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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 ?
For all the reformers' enthusiastic claims that question-and-answer catechizing was both scriptural and a practice of the ancient church, Dr Green demonstrates that it was in fact a sixteenth-century innovation and an import to England from the continental Reformation.
Since language often proved a barrier to catechizing the Indians, some church authorities encouraged the use of the khipu to prepare Indians for confession and to help them master doctrine.
But even as the writers in part 2, "Dedicated to Christ: Virgins and Confraternities," accept that broad-brush strokes and suppositions abound, we nonetheless gain an understanding of the pattern of conversions through kin, of the remarkable agency of the Chinese "virgins" in catechizing and baptizing (including baptizing thousands of moribund babies), and of the "often prominent" roles of women in teaching and leading congregational worship in the decades before Western missionaries returned, aghast at such practices, in the 1840s.
Now, their spellbinding voices will resound worldwide to affirm those already solidly grounded in sacred songs, while at the same time catechizing the uninitiated, without inducing boredom or being preachy.
Snape begins each chapter with a review of the relevant historical debate regarding the condition of the church in such areas as catechizing, preaching, nonresidence, and generally the success of its efforts to provide religious services to a growing population.
As a consequence, they could escape notice, or "fly under the radar" in conducting house churches, catechizing converts in pagan households, seeing to the needs of prisoners, and acting as "look-outs.
PAMELA EDWARDS, author of Catechizing with Liturgical Symbols (Resource Publications).
Diego de San Vitores, was killed with a cutlass by two villagers in Guam on April 2, 1672, for catechizing and baptizing the natives.
But Obviar handled ordinary duties, specially the catechizing of children with exemplary fidelity.
He admitted that "morale among Catholics is rather low" but "when parishes get really serious about catechizing their members, the morale of Catholics will change.
a librarian and coauthor of Catechizing with Liturgical Symbols (Resource Publications, 1997).
On April 2, 1672, he and Father Diego were speared with a cutlass by two villagers in Tumhon, Guam, for catechizing and baptizing the natives.