Church Gimnaziya. 8-th grade (File 2)

ORTHODOX-CHRISTIAN MORALITY
In Questions And Answers

 

21 - CHRISTIAN LOVE

1. What is Christian love?
     Real Christian love is the most noble, strong and bright form of all human feelings. It manifests itself as a special spiritual and moral closeness, a strong inner pull of one person towards the other. The heart of a loving person is open to the person whom he loves. It is ready to receive it, and bring it closer to itself. The loving heart, accepts the other person and also gives itself in return.

2. Christian love brings a man closer to God. What does this mean?
     Since God is the source of love and everything good, then He is in effect the Love. When a person loves in a Christian way, his love begins to resemble God's love. This means that some of his qualities are close to God's qualities or in other words he approaches God.

3. What is selfish love?
     Selfish love looks for a benefit for itself. This kind of love is not Christian, but pagan. In selfish love, the most important is "you" and satisfying your own self. In Christian love, the most important is the object of your love.

4. What is the highest and most noble of man's feelings?
     The highest and most noble of man's feelings is motherly love. A loving mother completely gives herself to her child and does not expect anything from him in return. This kind of love is full of self-sacrifice and excludes personal benefit.

5. About love for everybody, including for those who do not love us, the Gospel says the following:

               "FOR IF YE LOVE THEM WHICH LOVE YOU,
                WHAT THANK HAVE YE?
                FOR SINNERS ALSO LOVE THOSE THAT LOVE THEM.
                AND IF YE DO GOOD TO THEM
                WHICH DO GOOD TO YOU,
                WHAT THANK HAVE YE?
                FOR SINNERS ALSO DO EVEN THE SAME."
                (Luke 6:32-33 KJV).
     What does this mean? It says here that everybody loves those who are good to them. Christian love, since it is the most virtuous love, embraces not only those who love us, but also those who do not love us; those who are our enemies.

6. A Christian has to pray for his enemies. What would be an example of such a prayer?
     An example of such a Christian, noble and moving love, is the "Prayer for Salvation of Russia", which is read during the Divine Liturgy. In this prayer are the following words:

               "Remember all our enemies,
                those who hate us and those who offended us."

7. Where can we find out about Christian love?
     Actually, all of God's Law, is the teaching about Christian love. From this follows, that the teaching about Christian love can be found in the 10 Commandments, the Beatitudes, the Holy Scripture and in our prayers.

8. What is the "Hymn of Christian Love"?
     The "Hymn of Christian Love" is the place in the Holy Scriptures (1st Epistle of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians) where the nature of Christian love is being revealed:
     (Translator's Note: The Revised Standard Version (RVS) below, is clearer than the King James Version (KJV) given after RVS).

     13:4     "LOVE IS PATIENT AND KIND;
               LOVE IS NOT JEALOUS OR BOASTFUL;

     13:5      IT IS NOT ARROGANT OR RUDE.
               LOVE DOES NOT INSIST ON ITS OWN WAY;
               IT IS NOT IRRITABLE OR RESENTFUL;

     13:6      IT DOES NOT REJOICE AT WRONG,
               BUT REJOICES IN THE RIGHT.

     13:7      LOVE BEARS ALL THINGS, BELIEVES ALL THINGS,
               HOPES ALL THINGS, ENDURES ALL THINGS.

     13:8      LOVE NEVER ENDS;
               AS FOR PROPHECIES, THEY WILL PASS AWAY;
               AS FOR TONGUES, THEY WILL CEASE;
               AS FOR KNOWLEDGE, IT WILL PASS AWAY."
               (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 RSV).
     In this case, the KJV is not as clear as RSV. The KJV is given below:
     13:4     "Charity suffereth long, and is kind;
               charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself,
               is not puffed up;

     13:5      Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own,
               is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

     13:6      Rejoiceth not in iniquity,
               but rejoices in the truth;

     13:7      Beareth all things, believeth all things,
               hopeth all things, endureth all things.

     13:8      Charity never faileth:
               but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail;
               whether there be tongues, they shall cease;
               whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away."
               (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 New KJV).

