This paper was written as an introduction to the famous textbook by Hegumen Filaret (Voznesensky, later Metropolitan and the Head of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad) published in Harbin (China) in 1936 (DD-64a). Added were the remarks of apologetic character and of present views.
(4) God's Law;
(5) Freedom of Will;
(6) Christian Personality;
(7) Humility, Sorrow and love of Truth
(8) Repenting of Sinners;
(9) Grace and Salvation;
(10) Secular and Religious Education;
(11) Esthetic Education;
(12) Developing Feelings and Christian Hope;
(13) Developing Willpower;
(14) Work, Entertainment, Spiritual Stability;
(15) Christian Body;
(16) Drinking, Love of Wealth, Health and Death;
(17) Christian Justice;
(18) Lie, Christian Mercy;
(19) Envy, Evil Talk, Anger;
(20) Non-Christian Systems Of Morality;
(21) Christian Love;
(22) Orthodox Family;
(23) Family and Society;
(24) Christian Duty to serve his Country;
(25) Christianity and Communism;
(26) Love for God and Neighbors;
(27) Obligation to know God;
(28) Necessity of Prayer;
(29) Model of a Christian Prayer;
(30) Prayers, Holy Days and Fasts;
(31) Present-day (Contemporary) Problems (1989);
Contents: (1) Conscience; (2) Sin; (3) Virtue; (4) God's Law; (5) Freedom of Will; (6) Christian Personality; (7) Humility, Sorrow and love of Truth (8) Repenting of Sinners; (9) Grace and Salvation; (10) Secular and Religious Education; (11) Esthetic Education; (12) Developing Feelings and Christian Hope; (13) Developing Willpower; (14) Work, Entertainment, Spiritual Stability; (15) Christian Body; (16) Drinking, Love of Wealth, Health and Death; (17) Christian Justice; (18) Lie, Christian Mercy; (19) Envy, Evil Talk, Anger; (20) Non-Christian Systems Of Morality; (21) Christian Love; (22) Orthodox Family; (23) Family and Society; (24) Christian Duty to serve his Country; (25) Christianity and Communism; (26) Love for God and Neighbors; (27) Obligation to know God; (28) Necessity of Prayer; (29) Model of a Christian Prayer; (30) Prayers, Holy Days and Fasts; (31) Present-day (Contemporary) Problems (1989); Notes.
1 - Conscience
1.1 Conscience is given to us by the Lord God Himself. It tells us what is allowed and what not, what is right, what is wrong and what is good, and what is evil. All people in the whole world, all races and all religions have conscience. It acts as a judge and it judges our actions -- approves or condemns. Conscience also acts as a teacher -- it teaches us how to act. It also acts as a executor -- rewards (feeling of satisfaction) or punishes (remorse). God given conscience is a basis of the natural moral law which is present in each person. All world religions are based on this law.
1.2 Conscience is not perfect. Conscience is not perfect and consequently in religions based on human conscience there are deviations from Christian morality and sometimes quite large. There is cruelty, blood revenge, killing of unneeded children, human sacrifices, etc. Their conscience not only justifies it, but also even demands it. In our life the life according to our conscience leaves a lot to be desired. The point is that we see well the mistakes and sins of other people, and we do not see our own. Also, we get used to our sins, they enter into our nature and hinder our life.
1.3 God's Law. As it was said above, the conscience is not perfect and this is why the Lord God gave to a man the perfect law -- the God's Law. He revealed it to the people and this is why it is called the revealed moral law. The first part of God's Law was revealed by the Lord God to ancient Jews through prophet Moses in Ten Commandments and other commandments in books of the Holy Scriptures Old Testament (Bible).
The Teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ. Despite the possession of these commandments the world began, from moral point of view, to enter the dead-end. Then to earth came Lord Jesus Christ who deepened the understanding of the Old Testament teaching by His teaching: Beatitude Commandments and other New Testament Commandments. The Holy Fathers of the Church interpreted everything said by Jesus Christ and this is now known as the "God's Law". This Law for people and societies is eternal and unchangeable: today, yesterday and tomorrow. It creates healthy societies. The deviation from its norms, sooner or later leads to a gradual breakdown of a society. At present time we are witnessing how the society teaches negative qualities in people which are pulling them into a moral pit. It is
arrogance, selfishness, materialism, unbelief, sexual promiscuity, etc.
Western Churches. In Western Churches they are talking about "Beatitudes" and in the Orthodox Church about "Beatitude Commandments". This is because in the Western Church it is considered that if you pray, go to church, support the Church and do good deeds Lord God will grant qualities described in the Beatitudes.
In the Orthodox Church it is a commandment. The Orthodox have to actively work on changing themselves and achieving Beatitude qualities jointly (synergically) with God's grace (see item #2.10-Struggle with or Sinfulness and 2.11-The Scale of Good and Evil). This explains why certain sins are often appearing among western clergy and monastics, like extreme strictness, anger, hate, pride, sexual sins etc., which among Orthodox is practically unknown. This is because in the Western Church the methodology for morally improving oneself is practically unknown.
1.5 Life according to God's Law. The Church teaches us to correlate with God's Law all our actions, words and thoughts and to expel everything sinful. Only in life according to God's Law the man obtains the true happiness. Absence of a sin in person's life creates in a man peace, serenity and love towards everybody, which is a true happiness. The Church says that the true happiness is only in God. Other kinds of happiness are not true and are only temporary.
1.6 People without Conscience. People without conscience, are those people who do not listen to their conscience, who put it to sleep and drowned it by lies and sin. The Gospel calls these people the people with burned conscience. It happens when the person does not listen to his conscience and constantly sins despite it. Gradually he gets used to a sin and eventually the conscience does not bother him any more. Conscience has though burned down.
1a -- Conscience. Notes
1.7 Conscience is taught to assure the survival. Non-believers claim that conscience is not inborn, but the society teaches people qualities which are required for survival. But it does not explain why some qualities of conscience, in some countries are destructive and do not strengthen the country, and on the contrary, destroy it. For example about 1000 years ago the hordes of Huns came from Asia into Europe, destroying and burning everything in their way: people, children, villages and cities, until all of them were themselves destroyed. Their behavioral culture was destructive.
1.8 Conscience bothers sinners. To people who like sin and do not understand its destructive effect conscience hinders their life. This is why they try by every possible means to muffle and neutralize it. Liberally thinking psychologists and similar professions are saying that the conscience is a psychological complex and therefore it is necessary to get rid of it. The presence of it in a person is a sign of unbalance. If the person feels guilt for some of his acts, than usually they say that he is not guilty, that he is only a human, that everybody does it and something similar to it. This way the human conscience is gradually killed and extinguished. In psychotherapy the actions of a person are correlated with a society, and in Christianity with the God's Law. They see a spiritually sick person as a normal person, and the Orthodox see him as a sick one.
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2.1 What is a Sin? A sin is a destructive behavior and realization of evil. It is a spiritual illness, absence of love and violation of God's Law and the will of the Lord God. The sin itself sometimes is pleasant, but its consequences are always destructive. They bring trouble, pain, trauma to people, society and a sinner himself. The sin and evil are ulcer, death and a plague. It is opposite to goodness, it undermines everything good. It destroys, ruins, tears down, creates anxiety, fear, rage, anger, irritation, spiritual and moral ugliness, bad relations.
2.2 What are the consequence of Sin? If we think through the consequences of each sin on a sinner, his family, friends and society, today, tomorrow, in the future and even after the death than we will always see negative, bad and destructive action. Such conclusion is obvious and logical. The problem is in a man, who because of his sinfulness and absence of foresight, does not see this and does not understand it.
2.3 Examples of sins. (I) From Ten Commandments: unbelief, idleness, laziness, disrespect for parents, murder, adultery, theft, lie, envy. (II) From Beatitude Commandments: pride, mercilessness, sinful thoughts, instigation of quarrels. (III) From the aid for confession: condemnation, pride, mercilessness, envy, anger, slander (defamation), rudeness (impudence), irritably, despondency, returning evil for evil, meanness, complaining, self-justification, contradiction, self-will, blaming others, evil talk, lie, laughter, temptation, selflove, love of honor, excess in food and drink, vainglory, laziness, unclean thoughts, excessive accumulation of material things, unclean viewing.
2.4 Lord God created people sinless. The Lord God created the first man according to his own image and sinless. The first man, our forefather Adam, did not sin, but after committing the first sin, became a sinner. From him the whole humanity was infected with sin. This way everybody inherited a tendency to sin. Besides inherited tendencies to sin, a man has added also his own personal failings. The result is that each person is sinful and constantly sins, even holy and righteous people also sin. The difference between people is only in a degree of their sinfulness.
2.5 Sin damaged man. The sin is a spiritual sickness which damaged the whole human nature, all his being: the soul and a body. The sin damaged all three basic functions of a soul: mind, feeling (heart) and will. (1) Mind became disposed to error and mistakes. The result is that the man is constantly erring. (2) Feeling (heart) is the center of emotions and feelings: good and evil, sad and joyful. It also became sinful. Instead of pure feelings in relation to other people, we have hostility. The heart lost the ability to have feelings: pure, spiritual and Christian like -- noble. It became inclined to sensual sweets and earthly attachments, infected with vanity, absence of love and good will to others. (3) The will is the ability to act and carry out intentions of a person. The will is also damaged by sin, since now it takes often an effort to do good. It is difficult for a person to do Christian goodness.
2.6 God's Law. Every good parent teaches his children everything good. How to live, how to act and what is allowed and what is not. As a father teaches his child so does the Lord God. His teaching is in the Holy Scripture, in the commandments of the Old and the New Testament. The Lord God is the best of all parents, this is why His Commandments contain everything most important for us. When living according to these Commandments the man reaches his highest potential in everything: in private life, in family and in a society. The society which lives according to these commandments succeeds, and which does not adhere to them gradually enters dead end and dies.
2.7 Teaching of Lord Jesus Christ about a sin. Jesus Christ broadened the understanding of Old Testament's concept of sin. He taught that the sin is not only a sinful act, but also any other act, word or thought that leads to the sin. In this way the sexually explicit clothes are a sin, it is not adultery (7-th Commandment) but it gradually leads to sexual promiscuity, and then to adultery. Same argument can be applied to pornography.
2.8 Degrees of a Sin. A man does not commit a big sin right away, but does it gradually. From the first small and it seems a harmless sin, it can fall further and further, until the sin become a habit. This gradualness applies to all sins, small and big: say laziness, lie, deceit, theft or alcoholism and narcotic addiction.
Holy Fathers of the Church, the men of «podvig» (spiritual heroic deed) of Christian ascetism and piety, distinguish five stages (degrees) of a sin: prompting (прилог), joining (сочетание), embracing (сложение), vice (пленение) and passion (страсть). We can see that the fall occurs gradually.
The Church is always calling us to sanctity which also is reached gradually. Spiritual growth also occurs gradually.
2.9 Five Stages of a Sin.
Prompting (suggestion) (прилог) is when without his desire and against man's will, he has sinful ideas or even images. If we shall drive away this sinful idea, than we did not sin. In this stage the sin is easiest to overcome. At the occurrence of prompting it is necessary to reject it decisevely.
Joining (сочетание) This is voluntary thinking about a sin. The person did not yet commit a sinful act, he only thinks about it, but this is already a sin.
Embracing (сложение) this is a desire for a sin. The person sometimes sins, but still understands his sinfulness.
Vice (captivity) (пленение) this is already committing a sin frequently, but the person still understands that it is a sin.
Passion (sinful obsession) (страсть) is when the sin becomes a habit, it is already a slavery to a sin. The sin is committed easily, the person does not feel that he sins and even can feel pride that he is doing it. In this stage it is the most difficult to overcome the sin. It is necessary to pray, to fast, «inner attention» (внутреннее внимание) and struggle, confession, communion, and obviously the help of a spiritual father.
2.10 Struggle with our Sinfulness. The Christianity appeals to us to believe and pray correctly and live according to God's Law. This last one means that whatever we do, say or think should be correlated with Holy Commandments.
Besides this the true apostolic Orthodox Christianity is calling us to struggle with our sinful habits, and this is referred as ascetism. Other Christians almost lost the concept of ascetism. Our Church follows apostolic Orthodoxy and appeals to us to follow it. Methodology of ascetism is as follows: prayer, fast, spiritual reading, struggle with our sinful habits, talk with spiritual father, confession and communion. We should always struggle with our sinful habits and try to correct them. Especially it is necessary to do it during the lent.
In other words the Church is appealing to us to work on oneself to change oneself towards better. By the way, the ascetic methods are almost unknown in the Protestant world and in the world of non-believers. Therefore, among them there is even a saying that "it is impossible to change a human nature". The Orthodox are exactly doing that, they are gradually changing and re-educating themselves for the better.
