Jesus Christ Basic Christian Catechism

PROLOGUE

01 The Basic Christian Catechism contains an outline of the essential Christian faith in 72 paragraphs and 12 chapters: Prologue, God, Creation, Human Beings, Mary - Mother of Jesus, Jesus Christ, The Church of Christ, The Law of God, Prayer, The Sacraments/Mysteries, Death and Eternal Life, and References. The sequence of the chapters follows the structure of the common Creed of Christendom, the Creed of Nicea-Constantinople, whose text can be found in paragraph two. The Catechism has the blessing of two Orthodox and Catholic bishops, and is available with illustrations on a single Internet scroll.

02 I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages. Light of light, true God of true God, begotten not made, one in being with the Father, through Whom all things were made. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man. He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, suffered and was buried. The third day He rose again according to the Scriptures, ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father, and He shall come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and His kingdom shall have no end. And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, Who proceeds from the Father, Who together with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified, and spoke through the prophets.1 And in one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins, and I await the resurrection of the dead, and the life in the world to come. Amen.

GOD

03 We believe in God even though we do not see Him with our physical eyes, because this belief is rationally and logically justifiable. Our homes are full of television pictures but we cannot see them without television sets. Gravitation is an invisible force but it exists. We do not see the air we breathe yet it keeps us alive. In a similar way we believe in an invisible God, Who created the visible universe, for the universe could not create itself. Belief in God (religion, theology, mythology) is universal among humans including great minds such as Plato, Aristotle, Copernicus, Newton, Leibniz, Lomonosov, Mendel, Pasteur, Edison, Marconi, Tesla, Sklodowska-Curie and Planck. Religious faith and rational philosophy-science do not exclude each other but are complementary. Faith is not irrational but suprarational; for God is the source of all truth and knowledge and in Him there is no contradiction.

04 There is only one God, but because of the limits of the human reason and intellect, people imagine and understand God in different ways, e.g., the pagan Greek Zeus and the Slavic Triglav, and call Him by many names, e.g., Yahweh and Allah. God is uncreated bodiless Spirit, existing in the Trinity of Divine Persons: Father and Son and Holy Spirit. All three Persons are distinct, yet are equal and possess a common Divine Nature and activity for the sake of the creation. To God the Father, we ascribe creation, to God the Son redemption, and to God the Holy Spirit sanctification of the world. The Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, spoke through the prophets and inspired the authors of the Bible / Holy Scriptures. He enlightens, vivifies and directs the Church. The Holy Spirit is present in the soul's depths and in the whole world, inspiring every person towards goodness. We adore and glorify the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit "one in essence and undivided Unity in Trinity and Trinity in Unity."

05 God is love, truth, beauty and life itself. God is almighty, eternal for He always exists, immortal, unchangeable, present everywhere, all-knowing, wise, just and rewarding good but punishing evil, merciful and forgiving all sins when we repent, free, blessed, happy, good and giving everything to all, rich and needing nothing from anyone, simple, holy, sovereign, supreme, absolute and infinitely perfect. God Who unites in Himself both fatherhood and motherhood is above all gender distinctions, and transcends all creation "I am Who am" (Exodus 3:14). The human mind cannot fully grasp the mystery of God's nature and the Holy Trinity, nor can the tongue adequately express it, but neither can the greatest scientists fully understand a tiny atom which is far tinier than a speck of dust. We get a sense of God's Being and power in the vast universe which He created, and still know more about God through His Revelation, but only after death do the saints see God as He is.

CREATION

06 God wanted to share His love with other beings and make them happy, so He freely created everything visible and invisible out of nothing. (Humans only rearrange things, but cannot create even a drop of water without existing material). All that God created was good and, in limited and various ways, bears some imprint and trace of its Creator. The first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis, describes the creation of the world and of humanity in allegorical terms but does not give their exact age or other scientific details.

07 God created lifeless matter consisting of tiny atoms/elements which are studied by physics. There are 92 known kinds of natural atoms of which the universe is made up: the earth (the only known place in the universe that can support life), moon, planets, sun and billions of stars which are much bigger than the earth but only about 3,000 are visible to the naked eye. "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims His handiwork" (Psalm 19/18:2). Different combinations of atoms make up a molecule studied by chemistry. Molecules make up the gene, and the cell, from which organs (e.g., leaf and lung) of plants, animals and the human body are made. They are studied by biology.

08 God created plants which grow, vegetate, and reproduce, but have no motion. Science knows about 350,000 species of plants.

09 God created animals which grow, reproduce, move and sense, but do not have reason or free will. There are about one million species of animals.