 

22 - ORTHODOX FAMILY

1. The basic task of Christianity is to teach people to live according to God's Will, in order to bring them to the eternal bliss. What does this mean?
     Our Lord God created our world and the whole universe. Everything is beautiful, everywhere there is an order, everything moves, everything turns, everywhere there are laws. The same thing is true in a human's life; there should be an order and then his life will be beautiful. This order is the Will of Lord God, these are His Commandments. When we live according to God's Law, then not only our life on earth becomes beautiful, but also our life after death, and after the end of the world then we will receive the eternal blessedness.

2. Christianity is a way of life. Christianity is a new stamp on all relations between men. What does this mean?
     This means that the real Christian does not only believe and pray, but he also has to live like a Christian. Whatever he is doing, saying and even thinking has to be coordinated with the Christian teaching. In other words, Christianity stamps all our behavior and especially our relationship with other people.

3. How did Christianity effect the whole world?
     With the coming of Christianity, there appeared a way for measuring good and evil. What was not well known before (what is good, and what is evil), now became known and clear. Good and evil was defined by the Christian teaching. In this way, the appearance of Christianity in the world, totally changed it. The relationships among people became more humane. The status of the woman changed. The slavery became negative.

4. What is a Christian marriage?
     In a Christian marriage every member of the family has his own place. As a father and husband, the man first takes care of his family, his children, and wife and only then, takes care of himself. The same goes for the mother, as she first takes care of her children and husband and only then she takes care of herself. The head of the family is the father, and the wife is his helper. But the father, under no condition can be a dictator or impose his will onto others, but just the opposite. He has to lead his family according to God's Law and sacrifice himself in everything for his family.

5. What can be said about the upbringing of children?
     The upbringing of children is one of the biggest and most complicated tasks of todays parents. Here, the parents not only have to love each other and in everything give a good example to the children, but they also have to agree with each other. The father and mother have to teach the same thing, and under no circumstance contradict each other. Only this way will the children develop the correct attitude and outlook on life. To achieve this, naturally, the husband and wife should have as much in common as possible. First of all, they have to have the same faith, but the faith has to be a living guide for everyday life, and not some ritual or something abstract.

6. What is the first thing that we have to give to our children?
     In the first place we have to give to our children the holy Orthodox-Christian faith. Our faith teaches us and guides us how to live righteously, and gives us an answer for every problem in our life. A properly raised child receives in his faith, not only the faith, but also the outlook on life, and the guidance for every step in his life.

7. How does the present society effect the upbringing of our children?
     The present society effects the upbringing of children in a very negative way. This is why raising children, these days, is such a large problem. It is nearly impossible to handle all these problems without the help of a healthy and loving family, as well as the help of the Church, priest, parish school, children's organization and summer camps.

8. What is the children's duty towards their parents?
     The children's duty towards their parents should be love and obedience. This duty to parents applies not only to the parents, but also to teachers, spiritual teachers and all those who are helping raise the children.
     When parents get old, it is the duty of the children to take care of their elderly parents.

 

23 - FAMILY AND SOCIETY

1. What can be said about the relationship between the family and country?
     The family is the smallest cell of a country. In order to have a healthy and strong country, its base - the family, also has to be healthy. When a family is disintegrating, then even the strongest country is also disintegrating. In our time, we can see the disintegration of the family. First there is the lack of belief in God, then the race everywhere after material things, disrespect of children for parents, quarrels and divorces between parents, laziness and irresponsibility of children, sexual promiscuity, alcoholism and drug addiction. All of these things are being encouraged by the mass media and leads towards greater and greater family disintegration.

2. What is Family Selfishness?
     Family Selfishness is when the family closes up on itself and does not recognize anybody else. On one side, there is love towards one's family and relatives, and on the other, hostility and lack of love to everybody else. True Christian love includes, not only family members, but also everybody else.

3. Should a Christian live alone or with other people?
     In our times it is necessary to clearly understand the Christian commandment of love towards everybody.
     The Lord God created us to live in society among other people and not alone. If a person lives outside of society, then he begins to loose contact with the living people and this leads to very negative results.
     On the other hand, it is necessary to understand that in our multi-faced society, it is simply dangerous to have close contact with everybody. A man has to live among people and associate with them. Among them, in the first place is the family, then the church parish which unites people of the same religion and of the same outlook on life, then the school where we study or the company where we work and then the whole country.

