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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 ?
In a lengthy paper distributed to teachers at a catechetical conference on October 12, 1953, Bennett commented that "many teachers are not satisfied with their results of teaching Christian Doctrine.
Overall, then, the religious education curriculum is fundamentally catechetical in nature and remains essentially traditional in its teaching methodology.
The second historical period begins in 1905 with a call for catechetical renewal that was to influence local approaches to religious education in the school and parish settings for children not in Catholic schools.
In fact, he became the first missionary ever to use the Bhil dialect in the liturgy and his catechetical ministry.
Angela later focused her talents on catechetical and parish work in North Adams and in Worcester where she was a director and coordinator of religious education at Immaculate Conception and St.
The preaching has to go beyond a catechetical exercise to bringing about an awakening of their current reality and the envisioning of new reality.
They would descend upon a locality after much publicity and stay for week or so, preaching daily sermons mostly on basic Christian or catechetical topics, with an emphasis on approaching the sacraments of penance (confession) and holy communion.
According to Wallace, the most significant battleground of this transformation of patriarchy was the witch hunt, but the parish confessional, consistorial courts, and catechetical instruction instilled distinctly gendered models of proper Christian behaviour for men and women, providing a religious thread to a broader social and political tightening of male authority.
Of, as I would describe it, there are three elements to all missionary work: an active or ethical element, a sacramental or liturgical element (though the two are not always the same), and a catechetical element.
Not to be confused with apologetics, catechetical instruction, or devotional Bible reading, theology so construed deserves a place in the university curriculum, Hittinger argues.
the encounter of a resistent son and an unfailingly patient father gives A Brefe Dialoge a dramatic texture that catechisms conventionally lack, and where catechetical answers conventionally ring with the glib confidence of a youngster who has done his memory work, Roye's carry a certain weight of experience and wisdom.