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(kăt`əkĭzəm) [Gr.,=oral instruction], originally oral instruction in religion, later written instruction. Catechisms are usually written in the form of questions and answers. Almost as old as Christianity, they were used especially for the instruction of converts and children. Catechisms were popular in the later Middle Ages and assumed even greater significance in the Reformation through Martin Luther's emphasis on the religious education of children. His Small Catechism (1529) is still the standard book of the Lutheran church. The greatest Calvinist catechism was the Heidelberg Catechism (1563). It was revised at Dort (1619) and was used in Dutch and German Reformed churches; other catechisms are the Longer and Shorter Catechisms of 1647 and 1648, drawn up to supplement the Westminster Confession; they are used in Presbyterian churches. The catechism for the Anglican Communion is included in the Book of Common Prayer.

A catechism long in use in the Roman Catholic church was that prepared by the Jesuit Peter Canisius, which appeared in 1555. The catechism of the Council of Trent, a document of high authority issued in 1566, was essentially a manual of instruction for use by the clergy in combating the Protestant Reformation; nonetheless it remained influential for over four centuries. The best-known Catholic catechism in England for many years was the Penny Catechism, adopted by the bishops of England and Wales; that in the United States was the Baltimore Catechism. The first new universal catechism of the Catholic church since that of the Council of Trent was released in French in 1992 and in English in 1994. The book forgoes the traditional question-and-answer format, instead providing a compendium of Roman Catholic teaching and belief. A summary of the catechism that employs a question-and-answer formate was released in 2005.



(1) A handbook containing the basic principles of Christian doctrine. During the first centuries of Christianity, the catechism was the oral instruction of those about to be baptized as Christians. Beginning with the 16th century the catechism became a book, a manual of instruction, which popularly set forth (usually in the form of questions and answers) the teachings of the Christian church. The Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant churches each have their own catechism.

(2) In the figurative sense, a catechism is a work written in theform of questions and answers.


instruction by a series of questions and answers, esp a book containing such instruction on the religious doctrine of a Christian Church
References in periodicals archive ?
While fully respecting the legitimate separation of church and state in American life, such catechesis must also make clear that for the faithful Christian there can be no separation between the faith, which is to be believed and put into practice, and a commitment to full and responsible participation in professional, political and cultural life," the pope said.
Archbishop Blair (2005) has observed that due to new approaches to catechesis in the years following Vatican II, "many of those being catechized were no longer learning the content of the faith in a way that they could or would remember" (p.
President of Harcourt Religion Publishers, Diane Lampitt, added, "Our Sunday Visitor's people, products, and mission complement our vision and commitment to provide solid, age-appropriate catechesis.
Catechesis includes the initiation of adults, youth and children as well as the intentional effort to help all people to learn about Jesus and to grow in faith and discipleship, or, as the Catechism says, "put people in communion with Jesus Christ" (#426).
This takes hard work, patience and scholarly creativity," she told her fellow academics, who met at Jesuit-run Creighton University "But the interplay between theology and catechesis can add energy to the classroom rather than drain it away.
Such social control contributed to forming a homogeneous tridentine Catholic population; for example, in the 17th century, adults who were ignorant of central Catholic doctrines were forced to attend children's catechesis classes.
Along with Brazil, it pioneered the Christian Base Communities where family catechesis was developed for sacramental preparation, and early in the 20th century special educational programs for workers, students, and clergy on Catholic Social Teaching were developed.
He explores Luther as a musician, his theological understanding of music, and considers the link between hymnody and catechesis, the liturgical functions of his hymns, and his use of liturgical monodic chant.
This book nicely blends the needs for biblical study, historical and confessional catechesis, and social reflection.
Thus, in his funeral homily for Ben Black Elk (200-204), the author conflates the "Black Elk tradition" with his own catechesis about Christ and the pipe.
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has appointed Margaret Shea-Lawrence as Director of the English Sector Office of Catechesis.