Catechumenate at Saint Ignatius of Antioch Mission
What is a Catechumen?
A catechumen (Greek: κατηχούμενος) is an individual engaged in the process of becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ and entering into His Holy Church. The normative method of reception into the Church is by the sacrament of Holy Baptism, but for some non-Orthodox Christians in some periods of the Church there are other methods of reception that may be deemed appropriate by economy in the judgment of a particular bishop or church synod.
In the ancient Church, the catechumenate, or time during which one is a catechumen, often lasted for as much as three years and included not only participation in some of the divine services but also catechesis, formal instruction from a teacher, often the bishop or appointed catechist, and special prayers.
When someone has engaged in a period of serious inquiry, what we call being a "inquirer," he may come to a place in which he wishes to be enrolled amongst the catechumens of a particular parish in order to be prepared for reception into the Church. At this time the inquirer should seek the blessing of Fr. James, and request to be made a catechumen. Should the pastor judge that the inquirer is well prepared to do so he will read a prayer of enrollment. At this point the inquirer has moved past the seeker stage, which is roughly equivalent to courtship, and has made a definitive decision to become an Orthodox Christian. The enrollment of the catechumen may be equated as moving from courtship to engagement. It is expected at this juncture that the new catechumen inform in writing any religious body in which he was previously a member his desire to be removed from the membership of said body. The catechumen is numbered amongst a class of catechumens that belongs to that particular parish, and will begin the formal process of catechesis. Should the catechumen die before reception into the church, he will be buried as an Orthodox Christian.
The length of catechesis varies depending on the background of the catechumen, and the judgment of the bishop and catechist. In the early church when many converts were coming from pagan backgrounds an extensive three-year catechesis was necessary. Contemporary catechesis in America is often focused on the instruction of Christians from heterodox backgrounds, and may take less time. Our Archbishop has established the length of catechesis in our parishes as one year. This one-year presupposes that the catechumen will be actively engaged in the process of learning and assimilation to Orthodox modes of belief and Christian living, and may be extended as the pastor sees fit.
As the Church eventually became the majority religion of the lands in which it sojourned, the catechumenate as an institution gradually died out in many places, as most persons were being baptized shortly after birth. As Holy Orthodoxy has moved into the West and Far East and begun gaining converts to the faith, the catechumenate is naturally being revived.
Catechumen Requirements List
- Fall classes on Epistle of James and Religious Themes in Russian Literature
- Confession Teaching
- Catechumenate meeting T.B.A.
- Women's Bible Study on Wednesday morning as able
- Wednesday night classes in the fall
- Wednesday night classes in the spring prior to Great Lent
- Texts Read (required).
- Orthodox Study Bible (wrap around)
- Orthodox Church or Orthodox Way by Bishop KALLISTOS Ware
- Bread and Water, Wine and Oil by Fr. Meletios Webber
- Schmemann, Fr. Alexander Great Lent
- Chrysostom, St. John (1984), On the Priesthood
- Carlton, Clark (1997), The Faith: An Orthodox Catechism OR
- Vlachos, Metropolitan Hierotheos Entering the Orthodox Church or The Mind of the Church
- Schmemann, Fr. Alexander (1998), For the Life of the World
- Colliander, Tito (1985), The Way of the Ascetics
- Confirm Godparent(s) in counsel with Fr. James
- Attend Great Vespers
- Attend Lenten Services
- After enrollment: Present yourself for the Litany of the Catechumens immediately following the sermon during Divine Liturgy every Sunday
- Prepare and make life confession
- Turn in Prayer Rule Form
- Turn in Renunciations Exercise
- Turn in Patron Saint Form
- Turn in pledge card
- Give Fr. James a check for $10 made out to 'Antiochian Archdiocese' for Baptism/Chrismation certificate
- Review Baptism/Chrismation service in Red Service book 146-165
MY PERSONAL PRAYER RULE
"But as regards prayer, it is certainly our bounden duty to use it every day, morning and evening, before and after both dinner and supper, as far as possible, at the beginning and ending of every work" (Q&A #551 The Longer Catechism of the Orthodox Church - by Metropolitan Philaret, 1830).
When will you privately pray during each day?
What will you pray?