Week 21. Saint Monica of Hippo. Evangelizing Thought of the Day (ETD)

DAILY SEQUENTIAL EXCERPTS from The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith – Instrumentum Laboris:

“And they devoted (προσκαρτεροῦντες, proskarterountes) themselves to the Apostles’ teaching (τῇ διδαχῇ τῶν ἀποστόλων, te didache ton apostolon) and fellowship (καὶ τῇ κοινωνίᾳ, te koinonia), to the breaking of bread (τῇ κλάσει τοῦ ἄρτου, te klasei tou artou) and the prayers (ταῖς προσευχαῖς, proseuchais).
And day by day, attending (προσκαρτεροῦντες, proskarterountes) the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook (μετελάμβανον, metelambanon) of food with glad and generous hearts (ἀγαλλιάσει καὶ ἀφελότητι καρδίας, agalliasei kai apheloteti kardias) and praising God (αἰνοῦντες τὸν θεὸν, ainountes ton Theon) and having favor (χάριν, charin) with all the people. And the Lord added (προσετίθει, prosetithei) to their number day by day those who were being saved (σῳζομένους, sozomenous) (Acts 2:42, 46-47).”

Proclaim God's marvelous deeds to all the nations. (Psalm 96:3, Mass).

O God,
who console the sorrowful and
who mercifully accepted the motherly tears
of Saint Monica for the conversion
of her son Augustine, grant us,
through the intercession of them both,
that we may bitterly regret our sins and
find the grace of your pardon.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God, for ever and ever.

We last considered the meaning of how the newly baptized were living when it came to their new life in Christ Jesus: “they devoted themselves (προσκαρτεροῦντες, proskarterountes)” and we will explore over the course of the next few days that these newly baptized devoted themselves to 4 particular experiences of Christian living. These experiences are termed by some scholars as the ‘constitutive elements of Church’ and they are presented as Chapter 3 of the Instrumentum Laboris begins. In other words, when these 4 experiences come together in the power and work of the Holy Spirit, the result is the Body of Christ, the Church. The first of these experiences is διδαχή (didache), translated here in the Acts of the Apostles as “teaching.”
διδαχή has both a rich usage and meaning in the ancient world. Biblically, throughout all of Sacred Scripture and especially in the New Testament, the usage and meaning of διδαχή is nuanced (a precise variation of a word’s meaning in or for a particular context). From a Christian point of view as evidenced particularly in the Acts of the Apostles, διδαχή presupposes κηρυγμα (kerygma or kerugma). Before “teaching” can properly occur, the ‘one-to-be-taught’ must first have encountered the Person Jesus Christ, be connected to Him through the Gift of Faith and respond with a lifestyle or manner of living marked by metanoia (daily, ongoing conversion from selfishness to selflessness as lived by Jesus culminating in His Cross) and belief (characterized by a radical trust in the Person Jesus that His words and deeds are the path to authentic living). Technically speaking, διδαχή is not so much ‘teaching the Faith’ to lead people to Faith in the power of the Holy Spirit as it is unpacking the Faith already experienced in the κηρυγμα. Meeting, encountering and being connected to Jesus are necessary prior to any genuine Christian teaching.
διδαχή, that teaching which unpacks the Faith experienced in the κηρυγμα, is also revelatory and missionary in scope. διδαχή is not theological trival. διδαχή is not concerned with Divine minutia. διδαχή is not teaching that is meant to help one be a game winner at biblical or theological pursuits. In unpacking the κηρυγμα, διδαχή - as presented by the apostles (more on that tomorrow) – cooperates with the Holy Spirit in leading people to greater depths of connection with Jesus Christ: the Divine Son of God Who took on our nature for our salvation. διδαχή is the work that responds to Jesus’ question of Peter and the apostles, “But you, who do you say I am?” διδαχή is the response to those in the boat who ask, “Who then is this Whom even wind and sea obey?” As one can appreciate, these questions – this work called διδαχή, is ongoing.
But Jesus’ disciples are not afforded a διδαχή experience simply to live in a land of wow. As blessed as life’s ‘wow moments’ are, as wonderful as those times are when new connections are made for us by the Holy Spirit and we grasp them, all of this is given as Gift for the purpose of service. Coming to greater depths of knowledge and experience of Jesus is not to insulate or absent us from the work of heralding Who He is to all in the world. This does not necessarily mean becoming the town crier on a soapbox. It involves gentle moments of responding to questions of family, friends, co-workers and whoever else stumbles into the path of life as to Who Jesus is and His importance and significance for living.

  • Has the distinction between κηρυγμα (kerygma) and διδαχή (didache) been your experience in religious formation?
  • Is this distinction still valid today?

1 comment:

  1. 1. Yes.
    2. Yes, it is always valid and at the same time, the encounter and unpacking are different for each person and we need to keep reminding ourselves that we are not a one size fits all creation and in our encounters with others which facilitate Encounter must be as docile instruments of the Holy Spirit who will place us where we need to be and give us what we need to say (Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch).