7 ANSWERS TO 7 QUESTIONS, ASKED BY 7 SAINT ANDREW’S CAMPERS
His Grace, Michael ~ Bishop of New York & the Diocese of New York and New Jersey
A new installment of the highly acclaimed video series Lessons in Our Faith is now available for viewing! Using his popular “7 Questions and 7 Answers” format ... but, this time in reverse ... Bishop Michael answers 7 thought-provoking questions presented to him by 7 campers during the camping season at Saint Andrew’s Camp in Jewell NY. The questions range from bioethical concerns to ecclesiology to the sensitive issue of marital divorce and more! (See all the Lessons in Our Faith talks posted on our diocesan website.)
Question #1: What is the Church’s view on Organ Donation after you die?
Answer: It’s okay if it’s life for life. If you’re willing to give your heart, or your kidney, or some other part of you that’s still living, to some person who’s still living, who’s going to die without that part – then that is a great gift. We do NOT encourage donating your organs or your body for research. Research can be done in other ways. But to give life for life, this is something that we think is a beautiful gesture of love, worthy of God’s blessing.
Question #2: When we say the Creed, “I believe…”, why does it say “One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church” when we are Christians?
Answer: These are 4 qualities of the Christian Church. The Church is one, because Christ established one Church. “On this rock I will build My Church – not Churches – and the gates of hell will not prevail against it, not them.” The Church is holy because he established it… and He is holy! The Church is catholic because it is whole in its parts, all over the world. When the people gather in church around their bishop and receive Holy Communion together, then that’s the Church – whether it’s here in this humble chapel, or at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. And it is apostolic – because it is the faith that was given by Christ to His Apostles, and we are loyal to that faith forever. All these words are adjectives – they describe something, or someone. We are called to be holy Christians – people who become holy by following Jesus Christ. We are the original Catholic Church of Christians – we are called to bring every part of our lives before the Lord so that nothing is missing from our offering to Him. We are called to be apostolic Christians because we keep unchanged that Faith which the Apostles taught their friends 2,000 years ago – and we teach it to our friends – at camp, at school, everyplace we go – just like the Apostles did.
Question #3: Why can’t monks marry?
Answer: Well, if you get married, you’re not a monk. Being a monk or being a married person are the two paths of life that are blessed by God. They are different paths. Both the married path and the monastic path put you together with other people. Christians have to live their lives in relationships to other people. In marriage, you have a relationship with one person of the opposite gender – male and female – and you are responsible for helping that other person get to heaven. You also bring new people into the world – children – and you help them get to heaven too. When you’re a monk, it’s similar but not the same. You don’t have children,
but you still live in a community, and your job is still helping each other get to Heaven. Both married people and monks have to pray together every day… have to ask forgiveness of each other every day… have to help each other grow in love for God every day.
Question #4: Why do we call Jesus the Lamb of God?
Answer: In the days before Jesus came, the People of God, also called the Hebrews or the Jews, used to sacrifice lambs to God for the forgiveness of their sins. Jesus came as the last, greatest, most powerful sacrifice to wipe away our sins forever, and so even though He’s not a sheep, St. John the Baptist calls Him, “the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world!” Jesus offers Himself as a perfect sacrifice. And just like Jesus, we are called to be like lambs too. Lambs are meek and gentle… we’re supposed to be meek and gentle too. Lambs are obedient when they hear their master’s voice… we should be listening to the voice of God in the Scriptures and in our hearts – and we should obey what He tells us. But lambs don’t follow the voice of a stranger; they follow the voice of their shepherd who they know! We are meant to be like them, and ignore the voices of the world that try to get us to be selfish, or mean, or lazy – and we sacrifice what WE want for the good of others, in God’s name.
Question #5: How am I supposed to love my enemies?
Answer: We have to begin by remembering that the Lord died for everyone – even those people who are mean to us or who hate us. We have to try to look at them like Christ does. He loves the sinner, those who hate Him, those who hate us … but He doesn’t love what they have done that is wrong or bad. In loving your enemies, there are two “don’ts” and one “do”:
DON’T do anything bad to them;
DON’T say anything bad about them;
And DO pray for them!
“Lord God, have mercy on Tommy who was mean to me today.
Forgive him, and help me to see him as You do – with love.”
Question #6: What’s the difference between a saint and an angel?
Answer: The word “Saint” is used for both angels and human beings. The good angels ARE saintly! And, so are humans who follow Christ in their lives. The word “Saint” means “holy”. “Saint Nicholas the Archbishop” means that Nicholas the Archbishop was a holy person – a holy human being. “Saint Michael the Archangel” means that the Archangel Michael is a holy angel – but he is NOT a human being. Human beings have bodies; angels are all spirit. Human beings are born and grow
from babies to kids to adults… angels were all made before the first human and they do not get to go through the changes we do as we grow. Angels can see God right now… human beings have to wait for Heaven before we can be in the presence of God.
Question #7: Where If marriage is forever, how does our Church look at divorce?
Answer: Christ wants people to be married forever, that their crowns would be in Heaven. But sometimes, people make mistakes, things happen, and they’re just not able to be corrected. SO, when those mistakes happen, and divorce takes place, the Church is a forgiving mother and gives people another chance. But because mistakes are made in some marriages, that doesn’t mean that good things didn’t happen – that people weren’t in love for a while, that they weren’t blessed with children who they love and who will love them, even though they’re not together as husband and wife anymore.