1. How can one characterize the present religious and moral
situation in the western world?
The present religious and moral situation in the western world, can be characterized as a gradual departure from the Christian values. There are many forces which are actively fighting against Christian values in the society. Prayers were removed from the schools, abortion became legalized. In schools the children are taught in schools an Anti-Christian outlook on life, children do not respect their parents, the closing of the church schools etc. etc. This moral degradation can be followed by watching old pictures on the television.
2. How can one characterize the present religious and moral
situation of the churches in the western world?
The departure from Christian values, which is now taking place in the western society, is also taking place in the western churches. The decline of church discipline, the struggle for liberalization, the struggle to support perverts, the struggle to allow women to perform duties of the clergy; everywhere there is a fight for abandoning Christian values from the churches.
3. How can one characterize the present religious and moral
situation in the communist world?
Communism preaches militant atheism. Militant means that believers are being arrested, jailed and persecuted in all kinds of ways. Even if the churches are open, they are not totally free; in practice their operation is semi legal.
4. How can one characterize the present religious and moral
situation of the churches in the communist world?
There is not only a great interest towards religion, but also a real spiritual famine. Every kind of spiritual book is being circulated and read by many people. The churches are full of informers, but here and there, there are real dedicated priests.
5. What is the situation in the Russian Orthodox Church?
In the Russian Orthodox Church there are several branches which, due to historical circumstances, do not have contact with each other and even do not recognize each other.
In Soviet Russia there is the Russian Orthodox Church with Patriarch Pimen as the head. She is under the control of the state, and is infiltrated by informers. Even among bishops there are the informers. Here and there, there are true and dedicated priests, but their existence is difficult. There are hopes, that there will be a gradual, restoration of church health.
In Soviet Russia there is also a secret Catacomb Russian Orthodox Church. She does not have any contact with the official Russian Orthodox Church.
Outside of Russia, in all countries of the free world, there is the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia; the free part of the Russian Orthodox Church. The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia does not have any contact with the Russian Orthodox Church in the Soviet Union. She thinks about herself as the keeper of the true Russian Orthodoxy for future free Russia. According to God's Providence she is now in nearly all countries of the world. With time many of her parishes are switching to the local languages and in this way, despite all of her expectations, she is becoming a missionary church and preaches true Orthodoxy in the whole world.
In the USA there are several Orthodox Churches: Greek, Syrian (Antiochian), Serbian and the Orthodox Church in America (formerly known as the American Jurisdiction). Thw Orthodox Church in America at one time was part of the Russian Orthodox Church and later part of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. She made the missionary work among Americans her goal and this is why it changed to the English language and adopted a new calendar. It has good relationship with the official Russian Orthodox Church in the Soviet Union.
In Western Europe there is also a so called Western European Jurisdiction which is know under the Patriarch of Constantinopol. This church was also part of the Russian Orthodox Church and later part of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
6. What can be said about modern music?
Music like everything else has to serve goodness. One has to Know that music is capable of transferring onto the listener emotions. When tired boy scouts or soldiers are approaching their camp, one can hear the command "song". The group starts singing a song, and everybody straightens out and walks faster and more brisk. Good music makes us cheerful, calms us, and transfers onto us holy feelings. Bad music, irritates us, maximizes normal sex drive, and gives to the listener wrong ideas. For instance, after certain so called concerts, the youth starts a riot and destroys anything in its way. Also music can push drugs, anger etc. All this says that the Orthodox Christian should avoid music which serves evil.
7. What can be said about television, radio and movies?
All these creations of art can serve good or evil. Naturally when they serve good then they effect us positively. When they serve evil then they leave bad effect on us. It is said that all this is just entertainment and does not effect us, but this is not true. If television, radio and movies would not effect us, then various companies would not spend very large sums of money for commercials. Bad friends effect us in a bad way, as do bad books, films etc. All these naturally should be avoided.
