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Answers of priests by topic:

Question

How would you interpret the words of the apostle Paul “Fathers do not embitter your children”?

Answer
I cannot be certain here, but if we do not go deep into different translations and interpretations - and apostle Paul may have also meant something of his own - I really think it’s all on the surface. We often hurt one another, we annoy each other all the time. Everyone annoys everybody else close to them and around them. There is a good video with Dmitriy Smirnov on the subject. You can find it on the internet easily. The son says to his father, “Look at your face! Everyone annoys you – Putin, Obama, Grandfather, Grandmother... Good good weather, bad weather, complete silence and a loud noise. Even your bed is never good enough. One moment it is too hard, and the other too soft. You are angry at slow driving or fast driving at being alone and a being around others.» People are always annoyed – by their fathers, sons, grandchildren, whoever.... It is only when God touches someone with His Grace that one begins to appreciate the good side of things. We’ve stopped - What a good thing! Someone shouted - how nice! He had a loud voice! Here is my criterion. I suggest that we all look inside us. Our hearts are like barometers that tell us the weather. Look at yourself in the mirror and ask how you feel about what is happening around you. If you are happy, and nothing annoys you, then you can be sure you have been touched with God Grace. You have His blessing. This may be a fleeting state, it may only last a moment, but it’s real. There are people who can keep this state of mind throughout their whole lives. People who have God's blessing, and it never leaves them. They have his spirit, their hearts are full of peace and sweetness. They are people who can see God's in all the things that happen, who can empathize with others, who are can reach out to them, who share their joys and ease their sorrows. They are truly blessed. Life is quite different for most of us. In it, most things go off track as soon as our day begins. Someone opens the window and makes us uncomfortable – it is too cold. The sounds around us are too loud, or it is too quiet. It is the same thing for children. Most of us have to learn how not to annoy them. It’s much harder harder for them not to become upset, simply because they are not as experienced as we are. So we need to wait for the right moment to sit down with our child and talk. It’s hard. But we must learn understanding. We need to know how to be sympathetic. We should remember that people can have their hard times, that they may find it difficult to control their moods. But life is hard by itself. It is always full of difficulties.

Priest Sergius Nezhbort

Question

Dear Father Andrey, your blessing. I am a mother of two. My younger son is 7 and he is autistic. I have a husband but we are not married in church. I go to church with the kids often and have them partake of the Holy Eucharist, although it’s difficult for the younger son. Father, how does the Church view autism? Why are these kids even born? Man is made in the image and likeness of God, isn’t he? Essentially, what a human being must do here on earth is to get to know God and get closer to him. My child does not say anything and does not understand anything. Please tell us what to do.

Answer
You have to carry your cross. Your child has an immortal soul. In spite of the fact that he cannot interact with you right now, his soul is alive, and it’s all part of God’s plan. We cannot intervene into God’s plan. We can only accept it or not. Praise be to God that you didn’t deny your child, that you look after him, and he lives with you. I think that this child will someday become the spiritual centre of your life. Of course, it’s not easy. It is painful and difficult. However, life is like that—it isn’t easy because it is poisoned by sin. Why is this child born this way? Why God let this illness happen? It was due to our sins or to teach us a lesson of humility and repentance. It’s all in God’s hands. It is great that you go to church and that your children partake of the Sacraments. I believe that after a while you will be able to notice that your son loves and understands you. Every Easter, we give communion to bedridden children who stay in the Boarding Home for Children with Special Needs. They are old enough but their bodies remain short. When I give the Blood of Christ to those children (because they cannot digest the Body of Christ), I feel that I’m in Heaven already. They are quiet and holy sufferers… Just keep carrying your cross. God will comfort you, trust me!

Archpriest Andrey Lemeshonok

Question

Your blessing, Father. What should I do: my husband has become a priest but I’m not the right kind of a person to be a matushka (a priest’s wife — translator’s note), unfortunately. I’m really bothered about that because I’m not a quiet, meek, and God-fearing girl. I’m a regular kind of woman who has led a fairly secular life. I didn’t have much of a religious upbringing. I have a burden of grave sins in the past: I had had affairs before I met my husband, and I’m not an example to follow even today: I often shout, quarrel, and get annoyed. I get upset easily, I can’t tolerate anything at all. I feel that my soul is seriously ill. I didn’t marry for love: I was just feeling lonely. Why did God send me a seminarian and a son of a priest who decided to follow in his father’s footsteps?

