Question 1. What must the orthodox-catholic Christian do to gain eternal life?
Response. Right faith and good works. For whoever has these two is a good Christian and has certain hope of eternal salvation, as Scripture says: "You see that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only."[l] A little later in the same place: "For even as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead." Elsewhere St. Paul says the same thing: "Having faith and a good conscience, which some rejecting have made shipwreck concerning the faith." The same thing in another place: "Holding the mystery of faith (1) in a pure conscience. "
Q. 2. Should a Christian first believe and then do good works in life?
R. Since "without faith it is impossible to please God", as St. Paul teaches, "he that comes to God must believe that he is, and is a rewarder to them that seek him." Therefore, so that a Christian may please God and his works may be accepted by him, first it is necessary that he have faith in God and then he must form his life according to this faith.
Q. 3. In what do these two things consist?
R. In the three theological virtues, that is, faith, hope and charity (2), according to which there should also be three parts in the Orthodox Confession of Faith. In the first part the articles of faith are treated; hope, the Lord's Prayer and the Beatitudes are in the second; in the third there are the Commandments of God, wherein is found charity toward God and neighbor.(3)
Q. 4. What is faith?
R. Faith is, according to St. Paul, "the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not. For this the ancients obtained a testimony." Or, as follows: the apostolic orthodox-catholic (faith) is to believe in one's heart and confess by one's mouth one God in the Holy Trinity, according to the teaching of the same St. Paul: "for with the heart we believe unto justice; but with the mouth confession is made unto salvation;" and then also, Faith is to hold intact all the articles of the orthodox- catholic faith, handed down by Christ the Lord through the Apostles and pronounced and approved in the Ecumenical Councils (4) and to believe them without doubt as taught therein, just as the Apostle designates: "Brothers, stand fast and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word or by our epistle."  And in another place: "I praise (you, brothers), that you are mindful of me in all things; and keep my ordinances as I delivered them to you."  From these words it is clear that the articles of faith receive their commendation and authority partly from Sacred Scripture and partly from church tradition and the teaching of the Councils and the Holy Fathers. By way of explanation in this matter, St. Dionysius says: "For the substance of our hierarchy is the divinely given oracles; most truly we declare these oracles to be venerated, which were given to us by our holy founders, inspired by the Holy Spirit, in Sacred Scripture and theological books, as also that which comes from these same holy men in a more subtle way, not completely treated from on high, but by the penetration of one mind unto another, indeed by way of the corporeal word, but nevertheless at the same time immaterial, by which our holy founders were taught without writing in this certain sacred tradition."  I speak, he says, of certain dogmas given through the Scripture and contained in the theological books (that is, of St. Basil); (5) Truly these are dogmas which were orally given by the Apostles and the Holy Fathers. And on these two things the faith is based, not only to remain in the recesses of the heart, with all doubt and fear really removed, but to be proclaimed and professed orally, even as the Psalmist says: "I have believed, therefore have I spoken." "We also believe, wherefore we also speak."
Q. 5. How many are the articles of the orthodox-catholic faith?
R. The articles of the orthodox-catholic faith are twelve, according to the Creed of First Nicaea and First Constantinople, in which Councils everything concerning our faith up to that time had been declared, so that nothing more or less or different must be believed except that which those Fathers knew. (6) Truly, however, some of these articles are clear in themselves; others contain certain (mysteries) in themselves, from which other things are known.
Q. 6. Which is the first article of faith?
R. The first article of faith is this: "I believe in one God, the Father all-mighty, Creator of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible."
Q. 7. What teaching of faith is in this article?
R. This article of faith teaches two things. First, to believe and confess that in the Holy Trinity glory is given to one (God) (7) and that in divinity the Father is the principle and source of the Son and the Holy Spirit. And then it teaches that this same God, who is in the Holy Trinity, created from nothing everything, both visible and invisible, as the Psalmist testifies: "For he spoke and they were made; he commanded and they were created."
Q. 8. How is this to be understood concerning God?
R. It must be believed that there is one God in the Holy Trinity according to Scripture: "One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all." Since, therefore, God is in himself good, exceedingly good and most perfect, he created the world so that all things might participate in his goodness by glorifying him. Nevertheless, by no creature, neither visible nor invisible, not even the angels, can he himself in his own essence be known, because there is no comparison between the creature and the creator. Hence, as a result, as St. Cyril of Jerusalem teaches: "It is sufficient for us in reverence to know that there is God, one God, existing and always existing, ever the same in himself, beyond whom there is no other." And as the Lord God himself speaks through the Prophet: "I am the first, and I am the last, and besides me there is no God." Also, as Moses exhorts the Israelite people: "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord."
