The Mass: 155 AD & More


Ancient Witnesses to the Catholic Faith, The Didache:

The Didache is one of the earliest written documents of the Church other than Scripture itself. It was written sometime between 90 and 110 AD. It may not have had a single author but may have been compiled from the Apostolic Teaching as a kind of early catechism and a summary of the essential moral tenets of the Faith. It’s existence demonstrates that many current teachings of the faith, often under attack by modernity, are in fact very ancient, going right back to the beginning. Let’s take a look at some excerpts from the Didache that are especially pertinent for today’s controversies. My comments are in red after the italicized quotes.

Check it out!

Also, yesterday got away from me but we’re coming down the homestretch of Future of Catholicism Week, I am happy to say that we have another late entry to the mainpage, and it is a must-read by J. Peter Nixon, who writes in Only the Saints Can Save Us:

Our children and grandchildren are abandoning the faith because they perceive — rightly — that its demands are at fundamental variance with the lives we have prepared them to lead. We have raised them to seek lives characterized by material comfort, sexual fulfillment, and freedom from any obligations that they have not personally chosen. Should it surprise us that they fail to take seriously our claims to follow one who embraced poverty, chastity, and obedience to the will of God?

You’ll want to read it all; we forget the saints at our own peril; they help us to develop a clarity of vision.

And, once again–as happens so often, the Holy Spirit has provided a theme! Read our latest two contributors who also talked about clarity and vision!

Speaking of which: Deacon Greg’s Homily

Sisters of Life on EWTN:

OLAM has a new blog!

Slideshow: A Day in the Life

The Reality of Benedict

Dominican Nuns: Liquid Hand Soap and a Day at the Beach.

St. Thomas Aquinas’ Twitter Account

Holy Moley!: PupCakes

Finally: The Memory of Faces: I scored 100%/83% which surprised me. Thought I would do much worse!

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Regina

    I got 100%/86%. I have a pretty good memory for faces.

    Thanks for the wonderful work at Patheos.

  • Last Sphere

    Outstanding post Anchoress!

    This goes right to the heart of several issues that have been on my mind lately.

    In fact- all of this has just given me an indirect and unexpected answer to a prayer that I was clumsily struggling with yesterday at mass and again this morning. The Holy Spirit is very timely- as usual.

    I’m starting to realize that (contrary to what I previously thought) God answers more of the prayers that I had to force out of myself. The prayers that came out of frustration because of my ambivalence and spiritual numbness, prayers that I just bluntly throw out in the midst of overwhelming doubt and confusion.

    This Holy Spirit, This Christ, This God The Father- works in a more down-to-earth, nitty-gritty and simple way than I keep expecting.

    I keep looking for The Big Complicated Answer to the Big Picture- and He keeps giving me small bite-sized simplicity.

    I’m slowly learning……….

    Thankfully He is patient.

    And thankfully He led me to you Anchoress.

    (Sorry I made this about me. I was just a little overwhelmed by the coincidence) ;-)

  • R.C.

    I am not certain that you intended to convey the notion that it was from the Didache, but the positioning of the Didache quote right below the video clip seems to suggest that it was.

    Not to nitpick, but the quoted passage in the first video clip is from Justin Martyr, not the Didache.

    Just thought you might want to make a note to that effect.

    [Heh. You figured it out. I'm sure others will! -admin]

  • Last Sphere

    Wasn’t St. Justin Martyr basically echoing the Didache that preceded him?

  • Bender

    Wasn’t St. Justin Martyr basically echoing the Didache that preceded him?

    Yes and no, but mostly no, at least in the sense that we usually mean.

    He was “echoing” the Didache in the sense that the Didache was itself an echo. That is how the faith has been handed down through the ages, as if by an echo, sounding and repeating what has been taught to us. The words “catechesis” and “catechism” mean, to re-sound like an echo.

    But, no, he was not simply repeating the Didache, which was meant for the faithful. Justin, on the other hand, is most famously known for his apologetics defending and explaining the Catholic faith to the pagans, especially the First Apology, addressed to the Emperor Titus, wherein he gives the oldest surviving description of the Mass (ch. 65-67), setting out the same essential elements that we celebrate today, showing conclusively that the Mass today — yes, I mean the Ordinary Form — is not 40 years old, but 2000 years old.

  • Last Sphere

    Thank you for the historical context Bender- very informative.

    Much appreciated!

    God Bless.

  • John

    Some place the date of the Didache to as early as 50AD and there is evidence that it predates the destruction of the second temple.

  • Bender

    We also have to remember that it was not until fairly recently that the world, including the Church, has relied on the written word to teach and spread information. Sure, there have been books for a few thousand years, but until Guttenberg, they were handwritten scrolls and few people had them or had access to them. Even after the printing press, most people could not read. Rather, for most of the Church’s history, the faith has been passed down by oral instruction. Even those “sola scriptura” Protestants were taught the faith orally for hundreds of years since, again, most people were illiterate until close to the 20th century and most people could not afford to buy a book even if they could read.

    So, although the Church fathers, including Justin, did have access to the scriptures and extra-scriptural writings such as the Didache, they too learned the faith by word of mouth as much as by the word on the page.