Doctrine, CHRISTIAN.—Taken in the sense of “the act of teaching” and “the knowledge imparted by teaching”, this term is synonymous with CATECHESIS and CATECHISM. Didaskalia, didache, in the Vulgate, doctrina, are often used in the N.T., especially in the Pastoral Epistles. As we might expect, the Apostle insists upon “doctrine” as one of the most important duties of a bishop (I Tim., iv, 13, 16; v, 17; II Tim., iv, 2, etc.).
The word kat?ch?sis means instruction by word of mouth, especially by questioning and answering. Though it may apply to any subject matter, it is commonly used for instruction in the elements of religion, especially preparation for initiation into Christianity. The word and others of the same origin occur in St. Luke’s Gospel: “That thou mayest know the verity of those things in which thou hast been instructed” (kat?ch?th?s, in quibus eruditus es— i, 4). In the Acts, xviii, 25, Apollo is described as “instructed [kat?ch?menos, edoctus] in the way of the Lord”. St. Paul uses the word twice: “I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may instruct [kat?ch?so, instruam] others also” (I Cor., xiv, 19); and “Let him that is instructed [ho kat?choumenos, is qui catechizatur] in the word, communicate to him that instructeth [to kat?chounti, ei qui catechizat] him, in all good things” (Gal., vi, 6). Hence the word, with its technical meaning of oral religious instruction, passed into ecclesiastical use, and is applied both to the act of instructing and the subject-matter of the instruction. The word catechism was also formerly used for the act of instructing (“To say ay, and no, to these particulars, is more than to answer in a catechism”—As You Like It, act iii, sc. 2), as catechisme is still used in French; but it is now more properly applied to the little printed book in which the questions and answers are contained. The subject will be treated in this article under the three heads: I. HISTORY OF CATECHETICS; II. PRACTICAL CATECHETICS; III. MODERN CATECHISMS.
I. HISTORY OF CATECHETICS
(1) Oral instruction by means of questions and answers has occupied a prominent place in the scholastic methods of the moral and religious teachers of all countries and of all ages. The Socratic dialogues will occur to every one as brilliant examples. But many centuries before Socrates’ day this method was practiced among the Hebrews (Exod., xii, 26; Deut., vi, 7, 20, etc.). They had three forms of catechizing: domestic, conducted by the head of the family for the benefit of his children and servants; scholastic, by teachers in schools; and ecclesiastical, by priests and Levites in the Temple and the synagogues. Proselytes were carefully instructed before being admitted to become members of the Jewish faith. The regular instruction of children began when they were twelve years old. Thus we read of Christ “in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors [didaskalon], hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his wisdom and his answers” (Luke, ii, 46, 47). During His public life He frequently made use of the catechetical method to impart instruction: “What think ye of Christ? Whose son is he?” “Whom do men say that the son of man is?…Whom do you say that I am?” etc. In His final charge to His Apostles He said: “Teach ye [math?teusate, “make disciples, or scholars”] all nations;…Teaching [didaskontes, “instructing”] them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matt., xxviii, 19). And after this instruction they were to initiate them into the Church, “baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (ibid.).
(2) In obedience to Christ’s command, St. Peter, “standing up with the eleven”, declared to the Jews on Pentecost day, and proved to them from the Scriptures that Jesus, whom they had crucified, was “Lord and Christ”. When they had been convinced of this truth, and had compunction in their heart for their crime, they asked, “What shall we do?” And Peter answered, “Do penance, and be baptized…in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins.” “And with very many other words did he testify and exhort them” (Acts, ii). We have here an abridgment of the first catechetical instruction given by the Apostles. It is both doctrinal and moral—the hearers are to believe and to repent. This twofold element is also contained in St. Peter’s second discourse after healing the lame man in the Temple (Acts, iii). St. Stephen goes further, and brings out that belief in Jesus as the Christ (Messias) meant the ending of the Old Covenant and the coming in of a New (Acts, vi, vii). St. Philip the Deacon preached “of the kingdom of God, in the name of Jesus Christ“; and the Samaritans “were baptized, both men and women” (Acts, viii). Furthermore, St. Peter and St. John came from Jerusalem and “prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost“; and doubtless declared to them the doctrine of that Holy Spirit (ibid.). The same deacon’s discourse to the eunuch deals with the proof from Scripture, and notably Isaias (liii, 7), that “Jesus Christ is the Son of God“, and the necessity of baptism. No mention is made of penance or repentance, as the eunuch was a just man anxious to do God‘s will. So, too, Cornelius, “a religious man, and fearing God with all his house, giving much alms to the people, and always praying to God“, did not need much moral instruction; accordingly St. Peter speaks to him of Jesus Christ who “is lord of all…Jesus of Nazareth: how God anointed him with the Holy Ghost, and with power, who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all things that he did in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed, hanging him upon a tree. Him God raised up the third day, and gave him to be made manifest…even to us who did eat and drink with him after he arose again from the dead; and he commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is he who was appointed by God, to be judge of the living and of the dead. To him all the prophets give testimony, that by his name all receive remission of sins, who believe in him” (Acts, x). In this discourse we have the chief articles of the Creed: the Trinity (God, Jesus Christ “Lord of all things”, the Holy Ghost), the Crucifixion, Death, and Resurrection of Our Lord; His coming to judge the living and the dead, and the remission of sins. These are also the subjects of St. Paul’s discourses, though, of course, in addressing the pagans, whether peasants at Lystra or philosophers at Athens, he deals with the fundamental truths of the existence and attributes of God (Acts, xiii, xiv, xvii). As he himself summed up the matter, he taught “publicly, and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and Gentiles penance towards God, and faith in [eis] our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts, xx). We find also that though Apollo was “instructed [kat?ch?menos] in the way of the Lord”, Priscilla and Aquila “expounded to him the way of the Lord more diligently” (akribesteron——Acts, xviii.—See Apostles’ Creed).
The materials for describing the catechetical teaching of the ages immediately succeeding the Apostles are scanty. The books of the New Testament were available, and all that would be needed would be to supplement these. Thus, in the Didache we find little but moral instruction; but it is clear that those to whom it is addressed must have already received some knowledge of what they were to believe. Later on we find more explicit dogmatic teaching, for instance, in St. Justin’s Apologies and in the writings of Clement of Alexandria. Still, even this is not much more advanced than what we have seen above as taught by St. Peter, except that Justin dwells on the Creation and proves the Divinity of Christ, the Logos and only-begotten Son of the Father.
In the ages of persecution it became necessary to exercise great caution in admitting persons to membership in the Church. The danger of falling away, or even of betrayal, must be guarded against by a careful doctrinal and moral training. Hence the institution of the catechumenate and the Discipline of the Secret. The work of the Apologists had been to remove prejudices against Christianity, and to set forth its doctrines and practices in such a way as to appeal to the fair-minded pagan. If anyone was moved to embrace the true religion, he was not at once admitted, as in the days of the Apostles. At first he was treated as an inquirer, and only the fundamental doctrines were communicated to him. As soon as he had given proof of his knowledge and fitness he was admitted to the catechumenate proper, and was further instructed. After some years spent in this stage he was promoted to the ranks of the Competentes, i.e. those ready for baptism. As might be expected, he was now instructed more especially in the rites for this purpose. Even when he had been initiated, his instruction was not yet at an end. During the week after Easter, while the grace of first fervor was still upon him, the various rites and mysteries in which he had just participated were more fully explained to him.
In considering the catechetical writings of the Fathers we must bear in mind the distinction of these different grades. When addressing a mere inquirer they would naturally be more guarded and less explicit than if they had to do with one who had passed through the catechumenate. Sometimes, indeed, the language was so chosen that it conveyed only half the truth to the catechumen, while the initiated could understand the whole. The distinction between the elementary and advanced instruction is noted by St. Paul: “As unto little ones in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not meat; for you were not able as yet” (I Cor., iii, 2). For our present purpose it will be best to take as typical examples of catechesis in the patristic times the works of St. Cyril of Jerusalem (315-386) and St. Augustine (354-430), merely noting by the way the work done by St. Ambrose (the instructor of St. Augustine) and St. Gregory of Nyssa (“The Catechetical Oration”, ed. J. H. Strawley, 1903). We have from St. Cyril twenty-four catechetical discourses, forming together a complete course of moral and doctrinal instruction. In the first of these, called the “Procatechesis”, he sets forth the greatness and efficacy of the grace of initiation into the Church. The “Catecheses” proper (numbered i to xviii) are divided into two groups: i-v, repeating the leading ideas of the “Procatechesis”, and treating of sin and repentance, baptism, the principal doctrines of the Christian religion, and the nature and origin of faith; vi-xviii, setting forth, article by article, the baptismal Creed of the Church of Jerusalem. The “Procatechesis” and the eighteen discourses were intended for the competentes during Lent, in immediate preparation for reception into the Church. The remaining discourses (xix-xxiv), called the “Catecheses Mystagogic”, were delivered during Easter week to those who had been baptized at Easter; and these, though much shorter than the others, treat clearly and openly of baptism, confirmation, and the Holy Eucharist, the veil of secrecy being now removed. This is not the place to point out how completely in accord with Catholic teaching are the doctrines of St. Cyril (see Saint Cyril of Jerusalem; Transubstantiation), and what valuable information he gives of the details of the Liturgy in his day. In studying these “Catecheses” we should bear in mind that they were intended for grown-up persons; hence they are not couched in the simple language which we have to use in our instructions to children. They resemble, rather, the instruction given to converts, for which purpose they are still of great use. The same remark applies to all the catechetical writings of the Fathers.