Q. 9. If there is one God, does it (not) seem there ought to be one person?
R. No, for indeed God is one in his essence, but in persons - three, as in clear from the teaching of our Savior himself, when he spoke to the Apostles: "Going therefore, teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit." From such words it is evident that in one divinity there are three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit: the Father who eternally generates from his essence the Son and sends forth the Holy Spirit; the Son, however, who is generated by the Father before all ages, is co-essential with him; the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father from eternity, is co-essential with the Father and the Son. In explaining this, St. John Damascene says: "The Son and the Holy Spirit are assigned to one cause, namely, the Father." The same author in another place: "The Son is from the Father by way of generation; the Holy Spirit is also from the Father, but by way of procession and not generation." Gregory the Theologian, discussing the words of the Epistle to the Romans ("For of him, and by him, and in him, are all things." ) says the following: "It first must be attributed to the Father, secondly to the Son, and thirdly to the Holy Spirit that the Trinity might be known in the divine persons."  Also here, since we are baptized without exception equally in the name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit, so therefore, what the Father is in essence, so also is the Son and the Holy Spirit; and as the Father in his essence is true and eternal God, the Creator of all things visible and invisible, such, therefore, is the Son and so also the Holy Spirit; and they also are co- essential, according to the teaching of St. John the Evangelist, who says: "And there are three who give testimony in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit. And these three are one." For this alone is excepted, that the Father in his divinity is principle of the Son and H oly Spirit. And these two persons are from the one, who is from none. Such, therefore, we learned from eternal Truth itself, Jesus our Savior, as well as from the holy Apostles. Ecumenical and provincial councils, as well as church Doctors, have taught the same and have handed it down and confirmed it. So also maintains the orthodox-catholic Church. The holy martyrs have shed their blood because of this faith and have exchanged their life for death. (And we too should believe this teaching without doubt and with our whole heart) (8) and firmly uphold it and even desire our death, if necessity demands, because of this faith and the hope of our salvation„then we will receive eternal reward in heaven, presuming the presence of our good works. (9)
Q. 10. How can the Trinity be understood more clearly?
R. No example can perfectly illustrate or clearly represent to our mind how God can be one in essence and three in persons. But, that which no example can illustrate, Jehovah himself indicated as he spoke through the Prophet: "To whom have you likened me, and made me equal, and compared me, and made me similar?" And so far, neither human nor angelic mind can capture, nor can any tongue express this; wherefore, it is not without reason that we must say with the Apostle: "destroying counsels and every lofty thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every understanding into captivity to the obedience of Christ." We firmly believe that God the Father, existing from eternity, is from nothing and even before the ages generates the Son from his essence and sends forth the H oly Spirit. Athanasius discourses more fully on this in his Creed. (10) But so believing, we do not investigate, for the investigator of the Divine Majesty is forbidden, according to Scripture: "Seek not the things that are too high for you, and search not into things that are above your ability; but the things that God commanded you, think on them always, and in many of his works be not curious." And so it suffices for us that Sacred Scripture of the Old Law, in professing one God, expresses three persons in saying: "Lord God said: Let us make man to our image and likeness." And later: "Behold Adam is become as one of us." In like manner: "Come, therefore, let us go down and there confound their tongue, that they may not understand one another's speech." This very same thing the Prophet expressed in saying: "And they cried out to one another and said: 'Holy, Holy, Holy, God, all the earth is full of his glory."'  And the Psalmist says: "By the word of the Lord the heavens were established, and all the power of them by the spirit of his mouth." Concerning these things there is fuller treatment in Sacred Scripture and Church Doctors.
Q. 11. What are the attributes of God?
R. Just as God himself is incomprehensible, so also are his attributes incomprehensible; nevertheless, it will be permissible to speak and think personally about God to the degree that such can be gathered from Sacred Scripture and the Doctors of the Church. First, it should be known that some divine attributes are personal and some are of the essence itself.
Q. 12. Which are the divine personal attributes?
R. The divine personal attributes are those through which the persons of the H oly Trinity are distinguished among themselves, such that one cannot be another; e.g., the person of the Father is not the person of the Son, because the Father is generated from no one; the Son, however, is generated by the Father before all ages from the latter's essence, according to Scripture: "from the womb before the day star I have begotten you." The Father, Son and Holy Spirit„ungenerated, generated and proceeding„ are separate in the Divine persons but not in essence, which is never separated in itself, but only distinguished from creation. But one and the same person cannot be generated and ungenerated. For this same reason we must consider the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father's essence from eternity and is co-essential with God the Father and the Son, but is distinguished from the Father by the attribute of person, because he proceeds from him, whereas he is not from the Son by way of generation, as the Son is from the Father, but by way of procession from the same Father. (11) The Son and the Holy Spirit are co-essential to each other, because both are from one and the same essence of the Father, and they are co-essential with the Father, since they are from his very essence, about which Gregory the Theologian speaks in this manner: "The Son and the Holy Spirit have this in common that they both are from the Father; these truly are the attributes of the Father, of course, that he is ungenerated; of the Son, that he is generated; and of the Holy Spirit, that he proceeds." Likewise, the most holy incarnation of the Son is his personal attribute, which neither the Father nor the Holy Spirit has assumed. And so the holy apostolic orthodox-catholic Church teaches the belief and confession in one God in the most Holy Trinity, concerning which the First Council at Nicaea and the Second Ecumenical Council, Constantinople, the first in the city of that name, spoke.