10 God created human beings with body and immortal soul, specifically studied by anthropology and psychology.2 The atheistic theory of evolution teaches that life emerged from dead matter and that man evolved from animals. However, scientific evidence (sudden appearance of the first fossils, missing transitional fossils), properly understood, is consistent with creation of all life by God. See: W. T. Brown, In the Beginning.

11 God created invisible angels: immortal bodiless spirits with reason and free will. Some angels rebelled against God (the beginning of the mystery of sin and evil), and are called evil spirits or demons/devils. They are lead by Satan. Good angels who are in heaven, are our guardians and protect us, while the demons who are in hell tempt us and lead us into evil, slyly disturbing the whole world (Job 1, Luke 8, John 8).

12 God is Lord of creation and history. He loves, upholds and in different ways leads toward good everything He created, especially humanity, whom He appointed co-rulers of earth, plants and animals. This is known as the Providence of God.

HUMAN BEINGS

13 A human being, man or woman, consists of material/physical body and spiritual immortal soul, with powers of growth, reproduction, motion, reason and free will. The body with the 5 senses is made up of millions of cells held together by the soul. The reason or rational mind includes thinking and conscience: practical judgement of good and evil or self-censorship. The will or heart includes passions/emotions: love, joy, hope, fear, grief, etc. A human person is a social individual who grows and develops through cycles of labour and rest and in communities/organizations such as family, church, state-nation and the entire society - global village. The purpose of human life, the dignity and happiness of a human person is to know God through reason and faith, accept God by free will, and love Him as a parent for ever.

14 God created the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, in His grace, image and likeness, to live with Him in eternal happiness. This depended on being faithful to Him in the earthly paradise. Adam and Eve, like every man and woman, were different in gender but equal and complementary. In the test of faithfulness, Adam and Eve were deceived by the devil's attractive but false promise, and became disobedient to God. This is the first, original sin of humans which wounded and distorted their nature: they lost God's grace and became subject to disorderly passions, inclination to sin, pain, and death. The original sin and disease is now the condition of all descendants of Adam and Eve, all humanity - the whole world.

15 In the history of the world, sin is the root cause of all kinds of evil: blasphemies, ignorance, sickness, greed, lust, demagoguery, prejudice, abuses, discord, hatred, violence, crime, vandalism, false ideologies, divisions among groups such as religions (about 12 and many sects/cults) languages (about 3,000) and nations, wars, etc. Sin is the cause of the Great Flood, the evil of Sodom, religious violence and wars (7th-17th century), the Black Death, the Janissaries, racism, colonialism, the killing of Natives and the slave trade in the Americas, child labour, the killing of Jews and Slavs by fascism and children by abortion and hunger, deadly Marxist atheism in Eurasia, the Armenian massacre, the two World Wars and Hiroshima, the war in Indochina, the ecological crisis, etc. However, in the history and culture-civilization which arose in the Near East about 5,000 years ago, there is also much good sacred writings (e.g., Vedas), temples (e.g., Addis Ababa, Byzantium, Kiev, Rome, Washington, Mexico), monasteries, libraries, schools, philosophers and writers (e.g., Zarathustra, Lao-tzu, Socrates, Cicero, Origen, Sankara, Ibn Sina, Shakespeare, Descartes, Kant, Dostoevsky, Gandhi), encyclopedias, hospitals, the Red Cross, the Holy Alliance in 1815, fruits of art and music (e.g., Rublev, Michelangelo, Picasso, Ziolkowski, Bach, Dvorak), the Inca artisans, fruits of technology, Sputnik and other discoveries, etc.

16 History then shows that humanity, despite its vast knowledge and good intentions, cannot heal and free itself from sin. For this reason God has mercifully revealed Himself and invited humanity to salvation, through Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and other Jewish prophets of the Old Testament, and fully in the New Testament through Mary - Mother of Jesus, Jesus Christ, and the Church of Christ. God's Revelation, which reveals to us God and ourselves, is found in the Bible - the books of the word of God in the Old and New Testaments, and in the Sacred Tradition of the Church - Councils, etc. Part of the Divine truth and invitation is also found in religions outside Christianity (Judaism-Israel, Islam-Muhammad, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shinto, Sikhism, etc.) and in the conscience of every person. God loves all people and invites them to salvation, each and all according to their capacities, but He does not force anyone - freedom of religion. We accept God's will and invitation when we follow His law and Christ's way.

MARY - MOTHER OF JESUS

17 The Blessed Virgin Mary was born over 2,000 years ago in Palestine of pious Jewish parents Joachim and Anna. By the grace of God Mary was sinless from the first moment of her existence and remained so her whole life.3 She lived with St. Joseph in a marriage of perpetual virginity. The Bible, the Church Tradition and the Islamic Koran testify about Mary.