St. Augustine’s treatise “De Catechizandis Rudibus” deals with both the theory and the practice of catechizing. It is divided into twenty-seven chapters: i-xiv theory, xv-xxvii practice. This short work, written about the year 400, shows that the great Doctor did not disdain to devote most careful attention to the work of instructing those who wished to learn the rudiments of the Faith. It could be written only by one who had much experience of the difficulties and tediousness of the task, and who had also pondered deeply on the best method of dealing with the different classes of converts. The deacon Deogratias, who had consulted Augustine on the subject, complained (as so many of us still do) of the weariness of going over the same old ground, and of his inability to put any fresh life into his instructions. St. Augustine begins by words of encouragement, pointing out that we must judge of our discourses not by their effect upon ourselves, but by their effect upon our hearers. The story may be familiar enough to us, who go on repeating it over and over again, but it is not so to those who are listening to it for the first time. Bearing this in mind, the catechist should put himself in the position of the hearer, and speak as though he were telling something new. Hilaritas, a bright and cheerful manner, must be one of the chief qualifications of an instructor; “God loveth a cheerful giver” applies to the giving of the word as well as to the giving of wealth. He should so speak that the hearer hearing should believe, believing should hope, and hoping should love (Quidquid narras ita narra, ut ille cui loqueris audiendo credat, credendo speret, sperando amet—iv, 11). But the foundation of all is the fear of God, “for it seldom, or rather never, happens that anyone wishes to become a Christian without being moved thereto by some fear of God“. If he comes from some worldly motive he may be only pretending, though indeed a mere pretender may sometimes be turned into a genuine convert by our efforts. Hence, continues the holy Doctor, it is of great importance to ascertain the state of mind and the motives of those who come to us. If we are satisfied that they have received a Divine call, we have a good opening for instruction on the care of God for us. We should go briefly through the story of God‘s dealings with men, from the time when He made all things even to our own days; showing especially that the Old Testament was a preparation for the New, and the New a fulfilment of the Old (in veteri testamento est occultatio novi, in novo testamento est manifestatio veteris). This is a theme developed at greater length in the “De Civitate Dei”. After we have finished our story we should go on to excite hope in the resurrection of the body—a doctrine as much ridiculed in St. Augustine’s day as it was in St. Paul’s day, and as it is in ours. Then should come the account to be rendered at the last judgment, and the reward of the just, and the punishment of the wicked. The convert should be put on his guard against the dangers and difficulties in trying to lead a good life, especially those arising from scandals within as well as without the Church. Finally, he should be reminded that the grace of his conversion is not due either to his merits or to ours, but to the goodness of God. So far the saint has been speaking of persons of little or no education. In chap. viii he goes on to deal with those who are well educated, and are already acquainted with the Scriptures and other Christian writings. Such persons require briefer instruction, and this should be imparted in such a way as to let them see that we are aware of their knowledge of the Faith. Doubtless St. Augustine had in mind his own case, when he presented himself to be received into the Church by St. Ambrose. We note, too, the wisdom of this piece of advice, especially when we have to deal with Anglican, converts. But though less instruction is needed in such cases, continues the holy Doctor, we may rightly inquire into the causes which have induced these persons to wish to become Christians; and in particular as to the books which have influenced them. If these are the Scriptures or other Catholic books we should praise and recommend them; but if these are heretical we should point out wherein they have distorted the true faith. Throughout our instruction we should speak with modesty, but also with authority, that he who hears us may have no scope for presumption but rather for humility. Humility is also the principal virtue to be urged upon that intermediate class of converts who have received some education but not of the higher sort. These are disposed to scoff at Christian writings, and even at the Scriptures for their want of correctness of language. They should be made to see that it is the matter rather than the language which is of importance; it is more profitable to listen to a true discourse than to one which is eloquent. The whole of this chapter should be taken to heart by many who join the Church nowadays. After dealing with these different classes of inquirers, the saint devotes no less than five lengthy chapters (x to xiv) to the causes of weariness (the opposite of hilaritas) and the remedies for it. This portion is perhaps the most valuable of the whole treatise, at least from a practical point of view. Only the merest outline of St. Augustine’s advice as to the remedies can be given here. We must bring ourselves down to the level of the lowest of our hearers, even as Christ humbled Himself and took upon Himself “the form of a servant”. We must vary the subjects, and we must increase in earnestness of manner so as to move even the most sluggish. If it seems to us that the fault is ours, we should reflect, as already pointed out, that the instruction, though not up to our ideal, may be exactly suited to our hearer and entirely fresh and new to him; in any case the experience may be useful as a trial to our humility. Other occupations may be pleasanter, but we cannot say that they are certainly more profitable; for duty should come first, and we should submit to God‘s will and not try to make Him submit to ours. After laying down these precepts, St. Augustine goes on to give a short catechetical instruction as an example of what he has been inculcating. It is supposed to be addressed to an ordinary type of inquirer, neither grossly ignorant nor highly educated (xvi to xxv), and might well be used at the present day. What specially strikes one in reading it is the admirable way in which the saint brings out the prophetical and typical character of the Old Testament narrative, and insinuates gradually all the articles of the Creed without seeming to reveal them. The sketch of Christ’s life and passion, and the doctrine of the Church and the sacraments are also noteworthy. The discourse ends with an earnest exhortation to perseverance. This short work has exercised the greatest influence on catechetics. In all ages of the Church it has been adopted as a textbook.
(5) When all fear of persecution had passed away, and the empire had become almost entirely Christian, the necessity for a prolonged period of trial and instruction no longer existed. About the same time the fuller teaching on the subject of original sin, occasioned by the Pelagian heresy, gradually led to the administration of baptism to infants. In such cases instruction was, of course, impossible, though traces of it are still to be seen in the rite of infant baptism, where the godparents are put through a sort of catechesis in the name of the child. As the child grew, it was taught its religion both at home and at the services in church. This instruction was necessarily more simple than that formerly given to grown-up catechumens, and gradually came to be what we now understand by catechetical instruction. Meantime, however, the barbarian invaders were being brought into the Church, and in their case the instruction had to be of an elementary character. The missionaries had to go back to the methods of the Apostles and content themselves with exacting a renunciation of idolatry and a profession of belief in the great truths of Christianity. Such was the practice of St. Patrick in Ireland, St. Remigius among the Franks, St. Augustine in England, St. Boniface in Germany. We should bear in mind that in those ages religious instruction did not cease with baptism. Set sermons were rarer than in our time; the priest spoke rather as a catechist than as a preacher. We may take the practice among the Anglo-Saxons as typical of what was done in other countries. “Among the duties incumbent on the parish priest the first was to instruct his flock in the doctrines and duties of Christianity, and to extirpate from among them the lurking remains of paganism…He was ordered to explain to his parishioners the ten commandments; to take care that all could repeat and understand the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed; to expound in English on Sundays the portion of Scripture proper to the Mass of the day, and to preach, or, if he were unable to preach, to read at least from a book some lesson of instruction” (Lingard, “Anglo-Saxon Church“, c. iv). The laws enacting these duties will be found in Thorpe, “Ecclesiastical Institutes”, i, 378; ii, 33, 34, 84, 191.
(6) It is the custom with non-Catholic writers to assert that during the Middle Ages, “the Ages of Faith“, religious instruction was entirely neglected, and that the Protestant Reformers were the first to restore the practice of the Early Church. In the “Dict. de theol. cath.”, s.v. “Catechisme”, and in Bareille, “Le Catechisme Romain”, Introd., pp. 36 sqq., will be found long lists of authorities showing how false are these assertions. We must here content ourselves with stating what was done in England. Abbot Gasquet has thoroughly gone into the subject, and declares that “in pre-Reformation days the people were well instructed in their faith by priests who faithfully discharged their plain duty in their regard” (Old English Bible and other Essays, p. 186). In proof of this he quotes the constitutions of John Peckham, Archbishop of Canterbury (1281), in which it is enjoined that every priest shall explain to his people in English, and without any elaborate subtleties (vulgariter absque cujuslibet subtilitatis texture fantastiae), four times a year, the Creed, the Ten Commandments, the two precepts of the Gospel (viz. love of God and man), the seven deadly sins, the seven chief virtues (theological and cardinal), and the seven sacraments. In these constitutions is contained a brief instruction on all these heads, “lest anyone should excuse himself on the ground of ignorance of these things which all the ministers of the Church are bound to know”. This legislation, after all, was nothing but an insisting on a practice dating from Saxon days, as we have already seen. Moreover, it is constantly referred to in subsequent synods and in countless catechetical writings. One of Peckham’s predecessors, St. Edmund Rich (1234-1240), was not only a man of great learning, but also a zealous teacher of Christian doctrine among the people. He wrote familiar instructions on prayer, the seven deadly sins, the Commandments, and the sacraments. Cardinal Thoresby, Archbishop of York, published in 1357 a catechism in Latin and English, the “Lay Folks Catechism”, for the purpose of carrying out Peckham’s Constitutions, and it is based on Peckham’s instruction. The two, with the English translation in rude verse, have been reprinted by the Early English Text Society, No. 118. In the episcopal Registers and Visitations we read how the people were asked whether their pastor fulfilled his duties, and they constantly answer that they are taught bene et optime. Chaucer’s Poor Parson may be taken as a type:
But riche he was of holy thought and work.
He was also a lerned man, a clerk,
That Christes Gospel trewly wolde preche,
His parischens devoutly wolde he teche.
