In my e-mail the other day came this note from Fr. Charles Nalls addressed to a list of friends:
This morning I have been thinking about the importance of catechesis. Here is what my daughter, who is attending a Roman Catholic school is required to know along with her friends who will be confirmed at Holy Cross parish. Some may scoff at and malign the RCC, but do we teach these things or, at least, teach them consistently? As for me, I can't throw stones at a church that makes these demands of confirmandi. We can make all of the anti-Roman statements we want, but, face it, their catechism is more thorough (if we are being honest).
I know that Bp. Florenza has a great set of confirmation materials ... Here's a hint, though, none of these rely on the American Church Union booklet ...
In a former province far, far away, I can name at least one set of children of a professed Anglican priest who, I will warrant you, can recount virtually none of the items in the list below--none, but were confirmed. Why? You might ask him. I was once witness to a confirmation where the child couldn't even recite the creed. ... Fortunately, that's in the past.
The message, here, is that we must put [an end] to being social Anglicans, Catholics, or, for that matter, Christians. If your children do not have a ready answer to the questions below, you need to talk with your priest, and, while you are at it, look in the mirror. If you yourself don't have an answer to these questions, blame... well... (And, no, the answer to the Decalogue question is not "Sneezy, Dopey, Happy, etc.")
Young people are going into a world of increasingly militant atheism, and they'd better be able to make an account of their faith. If we are not doing these basics, we need to reevaluate our teaching. And, if your confirmandi can't do the following, they shouldn't be advanced for the Sacrament until they are able.
I will post the rest of this, the list of questions the children in the RCC school have to answer, below. It is obvious to me that Fr. Nalls is not suggesting that we approach Confirmation merely as an academic exercise, but, rather, that it is time for clergy and parents to restore standards of learning for the benefit of the confirmands themselves. Obviously, we would not want the grace of the sacrament to be withheld from someone due to a learning disability (such as retardation). The point is, however, that everyone should be taught the essential points of the Faith as fully as possible. Whether it is a child or an adult who is being prepared for the sacrament, this teaching period in someone's life is the closest we come to the ancient practice of teaching the catechumins in order that they may enter fully into the sacramental life of the Church.
In modern times it fell out of fashion to teach converts, as if it was not polite; and with the decline of catechesis in the Episcopal Church, people joined quickly and easily with the assumption (as I heard quite a few times) that Anglicanism has no theology. We are supposed to have no distinctive theology of our own (a closed or innovative system like, for example, Calvinism), but only that held by the Catholic Church from the beginning. But, for an adult to join without any serious catechesis, or for a young person to be confirmed with barely any teaching, became common practice in ECUSA. This was one obvious cause of the shipwreck that has drowned that whole denomination. Maybe some of our own people need to unlearn bad habits that were picked up there.
Failure to teach is a sin.
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
"And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."
The first responsibility is that of parents, especially of fathers from what we see in St. Paul's words. However, there is this also, work attributed by Paul to the mother and grandmother of Timothy:
"But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus."
II Timothy 3:14, 15
The first responsibility is that of the parents who must teach the children at home, and then of the clergy who must help them and must maintain standards in the Church. Preparation for Confirmation is an opportunity to make sure that this teaching has been proceeding as it should, while it is refined and furthered by the standards of the Church guided by responsible and pastoral priests.
Here is that list (I would not regard the mysteries of the Rosary as essential for Anglicans; but, they certainly couldn't hurt):
For your 8th grader:
The test has a possible 64 points. The passing grade is 70% or 45 points. You also have the chance to earn free bonus points that will bring up your score!
Here is a list of what you should STUDY and KNOW for the test:
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit - KNOW THESE IN YOUR SLEEP!
The 10 Commandments - know what they mean and know them in order
The Beatitudes (not necessarily in order)
The types of Sacraments and what they do
The similarities between Baptism and Confirmation
What happened at Pentecost
What happens during Confirmation
The Theological and Cardinal Virtues
What is the Holy Trinity?
Types of sin
Days of fast and abstinence and what they mean
The Nicene and Apostles' Creeds
The 4 Marks of the Church
The Lord's Prayer
The Corporal Works of Mercy
The Holy Days of Obligation
The Mysteries of the Rosary
Pray to the Holy Spirit to bless your studies and your test-taking.
God bless you,