18 Mary conceived Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, gave birth to Him and remained a virgin. She is called and is in fact, the Mother of God / Theotokos, because she gave birth to Jesus, the Divine Person Who is both God and man, Son of God and Son of Man.

19 By her love and faithfulness to God, Mary repaired Eve's sin and through her God worked human redemption. Her whole life was humbly devoted to her family and neighbour. After she died, Mary was taken or assumed, body and soul, into heaven.

20 Mary is the perfect Saint, the model of Christian love and the Mother of the Church - all of us. She is always ready to intercede for us with God and to help us, just as she did at the wedding in Cana. The Orthodox and Catholic Christians honour Mary and ask her help in prayers such as the Angelic Salutation - 15 decades of the Rosary. See: Luke 1:28; St. Seraphim's prayer in An Early Soviet Saint: The Life of Father Zachariah.

JESUS CHRIST

21 The Lord Jesus Christ is the greatest Person in world history. His birth in Bethlehem marks the beginning of the Christian era. The Bible, especially the Gospels/Evangelists (Sts. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), the Tradition, the Koran and secular historians testify about Jesus.

22 Jesus Christ is the second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Son and the Word of God, Whose Divine nature is eternal, and Whose human nature was assumed in the mystery of the incarnation, when He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary true man in everything but sin. Christ's two natures are united indivisibly and unchanged in His one Divine Person. During Christ's death, His soul and body separated but each remained united to His Divinity. Jesus means Saviour in Hebrew, and Christ means Anointed in Greek - Messiah in Hebrew.

23 Out of love for mankind Jesus became man to break the devil's dominion, to repair Adam's sin, to destroy death and to win for all people the grace and possibility of eternal life with God. Christ also benefits non-Christians, just as the sun warms even those who do not see it.4

24 Born in Bethlehem, Jesus lived in Nazareth in the family of Mary and Joseph. He worked as a carpenter. At about the age of 30, Jesus began His public ministry. He preached the Gospel of wisdom, love and justice leading people to eternal salvation. Christ's message was simple but deep, often expressed vividly in parables - analogies, metaphors, and it changed the world for the better. The essence of His teaching is love of God and neighbour. Christ also performed miracles: cured the sick, expelled demons and raised the dead to life. He is the way, the truth and the life.

25 On Good Friday, Jesus was crucified on the cross under Pontius Pilate (the greatest injustice in history) on Golgotha/Calvary in Jerusalem. The third day Christ rose from the dead. By His suffering, death and resurrection, Christ completed His mission: God's glory and human salvation. The Cross of Christ has reconciled heaven and earth. Its power extends to the whole world and all ages, for it can save every sinner, even the worst criminal, from the depths of hell and bring him/her to heaven.

26 Forty days after rising from the dead, Christ ascended into heaven. He is still invisibly present, especially through the Holy Eucharist, in His Church that He founded to continue His saving action until the end of the world, when He will come again.

27 We adore and honour Christ in the Eucharist, by imitating His humble life and His loving heart, by caring for the poor (Matthew 16:24, 11:29, 25:34) and by prayer such as the Way of the Cross, the Jesus Prayer, and the greeting "Glory to Jesus Christ!"/"Praised be Jesus Christ!" Response: "Glory forever!"/"Praised be forever!"

THE CHURCH OF CHRIST

28 The Church was founded by Jesus Christ. His Apostles such as Sts. Peter and Paul and other Christians planted the Church in Mediterranean Asia, Africa and Europe, non-violently even despite Roman persecutions until Constantine in 313. Christianity entered Europe via the Balkans. By the 10th century Europe was practically Christianized, and later her missionaries Christianized parts of Asia and Africa as well as the Americas and Australia. Today about 30% of the world's population is Christian.

29 The Church participates in God's kingdom on earth; she is God's People and the Body of Christ: community of laity and clergy/priesthood/hierarchy. Christ's Church is one, holy, catholic and apostolic. Christ is the Head of the Church and sanctifies her with His Sacraments and other means - sometimes miraculous and charismatic (1 Corinthians 12:1-11). The Church is catholic, i.e., universal and common to all people and all times. She is eastern and western and possesses the fullness of spiritual wisdom and treasure. The Church is built on the Apostles and directed by apostolic successors, the bishops/hierarchy, who maintain apostolic faith and practice. The Church will endure to the end of the world. Nothing can destroy her, as confirmed by the early persecutions and the fall of the militant atheism before our very eyes.