His tale is practically a treatise on the Sacrament of Penance. As regards catechetical manuals we need only mention the “Pars Oculi Sacerdotis” (about the middle of the fourteenth century) which was very popular; “Pupilla Oculi”, by John de Burgo (1385); “Speculum Christiani”, by John Wotton, containing simple English rhymes as well as the Latin text. “One of the earliest books ever issued from an English press by Caxton was a set of four lengthy discourses, published, as they expressly declare, to enable priests to fulfil the obligation imposed on them by the Constitutions of Peckham” (Gasquet, op. cit., p. 191). The part which pictures, statues, reliefs, pageants, and especially miracle plays took in the religious instruction of the people must not be forgotten. All of these give proof of an extensive knowledge of sacred history and an astonishing skill in conveying doctrinal and moral lessons. It is enough to refer to Ruskin’s “Bible of Amiens”, and to the Townley, Chester, and Coventry miracle plays. (Cf. Bareille, op. cit., pp. 42 sqq.)
(7) The invention of printing and the revival of learning naturally had great influence on catechetical instruction. The first great name to be mentioned, though indeed it belongs to a slightly earlier period, is that of John Gerson (1363-1429). He realized that the much-needed reform of the Church should begin by the instruction of the young; and though he was chancellor of the University of Paris he devoted himself to this work. He composed a sort of little catechism entitled “The A B C of Simple Folk”. To enable the clergy to catechize he also composed the “Opus Tripartitum de Praeceptis Decalogi, de Confessione, et de Arte bene Moriendi”, in which he briefly explained the Creed, the Commandments of God, the sins to be mentioned in confession, and the art of dying well. This was printed many times and was translated into French. It was the forerunner of the Catechism of the Council of Trent. In the year 1470, before Luther was born, a German catechism, “Christenspiegel” (the Christian‘s Mirror), written by Dederich, was printed, and at once became very popular. Two other catechisms, “The Soul‘s Guide” and “The Consolation of the Soul“, were printed a little later and issued in many editions. In Janssen’s great “History of the German People at the Close of the Middle Ages” will be found a complete refutation of the popular notion that the Protestant Reformers, and especially Luther, were the first to revive catechetical instruction and to print catechisms. It is, however, proper to acknowledge their activity in this matter, and to note that this activity stirred up the zeal of the Catholics to counteract their influence. Luther’s famous “Enchiridion”, which was really the third edition of his smaller catechism, was published in 1529, and speedily ran through a number of editions; it is still used in Germany and in other Protestant countries. In 1536 Calvin composed a catechism in French: “Le formulaire d’instruire les enfans en la chrestiente, fait en maniere de dialogue oil le ministre interroge et l’enfant repond”. He candidly admits that it was always the custom in the Church to instruct children in this way. Of course he takes care to introduce the chief points of his heresy: the certainty of salvation, the impossibility of losing justice (righteousness), and the justification of children independently of baptism. It is noteworthy that as regards the Eucharist he teaches that we receive not merely a sign, but Jesus Christ Himself, “really and effectually by a true and substantial union”. In England the first Book of Common Prayer (1549) contained a catechism with a brief explanation of the Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer. The explanation of the sacraments was not added until the year 1604. If this catechism be compared with that of Cardinal Thoresby, mentioned above, it will be seen that the instruction given to Protestant children in the middle of the sixteenth century was far inferior to that given in pre-Reformation days. In 1647 the Westminster Assembly of Divines drew up the Presbyterian “Larger” and “Smaller” Catechisms.
On the Catholic side Bl. Peter Canisius published three catechisms, or rather one catechism in three forms: major (1555), minor (1558), and minimus (1556). Taking as his foundation Ecclus., i, 33, he divides his treatment into two great parts: wisdom and justice. In the first he deals with Faith (the Creed), Hope (the Lord’s Prayer and the Hail Mary), Charity (the Commandments). In the second he deals with avoiding evil (sin and the remission of sin) and doing good (prayer, fasting and almsdeeds, the cardinal virtues, the gifts and fruits of the Holy Ghost, the beatitudes, the evangelical counsels, and the Four Last Things). To obtain and to preserve both wisdom and justice the sacraments are necessary, and hence he places the treatment of the sacraments between the two parts. After the Council of Trent (1563) Canisius added a chapter on the Fall and Justification. The form of the three books is that of questions and answers, some of the latter being as long as four or five pages. In striking contrast to the Protestant catechisms, the tone throughout is calm, and there is an absence of controversial bitterness. The success of Canisius’ catechisms was enormous. They were translated into every language in Europe, and were reprinted in many hundreds of editions, so that the name Canisius came to be synonymous with Catechism (Bareille, op. cit., p. 61).
The Catechism of the Council of Trent (Catechismus Romanus) is not a catechism in the ordinary sense of the word. It is rather a manual of instruction for the clergy (Catechismus ad Parochos) to enable them to catechize those entrusted to their spiritual care. The fathers of the council “deemed it of the utmost importance that a work should appear, sanctioned by the authority of the Holy Synod, from which parish priests and all others on whom the duty of imparting instruction devolves may be able to seek and derive certain precepts for the edification of the faithful; that as there is ‘one Lord one Faith‘ so also there may be one common rule and prescribed form of delivering the faith, and instructing the Christian people unto all the duties of piety” (Pref., viii). The composition of the work was entrusted to four distinguished theologians (two of them archbishops and one a bishop), under the supervision of three cardinals. St. Charles Borromeo was the presiding spirit. The original draft was turned into elegant Latin by Pogianus and Manutius, and this version was translated by command of the pope (St. Pius V) into Italian, French, German, and Polish. Brought out under such conditions (1566), the authority of this catechism is higher than that of any other, but is, of course, not on a level with that of the canons and decrees of a council. As to its value Cardinal Newman’s estimate may be gathered from these words: “I rarely preach a sermon, but I go to this beautiful and complete Catechism to get both my matter and my doctrine” (Apologia, p. 425). (See Roman Catechism.)
Cardinal Bellarmine’s Catechism was ordered by Clement VIII to be used in the Papal States, and was recommended for use throughout the world. It appeared in two forms: “Dottrina Cristiana Breve” (1597) and “Dichiarazione piu Copiosa della Dottrina Cristiana” (1598). The first is for scholars, the second for teachers; in the first the teacher asks the questions and the scholar replies, whereas in the second this process is reversed. The first, which is meant to be learnt by heart, contains eleven chapters and ninety-five questions, and is arranged in the following order: the Calling of the Christian and the Sign of the Cross; the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Hail Mary; the Commandments of God, the Commandments of the Church, and the Counsels; the Sacraments, the Theological and Cardinal Virtues, the Gifts of the Holy Ghost, the Works of Mercy, Sins, the Last Things, and the Rosary. It is an improvement on Canisius’ catechisms, and hence it was recommended at the Vatican Council to serve as a model for the projected universal catechism.
The first catechism in English after the Reformation was “A Catechisme or Christian Doctrine necessarie for Children and Ignorante People, briefly compiled by Laurence Vaux, Bacheler of Divinitie”; 1st ed., 1567; reprinted 1574, 1583 (twice), 1599, 1605; 18mo. This has been reprinted for the Chetham Society, new series, vol. IV, Manchester, 1883. Next came a small volume, “A Briefe Instruction by way of Dialogue concerning the principall poyntes of Christian religion gathered out of the Holy Scriptures, Fathers and Councels. By the Reverend M. George Doulye, Priest. Imprinted at Louvaine by Laurence Kellam, anno 1604″; “A Shorte Catechisme of Cardll. Bellarmine illustrated with Images. In Augusta, 1614; A briefe Christian Doctrine to be lerned by heart”; “A Summe of Christian Doctrine composed in Latin by Father Petrus Canisius of the Society of Jesus with an Appendix of the Fall of Man and Justification. Translated into English [by Fr. Garnet?] at St. Omers for John Heigham. With permission of Superiors: 1622″; “A Catechisme of Christian Doctrine in fifteen Conferences. Paris: 1637″, 2nd ed., 1659. The author was Thomas White, alias Blacklow, of Lisbon and Douai. The most important, however, was the book which came to be known as “The Doway Catechism”, “An Abridgement of Christian Doctrine with proofs of Scripture for points controverted. Catechistically explained by way of question and answer”, printed at Douai, 1st ed., 1649; again 1661, and so constantly. The last editions mentioned by Gillow are London, 1793, and Dublin, 1828; the author was Henry Turberville, a Douai priest. There was also a smaller edition, “An Abstract of the Douay Catechism. For the use of children and ignorant people. London, printed in the year 1688″; it was reprinted many times, and continued in use until the Douai students came to England. In 1625, the Franciscan Florence O’Conry published an Irish catechism at Louvain, entitled “Mirror of a Christian Life“. This, like the catechisms of O’Hussey (Louvain, 1608) and Stapleton (Brussels, 1639), was written for the benefit of the Irish troops serving in the Netherlands. In the same century another member of the Franciscan order, Father Francis Molloy, a native of the County Meath, Ireland, and at the time professor of theology in St. Isidore’s College, Rome, published a catechism in Irish under the title “Lucerna Fidelium” (Rome, Propaganda Press, 1676). We should also mention Andrew Donlevy‘s “The Catechism or Christian Doctrine by way of question and answer. Paris, 1742″. This was in English and Irish on opposite pages. “The Poor Man‘s Catechism or the Christian Doctrine explained with short admonitions”, 1st ed., 1752; it was edited by the Rev. George Bishop. The author’s name does not appear, but a later work tells who he was: “The Poor Man‘s Controversy, By J. Mannock, O.S.B., the author of the Poor Man‘s Catechism, 1769.” Dr. James Butler Archbishop of Cashel, published his catechism in 1775, and it was soon adopted by many Irish bishops for their dioceses. An account of it was given by Archbishop Walsh in the “Irish Eccl. Record”, January, 1892. In 1737 Bishop Challoner published “The Catholic Christian instructed in the Sacraments, Sacrifice, Ceremonies, and Observances of the Church by way of question and answer. By R. C. London 1737.” There is also “An Abridgement of Christian Doctrine with a short Daily Exercise”, “corrected by the late Bp. Challoner”, 1783. Bishop Hay’s admirable works: “The Sincere Christian instructed in the Faith of Christ from the Written Word” (1781); “The Devout Christian instructed in the Faith of Christ” (1783); and “The Pious Christian” are catechisms on a large scale in the form of question and answer.
