Friday, November 30, 2012

St. Francis of Assisi Questions

1. Read ALL of the selections from the writings of St. Francis, p. 201 - 228.

2. GENTLEMEN will answer the questions regarding the Rule of 1223 and the Testament of St. Francis.(pp 201 - 212) 
LADIES will answer the questions regarding the Admonitions of St. Francis and his Letter to All the Faithful. (pp 213 - 228)

Be thorough in your responses and prepared to lead class discussion over your assigned texts. 

Questions for the Rule of 1223:
1. Summarize St. Francis' rule regarding the Friars' clothing. What practical and spiritual benefits are there to following this rule?

2. How does Francis tell his friars to respond to those who live lives of luxury? Why?

3. Regarding the Liturgy of the Hours, why does St. Francis make a distinction between clerics and lay brothers? (this presupposes you know what these two are. If you do not, find out.)

4. When do the friars have to observe fasts and why? 

5. How are friars to behave when they are travelling? What does this chapter of the Rule tell us about how friars are different from monks?

6. Why are the friars forbidden, under any circumstances, to accept money? 

7. In Chapter 6 St. Francis insists that his friars cling to poverty. Why would he be so strict on this issue rather than allow for some degree of leniency or moderation? 

8. Why should the friars not be angry or upset at the sins of others? Should this apply universally to all people? 

9. Create a chart to illustrate the structure of the order. Explain how the order is governed. 

10. What guidance does Francis give regarding preaching? Evaluate the most recent homily you heard in light of this guidance. How does it measure up?

11. Chapter 10 deals with conflict among the friars. What kind of conflicts might arise among friars? How should the conflicts be handled?

12. Does Francis' guidance to the friars who are illiterate surprise you? Do you think it is still applicable today? 

Questions for The Testament of St. Francis 

1. Is Francis' Reverence for priests too trusting or uncritical (especially in light of the priest abuse scandal that  has scarred the Church)? What are current attitudes toward priests among Catholics? 

2. Is it hypocritical of Francis to say that he clings to poverty and yet he wants the Blessed Sacrament to be "honored, venerated, and reserved in places which are richly ornamented,"?

3. Francis claims that his chief goal is to live the life of the Gospel. How effective do you think his rule is at establishing a Gospel-based life? Are there any deficiencies?

4. What sort of work does Francis say is suitable for a friar to perform? Why should a friar be engaged in work at all?

5. How should the order deal with unruly or disobedient friars?

6. How, on pg. 212, does St. Francis say the rule should be interpreted and obeyed? 

Monday, November 19, 2012

St. Benedict Questions

1. In the prologue, St. Benedict uses the metaphor of a knight fighting for a king and calls upon monks to "take up the strong, bright weapons of obedience." What practices or behaviors do you think he would be referring to, and in what way are they weapons?
2. St. Benedict refers to the need to "open our eyes to the deifying light". What do you think he means here?
3. In several places mention is made of dashing ones thoughts against Christ. What is this, and how would one do it?
4. What is Benedict's justification for some degree of strictness or severity in his Rule?
5. Describe the four kinds of monks, and explain the hierarchy that Benedict places them in and why. What makes cenobites the "strongest" kind?
6. What reasons does St. Benedict give for requiring such stout and upright character of any man who would be abbot? Which of these reasons or character traits would you also want to find in other types of leaders (political, athletic, military, etc.)?
7. Explain the three-fold approach of "Reprove, entreat, rebuke." Why should the abbot avail himself of such a strategy?
8. Why does Benedict suggest the Abbot call upon the other monks for input in making decisions?
9. Which of the instruments of Good Works (ch. 4) do you think are most common in our culture? and which are most lacking? Give examples of each and explain why you think they are so common / rare.
10. Why is obedience alone not enough? What must it be coupled with to be found pleasing to God?
11. What harm is there in idle chat or humorous conversation that silence is to be preferred? Has our culture lost sight of the value of silence?  Either way, give examples, and explain if we are better or worse for it.
12. Briefly summarize Benedict's "12 Step Program" toward humility? Why is humility so valuable in the monastery? To what extent would it be beneficial outside the monastery?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

St. Patrick Questions

1. Why does St. Patrick immediately begin by addressing himself as “a sinner, unlearned, the lowliest of men”? Why does he put forth such a low opinion of himself?

2. With a deacon for a father and a priest for a grandfather, why do you think Patrick did not embrace the faith of his family as a young boy? Is this a common trend among young people (to be lukewarm about faith)? If so, why? And is that a bad thing?

3. St. Patrick turns to prayer in the midst of his captivity. Do you think that, generally speaking, it takes a crisis or catastrophe to bring people to the point of developing their spiritual life? Explain.

4. Why was the captain and ship’s crew reluctant to take St. Patrick on board? What do you think the meaning is of their strange custom of “making friends”?

5. After the ship lands Patrick and the crew travel by land for weeks. What biblical story do you find echoing through his account of this event? Provide as correlations and explanations as you can.

6. When he was about your age St. Patrick committed some unnamed sin that came back to haunt him as an adult. Do you think it just that a sin of one’s youth could have such lasting effects?

7. One does not typically think of St. Patrick as a mystic, and yet we read that he was prone to visions throughout his life. What role do you think these visions play in his life and ministry? How (and why) does our contemporary culture respond to such claims of mystical visions?