Questions for Chapter 6

The Golden Rule (Norman Rockwell)

When you hear the phrase “paschal mystery” in a homily or read it in a book, what do you think it refers to? 

186 a 
Most Evangelical Protestants and many conservative Catholics assume that the satisfaction theory, according to which Jesus’ suffering and death compensated for the sins of humanity, is found in the Bible, but the theory was actually introduced only in the Middle Ages. How do you understand the relation between Christ and salvation? 

186 b 
How do you think Jesus’ way of life as lived by his followers would result in something that could be called salvation or redemption from sin? 

186 c 
In chapter 1, it was proposed that mystery is best understood as something that is experienced and only partly understood, rather than as a statement (for example, “There are three Persons in one God”) that is only partly understood. What are some of life’s mysteries that you have experienced? 

187 a 
Does translating agápē as care or caring make sense to you? Why or why not? 

187 b 
Have you ever experienced living with a group of people, even temporarily, where you watched out for one another and took care of each others’ needs? Are you living in such a situation now? How does it work? What does it feel like? 

188 a 
What do you think of the idea that salvation in the New Testament might refer to well-being or morally healthy living, rather than going to heaven after dying? 

188 b 
Have you ever experienced going from self-effacement to self-fulfillment, that is, finding fulfillment in taking care of others? Describe your experience. 

188 c 
The word for Easter in other languages is often derived from pascha, such as Pasqua in Italian, Pascua in Spanish, and Pâques in French, which is also the word for the Jewish feast of Passover in those languages. How might using the word for an ancient pagan spring festival obscure the actual referent of the Christian celebration? 

189 a 
Does this argument make sense to you? That is, could it be that the early followers of Jesus took his death and resurrection as emblematic of his entire life of self-giving and revitalization? Look again at the four New Testament texts alluded to earlier (1 Cor 5:7; 1 Pet 1:18f; John 1:29; Rev 5:6 - 8:1), and see if this interpretation fits. Explain your answer.

189 b 
This explanation of how the paschal mystery was discovered, lived, and celebrated by the first followers of Jesus is rather down-to-earth and not very complicated. Do you think it is intellectually satisfying, or do you see problems with it? 

Do you see any problem in trying to connect an event that happened twenty centuries ago with spiritual benefits that are available today? If the connection is not the one being proposed here, how do you think they might be connected? 

191 a 
Billy and Keating argue, in effect, that Christ’s death and resurrection had the metaphysical effect of enabling Christians to give of themselves, the way Jesus did. The argument being presented here is that putting the needs of others ahead of one’s own wants is a way of living that is always available but not always found. Since it is a timeless mystery, there is no problem of trying to connect Jesus’ self-sacrifice with ours today, for both are instances of the same spiritual process. Which of these two explanations sounds more plausible to you? Why? 

191 b 
Look at the quotations at the beginning of this section and see if the experiential understanding being presented here fits what they say about the paschal mystery. Evaluate your findings. 

191 c 
To what extent does the eucharistic liturgy or communion service in your church celebrate the paschal mystery in the sense described here? Do you see any connections between the sacraments and the paschal mystery besides the ones mentioned here? 

Most people associate morality with the Ten Commandments in the Old Testament, but Christian morality is arguably what Jesus teaches in the New Testament, namely, taking care of others the way you yourself would like to be cared for. What do you think about this understanding of Christian morality? 

193 a 
When you hear or read about the kingdom of God, what do you think of? 

193 b 
Do these scripture texts clarify or confuse your understanding of the kingdom of God? Explain.

Look up a number of these passages to see for yourself whether the interpretations presented here accurately reflect the meaning of the texts. Describe what you find.

195 a 
Express in your own words the understanding of the kingdom of God that is being presented here. Does this explanation seem plausible to you? Why or why not? 

195 b 
Do you agree that this explanation of the kingdom of God helps these quotations from Vatican II make more sense? Why or why not? 

Is it fair to take this Old Testament passage, which referred to Jewish temple worship, and apply it to Christian rituals? Why or why not?

197 a
Does this interpretation of John’s and Jesus’ call to repentance make sense to you? Why or why not? 

197 b 
To what extent does this picture of the early Christian community square with your own image of the beginnings of Christianity? 

198 a 
Although the followers of Jesus did not invent the ritual of baptism, they may have adopted it because it was symbolically congruent with immersion in a new community and a new lifestyle, which converts were already beginning to experience. Does this idea make sense to you? Why or why not? 

198 b 
What do you think of the suggestion being made here that rituals demand honesty of everyone involved in them? 

198 c 
What do you think of the argument that denying church membership to people in canonically irregular marriages does an injustice to them? 

The argument here is that many people in the world are in need of salvation in a very down-to-earth sense, and so the church should be as active today in spreading the kingdom of God as it was during centuries of great missionary activity. What do you think of this argument?

200 a
In a sense, the rite of confirmation developed before the theology of confirmation. Do you think it should have been the other way around? Explain why or why not.

200 b
When you were confirmed, what was the theological explanation of the sacrament that was given to you? 

200 c 
Do you agree that the meaning of confirmation could be expanded to include a social justice dimension? Why or why not?