During the eighteenth century catechetical instruction received a fresh impulse from Pope Benedict XIII, who issued (1725) three ordinances prescribing in detail the methods: division into small classes and special preparation for confession and Communion. Against the rationalistic tendencies in the pedagogical movement of the century, Clement XIII uttered a protest in 1761. Pius VI wrote (1787) to the Orientals, proposing for their use a catechism in Arabic prepared by the Propaganda. In Germany the “Pastoral Instruction” issued by Raymond Anton, Bishop of Eichstadt (1768; new ed., Freiburg, 1902) emphasized the need and indicated the method of instruction (Tit. XIV, Cap. V). Prominent among the writers on the subject were Franz Neumayr, S.J., in his “Rhetorica catechetica” (1766); M. I. Schmidt, “Katechisten”, and J. I. von Felbiger, “Vorlesungen fiber die Kunst zu katechisieren” (Vienna, 1774). In France, during the same century, great activity was shown, especially by the bishops, in publishing catechisms. Each diocese had its own textbook, but though occasional attempts were made at uniformity, they were not successful. Several catechisms composed by individual writers other than the bishops were put on the Index (see Migne, “Catechismes”, Paris, 1842). The French original of “An Abridgment of the Quebec Catechism” (Quebec, 1817) appeared in Paris (1702) and Quebec (1782).
The pedagogical activity of the nineteenth century naturally exerted an influence upon religious instruction. German writers of the first rank were Overberg (d. 1826), Sailer (d. 1832), Gruber (d. 1835), and Hirscher (d. 1865), all of whom advocated the psychological method and the careful preparation of teachers. Deharbe’s “Catechism” (1847) was translated between 1853 and 1860 into thirteen languages, and his “Erklarungen des Katechismus” (1857-61) has passed through numerous editions. In France, Napoleon (1806) imposed upon all the churches of the empire uniformity in the matter of catechisms and, in spite of the opposition of Pius VII, published the “Imperial Catechism”, containing a chapter on duties towards the emperor. This was replaced after the fall of the empire by a large number of diocesan catechisms which again led to various plans for securing uniformity. Dupanloup, one of the foremost writers on education, published his “Catechisme chretien” in 1865. At the time of the Vatican Council (1869-1870) the question of having a single universal catechism was discussed. There was great diversity of opinion among the Fathers, and consequently the discussion led to no result (see Martin, “Les travaux du concile du Vatican“, pp. 113-115). The arguments for and against the project will be examined when we come to speak of catechisms in the third part of this article. The most important event in the recent history of catechetics has been the publication of the Encyclical “Acerbo nimis” on the teaching of Christian doctrine (April 15, 1905). In this document Pius X attributes the present religious crisis to the widespread ignorance of Divine truth, and lays down strict regulations concerning the duty of catechizing (see below). For the purpose of discussing the best methods of carrying out these orders a number of catechetical congresses have been held: e.g., at Munich, 1905 and 1907; Vienna, 1905 and 1908; Salzburg, 1906; Lucerne, 1907; Paris, 1908, etc. At these gatherings scientific, yet practical, lectures were delivered, demonstrations were given of actual catechizing in school, and an interesting feature was the exhibition of the best literature and appliances. Two periodicals have likewise appeared: “Katechetische Blatter” (Munich) and “Christlich-padagogische Blatter” (Vienna).
In the United States, the few priests who in the early days toiled in this vast field were so overburdened with work that they could not produce original textbooks for religious instruction; they caused to be reprinted, with slight alterations, books commonly used in Europe. Others were composed in the manner described by Dr. England, first Bishop of Charleston, who, in 1821, published a catechism which, he writes, “I had much labor in compiling from various others, and adding several parts which I considered necessary to be explicitly dwelt upon under the peculiar circumstances of my diocese.” The first to edit a catechism, so far as is known, was the Jesuit Father Robert Molyneux, an Englishman by birth and a man of extensive learning, who, till 1809, labored among the Catholics in Maryland and Pennsylvania. Copies of this work are not known to exist now, but, in letters to Bishop Carroll, Father Molyneux mentions two catechisms which he issued—one in 1785, “a spelling primer for children with a Catholic catechism annexed”. In 1788 a catechism was published in New York which in all likelihood was a reprint of “Butler’s Catechism” mentioned above. Bishop Hay’s “Abridgement of Christian Doctrine” (152 pp.) appeared in Philadelphia in 1800; another edition (143 pp.) in 1803, and one with some alterations in the language in Baltimore in 1809 (108 pp.). Many editions were published of the catechism entitled “A Short Abridgement of Christian Doctrine, Newly Revised for the Use of the Catholic Church in the United States of America“. The size of these small catechisms is from 36 to 48 pages. One edition, with title page torn, bears on the last page the record: “Bought September 14, 1794”. The Philadelphia edition of 1796 is styled the thirteenth edition; that of Baltimore, 1798, the fourteenth. Whether all these editions were printed in America, or some of the earlier ones in Europe, cannot be ascertained.
This “Short Abridgement of Christian Doctrine”, approved by Archbishop Carroll, was generally used throughout the United States until about 1821. In that year Bishop England published his catechism for his own diocese, and in 1825 appeared the “Catechism of the Diocese of Bardstown”, recommended as a class-book by Bishop Flaget of Bardstown, Kentucky. The author of the latter catechism was Jean-Baptiste David, coadjutor of Bishop Flaget. It comprised the “First or Small Catechism for Little Children” (13 pp.), and the “Second Catechism” (149 pp.). The English was criticized by Archbishop Marechal and others. Still more defective and inexact in language was the catechism of Bishop Conwell of Philadelphia, and, at the request of the archbishop, the author suppressed the book. An old English catechism, the “Abridgement of Christian Doctrine”, by Henry Turberville, first published at Douai in 1649, was reprinted in New York in 1833. Whereas this edition preserved the quaint old language of the original, another edition of the same book appeared in Philadelphia, as “revised by the Right Rev. James Doyle and prescribed by him for the united dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin” (Ireland). In the New England States the “Boston Catechism” was used for a long time, the “Short Abridgement of Christian Doctrine”, newly revised and augmented and authorized by Bishop Fenwick of Boston. But the catechisms which were used most exclusively during several decades were Butler’s “Larger Catechism” and “Abridged Catechism”. In 1788 Samuel Campbell, New York, published “A Catechism for the Instruction of Children. The Seventh Edition with Additions, Revised and Corrected by the Author”. This seems to be the first American edition of Butler’s Catechism; for Dr. Troy, Bishop of Ossory, wrote, soon after Butler’s Catechism had appeared: “It has been printed here under the title: ‘A Catechism for the Instruction of Children’, without any mention of Dr. Butler”. Butler’s Catechism became very popular in the United States, and the First Provincial Council of Canada (1851) prescribed it for the English-speaking Catholics of the Dominion. Some other American catechisms may be briefly mentioned: the so-called “Dubuque Catechism” by Father Hattenberger; the Small and the Larger Catechism of the Jesuit missionary, Father Weninger (1865); and the three graded catechisms of the Redemptorist Father Muller (1874). Far more extensively used than these was the English translation of Deharbe. From 1869 numerous editions of the small, medium, and large catechisms, with various modifications, were published in the United States. An entirely new and much improved edition was issued in New York in 1901.
