The Shorter Catechism of St Philaret of Moscow (1824)

I. Introduction. 

1. What learning is most needful for all men?

Christian learning.

2. Why?

Because it leads us to God, to everlasting salvation, or, in other words, to everlasting happiness.

3. How can we draw near to God?

By thought, wish, and deed.

4. Who draws near to God by thought?

He who rightly believes in him.

5. Who draws near to God by wish?

He who prays to him.

6. Who draws near to God by deed?

He who walks after God’s will and law.

7. Whence may we best learn how to believe aright?

From the Creed.

8. Whence may we learn how to pray?

From the Lord’s Prayer.

9. Whence how to walk after God’s will and law?

From the Ten Commandments.

II. Of the Creed.

10. How is the Creed divided?

Into twelve Articles.

11. What is the first Article of the Creed?

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

12. What points of our belief are contained in this Article?

The following:

  1. God is One.
  2. Being one in essence, he is yet three in persons.
  3. The first person of the Trinity is God the Father.
  4. God thus one in three persons made heaven and earth, and all things visible and invisible.
  5. God sustains by his power, and governs all things.

13. What is the second Article of the Creed?

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, the only-begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages, Light from Light, True God from True God, Begotten, not made, of one essence with the Father, by whom all things were made.

14. What points of our belief are taught in this Article?

The following:

  1. The second person of the Holy Trinity is the Son of God, Jesus Christ.
  2. Jesus Christ is the one only Son of God, and there is no other Son of God in such sense as he.
  3. The Son of God is begotten of God the Father, before all worlds, and all times; and so is coeternal with the Father.
  4. Jesus Christ is true God begotten of true God, and is of one essence with the Father.
  5. The Son is not made, but all things were made by him.

15. What is the third Article of the Creed?

Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man.

16. What are we here taught to believe of the Son of God?

We are taught to believe as follows:

  1. The Son of God came down from heaven; took upon him the nature of man, that is, a reasonable soul and human flesh; was made man, without ceasing to be God, and dwelt on earth, where he was called Jesus Christ.
  2. Jesus Christ was born on earth of the most Holy Virgin Mary, who conceived him by the operation of the Holy Spirit, and remaineth every Virgin.
  3. Jesus Christ came on earth to save men from sin, in which they are born and live, and from death, to which they have been condemned ever since the Fall of Adam.

17. What is the fourth Article of the Creed?

And was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried.

18. What do these words teach us to believe of Jesus Christ, the Son of God?

  1. That he was nailed to a Cross, suffered for many things, died, and was buried.
  2. That he endured all this not for himself, being wholly innocent and sinless, but for us; that is, he endured all the penalties due to all the sins of men, and death itself, in order to deliver us from sin and death.

19. What is the fifth Article of the Creed?

And rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.

20. What are we here taught of Jesus Christ?

That Jesus Christ the third day after his death rose from the tomb, as had been foretold of him in the books of the Prophets.

21. What is the sixth Article of the Creed?

And ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father.

22. What doth this teach us of Jesus Christ?

That Jesus Christ on the fortieth day after his resurrection ascended with his body into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father, being equal to him in power and glory.

23. What is the seventh article of the Creed?

And he shall come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead, and his kingdom shall have no end.

24. What doth this teach us of Jesus Christ?

That Jesus Christ shall come again from heaven in glory, to judge all men, both the living and the dead, who shall all rise again to be judged.

25. What is the eighth Article of the Creed?

And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son is together worshipped and together glorified, who spoke by the Prophets.

26. What part of our belief is contained in this Article?

That part which relates to the Holy Spirit, as follows:

  1. The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Blessed Trinity.
  2. The Holy Spirit proceeds form God the Father.
  3. The Holy Spirit, with God the Father and the Son, giveth life to all creatures, and specially spiritual life to men.
  4. The same worship and glory, which belongeth to the Father and the Son, belongeth also to the Holy Spirit, as true Lord and God.
  5. When the Prophets and Apostles declared God’s will to men, or wrote the sacred books, they spoke by inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

27. What is the ninth Article of the Creed?

I believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

28. What are we here taught?

That the true Christian Church is one, Catholic, or Ecumenical, and Apostolic, that is, derived from the Apostles to us without break or change, and so to be continued to the end of the world; and therefore it is our duty to reverence her, and obey her, and flee all schism; that is, separation from the one Orthodox Church.

29. What is the tenth Article of the Creed?

I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

30. What part of our belief is contained in this Article?

The doctrine of the mystery or sacrament of Holy Baptism, which every believer must receive once.

