Priesthood

Q. What is the Priesthood?

A. Priesthood (Ordination) is a mystery in which one who was chosen rightly by the Holy Spirit, through the laying on of hands by a hierarch, is appointed to perform the mysteries and to shepherd the flock of Christ.

“Let a man so reckon us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor. 4:1).

“Be taking heed therefore to yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit set you for Himself as bishops, to shepherd the Church of the Lord and God, which He preserved for Himself through His own blood” (Acts 20:28).

Q. What does it mean to shepherd the Church?

A. To instruct people in faith, piety, and good works.

Q. How many essential degrees of the Priesthood are there?

A. Three: bishop, priest, and deacon.

Q. What is the difference between them?

A. The deacon serves (assists) in the mysteries; the priest performs the mysteries, subject to the bishop; the bishop not only performs the mysteries but even has the authority to endow upon others the grace-filled gift of the ability to perform the mysteries.

The Apostle Paul writes to Titus about the episcopal authority: “For this cause I left thee behind in Crete, in order that thou shouldest set right the things wanting, and ordain presbyters in every city” (Tit. 1:5).

And to Timothy: “Do not be laying hands quickly on anyone” (1 Tim. 5:22).

Q. What spiritual gift does an ordained shepherd receive?

A. The gift of co-suffering love towards his spiritual children, if he accepts the mystery with a pure intention to serve for the salvation of men and the glory of God.

Q. How does the Church teach about this?

A. Saint John Chrysostom writes about this gift of the Mystery of the Priesthood as follows: “Spiritual love does not give birth to anything earthly; it comes from above out of heaven and is given in the Mystery of the Priesthood, but the assimilation and retention of this gift also depends on the striving of the human spirit” (Homilies on Colossians).

About Marriage

Q. What is Marriage?

A. Marriage is a mystery in which, with the free promise of the groom and the bride of mutual fidelity before the priest and the Church, their conjugal union is blessed in the image of the spiritual union of Christ with the Church, and the couple asks for the grace to become purely of one soul in blessed birthgiving and raising children in a Christian manner.

Q. How is it clear that Marriage is a mystery?

A. From the following words of the Apostle Paul: “Because of this shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and the two shall be into one flesh. This mystery is great; but I speak in regard to Christ and in regard to the Church” (Eph. 5:31-32).

Q. Should everyone get married?

A. No. Virginity is better than marriage, if one is able to keep it with purity.

This is what Jesus Christ said about this very state: “Not all find room for this saying, but those to whom it hath been given;...the one who is able to find room for it, let him make room” (Mt. 19:11-12).

And the apostle says, “But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they should abide even as I. But if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry.... The unmarried careth for the things of the Lord, how he shall please the Lord. But he who is married careth for the things of the world, how he shall please his wife.... He who giveth his virgin in marriage doeth well; but he who giveth her not in marriage doeth better” (1 Cor. 7:8-9, 32-33, 38).

About Holy Unction

Q. What is Holy Unction?

A. Holy Unction is a mystery in which, anointing the body with specially blessed oil, the grace of God is conferred upon the sick for healing the infirmities of soul and body.

Q. Where does this mystery come from?

A. From the apostles, who, having received authority from Jesus Christ, were “anointing with oil many sick, and curing them” (Mk. 6:13).

The apostles handed down this mystery to the clergy of the Church, as can be seen from the following words of the Apostle Iakovos: “Is anyone among you infirm? Let him call for the presbyters of the Church; and let them pray over him, having anointed him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith shall save the one who is sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he be one who hath committed sins, it shall be forgiven him” (Jas. 5:14-15).

On the Eleventh Article

Q. What is the resurrection of the dead, which, according to the Creed, we are looking for, or are expecting?

A. An action of the omnipotence of God, according to which the bodies of all those who have ever died, being joined again with their souls, will revive and will be spiritual and immortal.

“It is sown an animal body, it is raised a spiritual body” (1 Cor. 15:44). “For it is needful for this corruptible to put on itself incorruption and this mortal to put on itself immortality” (1 Cor. 15:53).

Q. How will a body that has rotted in the ground and scattered into dust be resurrected?

A. Since God created the body from the earth in the beginning, He can also renew what has been scattered into the earth. The Apostle Paul explains this by the likeness of a seed sown, which decays in the ground, but from which an herb or a tree grows: “That which thou sowest is not made alive unless it should die” (1 Cor. 15:36).

Q. Is it certain that everyone will be resurrected?

A. It is certain that all the dead will be resurrected; and for those who remain alive until the time of the general resurrection, their current gross bodies will instantly change into spiritual and immortal ones.

“On the one hand we shall not all fall asleep, but on the other hand we shall all be changed—in a moment, in a wink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For a trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Cor. 15:51-52).

Q. When will the dead be resurrected?

A. At the end of this visible world.

Q. Is that why the world will end?

A. This perishable world will end by being transformed into an imperishable one. “The creation itself also shall be freed from the bondage of corruption into the glorious freedom of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21). “We look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Pet. 3:13).

Q. In what condition are the souls of the dead before the general resurrection?

A. The souls of the righteous are in [a foretaste of] light, peace, and the destiny of eternal bliss; but the souls of sinners are in the opposite state.

Q. Why is not complete bliss immediately ascribed to the souls of the righteous?

A. Because the full reward for the works a man has done is predetermined to be received in full only after the resurrection of the body at the Last Judgment of God.

“We must all be made manifest before the judgment seat of the Christ, in order that each one might receive for oneself the things done through the agency of the body, according to what one did, whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10).