Repeated efforts have been made in the United States towards an arrangement by which a uniform textbook of Christian Doctrine might be used by all Catholics. As early as 1829, the bishops assembled in the First Provincial Council of Baltimore decreed: “A catechism shall be written which is better adapted to the circumstances of this Province; it shall give the Christian Doctrine as explained in Cardinal Bellarmine’s Catechism, and when approved by the Holy See, it shall be published for the common use of Catholics” (Decr. xxxiii). The clause recommending Bellarmine’s Catechism as a model was added at the special request of the Congregation of Propaganda. It may be mentioned here that Bellarmine’s “Small Catechism”, Italian text with English translation, was published at Boston, in 1853. The wish of the bishops was not carried out, and the First and Second Plenary Councils of Baltimore (1852 and 1866) repeated the decree of 1829. In the Third Plenary Council (1884) many bishops were in favor of a “revised” edition of Butler’s Catechism, but finally the matter was given into the hands of a committee of six bishops. At last, in 1885, was issued “A Catechism of Christian Doctrine, Prepared and Enjoined by Order of the Third Council of Baltimore”. Although the council had desired a catechism “perfect in every respect” (Acta et Decr., p. 219), theologians and teachers criticized several points (Nilles, “Commentaria”, II, 265, 188). Soon various editions came forth with additions of word-meanings, explanatory notes, some even with different arrangements, so that there is now a considerable diversity in the books that go by the name of Catechism of the Council of Baltimore. Besides, in recent years several new catechisms have been published, “one or two a decided improvement over the Council Catechism” (Messmer, “Spirago’s Method”, p 558). Among the recent catechisms are the two of Father Faerber, the large and small catechisms of Father Groenings, S.J., and the “Holy Family Series of Catholic Catechisms”, by Francis H. Butler, of the Diocese of Boston (1902). The three graded catechisms of this series give on the left page the questions and answers, on the right a “Reading Lesson”, dealing in fuller, and connected, form with the matter contained in the questions and answers. Some very practical features (reading part, followed by questions and answers, appropriate hymns, and pictorial illustrations) mark the “Text-books of Religion for Parochial and Sunday Schools“, edited since 1898 by Father Yorke. These last two series to some extent depart from the traditional method and indicate a new movement in catechetical teaching. A more radical change in the style of the catechism, namely the complete abandonment of the question-and-answer method, has recently been proposed (see below, under II and III of this article, and “Am. Eccl. Rev.”, 1907; January and February, 1908). The First Plenary Council of Baltimore (1852) appointed Bishop Neumann to write, or revise, a German catechism the use of which, after its approbation by the archbishop and all the German-speaking bishops, should be obligatory. This decree shared the fate of the council’s demand for a uniform English catechism. The Third Plenary Council (1884) decreed that the catechism to be issued by its order should be translated into the languages of those parishes in which religious instruction is given in any other than the English tongue. But the translation of the council catechism met with little favor. Another regulation, however, contained in the same decree of the council (ccxix), was gradually carried into effect. The bishops assembled expressed an earnest desire that in schools where English was not used the Christian Doc-trine should be taught not only in the foreign tongue there used, but also in English. Undoubtedly this was a wise provision. For the young people of the second or third generation find it difficult to understand the native language of their parents; hearing discussions or attacks on their religion, they are hardly able to answer if they have not learnt the catechism in English. Moreover, after leaving school many young people have to live among English-speaking people, in places where there is no congregation of their own nationality; if they have not been taught religion in English they are tempted not to attend sermons, they feel embarrassed in going to confession, and thus may gradually drift away from the Church. In order to obviate these dangers, various catechisms (Deharbe, Faerber, Groenings, etc.) have been published with German and English texts on opposite pages. Similarly, there are Polish-English, Bohemian-English, and other editions with double text. In most Italian schools catechism is taught chiefly in English, and only the prayers in Italian. Unwise as it would be to force a change of languages in catechetical teaching, it would be equally injudicious to artificially retard the natural development. The slow but steady tendency is towards the gradual adoption of the English language in preaching and teaching catechism, and it seems but reasonable to think that some day there will be among the Catholics in the United States not only unity in faith in the substance of the catechism, but also in its external form and language.
A number of German immigrants entered Pennsylvania about 1700, a considerable portion of them being Catholics. In 1759 the German Catholics in Philadelphia outnumbered those of the English tongue, and in 1789 they opened the church of the Holy Trinity, the first exclusively national church in the United States. Since 1741 German Jesuits have ministered to the spiritual needs of their countrymen, and Catholic schools have been established in the Pennsylvania settlements. It was natural that the German Jesuits should introduce the Catechism of Canisius, which for centuries had been universally used throughout Germany. The best known American edition of this famous catechism is that printed in Philadelphia, in 1810: “Catholischer Catechismus, worin die Catholische Lehre nach den funf Hauptstucken V. P. Petri Canisii, aus der Gesellschaft Jesu, erklart wird”. The author or editor of this book was Adam Britt, pastor of the Holy Trinity Church, Philadelphia, who died at Conewaga (1822) as a member of the Society of Jesus. During several decades the Catechism of Canisius was generally used by the German Catholics in the United States. The Redemptorists came to this country in 1833 and soon had charge of flourishing German parishes in nearly all the more important cities. The Venerable John N. Neumann, afterwards Bishop of Philadelphia, wrote, while rector of the Redemptorist house at Pittsburg, about the year 1845, a small and a large catechism. These texts, also known as the “Redemptorist Catechisms”, had a wide circulation, whereas those written later by Father Weninger, S.J., and Father Muller, C. SS. R., never became popular. The second half of the nineteenth century may be called the era of Deharbe’s Catechism. In 1850 the “Katholischer Katechismus der Lehrbegriffe” was issued in Cincinnati, which by this time had become a center of German Catholic population with flourishing parochial schools. Bishop Purcell declares in the approbation that the German catechisms previously published were not to be reprinted, but that this “Regensburg [Ratisbon] Catechism, long in use in Germany“, was to be the only one in his diocese. Although the name of the author was not given, it was in reality Father Deharbe’s “Large Catechism”. Since that time numerous editions of the different catechisms of Deharbe appeared with various adaptations and modifications, and for nearly fifty years Deharbe reigned supreme. This supremacy has been challenged within the last two decades. Father Muller, C. SS. R., in the preface to his catechism, severely criticized Deharbe’s as a book “which it is difficult for children to learn and to understand”. Father Faerber, who devoted, forty years to catechetical instruction, produced in 1895 a textbook which commends itself by its simplicity and clearness, although the critics, who charged it with incompleteness and a certain lack of accuracy, were not altogether wrong. Almost simultaneously with Father Faerber’s book appeared an excellent, thoroughly revised, edition of Deharbe’s texts, from which many defects had been expunged. Finally, in 1900, Father Groenings, S.J., published two catechisms, a small and a large one.
Development of Catechizing after the Council of Trent.—Mindful that the work of catechizing was more important than the issue of catechisms, the Council of Trent decreed that “the bishops shall take care that at least on the Lord’s day and other festivals the children in every parish be carefully taught the rudiments of the faith and obedience to God and their parents” (Sess. IV, De Ref., c. iv). In 1560 the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine was founded in Rome by a Milanese, and was approved by St. Pius V in 1571. St. Charles Borromeo in his provincial synods laid down excellent rules on catechizing; every Christian was to know the Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments; confessors were ordered to examine their penitents as to their knowledge of these formularies (V Prov. Concil., 1579). He also established schools in the villages, in addition to increasing the number in the towns. Besides the renewed activity of the older orders, the Jesuits, the Barnabites, and the Clerks Regular of Pious Schools (Piarists), who devoted themselves to the education of the young, took special care of the religious instruction of those entrusted to them. In this connection three names are especially worthy of mention: St. Vincent de Paul, St. Francis de Sales, and M. Olier. One of St. Francis’s first acts as a bishop was to organize catechetical instruction throughout his diocese, and he himself took his turn with his canons in this holy work. St. Vincent founded his congregation of Priests of the Mission for the purpose of instructing the poor, especially in the villages. The missionaries were to teach the catechism twice a day during each mission. In his own parish of Chatillon he established the Confraternity for the Assistance of the Poor, and one of the duties of the members was to instruct as well as to give material aid. So, too, the Sisters of Charity not only took care of the sick and the poor but also taught the children. M. Olier, both in the seminary and in the parish of Saint-Sulpice, laid special stress on the work of catechizing. The method which he introduced will be described in the second part of this article. The Brothers of the Christian Schools, founded by St. Jean-Baptiste de la Salle, devoted themselves especially to religious as well as secular instruction. Finding that the very poor were unable to attend school on weekdays, the saintly founder introduced secular lessons on Sundays. This was in 1699, nearly a century before such teaching was given in Protestant England.
II. PRACTICAL CATECHETICS
Catechizing (catechesis), as we have seen, is instruction which is at once religious, elementary, and oral.
Catechizing is a religious work not simply because it treats of religious subjects, but because its end or object is religious. The teacher should endeavor to influence the child’s heart and will, and not be content with putting a certain amount of religious knowledge into its head; for, as Aristotle would say, the end of catechizing is not knowledge, but practice. Knowledge, indeed, there must be, and the more of it the better in this age of widespread secular education; but the knowledge must lead to action. Both teacher and child must realize that they are engaged in a religious work, and not in one of the ordinary lessons of the day. It is the neglect to realize this that is responsible for the little effect produced by long and elaborate teaching. Religious knowledge comes to be looked upon by the child merely as a branch of other knowledge, and having as little to do with conduct as the study of vulgar fractions. “When the child is fighting its way through the temptations of the world, it will have to draw far more largely on its stock of piety than on its stock of knowledge” (Furniss, “Sunday School or Catechism?”). “The work of a teacher in the Church will be directed chiefly to this, that the faithful earnestly desire ‘to know Jesus Christ and Him crucified’, and that they be firmly convinced and with the innermost piety and devotion of heart believe, that ‘there is no other name under heaven given to men whereby we must be saved’, for ‘He is the propitiation for our sins’. But as in this we do know that we have known Him, if ‘we keep His commandments’, the next consideration and one intimately connected with the foregoing, is to show that life is not to be spent in ease and sloth, but that we ‘ought to walk even as He walked’, and with all earnestness ‘pursue justice, godliness, faith, charity, mildness’; for He ‘gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a people acceptable, pursuing good works’; which things the Apostle commands pastors to ‘speak and exhort’. But as our Lord and Savior has not only declared, but has also shown by His own example, that the Law and the Prophets depend on love, and as also, according to the confirmation of the Apostle, ‘the end of the commandments and the fulfilment of the Law is charity, no one can doubt that this, as a paramount duty, should be attended to with the utmost assiduity, that the faithful people be excited to a love of the infinite goodness of God towards us; that, inflamed with a sort of divine ardor, they may be powerfully attracted to the supreme and all-perfect good, to adhere to which is solid happiness'” (Catech. of the Council of Trent, Pref., x).
