with the spiritual truths and ethical demands which form the basis of practical Christianity, but should also be trained in theology and the interpretation of the creeds. Two books have been preserved which throw a striking light upon the transformation which had taken place in the conception of catechesis; (1) the Catechetical Lectures of Cyril of Jerusalem; (2) the De rudibus Catechizandis of Augustine. Cyril’s Lectures may be termed the Pearson on the Creed of the 4th century. He takes each article separately, discusses it clause by clause, explains the meaning of each word, and justifies each statement from Scripture. Augustine’s treatise was written at the request of a catechist, named Deogratias, who had asked him for advice. After replying to the question of Deogratias, and giving sundry counsels as to the best method of interesting catechumens, Augustine concludes by giving a model catechetical lecture, in which he covers the whole of biblical history, beginning from the opening chapters of Genesis, and laying particular stress on the doctrinal parts of Scripture. Cyril and Augustine differ, as we should expect, in the doctrines which they select for emphasis, but they both agree in requiring a knowledge of sound doctrine on the part of the candidates.
In spite of the numerous references to catechumens in Patristic literature, our knowledge of the details of the system is often very deficient, and upon some points there is considerable diversity of opinion amongst experts. The following are the most important questions which come under consideration.
1. The Classification of Catechumens.—Bingham and many of the older writers held that there were four classes of catechumens, representing different stages in the process of instruction: (a) “The inquirers” whose interest in Christianity had been sufficiently aroused to make them desire further information, and who received private and individual instruction from the teachers before they were admitted into the second class, (b) “The hearers” (audientes), who were admitted into the Church for the purpose of listening to sermons and exhortations, (c) The prostrati or genu flectentes, who were allowed also to take part in the prayers, ('d) The electi or competentes, who had completed the period of probation and were deemed ready to receive baptism. Modern scholars, however, for the most part, deny that there is sufficient basis to justify this elaborate classification, and think that its advocates have confused the catechumenate with the system of penance. The evidence does not seem to warrant more than two classes, (a) the audientes, who were in the initial stages of their training, (b) the competentes, who were qualified for baptism.
2. The Relation of Catechumens to the Church.—Catechumens were allowed of course to attend church services, but at a certain point were dismissed with the words “Ite catechumeni, missa est.” The moment at which the dismissal took place cannot be exactly determined, and it is not clear whether the catechumens were allowed to remain for a portion of the Communion service, and if so, whether as spectators or as partial participants. A passage in Augustine seems to imply that in some way they shared in the Sacrament, “that which they (the catechumens) receive, though it be not the Body of Christ, is yet an holy thing and more holy than the common food which sustains us, because it is a Sacrament” (De peccatorum meritis, ii. 42). The explanation of these words has occasioned considerable controversy. Many scholars hold (and this certainly seems the most natural interpretation) that consecrated bread was taken from the Eucharist and given to the catechumens. Bingham, however, maintains that the reference is not to the consecrated bread, but to salt, which was given to them as a symbol “that they might learn to purge and cleanse their souls from sin.”
3. The Duration of the Training.—Various statements with regard to the duration of the catechumenical training are found in ecclesiastical authorities. The Apostolical Constitutions, for instance, fix it at three years; the synod of Elvira at two. The references in the Fathers, however, imply that for practical purposes it was limited to the forty days of Lent. Very probably, however, the forty days of actual instruction were preceded by a period of probation.
4. The Relation between the Catechumenate and Baptism.—Catechetical instruction was designed as a preliminary to baptism. There were two directions, however, in which this purpose was enlarged: (a) We have no reason to suppose that when infant baptism was introduced, those who had been baptized in infancy were excluded from the catechetical training, or that instruction was deemed unnecessary in their case, though as a matter of fact we have no definite reference to their admission. The custom of postponing baptism, which was very general in the 4th and 5th centuries, probably made such cases more rare than is generally supposed, and so accounts for the absence of any allusion to them in connexion with the catechumenate. (b) We have no reason to suppose that the instruction given in the famous catechetical schools of Alexandria and Carthage was restricted to candidates for baptism. There is no doubt that “catechetical” is used in a much wider sense when applied to the lectures of Origen than when used of the addresses of Cyril of Jerusalem. The “instruction” of Origen was given to all classes of Christians, and not merely to those who were in the initial stages.