31. Why is Baptism called a mystery?

Because of the grace which mysteriously worketh in it.

32. Are there any other Sacraments, besides Baptism?

The Sacraments in all are seven:

  1. Baptism;
  2. Chrismation;
  3. Communion;
  4. Repentance;
  5. Orders;
  6. Matrimony;
  7. Anointing with Oil.

33. In what consists Baptism?

In this, that the believer is dipped thrice in water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

34. Why are we baptised?

To the end that we may be mystically washed from sin, and receive a new life of grace.

35. In what consists Chrismation?

In this, that the baptised is anointed with holy chrism while the minister pronounces the sacramental words: “The seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit”.

36. In what consists Communion?

In this, that the believer, under the form of bread communicates of the very Body of Christ, and under the form of wine of the true Blood of Christ.

37. What are the benefits which he receives thereby?

He is made one with Christ, and in him a partaker of eternal life.

38. In what consists Repentance?

In this, that he who has sinned after Baptism confesses his sins before a Priest, and through him receives pardon from Jesus Christ himself.

39. In what consists the sacrament of Orders?

In this, that by laying on of the Bishop’s hands power is given to perform or minister sacraments.

40. In what consists the sacrament of Matrimony?

In this, that on the free consent of the man and woman, their union is blessed in the Church, for an image of the union of Christ with his Church.

41. In what consists Anointing with Oil?

In this, that the sick is anointed with oil, while grace is prayed for to heal him.

42. What is the eleventh article of the Creed?

I look for the Resurrection of the dead.

43. What are we taught here?

That all men who are dead shall at a certain time foreordained of God rise again with their bodies, which shall thenceforth be incorruptible and immortal.

44. What is the twelfth Article of the Creed?

And the life of the world to come.

45. What is taught in this?

That after the general resurrection and Christ’s judgment there shall be an everlasting life, in which believers, who have ended their course on earth in repentance and good works, shall receive everlasting bliss; but impenitent sinners shall suffer everlasting torment.

III. Of the Lord’s Prayer.

46. How may the Lord’s Prayer be divided?

Into the preface, seven petitions, and the doxology.

47. What is the preface?

Our Father, who art in heaven.

48. Why has Jesus Christ commanded us to call upon God by the name of Father?

To this end: that we should stand before God in prayer not only with fear, as servants before their Lord, but also with love and hope, as children before their Father.

49. What is the first petition of the Lord’s Prayer?

Hallowed be thy name.

50. What ask we hereby of God?

We ask his help, that his holy name may be hallowed both in our hearts and on our lips; also that by our holy deeds and lives we may contribute to spread his glory among men.

51. What is the second petition of the Lord’s Prayer?

Thy Kingdom come.

52. What ask we hereby of God?

We ask his help, that sin reign not in us, but that the Spirit of God may lead us to good and happiness.

53. What is the third petition of the Lord’s Prayer?

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

54. What ask we hereby?

In this petition we offer the sacrifice of our will to God, and we ask him to do with us as seemeth him good of his wisdom; likewise that all men may be brought to obey his will on earth, even as it is obeyed perfectly by the Angels in heaven.

55. What is the fourth petition of the Lord’s Prayer?

Give us this day our bread for subsistence.

56. What ask we hereby?

We ask God, of his good providence to give us what is necessary for us to subsist, as food, clothes, lodging; and we ask this for today only, without further care for the future, because such care would be inconsistent with trust in God.

57. What is the fifth petition of the Lord’s Prayer?

And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.

58. What ask we hereby?

We ask God to forgive us our sins, as we also forgive them that have sinned against us, or wronged us.

59. But what if we do not forgive others?

Then we can expect no forgiveness ourselves of God; and so it is absolutely necessary to forgive injuries, and strive to be at peace with all men.

60. What is the sixth petition of the Lord’s Prayer?

And lead us not into temptation.

61. What ask we hereby?

We ask God not to suffer the devil to deceive us in any wise, or draw us into sin.

62. What is the seventh petition of the Lord’s Prayer?

But deliver us from the evil one.

63. What ask we hereby?

We ask God to deliver us from all evil and misery.

64. What is the doxology after the Lord’s Prayer.

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 the ages of ages. Amen.

65. Why is this added after the Lord’s Prayer?

That he who prays, may not only ask mercies for himself from the almighty and all-ruling God, but also offer him that glory which is his by right.

66. What meaneth the word, Amen?

It is a word of religious affirmation. It means, Truly, or So be it.

IV. Of the Ten Commandments.

67. What is the first Commandment of God’s law?

I am the Lord thy God: thou shalt have none other Gods but me.

