Friday, June 21, 2013

Who are the catechumens of the modern Church?

Catechumens is a weird word, especially for our modern world. There are two questions that we will analyse here: 1. what are catechumens? 2. Who are the catechumens of the modern Church?
A catechumen is someone who is preparing to enter the Church, who is mainly an adult. An induction period precedes Baptism and Chrismation or just Chrismation (when received by a member of another Christian denomination), which can vary according to the priest and according to the Archdiocese. Nevertheless, a change has been evident since the ancient Church. During the first centuries of Christianity there were many catechumens, who became Christians during certain main festivities during the year, such as Theophany and Pascha. The induction period could last from 1-3 years. However, this group slowly disappeared, since Christianity became an established religion.

Today, we have two kinds of catechumens within the life of the Church. Christianity is constantly expanding, therefore new converts are evident. These are the new catechumens. Also mix marriages have introduced people to the Church.
The second group of modern catechumens, however, are the Christian faithful who are already Christians, being therefore the larger in number. During the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (the main Liturgy celebrated within the Orthodox Church) after the Bible reading, before the Cherubic Hymn, we hear the deacon say ‘All the Catechumens leave…’ showing that the Liturgy is only for the members of the Body of Christ. Hearing this one Sunday I told the deacon in my church that one day everyone in the church will leave, because we are all catechumens. The worrying fact of modern life is that many Orthodox faithful have no time to read the Bible, read books on the Church, the Church Fathers and the teachings of the Church. Therefore, despite coming to the Church during the Divine Liturgy, not many know what we are doing, why we do certain things or even what we are saying (especially since the language used is not one that the people understand – for example in the Greek Church the Liturgy is celebrated in Ancient Greek, which no one speaks).

It is imperative that the Church today sees this as a great problem. A solution needs to be found. Maybe the Orthodox Church should introduce an A-course of faith, teachings, in order for people to come and further understand their faith. This latter group of catechumens, despite being part of the Body of Christ, they still do not know the fundamentals of the faith. 


  1. A parish near me (Protection of the Holy Mother of God Orthodox Church in Falls Church, Virginia) pioneered an Orthodox alternative to the Alpha Course and gave it positive reviews. The course is called The Way and is introduced by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware.

  2. Thank you for sharing this valuable information..I will look into it..!