8. What can be said about pornography?
Pornography obviously is the curse of our century and is totally incompatible with the Orthodox-Christian faith. Pornography corrupts, perverts, and spoils the relationship between man and woman. It teaches us to look at the woman as the object of pleasure, and not as a friend. Pornography defends itself with the existing freedoms, but carries enslavement to the unfortunate victims who get trapped by it. Their whole outlook on life is gradually degraded and finally they loose the ability to have normal relationships with people.
9. What can be said about drugs?
Drugs poison the body, undermine the will power, darken the reality, become a habit and can easily become the passion. An Orthodox-Christian has no business with drugs.
10. Is it important to know all the details about evil events?
Companies which push books, newspapers, magazines, and films etc. which constantly talk about evil, say that all this is the truth, and that every person has to know what is happening in the world. There is some truth in this argument, but not completely. Yes, since we live in this world, we cannot close our eyes and not see evil. If we will do this, we will become naive and unable to live, work, study and raise our children in this world. We have to know the truth about evil, but we do not have to think about it all the time. We have to remember that whatever we do, has some influence on us effects us in a good or bad way. If we will constantly read and listen about evil, than obviously this will have a bad effect on us. We will become pessimistic, cynical and enraged and we will also be easily effected by evil.
11. What does duality in the personality of some believers mean?
Living in a multi-cultured society, sometimes the Orthodox- Christian believer develops two personalities. One at work, for the Non-Orthodox and second for his home and church. In order to be accepted into his group of colleagues, he behaves like the rest of them, but in his family, and among Orthodox, in his own church and parish he behaves in a different way. In this way there is a double standard, two different outlooks on life. Naturally, it is necessary to have courage and to also coordinate one's behavior at work and among Orthodox, with God's Law. May be when we do that, we will be laughed at, but then we have to take this as our Cross to bear.
12. How to choose a spouse, a friend for life?
The choice of a spouse, a friend for our whole life, is one of the most important steps that we will ever make. The most basic requirement, is that there should be as much in common as possible. The more things in common, the easier it will be in the future. A man's life is complicated and long, and goes through many different stages. In each stage there are new requirements, and for each stage there is a need to adjust. Everywhere there is a need for patience, self- control, support of a loving friend and the support and guidance of a common faith. In each stage, the events of our lives flow more or less evenly, until a critical event takes place. This event marks the beginning of the next stage.
In the life of a man, there are approximately nine stages: (1) childhood, (2) university years, (3) work and being single, (4) work and being married, but without children, (5) work and being married with children, (6) work and being married and children have left, (7) pension and being able to work, (8) pension and the lowered ability to work and at the end (9) possible sicknesses and old age.
Analyzing each stage, its characteristics and difficulties that have to be overcome, it becomes clear how seriously we have to approach the choosing of a friend for our whole life. Obviously, the most important is to have the same faith. The faith here, one has to understand, is not only going to church, but a support and a guiding principle for the whole life.
Below are the Ten Commandments from the textbook by Archpriest Serafim Slobodskoy "God's Law for Family and School", 2nd edition, page 567 (in Russian).
The Ten Commandments are in the Old Testament in the Exodus Chapter 20, verse 2 to 17 (Exodus 20:2-17)(Deuteronomy 5:6-21).
1. I AM THE LORD THY GOD, THOU SHALT HAVE NO OTHER GODS BESIDES ME. 2. THOU SHALT NOT MAKE UNTO THEE ANY GRAVEN IMAGE, OR ANY LIKENESS OF ANY THING THAT IS IN THE HEAVEN ABOVE, OR THAT IS IN THE EARTH BENEATH, OR THAT IS IN THE WATERS UNDER THE EARTH; THOU SHALT NOT BOW THYSELF TO THEM, NOR SERVE THEM. 3. THOU SHALT NOT TAKE THE NAME OF THE LORD THY GOD IN VAIN. 4. REMEMBER THE SABBATH-DAY, TO KEEP IT HOLY; SIX DAYS SHALT THOU LABOUR, AND DO ALL THY WORK: BUT THE SEVENTH DAY IS THE SABBATH OF THE LORD THY GOD. 5. HONOUR THY FATHER AND THY MOTHER THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH THEE AND THAT THY DAYS MAY BE LONG ON THE EARTH. 6. THOU SHALT NOT KILL. 7. THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT ADULTERY. 8. THOU SHALT NOT STEAL. 9. THOU SHALT NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS AGAINST THY NEIGHBOR. 10. THOU SHALT NOT COVET THY NEIGHBOR'S WIFE, THOU SHALT NOT COVET THY NEIGHBOR'S HOUSE, NOR HIS LAND, NOR HIS MAN-SERVANT, NOR HIS MAID-SERVANT, NOR HIS OX, NOR HIS ASS, NOR ANY OF HIS CATTLE, NOR ANYTHING THAT IS THY NEIGHBOR'S.