2.11 The Scale of Good and Evil. In order to easier understand the spiritual side of a man, one can image a vertical "Scale of Good and Evil". The understanding of this scale helps us understand people, especially their spiritual side. They are not simply good or bad, but their "goodness" can be shown on a scale. Above, there is the Lord God and His qualities: absolute love, kindness, truth, justice, mercy, beauty, source of all virtues etc. At the very bottom there is absolute evil. And so, spiritual qualities, or how much goodness has a person, can be represented on this scale. By his moral qualities the holy person is closer then other people to the Lord God. But he is not there where the Lord God is, because the saint also has sins and only the Lord God is without a sin. The criminal -- the serial murderer is all the way down, but still not at the very bottom where the goodness is equal to zero, because he is human, and he has God given soul and possibility for salvation. In his cell this prisoner has a mouse, and he feeds and loves him -- he is his friend.
Each person has a position on this scale. During his life he sometimes rises upward or sometimes falls down. The person can get into a bad company, gradually becomes part of it and moves down the scale. Sometimes the reverse process can happen. The person can get into a good group and will rise on a scale upwards. Instead of this process happening arbitrarily, the Church teaches us that does not matter where we are on the scale, we have to constantly work on ourselves and gradually move on the scale upward, towards the Lord God. If we do not watch our actions, and if we do not live according to God's Law, than because of life difficulties, we will gradually slide down and our qualities will move away from the Lord God. There is an ancient icon on which this scale is represented as a ladder and people who are moving along it towards the Lord God. This is the essence of the Orthodox faith.
2.12 Freedom to sin and freedom from a sin. Lord Jesus Christ has said: "anybody, doing a sin, is the slave to a sin" (John.8:34). What does this mean? Christians think that when we get used to a sin, to a sinful life, then we become slaves to a sin. We get used to a sin, so that we cannot avoid sinning. The true freedom, for a Christian, is when we have no sinful habits and then we are truly free. To a sinful person and not a Christian it seems that to sin is a freedom and that he is not sinning at all, and that the struggle with sin is slavery.
2.13 Sources of a sin. The source of a sin is the body of a person, the world surrounding us, and also the devil. The body is a source of unnatural tendencies and inclinations. The world around us sometimes is a source of sinful temptation. And the main source of a sin is certainly a devil.
2.14 Church -- a clinic for souls. The Orthodox faith appeals to us to cure our souls and the Church is sometimes called "the clinic of the souls". The problem is that any deviation from Christian values create in a person and society many difficulties, problems and traumas. Most basic problem is that the person becomes selfish, materialist and is not capable of love, that is to normally live and create in a society. Therefore the task for every Christian is to gradually correlate all activity with the Christian teaching: behavior, actions, words and even thoughts. Only such person is of a full value to himself, his family, friends and the society.
The Church developed the whole methodology of gradual self-education and self-correction, that is healing oneself and changing towards better. It consists of a prayer, fast, spiritual reading, association with people who provide a good example, "standings on guard" of one's behavior, confession and communion. This technique remained only with Orthodox Christians.
Non-Orthodox. Non-Orthodox (Catholics, Protestants and sectarians) lost this methodology and consequently their "Christianity" is very diluted. Thus the Orthodox Church, is the only one of all Churches which really heals spiritual sicknesses. This is also a proof that her teaching is the truth.
2a -- Sin. Notes
2.15 The Concept of Sin interferes with Sinner's lifestyle. The people who love sin and do not understand its destructive effect, the conscience interferes with their life. Liberally thinking psychologists and similar professions are saying that the conscience and feeling of a sin is a psychological complex. Therefore, one has to get rid off it since this is an indication of being unstable. This way the human conscience is gradually killed and the person stops feeling a sin. In psychotherapy the actions of a person are conformed with the society surrounding him, and in Christianity with God's Law. Spiritually sick person they see as a normal person, and Orthodox see him as a sick one. Unfortunately this kind of thinking penetrated the whole western culture and civilization.
2.16 "I am beautiful". One of the pronouncements of a group of non-believers, "flower children" of 1960th, was that each person is "beautiful". That is whatever he does he is still remains "beautiful". Even if he sins, he is still "beautiful". They are taking Christian teaching that each person means something to the Lord God and turned it around to suit their own thinking. That is whatever person does he is still "beautiful". The Christianity teaches that the person becomes really beautiful inside and even outside, only when he lives according to God's Law.
2.17 The Concept of Sin was made-up by people. Non-believers say (maintain) that the concept of sin was made up by people in order to control and exploit them and that it affects people in a bad way. It creates traumas, feelings of guilt -- all this interferes with a person's freedom to live as he chooses. They do not understand that the sin acts destructively on a person and society and therefore think that if we teach people not to sin, we take away from them a portion of their freedom. As it was already said before, the non-believers consider freedom to do everything they want, sinful and not sinful. Christians know that a sin makes a person slave to it and a lesser person and that the true freedom is when the person gets liberated and cleansed from all sinful ties.
2.18 Life is moving ahead. Under a pretext that the life is moving ahead, and that now the times are different, the non-believers teach and tempt people to sin. But the God's Law for behavior of people remains the same for all times: before, tomorrow, in the future and after the death. It is constant and it does not change. For example to live together, without a marriage now it is possible -- they are saying that the times are different. Non-believers do not understand or do not want to understand that a sin is a destructive behavior and that sooner or later it is necessary to pay for it with a high price.
The Orthodox Church follows the teaching of Lord Jesus Christ and tries to lift and distance a man from a sin. Catholic and other non-orthodox Churches in order to attract people are lowering their moral standards. This way they are not distancing the person from sin, but just the opposite, they are bringing him to it.
2.19 Whatever is natural to a man, should be allowed. Unbelievers and people who do not understand that the sin damages man's life and well-being, and his environment are saying that whatever is "natural" and "pleasant" is allowed. But they do not understand that the sin can become passion (obsession) and then the abnormal behavior becomes "pleasant". For example we can mention: alcoholism, narcotic addiction, sexual addiction, etc. All these activities can be pleasant for the time being, until the time comes for the payoff.
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3.1 What is Virtue? (1а) Virtue is a good deed. It is a constructive behavior and realization of good, and a sin - destructive behavior and realization of evil. This is easy to check by following their consequences on a person and his environment. Since virtue is constructive, and sin destructive, it is opposite to sin. Therefore, virtue - is everything opposite to sin: joy, inspiration and everything good. It creates, builds, creates piece and calmness, love, joy, spiritual and moral beauty, forgiveness, peaceful disposition, sanctity, good relations between people, in family, school, at work, in a society.
3.2  Examples of good deeds.
Good deeds can be: external (outer), internal (inner), bodily and spiritual. External good deeds are good deeds towards our neighbor and internal towards ourselves.
External bodily deeds are to provide help, food, drink, dress, medical help, help lonely and sick etc.
External spiritual deeds are to provide to somebody spiritual help: to give advise, correct a sinner, bring person to God, etc. This help is the most valuable.
In the West where the sin of pride is triumphant, it does not allow people to listen easily to criticism. They consider that advice and correction given to a sinner is interference in their private lives. Therefore if it is done, it has to be done with foresight, carefully and skillfully. This approach applies to Orthodox as well.
Internal good deeds, as it was said earlier, are good deeds towards ourselves: a life according to God's Law and struggle with our negative qualities.
Non-Orthodox Christians. Non-Orthodox Christians have almost no concept about inner good deeds.
3.3 Everyone understands a Good Deed. (1а) The Lord God created man according to His image, therefore every person is attracted to love, kindness and good deed. Virtue is understood by all people, every person: a civilized and a savage, a believer and an atheist. The sinners, offenders, dictators, etc. always justify their actions by claiming that they were doing something good.
3.4 Moral character. (4)
A Christian is a person with an established moral character (personality) who constantly strives to develop in himself the corresponding qualities.
He constantly aspires to improve himself (morally).
Anglo-Saxon culture. Russian language reflects Orthodox tradition and thinking and English Protestant. In Orthodoxy one of the most important concepts is moral change towards better, which is much weaker in Western Christianity. This is why in English language there are no words equivalent to Russian "воспитание" (moral education), "перевоспитание" (moral re-education), "самовоспитание" (moral self-education), etc. Therefore to express ideas about "воспитание" (moral education) in English is very difficult. Even if you will express them, it does not mean that people will understand. In English it sounds like an infringement on personal freedom, etc.
3.5 Christian life. (2,3,5)
The whole life of a Christian is directed towards virtues. He correctly believes, prays, fasts, lives according to God's Law, does goodness, good deeds and works on himself: struggles with his shortcomings and faults, corrects his sinful habits, develops in himself Christian qualities, etc. Therefore, from a Christian point of view, the life is a struggle with a sin, a "подвиг" (spiritual feat), a way of constant striving towards good and improving oneself. Since a life is difficult and full of temptations, therefore very often the person who does not work on himself, with time becomes worse. The person who works on himself with time gradually becomes better.
Non-Orthodox Christians lost concept about spiritual struggle with one's shortcomings and faults. Their Christian life is reduced to doing good deeds, such as helping poor, working in the Church etc. They even have a saying that "you cannot change human nature" and that is exactly what Orthodox are doing.
3.6 Earthly and future eternal Life. (2,3)
From the point of view of a future eternal life, the earthly life of a Christian is time of a "подвиг" (spiritual labor, feat) and preparation for it. In the Gospel it says that: "God's Kingdom is reached by an effort" (Matthew 11:12, Russian). It means that God's Kingdom is reached by an effort and only those using an effort will reach it, in other words it is necessary to lead a Christian life.
Protestants. The Protestants in order to be saved (inherit eternal life) do not have to do the good deeds, but only to have the faith.
3.7 Sins and opposite Virtues.
Each sin has an opposite virtue. In struggle against any sin, it is necessary to practice a corresponding virtue. Thus a sinful habit is gradually replaced with a Christian virtue. Here are some of them:
(I) From Ten Commandments: disbelief-belief, idleness-labor, laziness-diligence, disrespect for parents-love and respect, murder-life, adultery-chastity, theft-gift, lie-truth, envy-joy.
(II) From Beatitude Commandments: pride and arrogance-humility, mercilessness-mercy, impure thoughts-pure, starting quarrels-peacemaking.
(III) From Confession Aid: condemnation-seeing own mistakes, anger-calmness, slander-protection, rudeness-politeness, irritability-restraint, despondency-joy in Christ, returning evil for evil-kindness for evil, meanness-calmness, complaining-gratitude, self-justification-admition of guilt, contradiction-humility, self-will-obedience, blaming-calmness, evil talk-self-control, laughter at a person-simpathy, temptation-chastity (purity), egotism-love, self love-love, love of honor-modesty, gluttony-fast, vanity-modesty, impure thought-pure, accumulation of material things-generosity, impure look-pure.
3a -- Virtue. Notes
3.7 Virtue - to their own advantage. Some non-believing liberals do not like to talk about virtues which are required from all Christians, preferring to speak about their sins and mistakes. If they speak about virtues, they usually promote their political programs and their selfish goals: the help to persons who lead an alternative sexual lifestyle, to AID's patients, persons who conduct pervert life, protection not of victims, but the purveyors of crime, animals, etc. About poor, starving, sick, invalids, children, elderly, victims of crime, etc. they do not care. They have a perverted concept of virtue. The majority of them in search for the true God, have gone in a wrong direction.
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4. God's Law
4.1 Conscience - the Internal Moral Law. (2,3) The conscience expresses the Internal Moral Law. This is why it is called the God's Voice in a person's soul. But, it is impossible to unmistakably and firmly direct one'a life according to conscience's guidance. Because sinful man has his mind, heart, will and conscience damaged. As a result of sinfulness the conscience has lost its clarity and strength.
4.2 Perfect law - the God's Law. (4) Since the conscience is not perfect, this is why the Lord God gave a man perfect law - the God's Law. He revealed it to the ancient Jews and this is why it is called the God-Revealed Law. It was given in two parts: the preparatory and the full law. The preparatory law has been given through prophet Moses and it is called Moses Old Testament Law, and the full law is the perfect Gospel Law.
4.3 Moses's Law. (5) The Moses's Law has two parts. Religious-moral and religious-ceremonial. The religious-ceremonial part is related to the history and the life of Jewish people. This part of the Law, for Christians, became a thing of the past. The religious-moral part of the Moses's Law, Ten Commandments and others, have kept its meaning and are still obligatory for Christians.
4.4 Teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ. (6) Despite the possession of these Commandments the world began, from the moral point of view, to enter a dead end. Then to the earth came the Lord Jesus Christ who deepened the understanding of the Old Testament teaching by the teaching of Beatitude and other New Testament Commandments. The Christianity teaches to understand Ten Commandments not superficially (externally, without internal conviction) and literally, not as obedience and an superficial (external) fulfilling. It revealed their deep meaning and taught their perfect and complete understanding and adherance. Holy fathers of the Church explained everything that Jesus Christ said and this is now known as the "God's Law".
4.5 Difference between Old and New Testament Law. (7) Old Testament Law looked at the external appearance of person's actions. New Testament Law looks at the heart of a person and on his inner motivation. In the Old Testament Law the person obeys the Lord God as a servant to his master, and in the New Testament Law obeys as the son to his beloved Father.
4.6 Importance of the Old Testament Law. (8) Several thousand years ago people were on a very low degree of moral development. Mores were rude and cruel. Old Testament Moses's Law did not eliminate man's cruelty and vindictiveness, but constrained and placed firm and strict boundaries to morals.