200 d
Do you agree that there is an obligation in justice for the bishops to provide a unified and plausible theology of confirmation? Why or why not?

201 a
Do you agree that there is an obligation in justice for the church to do more to enable confirmed teenagers—and, by extension, people who are confirmed as adults—to live up to their baptismal call by engaging in ministry within the church and in the world with the church’s support? Why or why not? If so, how might parishes do this?

201 b
From what you know about the history of this sacrament, is it right to say that it originated as a response to the perceived unfairness of not extending God’s mercy to those who sought it? Explain your answer. 

202 a 
When you hear or read about justice, which concept of justice do you usually think of? 

202 b 
If Christians had the same attitude toward sinners that Jesus did, how would they behave toward people who behave immorally? Explain your answer. 

202 c 
What does your parish do to promote reconciliation among its members and social justice in the world around it? What do you think it could be doing if it were more fully a reconciling community?

203 a
What do you think of the argument that denying a sacramental sign of forgiveness to people in priestless communities, or to people who would feel comfortable only with the third form of the rite, is a matter of social injustice? 

203 b 
Have you ever been to a charismatic or Pentecostal healing service? What is your opinion of this sort of healing ministry? 

204 a 
Are you old enough to remember when this sacrament was called extreme unction? What do you think about the changes in this sacrament? 

204 b 
What do you think of the contention that this sacrament’s gestures have more symbolic impact than its words? If you can, support your answer by referring to times when you have attended or participated in this sacramental ceremony. 

205 a 
What do you think of the argument that Catholics today should implement the meaning of this sacrament by envisioning new ways to meet the healthcare needs of the poor? 

205 b 
What do you think of the argument that the church has an obligation in justice to allow other people besides priests to be ministers of this sacrament? 

205 c 
The church developed marriage laws at a time when civil society did not have any. Now that spouses and children are fully protected by civil laws, do you think that the church should get away from the legal regulation of marriage, as all other churches have done? Give reasons for the position you take. 

206 a 
Do you think that the church should live up to its teaching on marriage by doing more to strengthen marriages and support families at the parish and diocesan levels? If so, how might it do that? 

206 b 
How well do you understand the church’s annulment laws and the theology behind them? Does the practice of annulments really make sense to you, or do find you have to take it on faith? Why? 

207 a 
The church’s annulment policies seem to raise a number of social justice issues. How many can you think of? On the other hand, is it right to question the church’s laws and theology of marriage? Support your answer with reasons. 

207 b 
What do you think about the argument that it is not right for the church to consider questions of marriage, annulment, and divorce closed to discussion when so many people are adversely affected by its teaching and laws on marriage? 

208 a 
Considering that male members of religious orders were not necessarily ordained (and female members were never ordained), would you agree that ministry has not been the exclusive province of the clergy in much of church history? Explain your answer. 

208 b 
What is your understanding of why people converted to Christianity during the early centuries of the church’s history? Which of the two views presented here makes more sense to you, and why?

208 c
What do you think of the claim that excluding women from certain positions is evidence of injustice in the church? 

209 a 
To what extent do sex scandals and other scandals in the church diminish your appreciation for those who serve in parishes as priests? 

209 b 
What do you know of the official explanations for why women can’t be priests? Explain why you are persuaded by them or not. 

209 c 
What do you think of the argument that the rule of celibacy unjustly excludes married Catholic men from becoming priests? 

What do you think of the argument that modern education requirements unjustly prevent poorer countries from having a native clergy? 

211 a 
Do you agree that if Jesus did not discriminate against people who were socially undesirable, God wants everyone to be treated equally and fairly? Why or why not?

211 b
How would you assess these scriptural arguments for social justice? 

211 c 
What do you think of the idea that Jesus’ Last Supper and the Lord’s supper of the early Christians were celebrations of the paschal mystery that Jesus had lived and that they were living? 

212 a 
Does this way of talking about the change of bread and wine into the body of blood of Christ make sense to you in term of your experience? Can someone experience the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist without believing in it? Can someone believe in it without experiencing it? Why do you say what you do? 

212 b 
What do you think of the idea that the eucharistic liturgy is supposed to be a time to thank God for revealing the paschal mystery to us and allowing us to experience the joy of living it? 

213 a 
If what was said in this paragraph is true, might some people at Mass have little or nothing to celebrate? Explain your reasoning.

213 b
What do you think about the argument that if the church’s leadership believes what Vatican II said about the Eucharist, they should be doing much more to enhance the experience of liturgical worship? 

214 a 
What do you think of the claim that the church’s leadership is not providing the liturgical education it owes in justice to Catholics about eucharistic worship? 

214 b 
What do you think of the contention that the church’s leadership is committing an injustice by allowing ecclesiastical rules to deprive the faithful of eucharistic worship? 

214 c 
What do you think of the argument that by not encouraging and facilitating self-sacrifice in Catholic communities, and by not showing people the connection between the sacrifices they are making and what is celebrated in the Eucharist, the church’s leadership is keeping Catholics from knowing the full meaning of their liturgical worship?

Last modified: Saturday, 16 May 2015, 12:41 AM