Parishioners from my church are putting a FAQs page online in order to evangelize. We have a couple hundred questions to date divided into the following categories:

The Church and Her People
What Does Your Church Teach About...
The Mysteries: How, When, and Who?
Why Do You Do That?
How Do You Do That?
Customs, Traditions, Feasts, and Celebrations

We're still collecting questions, but now we're also looking for help answering them. Answers are generally a couple lines to three paragraphs. Several of the questions have been answered elsewhere, but that doesn't help us because we can't copy someone else's copyrighted work. We feel it is important to have a resource such as this about the liturgical, theological, spiritual, and disciplinary heritage of the Byzantine Church in one online location for inquirers. We'll be happy to give you credit for the answer if you would like us to.

You can copy answers out of emails, posts, personal notes, or other sources that you've written if you have it already. We're looking for a basic, introductory, easily accessible response for inquirers. We hope to reach non-Catholics and non-Christians with the questions and answers, as well as to inform fellow Catholics of the East and West. Please consider spending 10 minutes of your time answering a question or two from the below list. People are especially needed to answer questions directed to Mormons, Muslims, Jehovah's Witnesses, Jews, and Atheists. You can contact me through a PM or this thread with any questions or with answers.

Please pray for our evangelization endeavors.

Thank you.
Some sample questions from the category of What Does Your Church Teach About...

The Eucharist
-Transubstantiation/consubstantiation and the point of consecration
-Closed communion and the Eucharist being a sign of unity with the Church
-The True Presence (Refuting Protestant claim of symbolism, Anglo-Catholic claim of intent, and anti-Catholic claim of cannibalism)
-The Eucharist in the Bible
-The Eucharist's Jewish origins (anamnesis, breaking of bread, Passover, manna, etc)
-the Eucharist's role in the life of the faithful
-Was the Last Supper a Passover meal? (difference in east and west, leavened and unleavened bread)
-Quotes by Church Fathers and Mothers on the Eucharist

Marriage (from a theological point of view)
-The role of spouses. Submission or equality? Self-giving.
-The raising of children.
-Vocational calling and attaining salvation.
-Will we be married in heaven?
-Quotes by Church Fathers and Mothers on marriage

Chrismation/Confirmation (from a theological point of view)
-Why do you call it Chrismation instead of Confirmation. Are they the same thing?
-What are its effects? (Include gifts of the Holy Spirit)
-Why is it needed?
-Where is it in the Bible?
-Why is it performed on infants who are unable to speak for themselves?
-I've heard the Orthodox repeat chrismation. Do you?
-Isn't Confirmation taking on one's own faith and becoming an adult in the Church?
-Why is it combined with Baptism?
-Why do you chrismate then commune instead of the other way around?
-Quotes by Church Fathers and Mothers on Chrismation

Baptism (from a theological point of view)
-Rebirth and the need for baptism by water
-Only once
-Reason to baptize (refuting it is a personal testimony of faith)
-The effects of baptism (regenration of sin and life everlasting)
-Why don't you recognize Mormon or some Pentecostal baptisms?
-What happens to people who die unbaptized?
-Do you teach baptism by desire, fire, or blood?
-Quotes by Church Fathers and Mothers on Baptism

-Voluntary and involuntary or mortal and venial?
-What is sin and what does it cause?
-Does sin cause illness? Should physical illnesses be treated as spiritual problems? (Reference Job)
-The way Christ gave us to reconcile us from sin
-Do you have to feel sorry for your sins? (Focus: feelings are different from decisions.)
-The call for Repentance
-Quotes by Church Fathers and Mothers on sin and repentance

-Do you worship Mary? Explaining veneration and honor (directed to pagans who want us to as well as to others who are scared we do)
-Prayer to Mary. Why it is so common, why it is in the Liturgy, why some prayers don't mention Jesus directly, why we ask her to save or protect us. (Serious apologetic answer)
-The Immaculate Conception. Do you believe it? Do you deny it? What do you teach?
-The Dormition and the Assumption. (Directed toward Roman Catholics as well as Protestants.)
-Mary is the second Eve. What does that mean?
-Titles for Mary like Theotokos and Mother of God. (Explain and defend.)
-Mary's ever virginity. Reference stars on icons. Explain why we know this. (Mainly for Protestants)
-What happened to Mary after Christ's Ressurection?
-Quotes by Protestant reformers on Mary
-Quotes by Church Fathers and Mothers on Mary