4.7 Importance of the New Testament Gospel Law. (9) The New Testament Law eliminated man's cruelty and vindictiveness. The most important commandment in the Gospel is love for God and a neighbor.
4.8 God's Law is unchanging and eternal. The God's Law gives us the formula for life in a society and for relationship with other people. It is constant, eternal and does not change. Any change from this path, gradually undermines the society and it finally dies. Therefore the true psychology and similar sciences should be correlated with God's Law.
4.9 Life according to God's Law. The Church is teaching us to follow the God's Law and correlate our actions, words and thoughts with it and to expel sin from ourselves. Only in a life according to God's Law the person obtains the true happiness. The absence of sin in a person's life creates in him peace, serenity and love for everybody, which is a true happiness. In Church language it is said that the true happiness is only in God. Other happiness is not true and is only temporary.
4.10 God's Law is Higher Logic. The God's Law, in its teaching, gives us "an all-round, total (comprehensive) view" of the whole life and actions of a person. It considers our action, its influence on us and others, today, tomorrow and in the future life (after death). The person because of his weakness, sinfulness, "short-sightedness" and no foresight sees and understands basically, only the present moment. But, if one assumes a "total, complex" point of view all commandments become completely logical and consistent. Well known Serbian Bishop Nikolay (Velemirovich) expressed this idea as follows: "Virtue is far-sighted and sees the deep reasons. The sin looks only in front of itself and does not know the true reasons". As required by the science, it is possible to prove the whole God's Law experimentaly. But these truths are so obvious to the person with life experience that they do not demand any proof.
4.11 Parable of the Wise Builder. (Matthew 7:24-27) At the end of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus Christ said a parable which is in a way a conclusion of this sermon. "One wise man built his house on a stone, and the foolish - the house on a sand. In a good weather both houses stood well. When the storm came and the strong wind blew, the house which was built on a sand fell. Other house, which stood on a stone, on a solid foundation, withstood a storm and a wind and did not fall". This parable says that it is necessary to build our life on the firm foundation of the God's Law and then whatever happens, we shall withstand.
4.12 Future eternal life. (1)
From the point of view of the future eternal life, the principal task of the life on earth is to prepare oneself for salvation and the eternal life. To obtain it, the person should do good deeds and in general live according to God's Law. (See also #3.6-Earthly and future eternal Life).
Protestants. The Protestants believe that in order to be saved and deserve an eternal life, it is not necessary to do good deeds, but it is necessary only to believe. This is why, they often say that "I shall live with the Lord God", which creates the big and false self-confidence and arrogance.
4a - God's Law. Notes
4.13 Non-Believers. Non-Believers do not believe in God and this is why they do not believe in the God's Law. For them everything is allowed and everything can be done. They say that in order to determine what is right, and what is not, it is necessary to prove it experimentally. This way many things that are obvious and clear to anybody with a sound mind have to be tested. Thus it is necessary to waste time and prove thing which are obvious. For example negative effect of crime films on psyche of children and in general on a person. This fact is obvious, but it necessary to waste time and do research in order to prove that.
4.14 Who is against Christians?
There are various groups which are against Christians. Here we will mention five such groups:
(1) Busy. These people found themselves in the life whirlpool and simply never had questions about life and death, why we live, the meaning of life, how to act correctly and why. They simply act according to their own opinion and conscience. In small difficulties their approach can be sufficient, but in big ones it does not work. This is described in Jesus Christ's "Parable of the Wise Builder" (See #4.11 above).
(2) Disappointed. This group often includes fair and decent people who never heard of the true religion Orthodoxy, they know many strange sects, and in horror recoiled from them and all other religions. It is necessary to say that when they meet the true Orthodoxy they frequently become converts.
(3) Liberals. Among nonbelieving liberals very popular are Non-Christian pagan religions such as as Hinduism, Budizm, etc. This can be explained by the fact that although they refuse the true Christian God, their human nature still thirsts for the Creator - and they are searching for Him in the wrong place.
(4) Atheists. The embittered atheists, nonbelievers according to their conviction. Some of them are aggressively disposed against Christians and are methodically trying to destroy Christian culture.
(5) The Soviet Atheists. During 74 years in Russia existed atheistic state the USSR. It was marked by militant atheism which cost Russia about 60 millions lives. Now, all this has ended. In spiritual sense there is a revival, but there are still left a lot of people with atheistic outlook. Some of them are gradually coming back to Orthodoxy - the faith of their great-grandfathers.
4.15 Secular Humanism. In the West, during many hundreds of years there was a Christian culture, the culture based on Christian values. Recently, particularly in the last 50 years, there is a gradual falling out from it into a so-called "Secular Humanism". Basically it is watered down atheism which more and more gains in strength. The Christianity is mocked and criticized and unbelief and Nonchristian values are promoted. For example: sexual permissiveness, abortions, sodomy, alternative families, disrespect for parents and older people, pagan religions etc. All this develops negative qualities in people and pulls them into a spiritual and moral abyss.
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5. Freedom of Will
5.1 Loving parents and the Lord God. Loving parents teach and direct their children in the right direction, but under no circumstances are forcing their will, letting it be free. The same thing is done by our Lord God. He is our Father, He created us and He loves all of us. He teaches us, gave us Commandments, hears our prayers, helps us, directs us, creates for us "accidental" meetings and incidents which are for our benefit, but under no circumstances breaks our will. Our will always remains free and our choice between one act or another remains only ours. Frequently the person makes a wrong choice and than because of it, his family and friends suffer. The Lord God then always tries to correct the way of a sinner and to return him, with a fatherly love, on a correct path.
5.2 Does a Person have a free Will? (1) The person has a free will. Certainly various external causes are affecting him like the environment, life conditions, political circumstances, his education, cultural development, etc. But, still in the final analysis, the person is free to choose one path or the other. The person bears the full responsibility for his acts only when he has a free choice to make them.
5.3 Freedom of Will and Philosophical Systems. Many philosophers during the whole history of humanity were examining the question of a freedom of will of a person. We will consider here three such approaches: determinists, indeterminists and extreme indeterminists.
5.4 Determinists. (2)
Determinists teach that a person is not free to choose what he wants. He is being acted upon by external causes such as the environment, life and political conditions, his education, cultural development, etc. Eventually the person submits to the strongest of these motives. All of this means that a person does not have a free will. These philosophers are saying that we are only imagining that we act freely - actually it is a self-deception. The well-known philosopher of 16-th century Spinosa was a determinist. The teaching of determinists leads to the absurdity, since nobody can be blamed for anything, because all of us are victims of the circumstances.
Determinism at present time. The psychologist Sigmund Freud was very much affected by determinism. According to his theory parents greatly effected us, mostly in a negative way. It follows that a person is not guilty, but his parents are. This thinking infiltrated deeply into present Secular Humanism, which triumphs in the West, and it is propagated by it all over the world. One of the consequences of this teaching is the present negative attitude in a society towards parents, and in general towards older people.
In our times, frequently lawyers in litigations are using determinists arguments, during the defence of their clients and are proving that their client is not guilty, but the circumstances are at fault.
5.5 Indeterminists. (4) Indeterminists teach that a person is free to choose what he wants. Though his actions in many respects are defined by many external reasons such as the environment, life and political conditions, his education, cultural development, etc. But, in final choices he is free. Christians are certainly indeterminists. Freedom of a person is a freedom of choice, freedom of our will to act one way or the other.
5.6 Extreme Indeterminists. (5) Extreme indeterminists teach that the person does not only have the freedom of a choice, but also has the right to do whatever he wants, not taking into consideration anybody or anything. This results in a full arbitrariness of the person, the full power to act on any desire or a whim. Certainly this is not freedom, it is the abuse of freedom, this is its distortion. The person cannot have an absolute and unconditional freedom.
Anarchists. There is not a very popular political movement which, one can say by its thinking, belongs to this group.
5.7 Christians and Freedom of Will. (6a) Christians believe that the person is morally free to choose this or that deed; he has a freedom of a choice between good and evil. This freedom is the greatest gift from the Lord God. The Lord God does not want from us an automatic obedience, but a free and voluntary compliance. As the loving child obeys his father, this is how we should obey our Father the Lord God and act according to His Holly Will, that is according to goodness and to Christian love. It is necessary to remember that the God's Law is the Higher Logic which sometimes is not quite obvious to people because of their sinfulness and poor foresight (see #4.10-God's Law is Higher Logic). The sin and evil destroys, and virtue and goodness builds. The Lord God is simply teaching us to live full and effective life.
5.8 God's Providence. (6a) As the good parent helps the child and directs him in the right direction, so in the same way the Lord God helps us and creates for us the necessary conditions. Frequently the person reaches the God's Truth with big effort. It would be easy for the Lord God to speed up this process, but He does not do it. If He would do it, then the person would not reach it by his own will, his own free choice, and would be simply a tool of the Lord God. The Lord God helps us, but the choice and work should be our own.
5a -- Free Will. Notes
5.9 Church interferes in the private affairs of the people. The enemies of Christians do not see the Church as a caring mother, an educator and a moral teacher (воспитательницу). They see her as some kind of secular organization which interferes in their private affairs. Certainly it is possible to think in this way if one is not familiar with the Orthodox Church and having heard plenty and seeing enough of horrors among the Non-Orthodox, they are running away from any Church, including the Holy Apostolic Orthodox Church.
Church and the state. It is necessary to note that in the Orthodox countries and in the West the relationship between the Church and the State are completely opposite. In Orthodox countries the Church existed together with the state. The state cared about bodily needs, and the Church about spiritual and moral. Each of them had its own field of responsibility and in most cases they did not interfere with each other. When the state was in danger, then the Church acted and did whatever was necessary to save the country.
In the West historical circumstances have developed in a different way. In these countries there were several or even many religions. Some of them were aggressive and wanted to govern and consequently there were constant difficulties. This is the reason why there is a separation of the Church from state affairs.
5.10 The Man should be free. This is a well-known slogan of nonbelievers who consider that the Church interferes in their private affairs. The person should be free and should have a right to do whatever he wants, this is what they say and it does not sound too bad, but in practice it does not work. People do not always understand what is happening, and are under the influence of various circumstances and therefore can make the wrong decision.
5.11 The Nonbeliever's View is incomplete. In all the examples mentioned above it is clear that the view of nonbelievers is incomplete since it does not take into account the spiritual side of a person, but only physical and his mind (reason). The spiritual side, a rich inner world of his faith, conscience, virtues and sins is not considered at all as though it does not exist. Therefore their reasonings are short-sighted. In other words, as always, a view of nonbelievers is shallow and superficial. It is deprived of the depths which gives the Orthodox approach based on God's Law Commandments and the Psychology of Holy Fathers.
5.12 The Teaching of the Orthodox Church.
The Orthodoxy can in no way be placed on the same level as other religions. Or to say that it is some kind of "tradition". Doing this people completely do not understand the essence of the Orthodox Church. The teaching of the Orthodox Church is not the teaching of one person or even a holy one, this is the teaching of the Lord God himself and the work of thousands and thousands of people during several thousand years, many of whom were saints.
Lord Jesus Christ has deepened the faith of ancient Jews and has given it new significance and understanding. The Church - these thousands and thousands of people who understood that this teaching is true and not of this world, have collected all existing written material by Holy Old Testament Prophets, have written down the life, miracles and teaching of Lord Jesus Christ, have collected letters of holy apostles, have defined the structure of the Holy Scripture (Bible), have conducted seven Ecumenical Councils, have written many books of apologetic character, have written down a mass of sermons, preached Christianity among Non-Christians, have organized new National Churches, have developed Psychology of Holy Fathers and other theological subjects, all this in order to explain, teach and put into practice the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, in the Church everything is based on God revealed Truth, all is wise and thought through and in no way it is possible to compare it to a creation of one person.
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6. Christian Personality
6.1 Christian personality. (2) Orthodox faith is calling us not to sin only and do good deeds, but also to ban from ourselves evil and sin and to develop in oneself good Christian qualities. It is necessary to remember that sin and evil harms a man, people and society, and goodness helps and builds. From this it is clear that the purpose of a Christian moral education is to bring up a good person. To this effort we are called by the Lord Jesus Christ himself: Be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48). Obviously it is necessary to remember that only the Lord God possesses the full perfection, and a man can only become better.
6.2 Moral obligations. (1) Moral obligation can be divided into three groups: responsibilities towards oneself, responsibilities towards our neighbor and higher responsibilities towards the Lord God. Our relation towards all of these responsibilities have to be properly developed.
6.3 Spiritual moral self-education. The most important task of a Christian is to develop his Christian personality, his Christian "I". When we believe, pray, live according to God's Law, in every possible way correlate all our actions, words and thoughts with God's Law, do good deeds, struggle with our sinful habits, fast, confess, have communion, in time we gradually develop in ourselves Christian outlook, personality and habits; which is our Christian "I". The change of ourselves for the better does not occur right away, but gradually. By developing in ourselves Christian qualities we at the same time prepare ourselves for the eternal life.
The Orthodox Christian studied and knows the God's Law. In it he has the advice from the Lord God himself how to act in any circumstances of life. He is not holy, but it tries to live piously (holy) and if he falls he gets up, repents and continues further to try to live piously. Since he lives according to God's Law his world outlook and personality are solid because they are standing on a solid foundation (see #4.11-Parable of the Wise Builder). Thus the Christian in his spirit is collected, quiet, peaceful, with Christian qualities, he knows himself, his abilities and weaknesses, knows his place in the world, etc. He "does not search" for himself since he never lost himself.