4. What should the attitude be of the Christian towards Non- Christians?
     The Lord God created every man according to His image. This means that in every person there is an image of his Creator and that every person is capable of being better and is attracted to God. This is why every person is our brother, and why we are told to love him, respect him and under no circumstance laugh at him or make fun of him. Every person and his faith should be treated with love and respect. All of this applies to Non-Orthodox Christians and to Non- Christians alike. Non-Orthodox Christians strayed away from the apostolic Orthodox faith many years ago.

5. What is cosmopolitism and what should our attitude be towards it?
     Cosmopolitism announces the brotherhood among all people, where all nations loose their individual characteristics. This is the corruption of the Christian outlook on life. The smallest cell in the country is the family, then the members of our faith and only then all other nations. This is the natural building structure of the nations by the Lord God. Every person has a history, culture, his own language and heritage. All this feeds us, gives us strength, and a direction in which we should move. This is why cosmopolitism does not correspond with but rather is the opposite of the Christian outlook on life.

6. What is patriotism, and is it a positive or a negative phenomenon?
     Patriotism is the love for one's country, the country of one's forefathers. This is obviously a positive and a necessary feeling. It forces us to be interested in the history and culture of our ancestry and from this to get strength and wisdom for life.
     Patriotism can also be negative. When a person starts to praise everything that is his own and criticize everything that is foreign. The true Christian's patriotism combines love for his country, with being aware of the shortcomings. He feels bad about them, and tries to do something about them.
     Unfortunately, one has to say that there is a reverse kind of sick patriotism or maybe anti-patriotism, the national inferiority complex, full of masochism. This is when people, on one hand, love their country and people, and on the other hand constantly criticize, laugh at and make fun of it.

 

24 - CHRISTIAN DUTY TO SERVE

1. What kind of attitude should a Christian have with respect to his country?
     The natural love that a Christian feels towards his family, propagates for the whole country. One has to take care not only of oneself and his family, but also to take part in the life of the whole country. The minimum that we can do is to work honestly and faithfully and do your citizen's duty.

2. What is the Christian view about war?
     Obviously, war is evil and deeply against all Christian principles, but unfortunately, this often unavoidable. One of the largest self-sacrificing heroic deeds, of serving ones country, is to give your life for your country; mostly during war. The Christian soldier, the defender of his country clearly fulfills Christ's commandment: "there is no bigger love, than to give your life for your friends".

 

25 - CHRISTIANITY AND COMMUNISM

1. What is the difference between Christianity and communism?
     Communism is atheistic and very hostile to all religions. All religions recognize above us God and this contradicts with the purpose of communism. For this reason they teach that there is no God and that the source of all truth is the party.
     Christianity preaches love towards everybody, including enemies. Communism preaches class hatred and struggle.
     Christianity preaches love for God and communists insist on recognizing that the party is the source of all wisdom.
     Christian morality is the highest form of morality, because this is the morality of God's love. Communist morality is the morality of the advantage. What is advantageous for the party, is moral.
     From this short comparison, one can see that communism is the a complete opposite of Christianity.

 

26 - LOVE FOR GOD AND NEIGHBORS

1. What is the most important duty of a Christian with respect to the Lord God?
     The most important duty of a Christian with respect to the Lord God is love for Him.

2. What is said in the Holy Scriptures about love for the Lord God?
     In the Old Testament, about love for the Lord, is said the following:

              "AND THOU SHALT LOVE THE LORD
               THY GOD WITH ALL THINE HEART,
               AND WITH ALL THY SOUL, AND WITH ALL THY MIGHT".
               (Deuteronomy 6:5 KJV).
     In the New Testament, about love for the Lord, is said the following:
              "THIS IS THE FIRST AND GREAT COMMANDMENT."
               (Matthew 22:38 KJV).

3. What does it mean to love God?
     As the child, feels love, care and wisdom of his father, in the same way we feel love, care and wisdom of our Father, the Lord God.
     As the child loves his father, obeys him and trusts him in everything, in the same way we must love our Father, the Lord God, obey Him and trust Him in everything; in other words we have to follow His Holy Will.

4. Which is the second commandment that Jesus Christ added to the first one?
     The second commandment is about love for your neighbor.

