Sunday, October 03, 2010

Catechism Memory Work

Our pastor appoints a portion of the catechism each week for the congregation to pray daily along with the Bible verse, the psalm, the collects, and the hymn. Quite a few pastors extol the benefits of including the catechism as part of your prayers rather than as something to memorize as head knowledge. And so each week we have a portion of the catechism to meditate on.

But being a bear of very little brain and ever-decreasing agility-of-memory, I have found it beneficial also to recite all six chief parts each week. Seeing as how there are seven days of the week, and on one of them we go to church in the morning, that leaves one chief part per non-Sunday day. Ideal, eh? So on Monday we say the Ten Commandments (and meanings), and Tuesday is the Creed, and so forth.

We did not start this routine until several of the kids had already learned the catechism by heart. I wanted them to retain what they'd learned. I didn't want them to wait a whole year until they came back to thus-and-such part of the catechism. The younger ones (who had not yet memorized the catechism) would either listen to the recitation or they'd read along out of the book. It doesn't take long -- we spend 3-6 minutes per day, with Thursday usually being the quickest recitation and Wednesday the longest. I realize that this brief daily run-through is not the same as praying the catechism, not the same as meditating upon it, not the same as unpacking its riches. But by saying it at the breakfast table (in the old days when we used to eat breakfast together) or on the drive to chapel/school, it does keep the words fresh in our minds.

And I think that habit is worth five minutes a day.


  1. You know I think it would be good also for certain kids who seem to take a lot longer at learning things by heart. I have some children who by the end of the fourth day or at least the fifth day could say by heart the Bible verse, catechism, and the hymn verses. But now I have kids who can't seem to get it even by the end of the seventh day. So your habit of reciting them each week as review just might help keep the words in front of them, and what better words than God's words which bring faith and life?

  2. It also makes it easier for wee ones to learn, if they have been hearing the words regularly. Y'know how they tell you to listen to Spanish television or German radio --without even trying to pay attention to what's being said-- prior to trying to learn the language? I think it's the same with the catechism. I may be reviewing, a 7-yr-old may be working on memorizing and reviewing, and a 1-yr-old may simply be getting the flow of words into his head.