In English. As it was mentioned earlier (see #3.5), in English language there are no words for moral education (воспитание), moral reeducation (перевоспитание), moral self-education (самовоспитание) и т.п. As far as spiritual self-education (духовного самовоспитания) there is also nothing available. This follows from the fact that for Non-Orthodox it is enough to pray and do the good deeds. The Orthodox' main goal is to change oneself (morally) for the better. They do not have this process (methodology) and they do not understand it. There is even a saying "you cannot change human nature", and this is exactly the most basic principle of Orthodoxy.
At this point it is important to mention that the present English speaking world is in "Secular Humanistic" phase and going through the Cultural Revolution and the word "spiritual" does not have the same meaning as in Orthodoxy.
6.4 Body, mind and spirit of a man. A man consists of three parts: a body, mind and a spirit. The body is his physical body, mind is his ability of the mind, and the spirit is everything concerned with the Lord God and morality. (The mind and spirit are the parts of a soul). The task that each man has is to correctly develop his body, mind and spirit.
Secular sciences do not see the existence of the spirit in a man. They study body and mind and consequently, one can say, that their understanding of a man is in two dimensions. Orthodoxy sees a third component of a person, his spirit and consequently its understanding of a man is in three dimensions and therefore fuller, than secular. The spiritual side, this rich inner world of a faith, conscience, virtues, sins, good and evil is not considered by all of these sciences as though they does not exist. Therefore the reasonings of non-believers are short-sighted, shallow and superficial.
6.5 Influence of the environment. During a life of a person he is affected by his family, friends, acquaintances, work, events, etc. Russian proverb says: "with whom you associate, this is who will you become". Sometimes the influence of an environment is such that it pushes the person upwards on the "Scale of Good and Evil" (see #2.11), and sometimes downward. Since the life is difficult, many people with time move on a scale downward, and toward the end of their lives become disappointed, quarrelsome, nasty, cynics and in general unpleasant people. In Orthodox Church this process is taken under control and the person with the Church's help always moves upwards on a scale. Therefore the Orthodox elderly frequently are pleasant, deep and spiritual people.
6.6 Constant spiritual and moral self-education effort (work, labor). (7) As it was said above (see #6.3) secular life, in most of the cases has a bad influences on a person. Constant rush, secular culture, worshipping of its idols, all this pulls away the person from the things which are most important in his life and the person gradually worsens and moves down on the "Scale of Good and Evil" (see #2.11). Having lived in such conditions for 10-20 years, without deep relationship with God, the person can change beyond recognition and sometimes make even a 180° turn. Not only it is possible to forget, but also even to become the enemy of all that was dear and loved: families, friends, the native land, including holy Orthodox faith. In order that this does not take place it is necessary to constantly work on one's spiritual qualities.
6.7 Christian and the egotist. (3) When an egotist cares about himself, he cares about his body, his pleasure, his comfort. All this promotes development in him even a greater egotism. From the egotistical point of view he takes care of himself, and from the Christian point of view he is ruining his soul as he becomes increasingly bigger and bigger egotist.
When a person fasts and also tries not to sin and struggles against his sinful habits, from the point of view of the egoist he is limiting his freedom, from the point of view of a Christian he is perfecting his soul and comes nearer to holiness.
6.8 Unstable character. (5.3)
The Orthodox faith gives us stable and correct world outlook. People who do not possess such gift are not firm in their beliefs and if one exerts a pressure they easily change their opinion and even outlook.
As it was said before, the Orthodox Christian is the exact opposite of such kind of people. He studied and he knows the God's Law. In God's Law he has advice from the Lord God himself on how to act in all circumstances of his life. He is not a saint, but he tries to live piously (holy) and if he falls, he gets up, repents and continues further to try to live piously. Since he lives according to God's Law, his world outlook and personality are stable, since they are built on a solid foundation.
6a -- Christian Personality. Notes
6.9 The Man is fine just the Way He is. Nonbelievers are saying that the man is fine the way he is and that any interference in his affairs is an infringement of his freedom. Therefore any moral education is simply brainwashing and abusing person's freedom. Such outlook is obviously superficial. Every man is a sinner and therefore has sinful habits. It is necessary not to forget that the sin is something bad, something that prevents us to live, create, be happy, etc. Understanding this it becomes clear that removing sin from human life promotes his peace, tranquility, calmness, love and certainly happiness.
6.10 Strong man does not need a support. Some nonbelievers are saying that the man should be strong by himself and therefore he does not need any support, especially a false one (since they do not believe in God). This thinking is unreal since it is based on assumption that the man knows everything, can do everything and is capable of everything. But these qualities are only God's qualities. Every person is sinful, has weaknesses and often does not discern in what is happening. Only with the Lord God we become strong, and He has answers to all questions of life.
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7. Humility, Sorrow and love of Truth
7.1 Humility - the basic virtue. (1) The most basic virtue is a humility. In the very beginning of Beatitude Commandments it says: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for their is the Kingdom of Heaven" (Matthew 5:3). The opposite to humility is the sin of pride (arrogance), therefore it is the basic sin. It means that any other commandments are not attainable, if we are proud, and we do not have humility. Beatitude Commandments show us a way of correcting ourselves which begins with the humility. The proud person does not see his mistakes.
The poor in Spirit, does not mean a poor man who begs because he can spiritually be a very bad person; lazy, drunkard, etc. The poor in spirit, is the person who realizes that without the Lord God he is nothing. Since the Lord God is the source of goodness, the person realizes that everything good in him is from God, and evil: egotism, pride (arrogance), sensuality from himself. This is the first step into Christianity and it is the most difficult step for a proud and arrogant (opinionated) person; to admit to himself, that before God, he is nothing. But in this Christian humility, the person begins to live according to the law of the Creator of the world, the Lord God Himself and His Law. He begins to live according to His Truth, according to this great and wise teaching and in his humility he gets stronger, develops and can become spiritual giant.
The proud person cannot make this step. He thinks that everything that he has is, from himself. He does not quite believe in God and consequently deprives himself of a wise management, knowledge and experience of the Church. From there he has arrogance, sick vanity, big self-conceit, all this prevents him from an effective and fruitful life.
7.2 Pride -- the basic sin. (1) Most basic sin is pride (arrogance). The word "pride" has several meanings. One of them is given in this example "I am proud of what he did", which actually means that "I am happy about what he did". Here we talk about "spiritual pride", or about arrogance.
The Holy Scripture condemns pride in many places. For example in the New Testament, in the Epistle of Saint Apostle James it says that: God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).
And so, the beginning of a sin is pride. Pride as a sin, never occurs alone. It generates a whole chain of other sins, connected with it. A proud person: (1) seeks a praise, (2) heightens (raises, glorifies) himself, (3) despises others, (4) does not obey those in power, (5) does not accept advice, (6) takes offence (gets hurt), (7) cannot forgive, (8) remembers evil, (9) does not want to yield, (10) cannot admit a mistake, (11) wants to be better than others, (12) wants his own way, etc. Thus, pride is not only a sin, but also the beginning and a source of many other sins and evil. Quite often not a dumb, but an intelligent and educated person because of his pride becomes a foolish one.
More extensively: Что такое гордыня (ДД-45)
7.3 Healing the Sin of Pride. How to overcome a spiritual illness of pride, particularly if it already become part of our nature? The methodology of struggle is the same as with any other sinful spiritual passion. This is a difficult and complicated path and certainly in the first place it is necessary to turn to the Lord God for help -- it is necessary to pray so that He will help. After that it is necessary to talk and have a confession with your spiritual father. Then, in order to fight the enemy, it it is necessary first to know him. That means, it is necessary to study pride and to read all about it wherever you can find it. These days, the easiest is to do it on internet. After that it is necessary to think through all our behavior (actions, words and thoughts) at home, in school, at work, etc. from the point of view of pride and to identify it in all of its occurrences. After the identification is done, it is necessary to watch for its occurrence and when it appears to replace it always with an opposite virtue.
Therefore: (1) seeking praise -- replace with modesty, (2) heightening (raising, glorifying) yourself - replace with silence, (3) despising others -- replace by identification of their good qualities and love, (4) not obeying those in power -- replace with silence and obedience, (5) not accepting advice -- replace with respect and listening, (6) taking offence (getting hurt) -- replace with silence, (7) inability to forgive -- replace with forgiveness, (8) remembering evil -- replace with forgiveness, (9) not wanting to yield -- replace with yielding, (10) cannot admit a mistake -- replace with addition of a mistake, (11) wants to be better than others -- replace with modesty, (12) wants his own way everywhere -- replace with yielding, etc.
During the struggle if something is difficult to do than it is necessary to pray for help. During a lent it is necessary to strengthen our struggle. Thus, after a certain time, the new behavior will become our standard and we shall be cured.
7.4 False Humility. (2) False humility happens when the person on a surface is humble, but inside, he is still proud. This can be found out by seeing how does he react to a well intentioned criticism. Such person appears humble but if you show him his errors and his sins, than immediately he becomes angry.
7.5 Blessed are those who mourn. (3)
Second Beatitude Commandment says: "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted" (Matthew 5:4 NKJV). This Commandment tells us that we should "mourn" (in Russian "cry"), that is to regret our sins. As it was said above (see #7.1), Beatitude Commandments show us a way to spiritual improvement. It begins with a recognition that we have sins (1-st Beatitude Commandment) and "regret" (cry) that we have sinned.
Besides that, this Commandment says that Christians should bear their difficulties), the cross, with humility and that they will be consoled. The troubles are sent to us by the Lord God to correct us, to direct us to the right path. Those people who in life search only for pleasures, from the Christian point of view are unfortunate, since in a pursuit of materialism and entertainment, their souls will become worse.
7.6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. (4) In the fourth Beatitude Commandment the following is said: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled" (Matthew 5:6 NKJV). This Commandment tells us that those people who search for the Divine Truth and try to live according to it, that they will be satisfied. In part they will be already satisfied here on earth, in our temporary lifetime. But most of all they will be satisfied in the future, in our eternal life. In the eternal life everything will be according to the God's Truth. An example of satisfaction in our life, is when father or mother conduct it and bring up family according to God's Law. In the house reigns goodness, love, friendliness, hospitality. All this favorably affects all members of the family and all of them are characterized by the abundance of good Christian qualities.
7a - Humility, Sorrow and love of Truth. Notes.
7.7 Pride in the West. In the West the destructive effect of a pride is not recognized and consequently it is taught to children from their childhood. One of the first indicators is that I is always written with the capital letter "I". Then, the children learn to express their opinion even when they have none. Recently, the TV showed a class with afroamerican children, who was thought by the teacher to shout "I am number one". If he is number one, then others are worse than him. Unfortunately, all western countries are poisoned with a sin of pride and arrogance.
7.8 Absence of pride in the Eastern Europe. In the Eastern Europe and in Russia people are not brought up with pride and consequently when they come to the West frequently there are problems in communication -- all kinds of misunderstanding, conflicts etc.
7.9 Beatitude Commandments among Non-Orthodox. There is a difference in understanding of the Beatitude Commandments between Orthodox and Non-Orthodox. For Orthodox these are Commandments which they are supposed to follow. For Non-Orthodox these are not Commandments, they are simply "Beatitudes", qualities which the Lord God awards to those who do good deeds and serve the Church. More about the attitude in Western Churches about Beatitude Commandments see #1.4-Teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ.
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8. Repenting of Sinners
8.1 Parable of the prodigal Son. (Luke 15:11-24) The parable of the prodigal son talks about two young sons. One of them asked for his part of the property from the father and left for the far away country. There the son spent all his wealth -- by living in excess. He began to starve and became a swine shepherd. Eventually he understood his error and repented, he asked forgiveness from his father and returned back to him. Father forgave him and accepted the swine shepherd back as his son.
8.2 The meaning of the Parable of the prodigal Son. The parable of the prodigal son explains the process of the return of a lost man back to a Christian way. Often a person, having received from the God "his share", ceases to believe in Him and forgets about Him. Then he starts spending his spiritual and physical strengths in empty entertainments and pleasures. After that the person starts feeling dissatisfaction with his empty life and starts reaching out for God. This leads to repentance and a gradual return to God.
8.3 Spiritual Ladder or a Scale. (See also #2.11) The concept of the Spiritual Ladder or a Scale helps us to understand spiritual growth or falling of a person. On top of a ladder or a scale there is the Lord God. He is the absolute love, justice, beauty, a source of all virtues. On the ladder or the scale people have located themselves. The closer they are to the Lord God, the closer they are to Him in qualities. The further they from the Lord God, the less they have virtuous qualities. Each person has his position on this ladder, or scale. The Church teaches us that, whoever we are, and wherever we are on this scale, all our life we should work on ourselves and slowly move along the ladder upwards towards the Lord God. If we do not watch our actions, if we do not try to live according to God's Law we gradually slide downwards, in our qualities we move away from the Lord God. So, sometimes the person because of his sinful behavior falls downwards on the Scale of Good and Evil, and after the repentance and rectifying his behavior he rises upward again.
