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The American Church Dictionary and Cycopedia


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A short instruction set forth in the Prayer Book, "to be learned by every person before he be brought to be confirmed by the Bishop." The word "catechism" is derived from a Greek word, and means literally an instruction by word of mouth of such a kind as to draw out a reply. As it now stands, the catechism is really an "Unfinished Fragment." It was begun in 1549, under Edward VI. It was afterwards gradually enlarged, the commandments being given in full in 1552; the section on the Two Sacraments was added in 1604, and the "Duty towards my neighbor" was revised in 1662. The Catechism, as set forth in the Prayer Book, shows five general divisions, (1) The Christian Covenant; (2) The Christian Faith; (3) The Christian Duty; (4) The Christian Prayer or Worship, and (5) The Christian Sacraments or Means of Grace. The rubric at the end of the catechism provides that "The minister of every Parish shall diligently, upon Sundays and Holy Days, or on some other convenient occasions, openly in the Church, instruct or examine so many children of his Parish sent unto him, as he shall think convenient, in some part of this Catechism." The object of this rubric is that the minister may have opportunity to prepare the younger members of his flock for Confirmation. The Catechism from its comprehensive exposition of duty and doctrine and its simple, familiar style of question and answer is well adapted for the purpose. And on all the five points enumerated the children of the Parish may be duly instructed in their preparation for Holy Confirmation, if parents and guardians will be guided by the next rubric which directs them to send their children to the Minister for instruction.

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Bibliography Information
Miller, William James. Entry for 'Catechism'. The American Church Dictionary and Cyclopedia. 1901.

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