Below are the Beatitudes from the textbook by Archpriest
Serafim Slobodskoy "God's Law for Family and School", 2nd
edition, page 585 (in Russian).
The Beatitudes are in the New Testament in the Gospel by the Apostle St.Matthew Chapter 5, verse 3 to 12 (Matthew 5:3-12).
The Beatitudes are being sang during the Divine Liturgy just before the Small Entrance.
1. BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT, FOR THEIR IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. 2. BLESSED ARE THE MOURNERS, FOR THEY WILL BE CONFRONTED 3. BLESSED ARE THE MEEK, FOR THEY WILL INHERIT THE EARTH. 4. BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO HUNGER AND THIRST FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS, FOR THEY WILL BE SATISFIED. 5 BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL, FOR THEY WILL OBTAIN MERCY. 6 BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART, FOR THEY WILL SEE GOD. 7 BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS, FOR THEY WILL BE CALLED CHILDREN OF GOD. 8 BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO ARE PERSECUTED FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS' SAKE, FOR THEIRS IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. 9 BLESSED ARE YOU WHEN MEN REVILE AND PERSECUTE YOU AND SAY ALL MANNER OF EVIL AGAINST YOU FALSELY AND ON MY ACCOUNT. REJOICE AND BE EXCEEDINGLY GLAD, FOR GREAT IS YOUR REWARD IN HEAVEN.
1. Besides the Beatitudes, what other commandments are given in
In the Gospel it says the following about the greatest commandment:
One lawyer asked Jesus Christ:
MASTER, WHICH IS THE GREAT COMMANDMENT IN THE LAW? (Matthew 22:36 KJV).
THOU SHALT LOVE THE LORD THY GOD WITH ALL THY HEART, AND WITH ALL THY SOUL, AND WITH ALL THY MIND. THIS IS THE FIRST AND GREAT COMMANDMENT. AND THE SECOND IS LIKE UNTO IT, THOU SHALT LOVE THY NEIGHBOR AS THYSELF. ON THESE TWO COMMANDMENTS HANG ALL THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS. (Matthew 22:37-39 KJV).
2. What is the Golden Rule?
(Translator's Note: Revised Standard Version (RSV) in this case is clearer than King's James Version (KJV)).
The Revised Standard Version is as follows:
SO WHATEVER YOU WISH THAT MEN WOULD DO TO YOU, DO SO TO THEM; FOR THIS IS THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS. (Matthew 7:12 RSV).
THEREFORE ALL THINGS WHATSOEVER YE WOULD THAT MEN SHOULD DO TO YOU, DO YE EVEN SO TO THEM: FOR THIS IS THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS. (Matthew 7:12 KJV).