8а -- Repenting of Sinners. Notes.
8.4 Spiritual Revival in Russia. In 1917, to Russia came atheistic, godless and fighting God regime. Thousands and thousands of clergy and believers were killed. During the 74 years of persecution it gradually became less. Finally, in 1991 on the Holy Day of Configuration the godless regime fell, Russia changed and the new regime gave up the atheism. At present time, we are witnessing how after 74 years of persecution by godless and God fighting regime, thousands and thousands of Russians are turning to their Father, the Lord God.
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9. Grace and Salvation.
9.1 Beginning of man's salvation. The beginning of the life that leads to salvation, goes only through Jesus Christ and is given to us through the mystery of baptism. Baptism is the door through which a man enters the Church of the people who are being saved.
9.2 Obtaining God's Kingdom. God's Kingdom is obtained by making an effort, and only those who are making this effort are achieving it
9.3 Sanctification of a Christian. The Church mysteries which are the means of sanctifying Christian are as follows: repentance, communion, anointing, various prayers and church services etc. In them, Christians are receiving according to their faith and need Holy Grace which facilitates their salvation.
9.4 Salvation requires personal Effort. A man is saved only through Christ, and God's Grace in this salvation, is a main active force. But, for salvation, besides God's Grace a personal effort is also required. For salvation, personal effort is necessary, but it is not enough. Without it God's Grace will not accomplish the salvation. This way, the salvation is achieved simultaneously through saving God's Grace and personal man's effort.
9.5 "Synergism" means cooperation.
"Synergism" explains the relationship between the Holy Grace and the personal effort in the salvation of a Christian. The salvation of a man is achieved, at the same time, through the action of the saving Divine Grace and through the personal efforts of the man himself.
The Lord God created man without his participation, but He cannot save him without his agreement and desire, since God gave him a free will.
9а -- Grace and Salvation. Notes.
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10. Secular and Religious Education
10.1 Basic capabilities (or powers) of man.
The psychology recognizes in man three basic powers: the mind, feelings (heart) and a will.
Mind. By means of his mind, man learns about the surrounding world and life, and also about the conscious part of the experiences of his soul.
Feelings (heart). By means of his feelings (heart), the man responds to the impressions of the external world and to his own experiences.
Will. The will is that part of the soul, by which man enters the world, and acts in it.
10.2 Will and Moral part of the Character. The Moral part of a Character of a man depends on his whole Character and the direction of his will.
10.3 Development of our abilities. One of the tasks of a man is to develop all of his abilities: mind, feelings and will. It is necessary to develop one's mind by obtaining education and learning various sciences, then it is necessary to develop in himself the correct Christian feelings (emotions) and a strong Christian will. All this is to be used for the good and for the glory of the Lord God.
10.4 Christianity is the Complete System of Knowledge.
Christianity is not only a sphere of religious and moral experiences and feelings. «Christianity is a completely finished cycle, a system of corresponding knowledge, of the most varied data relating not only to the religious, but also to the scientific area».
Christianity is also a system of morality (нравоучение) and theology (science of faith, вероучение). In Theology "Christianity is seen to be a very rich system of learning, encompassing and explaining to man the whole world, himself, and showing the true sense and aim of his earthly life.
10а -- Secular and Religious Education. Notes.
10.5 Christianity is the Complete System of Knowledge (Part II). Orthodoxy cannot be placed on the same level with other religions. Or, to say that this is some kind of "tradition". When this is done, people show their complete lack of understanding of the nature of the Orthodox Church. The teaching of the Orthodox Church is not the teaching of one person or even one saint, but it is the teaching of the Lord God and work of thousands and thousands of men, during several thousands of years, some of them being saints. In this way in the Church, everything is based on God revealed Truth, everything is wise and thought through and cannot be compared with the creation of some man. All this was done in order to explain, teach and realize in life the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ. (See also paragraph #5.12-Teaching of the Orthodox Church).
Christianity is (1) most of all the Faith in one True God, (2) Communion with the Lord God, (3) Supernatural Occurrences, (4) Art and Science of Living, Guide and Program for Life, (5) Scale of Values, (6) Moral Education of Man's Personality, (7) Clinic for Souls, (8) Orthodox Psychotherapy, (9) World Outlook, (10) Philosophy, (11) History of the World, (12) Law, (13) Psychology (14) Sociology, (15) Education, (16) Art, (17) Medicine and Health etc.
10.5.1 Faith in one True God. In the first place this is the faith in the true God. It was revealed to ancient Jewish prophets, deepened by the Lord Jesus Christ and developed (elaborated) in detail by the Church, that is by thousands and thousands of spiritual fathers and lay believers, many of whom were saints.
10.5.2 Communion with the Lord God. Communion with the Lord God occurs during the prayer, which can be private or public church services. Private are personal prayers (Morning and Evening Rules), Molebens and Panikhidas, and public church services are: All Night Vigils, Liturgies etc. All of them unite us with the Lord God, teach the wisdom of God's Law, instruct us and give us a lesson in the Faith (Theology) and Morality. Orthodox prayers and church services contain all theological sciences which are necessary to know.
10.5.3 Supernatural Occurrences. Every believer can give many examples of heard prayers, miracles, advent action of Grace on him and God's Providence (care).
10.5.4 Art and Science of Living, Guide and Program (Plan) for Life. Christianity in its Commandments from Holy Scriptures gives definition of good and evil, virtue and sin, that is constructive and destructive behavior. On these postulate the Christian's life is built.
10.5.5 Scale of Values. Most important is spiritual and moral flourishing, development and growth, and not temporary values of secular life.
10.5.6 Moral Education of Man's Personality. True moral education (formation) (воспитание) is difficult to imagine without Christianity. Our personality is being morally formed (shaped) all our life, from the cradle and until the death. Our prayers, life according to God's Law, going to church, reading spiritual books, distancing ourselves from the sin, gradual correction of oneself, observance of fasts, conversations with spiritual father, confession and communion, all this has a very deep moral educational meaning, which slowly changes the person and brings him closer, in his qualities, to the ideal, the Lord Jesus Christ. In this way Christianity is conducive to self knowledge and creates spiritually strong, purposeful and complete person.
10.5.7 Clinic for Souls. If person prays, lives according to God's Law, as mentioned above, than the Lord God sends him peace, serenity (tranquility), love and peace of mind. In this way, the Orthodox Faith is the Clinic for Souls. Exactly in this she is different from other Non-Orthodox religions -- she cures!
10.5.8 Orthodox (Holy Fathers) Psychotherapy. The therapy consists in teaching the person to live according to God's way, that is without sin. Since a sin is a destructive behavior, its elimination from a life of a person results in healthier and more fruitful life. "Righteousness (virtuous life) leads to life, and striving to evil leads to death" (Proverbs 11:19 Russian Synod Bible).
10.5.9 World Outlook. World outlook includes the existence of the Lord God and creation by Him of this world, His Providence and care for the whole world and everything that exists in it, hearing our prayers, existence of moral laws and truths, the end of the world and following it the life after the death. Christianity in all of these events besides everything else, sees also spiritual and moral factor (vector), which secular sciences are missing. This is why Orthodox understanding is like three dimensional, fuller and more real.
10.5.10 Philosophy. Christian Philosophy touches the following subjects: (1) Man and World in Harmony; Human nature; beauty of the soul and body of a person; (2) Falling man; (3) Restoration of fallen man before God; (4) Church, the treasury of Salvation; (5) Participation of the man himself in the salvation etc.
10.5.11 History of the World. Christianity gives us a different view at the human history, from a different spiritual and moral angle and this results in fuller and deeper understanding. All this is missed by secular sciences. Russian history is a good example of how it is necessary to illuminate also a spiritual and moral element. With baptism of Rus' there was a beginning of not only a true faith, but also enlightment and spiritual and moral growth of the people.
10.5.12 Law. Although the foundations were received from ancient times, from Rome, all of them were correlated with Christian postulates and values, which were acknowledged to be universal to all humans.
10.5.13 Psychology. Secular Psychology is studying man's body and mind and as mentioned above, it does not see its third component, his spiritual side -- everything that relates to God and morality. Spiritual and moral side -- this rich inner world of a faith, virtues and sins, good and evil, conscience and sinful passions (obsessions) etc. is not considered at all by secular sciences, like they do not exist. Orthodox Psychology studies all that.
10.5.14 Sociology. Secular Sociology, same as the Psychology does not see the spiritual and moral side of a man and a society.
10.5.15 Education. Secular approach to education, same as Psychology, does not take into consideration spiritual and moral side of a person and a society.
10.5.16 Art. Art and beauty has tremendous meaning in Christian sermon. In Christian understanding of beauty -- art has to serve goodness and it cannot serve evil. This can be especially seen in Orthodox Church Service, icons, churches, all this cleanses (purifies) and illuminates (enlightens) the human soul. (For more details see Chapter 11-Esthetic Education).
10.5.17 Medicine and Health. The true Medicine and health sciences have to consider also the spiritual and moral world of a person. Only this way it has a full value. Secular approach again gives only a partial view and this is why it is inferior.
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11. Esthetic Education
11.1 Developing our emotions (Feelings or heart). One of the tasks of man is to correctly develop his abilities, including feelings (heart or emotions). It is necessary to develop our feelings and use them for good and for the glory of the Lord God.
11.2 Esthetic feeling. The esthetic feeling is the feeling of the beautiful. This is the ability of man to see and understand, enjoy and appreciate all beauty, all that is wonderful, wherever it is.
11.3 What is Beauty? "This question may have different answers. The best is this: beauty is the full harmony between the content and form of a given idea. The purer, the more salient and more perfect the form in which this idea is transferred, the more there will be beauty present, the more beautiful the phenomenon will be. Of course, Orthodox Christianity sees the highest beauty in God, in Whom there is the fullness of all beauty and perfection".
11.4 Christian understanding of beauty -- the art has to serve goodness. The Christian viewpoint about beauty is that besides the beautiful forms, the beauty has to serve goodness. This is why a Christian, "cannot limit its concept of the truly beautiful only to what pleases our sense of beauty by the elegance of its form, but must see as truly beautiful all that is morally valuable. True beauty always elevates, ennobles, enlightens man's soul and sets before it the ideals of truth and good".
11.5 Christian understanding of beauty -- the art cannot serve evil. In the Christian understanding of a beauty, the art has to serve goodness. "An Orthodox Christian never acknowledges as beautiful that phenomenon or work of art, which even though it be of perfect execution, does not purify and enlighten man's soul but rather debases and soils it".
11a -- Esthetic Education. Notes
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12. Developing Feelings and Christian Hope
12.1 Developing feelings (heart, emotions or attitude). The duty of a Christian is to develop in himself, in his family and in his children, the positive Christian feelings (чувств). For instance: feelings of sympathy or antipathy, feelings of attachment towards the family, friends and country, feelings of mercy, empathy etc. All these noble feelings should be developed in children from an early age.
12.2 Difficulties should not be hidden from children. The parents who hide sorrows and difficulties from their children are very wrong. The result of this kind of upbringing, is that the children grow up to be insensitive and selfish.
12.3 Developing in Children positive Feelings. The children who are growing up and who are developing physically, also have to develop spiritually: become better, kinder, more warmhearted etc. To achieve this, it is necessary to expose children to human need and grief and to give them a chance to help. The children themselves will then be attracted to the good and truth; because all that is pure and bright is especially close and familiar to a child's unspoiled soul.
12.4 Christian Hope.
The feeling of Christian hope can be summarized this way. The Christian knows that his loving Father, the Lord God, sees everything and knows everything and He will always help him to get onto the right path. If there are difficulties on our life road, the Lord God allows them so that, through these difficulties we achieve something, and learn something. This is why the Christian can never think that his situation is helpless.
And really, we know from the experience of many people, that sometimes people end up in a dead end where, according to all signs and human logic, there is no way out of the difficult situation. But by praying to the Lord God, suddenly or sometimes slowly and unnoticeably, everything changes and an impossible situation changes towards the better.
12.5 Future Eternal Life. The height and the finale of Christian life is the future eternal life. We Christians know that our "Symbol of Faith" (Creed), in which there are all basic truths of Christianity, ends with the words: "I look for the Resurrection of the dead, and the life of the age to come, Amen". The words "I look for" mean, I am waiting and hoping. Therefore, the full realization of Christian hope will be only when the life will triumph over the death, and when God's Truth will triumph over worldly untruth.
12а -- Developing Feelings and Christian Hope. Notes
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13.1 Developing Willpower. A Christian should develop a strong and determined willpower. Secondly, his will power should be directed towards doing good to his fellow man; towards good and not towards evil.
13.2 Good Habits. From childhood one should teach himself good habits. For example to wake up early, to pray, not to be lazy, to study, to work, to listen and obey the older, not to sin, to be truthful, to read good books, to have good people for friends, not to read anything bad, to avoid everything that can lead to sin: bad books, magazines, pictures, people etc.
13.3 Purposefulness. To have purposefulness (determination and perseverance), means to have all your actions always directed towards a particular goal. Strong will power and purposefulness are all very important in life. Quite often, it happens that a talented, gifted and smart man can achieve nothing because of his weak will power and lack of purposefulness. On the other hand, a less talented and not as smart man achieves more, because of his strong will power, and purposefulness.