Brothers of the Lord
-The eastern tradition of St. Joseph being a widower
-Who was St. James? (Reference Flight into Egypt icon and other known children of Joseph)
-Brothers, Cousins, Relatives -- What does that word mean?
-Quotes by Church Fathers and Mothers on Jesus' family of origin.

The divinity of Jesus (Especially for non-Christians such as Muslims and Jews)
-The Incarnation
-Fully man and fully God (Two natures, one person)
-Did he grow into knowledge of his divinity? Did he know he was divine? (reference maturity in icons)
-Did he become more holy over time?
-Was he a fine man that God adopted as His son?
-Is he one of many spirit children of God?
-Did Jesus work to attain his divinity? If we keep the law, can we attain the same divinity?
-Jesus is the new Adam - what does that mean?
-Was Jesus a prophet? (Especially for Muslims.)
-Did Jesus have physical suffering like hunger, thirst, and pain?
-Did Jesus have a wife, marriage, mistress, or children?
-Quotes by Church Fathers and Mothers on Jesus' divinity.

The Trinity/God (Especially for non-Trinitarians and athiests)

-Wasn't Christ really God in physical form while the Holy Spirit was God's spiritual form? Isn't God unitarian instead of trinitarian?
-Wasn't the Holy Spirit just Christ's spirit, making God binitarian?
-What do you believe about the procession of the Holy Spirit? (The filioque, a helper, Pentecost)
-Is the Trinity polytheistic? Do you worship three gods?
-Is the Trinity in the Bible? (Reference reliance on oral tradition, which is in the Bible)
-Is God vengeful? Why is there so much fighting in His name? Why would I want to worship a vengeful God?
-If God is love, then why does He allow disease, pain, and war to hurt mankind?
-Can you prove God exists?
-What do you believe about God? (Apophatic vs. Kataphatic, attributes of God, perichoresis and creation)
-Is it possible God has sent different prophets to different times and places? That there are different paths to God?
-Quotes by Church Fathers and Mothers on the Trinity and God.

The Holy Spirit
-Are the gifts of the Holy Spirit still present in the church? If so, how?
-Why don't I see all the chrismated people speaking in tongues if you believe it bestows the gift of the Holy Spirit on them?
-How is your Liturgy charismatic?
-Do miracles still happen?
-Does the Holy Spirit grant all true believers financial and physical health?
-Are we saved by the gift of the Holy Spirit?
-Quotes by Church Fathers and Mothers on the Holy Spirit.

-What happens to babies who die in the womb?
-Are you born again?
-Are you saved?
-Are all people saved?
-Is it predestined who will be saved?
-Does God want us to be saved?
-What do you believe a man must do to be saved?
-How must we cooperate with our salvation? And what is theosis?
-Can we have an assurance of our salvation?
-Is salvation by faith alone? Grace alone? Do you believe we work our way to heaven?

The OT commandments
-Christ is the fulfillment of the law
-Do we still have to eat Kosher? Do we have to avoid pigs or bottom dwellers?
-Do people who are ethnic Jews still have to follow the law even though Gentiles don't?
-Are you allowed to keep or celebrate Jewish holidays like Passover?
-Sunday or the Sabbath?

