Catechesis & Confirmation

Regular, on-going Catechesis:

Specific Catechesis towards Confirmation:

What is Catechesis?

We gather regularly for instruction in the Word of God, not simply to learn knowledge about God, but that our faith in Jesus Christ might be strengthened, and that we might live by that faith in our lives. We call this kind of teaching “catechesis.” Receiving our Lord’s teaching from the Holy Scriptures is a way of life for us, young and old alike, from the cradle to the grave. Our Lord is with us wherever His Word is faithfully taught and received. Jesus said:

As we learn in the Table of Duties, the Apostle Paul insists upon “doctrine” as one of the most important duties of a bishop (1 Timothy 4:13, 16; 5:17; 2 Timothy 4:2). Doctrine is not naturally known but must be learned. The act of teaching is known in the church as “catechesis” and the knowledge imparted by teaching as “catechism.” The word katechesis means instruction by word of mouth, especially by questioning and answering. It is commonly used for instruction in the elements of religion, especially preparation for initiation into Christianity.

St. Luke indicates that his Gospel was written in part for this purpose: “that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed” (Luke 1:4). In Acts 18:25, Apollo is described as “instructed [katechemenos] in the way of the Lord”. St. Paul uses the word twice: “I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach [katecheso] others also” (1 Corinthians 14:19); and “Let him who is taught [ho katechoumenos] the word share in all good things with him who teaches [ [to katechounti]” (Galatians 6:6). Hence the word, with its technical meaning of oral religious instruction, is applied both to the act of instructing and the subject matter of the instruction.

Catechesis is much more comprehensive than mere education and involves the actual doing of things that Christians will continue to do for the rest of their lives: attend Divine Service, listen to preaching, receive the Lord’s Supper, confess their sins, receive absolution, pray, confess their faith, forgive one another, live as husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, children, workers of every kind, etc.

What is Confirmation?

Confirmation is a rite of the Church which declares of a catechumen: “Here is a Christian — he has been baptized, confesses the faith, and is in communion with Christ and His Church.” This rite is usually accompanied by the prayer of the Church and a blessing from the Word of God. Parents and sponsors of a baptized child bear the responsibility of teaching this child God’s Word so that the child’s faith may remain alive and grow (Matt. 28:18-20).

Confirmation is a time-honored church tradition (not given by God’s Word, but useful nonetheless) in which the child baptized as an infant is given the opportunity to confess for himself or herself the faith that he or she was unable to confess as an infant. Faith is not “created” at confirmation, but it is rather confessed for all to hear so that the church can join and rejoice in this public confession, which has its roots in the faith which God Himself created in Baptism and strengthened and encouraged through regular, on-going catechesis.

See the Christian Cyclopedia (LCMS) for a summary of the history and practice of Confirmation: http://cyclopedia.lcms.org/display.asp?t1=c&word=CONFIRMATION

NOTE: In the Lutheran tradition, thorough catechesis in the six chief parts of Christian doctrine typically precedes confirmation. See Lutheran Service Book Agenda pp. 3-4 and 25-31 for further information on the rites of First Communion and Confirmation. See Lutheran Service Book Pastoral Care Companion pp. 664-671 for “Guidelines for Pastoral Examination of Catechumens Before the Rite of First Communion or Before the Rite of Confirmation.”