13.4 It is necessary to have good guiding Principles. If a person is being guided by bad principles then he is becoming the source of evil. If he is guided by good principles then he is becoming the source of good.
13.5 Wrong Principles. Some of the guiding principles that people use for their life are to be rich, to be famous, to be beautiful, to be popular, to be very educated etc. None of these principles bring happiness. A person can struggle all his life to collect riches, but the happiness that he will get will be only temporary. Only those people who are guided by the principles of goodness, can be truly happy. Only they, at the end of their life, can say that they did not live in vain.
13.6 Our Guidance is God's Law. The guidance for our life, how to act in this or that case, one should be obtained from God's Law. It is necessary to pray to the Lord God and to study God's Law: the Ten Commandments, the Beatitude Commandments, the Holy Scriptures and other holy and spiritual books. Everything we read, we should apply to our life and live according to God's Law. By doing this, gradually it will become clear, how to act in this or in that case and how to correlate our actions with the will of the Lord God, our Father. This kind of life brings a person love, peace, joy and satisfaction.
13а -- Developing Willpower. Notes.
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14. Work, Entertainment, Spiritual stability
Work is the basic duty of every Christian. The Lord God commanded this to people already in Old Testament: Fourth Commandment is "Work six days, and seventh dedicate it to Lord God" (Exodus 20:8). Further, in New Testament it says: "If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat" (2 Thessalonians 3:10 NKJV). Work has to be approached honestly and conscientiously. It strengthens the will of a man and makes him noble. Christianity does not divide work into "dirty" and "clean". It only asks that work be honest and useful.
Communists. These words the Communists took from the New Testament and present them as their own.
14.2 Education. Christianity does not make education a necessary requirement for salvation. There were many wise saints who had no education at all. But on the other hand, we are told to develop our God given talents and abilities, perfect ourselves, not to be lazy, study our world -- the creation of the Lord God, and acquire common sense. All this says, that the desire for knowledge and its acquisition, inquiry and learning is a God pleasing effort -- when all this is done for the glory of the Lord God. This is why every Christian should try to obtain, for the glory of the Lord God, a profession that corresponds to his talents and interests. In our times, when education is available nearly to everybody, not to obtain it, often is the sign of emptiness, a lack of having serious outlook on life and laziness, and this is a great sin.
14.3 Spiritual Stability.[*]
The dissipation of the energies is the opposite of being collected. Dissipation here does not mean dissipated, forgetful man, but rather means dissipation of human energy, attention, and values. Dissipation is when man goes from one activity and interest to another. He starts one thing and then without completing it starts something else. His interests, his beliefs are changing and he does not stand firm for anything. One of the consequences of this kind of dissipation, is that this kind of person sometimes goes through the crisis of identity, and has "to find himself". He spends long periods of time in search of "himself", in search of the "truth" etc.
A collected, spiritually stable person knows why he is living, and he knows how to act in all of lives situations. His guide is always God's Law, and his beliefs are based on the Orthodox-Christian faith. He has sketched out a life road for himself, and with prayer and God's help slowly moves ahead. His energies are not dissipated, and his beliefs are firm. He knows his place in the world and life. He is collected, and spiritually stable.
[*] Translator's Note: In the Russian text, instead of the words "Spiritual Stability" is used "collected" (собранный) (well rounded and firm in his beliefs.
14а -- Work, Entertainment, Spiritual stability. Notes.
14.4 Spiritual Crisis in the West. Slowly brewing spiritual crisis in the West, ripened in 1960th. President John Kennedy was killed, after this his brother Robert Kennedy and famous afro-american Martin Luther King, Jr. There was a war in Vietnam, there were demonstrations against discrimination of african-americans who in frustration were burning cities etc. In the West there are many people who live without Christian faith or with inadequate faith. So one cannot talk about spiritual stability, which was mentioned above. During this period huge part of youth, including older people, were "searching for themselves". They started using narcotics, were leading morally perverted life, lived in communes where everything was commonly shared including wives and children, refused to work etc. Because of all these excesses, many of them died early or committed suicide, others ended up in mental institutions, third remained inadequate, but many survived. From them came present Cultural and Sexual Revolution and the spreading of Secular Humanism was speeded up. On the good side that generation is responsible for present emphasis on saving environment, recycling, organic food and less racial discrimination.
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15. Christian Body
15.1 Man's composition. (1) Man is composed of body and a soul.
15.2 Christianity and Man's Body. (2) The Christianity looks at man's body as the Temple of the Holy Spirit.
15.3 Man's duties towards his Body. (3) Man's duty towards his body is to keep his body from everything that soils it, that is from sinful sex, a lewd life and sexual promiscuity.
15.4 Views of Orthodox and the Society. (4) The view of Orthodox Christians does not follow the prevalent views of the present society, in magazines, music, films and TV. Orthodox-Christianity teaches chastity, but the preset teaches sexual preaches promiscuity.
15.5 Consequences of fornication sin. (5)
The consequences of the fornication sin is the loss of normal Christian-like, pure relations with people of the opposite sex and impure thoughts and imagination.
Present time (2004). At present time this sin is extremely dangerous, because of various diseases, including incurable AIDS. "Sex is not free" is a slogan of one young woman who led a very promiscuous life and hit the bottom. After a lot of suffering, she repented and now she dedicated her life to lecturing to young people that promiscuous sex is not free. Earlier or later one has to pay for it. This is in total agreement with the Orthodox teaching that not only fornication sin, but every sin is destructive for a sinner and his environment.
15.6 Increased sexual desire. (6) The normal human sexual desires are increased to abnormaly high levels, by constant thinking, dreaming, conversations, jokes, reading, pictures etc. about fornication sin.
15.7 Struggle with Fornication Sin. (7) One should stay away from any promiscious thoughts, conversations or activities.
15а -- Christian Body. Notes
15.8 Sexual promiscuity.
As mentioned earlier, Western culture until recent times was a Christian culture. This means that it was based on Christian teaching about life and Christian postulates. Slowly it was watered down towards Secular Humanism,
which arrival was accelerated during the last 40 years because of Cultural Revolution. Before that the attitude about not keeping 7th Commandment (do not commit adultery) was nearly the same as among Orthodox. But, with the arrival of "Cultural Revolution" came also a "Sexual Revolution". Now, the secular morality is nearly opposite of the Orthodox.
Sexual promiscuity is being encouraged, sex is being presented as an entertainment act, sodomy is encouraged etc. All this is ripe with negative consequences, and earlier or later the society will be affected by it.
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16. Drinking, Love of Wealth, Health and Death.
16.1 Drinking. Drunkenness is a sin which unfortunately is common. It leads to the deterioration of health, morality, and the destruction of the family. In our times to this problem are added narcotics. Both of these vices leave deep scars on a person, which is nearly impossible to erase.
16.2 Love of Wealth. (2)
Love for wealth, money, riches or materialism unfortunately in our society, is being encouraged from all sides. Christianity is teaching us not to collect riches here on earth, but to collect spiritual riches. People who are characterized by total absence of materialism are "бессребрениками".
(Translator's Note: The Russian language and culture has strong Orthodox-Christian roots and characteristics. This is why there are plenty of words that express Christian moral values. The word "сребролюбие", literally means the "love of silver", has no English equivalent).
16.3 Overcoming love for Wealth. (3) In order to overcome the sin of love for wealth, it is necessary to do good deeds, help poor and people in trouble etc., without any profit for oneself.
16.4 Health. (4) The Christian should not sin and should struggle with the temptations of the world, but he should also look after his health. Our life is the greatest gift from Lord God and this is why we should look after it. If we are sick than we cannot help others, not only that, but often our relatives have to look after us.
16.5 Death. (5) The true Christian is not afraid of death and believes in life after death. All his life he has lead a dignified Christian life and in dignity, and is not afraid to die. It is a good idea to sometimes remember that we are not eternal and that at any moment we can leave this world. This is why we must live like this is our last day. If we will remember this we will not waist our precious time for meaningless things.
16.6 Suicide. (6) The person who commits suicide is refusing to accept from the Lord God the greatest gift, the gift of life. The Lord God loves us and takes care of us; this is called the God's Providence. The man who kills himself has stopped believing in God's Providence. This is why suicide is a biggest sin. According to the Orthodox-Christian teaching, the Church cannot conduct the funeral for persons who have committed suicide. Besides all this, man can never foresee all the future possibilities. Very often in human life, something totally unforeseen happens, and the intolerable situation, which had no solution, suddenly is not a problem any more.
16а -- Drinking, love of Wealth, Health and Death. Notes.
16.7 Live and enjoy. (7) In our Post-Christian Culture the humanity is returning to Pre-Christian Culture of Roman Empire. Live and enjoy everything that you can, this attitude brought the collapse of Rome and appearance of Christianity on historical scene. Christians should do everything in moderation. Constant drinking parties, merry-making, materialism, all this does not make a person happy, just the opposite, it finally brings a person to a personal crisis. To live like a Christian means to live with a goal of virtue and goodness.
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17. Christian Justice
17.1 Christian Justice. (1) The first requirement towards fellow man is justice. Without justice even man's goodness may be not useful, when it is unfair and shows partiality and favoritism.
17.2 Three types of Justice. (2) There are three types of justice: Legalistic Justice (справедливость лояльности), Cordial Justice (справедливость корректности) and Christian Justice (справедливость христианская).
17.3 Legalistic Justice. (3)
Legalistic person obeys all laws exactly and on time, but will not go a step farther than what is required by the law. He can appear dry, unresponsive and without a heart. This kind of a person does not break the law, but he will take what is his and will not yield to anybody; even if, due to his action, his fellow man, might get hurt.
Naturally, in our time even the Legalistic Persons are relatively honest, since they honestly perform their duties. But, it is clear to everybody, that this kind of relationship between people is not sufficient. This kind of attitude is not Christian, but purely a pagan one.
17.4 Cordial Justice. (4)
Cordial Justice is above Legalistic Justice. The Cordial Person does not only obey all laws, but he also follows his conscience. This is why he is even, peaceful, polite and thoughtful with everybody. He gladly responds to the call for help and tries to do everything promised, often helping other people in difficult situation. In comparison to cold Legalistic Persons, these people are proper, thoughtful and are very easy and pleasant to work and live with.
But here also everything is far from the Christian attitude. This kind of softness and thoughtfulness is not always constant and consistent. Often the person stays polite and courteous on the outside, but tries to quickly get rid of these people and their appeals and needs.
17.5 Christian Justice. (5)
Christian Justice, is the highest justice. It is the justice of the Christian heart.
The basic wise and at the same time clear and understandable principle is given in the Gospel in these words: Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (Mathew 7:12 NKJV).
The Apostolic Council confirmed the same, but in a negative form: Do not do to others, what you do not wish done to yourself (Acts 15:29 Russian Bible)[*].
[*] Translator's Note: Protestant and Catholic English Bibles and Latin Vulgata, do not have this passage.
And so, do not bring into life neither falsehood, nor lies, offense, or evil. All men are your neighbors, do not do to them what you do not wish for yourself. And it is not enough, not only to not do evil, but do good, according to your conscience, from your heart, inspired by the Gospel's Law of Love, Mercy and forgiveness. If you want people to treat you heartily, then you must open your heart to your fellow man.
Do not be selfish, do not keep track of your rights, the way Legalistic and Cordial People do. Above all your own rights, place the good of your fellow man, according to the Law of Christian love .
17а -- Christian Justice. Notes
17.6 Justice in our time (2004). In this short chapter it is made clear to us the essence of human justice and we are given a scale by means of which we can judge (not condemn, but judge) about human relationships. Unfortunately we are coming to conclusion that in our times triumphs Legalistic Justice (справедливость лояльности), sometimes one can meet Cordial Justice (справедливость корректности) and nearly never Christian Justice (христианская справедливость).
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18. Lie, Christian Mercy
18.1 Lie. (1) A lie is obviously a sin. Unfortunately a lie, or a light deceit, is so common these days, that people do not even think and notice that they lie. All kinds of advertisements are lying, salesmen exaggerate, and companies lie and exaggerate their capabilities in order to receive contracts. People promise to do something or to help, and then later say that "they were busy" or that there was an unforeseen delay etc. A Christian knows that a lie is from the devil, about whom the Lord God Jesus Christ said, "he is a liar and the father of it" (John 8:44 NJKV).
18.2 Gossip. (2) Gossip is when somebody accidentally or on purpose adds something to a story that is not true. From this emerges a lie or a half truth, in other words a gossip. Gossip emerges as the result of idle and empty talk, lies and dislike and malice towards the fellow man.
18.3 Slander. (3) Slander is when somebody consciously makes-up a lie for the purpose of damaging somebody. It is very difficult to deal with a slander, and the slanderer can cause a lot of grief and evil. For slander, one can be taken to court, but usually it is very difficult to convict a slanderer.
18.4 Hypocrites. (4) The hypocrites are those people who are attempting to appear: kinder, better, smarter and more beautiful than they are in reality. These people act and pretend; therefore as a foundation of their being they are placing a lie. Hypocrites are also those people, who talk and pretend that they are believers, when in reality they are unbelievers.
