St. Clement of Rome

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Welcome to Our Savior’s Parish second week of our six week discussion series on the Church Fathers, I ask the Holy Spirit to guide my words, your words, and our ears to further our understanding of the founding and early history of the Church.

The first Church Father that we’ll examine is Pope St. Clement I of Rome. Of course with any person of antiquity, often what we know about the individual is pieced together by various sources, some of which may occur a generation or two after an individual has died.

Clement of Rome “Probably wrote in early 70,” as Catholic Apologist Jimmy Akin wrote in his book The Father’s Know Best, and that“Various ancient sources place him as the first, second, or third successor of St. Peter. (Most commonly, he is held to be the third, after Linus and Cletus.) He was the author of a single surviving Letter to the Corinthians, which is often dated around 95 A.D,” but Akin believes “this is too late a date.[1]

Pope Benedict XVI gave several audiences on the topic of the Church Fathers and specifically on March 7th, 2007 he spoke on Clement of Rome in which he said, “St Clement, Bishop of Rome in the last years of the first century, was the third Successor of Peter, after Linus and Anacletus. The most important testimony concerning his life comes from St Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons until 202. He attests that Clement “had seen the blessed Apostles”, “had been conversant with them”, and “might be said to have the preaching of the apostles still echoing [in his ears], and their traditions before his eyes” (Adversus Haer. 3, 3, 3).[2]

A magnificent introduction to the Father that we’ll spend this evening getting to know more about. One point that we can take from Pope Benedict’s reference to St. Irenaesus’ words is that the early Church viewed Clement of Rome with the utmost respect, as well as, because his relationship with the Apostles, Clement was viewed with a special authority in their community. Pope Benedict explains, “The authority and prestige of this Bishop of Rome were such that various writings were attributed to him.”[3]As we learn more tonight, let us keep that in mind when reviewing some of the content of his Letter to the Corinthians.

The letter from Clement of Rome to the Church of Corinth, in which he didn’t sign, is also called by scholars The First Epistle of Clement to Corinthians. The reason that we know today who authored this letter is from various sources in the 2ndcentury A.D. who attribute him to the work. The letter written by Clement is a response to an uprising of young Christians who sought to remove and replace established leaders in the church of Corinth in response to the Roman persecutions under the Emperor Domitian.[4]At this point, in regards to the historical record, we find a disagreement between Mr. Akin and Pope Benedict. As mentioned before, Akin believes that the Letter to the Corinthians’ dating at 95 A.D. is too late. He mentions in his book, “William Jurgens (American Catholic historian) points to internal evidence that places it no later than 80 or so (the date he favors) and possibly up to ten years earlier. John A. T. Robinson (New Testament scholar and Anglican Bishop) shows internal evidence that places it in the first part of the year 70. Specifically, Clement refers to sacrifices still being offered at the temple in Jerusalem, which was destroyed in July of 70. Clement also refers to the repeated crises that have prevented him from writing to the Corinthians until now, which is a likely reference to the violent “year of four emperors” in 69.[5]

Pope Benedict writes that the “These “calamitous events” can be identified with Domitian’s persecution: therefore, the Letter must have been written just after the Emperor’s death and at the end of the persecution, that is, immediately after the year 96.”[6]

Who’s right? Well to be fair, Pope Benedict doesn’t present any evidence with his assertion, this makes Akin’s point appear more convincing. However, Pope Benedict’s view is the historical consensus as conceded by Akin.

Now, turning to our reference book for our Lecture Series, When the Church Was Young, the author, in regards to the youthful uprising, Marcellino D’Ambrosio poses two questions for the letter of Clement to answer:

#1 Was such a move by the young Christian upstarts legitimate to remove the established leaders of the church of Corinth?

 

#2 Is the leadership in the Christian community simply a function of popularity, talent, or political power?[7]
At this point, I’ll turn to those here who may have examined the material on how Clement answered these questions.

D’Ambrosio articulates that “in the letter, Clement insisted that the Apostles had intended an orderly succession of authority in the Church…this process of succession from the apostles was to be presented unbroken. This provides us (the faithful) with the earliest written reference to the idea of apostolic succession”[8]that was conveyed quite possible at the time by the active Bishop of Rome, depending on where one dates the letter, who would have known the teachings of the first Bishop of Rome and St. Paul on a personal level.