5. Characteristics of the Catechumenical Training.—Besides instruction there were some other important features connected with the catechumenate. (a) The duty of confession was impressed on the candidates. (b) The ceremony of exorcism was often performed in order to free the catechumen from evil spirits. (c) At a certain point in the training the creed and the doctrine of the Sacraments were delivered to the candidates by the bishop with much impressive ceremonial. This teaching constituted the “holy secret” or “mystery” (disciplina arcani) of Christianity, and could only be imparted to those who were qualified to receive it. The acquisition of this arcanum was regarded as the most essential element in the catechetical discipline, and marked off its possessors from the rest of the world. There can be little doubt that this conception of the “Holy Secret” came into the Church originally from the Greek mysteries, and that much of the ceremonial connected with the catechumenate and baptism was derived from the same source.
Authorities.—Cyril, Catecheses; Gregory of Nyssa, Oratio Catechetica; Chrysostom, Catecheses ad illuminandos; Augustine, De rudibus Catechizandis; Mayer, Geschichte des Katechumenats ... in den ersten sechs Jahrhunderten (1868); S. Cheetham, The Mysteries, Pagan and Christian. (H. T. A.)
CATEGORY (Gr. κατηγορία, “accusation”), a term used both in ordinary language and, in philosophy with the general significance of “class” or “'group.” In popular language it is used for any large group of similar things, and still more generally as a mere synonym for the word “class.” The word was introduced into philosophy as technical term by Aristotle, who, however, several times used it in its original sense of “accusation.” 'He also used the verb κατηγορεῖν, to accuse, in the specific, logical sense, to predicate; τὸ κατηγορούμενον becomes the predicate; and κατηγορικὴ πρότασις may be translated as affirmative proposition. But though the word thus received a new signification from Aristotle, it is not on that account certain that the thing it was taken to signify was equally a novelty in philosophy. In fact we find in the records of Oriental, and early Greek thought something corresponding to the Aristotelian classification.
Our knowledge of Hindu philosophy, and of the relations in which it may have stood to Greek speculation, scarcely enables us to give decisive answers to various questions that naturally arise on observation of their many resemblances (see an article by Richard Garbe in Monist, iv. 176–193). Yet the Hindu philosophysimilarity between the two is so striking that, if not historically connected, they must at least be regarded as expressions of similar philosophic needs. The Hindu classification to which we specially refer is that of Kanada, who lays down six categories, or classes of existence, a seventh being generally added by the commentators. The term employed is Padārtha, meaning “signification of a word.” This is in entire harmony with the Aristotelian doctrine, the categories of which may with truth be described as significations of simple terms, τὰ κατὰ μηδεμίαν συηπλοκὴν λεγόμενα. The six categories of Kanada are Substance, Quality, Action, Genus, Individuality, and Concretion or Co-inherence. To these is added Non-Existence, Privation or Negation. Substance is the permanent substance in which Qualities exist. Action, belonging to or inhering in substances, is that which produces change, Genus belongs to substance, qualities and actions; there are higher and lower genera. Individuality, found only in substance, is that by which a thing is self-existent and marked off from others. Concretion or Co-inherence denotes inseparable or necessary connection, such as that between substance and quality. Under these six classes, γένη τοῦ ὄντος, Kanada then proceeds to range the facts of the universe.Within Greek philosophy itself there were foreshadowings of the Aristotelian doctrine, but nothing so important as to warrant the conclusion that Aristotle was directly influenced by it. Doubtless the One and Many, Being and Non-Being, of the Eleatic dialectic, with their subordinate oppositions, may be Greek philosophycalled categories, but they are not so in the Aristotelian sense, and have little or nothing in common with the later system. Their
- Apost. Constit. viii 2.
- Canon 42.
- For details of this and other Hindu systems see H. T. Colebrooke, Miscellaneous Essays (1837; new ed., E. B. Cowell, 1873); H. H. Wilson, Essays and Lectures on the Religions of the Hindus (1861–1862); Monier Williams, Indian Wisdom (4th ed., 1893); A. E. Gough’s Vaiseshika-Sutras (Benares, 1873), and Philosophy of the Upanishads (London, 1882, 1891); Max Müller, Sanskrit Literature, and particularly his appendix to Thomson’s Laws of Thought.