18.5 Christian mercy, good will and charity. (5)
One of the most important duties of a Christian is to show in his actions, his good will and love and without thinking about personal gain and profit.
It is difficult to imagine a true Christian who is all puffed up and cannot greet his fellow man. St.Seraphim of Sarov, one of the most loved Russian saints, met everybody with a smile and a greeting Christ has Risen!
Also it is necessary to help needy, sick, and weak ones. Obviously personal charity is more pleasing to the Lord God than through an organization. Very often the charitable organization is a place of fraud.
18.6 Physical and spiritual help. (6) A Christian has to always help his fellow man physically and spiritually. Besides physical help (dressing, feeding, quenching the thirst) one has to give also a spiritual help. If we see that our fellow man is going astray and erring, then it is our duty to help him and direct him, and to explain to him that his action is a sin. This has to be done without malicious criticism, but like a doctor who treats his patient, in the same way we should give advice with love and kindness, and save him from sin. Note, that in this case the Orthodox-Christian teaching is completely opposite to the accepted attitude in our society, to mind your business and not get involved, which is based on selfishness and pride (arrogance). (See #3.2-Examples of good deeds).
18а -- Lie, Christian Mercy. Notes
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19. Envy, Evil Talk, Anger
19.1 Envy. (1) Envy is naturally a sin and the Orthodox-Christian should not have it. In the root of the envy lies our feeling of self-importance, pride and selfish competition. Usually people, due to competition with others, are afraid that they will not be recognized and that they will not be noticed and that the others will be placed above them. In a good loving family we are happy of the successes of each other. In the same way, we should be happy for the successes of our friends, acquaintances and colleagues.
19.2 Evil talk. (2)
Evil talk are evil bad words, malicious criticism and quarrels. All this can become a habit and can become a sinful passion. By all means we should try to avoid this sin, which poisons good relationship among friends and people. Very often people who are suffering from the passion of evil talk, do not realize this and nobody will attempt to tell them.
Together with evil talk, one has to pay attention to the tone of the talk. The tone can be friendly, whining, unpleasant, suspicious or evil. Bad tone can become a habit, it can become a passion, and can bring harm. In general, one should learn the skill of talking. Usually people do not get offended by what you tell them, but how you tell them.
19.3 Swearing. (3) Swearing is the use of bad words. Together with evil-talk in some circles, it is customary to swear and this can become a habit and a passion. Obviously this is a sin; dirty words should not be part of the Orthodox-Christian's vocabulary.
19.4 Meekness. (4) Meek person has no malice and is not selfish. He does not seek to please himself and to profit, but just the opposite, he is trying to help and please others. According to the Gospel the meek will inherit the earth: "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5 NKJV).
19.5 Peacemaking. (5) Peacemaking is a virtue. In the Gospel it says that peacemakers will be "called the children of God": "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God" (Matthew 5:9 NKJV). The peacemaker is the person who always tries to create the atmosphere of peace and love. At home and in conversations, when the "atmosphere gets hot" he skillfully "smoothes out rough edges (corners)", restores harmony and pacifies those who lack self-control. Peacemaking is podvig (подвиг) and requires great spiritual strength, energy and effort. Very often people do not understand this and are hostile to those who are attempting to make peace between others.
19.6 Lack of malice. (6) Lack of malice is the absence of evil in a man. Lack of malice should be one of the basic characteristics of an Orthodox-Christian. Also, we have to forgive those who hurt us and our enemies, and also we should not return evil for evil.
19.7 Anger. (7) In some circumstances when the anger is justified, then it is not a sin. Unjustified anger, vindictiveness or even revenge should have no place in an Orthodox-Christians personality.
19а -- Envy, Evil Talk, Anger. Notes
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20. Non-Christian Systems Of Morality
20.1 Pagan Morality. (1) Before Christianity there were pagan systems of morality. They were the moral systems of crude force and cruelty. Constantly there were wars, prisoners were tortured and crippled. Even women and children were killed. The woman was in a difficult situation and without any rights. There was slavery, injustice and sexual promiscuity. In some countries they had laws, but all this was very far from Christian morality. There were various pagan religions, who held their believers in darkness and fear. They had sacrifices, even human ones. One can learn about those terrible times from the lives of Christian saints martyrs and especially about their death. All this was changed by Christian teaching (sermon, homily).
20.2 Christian Morality. (2) Christianity brought into the world Christian morality. With the appearance of Christianity in the world, life and all laws slowly changed. A morality of goodness, love and forgiveness appeared. The Christian Commandments gradually became part of the life of all peoples, and also became the laws of the countries. In many countries before the appearance of civil laws, the Holy Scripture was used as the law. Obviously all this did not happen right away and not in all countries evenly. Justice appeared, slavery was outlawed, the laws became more just, cruel punishments were forbidden, the rights of women were equalized with man's rights. Under the influence of Christianity even the laws in pagan countries (India, Japan, China etc.) become more humane. It can be said that the large part of present laws is based on the Holy Scriptures (Bible).
20.3 Anti-Christian morality. (3) At the present time in the world, there is a struggle against Christian morality. The forces that stand against Christian morality unite under different causes, and slowly push Anti-Christian morality. The belief in God and the believers is mocked while materialism is glorified. Under the banner of freedom, pleasure, comfort, amusements, materialism, disrespect for parents, sexual promiscuity, sodomism, narcotics, alcoholism and many, many other vices are being encouraged. All this is pulling us away from Christian morality. This is especially felt in schools and in the mass media. Various aspects of this movement are called in different ways: Post-Christian Culture (постхристианская культура), Cultural Revolution (культурная революция), Sexual Revolution (сексуальная революция) and Secular Humanism (секулярный гуманизм).
20.4 Communist Morality. (4)
In communist countries, before arrival of communism, there basically existed Christian morality. With the coming of communists to power, they tried to replace Christian morality with their own made up morality. The Lord God was replaced with the Party, service to goodness and love is replaced with service to the Party. All citizens were to serve the party and do what it orders. Naturally all this goes against the Christian teaching. This is why the Christian faith was mocked, the priests were punished and believers were persecuted. In general, all religions were persecuted, but most of all were Christians and especially the Orthodox, since they were the most dangerous for the communists.
Recently some communist countries, have began a change of attitude towards religion, possibly for the better. On the other hand, in communist Albania, 100% of all religions are still forbidden, and any believers are severely punished.
20а -- Non-Christian Systems Of Morality. Notes.
20.5 Morality of Secular Humanism.
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21. Christian Love
21.1 Christian Love. (1) 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 attraction of one person towards the other. The heart of a person who loves is open to the person whom he loves. It is ready to receive it, and bring it closer to itself. In its love it accepts the other person and gives itself in return.
21.2 Christian love brings a man closer to God. (2) Since God is the source of love and everything good, then He is in effect the Love itself. When a person loves in a Christian way, his love begins to resemble God's love. When the person loves in a Christian Way, than in his qualities he comes closer to God.
21.3 Selfish Love. (3) Selfish love looks for a benefit for itself. This kind of love is not a Christian one, but pagan. In selfish love, the most important is "I" and satisfying your own self. In Christian love, the most important is the object of your love.
21.4 Motherly Love. (4) The highest and most noble man's feeling is a mother's love. A truly loving mother completely gives herself to her loving child and does not expect anything in return. This kind of love is full of self-sacrifice and excludes personal benefit.
21.5 Loving those who do not like us. (5) About loving even those who do not like us, the Lord Jesus Christ said the following (Luke 6:32-33 NKJV):
This means that everybody loves those who are good to them. Christian love, since it is the highest form of love, embraces not only those who love us, but also those who do not; that is our enemies.
But how to achieve this? It is necessary to remember that every person is our "brother in Christ" and that every sin and evil is acting destructively on the sinner and his surrounding (environment). This will give us strength not to have negative feelings towards our enemies and their machinations, but feel sorry for them and pray for them.
21.6 Prayer for Salvation of Russia. (6) A Christian has to pray for his enemies. An example of such a Christian, noble and moving love towards enemies, 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". "Remember" means "save and protect them".
21.7 God's Law is the Teaching of Christian Love. (7) The whole God's Law, is actually the teaching about Christian love. From this follows, that the teaching about Christian love can be found in the Ten Commandments, Beatitude Commandments, the Holy Scripture and in our prayers.
21.8 Hymn of Christian Love. (8) The "Hymn of Christian Love" is the place in the Holy Scriptures (First Epistle of the Apostle Paul to Corinthians) where the whole essence of Christian love is revealed (1 Cor.13:4-8 NJKV):
21а -- Christian Love. Notes.
21.9 Sexual Revolution. With the comoing of Post-Christian Culture with sexual and cultural revolutions and Secular Humanism to the West, sacred word love began to be used for physical love or even just an act, which is neither connected with marriage, nor with Christian Love, but simply with the sin of fornication.
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22. Orthodox Family
22.1 Life according to God's Will. (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 Father 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, and 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.
22.2 Christianity is the new Seal. (2)
"Christianity is a way of life, it 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 lives like a Christian. Whatever he is doing, saying and even thinking has to be correlated with the Christian teaching. In other words, Christianity places a seal on all our behavior and especially on our relationship with other people.
22.3 Effect of Christianity on the whole World. (3) With the coming of Christianity, there appeared a way for measuring good and evil. What was not well known before, now became known and clear; good and evil was clearly defined by 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 wrong.
22.4 Christian Marriage. (4) In a Christian marriage every member of the family has his own place. A father and husband in the first place takes care of his family, his children, and wife and only after that of himself. The same goes for the mother, first she takes care of her children and husband and only then of herself. The head of the family is the father, and the wife is his helper. But the father, under no condition can be "самодур" (opinionated fool) or 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.
22.5 Upbringing Children. (5) The upbringing of children is one of the biggest and most complicated tasks for today's 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 they should contradict each other. Only this way will the children develop the correct attitude and world outlook. 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. The faith has to be understood as a living guide for everyday life, and not some ritual or something abstract.
22.6 Most important Thing in Upbringing. (6)
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 world outlook, and a guidance for every step in his life.
Most basic thing in upbringing is to teach a child to every night pray and have daily confession before God. By planting this seed, it can later grow into a mighty tree.
22.7 Negative influence of the Society. (7) The present society affects the upbringing of children in a very negative way. This is why raising children is such a big problem today. It is nearly impossible to deal with all these problems without the help of a healthy and loving family, as well as the help of the Church, priest, parish, parish school, children's organization and summer camps.
22.8 Duties of Children towards their Parents. (8) 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 to raise the children. When parents get old, than it is the duty of the children to take care of them.
22а -- Orthodox Family. Notes.
22.9 Upbringing Children in our Time.
Upbringing children in our time presents special difficulties. Only about fifty years ago there was correlation between parents and society in the subject of upbringing children. Both of them required the same thing.
The generation which was growing during the Second World War, was raised around parents and was absorbing their spirit, world view, faith, behavior etc. This way the parents had to spend much less time in raising children.
Now the things are totally different. With the coming of Sexual Revolution (сексуальной революции), Cultural Revolution (культурной революции), and Secular Humanism (секулярного гуманизма) to the West, the society lost its Christian moral guide and started to work against the parents and their work in raising children. Schools, media etc. all of them are debasing children. Previously, children's world and culture was small and in a close vicinity to their parents. Now, the children's culture became commercialized, it engrosses children, teenagers and youth and imposes the corresponding world view. This is why, now, it is very difficult to raise children and parents have to spend a lot of time doing it.
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23. Family and Society
23.1 Family and State. (1) The family is the smallest cell of a state. Therefore, in order to have a healthy and strong country, its base - the family, should also be healthy. When a family in a state is disintegrating, then even the strongest country is also disintegrating. In our time, we see everywhere the disintegration of a family. First there is the lack of faith in God, then the race 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 indirectly encouraged by the mass media and leads towards greater and greater family disintegration.
23.2 Family Egotism. (2) Family egotism occurs when a family closes on itself and does not recognize anybody else. One one side there is love for family and relatives, and on the other side animosity towards everybody else. Real Christian love includes not only family members, but also everybody else.
23.3 Life in a Society. (3)
In our times, when one lives among Non-Orthodox and nonbelievers it is necessary to clearly understand the Christian commandment of love towards everybody and relationship with other people. The Lord God created us to live in society among other people and not alone. If a person lives outside of a society, then he begins to loose contact with the living people and this leads to psychoses and other negative consequences.
On the other hand, it is necessary to understand that in our multi-faced society, it is simply dangerous to have close association with everybody. But person has to live among people and associate with them. This is why, among them, for socialization in the first place is the family, then the church parish which unites people of the same religion and of the same world view, then the school where we study or the company where we work and then the whole country.
23.4 Relationship with Non-Orthodox. (4)
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. In spite of this everything we have to treat every person and his faith with love and respect.
On the other hand we have to have a common sense and understand that many Non-Orthodox have totally different view of life, God and morality and we can fall under their negative influence. But, if we can affect them in a positive way, than to do this is our duty.
