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The Didache: The Teaching of the Twelve

Discussion in 'The Ancient Way - Eastern Orthodox' started by Philip, Jul 24, 2003.

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  1. Miss Shelby

    Miss Shelby Legend

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    I believe we should pray for the conversion of heart of our enemies, daily. I said on another board once, that I pray for Saddam Hussein. It wasn't well received, especially since I compared him to the Apostle Paul... I said that he was once an evil terrorist named Saul killing Christians and persecuting the Church. It's easy to love our friends, much, much harder to love our enemies as we are commanded to do.

    Michelle
     
  2. Philip

    Philip Orthodoxy: Old School, Hard Core Christianity

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    Here are some comparisons of the opening of the Didache with Scripture

    The Didache:
    There are two ways, one of life and one of death, but a great difference between the two ways.​

    This bears a great resemblance to some of Moses's final words:
    Deuteronomy 30:19
    I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;​

    The Way of Life, according to Moses, was how we might receive life.

    The prophet Jeremiah spoke for the words of the Lord:
    Jeremiah 21:8-9
    8"Now you shall say to this people, "Thus says the LORD: "Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death. 9He who remains in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence; but he who goes out and defects to the Chaldeans who besiege you, he shall live, and his life shall be as a prize to him. ​

    Those who followed the Way of Life were spared God's judgement and lived.

    Now, the words of our Lord, recorded by St Matthew:
    Matthew 7:12-14
    12Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. 13 "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. ​

    The Didache is almost a direct quote of what Christ said. I think it is important that Christ states that this path leads to life. Our actions are not only the result of the new life we have, but are a way that we receive new life through God's grace.
     
  3. Philip

    Philip Orthodoxy: Old School, Hard Core Christianity

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    The Epistle of St Barnabas (Chapter 18) :
    But let us now pass to another sort of knowledge and doctrine. There are two ways of doctrine and authority, the one of light, and the other of darkness. But there is a great difference between these two ways. For over one are stationed the light-bringing angels of God, but over the other the angels' of Satan. And He [God] indeed is Lord for ever and ever, but he [Satan] is prince of the time of iniquity. The way of light, then, is as follows. If any one desires to travel to the appointed place, he must be zealous in his works.​

    This passage is also a close parallel of the Didache. Again, it emphasizes that we have a choice between two vastly different paths. Our final destination is not determined. We must complete the race, being zealous in our works, if we wish to reach the appointed place.
     
  4. MariaRegina

    MariaRegina Well-Known Member

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    Purgatory versus the upper part of Hell

    While Catholics must believe that the place of confinement is called purgatory, the Orthodox tend to believe that the souls of the faithful departed who die unprepared yet without deadly sins are confined temporarily in the upper part of hell, where they will pay "back the last penny."

    We see this belief expressed in the life of St. Xenia of St. Petersburg in Russia. Her husband died in an alcoholic brawl. She feared for his salvation. For about thirty years she slept at his tomb, wearing his old military uniform. She prayed and fasted for his soul, until at last, shortly before she died, she had a vision where she saw his soul depart from hell and enter into heaven.

    Other Orthodox saints have had similar visions.

    Note: The Orthodox Church has never defined "a place" called "purgatory" as did the Roman Catholic Church. However, the Orthodox Church has a continual tradition of praying for the souls of the faithful departed. This tradition goes back to the Apostolic Times. That is why the Didache mentions this time or place of "confinement." Notice however, that the souls are spiritual and do not need to be confined to a particular place as they do not have a body.

    Any comments here?
     
  5. Reader Nilus

    Reader Nilus SISU

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    It is the toll houses.
    Jeff the Finn
     
  6. MariaRegina

    MariaRegina Well-Known Member

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    My dearest Jeff:

    Toll houses are not defined by the Orthodox Church either. When I did a google search under Toll Houses, I found that the ancient Jews also believed in it. The idea of toll houses is an ancient kabbalistic teaching. Here the devils can tempt you and you can lose your salvation. It's a scary idea that I don't think fits in with Orthodox teachings. It seems to go contrary to a peaceful death, if you have to struggle after death!

    I'd prefer to believe in purgatory as part of upper hell than in toll houses, but that my preference.

    Lovingly yours in Christ,
    Elizabeth
     
  7. Skripper

    Skripper Legend

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    I'm a little surprised to see expressed here the idea of leaving hell and entering heavenly glory. . . :confused:
     
  8. MariaRegina

    MariaRegina Well-Known Member

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    My dearest Skripper:

    What do you as a Catholic envision purgatory to be?

    I've heard that in the Vatican there is this desk formerly owned by a priest, where there is this handprint burned into it. The story goes that the priest didn't believe in purgatory, so one day he had a visitor from purgatory. The visitor left behind proof that he was suffering hell's fire - the visitor put his hand on the priest's desk and the rest is history. That priest began to pray daily for the faithfully departed.

    Lovingly yours in Christ,
    Elizabeth
     
  9. artnalex

    artnalex Well-Known Member

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    I was always under the impression that EO's believed in a "state" of purgation, not necessarily a "place" of purgation. Do I have that right? Phillip?

    Does the belief in a place in "upper hell" stem from the belief in "sheol"?
     
  10. MariaRegina

    MariaRegina Well-Known Member

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    My dearest Art:

    Philip is offline right now.

    We in the Orthodox Church are encouraged to undergo purgation in this life so that we can immediately enter into the joys of heaven. There is no repentance in the next life. For those who are not purified, we don't really know what happens, we have to leave that up to the mercy of God. This is the reason why we pray for the dead, as it is charitable to do so.

    St. Xenia's experience has convinced a lot of Orthodox to be faithful in praying for the deceased.

    Perhaps the idea of sheol as being a place in "upper hell" could be taken up in a new thread over at the Catholic Forum? That would be a great topic to discuss.

