Awkward questions

Small catechism for the Young

1. Why should I be moral if those around me aren’t?

A: An eastern philosopher once urged: “Don’t try to adapt, reality has a problem!” I don’t think that it really helps us to align ourselves by all means to fashions and trends. Where would we attain to, if we adjusted, without any judgment, the behaviour of those around us? We would steal, drug, slander and we would justify it by saying that … so do others, also. Everyone choose to live life as he wishes, but, in the same time he is responsible for his choices, too. We try to be moral with reference to God, not those around us.

2. Why are social networks defamed? I see that young people gather together, communicate and are together.

A: If you’ve heard bad things about these social networks, it means that you’ve also heard the arguments of the critics. Commonly psicoterapists warn that social networks (like facebook, twitter) have stolen the life of youth, making them sedentary, as chained by the web connection, that the so called socialization moved from real life in the online space, making many no longer meet to a juice out with their friends, but chatting online. Critics speak increasingly alarmist about the addiction created, about anxiety and depressions, about predisposition on psychiatric disorders of the addicted ones to social networks. Sure, social networks have positive parts also, but troubles created are stronger.

3. Today various fasting products have replaced meat producs (eg. fasting cheese, soy milk). Is so our post authenting?

A: This subject has often been aproached in recent years. While the opinions are shared, most authors consider that exceed of fasting products which imitate the meat and cheese is actually imitate the period of meat food, so we can not enjoy the fruits of post. Fasting means first of all restraint, it is an exercise of ascetism, ascetic. If we watch the way in which Christ fasted, we find that while He was fasting …He actually starved. (cf Matthew 4.2) If the difference between the meat and cheese products and their equivalents in soy is just of label, it means that fasting like this, we remove bodly asceticism, and implicitly, the spiritual benefits while suppressing the fight against greed. Especially when food markets are full of vegetables and fruits, it is good to have discernment and to fast eating traditional fasting products.

4. Is it good to give up to the wordly music for the peace of our soul? Why some say that is a sin to listen to music?

A: Your question contains already the answer. Yes, it will be good to give up, especially if we are already aware that the soul has lost its peace. But before, we must first know what is tranquility and peace of soul, and this can be found in quiet prayer and in contemplation of the visible world. Sin is what separates us from God. Sometimes music can be also sinful, if it stirs up our senses to sins, if the rhythm is crazy, if the message of the lyrics is a vulgar and immoral one. There is also good music, harmless; the one that soothes the soul. When King Saul was inner troubled, the young shephered, David, ingenious harp singer, sang him psalms and so the king became peaceful. It is known that the music of Prophet David drove away the demons (an argument for the power of music). He urges: Sing to God, sing to Him, prepare His way on the path of the wilderness (Psalms 67, 4), and in the same Psalm says:  The captains went in front, then those who sang the strings and in the middle were the maidens who were beating tambourines (Psalms 67, 26) Saviour Christ Himself and His Holy Apostles sang. We have the testimony of Scripture that after the Last Supper they sang hymns and went out to the Mount of Olives (Mark 14, 26; Mathew 26, 30) From all this we deduce that we can not remain impassive towards music, so it’s right to say that music can be good or bad.

5. Why should I go to church if those from church go only formally? They don’t recognize the Christian virtues of those who don’t attend church.

A: Above all, we don’t go to church for others, we go for God and for our soul. It’s true that often many go formally and I am glad that you don’t want to go for the sake of appearance. This means that you are dealing with seriousness all the things in life. Don’t let people stand between you and God! Don’t let people to be an obstacle in your way to the house of God.

6. How do you get rid of the reproaches of the others when they observe that “negative” change since you have started to go to church?

A: Reproaches will always be and will have to bear them with Christian dignity, as for Lord’s sake. Christ warns his believers, whom He calls little flock (Luke 12, 32): I have spoken these things to you so that you shall have peace in me. You shall have suffering in the world, but take heart, I have overcome the world.”” (John 16. 33). So let’s be brave, not afraid. Don’t give water to the mill, not nag, not label and you will see, over time, that the reproaches will be transformed into secret admiration for you determination.

7. Why children today live under the impression that if they wear crosses and pentagrams turned and they call themselves Satanists, they are more interested, even better than others?

A: Many believe that what is new, strange, different is automatically interesting. There is an age when the eccentricity says its word, but once they grow up, these habits are left behind. Don’t take into account, don’t give them importance and mention those who, for a while, fall into this trap.

