St. Mary's Anglican Catholic Church

Diocese of the Midwest

The term ‘catechism’ comes from the Greek word meaning ‘to instruct by word of mouth.’ In the early centuries of the church’s history, converts to Christ went through a lengthy period of instruction in the form of lectures in preparation for Baptism, usually on Easter Eve. This instructional regimen fell into disuse as infant Baptism and confirmation at a young age became the norm. But for centuries, church reformers sought to insure that God’s people were well grounded in the fundamentals of the faith as encapsulated in the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the Creeds. At the Reformation, ‘catechisms’ were developed in the form of a series of questions and answers. Based on several earlier sixteenth versions, the first Catechism of the Church of England was included in the first Book of Common Prayer in 1549. There were also expanded versions of the Catechism developed by John Ponet and Alexander Nowell. The Catechism was enlarged in 1604 to include a section on the sacraments; and this remains the official Catechism of the Church of England in the 1662 Prayer Book. The American Book of Common Prayer of 1928 includes this Catechism. (BCP 577-583) There are also two offices of instruction based on the Catechism included as preparation for confirmation. (BCP 283-295)