-Why do you have ordained leaders? Aren't we all ordained to the royal priesthood?
-Where are priests in the Bible? (Include Jewish roots and Jesus the High Priest)
-If the sacraments don't depend on the faith of the priest, then why do you need a priest?
-Why does ordination need to come from someone with apostolic succession? What is that anyway?
-Why don't you ordain women?
-I heard you ordain people to other roles besides priests. What are they? (Minor orders)
-Didn't the Church ordain women as deaconesses at one time? (Need an impartial presentation of arguments in favor and against the word ordination, as well as clear explanation what that the role of deaconess involved)
-I heard you ordain married men. Is that true? (Include historical explanation of married priests in the geographically western lands)
-Do married men have to stop having marital relations when they are ordained? (Include info on marital fasting)
-What do you believe are the responsibilities incurred with ordination?
-Do you believe ordination puts an indelible mark on a person's soul so that he is always a priest no matter what he does?
-Do you recognize the ordinations of other Christians?

End Times
-What happens after death (include refutation of soul sleep)
-What is heaven? Will the earth become a heavenly paradise?
-Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory
-Are there levels in heaven?
-Revelations and the Whore of Babylon
-Will all the true believers be spared from the tribulation?
-What is the mark of the beast?
-The Rapture and Christ�s Second Coming

Odds and Ends
The atonement (including the greatest saving act of Christ: death, resurrection, or incarnation)
The nature of man (inherently good or inherently sinful)
Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving
Spiritual warfare (include emphasis on warfare within one�s own heart)
Science (including creation and evolution and medical services)
Iconography (Include references to council decrees)
The Bible and Tradition (include tie to Judaism)
Liturgical attendance (honor, obligation)
The Communion of Saints
The death penalty
Sex and sexuality
Here are a few answers to get the juices flowing. I've tried to keep them as short as possible. However, if anyone thinks they require clarification ...

-Can you prove God exists?
No, we cannot prove that God exists. If we could, then there would be no need for faith. Faith is the belief in things that cannot be seen.

-Why do you call it Chrismation instead of Confirmation. Are they the same thing?
Chrismation is the anointing with oil to be given the seal and gift of the Holy Spirit. Roman Catholic babies are also anointed at baptism. However, their priests do not have jurisdiction to confer the seal and gift of the Holy Spirit so that anointing is conditional, and �confirmed� by the bishop, who holds that authority.

-What happens to people who die unbaptized?
This is a mystery; however, we trust in the mercy of God.

-Do you have to feel sorry for your sins? (Focus: feelings are different from decisions.)
Yes, we must feel sorry for our sins. The Desert Fathers often spoke of the sincere sorrow that leads to tears. However, that sorrow must also lead to metanoia, a Greek word which means a change of mind and heart. Thus, feeling sorry is only the beginning. That feeling must lead to a decision to amend our ways.
Here's something I wrote a while back and I don't mind you using it.
What does the Byzantine Church teach about Original Sin?

The Western doctrine of original sin, originally formulated by Saint Augustine, states that we inherit Adam's guilt. This is the consequence of a misunderstanding in St. Jerome's Latin Vulgate of Romans 5, which is the version of the New Testament that Augustine used in formulating his doctrine (Saint Augustine being unable to read Greek). In the Greek, the verb dikaioo is used, which means to make righteous. Saint Jerome translated dikaioo into the Latin verb justificio (from whence comes our English word justification). Justificio was a legal term in the Latin law court, and it meant that an accused person was pronounced free of condemnation and punishment. It was this latter understanding that St. Augustine used to formulate his theory on original sin, despite the translation�s accuracy being disputed at the time. The eastern churches do not believe we inherit Adam�s personal guilt, but just his mortality. Through Adam�s fall, corruption entered the world. Through Christ�s incarnation, salvation.

I'll see if I can find any others.
To "Wondering"

Although St. Augustine has had a profound influence on the Western theological tradition, the Western Catholic Church does not fully subscribe to all explanations offered by St. Augustine.

The Church does not teach that all people inherit the guilt of original sin. Check out the following paragraphs:

Catechism of the Catholic Chruch: Article 404 "How did the sin of Adam become the sin of all his descendants? the whole human race is in Adam "as one body of one man". By this "unity of the human race" all men are implicated in Adam's sin, as all are implicated in Christ's justice. Still, the transmission of original sin is a mystery that we cannot fully understand. But we do know by Revelation that Adam had received original holiness and justice not for himself alone, but for all human nature. By yielding to the tempter, Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state. It is a sin which will be transmitted by propagation to all mankind, that is, by the transmission of a human nature deprived of original holiness and justice. and that is why original sin is called "sin" only in an analogical sense: it is a sin "contracted" and not "committed" - a state and not an act.