Q. Why is the foretaste of blessedness attributed to them before the Last Judgment?

A. This is according to the testimony of Jesus Christ Himself, Who says in the parable that the righteous Lazarus was immediately after death carried into the bosom of Abraham (see Luke 16:22).

Q. What should be noted about the souls of those who died in the Faith but did not have time to bear fruit worthy of repentance?

A. That the prayers offered for them, especially those combined with the offering of the bloodless Sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ, and good works performed by faith in their memory can help them to achieve a blessed resurrection.

Q. What is this teaching based on?

A. On the invariable Tradition of the Catholic Church, the beginnings of which are even visible in the Old Testament Church. Judas Maccabeus offered sacrifice for dead soldiers (2 Macc. 12:43). Prayer for the dead is always an indispensable part of the Divine Liturgy, beginning with the Liturgy of the Apostle Iakovos. Saint Kyril of Jerusalem says, “Great benefit will occur for the souls for whom prayer is offered up while the Holy Things are presented in the Dread Sacrifice” (Catecheses on the Mysteries, 5, Ch. 9).

Saint Basil in his prayers at Pentecost says that the Lord grants us the privilege of accepting prayer, propitiation, and sacrifices from us “for those who are held in Hades, with the hope for them of peace, relaxation [from torments] and freedom.”

About the Twelfth Article

Q. What is “the life of the age to come”?

A. Life after the resurrection of the dead and the universal Judgment of Christ.

Q. What will that life be like?

A. For believers who love God and do good, that life will be so blessed that we cannot now even imagine this blessedness.

“It was not yet made manifest what we shall be” (1 John 3:2).

“And I know such a man...[who] was caught up into Paradise and heard unspeakable words, which it is not allowed for a man to speak” (2 Cor. 12:2, 4).

Q. Where will such bliss come from?

A. From the contemplation of God in light and glory, and from union with Him. “For now we see by means of a mirror, darkly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall fully know even as I also was fully known” (1 Cor. 13:12).

Q. Will the body also participate in the bliss of the soul?

A. It will also be glorified by the light of God, like the body of Jesus Christ during His Transfiguration on Tabor.

“It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory” (1 Cor. 15:43).

“And even as we bore the image of the earthy (that is, Adam), let us also bear the image of the heavenly (that is, our Lord Jesus Christ)” (1 Cor. 15:49).

Q. Will everyone be equally blessed?

A. No. There will be different degrees of bliss according to our labors here in faith, love, and good deeds. “There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differeth from star in glory” (1 Cor. 15:41-42).

[The equalitarian principle and all the causes it has spawned (communism, feminism, democracy, etc.) are foreign to the Church and contrary to the hierarchical order established by the Creator.]

Q. And what will happen to the unbelievers and the wicked?

A. They will be put to eternal death, or in other words, eternal fire, eternal torment, together with the devil.

“Go from Me, ye who have been cursed, into the fire, the everlasting one, which hath been prepared for the devil and his angels.... And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.” (Mt. 25:41, 46).

Q. Why is it so severe for sinners?

A. Not because God wanted them to perish, but they themselves perish “because they received not the love of the truth, in order for them to be saved” (2 Thess. 2:10), that is, because of their impenitence.

Q. Is it possible to allow oneself to think that such hardened souls would be found who will not repent at the sight of the Judgment of the Lord?

A. Unfortunately, it is possible, because there were people who rejected and crucified Christ, although they saw His miracles and virtues: “Now they have both seen and hated both Me and My Father” (John 15:24).

[“But His citizens kept on hating Him, and sent forth an embassy after Him, saying, ‘We are unwilling for this Man to reign over us’” (Lk. 19:14).]

Q. What will be the torment of unrepentant sinners?

A. Mainly a torment of [their own] powerless rage, according to the word of Christ: “There shall be there the weeping and the gnashing of the teeth” (Mt. 13:42), and the gnashing of teeth in Scripture denotes powerless malice (see Ps. 34:16; 36:12; Acts 7:54).

Q. The eleventh and twelfth articles of the Creed are similar in content to the seventh; why are those thoughts previously expressed in the Creed repeated here?

A. There they are presented as an object of faith, but here as an object of the Christian’s joyful hope, with the word “look for,” that is, expect with great desire. This is how the book of the New Testament ends, with the words of the seer of mysteries, the Apostle John: “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20).

Q. Why then do most people try not to think about death, and the judgment seat of Christ is called the Dread Judgment?

A. Some due to their attachment to the earth and indifference to faith, and others, who are more God-fearing, because of the consciousness of their sinfulness.

Q. In what sense do such people confess: “I look for the resurrection of the dead, etc.”?

A. In the sense that if a person were fully worthy of the title of Christian, then he would joyfully await the Second Coming of Christ, like the holy apostles and holy martyrs, who consoled themselves with these thoughts not only in the New Testament, but also in the Old, as the brother-martyrs of the Maccabees.

Q. What benefit can a person derive from meditations on death, on the resurrection, on the final Judgment, on eternal bliss and eternal torment?

A. These reflections help us to abstain from sins and to renounce attachment to earthly things; they comfort us in the deprivation of earthly goods, encourage us to keep the soul and body pure, to live for God and for eternal things, and thus to achieve eternal salvation.

“Be mindful of thine end, and thou wilt not sin unto the age” (Sir. 7:39).

by Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) of Kiev and Galicia
Translated and expanded by Dormition Skete, 2021
First published in 1924 in Sremski Karlovtsi, Serbia
Collected Works. Volume I: DAR; Moscow, 2007.

Continue: Second Part of the Catechism: About Piety, or a Godly Life

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