25 April 2009

A Simple Catechism for the Baptized Faithful

Christ our Lord summarizes the Ten Commandments and the whole Law of God in this way: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength," and "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." St. Paul the Apostle says it in one word: Love.
The baptized faithful pray and confess, together with the whole Christian Church, the Apostles' Creed and the Our Father, which are the special heritage of the baptized. In these the Gospel and faith are summarized for the constant comfort and nurture of every Christian.
The baptized faithful invoke "the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," into which and with which they were baptized.
The baptized faithful return to the significance of their Holy Baptism by confessing their lack of love for God and their neighbor, and by hearing the Word of the Gospel, which is the Absolution of their Father in heaven, the forgiveness of all their sins, preached and spoken in the name and stead of Christ Jesus.
The baptized faithful hear and believe, cling to and confess, the Words of Christ the Lord: "Take, eat; this is My Body, which is given for you. Drink of it, all of you; this Cup is the New Testament in My Blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins." And at His Word, they gladly receive what He gives.
The entire Christian faith and life of all the baptized is summarized in these six chief parts, which are prayed and confessed within the household and family of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. No Christian can do better than to be returned each day to these fundamentals of God's Word and faith. For these chief parts can never be exhausted, but in their simplicity they always admit an ever deeper and more profound knowledge and confession of the one true God and His salvation in Christ Jesus, the incarnate Son. Hence, they are expanded and explained in the Small Catechism; they are further explored and preached in the Large Catechism; and they are prayed and sung in the Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs of the Holy Scriptures and the whole Christian Church on earth. They are preached in every godly sermon; taught in every faithful seminary classroom; and confessed with eloquence in every faithful work of theology. Yet, they are already embraced and cherished, prayed and confessed by even the littlest children among the baptized faithful, who belong to and believe in Jesus Christ, their Savior and Good Shepherd. So are they also lived, by God's grace, in the Christian vocations of fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, masters, workers and students.


Dan @ Necessary Roughness said...

Cool. I guess you could call this the "VERY small catechism." :)

Emily said...

Is this a good summary of what you look for before first communion? I'm sure this is a bigger topic. . .

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Yes, Emily, this summarizes what I would be looking for in bringing a little child to the Holy Communion.

Along with that, it encapsulates what I endeavor to instill in all the baptized faithful, of every age, both before and after their First Communion: Not as a minimalistic substitute for the Small Catechism (which I love and extol constantly), but as the root of daily prayer-without-ceasing in the midst of the Christian life.

I'm mainly suggesting that the "six chief parts" do not begin and end with Dr. Luther's Small Catechism (as marvelous as that treasured book is), but they can be taught and confessed both more simply and far more extensively. Not only does this encourage the catechesis of very little children, but also the ongoing catechesis of the most mature and educated Christian, even doctors of theology and the teachers of the church. Because the six chief parts are not too hard for the youngest person, nor too simple for the sophisticated adult. As Luther says, God Himself knows of nothing better to say and teach than these chief parts.