Answer
Dear Matushka Anna, although you refuse to accept this title, you’ve become a matushka for real. It is God’s saving grace and God’s mercy toward you. Perhaps, you don’t understand a lot of what is going on yet. You have a habit of sinful living. This is your new duty, and if you are patient, if you at least make some effort, I believe that you will become a very good matushka. The matushka’s role is to help the priest. It is an inner struggle to make sure that there is peace in your family, that you really love your husband. Who can we love when we are in such a sinful condition? In order to learn to love, you’ve got to change your life, you should correct all those errors that you’ve committed in your life. To do so, you’ll require quite a lot of hard work and time. That is why you shouldn’t complain or whine that you’re so miserable, that you didn’t want it, that you didn’t know it or didn’t understand anything at all. You became a seminarian’s wife so you might have assumed in advance that he would become a priest in the end. Isn’t that the reason young men go to seminary? Right now, it’s vital that the devil doesn’t break up your family, in which case the new priest will remain single forever. Do you see what could happen? The devil will do what it takes to destroy your family. He will whisper into your ear, “Ditch your priest and live freely as you please.” Haven’t you had enough of that freedom already? That’s why you currently need to brace yourself and start changing. To do so, you’ll need to open a prayerbook and the Gospel and go to the church where your husband serves. You should feel that you’re a wife and begin to build up your family and your inner self, which is so pathetic right now. Work hard! You’ll never regret the fruit of your labour. May the Lord save you, Matushka!

Archpriest Andrey Lemeshonok

Question

Father Andrey, please tell me how to save my child. My daughter is 11. She’s lost interest in God and doesn’t want to go to church. Instead, she spends her days glued to her smartphone, and she is furious if I attempt to take it away. When she was younger, I was teaching my daughter to love God. We went to church, confessed and took communion often. I have always sheltered her from evil. Now she watches films with foul and angry words and says that they’re “cool”. How can I save my daughter?

Answer
Small children bring small troubles. She’s 11 now. Imagine what will happen when she’s 16? You’ve got to help your daughter to become a Christian. All good encounters that you had in the past, all your prayers and communions, haven’t been lost, believe me. She’s in her transition to adulthood now. She isn’t a little girl anymore. Unfortunately, children are sometimes attracted to sins—various sins. They want to be an adult. They want to imitate the grown-ups, and sadly, they often choose to imitate bad adults. Therefore, you’ve got to muster your patience and humility. Talk with her wisely, with love and attention. Watch that bad film together and then explain to her that it isn’t as great as it seems. Watch a good film with her. Both you and your daughter will need your prayers and the effort that you must make to ensure that your daughter defeats all temptations of this world. God will never let you down. Most children are susceptible to the smartphone addiction that you mention. Unfortunately, the filth that is so widespread nowadays sometimes sticks to their souls. That’s why we should fight for our kids. Summon your patience and humility, and learn to be a mother with faith. You can take a little child to the church by giving him or her a sweet or taking her in your lap. It is harder to get an eleven-year-old girl to be interested in the church, and it’s harder still with a sixteen-year-old girl. I believe that if you do your best to lead a Christian life, you’ll win.

Archpriest Andrey Lemeshonok

Question

My grandmother has a difficult and tough temper, plus her old age has made her more difficult to deal with. I have a lot of grudges against her. What can I do about it? I can't forgive her or apologize!

Answer
My grandmother has a difficult and tough temper, plus her old age has made her more difficult to deal with. I have a lot of grudges against her. What can I do about it? I can't forgive her or apologize!

Archpriest Andrey Lemeshonok

Question

Children make noise in church… What do I do?

Answer
I believe you should bring them to communion and take communion yourself more often. I remember how I used to take my children to church almost every day. The children were screaming and crying but I wanted to partake of the Chalice and to have my children partake of it, too. It is vital for their development, for their growth as Christians, and for your entire family to become more observant. Certainly, it may be uncomfortable: you will have to go out and try to calm down the kids if they act up or make too much noise. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t give up, if I were in your place. Perhaps, you should try coming to church not at the beginning of the service but at least during the Canon of the Eucharist… I hope that you’ll find the proper balance in this case and everything will be fine eventually. The Lord knows that you go out on the porch not because you want to chat but because you have to comfort your children. He is merciful and He will bless your Holy Communion. Put some effort into being the partakers of the Eternal Life altogether.

Archpriest Andrey Lemeshonok

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