I believe that D’Ambrosio gives a context clue for a letter date which indicates that he believes that Clement was already Bishop of Rome, and since he’s not here to ask, I say it’s fair game to speculate a bit. If you’re still listening up to this point you may have mentally asked yourself, “Does twenty years matter with dating?” If the dating by scholars to 95 A.D. continues to hold true, this letter could possibly be one of the first historically documented records of the doctrine of Petrine Primacy prior to its more solid conception under Pope Leo the Great. In this regard, we see a reversal of Galatians 2 where the successor of Peter corrects and takes “it upon himself to speak to the members of a Church founded by the Apostle Paul…that they needed to restore the properly authorized leaders of the church.”[9]

 

The Letter of Clement reads:

The apostles have preached the gospel to us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus12Christ [has done so] from God. Christ therefore was sent forth by God, and the apostles by Christ. Both these appointments,14then, were made in an orderly way, according to the will of God. Having therefore received their orders, and being fully assured by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and established in the word of God, with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand. And thus preaching through countries and cities, they appointed the first fruits [of their labours], having first proved them by the Spirit,16to be bishops and deacons of those who should afterwards believe. Nor was this any new thing, since indeed many ages before it was written concerning bishops and deacons. For thus saith the Scripture in a certain place, “I will appoint their bishops in righteousness, and their deacons2in faith.”[10]

 The Letter of Clement gives us from a disciple of Peter and Paul the foundational premises of two Catholic doctrines namely, Primacy of the Pope and Apostolic Succession. At this point, I’d like to pivot directly to Apostolic succession. I believe it to be important to understand this idea as a way for us to grow even deeper in our faith together. On a personal note, I arrive at my faith by two means, the first, is being a combination of St. Thomas Aquinas’ 3rdway “Why is there something instead of nothing?” and his 1stway a “Prime mover.” At this point, I’ve reasoned that there is God, the necessary being, but now I ask, “Who is this God and what can I know about him.” Apostolic Succession, teaching, authority etc. are vital to me to answer these questions. If you listen to Podcasts, Bishop Robert Barron has one, and he constantly explains that Jesus’ teachings are great but the most important aspect of Christianity is not what Jesus said but who Jesus claims to be. He claims to be God by the way. So How do we know if Jesus is who says is? Well, he called twelve apostles and appointed them to be fishers of men. Those same men were invested into the priesthood of Christ and bearing the same message that Christ is God they “laid hands” on those to succeed them and those men did the same until our present day.

Now, stop, and ask yourself, Do you believe that Jesus Christ is God? I say, yes, and the reason why is that I have assented to this truth because a Risen Lord appeared to the Apostles, they chose to die for this truth and their disciples chose to die for it as well. And that message, as well as the priesthood through unbroken succession, is with us today.

This truth has been preserved for us by Clement of Rome and by the Holy Spirit. Not convinced?

We can discover by reading his Apologia Pro Vita Sua that it was the Church Fathers and Apostolic Succession that convinced one of the towering intellectuals of the 19thcentury, Blessed John Henry Newman, to convert from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism. No big deal, right? For Newman to convert to Catholicism was a social death sentence to arguably the brightest mind in England at the time.

Newman writes, far more elegantly than I, “All sects think it necessary that their Ministers should be ordained by other Ministers. Now, if this be the case, then the validity of ordination even with them, rest on a succession; and is it not plain that they ought to trace that succession to the Apostles?”[11]Furthermore, “A body of doctrine had been delivered by the Apostles to their first successors, and by them in turn to the next generation, and then to the next.”[12]“We say, ‘therefore the Apostles live in their successors.’ Christ implies, ‘therefore the body never died, and therefore it will rise again.’[13]
The unity of the Body of Christ rests on Apostolic Succession, this is what Clement of Rome means to explain to the young Christians in Corinth, this is what is at the heart of Jesus’ priestly prayer in the Gospel of John chapter 17.

Jesus says,

20 “I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. 22 And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.[14]

So, how was Clement of Rome’s letter received? The Corinthians had a most grateful response to the “fatherly” correction[15]as they continued to read his letter as part of their Sunday worship for the next several hundred years.”[16]

The letter of Pope St. Clement I has survived to us today initially because it has been translated from Greek to many different languages. However, during some point in the history of the Western Church the letter was lost until in 1623 when the Patriarch of Constantinople gave the King of England a 5thcentury Bible called the Codex Alexandrinus which contained Clements letter calling for unity through Apostolic Succession. [17]

D’Ambrosio makes an interesting observation that “unfortunately, Clement’s letter was not available during the prior century when great arguments shattered the Christian unity in the West.”[18]

[1]Jimmy Akin, The Fathers Know Best: Your Essential Guide to the Teachings of the Early Church(San Diego, CA: Catholic Answers, 2010), 56.