The persons concerned in catechizing (teachers and taught) and the times and places for catechizing can hardly be treated apart. But it will be best to begin with the persons. The duty of providing suitable religious instruction for children is primarily incumbent on their parents. This they may fulfil either by teaching them themselves or by entrusting them to others. Next to the natural parents the godparents have this duty. The parish priest should remind both the parents and godparents of their obligation; and he, too, as the spiritual father of those entrusted to his care, is bound to instruct them. In Pius X’s Encyclical Letter on the teaching of Christian doctrine it is enacted” (I) that all parish priests, and in general, all those entrusted with the care of souls, shall on every Sunday and feast day throughout the year, without exception, give boys and girls an hour’s instruction from the catechism on those things which every one must believe and do in order to be saved; (2) at stated times during the year they shall prepare boys and girls by continued instruction, lasting several days, to receive the sacraments of penance and confirmation; (3) they shall likewise and with special care on all the weekdays in Lent, and if necessary on other days after the feast of Easter, prepare boys and girls by suitable instruction and exhortations to make their first Communion in a holy manner; (4) in each and every parish the society, commonly called the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, shall be canonically erected; through this the parish priests, especially in the places where there is a scarcity of priests, will have lay helpers for the catechetical instruction in pious lay persons who will devote themselves to the office of teaching.” In countries where there are Catholic schools religious instruction is given on weekdays either before or after the secular instruction. As is well known, for the sake of this privilege the faithful have contributed enormous sums of money to build and support schools. Where this is the case the difficulty is only a financial one. Nevertheless, the First Provincial Council of Westminster warns the pastor not to make over this duty of catechizing “so far to others, however good or religious they may be, as not to visit the schools frequently and instil into the tender minds of youth the principles of true faith and piety”. We see, then, that the work of giving religious instruction belongs to the parents, to priests with the care of souls, to the teachers in Catholic schools, and to other lay helpers.
Turning now to those who are to be taught, we may consider first the young and then those who are grown up. The young may be divided into those who are receiving elementary education (primary scholars) and those who are more advanced (secondary scholars). Although in many dioceses the scholars are arranged in classes corresponding to the secular classes, we may consider them for our present purpose as divided into three groups: those who have not been to confession; those who have been to confession but have not made their first Communion; and those who have made their first Communion. In the case of the first group the instruction must be of the most rudimentary kind; but, as already pointed out, this does not mean that the little ones should be taught nothing except the first part of some catechism; they should have the Creed and the Commandments, the Our Father and the Hail Mary, explained to them, together with the forgiveness of sin by the Sacraments of Baptism and Penance. The principal events in the life of Christ will be found to be an ever-interesting subject for them. How far it is wise to talk to them about Creation and the Fall, the Deluge and the stories of the early patriarchs, may be a matter of discussion among teachers. In any case great care should be taken not to give them any notions which they may afterwards have to discard. It is of importance at this stage to tell the children in the simplest language something about the services of the Church, for they are now beginning to be present at these. Any one who has charge of them there, or, better still, who will recall his own early memories, will understand what a hardship it is to a child to have to sit through a high Mass with a sermon. The second group (those preparing for first Communion) will of course be able to receive more advanced instruction in each of the four branches mentioned above, with special reference to the Holy Eucharist. In instructing both groups the subjects should be taught dogmatically, that is, authoritatively, appealing rather to the children’s faith than to their reasoning powers. The after-Communion instruction of elementary scholars will be almost similar to the instruction given to younger secondary scholars, and will consist in imparting wider and deeper knowledge and insisting more upon proofs. When they grow up their difficulty will be not only the observance of the law, but the reason of it. They will ask not only, What must I believe and do? but also, Why must I believe it or do it? Hence the importance of thorough instruction in the authority of the Church, Scripture texts, and also appeals to right reason. This brings us to the subject of catechizing grown-up persons. Pius X goes on to speak of this matter, after laying down the regulations for the young: “In these days adults not less than the young stand in need of religious instruction. All parish priests, and others having the care of souls, in addition to the homily on the Gospel delivered at the parochial Mass on all days of obligation, shall explain the catechism for the faithful in an easy style, suited to the intelligence of their hearers, at such time of the day as they may deem most convenient for the people, but not during the hour in which the children are taught. In this instruction they shall make use of the Catechism of the Council of Trent; and they shall so order it that the whole matter of the Creed, the Sacraments, the Decalogue, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Precepts of the Church shall be treated in the space of four or five years.”
The subjects to be treated of are laid down by Pius X: “As the things divinely revealed are so many and so various that it is no easy task either to acquire a knowledge of them, or, having acquired that knowledge, to retain them in the memory,…our predecessors have very wisely reduced this whole force and scheme of saving doctrine to these four distinct heads: the Apostles’ Creed; the Sacraments; the Ten Commandments; and the Lord’s Prayer. In the doctrine of the Creed are contained all things which are to be held according to the discipline of the Christian Faith, whether they regard the knowledge of God, or the creation and government of the world, or the redemption of the human race, or the rewards of the good and the punishments of the wicked. The doctrine of the Seven Sacraments comprehends the signs and as it were the instruments for obtaining divine grace. In the Decalogue is laid down whatever has reference to the Law, ‘the end’ whereof ‘is charity’. Finally, in the Lord’s Prayer is contained whatever can be desired, hoped, or salutarily prayed for by men. It follows that these four commonplaces, as it were, of Sacred Scripture being explained, there can scarcely be wanting anything to be learned by a Christian man” (ib., xii). It must be borne in mind that catechetical instruction should be elementary; but this of course is a relative term, according as the pupil is an adult or a child. This difference has been dealt with above in speaking of the persons concerned in catechizing. It may be pointed out here, however, that elementary knowledge is not the same as partial knowledge. Even young children should be taught something of each of the four divisions mentioned above, viz., that they have to believe in God and to do God‘s will, and to obtain His grace by means of prayer and the sacraments. Further instruction will consist in developing each of these heads. Besides what is ordinarily understood by Christian doctrine, catechizing should treat of Christian history and Christian worship. Christian history will include the story of the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Church. Christian worship will include the Church‘s calendar (the feasts and fasts) and her services and devotions. These three—doctrine, history, and worship—are not altogether distinct, and may often be best taught together. For example, the second article of the Creed should be taught in such a way as to bring out the doctrine of the Incarnation, the beautiful story of Christ’s birth and childhood, and the meaning and the services of Advent and Christmas. The Bible history and the history of the Church will afford countless instances bearing on the various doctrines and heresies of the doctrinal part of the catechism, and the virtues and contrary vices of the practical part.
The question of catechetical methods is difficult and has given rise to much controversy. Father Furniss long ago, in his “Sunday School or Catechism?” and Bishop Bellord later on, in his “Religious Education and its Failures”, passed a wholesale condemnation on our present method, and attributed to it the falling away of so many Catholics from the Faith. “The chief cause of the ‘leakage’ is the imperfection of our systems of religious instruction. Those methods seem to be antiquated, injudicious, wasteful, sometimes positively injurious to the cause” (Bp. Bellord, op. cit., p. 7). Part of the blame is laid upon catechizing, and part upon the catechisms. Of the latter we shall speak presently. Again, the blame is twofold and is not altogether consistent. The children are declared not to know their religion, or, knowing it quite well, not to put it into practice. In either case they are of course lost to the Church when they grow up. Both the bishop and the Redemptorist complain that religious instruction is made a task, and so fails either to be learnt at all, or, if it is learnt, it is learnt in such a way as to become hateful to the child and to have no bearing on his conduct in afterlife. Both are especially severe on the attempt to make the children learn by heart. The bishop quotes a number of experienced missionary priests who share his views. It seems to us that, in considering the methods of catechizing, we have to bear in mind two very different sets of conditions. In some countries religious instruction forms part of the daily curriculum, and is mainly given on weekdays by trained teachers. Where this is the case it is not difficult to secure that the children shall learn by heart some official textbook. With this as a foundation the priest (who will by no means restrict his labors to Sunday work) will be able to explain and illustrate and enforce what they have learnt by heart. The teachers’ business will be chiefly to put the catechism into the child’s head; the priest must get it into his heart. Very different are the conditions which Father Furniss and Bishop Bellord are dealing with. Where the priest has to get together on a Sunday, or one day in the week, a number of children of all ages, who are not obliged to be present; and when he has to depend upon the assistance of lay persons who have no training in teaching; it is obvious that he should do his best to make the instruction as simple, as interesting, and as devotional as possible. As in other branches of instruction we may follow either the analytical or the synthetical method. In the former we take a textbook, a catechism, and explain it word for word to the scholar and make him commit it to memory. The book is of prime importance; the teacher occupies quite a secondary place. Though it might convey a wrong impression to call this the Protestant method, yet it is exactly in accordance with the Protestant system of religious teaching generally. The written, printed word (Bible or Catechism) is to them all in all. The synthetical method, on the other hand, puts the teacher in the forefront. The scholars are bidden to look up to him and listen to his voice, and receive his words on his authority. “Faith cometh by hearing.” After they have thoroughly learnt their lesson in this way, a book may be then set before them, and be explained to them and committed to memory, as containing in a fixed form the substance of what they have received by word of mouth. Whatever may be said of the relative advantages of the two methods in the teaching of secular subjects, there can be no doubt that the synthetical method is the proper one for catechetical instruction. The office of catechizing belongs to the Church‘s magisterium (teaching authority), and so is best exercised by the living voice. “The lips of the priest shall keep knowledge, and they shall seek the law at his mouth” (Mal., ii, 7).
(a) The Sulpician Method
of catechizing is celebrated throughout the world, and has produced wonderful fruits wherever it has been employed. We cannot, therefore, do better than give a short account of it here.
