Brother Clement, our novice, has begun to study one of the early Church Fathers, Saint Clement, whose name he took as he began his journey as a novice.
He is working on a series of reflections on each chapter of the book Clement of Rome and the Didache, a new translation and theological commentary by Kenneth Robert Howell. For the next few weeks Brother Clement will be sharing thoughts on each chapter of this work.
Chapter One: Clement of Rome and his letter to the Corinthians
Approximately 40 years after Saint Paul wrote his own letter to the church at Corinth, Clement of Rome himself wrote a letter to the Corinthians. His letter speaks against division, schism, and rebellion within the church. Clement’s purpose was to restore unity and harmony within the Corinthian church, as he called the faithful to obedience and holiness. What might Saint Clement’s words mean to those in the church today?
Chapter Two: Sedition and Schism in the Church of Corinth
There seems to have been a difference in the problems within the Corinthian Church between the time of Paul and the time of Clement. In Paul’s letters, the problem was schism, division among the members of the church. In Clement’s time, the problems resulted from sedition, the overt rebellion of church members against established authority. Both authors look to love as the answer for the problems facing the Corinthian church.
Chapter Three: Structure and Authority in Clement’s View of the Church
Clement’s letter to the Corinthians is one of the earliest and most important witnesses we possess of the idea of apostolic succession. It was the deliberate intention of the apostles to establish continuity in the church. Structure gives stability to the church and guides the proper expression of the love of God made known in Christ.
Chapter Four: Clement’s view of God and Christ
Clement views God as Creator, Master, and all-powerful Sustainer. The most common title applied to God, though, is that of Master, which occurs 24 times in Clement’s Letter to the Corinthians. Clement refers to Jesus Christ as “the high priest of the offerings,” “our salvation,” and “the protector and helper of our weakness.”
Chapter Five: Clement and Justification by Works
Clement clearly denies justification by works. Yet, in Clement’s view, faith shows itself by a life of goodness and holiness. Genuine faith generates virtue. For Clement, Christ’s humility provides His disciples with them model of service and grace.
Chapter Six The Didache: History and Literature
The teaching of the 12 apostles, also known as the Didache, is a short document dating from the late first or early second centuries. Didache means teaching. The author is unknown. Its importance lies in the fact that it occupies a place chronologically between the New Testament and the apostolic fathers. It is one of the earliest witnesses to Christianity outside the New Testament itself.
Chapter Seven: The Theology of the Didache
The Didache contains teachings on the Church and the Eucharist, among other topics. It also includes an exhortation to pray the Lord’s Prayer three times a day. This is an early indication of what would later become the Liturgy of the Hours, i.e. times of the day set aside for prayer