[2]Pope Benedict XVI, Church Fathers: From Clement of Rome to Augustine(Ignatius Press: San Francisco, 2008), 7.

[3]Ibid.

[4]Marcellino D’Ambrosio, When The Church was Young: Voices of the Early Fathers(Servant Books: San Francisco, 2014), 5.

[5]Akin, 57.

[6]Pope Benedict XVI, 8.

[7]D’Ambrosio, 6.

[8]Ibid, 6-7 Some scholars believe Clement to be referenced in scripture in Philippians 4:3 “Yes, and I ask you also, my true yokemate, to help them, for they have struggled at my side in promoting the gospel, along with Clement and my other co-workers, whose names are in the book of life[8]

[9]D’Ambrosio, 7.

[10]Clement of Rome, “The First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians,” in The Gospel of Peter, the Diatessaron of Tatian, the Apocalypse of Peter, the Visio Pauli, the Apocalypses of the Virgil and Sedrach, the Testament of Abraham, the Acts of Xanthippe and Polyxena, the Narrative of Zosimus, the Apology of Aristides, the Epistles of Clement (Complete Text), Origen’s Commentary on John, Books I-X, and Commentary on Matthew, Books I, II, and X-XIV, ed. Allan Menzies, trans. John Keith, vol. 9, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1897), 241–242.

[11]Dave Armstrong, The Quotable Newman(Sophia Press: Manchester, 2012,) 37.

[12]Ibid.

[13]Ibid, 38.

[14]New American Bible, Revised Edition (Washington, DC: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2011), Jn 17:20–23.

[15]D’Ambrosio, 8.

[16]Ibid, 9.

[17]Ibid.

[18]Ibid.

The Church Fathers and The Didache

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Welcome to Our Savior’s Parish six week discussion series on the Church Fathers, I ask the Holy Spirit to guide my words, your words, and our ears to further our understanding of the founding and early history of the Church.

Overall, I have studied the discipline of history, so my hope is to share some of what I’ve learned with all of you. Furthermore, our discussion group here can evolve into whatever will meet our spiritual needs. My intentions to form such a group was to give an opportunity to those who work and have families to grow a truly Christian Community within our local parish—our part of the Body of Christ. Father Tom and I thought it wise to begin with only six-weeks for discussion, but I am willing to meet any and every week parishioners want to attend. If this goes well, I’d like to do future discussion themes on History of Christmas, On Prayer, The History of the Crusades, the historicity of the Exodus and more. I encourage others, if they want and feel the stir of the Holy Spirit, to lead our discussion group even during this coming six weeks. And finally, before we get started, our group can continue entirely as a discussion group but if it needs to fill other spiritual needs, we can also pray for one another and we can help others in our community, again, this group can certainly evolve into the ministerial needs of all of us who walk through those chapel doors. Our discussion topics for the six weeks begin with Tonight’s topic on the Didache (Early Catechism) followed by St. Clement of Rome, St. Justin Martyr, St. Athanasius, St. John Chrysostom, and ending with St. Augustine.

So, who are the Church Fathers? Well, in a six-week series, it would be impossible to cover them all, so I’ve selected six topics to cover each week to gain a better understanding of what and who were these early Christians.

What exactly is a Church Father? Who is included? One definition that I’ve heard is that the Church Fathers are basically the followers of the Apostles. However, the problem with this definition is that some Church Father’s like St. Augustine lived nearly 350 years after the Apostles. In Marcellino D’Ambrosio’s book When the Church was Young, the author writes, “One often finds the following standard definition in encyclopedias and text books ”The Fathers of the Church are those characterized by orthodoxy, holiness, antiquity, and Church approval.”[1]D’Ambrosio goes on to mention that this definition is of course ambiguous as there are several Church Fathers who have not been canonized as saints like Origen and Tertullian.

The definition that is finally articulated by D’ambrosio in his book is “The Church Fathers are those great Christian writers who passed on and clarified the teaching of the apostles from approximately the second through the eighth centuries.”[2]I believe this to be a very distinct and thorough definition but if one is looking for a more generalized definition, Catholic Apologist Jimmy Akin provides a more generalized definition explaining, “In time, the concept (Church Fathers) came to be applied in a general way to those who shaped the faith and practice of the Church in its earliest centuries. They became “Fathers” not only for their own age but for all ages that would follow. Some of these—the ones who heard the preaching of the apostles themselves or lived very shortly after the time of the apostles—came to be called the “Apostolic Fathers” or “Sub-Apostolic Fathers.” Together with the Fathers of later ages, they were important witnesses to the apostolic Tradition.[3]
Why is studying the Church Father’s important? First off, by learning about their lives and studying their writings, we learn why we belief the doctrines of our faith, how those doctrines developed when both Christ and the Apostles were gone and how to defend what we believe.