23.5 Cosmopolitanism. (5) Cosmopolitanism 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, than the parish, than the members of our faith, than our country and only then all other nations. This is the natural structure of the nations built 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 cosmopolitanism does not correspond with but rather is the opposite of the Christian world view.
23.6 Patriotism. (6)
Patriotism is the love of 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 ancestors 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 its 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 rather anti-patriotism, the national inferiority complex, full of masochism. This is when people, on one hand, love their country and its people, and on the other hand constantly criticize, laugh at and make fun of it.
23а -- Family and Society. Notes.
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24. Christian Duty to serve his Country
24.1 Homeland. (1) The natural love that a Christian feels towards his family, his countrymen, propagates to 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 our citizen's duty.
24.2 War. (2) Obviously, war is evil and deeply against all Christian principles, but unfortunately, it is often unavoidable. One of the brightest self-sacrificing heroic deeds in serving one's country (fatherland, homeland), is to give your life for your country; mostly during the war. The Christian soldier, the defender of his country and her sacred places, clearly fulfills Christ's commandment: "there is no bigger love, than to give your life for your friends".
24а -- Christian Duty to serve his Country. Примечания.
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25. Christianity and Communism
25.1 Introduction. Communism appeared in Europe in the beginning of the last century. This was the answer of European intellectuals to, at that time untamed wild, capitalism. Their aim was to build society without capitalists (rich people) and that all capital (wealth) should be in the hands of workers. In order to achieve this, it was necessary to rebuild the whole structure and economy of the country and physically exterminate all members of existing state organism: clergy, military officers, leading class, intelligentsia, rich peasants etc. In the beginning of the last century communists tried to overthrow government in different countries, but they were successful only in Russia. Russia was weakened during the First World War. Some countries were interested in the collapse of Russia, and also there were forces which were dreaming in establishing the first communist state in the world. These forces were supporting government overthrows in Russia. Taking advantage of the general state of confusion in Russia, communism came in 1917 and left in 1991, leaving 60 millions dead.
25.2 Difference between Christianity and Communism. (1)
Communism is atheistic and very hostile to all religions. Because all religions recognize God above us, this contradicts with goals 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, 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 a complete opposite of Christianity.
25а -- Christianity and Communism. Notes.
25.1 Christianity and Secular Humanism.
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26. Love for God and Neighbors
26.1 First Commandment. (1,2)
The most important duty of a Christian with respect to the Lord God is love for Him. In the Old Testament following is said: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might" (Deuteronomy 6:5 NKJV).
In the New Testament, following is said about this commandment: "This is the first and great commandment" (Matthew 22:38 NKJV).
26.2 What does it mean to love God? (3)
As the child, constantly 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.
26.3 Second Commandment. (4) The Second Commandment which the Lord Jesus Christ added to the first one is about loving our neighbor: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:39 NKJV).
23.4 Commandments on which whole Christianity is based. (5) All Christianity is based on two commandments: love for our Lord God, and love for our neighbor.
23.5 Is it possible to love God and dislike your neighbors? (6) No, this is impossible. Real love for the Lord God leads also to the love of your neighbors. Saint 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 the points on the periphery. People who love God approach Him (along the radius) and at the same time approach each other.
26а -- (26) Love for God and Neighbors. Notes.
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27. Obligation to know God
27.1 Basic obligation towards God. (1) The first and most basic duty to the Lord God is to love Him. But, since man cannot love what he does not know, than this duty leads us to know God. In other words we have to know about the Lord God.
27.2 Learning about God. (2) 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 inner (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.
27.3 Learning about God is most Important. (3) Learning about God is the most basic requirement in the life of a Christian, because it is giving him 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 secondary, how to live, and what to live for.
27.4 Life without knowledge of God. (4) 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. Let us not forget that every sin is destructive to the sinner and also to his surrounding.
27.5 Learning about God now. (5) 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 the teaching of his faith, can very easily stray onto a sinful path.
27а -- Obligation to know God. Notes
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28. Necessity of Prayer
28.1 Prayer -- expression of love for God. (1) Christian love leads to the love for God, and love for God leads to the desire to have a personal contact with Him, or to a prayer. In this way, prayer is the expression of love for God.
28.2 Prayer is essential for a Christian. (2) Prayer is the essential and the most basic element of the spiritual life of a Christian, it is a conversation with God. The spiritual life of a person depends on prayer. The person who does not pray is, in the spiritual sense, a dead person. We can see that without prayer a Christian is not a Christian.
28.3 Types of Prayers. (3) There are three type of prayers: 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 he bestowed on us.
28.4 Lord God hears all our Prayers. (4) The Lord God hears every sincere prayer. He knows what we need and He grants our prayers, but in such a way that it should benefit us. The Lord God knows things that we are not aware of. Sometimes He does not grant our prayers, most probably, because of some reason they are not beneficial for us or for somebody else. At other times He allows some difficulties, because they are necessary for our growth. Sometimes, later, people themselves understand this. Иногда сами люди, позже -- это понимают.
28а -- Necessity of Prayer. Notes.
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29. Model of a Christian Prayer
29.1 Model for a Prayer. (1) The model of a 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 NKJV)(Luke 11:2-4 NKJV).
29.2 Three Parts of Lord's Prayer. (2) The Lord`s Prayer can be subdivided into three parts: invocation, petition and glorification.
|Invocation:||Our Father in heaven,|
|1-st Petition:||Hallowed be Your name,|
|2-nd:||Your kingdom come.|
|3-rd:||Your will be done|
|On earth as it is in heaven.|
|4-th:||Give us this day our daily bread.|
|5-th:||And forgive us our debts,|
|As we forgive our debtors.|
|6-th:||And do not lead us into temptation,|
|7-th:||But deliver us from the evil one.|
|Glorification:||For Yours is the kingdom|
|and the power and the glory forever.|
29.3 Invocation in Lord's Prayer. (3)
The first part of the Lord's Prayer is the invocation: "Our Father in heaven".
In every letter first there is an invocation, 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.
29.4 First three Petitions of Lord's Prayer. (4)
The first three petitions in the Lord's Prayer are as follows: (1) "Hallowed be Your name", (2) "Your kingdom come", (3) "Your will be done, On 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.
29.5 Fourth Petition of Lord's Prayer. (5)
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.
29.6 Fifth Petition of Lord's Prayer. (6)
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 -- to forgive those who are offending us..
29.7 Sixth and Seventh Petition in Lord's Prayer. (7)
The sixth and seventh petition in the Lord's Prayer is as follows: (6) And do not lead us into temptation, (7) But deliver us from the evil one.
Here we are asking the Lord God to free us from all causes of sin. From all temptations; which sometimes gradually lead us to sin. Also to free us from the sources of the evil itself, from the devil.
29.8 Glorification in Lord's Prayer. (8) Славословие в Господней молитве гласит: For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. This glorification is added to the Lord's Prayer. It shows our confidence in the Lord God, in His love for us and that He will hear our prayer.
29а -- Model of a Christian Prayer. Notes
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30. Prayers, Holy Days and Fasts
30.1 Types of Prayers. (1) 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.
30.2 How to pray at Home? (2) It is necessary to read the corresponding prayers from the Prayer Book and add in our own words petitions. Also, it is necessary to confess your sins daily before God. During the prayer it is necessary to completely concentrate on the prayer.
30.3 St.John Zlatoust about public Prayer. (3) St.John Zlatoust (Goldenmouth, Chrysostom) 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.
30.4 Spending Christian Holy Days. (4) A Holy Day is a 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 cannot, then it is necessary to pray at home. One has to spend that time at home in prayer, or by reading Orthodox-Christian spiritual literature, or simply in peace and tranquillity.
30.5 Merrymaking on the eve of Holy Days. (5) On the eve of Holy Days merrymaking evenings should not be done, since there is an evening church service. Merrymaking during the church service is inappropriate.
30.6 St.Seraphim of Sarov about a Fast. (6) St.Seraphim of Sarov was saying following about the fasting: "He who does not observe the fasts is not a Christian, no matter what he calls himself."
30.7 Fast. (7) The great value of fasting lies in the fact that it is a "podvig" (spiritual effort of struggle) of restraint and self-limitation. Fasting strengthens a man's will and builds firm character in his religious beliefs and actions.
30.8 Spiritual Fasting. (8) Spiritual fasting is self-restraint and withdrawing from everything sinful, or from everything that can lead to a sin.
30а -- (30) Prayers, Holidays and Fasts. Notes
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31. Present-day (Contemporary) Problems (1989)
31.1 Present religious and moral Situation in 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 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.
31.2 Present religious and moral Situation of Churches in Western World. (2) 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. As a reaction to this liberalization and moving away from Christian values, there are appearing conservative groups among many religions. Also some evangelical groups appeared. Unfortunately in many of them, some areas of their program are close to Christianity, and in the other areas are far away.
31.3 Present religious and moral Situation in Communist World. (3) 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 to freely conduct their business.
31.4 Present religious and moral Situation of Churches in Communist World. (4) There is not only a tremendous interest in 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.
31.5 Russian Orthodox Church. (5)
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 Union there is the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC-MP) with Patriarch Pimen as the head. She is under the control of the state, and is infiltrated with 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 Union 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 (ROCOR); 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 free 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 America there are several Orthodox Churches established by the immigrants: Greek, Syrian (Antiochian), Serbian and the Orthodox Church in America (OCA)(formerly known as the American Jurisdiction). The OCA 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 she 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 also exists a so called Western European Jurisdiction which is now under the Patriarch of Constantinopole. This Church was also part of the Russian Orthodox Church and later part of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
31.6 Contemporary Music. (6) Music like everything else has to serve goodness. One has to know that music is capable of transferring emotions to the listener. 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 briskly. Good music makes us cheerful, calms us, and transmits to 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 rioting and destroying anything in its way. Also music can push drugs, anger etc. All this says that the Orthodox Christian should avoid music which serves evil.
31.7 Television, Radio and Movies. (7) All these creations of art can serve good or evil. Naturally when they serve good then they affect 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 affect us, then various companies would not spend very large sums of money for commercials. Bad friends affect us badly, so do bad books, films etc. All these naturally should be avoided.
31.8 Pornography. (8) 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 a woman as the object of pleasure, and not as a friend. Pornography defends itself with the existing freedoms, but carries enslavement to those 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. It is a known fact that serial killers started with pornography.
31.9 Narcotics. (9) Narcotics poison the body, undermine the will power, darken the reality, become a habit and can easily become the addiction (sinful passion). Narcotics are expensive and are slowly destroying brain cells. Many narcotics users end up in jails, become insane or border on insanity. An Orthodox-Christian has no business using drugs.
31.10 Interest about Evil. (10) 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, affects 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 affected by evil.
31.11 Duality in Personality. (11) 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 (compartmentalizing). 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.
31.12 Choosing Spouse. (12)
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. It should be remembered that the choice of a spouse is not for a year, or two, but for the whole life.
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 Church. In each stage, the events of our lives flow more or less evenly, until a critical event does take place. This event marks the beginning of the next stage. In the new stage the conditions are totally new.
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) retirement and being able to work, (8) retirement and 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, must be understood as a support and a guiding principle for the whole life and not just going to church.
31а -- Present-day (Contemporary) Problems (1989). Notes
31.13 Secular Humanism.
Этот текст по-русски
Literature on our site
Учение о христ. жизни в вопросах и ответах (по Слободскому) (ЦГ2-2)
Sermon on the Mount (Apostle Matthew) (ДД-38.5а)
Orthodox Morality (Philaret) (ДД-64ра, MLe-37b)
[П1] Этот учебник составлен как введение в учебник Игумена Филарета «Конспект по Закону Божию» по православно-христианскому нравоучению. Этот замечательный учебник составлен по книге «Христианская жизнь» Протоиерея Н. Вознесенского (позднее епископа Димитрия), отцом игумена Филарета (позднее Митрополита и Первоиерарха Русской Православной Церкви Заграницей). Книга Протоиерея Вознесенского употреблялась в качестве учебника в старших классах гимназии за рубежом. На ней воспиталось несколько поколений русских людей.
[П2] При перепечатке, просим ссылаться на эл. страницы Дорога Домой: http://www.dorogadomoj.com/
Teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ (ДД-21.4ра)
Christian Faith and Life (Slobodskoy) (ДД-35(4)а, ЦГ2-1)
Orthodox-Christian Morality in Questions and Answers (For Philaret's Book) (ДД-64.4а, CG8e-1)
Orthodox-Christian Morality. Outline (ДД-64.5а)
Confession (leaflet) (ДД-47.2а)
The Guide To The First Confession (ДД-47.3а)
[Б1] Dr. Armand M. Nicholi, Jr. The Question of God. C.S.Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life.
2002. Free Press. A Division of Simon and Schuster, Inc. New York, NY. 296 pages, soft cover.
(Профессор Харвардского университета сравнивает верующего Льуиса с неверующим Фрейдом. Прекрасная и важная работа, является модерной апологией христианства. Обязательное чтение для думающего христианина.
Нуждается в переводе на русский язык).
Literature on our site
Учение о христ. жизни в вопросах и ответах (по Слободскому) (ЦГ2-2)
Sermon on the Mount (Apostle Matthew) (ДД-38.5а)
Orthodox Morality (Philaret) (ДД-64ра, MLe-37b)