The whole catechism consists of three principal exercises and three secondary ones. The principal are: (I) the recitation of the letter of the catechism, with an easy explanation of it by way of question and answer; (2) the instruction; (3) the reading of the Gospel and the homily. The secondary exercises are: (I) the admonitions from the head catechist; (2) the hymns; (3) prayers. These should be interspersed with the former. The duration fixed by St. Francis de Sales for a complete catechism is two hours. The place should be the church, but in a separate chapel rather than in the body of the church. Great importance is attached to the “game of the good mark” (le jeu du bon point) and the analyses. The former consists in selecting the child who has answered best in the first part (the questioning on the catechism), and putting to him a series of short, clear, and definite questions upon the matter in hand, and doing this as a sort of challenge to the child. The other children are roused to interest at the notion of a contest between the catechist and one of themselves, and this gives occasion for a better understanding of the subject under treatment. If the child is considered to have won, he receives a small card of reward (le bon point). “For the success of the game of the bon point it is important to prepare beforehand and to write down the questions which are to be put to the children, even the commonest ones.” The children should be made to write out a short account of the instruction given after the questioning. These analyses should be corrected by the teacher, and a mark (“fair”, “good”, “very good”) should be attached to each. In order to secure regular attendance, registers should be carefully kept, and rewards (pictures, medals, etc.) should be given to those who have not missed a catechism. Treats and feasts should also be given. The spirit of emulation should be encouraged both for attendance and good answering and analysis. Various minor offices should be conferred upon the best children. Punishment should very seldom be resorted to.
Though the Sulpician method insists upon a thorough knowledge of the letter of the catechism, it is clear that the teacher is of prime importance rather than the book. Indeed, the success or failure of the catechism may be said to depend entirely upon him. It is he who has to do the questioning and give the instruction and the homily on the Gospel. Unless he can keep the attention of the children fixed upon him, he is bound to fail. Hence, the greatest care should be taken in selecting and training the catechists. These are sometimes seminarists or nuns, but lay persons must often be taken. By far the larger portion of “The Method of Saint Sulpice” is devoted to the instruction of the catechists (cap. iv, “Of the instruction of the children”; cap. v, “Of the sanctification of the children”; cap. vi, “Of the necessity of making the catechism pleasant to the children, and some means for attaining this object”; cap. vii, “How to turn the catechism into exercises of emulation”; cap. viii, “How to maintain good order and ensure the success of the catechisms”).
So far the “Method” has dealt with the catechisms generally. Next comes the division of the catechisms. These are four in number: the Little Catechism, the First-Communion Catechism, the Weekday Catechism, and the Catechism of Perseverance. The Weekday Catechism is the only one which requires any explanation here. A certain time before the period of first Communion a list is made out of such children as are to be admitted to the Holy Table, and these are prepared by more frequent exercises, held on weekdays as well as on Sundays. As a rule, only children who have attended for twelve months are admitted to the weekday catechisms, and the usual age is twelve years. The weekday catechism is held on two days of the week and for about three months. The order is much the same as that of the Sunday catechism, except that the Gospel and the homily are omitted. The children are examined twice during the weekday catechisms: the first time about the middle of the course; the second, a week before the retreat. Those who have often been absent without cause or who have answered badly, or whose conduct has been unsatisfactory, are rejected.
A complete account of the method will be found in “The Method of Saint Sulpice” (Tr.), and also in “The Ministry of Catechising” (Tr.) by Msgr. Dupanloup.
(b) The Munich Method
In 1898 Dr. A. Weber, editor of the “Katechetische Blatter” of Munich, urged the adaptation of the Herbart-Ziller system in teaching Christian doctrine. This system requires, first, a division of the catechetical matter into strict methodical units, so that those questions are coordinated which are essentially one. Secondly, it insists on a methodical following of the three essential steps, viz., Presentation, Explanation, and Application—with a short Preparation before Presentation, then Combination after Explanation, as more or less non-essential points. It therefore never begins with the catechetical questions, but always with an objective Presentation— in the form of a story from life or the Bible, a catechetical, Biblical or historical picture, a point of liturgy, church history, or the lives of the saints, or some such objective lesson. Out of this objective lesson only will the catechetical concepts be evolved and abstracted, then combined into the catechism answer and formally applied to life. These catechists aim at capturing the child’s interest from the start and preserving his good-will and attention throughout” (Amer. Eccl. Rev., March, 1908, p. 342). “Preparation turns the attention of the pupil in a definite direction. The pupil hears the lesson-aim in a few well-chosen words. At this stage of the process the pupil’s ideas are also corrected and made clearer. Presentation gives an object-lesson. If at all possible, use one such object only. There are sound psychological reasons for this, although it becomes occasionally useful to employ several. Explanation might also be called concept-formation. Out of the objective lesson are here construed, or evolved, the catechetical concepts. From the concrete objective presentation we here pass to the general concept. Combination gathers all the ideas derived from the lesson into the text of the catechism. Application finally strengthens and deepens the truths we have gathered and variously widens them for purposes of life. We can here insert further examples, give additional motives, apply the lessons to the actual life of the child, train the child in judging his own moral conduct, and end with some particular resolution, or an appropriate prayer, song, hymn, or quotation” (Amer. Eccl. Rev., April, 1908, p. 465). In the same number of the Review (p. 460) will be found an excellent lesson on “Sin“, drawn up on the lines of the Munich Method. Further information will be found in Weber’s “Die Munchener katechetische Methode”, and Gottler’s “Der Munchener katechetische Kurs, 1905”.
(c) Instruction of Converts
The careful instruction of those who apply for admission into the Church, or who wish information about her doctrines and practices, is a sacred duty incumbent at times on almost every priest. No one may prudently embrace the Christian religion unless he sees clearly that it is credible. Hence the motives of credibility, the sure arguments that convince the understanding and move the will to command the assent of faith, must be clearly set forth. The higher the social or intellectual position of inquirers, the more thorough and diligent should be the instruction. Each one is to be guided not merely to understand the Church‘s dogmas, as far as he can, but to practice the exercises of Christian perfection. Before the usual profession of faith, converts ought to be examined on their knowledge of all matters that must be known in order to be saved. This should be done with great care, for at this time they are docile. After their admission to the sacraments some may easily fancy themselves fully instructed, and for want of further study remain ignorant until death, unable to train properly their children or dependents. In the case of uneducated persons who are drawn to the Church, the prudent director will avoid such controversy as might lead his pupil to defend errors hitherto unknown. Better educated inquirers are to be fully satisfied on all points that they have held against Catholic doctrine and must be provided with the means of resisting both internal and external temptations. The length of time and the character of the instruction will vary with each individual.
It follows from what has been said that the times and places will vary according to the different sorts of persons to be instructed and the habits of the different countries. Speaking generally, however, at least some instruction should be given on Sundays and in the church, so as to bring out the religious character of catechizing.
III. MODERN CATECHISMS
When speaking of the history of catechetics we saw that, though the method was originally and properly oral, the custom soon arose of composing catechisms—i.e. short manuals of elementary religious instruction, usually by means of questions and answers.
A catechism is of the greatest use both to the teacher and the scholar. To the teacher it is a guide as to the subjects to be taught, the order of dealing with them, and the choice of words in which the instruction should be conveyed; above all, it is the best means of securing uniformity and correctness of doctrinal and moral teaching. The use which the teacher should make of it must be understood in connection with what has been said above about the methods of catechizing. To the scholar a catechism gives in a brief form a summary of what the teacher has been imparting to him; and by committing it to memory he can be sure that he has grasped the substance of his lesson. As already observed, this is not a difficult matter where there are Catholic schools under trained expert teachers accustomed to making the children learn by heart; but where the teaching has to be done in evening or Sunday schools by inexperienced persons, and the scholars are not under the same control as in the day schools, the portions to be committed to memory must be reduced to a minimum.
A good catechism should conform strictly to the definition given above. That is to say, it should be elementary, not a learned treatise of dogmatic, moral, and ascetical theology; and it should be simple in language, avoiding technical expressions as far as consistent with accuracy. Should the form of question and answer be maintained? No doubt it is not an interesting form for grown-up persons; but children prefer it because it lets them know exactly what they are likely to be asked. Moreover, this form keeps up the idea of a teacher and a disciple, and so is most in conformity with the fundamental notion of catechizing. What form the answers should take—Yes or No, or a categorical statement—is a matter of disagreement among the best teachers. It would seem that the decision depends on the character of the different languages and nations; some of them making extensive use of the affirmative and negative particles, while others reply by making statements. Archbishop Walsh of Dublin, in his instructions for the revision of the catechism, recommended “the introduction of short reading lessons, one to be appended to each chapter of the catechism. These reading lessons should deal, in somewhat fuller form, with the matter dealt with in the questions and answers of the catechism. The insertion of such lessons would make it possible to omit without loss many questions the answers to which now impose a heavy burden on the memory of the children…If these lessons are written with care and skill, and in a style attractive as well as simple, the children will soon have them learned by heart, from the mere fact of repeatedly reading them, and without any formal effort at committing them to memory” (Irish Eccl. Record, January, 1892). An excellent means of assisting the memory is the use of pictures. These should be selected with the greatest care; they should be accurate as well as artistic. The catechism used in Venice when Pius X was patriarch was illustrated.
As there are three stages of catechetical instruction, so there should be three catechisms corresponding with these. The first should be very short and simple, but should give the little child some information about all four parts of religious knowledge. The second catechism, for those preparing for first Communion, should embody, word for word, without the slightest change, all the questions and answers of the first catechism. Further questions and answers, dealing with a more extensive knowledge, should be added in their proper places, after the earlier matter; and these will have special reference to the sacraments, more particularly the Holy Eucharist. The third catechism, for those who have made their first Communion, should in like manner embody the contents of the first and second catechisms, and add instruction belonging to the third stage mentioned above. For scholars beyond the elementary stages this third catechism may be used, with additions not in the form of question and answer and not necessarily to be learnt by heart. The great idea running through all the catechisms should be that the later ones should grow out of the earlier ones, and that the children should not be confused by differently worded answers to the same questions. Thus, the answer to the questions: What is charity? What is a sacrament? should be exactly the same in all the catechisms. Further information can be introduced by fresh questions. In some rare cases additions may be made at the end of the earlier answers, but never in the middle.