405 "Although it is proper to each individual, original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam's descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin - an inclination to evil that is called concupiscence".

Good point, Lazareno. I would think it would be better for someone to provide an answer about what the East believes than my own faulty explanation of what it rejects.
Re: Sophia Wannabe <<Can you prove God exists? No, we cannot prove that God exists. If we could, then there would be no need for faith. Faith is the belief in things that cannot be seen.>>

I understand the basic concept your are stating, however, it could be misleading. Even if our words may not "prove" to another person that God exists, this does not mean that there are no "evidences" of it. Wisdom chapter 13 (especially verses 1-9) and Romans 1:18-20.

Faith is does not mean that we cannot know something at all. Even if we could acquire knowledge of God by reason and experiece, what we know is very limited. Faith enhances, and completes, and surpasses human reason, but it is not necessarily devoid of it.

<<-Why do you call it Chrismation instead of Confirmation. Are they the same thing? Chrismation is the anointing with oil to be given the seal and gift of the Holy Spirit. Roman Catholic babies are also anointed at baptism. However, their priests do not have jurisdiction to confer the seal and gift of the Holy Spirit so that anointing is conditional, and &#8220;confirmed&#8221; by the bishop, who holds that authority.>>

Chrismation simply means anointing, or anointing with Chrism. The term Confirmation signifies the effect of the anointing/chrismation which is a strengthening (confirmatio) by the Holy Spirit.

Actually, the post-baptismal anointing of infants in the Roman Catholic Church, is not regarded as Confirmation. This anointing is a remnant of sacramental Chrismation/Confirmation, but is not regarded as Chrismation or conditional Chrismation.

A Roman Catholic priest may, in fact, confirm school-age children, and adults, at the time of their baptism. Roman Catholic liturgical norms prescribe that children of school age and adults, receive baptism, confirmation, and holy Eucharist, at the time of their being received into the Church. No special permission is needed from the bishop as the law provides for this. If a person was baptized but not chrismated as an infant/child, the Confirmaiton will later be administered ordinarily by the bishop, unless he delegates its administration to the parish priest under certain circumstances.

Until very recent times, most hispanic countries (& Philippines) confirmed babies some time after baptism, but as babies. The bishop being the ordinary minister of this sacramental mystery.

Of course, these practices are different than Eastern Church pracice.

Thank you, Lazareno, for your clarifications. I'm glad someone else besides me is reading and taking the time to respond to these questions. There are so many knowledgeable people on this forum, I'm surprised there hasn't been much response. Hopefully, there will be more response from some of the priests, deacons and other theologists over the weekend.

This is a massive undertaking, but once these FAQs are complete and posted on the parish website, we can all link to them from our own parish websites. It will truly be a wonderful resource.
Originally Posted by Barnacle Bean
-The Eucharist in the Bible

- Theosis

- The Bible AND the Liturgy (by Danielou)

Cardinal Jean Danielou, S.J. [salvationhistory.com]

- The Bible IN the Liturgy (by Nasr)


I'm impressed with the effort that your parish has undertaken to spread the Good News of Christ and our faith in particular.

I expect that responses haven't be posted because so many responses are questioned, debated and contested in these forums and many people don't want to get into serious debate, so please don't feel disappointed.

I'll offer responses regarding sin that you may choose or reject:

-Voluntary and involuntary or mortal and venial? To be a sin there must be a knowledge of right and wrong; for example a baby cannot commit a sin; however after reaching the age of reason everyone has some degree of knowing right from wrong. The conscience that we have will "convict" us by feelings of guilt or remorse. But "deadening" a conscience by repeated sin, such as lieing so much that you don't even realize that you are not truthful doesn't absolve one from sin. The person is long past the initial realization and has deadened his conscience.

