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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 ?
Its objectives included overseeing the use of the Catechism in both the revision of present catechetical materials and in the development of new materials; that is, to ensure the consistency of catechetical materials with the Catechisms themes, language, and approach to doctrine.
The catechism has three major divisions: Misery, Deliverance, and Gratitude.
In the United States the most famous of these Q&A catechisms is the Baltimore Catechism.
The Catechism testifies to its author's fluency in his adopted dialect.
Bishops used to randomly pick students and ask them questions from the catechism during the confirmation mass - and if they answered incorrectly they were not confirmed as Catholics.
because I knew the catechism, but I was now uneasy with the notion that
In the process we gain a clear picture of pastoral practicalities; we glimpse hard-headed ministers juggling with the demands of work, the seasons, the weather and distance, and re-scheduling catechism class from a crowded Sunday to a weekday or composing their own form of the catechism to meet the capabilities of their flock.
Covenant Keepers not only imitates Promise Keepers but, using the Catholic catechism, emphasizes the need to get Catholic men well instructed in their own faith.
My mom jokes that I've spent my whole life in catechism classes because I kept wanting to go after I made first Communion," Oliva said.
Its format is that of question-answer, with references to more complete explanations in the adult Catechism of the Catholic Church 1992 (1997); and quotes from Sacred Scripture, writers, saints and doctors of the Church.
An ecumenical catechism would capture what Kasper called the "achievements" of 40 years of ecumenical dialogue.
I am glad that Luther's Small Catechism is included in the assembly edition of Evangelical Lutheran Worship and the pew edition of Lutheran Service Book.