Q. 13. Which are the divine attributes of essence?
R. The divine attributes of essence are those which conform equally to God the Father as well as to the Son and the Holy Spirit: that God is eternal, that he is without beginning and end, that he is good, that he is the creator and governor, present everywhere and filling all things, uncircumscribible. Moreover, as grasped by only a few, besides those three personal attributes, that is, the Father is ungenerated or the cause; the Son is generated or Word incarnate; and the Holy Spirit proceeds„ about which we already spoke „ whatever can be said about God, relates to the attribute of the divine essence and is equally common to the three persons with no distinction.
Q. 14. Why does the first article of faith mention "almighty" or "all-governing" and omit all other attributes?
R. Because by this one expression the property of God is best described, since no creature can be called omnipotent. This is so for two reasons: first, it does not have its essence from itself, but from a creator; secondly, it cannot produce any creature from nothing. Both these traits always pertain to the divine omnipotence, as he speaks about himself in the Apocalypse: "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end, says the Lord, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty." Similarly, the Archangel in Luke: "No word shall be impossible with God." Nevertheless, this omnipotence is limited only by his own will and good pleasure, so that certainly whatever he himself wishes, only this can he and does he effect, and not that of which he is simply able, as the Psalmist says: "Our God is in heaven; he has done all that he has desired." He could create a million worlds of this type, but this he does not wish. And then this omnipotence must be understood in terms of perfection, removed from all imperfection and weakness, as is evident in this example: God cannot be evil and commit sin, for this denotes imperfection, even as St. Paul gives witness: "It is impossible for God to lie." For if God were evil and had committed sin, then he would not be omnipotent, for these things are evidence in themselves of imperfection. And so, God is omnipotent by virtue of his will and his perfect goodness, as the Psalmist recollects: "Who is the great God like our God? You are the God who does wonders; you made your power known among the nations." Finally, he is called omnipotent, because all things are in his power and he created the world with no difficulty, with no labor, by his will alone.
Q. 15. If God is uncircumscribed and everywhere, how can he be said to be in heaven and particularly in certain other places?
R. It is not as if heaven or Sion or any other place circumscribes the immaterial and incorporeal divinity, because God has no place, but is unto himself a place. But it is because he works especially in those places and his operations and graces are more often and more clearly made manifest therein, that he is said to dwell in them, for example, in heaven, as St. John Damascene says, because there are found the angels, who always do his will and continually glorify the Lord God. Also on earth, because here he lived in the flesh; so too, in the church, because his glory is proclaimed in a special way and his grace is bestowed upon the faithful. Similarly, God's place is said to be wherever his grace appears in any manner.
Q. 16. But, if you say that omniscience is a divine attribute, because God obviously knows both the hidden and the manifest, then how is it that some men and angels also know the hidden?
R. God knows of his own self all the hidden mysteries of men and angels, not only then and now, but also before the creation of the world, as Scripture says: "The eyes of the Lord are far brighter than the sun, beholding round about all the ways of men." And in another place: "For the Lord knows all knowledge, and has beheld the signs of the world; he declares the things already past and the things that are to come, and reveals the traces of hidden things." Also, St. John in the Apocalypse: "I am he who searches loins and hearts, and I will give to each of you according to your works." Angels and men, however, if they sometimes know the hidden future, they know it through the revelation of God, as Sacred Scripture witnesses: "God reveals the deep and hidden things." It was in this manner that he revealed to Elizeus what his servant secretly received on the journey from Neaman, and to the Apostle Peter concerning Ananias and Saphira, and really all the prophets had such knowledge.
Q. 17. Are there any other attributes that belong exclusively to God?
R. The attributes of God are without number, but those already mentioned, in as much as they pertain to our salvation, suffice to show how we must think about God. For this reason, overlooking everything else, believe firmly and constantly that God is one and omnipotent in the Holy Trinity, who is found everywhere and is omniscient and absolutely unchangeable in his essence.
