Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Catch the Catechumen!

Ever heard of a Catechumen? Neither had I until last night:

I've been reading over Augustine's "Confessions" lately and came across some interesting details about how the early church functioned:

Originally from the discussion forum
"At birth, Augustine was excercised against demons by his Christian mother. At age 5 he was extremely ill with a stomach ache and begged his mother to be baptised. It was not in fact unusual to vow a sick child to virginity for life before God in return for the childs restoration to health...

Augustine's mother instead made him a catechumens, or "christian hearer".

Catechumens were a well recognized group that would attend church services although they had to leave before the Eucharist. They could call themselves "Christians", not "seekers" or "the faithful". It was expected in due course they would put their names down for further instruction to become "seekers" and be baptised. Baptised Christians were then called "the faithful".
Upon reading this I looked up the term "Catechumen" and found this entry:

New Advent Encyclopedia
By the end of the second century we find the catechumenate in force in all its main lines. Tertullian reproaches the heretics with disregarding it; among them, he says "one does not know which is the catechumen and which the faithful, all alike come [to the mysteries], all hear the same discourses and say the same prayers" (quis catechumenus, quis fidelis incertum est; pariter adeunt, pariter audiunt, pariter orant),
I'll be reading more on this, but it seems there was a "layered" approach to discipleship. First someone became a "hearer" (catechumen), then they became a "seeker", then a "faithful". Perhaps we could learn from this and implement a similar system in our churches? Anyone have any further insight into this early church "system"? Post comments below, or on the discussion forum

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