5. On which commandments is all Christianity based?
     All Christianity is based on two commandments: love for our Father, the Lord God, and love for our neighbor.

6. Can one like God and not like his neighbors?
     No, this is impossible. Real love for the Lord God leads also to the love of your neighbor.
     Abba Dorotheos explained the connection between love for God and love for your neighbor in this way. In the center of the circle is God, and people are on the periphery. People who love God approach Him (along the radius) and at the same time approach each other.

 

27 - OBLIGATION TO KNOW GOD

1. What is our first and most essential duty to the Lord God, and what follows from it?
     The first and most essential duty to the Lord God is to love Him. But, since man cannot love what he does not know, this duty leads to the obligation to learn about God.
     The obligation to learn about God requires us to study the Christian teachings about life, prayers, and faith. It is necessary to observe everything in the church and try to understand the symbolic meaning of the service. It is necessary to read spiritual literature. It is necessary to think through the church service and prayers, and to apply the commandments of God's Law in one's personal life. It is necessary to observe everything that is happening around us and to think through from the point of view of God's Law.

3. Why is learning about God the most basic need in the life of a Christian?
     Learning about God is the most basic need in the life of a Christian, because it is giving us answers to the most important questions in life. Learning about God teaches us what is good and what is evil, and how to act under different situations, it teaches us what is important in life and what is less important, how we should live, and what we should live for.

4. What will happen if we do not learn about God?
     If we do not learn about God, then we will slowly start living like everybody else around us. If they live in sin, then we will also live in sin, and we will not even realize it.

5. Why does learning about God now has a very special importance?
     Because now, in the whole society there is more and more movement away from the Christian's norm of behavior. The Christian who does not know his teaching, can very easily stray onto a sinful path.

 

28 - NECESSITY OF PRAYER

1. In which way is prayer the expression of love for God?
     Christian love leads to the love for God, and love for God leads to the wish to have personal contact with Him, through prayer. In this way, prayer is the expression of love for God.

2. Is prayer obligatory for the Orthodox-Christian?
     Prayer is obligatory, and is the first and the most basic element in the spiritual life of an Orthodox-Christian. The spiritual life of a person depends on prayer, and the person who does not pray is, in the spiritual sense, a dead person. We can see that without prayer, the Orthodox-Christian is not a Christian. Prayer is the conversation with God.

3. How many types of prayer are there?
     There are three types of prayer: petitioning, glorifying, and thanksgiving. In petitioning, we are asking the Lord God, in glorifying, we are glorifying Him and in thanksgiving we are thanking Him for the gifts.

4. Does God hear every prayer?
     The Lord God hears all our sincere prayers. He knows what we need and He grants our prayers, but in such a way that we benefit from them.
     The Lord God knows things that we are not aware of. This is why He allows some difficulties, because they are necessary for our growth. Even a man often realizes this all by himself.

 

29 - MODEL OF A CHRISTIAN PRAYER

1. Which prayer is the model of Christian prayer?
     The model of Christian prayer is the Lord's Prayer (Our Father) which was given to us by the Lord God Jesus Christ Himself (Matthew 6:9-13)(Luke 11:2-4).

     6:9       OUR FATHER WHICH ART IN HEAVEN,
               HALLOWED BE THY NAME,
     6:10      THY KINGDOM COME.
               THY WILL BE DONE
               IN EARTH, AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.

     6:11      GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD.
     6:12      AND FORGIVE US OUR DEBTS,
               AS WE FORGIVE OUR DEBTORS.
     6:13      AND LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION,
               BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL ONE:

               FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM,
               AND THE POWER, AND THE GLORY,
               FOR EVER, AMEN.
               (Matthew 6:9-13 KJV Modified). *
     * (Translator's Note: In KJV Bible instead "evil one" is used "evil". This has a different meaning. This is why the KJV version above was modified, to agree with the Russian Orthodox Bible).

2. In how many parts can the Lord's Prayer be subdivided?
     The Lord`s Prayer can be subdivided into three parts: invocation, petition and glorification.