    Lovingly in Christ-God,
    Elizabeth
     
  11. artnalex

    artnalex Well-Known Member

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    Elizabeth,
    Catholics believe purgatory to be a state of purgation, but definitely not in hell. As for the fire, the Bible mentions various times a fire that burns away our sins before we enter Heaven, but that does not necessitate that this fire comes from Hell, just that there is a fire that burns sins away - so that we can be pure before we enter Heaven.

    The "hand-print" that was burned (if in fact this story is true) would not threaten or oppose the Catholic belief that purgatory contains a fire that burns away the sins of our earthly past.

    And, of course, we should pray for those who have died - as is the Catholic, EO and Jewish custom.
     
  12. MariaRegina

    MariaRegina Well-Known Member

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    Our God is a consuming fire.
     
  13. Reader Nilus

    Reader Nilus SISU

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    Toll houses are described by the Blessed Seraphim Rose in his book The Soul After Death: Contemporary "After-Death" Experiences in the Light of the Orthodox Teaching on the Afterlife There seems to be some what of an ongoing discussion of toll houses among Orthodox, I tend to side with Seraphim Rose on them.
    Jeff the Finn
     
  14. Skripper

    Skripper Legend

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    Elizabeth,

    I'm sure you don't intend it as such, and I hope you don't mind my saying so, but I find it a little condescending to address me as, "My Dearest Skripper". It sort of brings to mind a kindergarten teacher lecturing one of her students. So I would much appreciate it if you did not address me in that way. Thank you in advance for understanding. I would prefer to simply be called “David” or “Dave” or even “Skripper”.

    If you are interested in hearing what my understandings, as a Catholic, are of what Purgatory is and isn’t, I will be happy to provide it. In fact, I could provide an article I wrote for a Catholic magazine on this very topic. But wouldn’t that be considerably off topic for this thread? It seems you are trying to turn this into a Catholic teaching vs. Orthodox teaching discussion, something I am uninterested in.

    I will say this much, though, I do not envision Purgatory as a part of Hell. I would also humbly point out that you have inaccurately described Catholic teaching on Purgatory when you said this:


    Catholic dogmatic teaching concerning Purgatory is focused on the existence of the purgatorial state of cleansing/purification for some (many) souls destined for heaven. Although this process of purification, this purgation, is indeed referred to as Purgatory, to my knowledge, the name itself is not part of defined Catholic dogmatic teaching.

    Also, contrary to what you have stated, the Catholic Church has not defined “Purgatory” as “a place”. A “place” implies matter and space, (which souls do not have as you correctly pointed out). And the Catholic Church has made no such dogmatic definition regarding “place” with respect to Purgatory. Purgatory is more accurately described as a state of existence or a temporary event. Whether or not it is also “a place” has not been defined by the Catholic Church.
     
  15. MariaRegina

    MariaRegina Well-Known Member

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    Dear David:

    Sorry, I didn't see your signature at the bottom. I didn't intend to be putting you down, but I am trying to use terms of endearment so that I can discuss things in a Christian way. It's more of a reminder to me to be charitable. Forgive me a sinner.

    Re: Confinement

    My intent was not to talk about Catholic vs Orthodox thoughts on Purgatory, but to further clarify if we all agree that there is some kind of confinement after death for those faithful departed souls who have not undergone purification in this life.

    The Bible does talk about a purifiying fire and God is described as a consuming fire that does not consume us but destroys our impurities.

    Do you agree with this? If so, should we start Chapter two?

    Lovingly in Christ,
    Elizabeth

    P.S. Art - what's up!
     
  16. artnalex

    artnalex Well-Known Member

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    Never mind.
     
  17. Skripper

    Skripper Legend

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    Dear Elizabeth,

    First, thank you. I can see you are a very loving Christian. That comes through loud and clear.

    Yes, I would definitely agree with your above statement regarding God's consuming fire, which, by the way, I think was very nicely put.

    Of course we can move on to chapter two. However, in the invitation you posted in the Catholic forum you indicated that you would be interested in some scriptural citations that support the state of confinement/purification. Some good ones have already been provided by yourself and others here. I could provide more if you like. Or we could just move on to the next chapter.
     
  18. artnalex

    artnalex Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps this is best explained in another thread, but how do EO's view or describe purgation in this life? If the answer to this is too long and will sidetrack this thread, don't worry about answering it.
     
  19. MariaRegina

    MariaRegina Well-Known Member

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    Dear David and Art,

    Go ahead. Bring on the Scriptural references.

    Please give the biblical references as we are trying to tie the Didache into biblical teachings for the benefit of our Protestant and Jewish brothers who may be listening in.

    Chapter 2 can wait until everything from Chapter 1 has been discussed and clarified.

    Lovingly yours in Christ,

    Elizabeth
     
  20. MariaRegina

    MariaRegina Well-Known Member

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    My dear Art:

    In the Didache, it is mentioned that if we receive gifts that we do not need, we will suffer for it. Purification of our sinfulness will occur either in this life or in the next. We know that Christ spoke of the wedding feast and that everyone who comes to the wedding feast must be clothed in a pure white garment without stains.

    This indicates that we are to lead blameless lives. Saints like the Orthodox Christian St. Seraphim of Sarov and the Roman Catholic St. Dominic of Guzman were purified to the extent that they glowed with a holy light. We are called to such holiness too, but most of us don't really put forth the effort to achieve holiness. God offers us the grace - to refuse that piece of cake, or to give ten dollars to a charity- but we refuse his offer of charity.

    The Didache mentions alms giving as a way to purify ourselves.

    Prayer and fasting are other means of achieving theosis, or sanctity.

    Lovingly yours in Christ,
    Elizabeth
     
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