November 2017 Letter
The Apostolic Fathers are the disciples of the apostles (e.g. St. Ignatius the disciple of St. Peter), whose teachings are considered a direct echo of the apostles’ evangelism. One of their writings is the “Didache”, which means the teachings of the apostles. The exact meaning is: “The Lord’s teachings to the Gentiles as conveyed by the 12 Apostles”. It’s a small document for teaching the moral behavior, and for defining the ecclesiastical law and rites. Let’s learn a little about the Didache in order to get an idea about the life of the early church and follow their example.
The document dates back to the end of the first century, and the author meant to clearly offer a summary of the teachings of Christ to the gentiles, as conveyed to His disciples. The document is very important to reflect the era that immediately followed the time of the apostles, revealing the life of the early church from every aspect: behavioral, liturgical and regulatory.
The Didache has 16 chapters:
- Teaching and moral section, show the main features of Christian behavior, which is our focus in this letter (chapters 1-6).
- Liturgical and sacramental life (chapters 7-10).
- Disciplinary regulations, explain the ecclesiastical ranks (chapters 11-15).
- Parousia or second coming of the Lord (chapter 16).
Teaching and moral section: chapters 1 to 6:
- Is called “The Two Ways” because it starts by saying: “There are two ways, one of life and one of death, but a great difference between the two ways”.
- He starts to explain the Way of Life saying: “First, you shall love God who made you; second, love your neighbor as yourself, and do not do to another what you would not want done to you”, and then continues explaining the Christian behavior.
We herewith highlight some of these interesting teachings:
- In addition to praying for those who persecute us he adds: “fast for those who persecute you” (1: 3).
- In showing the importance of being careful in giving alms, he says: “Give to every one who asks you” (1: 5), he then adds after: “Let your alms sweat in your hands, until you know to whom you should give” (1: 6).
- Prohibition of abortion, as considered a crime of murder: “you shall not murder a child by abortion” (2: 2).
- Everyone should struggle according to his capacity: “For if you are able to bear the entire yoke of the Lord, you will be perfect; but if you are not able to do this, do what you are able” (6: 2).
May the blessing of St. Mary, our fathers the apostles and their apostolic disciples, St. Mercurius, all the martyrs and saints be with us all.
Belleville, November 1, 2017