For example, similarities can be drawn from ancient Arian heresy’s denial of Christ being consubstantial (ever wonder why we use this word in the Nicene Creed?) with the Father and Jehovah Witness beliefs on the Trinity that Christ was a creation of God—rather than begotten of the Father, and his subordinate to Him. By studying the Church Fathers, we can learn from them that the Church in its earliest conception believed Jesus to be also one with the Father and how to articulate that to those who we encounter in the world. Simply, knowing the Fathers and what they taught, gives us the tools to better evangelize the world.

Blessed John Henry Newman, the famous English convert, lays out in one of the most graceful pieces of work in the English language the Apologia Pro Vita Suathe reason for his courageous conversion from Anglicanism to Catholicism lie with the Church Fathers.

Newman writes, “When they (the Church Fathers) speak of doctrine, they speak of them as being universally held. They are witnesses to the fact of those doctrines having been received not here or there, but everywhere. We receive those doctrines which they thus teach, not merely because they teach them, but because they bear witness that all Christians everywhere then held them…they do not speak of their own private opinion; they do not say, ‘This is true, because we see it in Scripture’—about which there might be differences of judgment—but, ‘this is true, because in matter of fact it is held, and has ever been held, by all the Churches, down to our times without interruption, ever since the Apostles.”[4]

 

In all honesty, we could spend six weeks alone what Bl. John Henry Newman had to say about the Church Fathers but there are two lessons from Newman that I want to share with you tonight.

#1 The revelation to the truth of the Church Fathers so heavily influenced Newman to convert to Catholicism in 19thcentury England, which amounted to the end of his professional academic career of man who was arguably the premier academic of his time in England.

#2 Reflecting on Newman’s words in regards to our own doctrine of the Eucharist, we can understand that the teachings of the Church Fathers, and as such, the Apostles, reflects the Catholic understanding of the real presence of our Lord Jesus Christ in accordance with the discourse of the bread of life. As from the Church Fathers to the 16thCentury this was the understanding of all Christians until Zwingli diverted from Real Presence doctrine.

The first topic of discussion is not a single Church Father, but rather a 2ndcentury document called the Didache based on part of one of the oldest known Catechisms in existence called “The Two Way.”[5]The Two Way, as explained by Thomas O’Loughlin, Professor of Theology at the University of Nottingham, gave early Christians a choice between a way of life, either a way of life or death.[6]What the Didache tells us is how early Christians worshiped God and whether our development of our faith is either very different from the faith of early Christians or very much alike. An interesting fact about the document known as the Didache, which means “teaching” in Greek, is that it has been lost for nearly 1000 years before being found by a monk in Istanbul in 1873. The particular Orthodox monk’s name that discovered the Didache was Philotheos Bryennios; “born in Constantinople in 1833.”[7]

Bryennios’ story for me is an inspiring story, as a student of history, I’ve been taught various historical methods to aid my prowess as a historian. In his Book, Professor O’Loughlin explains that Bryennios had such a great aptitude as a scholar that his superiors found funding for him to attend a prestigious school in German to mold his budding skills as a scholar.[8]Interesting enough, it were these skills that gave him the simple perseverance while researching in the library of the Constantinople house of the Monastery of the Holy Sepulchre by simply looking through an entire manuscript that was already well known by scholars at the time.[9]

Now, from a historical perspective, I have to ask, what can be learned by the discovery of such a document? Did we discover that in fact Catholic theology had drifted far away from early Christians or did it faithfully adhere to the early doctrines of the early Church?

Let’s take a look and find out.

 

Thomas O’Loughlin gives a great foundation for understanding the Christian context of the Didache by framing it within the backdrop of the Judaic understanding of Deuteronomy 30:14-18. RSV

14 But the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.

 

15 “See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you this day, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his ordinances, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you are entering to take possession of it. 17 But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you this day, that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land which you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess.[10]

 

Prof. O’Loughlin explains that “the people of Israel are presented with this choice: the way of covenant which leads to life and rejoicing in good things, the way of death which is the result of choosing another way and ignoring the commandments.”[11]As explained, by O’Loughlin, this challenge that was initiated by the Hebrews and adopted by early Christians by ending the idea of cosmic fatalism—being collateral damage of pagan gods—was revolutionary to a great many people in the world; therefore, was extremely attractive to new converts.[12]
The document reminds us that early Christians viewed themselves not as single individuals but rather as a community, as the advent of this type of thinking was created during the 16thand 17thcenturies in the period commonly referred to as the Enlightenment. During the Enlightenment, the primary concerns of many philosophers and politicians was natural law and natural rights being inalienable to nature and essence of  humanity by the natural order of our creation. However, the detriment of this type of thinking has led to extreme philosophies of individualism, materialism, and scientism.

