After writing my post about “holy water” and thinking afterwards about how ‘holy water’ is used for events like baptisms, I began thinking about the religious rites of different faiths, and for me, I remember that catechism was the the next rite following baptism. If you’d have asked me weeks ago, I’d have told you that I believed that catechism was the time in an (older) child’s life when that child was now old enough to understand the concept of the vows that were made on his/her behalf at baptism and was now making an individual and independent decision to continue on that spiritual journey. I took catechism classes. I graduated from those classes. I don’t remember a single thing that was taught during those classes. In fact, my biggest memory is of catechism Sunday and waiting for my name to be called to step up to the altar to receive said graduation acknowledgement, and as another of the girl’s name was called and she started up the aisle, I remember the whisper of one female church member to another sitting in the pew behind me about how this girl’s dress seemed indecently short, especially for church. It was my first eye-opening to the fact that some of my church members were hypocrites and what eventually led me away from ‘organized’ religion.
So, I decided to use the dictionary to find out what catechism really means. According to good old Merriam-Webster, “a catechism is a summary or exposition of doctrine and serves as a learning introduction to the Sacraments traditionally used in catechesis, or Christian religious teaching of children and adult converts. Catechisms are doctrinal manuals – often in the form of questions followed by answers to be memorized – a format that has been used in non-religious or secular contexts as well. According to Norman DeWitt, the early Christians appropriated this practice from the Epicureans, a school whose founder Epicurus had instructed to keep summaries of the teachings for easy learning. The term catechumen refers to the designated recipient of the catechetical work or instruction.”
If there were actual diplomas given out at catechism graduation, I’d feel compelled to return mine immediately. If I learned – or as the definition states, memorized this information – it went into my short-term memory banks and was quickly erased to make room for other short-term memory. I mean… I call myself spiritual, but not religious, I believe in the Holy Trinity and the teachings of the Bible in principle, I do my best to follow the Ten Commandments, but beyond that?
I remember to this day what a friend from high school called me the one time we talked about religion. I told him what it was I believed and all of the places my life wasn’t lived in a God-like manner, and he told me that I was a “heaven hippie”. He said that, because I believed in John 3:16, and tried to live morally (success not always guaranteed) and certainly went out of my way NOT to hurt others, that heaven would have a place for me, but my path to get there would be at the beat of my own drum. I’m glad to have that to hold on to, because if all of these doctrines and teachings from catechism class are what will get me into heaven, then…. all I can say is “send ice, it’s hot down here!”
Who else took catechism classes? What, if anything, do you remember from them?