Concerning the Catechism
This catechism is primarily intended for use by parish priests, deacons, and lay catechists, to give an outline for instruction. It is a commentary on the creeds, but is not meant to be a complete statement of belief and practice; rather, it is a point of departure for the teacher, and it is cast in the traditional question and answer form for ease of reference.
The second use of this catechism is to provide a brief summery of the Church's teaching for an inquiring stranger who picks up a Prayer Book.
It may also be used to form a simple service; since the matter is arranged under headings, it is suitable for selective use, and the leader may introduce prayers and hymns as needed.
An Outline of the Faith
commonly called the Catechism
God the Father
Q. What do we learn about God as creator from the revelation to Israel?
A. We learn that there is one God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.
Q. What does this mean?
A. This means that the universe is good, that it is the work of a single living God who creates, sustains, and directs it.
Q. What does this mean about our place in the universe?
A. It means that the world belongs to its creator; and that we are called to enjoy it and to care for it in accordance with God's purposes.
Q. What does this mean about human life?
A. It means that all people are worthy of respect and honor, because all are created in the image of God, and all can respond to the love of God.
Q. How was this revelation handed down to us?
A. This revelation was handed down to us through a community created by a covenant with God.
God the Son
Q. What do we mean when we say that Jesus is the only Son of God?
A. We mean that Jesus is the only perfect image of the Father, and shows us the nature of God.
Q. What is the nature of God revealed in Jesus?
A. God is love.
Q. What do we mean when we say that Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and became incarnate from the Virgin Mary?
A. We mean that by God's own act, his divine Son received our human nature from the Virgin Mary, his mother.
Q. Why did he take our human nature?
A. The divine Son became human, so that in him human beings might be adopted as children of God, and be made heirs of God's kingdom.
Q. What is the great importance of Jesus' suffering and death?
A. By his obedience, even to suffering and death, Jesus made the offering which we could not make; in him we are freed from the power of sin and reconciled to God.
Q. What is the significance of Jesus' resurrection?
A. By his resurrection, Jesus overcame death and opened for us the way of eternal life.
Q. What do we mean when we say that he's descended to the dead?
A. We mean that he went to the departed and offered them also the benefits of redemption.
Q. What do we mean when we say that he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father?
A. We mean that Jesus took our human nature into heaven where he now reigns with the Father and intercedes for us.
Q. How can we share in his victory over sin, suffering, and death?
A. We share in his victory when we are baptized into the New Covenant and become living members of Christ.
The Holy Spirit
Q. Who is the Holy Spirit?
A. The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity, God at work in the world and in the Church even now.
Q. How is the Holy Spirit revealed in the Old Covenant?
A. The Holy Spirit is revealed in the Old Covenant as the giver of life, the One who spoke through the prophets.
Q. How is the Holy Spirit revealed in the New Covenant?
A. The Holy Spirit is revealed as the Lord who leads us into all truth and enables us to grow in the likeness of Christ.
Q. How do we recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives?
A. We recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit when we confess Jesus Christ as Lord and are brought into love and harmony with God, with ourselves, with our neighbors, and with all creation.
Q. How do we recognize the truths taught by the Holy Spirit?
A. We recognize truths to be taught by the Holy Spirit when they are in accord with the Scriptures.
Q. What is the Church?
A. The Church is the community of the New Covenant.
Q. How is the Church described in the Bible?
A. The Church is described as the Body of which Jesus Christ is the Head and of which all baptized persons are members. It is called the People of God, the New Israel, a holy nation, a royal priesthood, and the pillar and ground of truth.
Q. How is the Church described in the creeds?
A. The Church is described as one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.
Q. Why is the Church described as one?
A. The Church is one, because it is one Body, under one Head, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Q. Why is the Church described as holy?
A. The Church is holy, because the Holy Spirit dwells in it, consecrates its members, and guides them to do God's work.
Q. Why is the Church described as catholic?
A. The Church is catholic, because it proclaims the whole Faith to all people, to the end of time.
Q. Why is the Church described as apostolic?
A. The Church is apostolic, because it continues in the teaching and fellowship of the apostles and is sent to carry out Christ's mission to all people.
Q. What is the mission of the Church?
A. The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.
Q. How does the Church pursue its mission?
A. The Church pursues its mission as it prays and worships, proclaims the Gospel, and promotes justice, peace, and love.
Q. Through whom does the Church carry out its mission?
A. The Church carries out its mission through the ministry of all its members.
Q. What are the sacraments?
A. The sacraments are outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ as sure and certain means by which we receive that grace.
Q. What is grace?
A. Grace is God's favor towards us, unearned and undeserved; by grace God forgives our sins, enlightens our minds, stirs our hearts, and strengthens our wills.
Q. What are the two great sacraments of the Gospel?
A. The two great sacraments given by Christ to his Church are Holy Baptism and the Holy Eucharist.
Other Sacramental Rites
Q. What other sacramental rites evolved in the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit?
A. Other sacramental rites which evolved in the Church include confirmation, ordination, holy matrimony, reconciliation of a penitent, and unction.
Q. How do they differ from the two sacraments of the Gospel?
A. Although they are means of grace, they are not necessary for all persons in the same way that Baptism and the Eucharist are.
Q. What is Confirmation?
A. Confirmation is the rite in which we express a mature commitment to Christ, and receive strength from the Holy Spirit through prayer and the laying on of hands by a bishop.
Q. What is required of those to be confirmed?
A. It is required of those to be confirmed that they have been baptized, are sufficiently instructed in the Christian Faith, are penitent for their sins, and are ready to affirm their confession of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
Q. What is Ordination?
A. Ordination is the rite in which God gives authority and the grace of the Holy Spirit to those being made bishops, priests, and deacons, through prayer and the laying on of hands by bishops.
Q. What is Holy Matrimony?
A. Holy Matrimony is Christian marriage, in which the woman and man enter into a life-long union, make their vows before God and the Church, and receive the grace and blessing of God to help them fulfill their vows.
Q. What is Reconciliation of a Penitent?
A. Reconciliation of a Penitent, or Penance, is the rite in which those who repent of their sins may confess them to God in the presence of a priest, and receive the assurance of pardon and the grace of absolution.
Q. What is Unction of the Sick?
A. Unction is the rite of anointing the sick with oil, or the laying on of hands, by which God's grace is given for the healing of spirit, mind, and body.
Q. Is God's activity limited to these rites?
A. God does not limit himself to these rites; they are patterns of countless ways by which God uses material things to reach out to us.
Q. How are the sacraments related to our Christian hope?
A. Sacraments sustain our present hope and anticipate its future fulfillment.
The Book of Common Prayer copyright 1979 Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, New York 10016. All rights reserved. Used with written permission from Church Publishing Incorporated.