Q. 18. Is God the Creator of all things, since the same article calls him "Creator"?
R. Without any doubt, God is the Creator of all things, that is, of both visible and invisible creatures. But first he created from nothing all the powers of heaven by his own will, as they are the main extollers of his glory. Then he created that intelligible world, which recognized God through his bestowed grace and conforms completely to his will. Then he created from nothing this visible and material world; finally, God created man, composed of a rational and immaterial soul and a material body, so that God might be recognized as the creator of both the visible and invisible world through this composition of man. Man is called, therefore, a microcosm, since he contains in himself an examplar of the great world. (12)
Q. 19. How can one know about the angels, if they were created first by God?
R. The angels are spirits created from nothing to praise God, as they themselves serve. Then too they are created to aid man gain in this world the divine kingdom. They are assigned to guard provinces, kingdoms, cities, monasteries, churches, as well as religious and secular persons. There is an example of this in the Acts of the Apostles: "But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison and leading them out said: 'Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life."' And in another place: "And an angel of the Lord stood beside him and said to Peter: 'Wrap your cloak about you and follow me.' Then Peter came to himself and said: 'Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent his angel and delivered me out of the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews."' In the same manner the angels keep watch over children, according to the teaching of the Savior who said: "For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven." In addition, they offer to the divine majesty our prayers, almsgivings and other good works, not because God fails to see our almsgiving and hear our prayers, but because they intercede with him for us. In the Old Testament, before the Law was given to Moses, they used to teach God's law and will to our fathers, showing them the way of salvation, as Dionysius asserts. After the law was given they used to teach the leaders to do good. Sacred Scripture itself is in agreement with this fact, indicating that the angels appeared to the Prophets and foretold the future to them. Just as the angel warned Joseph concerning the plan of Herod by saying: "Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you. For Herod is about to seek the child to destroy him." Since Joseph was anxious to defend the virgin, the Lord's angel instructed him and restored his certitude.(13) Angels also reveal God's acts; for example, at the time of the nativity the shepherds were informed that Christ was born in Bethlehem. So by divine command they aid man in the manner of a guardian and free us from all danger; they always drive back and put to flight our soul's enemy, who torments man without mercy„for as long as he knows God will tolerate it. And because the Angel watches over us, the Psalmist can say: "For he has given his angels charge over you to keep you in all your ways. They will carry you in their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone."
Q. 20. Into how many ranks are the Angels divided?
R. Dionysius reports that they are divided into nine choirs, with these nine divided into three orders. In the first order (14) are found those who serve the Lord God more closely than the others, as the Thrones, Cherubim and Seraphim. The Powers, Dominations and Virtues are in the second order. In the third are the Angels, Archangels and Principalities. They are arranged in these orders because the lesser angels receive God's teaching and gifts from the greater. These angels have remained in the eternal favor of God, because they did not agree with Lucifer to oppose God. And it is because of this received grace that they cannot sin; it is not through a natural gift, but only the grace of God. These introductory notes suffice for an idea of angels in as much as they teaching of the "Orthodox Confession" might demand. Since we know that they guard us and intercede for us, to the degree that we invoke them in our prayer to beg God in our behalf, so we most certainly should seek the aid of our Guardian Angel.
Q. 21. What is to be thought of the bad Angels?
R. The bad angels were also created good by God, since whatever God creates, he creates good; but they became bad by their own free will, as the Lord himself says of their chief: "From the beginning he stood not in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he is speaking of his own, for he is a liar and the father thereof." They are the authors of all evil, blasphemers of the divine majesty, temptors of human souls, both through themselves and their instruments, as Sacred Scripture says: "Be sober and watch, because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goes about seeking someone to devour." Nevertheless, it must be realized that the demons cannot exercise their power over man or any creature without the permission of God, of which fact Scripture bears witness saying: "Then the devils besought him saying: 'If you cast us out, send us into the herd of swine.' And he said to them: 'Go'." Finally, it must be known that they cannot force man to sin, but only deceive him through temptation, since man has free will and not even God himself imposes any force upon this will. And since the devils are eternally condemned, they are never receptive of divine grace, as it is said: "Depart from me you cursed, into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels."
Q. 22. What is to be thought of the rest of creation?
R. God created everything from nothing by his command. Lastly, he created man as lord over all creation under the heavens, when he said: "Let us make man to our image and likeness; let him have dominion over the fish in the sea, the birds of the air, the beasts and the whole earth." Repeating the very same thing, the holy Prophet says: "You set him over the works of your hands. You subjected all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, moreover the beasts also of the field. The birds of the air and the fish of the sea, that pass along the paths of the sea." And earlier: "You made him a little less than an angel (15), and have crowned him with glory and honor." But, since man did not keep the commandment in Paradise, by taking fruit from the forbidden tree while still in the state of innocence, he was expelled from Paradise and became such as described by the Prophet: "Man, when he was in honor, did not understand; he is compared to senseless beasts, and has become similar to them." Add to this the saying: "Dust you are, and into dust you shall return."