30 The Church, a good mother and teacher, shows us the way of Christ's salvation: true faith and good works - orthodoxy. The Church is infallible in her dogmatic teaching of faith and morals, even though her members, including the bishops, can make mistakes, e.g., various schisms, caesaropapism.5 The Holy Spirit enables and inspires the Church to correctly interpret the Bible, especially its difficult parts and to teach things not written down in the Bible (John 21:25). The Church was the first to publish the Bible (see Council of Hippo). The Church's post biblical teachings and life are known as the Tradition. This comprises: the witness of all the faithful, including the laity (e.g., Mary, Helena, Clotilda, Irene, Mieszko, Vladimir, J. Hutter, Rose of Lima, V. Soloviev, C. S. Lewis, M. L. King); the Fathers and Saints (e.g., Irenaeus, Clement, Anthony, Athanasius, Ephraem, Basil, Gregory, Ambrose, Jerome, John Chrysostom, Augustine, Patrick, Benedict, Francis, Sergius, Catherine, Teresa, Seraphim, the Ugandan Martyrs); theologians, monasticism, Councils such as Constantinople and Constance, and the clergy namely deacons, priests, bishops, metropolitans, patriarchs and popes. The Bible and the Tradition are a single deposit of God's Revelation and are summarized in the Creed, catechisms, and the Sacraments, which the Church preserves and propagates in missions (Matthew 28:18-20).

31 The Church unceasingly worships God around the world through the Liturgy, and by pastoral care administers to her people Sacraments as well as sacramentals - various blessings, including exorcisms and in the Roman Catholic Church indulgences. Throughout the year, according to the Church calendar, in daily, weekly, yearly and other cycles, the Church glorifies God, His works, and the life of Jesus, Mary and the saints, in feasts such as Sundays (day of Resurrection), Christmas, Easter, Sts. Peter and Paul, and the Dormition/Assumption of Mary.

32 The church building, ideally a sacred functional symbol of timeless form and proportion, is the setting for prayer and the celebration of services such as Vespers, the Liturgy and the other Sacraments. The altar as well as images, epitomized by the Byzantine icons, which depict sacred persons and events from the creation of the world to the final glorification in heaven can also be found in church buildings. These sacred images are windows to heaven and they help us to love God, Christ, Mary and other holy persons.

33 The parish congregation, served by a priest, is a basic Church community, and a centre of spirituality. Several parishes make up an arch/diocese, headed by an arch/bishop (e.g., Los Angeles, New York, Quito, Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Kinshasa, Nairobi, Paris, Vienna, Minsk, Beirut, Vladivostok, Manila); dioceses are usually grouped into metropolitanates, which are part of patriarchates (e.g., Constantinople, Moscow, Rome) and they constitute the one Church. The Autocephalous Churches, and the Bishops' Synods and Conferences are also regional groupings of dioceses and bishops. The Primate bishops include Archbishops, Metropolitans, Patriarchs and the Pope who ideally, in addition to their diocesan duties, lead by serving in different ways particular groups of dioceses or Churches and the whole Church. The Primates do this both individually and by meeting with other bishops, in local and ecumenical Councils, collectively.6 The Protestant or Evangelical Churches/denominations (e.g., Lutheran, Anglican, Presbyterian, Baptist) are organized in part differently than the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches, having lost some beliefs and some Sacraments since the Reformation.

34 Ecumenism tries to renew full Church unity and communion which were disrupted around 451 (Near East-Europe), 1204 (Byzantine Orthodox-Roman Catholic), 1517 (Catholic-Protestant) and by other schisms. Notables in ecumenism are: Sts. Cyril, Methodius, Leopold Mandich; World Council of Churches, Madonna House, Taize, Father van Straaten, Patriarch Athenagoras and Pope Paul VI. See: John 17:21, Matthew 5:23, 20:25; liturgical prayers including the Menaion; Council of Constantinople 879-880; J. Meyendorff, The Primacy of Peter; Pope John Paul II, Ut Unum Sint.

35 The Communion of Saints, non-canonized and canonized, is the union and mutual aid among Church members / Christians on earth, in the post-death state of cleansing, Roman Catholic Purgatory, and in Heaven - the Kingdom of God.

