Sunday, August 26, 2012

Didache Questions

Basic Questions:
1. What is the nature of the document? Approximately when was it written? Who was the intended audience? 
2. When and where was it "rediscovered"? 
3. What is the basic four-part structure of the work?

Monger (Christmonger)

1. The “Way of Life” is often spelled out in the negative (i.e. what a Christian should not do).  Briefly summarize it in the positive – what, based on the teachings of the Apostles, should a Christian do?

2. Chapter 3 uses “slippery slope” logic to deter readers from committing minor sins. List the minor sins mentioned and explain why each one is bad in its own right, even if it does not lead to the “greater sin” associated with it.

3. Chapter 4 reiterates what we find in the 4th Chapter of Acts, namely that to be a Christian was to share one’s worldly goods without noting the loss or expectation of repayment. Why is such emphasis made on this in the early Church? Evaluate the current atmosphere of stewardship and charity in the Church in light of this command, speculating as to the causes or reasons for any discrepancies. Provide evidence to support your theory.

4. Chapter 4 also presents two seemingly problematic directives: first it urges parents not to “withdraw their hands” from their children, seeming to condone corporal punishment. Secondly, it tells slaves to “be submissive to your masters”.  Are these directives inconsistent with the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Should they be quietly pushed aside  in favor of the “big picture” or even dismissed as outdated and obsolete?

5. As stern as the first section of the Didache is, in chapter 6 we see the very moderate admonition to “do what you can” rather than a demand for perfection. What is the danger of straying too far to one side (expecting perfection of Christians) or too far to another side (expecting virtually nothing of Christians)? Where do you find the contemporary Church on that spectrum? Provide evidence to support your answer.

6. In chapter 7 we see a call for those being baptized (and any others associated with baptism) to fast for two or three days prior. What is the purpose of fasting and why would it be considered preparation for baptism?

7. What are chapter 7’s specifications as to the type of water used for baptism? What is the purpose of these regulations and how do they compare to the current rubrics regarding baptism? (Consult the Catechism and the Rite of Baptism for a treatment of contemporary practice.)
8. We find an instruction to pray the Lord’s Prayer three times a day. Why do you think this prescription was made? And why is there a concern about keeping (and avoiding) particular days as fast days?

9. Compare & Contrast the Eucharistic Prayers described in the Didache with the prayers you are familiar with at mass. (Consult the prayers of the RomanMissal 3rd Edition for comparison.) Identify three substantial similarities and three considerable differences and offer commentary for one of each.

10. Chapters 11 – 13 give guidelines for the reception of travelling preachers as well as criteria for testing the authenticity of these “prophets”. How do these guidelines and criteria compare to the respect shown to clergy today and to the Church’s expectations of them?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Acts, Part 2

Acts Chapter 5
1.      Examine Gamaliel’s speech before the Sanhedrin. Do you think the mere persistence of the Church is enough to attest to its divine origin and mission? Why or why not?
2.      How do the Apostles respond to their flogging and why?
Acts Chapter 6
What social condition prompts the institution of deacons? What are the elements of the ordination of the deacons? (What do the apostles do to them to make them deacons?)
Acts Chapter 7
What precipitated the martyrdom of Stephen? What was the role of Saul in this martyrdom?
Acts Chapter 8
What is the sin of simony? Contrast Simon’s encounter with Peter with that of Ananias and Sapphira.
Acts 13: 16 – 43, 17: 16 – 34 
Contrast these two speeches of St. Paul, the former at a synagogue, the latter at the pagan Acropolis in Athens. How does his approach differ in dealing with Jews & Gentiles? Why?
Acts Chapter 15
Describe the controversy that is brewing here and how it threatened the unity of the Church. How did the Apostolic Church ultimately deal with that controversy?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Acts of the Apostles

Basic Questions:
      1.  Who is the author of the Acts of the Apostles? Approximately when was it composed? Who is the intended audience?
2.      What are the Four Senses of Scripture / Typology?
3.      What is the distinction between the terms “disciple” and “apostle”.
4.      Know the terms: Enculturation, Jew, Gentile, God-Fearer, Hellenist,
5.      What are each of the distinct levels of clergy that emerge in the early church
Acts Chapter 1
Why do the Apostles wish to replace Judas? What criteria do they establish for his replacement? What method do they use to determine who the replacement is to be? Contrast this method with the selection process of bishops today. (see -
Acts Chapter 2 - 4
1.      What was the Jewish understanding of the feast of Pentecost? Why would Christ’s disciples be celebrating a Jewish festival?
2.       Create a chronology of the events of the first Christian Pentecost. What charismata (gifts) did the Apostles receive and what purpose do they have for these gifts? Using Typology, analyze an Old Testament story that is, in some way, the "opposite" of what is going on here.
3.      Read the conclusion of Chapter 2 (42 – 47) and the conclusion of Chapter 4 (32 – 37). How does this depiction of communal life stem from specific teachings of Christ? What does it mean to be of “One Heart & One Mind”? What light do these two passages shed on the role of the Apostles?
4.      Pentecost is often associated with the sacrament of Confirmation. What is the nature and origin of this connection? Based on your experience of Confirmation preparation, how well is this connection explained?