The Meaning of Catechism
Today, fifteen eighth graders stand before the congregation and profess the faith Jesus gifted them in their Holy Baptism. Today, they confess their trust in Jesus and the promises he has made to each of them. What a blessed day it is!
For the past three years, these eighth graders have undergone an intensified period of instruction from the Scriptures. Besides the Bible, their primary text was Martin Luther’s Small Catechism.
Did you know that catechism is a biblical word? You won’t find it in any English translations, but catechism/catechize/catechumen/catechesis all come from the Greek word katecheo. It means something like “to teach by means of repetition or echo.”
In the Scriptures, St. Luke writes his orderly account of Jesus’ life and ministry so that Theopilus “may have certainty concerning the things [he has] been catechized,” (Luke 1:4). In Acts 18:25, Luke tells us that Apollos “had been catechized in the way of the Lord. He spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus…” (but there was more for Apollos to learn). St. Paul writes to the Galatians: “Let the one who is catechized in the Word [of God] share in all good things with the one who catechizes.”
What is the point of this Greek lesson? Catechesis is a lifelong activity. This is why at King of Kings we take part in Catechetical Instruction. It is simply the perpetual pattern of teaching and learning the faith—speaking and echoing the faith, reading and repeating God’s Word back to him and to one another. As our eighth graders confess their faith today, they are doing precisely this, and everyone present benefits from it.
May this day's Rite of Holy Confirmation and the catechesis we hear inspire us all to be lifelong learners—continuing catechumens—of God’s Holy Word.