     Invocation:    OUR FATHER WHICH ART IN HEAVEN,

     1st Petition:  HALLOWED BE THY NAME,
     2nd Petition:  THY KINGDOM COME.
     3rd Petition:  THY WILL BE DONE
                    IN EARTH, AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.
     4th Petition:  GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD.
     5th Petition:  AND FORGIVE US OUR DEBTS,
                    AS WE FORGIVE OUR DEBTORS.
     6th Petition:  AND LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION,
     7th Petition:  BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL ONE:

     Glorification: FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM,
                    AND THE POWER, AND THE GLORY,
                    FOR EVER, AMEN.

3. What does the invocation in the Lord's Prayer mean?
     The first part of the Lord's Prayer is the invocation:

               OUR FATHER WHICH ART IN HEAVEN.
     In every letter first there is an appeal, an address to the person to whom we are writing. In the same way, in the beginning of the Lord's Prayer, there is an appeal to the Lord God, an invocation of Him.

4. What do the first three petitions in the Lord's Prayer mean?
     The first three petitions in the Lord's Prayer are as follows:

               HALLOWED BE THY NAME,
               THY KINGDOM COME.
               THY WILL BE DONE
               IN EARTH, AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.
     We are asking the Lord God to have His name glorified, to have His Kingdom of truth, justice and goodness arrive and to have His Law - God's Law everywhere.

5. What does the fourth petition in the Lord's Prayer mean?
     The fourth petition in the Lord's Prayer is as follows:

               GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD.
     Here we are asking the Lord God to satisfy all our physical and spiritual needs.

6. What does the fifth petition in the Lord's Prayer mean?
     The fifth petition in the Lord's Prayer is as follows:

               AND FORGIVE US OUR DEBTS,
               AS WE FORGIVE OUR DEBTORS.
     Here we are asking the Lord God to forgive our sins and we are promising that we will forgive those who offend us. This is one of the most basic Christian commandments.

7. What does the sixth and seventh petition in the Lord's Prayer mean?
     The sixth and seventh petition in the Lord's Prayer is as follows:

               AND LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION,
               BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL ONE:
     Here we are asking the Lord God to free us from all causes of sin and from all temptations; which sometimes gradually lead us to sin. Also to free us from the sources of the evil itself, from the devil.

8. What does the glorification in the Lord's Prayer mean?
     The glorification in the Lord's Prayer is as follows:

               FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM,
               AND THE POWER, AND THE GLORY,
               FOR EVER, AMEN.
     This glorification is added to the Lord's Prayer, because it shows our confidence in the Lord God, in His love for us and that He will hear our prayer.

 

30 - PRAYERS, HOLIDAYS AND FASTS

1. How many types of prayer are there and what is the most essential?
     There are two type of prayer: home or personal and church or public prayer. The most basic prayer is home or private prayer. The examples of public prayer are: All Night Vigil and Divine Liturgy.

2. How are we supposed to pray at home (personal prayer)?
     At home it is necessary to read the prayers from the Prayer Book and add your own petitions. Also, it is necessary to confess your sins daily before God.

3. What did St.John Crysostom (Goldenmouth) say about public prayer?
     St.John Crysostom thought that the church prayer would be heard faster, because everybody is praying together; there is a unity in thought, a unity of love and the prayers of the whole congregation and clergy.

4. How should one spend Christian holidays?
     A holiday is God's day. It has to be dedicated not only to the relaxation from work, but first of all, to prayers and good deeds; the works of Christian mercy. It is necessary to attend church services, but if for some reason we are at home, then it is necessary to spend that time at home in prayer, or by reading spiritual literature, or simply in peace and tranquillity.

5. Can one have dances on the eve of a holiday?
     No, it should not be done. On the eve of holidays, there is an All Night Vigil (evening service) in the church. To have a dance during the church service is inappropriate.

6. What did St.Seraphim of Sarov say about fasting?
     St.Seraphim of Sarov said the following about the fasting: "He who does not observe the fasts is not a Christian, no matter what he considers himself."

7. Where does lie the great value of fasting?
     The great value of fasting lies in the struggle ("podvig") for restraint and self-limitation. Fasting strengthens a man's will and builds personality firm in its religious beliefs and actions.

8. What is spiritual fasting?
     Spiritual fasting is self-restraint and withdrawing from everything sinful, or from everything that can lead to sin.

 


Textbook for "Church Gimnaziya, 8th Grade (File 2) -
Orthodox-Christian Morality in Questions and Answers"
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