8. All religions are good, is it true?

A: Not all religions can be true, simply because their teachings are often contrary. To believe that all are true means to minimize all the sacrifice that Christ did for us. He is not one of the ways, He is the way. Jesus Christ says about Himself: I am the door (John 10, 9), I and the Father are one (John 10, 30), I am the Light of the world (John 8, 12), I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14, 6). Judaism is also true, but it is not complet, it is not perfect. About the others religions, commonly called pagan, we can say they have a part of truth, but we can not call them good religions and completely true. This doesn’t mean necessarily that those people are lost. We belong all to God, but we can not accredit non–Christian religions as good, divine, because they are human fantasies, reminiscences of primordial revelation.

9. It gets easier for me to lie. How to get rid of this habbit?

A: The lie is a bad addiction and brings us only troubles. Even when we justify the lie trying to spare or not to annoy anyone, we suffer. It needs a sustained effort to get rid of this unnatural tendency of flowering things, to distort them or invent, because, during time, nobody will put value on what we say, we lose our friends and even so called self esteem. The conscience of this problem is a huge step toward solving it. Ask God’s to help you get rid of this! He will surely help you fight against lie and evil. I am saying this because Scripture associates lie with the work of evil, calling the devil – liar and the father of lies. Let What you say be simply ‘Yes‘ or ‘No‘; anything more than this comes from evil. So, those who lie are not a very nice company, but God is good to take us out (also) from this.

10. My friends consider me a fanatic because I believe in God. What will I do if I remain without friends?

A: What kind of friends can be those who don’t respect your choices, aspirations and dreams? Over time, when we are mature, we try to choose friends depending on common interests and values. I am convinced that in your environment are, however, some friends who feel and think like you. Close the ranks! Bring together! It’s difficult to be without friends, it’s true, but is even worse to have unfaithful friends, who do not understand you and who don’t know the values of faith and who, probably, entice you toward a sinful life.

11. I have an eyebrow piercing. Everybody told me they are so cool. I am very happy. I think I will never be hurt, I will always be fashionable.

A: I once put myself two earings in my ear, and that time there were not too many guys with earings. But, the happiness you speak about didn’t last long and really it can not last because it does not come from passing things, perishable. Happiness is a deep soul condition and is related to our relationship with others and with God. Read Beatitudes that Christ speaks about (Mathew 5, 1 -12) and you will understand more. I believe with all my strength that exactly fashion and trends that are hunting our nature, forcing a change that we don’t want deeply, is the cause of dissatisfaction, sufferings, and unhappiness. Take care!

12. These Christians are some bigoted Christians, indoctrinated, mentally limited. Fanatics! I don’t want to be like them, I want to be with my gang, always elated. I don’t make any harm to anyone, do I?

A: Once I thought the same thing. Time passed and I see things differently. Now I see true Christians as great people, wise, virtuous, honest, keeping their temper, happy and loving. There will come a time when, probably, your gang will fall apart. So the second gang, and the third. If the heights of happiness are not reached through the amusement of the gang?

13. My parents don’t let me pray in the evening. What shall I do? If I don’t pray, I feel I’m dying inside, slowly. What is the solution?

A: I think that, as far as possible, it is good to avoid such conflicts. Let’s seek peace, as far as possible. There are solutions for such unfortunate situations. First of all, you can choose another time to read prayers, when parents are not at home or when they are busy with something else. For such situations you can focus more on inner prayer, the prayer “Lord Jesus…” which can be spelt in the quiet night and without consuming electric power. But the best is the direct advice of the confessor. I recommend patience and constant prayer for the weakness and blindness of parents. This is also a form of contemporary martyrdom.

14. What is a true friend?

A: Manz books were written on this theme, countless studies and articles. It is difficult to embrace the valencies of a true friendship, so to this question will be more answers. In Capernaum, Lord Jesus Christ received the “visit” of some people who brought their friend to be healed. And the Holy Evangelist says that Lord saw their faith and He healed the poor who was tormented by his disease. I see here the picture of the true friendship. The one who carries you to Christ and doesn’t leave you when it is difficult proves true and sincerely friendship. And the highest point is to put your soul for your friends, as Christ says.

15. Is the disease something very bad, negative or has also a positive side?

A: As you well guessed, indeed, the disease can also have a positive side. There is a quite widespread tendency to call illness as evil. Evil is only sin, the only one we can name really bad. Disease, suffering, helpless, often, when they are carried with faith and patience, give us the chance to look into ourselves, revalue the happenings of life in a different light and learn to live beautifully.

(Laurentiu Dumitru)

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