68. What doth God command hereby?

In this Commandment God teaches us:

  1. With our mind to acknowledge him.
  2. With our heart to believe in him, trust in him, and love him.
  3. With our lips to confess and glorify him.
  4. With our whole being to worship him, and with all our might devoutly to serve him.
  5. Beside the one true God neither to invoke nor honour any false god, nor give to creatures that honour which belongeth to God only.

69. What are we to think of the holy Angels and holy men?

We ought not to honour them as we honour God, but as God’s servants, who may present our prayers to God, and minister to us his grace; wherefore we should also ask help through them of God.

70. What is the second Commandment?

Thou shalt not make unto thyself any graven image, nor the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down to them nor serve them.

71. What doth God forbid in this Commandment?

He forbids us to worship idols.

72. What is an idol?

The material representation of any creature, or of any imaginary deity, which is worshipped instead of the true God.

73. What are we to think of Icons?

Icons (or church images), that is, representations of the true God in the flesh, and of his Saints, are rightly used for the religious remembrance of the works of God, and of his Saints, and it is right to pray before them to God and to his Saints. Nevertheless, this right and godly honour of Icons may be abused so as to become the sin of idolatry, if any one honours only the holy Icons themselves, and trusts in their material substance, without raising up his mind and heart to Christ and his Saints whom they represent.

74. What is the third Commandment?

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.

75. What doth God forbid hereby?

He forbids us to use the name of God amiss.

76. When may we rightly use the name of God?

We may rightly use the name of God in prayer, in religious instruction, and in lawful oaths, when required by authority, and that with fear and reverence.

77. But in common talk may we exclaim, as many do, or swear by the name of God?

No. This is contrary to the third Commandment.

78. What is the fourth Commandment?

Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy: six days shalt thou work and do all that thou hast to do, but on the seventh day is the sabbath to the Lord thy God.

79. What doth God command hereby?

To work six days in the week, and do all that belongs to our worldly calling, but to keep the seventh day holy to God; that is, to set it apart for prayer, for religious instruction, and works of piety.

80. Why ought we to keep holy the seventh day?

Because God made the world in six days, and on the seventh day rested from all his works.

81. Which particular day of the seventh ought we to keep?

In old time they kept the sabbath (or Saturday); but since the resurrection of Christ, the Christian Church keeps the Day of the Resurrection (or the Lord’s Day).

82. Are there not also other days to be kept holy?

There are: first, the festivals of our Lord: secondly, those of the most holy Virgin, the Mother of God; thirdly, those of the Saints; fourthly, fast days, which are to be kept holy by observing such abstinence as is enjoined by the Church.

83. What is the fifth Commandment?

Honour thy father and thy mother, that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest live long upon the earth.

84. What doth God command hereby?

He commands us to honour and obey our parents.

85. Is it only our parents then that we are to honour?

The same Commandment teaches us also to honour all who in divers relations stand to us in the place of parents; as the Sovereign, who is the common father of the whole people and empire; spiritual Pastors and Teachers; Elders; Guardians and Benefactors; Governors and Masters.

86. What is the sixth Commandment?

Thou shalt do no murder.

87. What doth God forbid hereby?

He forbids us to take away men’s lives by force or guile, or in any way to disturb the peace of our neighbour; and so this Commandment forbids also all strife, wrath, hatred, envy and cruelty.

88. What is the seventh Commandment?

Thou shalt not commit adultery.

89. What doth God forbid hereby?

He forbids adultery, and all irregular and unclean carnal lust, and likewise all that may tend to excite unlawful desires; as drunkenness, indecent and shameless words or gestures, the reading of bad books, singing or listening to immoral songs, or looking upon immoral pictures or shows.

90. What is the eighth Commandment?

Thou shalt not steal.

91. What doth God forbid hereby?

To take by force or guile any thing that is not our own.

92. What is the ninth Commandment?

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

93. What doth God forbid hereby?

He forbids us to bear false witness against any man, in court, or out of court, to slander, defame, or revile any, either to his face or behind his back, or under any circumstance to lie or deceive.

94. What is the tenth Commandment?

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, nor his field, nor his servant, nor his maid, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any other beast, nor any thing that is his.

95. What doth God forbid hereby?

He forbids us not only to do evil, but even so much as to desire it, or think of it, that we may not from evil thoughts and desires go on to evil deeds.

96. How are we to keep ourselves from evil deeds, desires, and thoughts?

We should ever bear in mind that the Holy, Just and Almighty God constantly seeth us; and upon the first thought of sin we should say with Joseph, the son of Jacob, How shall I do this wickedness, and sin against God?