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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 ?
Few scholars have attempted a general critical survey of the ancient catechumenate, and only a few others have turned their attention to the catechetical treatises of particular Church Fathers or the practices of specific regions.
In addition, some national uniformity in catechetical instruction on the high school age level would be a benefit in the modern mobile society.
At another point he expressed this judgment: "[A]fter 20 years of practices differing from parish to parish and diocese to diocese, after years of differing theologies and differing catechetical approaches, what we are left with is a pastoral chaos whose toxic effect has become increasingly obvious to all.
The decree on the pastoral office of bishops, Christus Dominus, encouraged national and regional catechisms and called for a General Catechetical Directory to establish broad norms and guidelines as to the nature, contents, methods, and organization of catechesis (art.
398) was appointed by Athanasius to head the Catechetical School at Alexandria where Jerome and Rufinus were his star pupils; the School itself died with him.
They write: "We, as the Catholic bishops of the United States, call the church in our country to a renewed commitment to adult faith formation, positioning it at the heart of our catechetical vision and practice.
This mingling of eucharistic imagery with childhood innocence, together with this loving, compassionate Christ broke through my dry, by-the-book catechetical indoctrination helped me love God with a trusting heart.
Why are priests, bureaucrats or catechetical teachers permitted to operate within Church structures at the same time as they disavow solid Catholic beliefs and rituals?
Ben's question was so radically to the point that I wanted to answer it as completely as possible, without jargon and catechetical mishmash.
Super Size Me," which is out with a catechetical guide;
Born around 300 at Alexandria (possibly a Copt), Athanasius was educated in the catechetical school of Clement and Origen (a particular influence).
Trapp has a checklist of suggestions to make liturgy better: more focus on comprehension of Word and sacrament outside of Mass; better preaching and presiding; catechetical tools on liturgy for the assembly; strong theological texts in music; better musical leadership; better flow of ritual; and better guidance in the participation and worship of the assembly.