THE LAW OF GOD

36 INTRODUCTION
God loves everyone and desires all people to experience life in abundance, harmony, peace and happiness. He gave us His law, the Commandments, as a guide and road map to this goal. God's law is good and is the basis of all human rights, freedoms and duties as well as all good human laws. (Good is the presence of all suitable perfection, sin-evil is the absence of sufficient good.) Violation of God's law in thought, word, deed or omission is sin. It is the greatest evil in the world and the source of all evil. Sin blinds and is like poison and cancer: insidious, destructive and deadly. Serious, conscious and deliberate sin, if there is no repentance, leads to separation from God, the source of life, and to eternal misery - hell. We are freed from sin by the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ and by personally repenting and asking God to pardon our sins, as did the publican, Zacheus, St. Peter, the thief on the cross and the Ninevites (Luke 13, 18, 19, 22, 23; Jonah 3, 4). "The just man falls seven times and rises again" (Proverbs 24:16). God gives to each person the grace or ability/energy to live according to His will and law: do good, avoid evil and reject temptations (proposal of sin is not a sin until consciously accepted), as well as repent and be sorry for sins already committed thus receiving God's forgiveness. Godly life includes: faith, good works, fasting, offering to God one's problems and sufferings, prayer and the Sacraments (James 2:26; Matthew 5:20, 6:2-33, 7:21, 16:24). For success in sports, practice is necessary, the same is true in spiritual life. In cooperation with God's will and grace, albeit imperceptibly, good acts/virtues can replace bad acts/vices, and several good acts form good habits and good character, which leads to perfection, sanctity, and a happy destiny - union with God. The law of God is found in each person's well-formed conscience, the Bible, the Church Tradition - Canon law, and even in the just laws of the State.

37 THE TWO GREAT COMMANDMENTS
1. You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, with your whole soul, and with all your mind.
2. You shall love your neighbour as yourself. (These two commandments contain the entire law of God; other laws and commandments explain and detail these two. Jesus Christ further clarifies this by His teaching "treat others the way you would have them treat you" and by the story of the Good Samaritan). See: Deuteronomy 6:4; Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:34-40; Luke 6:31, 10:25-37; 1 Corinthians 13.

38 THE TEN COMMANDMENTS7
1. I am the Lord your God; you shall have no other gods before Me (includes belief, hope, love, adoration and prayer to the true God; excludes worship of idols such as money and nation, divination like horoscopes and fortune-telling, magic/sorcery such as trafficking with the diabolical forces, superstition such as vain ritualism, hating and tempting-daring God, sacrilege, simony, agnosticism, atheism).
2/1. You shall not make unto you any graven thing to adore it (pious use of sacred images/icons is allowed - Exodus 25:18, Nicea II).
3/2. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain (respect God's name and other holy names; avoid trivializing God's name, perjury, blasphemy).
4/3. Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy (rest on Sunday from non-essential physical work; cultivate familial, cultural and spiritual life).
5/4. Honour your father and your mother (also respect those in society who work for the common good, e.g., pastors, civil servants like teachers; immoral and unjust laws of the State do not bind the conscience of its citizens).
6/5. You shall not kill (includes abortion, suicide, euthanasia, taking reckless death risks, harm to health such as drugs and smoking, mutilations, needless anger, hatred and offending words).8
7/6. You shall not commit adultery (also includes premarital sex, masturbation, pornography, shameful words and desires).
8/7. You shall not steal (includes fraud, excessive charges, not paying debts, not fulfilling labour and commercial contracts, gambling beyond one's means, abusive financial and perverse trade systems, damaging others' property including the common environment; requires restitution if necessary).9
9/8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour (respect the truth; avoid lies, deceit and gossip, including the ones in the mass media; keep secrets if necessary, e.g., professionals; keep promises, e.g., as in the case of politicians; apologize when necessary).
10/9. You shall not covet your neighbour's wife (or husband).
10. You shall not covet your neighbour's goods. See: Exodus 20:2-17.

39 THE BEATITUDES
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. See: Matthew 5:3-12.

40 THE CHURCH COMMANDMENTS
To abstain from unnecessary servile work and attend Liturgy/Mass on Sundays and Holy Days. To fast and abstain from meat and animal products on days appointed by the Church, e.g., Lent. To confess sins at least once a year during Easter time (deliberate withholding of a serious sin in a confession is itself a new sin). To receive Holy Communion at least once a year during Easter time (receiving Communion in the state of serious sin is also a sin). To observe marriage laws of the Church. To pray to God every day (a precept in the Orthodox Church only). To support the Church financially (a precept in the Catholic Church only).

41 THE CHIEF VIRTUES
Faith: belief and trust in God. Hope: expectation of God's promises. Charity: love of God and neighbour. Prudence: right judgement in practical matters. Justice: giving due to each and all. Fortitude: control of fear and rashness. Temperance: moderation of sexual pleasures; also modesty such as in clothing and fashions, good manners and hygiene, etc.;10 the golden mean.

42 THE SEVEN GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Wisdom, understanding, knowledge, fortitude or courage, counsel, piety or love, fear of the Lord. See: Isaiah 11:2-3.

43 THE FRUITS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, long-suffering, mildness, faith, modesty, continence, chastity. See: Galatians 5:22.

