Tuesday, September 25, 2012

St. Cyril of Jerusalem - Catechesis Questions

1. In the first section the venerable bishop states that "True Religion consists of two elements: pious doctrines and virtuous actions." Contrast this with the idea held by some Christians that salvation by "faith alone". (the notion that faith alone saves us and that our actions / deeds have no bearing on our salvation.)

2. Consider that this document was a series of instructions delivered to people on the verge of converting to Christianity and being baptized. Imagine that you are an adult who knows nothing of the Christian Faith. How would you respond to Cyril's catechetical instruction?

3. Compare the passage "On Christ" to the section of the Nicene Creed, "I believe in Jesus Christ...and his Kingdom will have no end." What are the differences / similarities. Why do you think these assertions about Christ were necessary?

4. People often ask, "If belief in Christ is necessary for salvation, then what happened to all of the people who lived before the coming of Jesus?" How does Cyril adress this question in the passage "On His Burial."?

5. In the passage "On His Ascension" Cyril exhorts his audience to make the sign of the cross often. Even two or three generations ago the sign of the cross was used much more frequently than it is today. Do you think the current and more recent generations are, in Cyril's words, "ashamed of the Cross of Christ"?

6. Pope John Paul II is credited with developing a "Theology of the Body" which we will examine next semester. What can you extract from this brief writing about Cyril's own Theology of the Body, particularly as it pertains to goodness, sexuality, and food?

7. Provide a critique of the current state of fashion and clothing in light of St. Cyril's statements "On Apparel." 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

St. Cyprian Questions

1. Do a bit of independent research and try to hypothesize what external factors may have been influencing St. Cyprian in drafting this document?

2. Analyze St. Cyprian's use of Scripture to support his arguments. Does he use scripture effectively and with sound interpretation? Provide and analyze three examples of his use of Scripture. (Recall that scripture passages are italicized in the text.)

3. St. Cyprian takes a rather harsh stance against those who "break away" from the Church founded by Christ. Compare and Contrast his position with that of the Church as published in the most recent document "Responses to Some Questions on Certain Aspects of the Doctrine of the Church", particularly in questions two and three.

4. In our modern society people shy away from making "absolute" statements, or any statements that appear to "judge" or exclude others. Bearing that in mind, what are some elements of St. Cyprian's treatise that could be put to good use today in the effort to reconcile and unify the diverse Christian Denominations.

5. Support the Argument that St. Cyprian is not merely judging those who break away form the Church, but rather simply fulfilling his obligations as a bishop. (recall the two obligations of a bishop that we discussed in class.)

Monday, September 10, 2012

St. Ignatius of Antioch (II)

Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans

1. Ignatius addresses a specific heresy within this community. From his writing, describe what you think the details of this heretical belief are, particularly the doctrine pertaining to Jesus.

2. Again, Ignatius exhorts them to adhere closely to the bishop. Why do you think this was of such great importance?

Ignatius to Polycarp

1. In chapter 2 Ignatius compares the bishop to a pilot (of a ship). Why do you think he would make such a comparison?

2. Explain why Ignatius uses the metaphors of an athlete, an anvil, (ch. 3) and a clad warrior (ch. 6) to describe a faithful Christian.

3. What is Ignatius' view of the role of marriage in society?

St. Ignatius of Antioch (I)

Ignatius to the Romans

1. Why do you think he was so eager for martyrdom? Cite examples form the text where he justifies his desire to die.

2. Do you think in desiring death St. Ignatius was being a true follower of Christ's example or do you think he was a bit overzealous - even suicidal in his thinking? Explain.

3. How do you think it would have impacted the Church if all of the early bishops shared this zeal for martrydom? Would it be possible for bishops today to demonstrate this same zeal for suffering, even if not for martyrdom?

Ignatius to the Philadelphians

1. St. Ignatius' primary concern seems to be for the unity of the Church under the leadership of the bishop. Why do you think this is of such importance to him?

2. St. Ignatius is very critical of divisions within the Church and with those who hold "different gospels". How do you think he would react to the pluralism and diversity within Christianity today, which has hundreds of different denominations?