-What is sin and what does it cause? Christ taught the "golden rule" that we are to treat others as we would like to be treated. As faithful disciples of Christ we are obligated to follow this teaching. This is generally what separates Christianity from other religions. There are greatly varying degrees of violating this teaching, but generally when we nonchalantly or intentionally break this teaching we sin. For example, calling someone names is a violation, but a very minor sin. To falsely accuse someone of being a child molester is a major sin because it can destroy one's life.
I didn't directly answer about the difference between major (mortal) and minor (venial) sin because Christ is the "Just Judge" and we truly won't know for sure until we are judged. All the more reason for us not to try to "walk the fine line."

-Does sin cause illness? Should physical illnesses be treated as spiritual problems? (Reference Job) Sin can cause illness; for example if someone doesn't forgive someone for an act of unkindness, or is envious of someone, it can eat at them and make them bitter until it becomes obvious to everyone except the angry person. It affects their emotional health and even can affect their looks, as they become haggard. A comment attributed to the Virgin Mary by a "seer" in one of her apparitions asked her, "Why are you so beautiful?" She answered, "Because I love!" You can see this in people; people who are loving have an undescribable "glow" about them.
Every sin has a cost; humanity is hurt in some way with every sin. In America the courts are packed with people who have broken their vow of Marriage. In court they fight about custody of children, child support, visitation, and alimony. By far the great percentage of children who are missing were taken (or even murdered) by a former spouse or formerly "significant other." But even a minor sin (such as a "white lie" hurts, because to the person who finds out you were not completely honest with them you have destroyed your own integrity and now perhaps caused some animosity with the person you lied to.

-The way Christ gave us to reconcile us from sin.
The Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ is our redemption. He has freed us from the uncertainty of Life after Death and has proven that there is life. But we haven't been given a "blank check" to do as we please. As Christians we have an obligation to follow the teachings of Christ. When we sin (as humans we are imperfect) He has given us a way of clearing our conscience through Confession, or Reconciliation as we Eastern Christians call it. You may have heard the saying "Confession is good for the soul." By being humble enough to admit to a priest that we have faults (sins) Christ forgives us through the priest. (Mt16:19, Mt 18:18, John 20:21-23

-Do you have to feel sorry for your sins? (Focus: feelings are different from decisions.)The practice of a good examination of conscience will eliminate the need for this question. If we habitually, say nightly, or before Communion, examine what we have done and how we may have lived better as Christians, the sorrow for disobeying our loving Savior will automatically bring remorse. When we further contemplate how it hurts the people we sin against we can't help but have regret. This is healthy and even brings on one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, what we call "Tears of Repentance." When we call on the Holy Spirit for fortitude to resist and overcome this sin we are strengthened and Reconciliation becomes a joy! We KNOW with our heart and soul that we can be freed from this slavery of sin.

-The call for Repentance. See above

-Quotes by Church Fathers and Mothers on sin and repentance. In the early Church, sin was a very serious matter and if you didn't repent publicly you were removed from the Christian community. Acts 5:1-10 As the Church grew and the Roman make Christianity the state religion the Church become more forgiving.
St John Climacus said, "Repentance lifts a man up. Mourning knocks at heaven's gate."

Father Deacon Paul Boboige

Regarding original sin, I believe that, indeed, the Catholic Church does teach that there is a 'guilt', 'taint', or 'stain' of original sin that is transmitted to all of us.

"If any one denies, that, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is conferred in baptism, the guilt of original sin is remitted; or even asserts that the whole of that which has the true and proper nature of sin is not taken away; but says that it is only rased, or not imputed; let him be anathema."

That's infallible dogma from the Ecumenical Council of Trent. I would think that the 1992 Cathechism is simply saying the same thing using different language.

It might, perhaps, be more proper to view this as the fact that the Western and Eastern branches of the Church tend to focus on different aspects of original sin. But I would think what the Catholic Church normatively holds as infallible dogma technically holds for all.

Regards to all,
© The Byzantine Forum