The Didache, in many ways, reminds us that our Western civilizations continue to move away from orthodox (small “o”) Christian thinking and culture. O’Loughlin says, in accord with choosing the way of life—following Jesus Christ—“the individual had to accept the way as a member of the people, but was the whole community that had to choose to sset out on the way of life. Moreover, when individuals abandoned the commandments then the whole community was in jeopardy.”[13]

It’s natural to ask how this idea of community pertains to Christians in our 21stcentury Church; the idea is very much rooted in Catholic “Body of Christ” Theology. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this in section 787-789:

II.        The Church—Body of Christ

The Church is communion with Jesus

787From the beginning, Jesus associated his disciples with his own life, revealed the mystery of the Kingdom to them, and gave them a share in his mission, joy, and sufferings. Jesus spoke of a still more intimate communion between him and those who would follow him: “Abide in me, and I in you.… I am the vine, you are the branches.”216And he proclaimed a mysterious and real communion between his own body and ours: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” (755)

788When his visible presence was taken from them, Jesus did not leave his disciples orphans. He promised to remain with them until the end of time; he sent them his Spirit. As a result communion with Jesus has become, in a way, more intense: “By communicating his Spirit, Christ mystically constitutes as his body those brothers of his who are called together from every nation.”219(690)

789The comparison of the Church with the body casts light on the intimate bond between Christ and his Church. Not only is she gathered around him; she is united in him, in his body. Three aspects of the Church as the Body of Christ are to be more specifically noted: the unity of all her members with each other as a result of their union with Christ; Christ as head of the Body; and the Church as bride of Christ.[14]

 

Recently, I’ve read the Spiritual Diary of St. John Paul II; published for the first time in English. The future Saint wrote about the importance of Christian community in 1978 in his notes, “’Koinonia,’ the community, is the third principle dimension of Christian existence.”[15]John Paul II would return to this theme many times in his diaries and in 1984 wrote reminding us now the dangers of living as an individual in our contemporary society that “Humankind threatened by ‘deindividuation! Contemporary Man. Christianity couters this with the reality of ‘communio’ the communion with God through Jesus Christ, through the mystery of incarnation; the communion of saints.”[16]

Naturally, this is why I have sought to call all of us here together, I desire to foster this community amongst ourselves, but there’s even more that we can do build our community. We need to follow Christ. Remember, the Apostles asked Jesus, “Where are you going?” He replied, “Come and See.” We encounter Jesus at every mass during the Liturgy of the Eucharist in our community, we become a part of the Body of Christ during our baptism, but we grow even closer to him by partaking of His body in the Eucharist. As such we use the same language during the mass, we call our celebration of the Eucharist “communion” and before receiving the sacred Body, it is held up the words “The Body of Christ” are spoken prior to reception.

Marcellino D’ambrosio explains in his text that the Didache serves as a good catechism in addressing particular questions about God’s commandments. For example, What does “Thou Shall not Kill” actually mean when God commands the Hebrews to kill the Canaanites? What does “Thou Shall not commit Adultery” mean to the unmarried? [17]

The Didache addresses both of these topics:

Do not murder; do not commit adultery; do not corrupt boys, do not fornicate (have relations outside of marriage); do not steal; do not practice magic; do not go in for sorecery; do not murder a child by abortion or kill a newborn infant.[18]

 

D’Ambrosio explains that this is earliest known documentation in Christian literature that murder in accordance with the fifth commandment includes abortion.[19]The document also references a code for sexual relations. Modernity attempts to profess that its views on human sexuality is new and progressive, but this could not be farther from the truth as explained by the Didache’s explanation on the sixth commandment for “In the Greco-Roman society of the time, religion had little to do with sexual morality. Adventuresome sexual exploration was the fashion.”[20]

One of the most interesting facts that we find in the Didache is the instruction of Baptism. When I was a teenager, there was a church that would have bonfires after every football game and most of the high school kids would go to eat free pizza and roast marshmallows. After awhile, the youth minister of this particular church began to attempt to convert us to his faith. The go to point of this particular youth minister was that because we Catholics, and other mainstream Protestants, were not immersed when we baptized like Jesus in the Jordan River then our baptism was not valid.