44 THE SPIRITUAL WORKS OF MERCY
Admonish the sinner, instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, comfort the sorrowful, bear wrongs patiently, forgive injuries, pray for the living and the dead.

45 THE CORPORAL WORKS OF MERCY
Feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit those in prison, bury the dead. See: Matthew 25:31-46.

46 SOCIAL TEACHING OF THE CHURCH
The Church applies the principles of the Divine law (morality, ethics) to various social and economic relationships which may not be in the Bible explicitly. The Church stands for: the right of an individual to life from conception to natural death within a just social order; the right to property and humane standards of living - food, clothing, shelter, medicine, basic education, job; freedom of religion/conscience, association (e.g., labour unions), and expression; primacy of persons over things-profits and labour over capital, equality of all persons regardless of differences of race or nationality, equality but complementarity of men and women, free market and fair trade, respect and concern for ecology including animals, democracy, peace, arms reduction including nuclear, and human solidarity - in harmony with truth, fairness, and the common good. The purpose of the State, political authority, or government is to administer justice in society and to defend the dignity of all citizens, especially children, the sick and disadvantaged, the poor, the elderly, etc. The rights and freedoms of citizens can only be limited for justifiable reasons such as traffic signs, censorship to prevent hatred, reasonable taxation or for some fault.

47 MONASTICISM
In monasticism monks, nuns and other persons live by the gospel counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience/meekness, to love and serve God and their neighbour/community better. This is potentially the most perfect state of communion with God in this life, attained by grace, faith, love, meditation, good works, prayer and fasting - asceticism, as well as contemplation, mysticism (suprarational not irrational) and the Sacraments. See: Genesis 18:26, Matthew 19:21, Acts 2:42, Philokalia, Imitation of Christ, Ascent of Mount Carmel, Butler's Lives of the Saints.

48 THE CAPITAL SINS
Pride/arrogance: misguided and excessive self-love and esteem; vanity. Avarice/greed: unreasonable coveting or desiring of money and earthly riches, mindless consumerism; stinginess. Lust: excessive desire for sexual pleasures and power. Gluttony: excessive eating and drinking. Anger: unjustified desire for revenge. Envy: jealousy and sadness at neighbour's good. Sloth/laziness: deficiency or neglect of duty.

49 SINS AGAINST THE HOLY SPIRIT
Presumption of God's mercy, despair of own salvation, envy of another's spiritual good, opposing known truths of Christian faith, obstinacy in sin, final impenitence.

50 SINS CRYING TO HEAVEN
Wilful murder, acts of sodomy or of homosexuality, oppression of the poor, defrauding the labourers of their wages.

51 ACCESSORY TO SIN
By counsel, by command, by consent, by provocation, by praise or flattery, by concealment, by partaking, by silence, by defence of the ill done. It is also sinful to lead others astray by bad example. See: Matthew 18:6.

PRAYER

52 INTRODUCTION
Prayer is communication with God. It is as necessary and natural as breathing and eating. In prayer - thought, word, song - we adore God and thank Him for all good received, we ask Him to give us His grace and meet the spiritual and physical needs of the living, even enemies, and grant repose to the dead. We can pray to God or ask Mary, other saints and angels or even friends to pray for us to God. We should pray every day privately (anywhere, anytime, in any bodily posture) and when possible pray publicly, e.g., Liturgy. We can pray in our own words or use common prayers such as "Blessed be God," "Thanks be to God," "Glory to God," "Lord have mercy," and the prayers below.11

53 THE SIGN OF THE CROSS
In the name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.12

54 THE LORD'S PRAYER
Our Father Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. *For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory for ever.*13 Amen.

55 THE DOXOLOGY
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, *now and ever and unto ages of ages.*14 Amen.

56 PRAYERS OF REPENTANCE
O God, be merciful to me a sinner. Remember me O Lord, in Thy kingdom. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner. Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal have mercy on us (3 times).

57 THE ANGELIC SALUTATION
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.15

THE SACRAMENTS/MYSTERIES

58 INTRODUCTION
Jesus Christ gave His Church, among many gifts, the seven Sacraments/Mysteries to bestow God's grace on humanity. The Sacraments are effective by Divine power and the ministry and prayers of a priest. The external form of Sacraments is called Rite. Many synonymous Rites developed in the Church, such as Coptic, Ethiopian, Syrian, Assyrian, Malabarese, Armenian, Byzantine-Greek and Roman-Latin. The power of the human intellect is almost unlimited but it perceives spiritual realities through the limited bodily senses, and expresses them in physical signs and symbols. In communicating with God and society a person needs signs and symbols taken from nature and culture. The Sacraments use visible signs such as water and bread, and channel invisible grace to a person. Worthy reception of Sacraments heals sin, sanctifies and leads us to eternal life.