+ SHORT CONFESSION BEFORE THE PRIEST I confess to the Lord my God and before you, reverend father, all my countless sins, which I have committed before this day and hour: by deed, word and thought. Every day and every hour I sin by being ungrateful to God for His great and countless blessings and His most gracious providence for me the sinner. I HAVE SINNED BY: idle talk, judging, disobedience, pride, mercilessness, envy, anger, slander, inattentivness, not working on my salvation, negligence, being care-free, rudeness, irritability, despair, returning evil for evil, meanness, defiance, complaining, self- justification, contradiction, self-will, blaming others, evil talk, lying, laughter, temptation, selflove, love of honor, gluttony, excess in food and drink, vainglory, laziness, acceptance of impure thoughts and attitudes, accumulation of material things, not attending church service due to laziness and not caring, distraction of thoughts during church and home prayers, by deed, word, thought, sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, and other spiritual and physical senses. I am repenting all my sins and am asking for forgivness. (Here you have to tell about other sins that you have on your conscience). I also repent and ask for forgivness for everything, that I did not confess because of my many sins and forgetfulness. My reverend father, forgive and absolve me of my sins. and bless me that I may have communion of the Holy and Lifegiving Christ Mysteries for the remission of sins and eternal life. This confession is a short extract from the Full Confession by St.Dimitry, Metropolitan of Rostov, who thought it very useful not only in Church Confession (in the Mystery of Repentance), but also for use in the home. Great Russian Man of podvig, ascetic and man of prayer St.Dimitry with all the strength of his Archpriest zeal convinces us that we should all, without putting it off, read this confession daily, after Evening prayers, before going to sleep, and on its basis make daily careful examination and accurate check of our conscience and all our deeds, words and thoughts.
O Lord and Master of my life, a spirit of idleness, despondency, ambition, and idle talking give me not. (Prostration) But rather a spirit of chastity, humble-mindedness, patience, and love bestow upon me Thy servant. (Prostration). Yea, O Lord King, grant me to see my failings and not condemn my brother; for blessed art Thou unto the ages and ages. Amen. (Prostration). O God, cleanse me a sinner, (12 times, with a reverence each time, and then the entire prayer:) O Lord and Master of my life ... (and the rest, with a prostration at the end). (Note: This prayer is read at the hours of Wednesday and Friday of Cheese-Fare Week and in all of the Holy Great Lent, except on Saturdays and Sundays).
Great Lent, Celebration of Orthodoxy
1. The questions and answers in this work are prepared for the textbook by Igumen Philaret "The God's Law". The better title would be the "Orthodox-Christian Morality" or even "Orthodox-Christian Outlook on Life". This wonderful book is the simplified and edited version of a book "Christian Life" by Protoierei N. Voznesensky (later bishop Dimitry), who is the father of Igumen Philaret (later Metropolitan and First Hierarch of Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia). The book by Protoierei Voznesensky, was used as a textbook, for upper classes of Russian gimnazias (high schools) outside of Russia. Several generations were taught from this book.
The Russian textbook by Igumen Philaret was published for the students of the sixth grade of gimnazia (students are 16 years old, 10th grade of high school) in 1936 in Harbin, China. 300 copies were printed. Later in 1971, this book was reprinted as is, by the Russian Youth Committee in New York. Probably around 1000 copies were printed. The contents of the textbook is difficult for present children and the language is also difficult. Material covered is extremely important and needed, since this is exactly what we all need now. In old Russia there was the Orthodox-Christian way of life. The youth absorbed the Orthodox-Christian morality, without significant efforts by the teachers. The same things were required by everybody: by parents, school, church and state. In this respect, everybody in the country was in agreement. Naturally there were exceptions, but these were only exceptions and they are not being discussed now.
The situation is now different. We are living, studying and working in multi-cultural society. In our society, more or less peacefully are living close to each other, the people of different origins, nationalities and religions; including pagans and non-believers. Besides this, the news media and other groups are actively promoting Anti-Christian and even immoral ideas. In such circumstances, it is very important to teach children at the home, church and in the church school, how should an Orthodox-Christian live and what is the Orthodox-Christian Morality.
From all the above, when the question and answers were made for the wonderful Igumen Philaret's book, it was necessary to edit the language, phraseology and approach to life. Also, it was necessary to touch upon the problems which exist now, in our present life. In other words, it was necessary to edit the book, so that the questions and answers will be relevant and will correspond to the mental and spiritual level and needs of the present day students.
In front of us, there is an enormous task of creating several series of spiritual literature on different levels, in Russian and in other languages. This literature has to correspond to the mental requirements and needs of the present believers outside of Russia and in Russia itself. This literature will become the bridge between present Orthodox-Christian and the spiritual literature of seventy years ago.
6/19 March 1989
Great Lent, Celebration of Orthodoxy