So why do we believe our Baptism to be valid? Again, I cannot stress this enough, studying the early Christians allows us to defend our faith. First off, scripture doesn’t necessarily say that Jesus was immersed, it says that “he went up immediately from the water,”[21]“And when he came up out of the water,”[22]So imagine yourself on a riverbank, you have go down a hill to get into the river and to get out of the river you “went up” from it, or you come “up out of the water.” Now, it’s very possible, and even probable that Jesus was immersed, but just because the Gospel records a particular event doesn’t mean it’s a formula. In fact, the only formula for baptism in the Gospel is given at the end of the Gospel of Matthew:

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”[23]

Now, this could just be my particular interpretations of these particular text, I would imagine the youth minister in Mt. Sterling would tell me that these are Catholic apologist proof texts. So, I ask, what were the early Christian understanding of baptism.

The Didache reads:

“Baptize in running water, “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spririt.” (note that the only no negotiable is based on scripture) If you do not have running water, baptize in some other (form of water). If you cannot in cold, then in warm, If you have neither, then pour water on the head three times “in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”[24]

The early Christians only understood two necessities: #1 The Scriptural Formula and #2 Water. Different variables of water were allowed and sprinkling was also allowed by early Christians.

D’Ambrosio illustrates in the text that early Christians wanted to differentiate from Jews by changing their patterns of fasting by fasting on different days of the week. “This Wednesday and Friday fast became virtually universal in the early Church and is preserved by the Eastern churches to this day.”[25]The Didache also instructs Christians to pray three times per day by praying the Lord’s prayer, as well as coming together not on the Sabbath day but on Sunday—the day of Resurrection:

“Assemble on the Lord’s Day, and break bread and offer the Eucharist; but first make confession of your faults, so that your sacrifice may be a pure one. Anyone who has a difference with this fellow is not to take part with you until they have been reconciled, so as to avoid any profanation of your sacrifice. For this is the offering of which the Lord has said, Everywhere and always bring me a sacrifice that is undefiled.”[26]

It important to note that early Christians had a Eucharistic doctrine, as well as placing importance on the sacrament of confession. The understanding of such believes can be found in the first letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians:

27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.[d] 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we should not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are chastened[e] so that we may not be condemned along with the world.[27]
What Catholics can take from reading and understanding the Didache is that our practices can be proven to be true by both scripture and by the historical record of the practices of early Christians. Let us by recognizing are connection with the past continue to grow in faith and defend our faith as a faith that is founded on the historical record.

[1]Marcellino D’Ambrosio, When The Church was Young: Voices of the Early Fathers(Servant Books: San Francisco, 2014), 1.

[2]Ibid, 2.

[3]Jimmy Akin, The Fathers Know Best: Your Essential Guide to the Teachings of the Early Church(San Diego, CA: Catholic Answers, 2010), 23.

[4]Dave Armstrong, Quotable Newman(Sophia Press: Manchester, 2012), 169-70.

[5]D’Ambrosio, 11.

[6]Thomas O’Loughlin, The Didache: A Window on the Earliest Christians(Grand Rapids: Baker, 2010), 30.

[7]Ibid, 1.

[8]Ibid, 3.

[9]Ibid, 5.

[10]Deut. 30:14-18 RSV

[11]O’Loughlin, 29.

[12]Ibid.

[13]Ibid, 30.

[14]Catholic Church, Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed. (Washington: United States Catholic Conference, 2000), 208.

[15]Pope St. John Paul II In God’s Hands: The Spiritual Diaries of Pope Saint John Paul II (London: Harper One, 2017), 134.

[16]Ibid, 229.

[17]D’Ambrosio, 12.

[18]Didache 2:2 Some argue that abortion was allowed in Judaism; however, we must also keep in mind that Divorce was allowed in Judaism as referenced in Mt. 19, but Christ explains the reasoning why Divorce displeases God. Regardless of Judaic arguments for or against abortion, our faith asserts that the Church has been given the authority to teach God’s will.

[19]D’Ambrosio, 13.

[20]Ibid.

[21]Mt. 3:16

[22]Mk. 1:10

[23]Mt. 28:19

[24]Didache 7:2

[25]D’Ambrosio, 15.

[26]See Didache 14:1-3

[27]1 Cor. 11:27:32