It was mentioned in the historical portion of this article that at the time of the Vatican Council a proposal was made for the introduction of a uniform catechism for use throughout the Church. As the proposal was not carried out, we may here discuss the advantages and disadvantages of a universal catechism. There can be no doubt that the present system of allowing each bishop to draw up a catechism for use in his diocese is open to strong objection. Happily, in these days there is no difficulty on the head of diversity of doctrine. The difficulty arises rather from the importance attached to learning the catechism by heart. People do not nowadays remain stationary in the neighborhood in which they were born. Their children, in passing from one diocese to another, are obliged to unlearn the wording of one catechism (a most difficult process) and learn the different wording of another. Even where all the dioceses of a province or country have the same catechism the difficulty arises in passing into a new province or country. A single catechism for universal use would prevent all this waste of time and confusion, besides being a strong bond of union between the nations. At the same time it must be recognized that the conditions of the Church vary considerably in the different countries. In a Catholic country, for instance, it is not necessary to touch upon controversial questions, whereas in non-Catholic countries these must be thoroughly gone into. This will notably be the case with regard to the introduction of texts in the actual words of the Holy Scriptures. Thus, in the Valladolid Catechism there is not a single quotation from the Old or New Testament except the Our Father and the first part of the Hail Mary—and even of these the source is not mentioned. The Commandments are not given in the words of Scripture. There is no attempt to prove any doctrine; everything is stated dogmatically on the authority of the Church. A catechism on these lines is clearly unsuited for children living among Protestants. As already pointed out, the instruction of those who have made their first Communion should embrace proof as well as statement. The Fathers of the Vatican Council recognized the difficulty, and endeavored to meet it by a compromise. A new catechism, based upon Bellarmine’s Catechism and other catechisms of approved value, was to be drawn up in Latin, and was to be translated into the different vernaculars with the authority of the bishops, who were empowered to make such additions as they might think fit; but these additions were to be kept quite distinct from the text. The unhappy events of the latter part of the year 1870 prevented this proposal from being carried out.
(a) The present pontiff, Pius X, has prescribed a catechism for use in the Diocese of Rome and in its ecclesiastical province, and has expressed a desire that it should be adopted throughout Italy. It has been translated into English, French, Spanish, and German, and a movement has begun with a view to extending its use to other countries besides Italy, especially to Spain, where the conditions are similar. (See “Irish Eccl. Record”, March, 1906, p. 221; “Amer. Eccl. Rev.”, November, 1906.) This catechism consists of two parts, or rather two distinct books: one for “lower classes” and one for “higher classes”. The first, or “Shorter Catechism”, is meant for those who have not made their first Communion; the second, or “Longer Catechism”, for those who have already been through the other. Both are constructed on the same lines: an introductory portion, and then five sections treating in turn of the Creed, Prayer, the Commandments, the Sacraments, the Virtues, etc. The “Longer Catechism” contains, in addition, in catechetical form, an instruction on the feasts of Our Lord, the Blessed Virgin, and the Saints, and a short “History of Religion” (the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Church) in the form of a narrative. But though the two catechisms are on the same main lines, they have very little connection with each other. Hardly any of the questions and answers are the same; so that a knowledge of the wording of the first is of little use, but rather an obstacle, in learning the second. It is worthy of note that, though texts of Scripture are not quoted, the second catechism contains a large number of questions and answers relating to the Holy Scriptures, among others the following: “Is the reading of the Bible necessary to all Christians?—The reading of the Bible is not necessary to all Christians, because they are taught by the Church; still, the reading of it is very useful and recommended to all.” Many of the answers in the second catechism are much longer than those in other catechisms. The catechism itself, without counting the lengthy instruction on the feasts and the “History of Religion“, fills more than 200 pages 12mo in Bishop Byrne’s translation.
Throughout Great Britain only one catechism is officially in use. It was drawn up by a committee appointed by the Second Provincial Council of Westminster (1855), and is based upon the Douai Catechism. It has undergone several revisions, the last of these being for the purpose of eliminating the particles Yes and No, and making all the answers distinct categorical statements. It is remarkable for its frequent appeal to proofs from Holy Scripture. Though it has been subject to many attacks, it is justly considered to be a clear and logical statement of Catholic belief and practice, fitted to the needs of both children and grown-up persons seeking instruction. Perhaps it has this latter class too much in view, and hence it is sometimes wanting in simplicity. The omission of Yes and No and the avoidance of pronouns in the answers have been carried to a pedantic excess. Besides this ordinary catechism there is a smaller catechism, for younger children, which goes over the whole ground in a more elementary form; it is to some extent free from the objection just mentioned; but this advantage involves some verbal differences between the answers of the two catechisms. There is no official advanced catechism. For the more advanced classes a number of excellent “Manuals” are in use, e.g. “Instructions in Christian Doctrine”; Wenham’s “Catechumen“; Carr’s “Lamp of the Word”; Cafferata’s “The Catechism, Simply Explained”; Fander’s (Deharbe’s) “Catechism”. Howe’s “Catechist” and Spirago’s “Method of Christian Doctrine” (ed. Messmer) are used by those who are being trained to be teachers. Short Bible Histories, none of them official, are used in the more elementary classes, especially Formby’s volumes; in the higher classes, Wenham’s “New Testament Narrative”, Richards’ “Scripture History”, and Knecht’s “Practical Commentary”. There are also separate books of the New Testament, edited by Msgr. Ward and by Father Sydney Smith, etc. It should be added that the elementary schools and the training colleges, besides many of the secondary schools and colleges, are examined in religious knowledge by inspectors appointed by the bishops.
In Ireland the catechism most commonly used at the present time is the “Catechism ordered by the National Synod of Maynooth…for General Use throughout the Irish Church“. After a short Introduction on God and the creation of the world and on man and the end of his creation, it treats in turn of the Creed, the Commandments, Prayer, and the Sacraments. The answers are short and clear, and, though Yes and No are excluded, the form of the answers is not always a rigid repetition of the words of the question. Various important improvements have been suggested by Archbishop Walsh (see “Irish Eccl. Record”, January, 1892, and following numbers). There is also a smaller edition of the Maynooth Catechism. The manuals used in the advanced classes are much the same as those used in Great Britain, together with the “Companion to the Catechism” (Gill). Religious inspection is general. (For the United States, see above under History of Catechetics.)
The First Provincial Council of Quebec (1852) ordered two catechisms for use in Canada: Butler’s Catechism for those speaking English, and a new French catechism for those speaking French. The latter is called “The Quebec Catechism”, and is also issued in an abridged form.
In Australia the Maynooth Catechism is generally used. But the bishops in the Plenary Council of 1885 decreed that a new catechism should be drawn up for use throughout Australia.
From this enumeration it will be seen how far we are from having any uniform catechism for the English-speaking peoples. If we consider the Continent of Europe, we find that in France, Germany, and Spain different catechisms are in use in the different dioceses. In the German-speaking provinces of Austria there is one single catechism for all the dioceses, approved by the whole episcopate in 1894. It is issued in three forms: small, middle, and large. All of these are arranged on exactly the same lines: a short introduction, Faith and the Apostles’ Creed, Hope and Prayer, Charity and the Commandments, Grace and the Sacraments, Justification and the Last Things. The middle catechism contains all the questions and answers of the small, in exactly the same words, and adds a considerable number of fresh ones. In like manner, the large catechism makes further additions. The small catechism has no texts from Scripture; the other two contain many texts, usually placed in notes at the foot of the page. The chief difference between the middle and large catechisms is that the latter deals more with reasons and proofs, and consequently gives a greater number of Scripture texts. Austria is, therefore, better off than most countries in the matter of the catechism. She has none of the difficulties arising from a multiplicity of manuals, and her single textbook is in the three forms described above as the ideal for all countries. Schuster’s excellent Bible History is also in universal use, and is arranged by means of different type and signs so as to be accommodated to the three stages of the catechism. Religious training in Austria has, however, been severely criticized by Dr. Pichler, a high authority in that country. He considers the catechism as cumbersome, the work of a good theologian but a poor catechist; he advocates the compilation of a new Bible History on the lines of Knecht’s manual; and he advocates the adoption of inductive methods. See “Unser Religionsunterricht, seine Mangel and deren Ursachen”.
One of the best of the German catechisms is that of the Diocese of Augsburg, mainly the work of Kinsel and Hauser, and published in 1904. It is on the lines of Deharbe, but much simplified, and copiously illustrated. So, too, is the new Hungarian catechism (1907), which is issued in three editions: one for the first and second grade of elementary schools, one for the remaining four grades, and one for the high schools. Bishop Mailath of Transylvania has had the direction of the work. Poland has not been behindhand in reforming her catechetical teaching. A catechism has just been drawn up for the fourth, fifth, and sixth grades by Bishop Likowski and Valentine Gadowski. The answers to be learnt by heart are limited to forty in each year, and are short and simple. Each is followed by a fairly long explanation. This catechism contains 215 illustrations.
It should be noted that all Continental reformers have dropped the idea of making the answers theologically complete. The subsequent explanations supply what may be wanting. The answers are complete sentences, Yes and No being seldom used by themselves, and the order of the words in the answers follows that in the questions.
T. B. SCANNELL