St. Mary's Anglican Catholic Church

Diocese of the Midwest

The Catechism of traditional churches rooted in the Church of England begins this way: Question. What is your Name? Answer. N. or N. N. Question. Who gave you this Name? Answer. My Godfathers and Godmothers in my Baptism; wherein I was made a member of Christ, the child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven. The Catechism of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland begins differently. “Q. 1. What is the chief and highest end of man? A. Man's chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever.” These are perfectly proper and, indeed, lofty words. At first glance, it might appear that the opening words of the Anglican Catechism are prosaic and rather flat by comparison. Further reflection should bring us to another view.

Our Church Catechism was designed primarily for children to memorize. What do young children know better than their own names? Our Catechism is structured to take
children from familiar and basic ideas to a mature and more complete understanding if the faith, a very practical aim. But the opening words of the Prayer Book Catechism also convey a more powerful idea than might appear at first because of their simplicity. Rather than first telling us what duty we owe to God, the Catechism first tells us what God has done for us. At our Baptism we first are given our name. It is a name chosen by our parents, but before Baptism we are formally named by our godparents as representatives of Christ’s Church. We are thus said to be “christened;” and our name becomes our “Christian name.” This “Christian name” points to that name that God has given us when He calls us to Him, a name that only He knows for now (Revelation 2:17; 3:12). When we are baptized into the Name of the Holy Trinity, we become members of the Church, the Body of Jesus Christ the Son of God; and we are adopted as children of God and heirs to the Kingdom of His Son though our union with God the Son (see especially Romans 8:15, 23; 9:4: Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5). It is only in light of God’s love for us and what He has done for us in Jesus Christ that we can understand and indeed properly pursue our duty to glorify Him, and also to enjoy Him forever.