59 BAPTISM
By baptism with water, the universal cleansing agent, and in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, a person's original sin and any other personal sins are forgiven, and he/she is made a child of God, a Christian / Church member, an heir of the other Sacraments and ultimately an heir of heaven. At baptism, a person also receives his/her individual name.

60 CHRISMATION/CONFIRMATION
This Sacrament strengthens a Christian with the gifts-virtues of the Holy Spirit.

61 HOLY EUCHARIST
The Holy Eucharist, Divine Liturgy or Mass consists of readings from the Bible with the Creed, the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross relived in a bloodless way including the changing of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, and Holy Communion in which we receive, as did the Apostles at the Last Supper, the Body and Blood of Christ as our heavenly food, spiritual medicine, and the bread of life eternal (John 6:51). To receive Holy Communion worthily in their respective Churches, baptized Orthodox and Catholics, should: be free from serious sin (Matthew 5:23), believe that they receive the true Body and Blood of Christ albeit under the appearance of bread and wine (1 Corinthians 11:29), and observe the proper fast before Communion. We should also thank God after receiving Communion. The Liturgy is the source and summit of Christian life, the crown of the Church's unity, her central act of worship, thanksgiving and prayer, as well as an artistic and musical masterpiece of civilization.16

62 REPENTANCE/CONFESSION
In confession, through a priest, God forgives all postbaptism sins (John 20:23) after a person: 1. examines one's conscience, i.e., looks into one's conduct and character in the mirror of God's law; 2. repents/converts, i.e., is sorry for having sinned; 3. resolves to sin no more; 4. confesses privately and quietly all one's sins to a priest (priests are sworn never to reveal what they heard in a confession); 5. does any necessary penance. As a result one is reconciled with God and neighbour, and has the peace of mind.

63 HOLY ORDERS
In Holy Orders, by God's grace and their free will, some men are ordained deacons and priests/presbyters by a bishop. We call a priest "father".17 Three or more bishops ordain selected celibate priests as bishops from whom archbishops, metropolitans, patriarchs and popes are elected. They are the pastors of the Church and they teach the word of God and administer the Sacraments.

64 MARRIAGE
God created marriage as the basis of the family and the entire society. In the Sacrament of Marriage, a man and woman receive the grace to be lifelong loving and faithful spouses/partners as well as good parents and both religious and secular educators of their children.

65 ANOINTING OF THE SICK
This Sacrament restores bodily health if it is spiritually profitable; otherwise it forgives sins, thus preparing a person for the passage through death. In case of a serious illness or accident, a priest should be called.

DEATH AND ETERNAL LIFE

66 The last four things are: death, judgement, heaven/paradise and hell/hades/gehenna. Death is a consequence of Adam's sin and after a lifetime of some 70 years, or 700 million breaths, sometimes sooner, everyone must die. Each day about 200,000 people die in the world. The soul separates from the body and goes to eternity, and the body, after a decent funeral, to the grave and dust. Just as with physical birth we see this world for the first time, so after death we see new horizons of eternity - outside of time and space.

67 Immediately after death in particular judgement, each person gives an account of his/her life before God. Those who love God and are free of serious or mortal sin are welcomed by God into His heavenly kingdom of happiness where they see God face to face with angels and saints, forever. Those who are not completely free of sin are cleansed and made ready for heaven. We on earth can help them reach heaven with our prayers, especially the Liturgy.18 Those who die in serious sin without repenting, condemn themselves forever to Hades and this is confirmed by God. The great pain in hell consists in separation from God the Creator, and in having missed the purpose of one's life and existence.

68 With Christ's second coming, the cycles of time/history and the world will end. Christ will resurrect human bodies from their graves and the General or Last Judgement will take place. Finally, God will transform and renew heaven and earth into a new and glorious creation. See: Matthew 24, 25; Romans 8:19-23.

69 We are created for the fullness of happy and blessed eternal life with God. The Lord offers everyone a share in eternal happiness through sincere repentance - even up to one's last breath.

