Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pope Benedict to the Youth

Pope Benedict, in his homily at a public mass in Scotland, made the following remarks to the young people gathered there, remarks I now share with you, not so much because the ideas are new to you, but rather because I think these words from the Holy Father will encourage you in what you are already doing.

"Finally, I would like to say a word to you, my dear young Catholics [of Scotland]. I urge you to lead lives worthy of our Lord (cf. Eph 4:1) and of yourselves. There are many temptations placed before you every day – drugs, money, sex, pornography, alcohol – which the world tells you will bring you happiness, yet these things are destructive and divisive.

There is only one thing which lasts: the love of Jesus Christ personally for each one of you. Search for him, know him and love him, and he will set you free from slavery to the glittering but superficial existence frequently proposed by today’s society. Put aside what is worthless and learn of your own dignity as children of God.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks us to pray for vocations: I pray that many of you will know and love Jesus Christ and, through that encounter, will dedicate yourselves completely to God, especially those of you who are called to the priesthood and religious life. This is the challenge the Lord gives to you today: the Church now belongs to you!"

For excellent coverage of the Papal Trip (and all other universal Church happenings, check out http://www.whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com/)

Pope Benedict on St. Cyril

Again, I invite you to look back to the Holy Father's catechesis on St. Cyril for some additional context and insight.

St. Cyril 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 of 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 lecture 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 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. What do you make of the section "On Apparel"? Just jot down a few sentences of your reaction and we will discuss it in class.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Hello theology scholars. I was really impressed with our class last time. However, as seems to be our pattern - we went a bit longer on the lesson than I intended and we did not have time to review. So rest assured, the Quiz (actually more like a test) is still on the horizon, but a bit further off than we intended. So I will see you bright and early, ready to review the Apostolic (and early Patristic) Age.

Mr. Basso

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

St. Cyprian Questions

1. What external factors may have been influencing St. Cyprian in drafting this document? (remember, you need to do a little independent research on this one.)

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

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 we 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 Judging those who break away form the Church, but rather trying to correct their misguided actions.

St. Cyprian of Carthage - Introduction

In preparation for our reading of St. Cyprian's Treatise on Church Unity, please read Holy Father's essay on this Church Father.
Then proceed to read the Treatise itself, again entitled, On the Unity of the Church.
Discussion questions to follow.
Ad Jesum per Mariam
Mr. Basso

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

St. Ignatius Questions

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?

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?

Until next time,
Ad Jesum Per Mariam,
Mr. Basso