REFERENCES

70 Abbreviations and Footnotes: e.g. - for example, etc. - et cetera, i.e. - that is, St. - Saint.
1 In the Orthodox-Catholic consensus, the Son is born of the Father, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son as from a single principle.
2 God creates the souls of Adam and Eve's descendants at the time of their conception; their bodies come from Adam and Eve via one's parents.
3 Mary's sinless conception is called the Immaculate Conception in the Catholic Church.
4 See: John 1:9, the Hindu teaching on the tenth Avatar, and Lao-tzu's Tao - the Way.
5 In the 8th century Byzantine bishops accepted iconoclasm, between 1268 and 1271 papal election was deadlocked, and in 1431 St. Joan of Arc was condemned to death, but soon all this was rectified.
6 After 451 in Syria, 732 in Macedonia and 1596 in Ukraine, sizeable and sometimes controversial boundary changes between Patriarchates/Rites took place. For modern convergence on the dispute about the Papal primacy, see the Greek-American theologian E. Clapsis and Cardinal Ratzinger.
7 Twin numbers indicate Orthodox/Protestant and Catholic/Lutheran numeration respectively.
8 Commandment 6/5 can have exceptions: abortion if the mother's life is in danger; capital punishment; just and defensive war against serious aggression when all other means fail, when success is likely, and when the resulting evil is not greater than the evil of aggression.
9 In case of extreme necessity, e.g., food, clothing, shelter, medicine, a person can use things legally belonging to others without their consent, e.g., ambulance going through a red light.
10 To minimize the transmission of sickness it is well, for example, to avoid spitting in the streets, to cough into one's shoulder instead of palm, and to wash hands after using the washroom.
11 See also: Matthew 6, 7, 18; prayer books; R. Taft, The Liturgy of the Hours in East and West.
12 The sign is made with the fingers touching the forehead, the chest and the shoulders as these words are spoken.
13 This is the most perfect prayer. The part between the asterisks is generally omitted in the Roman Rite; in the Byzantine Rite this part reads *For Thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory, of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages.*
14 Asterisks indicate the Byzantine ending; the Roman ending reads: *as it was in the beginning is now and will be for ever.*
15 This is the Roman text; the Byzantine text reads: Hail, Mother of God and Virgin, Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast given birth to the Saviour of our souls. Holy Theotokos pray for us sinners.
16 The consecrated bread changes into the glorified Body of Christ as the eaten food becomes one's body; as each broken piece of mirror reflects the whole image, so the whole Body of Christ is present in each piece of the broken bread; tiny vitamins are potent, more potent still is the little piece of bread containing Christ. For a discussion of the Epiclesis see http://slavxrist.org. For various forms of Liturgy, the oldest today being the Liturgy of St. James of Jerusalem and Syria and the most widespread being the Byzantine and the Roman Liturgies, see: H. A. J. Wegman, Geschiedenis van de Christelijke Eredienst in het Westen en in het Oosten; F. E. Brightman, Liturgies Eastern and Western; N. D. Patrinacos, The Orthodox Liturgy; C. Kucharek, The Byzantine-Slav Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom; J. A. Jungmann, Missarum Sollemnia; liturgikons/missals.
17 Just as only men are priests in the unanimous Orthodox-Catholic practice, so apparently only a woman's RNA directs the activity of the early zygote; see: Theological Studies, Volume 36 (1975) page 310. However, the practice of priestly celibacy in Church history varies as even some early Popes married.
18 See: 2 Maccabees 12; Sts. Gregory of Nyssa, Cyril of Jerusalem, John Chrysostom, Maximos the Confessor; the Orthodox and Catholic Requiem prayers.

71 For further details see: the Bible; N. P. Tanner, Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils; J. P. Migne, Patrologiae Cursus Completus; T. Aquinas, Summa Theologica; P. Mogila, Orthodoxa Confessio Fidei Catholica et Apostolica Ecclesiae Orientalis; S. Slobodskoj, Zakon Bozhij; Catechism of the Catholic Church; The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church; World Christian Encyclopedia. For current Church life see: encyclicals such as the 1920 encyclical of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Centesimus Annus; periodicals such as Zhurnal Moskovskoj Patriarkhii, and L'Osservatore Romano; the Internet http://www.mospat.ru, http://www.monasterechevetogne.com, http://www.vatican.va/ or consult a parish priest. There are some 25,000 Orthodox and Catholic parishes in Canada, the United States and Australia where the word of God is taught and the Sacraments administered.

72 The Basic Christian Catechism was first published in Russian-Slavonic as Osnovnoe Xristianskoe Verouchenie, in Toronto, 29 September in the year of our Lord Jesus Christ 1999. 2001 This English edition is copyrighted - non-profit use is permitted - by Slavic Christian Society / Societe Chretienne Slave / Slaviansko Xristianskoe Sobranie, 4260 Cawthra Rd., Mississauga, Ontario L4Z 1V8 Canada.

Virgin Mary

Blessed by: Bishop Seraphim of Ottawa and Canada, Orthodox Church in America, 15 March 2001

Blessed by: Emmanuel Cardinal Wamala, Archbishop of Kampala, 15 March 2001

Published by: Slavic Christian Society, Mississauga, 6 December 2001