Notes on Catechesis
"thou hast professed a good
profession before many witnesses." – First Epistle of
"The answer of a good conscience toward God" – The First Epistle of St. Peter
The Catechesis takes place in the Narthex of the Church where the instruction of catechumens once took place. As baptism is a rite of entry into the Church, these opening prayers are done at the back of the church building, as part of entrance into the church.
The person(s) who desire illumination and the sponsors stand at the entrance to the church, facing East.
Parts of the Catechesis:
1. Triple Breathing and Triple Signing (priest removes all but the single garment)
2. Prayer for the Making of a Catechumen (with laying on of hands)
3. Prayers of Exorcism
4. Renunciation and Condemnation of the Enemy
5. Interrogation and the Acceptance and Profession of Faith in Christ (with recitation of the Creed)
6. The Call to Holy Baptism (Prayer for the Professed Catechumens)
The Exorcism Prayers: The priest calls upon the Holy Spirit to expel Satan and all his angels
from the presence of the candidate for baptism. He prays that the spirits of evil may not lay hold
of him/her by temptation or any other torment. The priest blows on the candidate cross-wise
three times to symbolize the power of the Holy Spirit—the Hebrew and Greek words for
“spirit” also mean “breath.”
The Renunciation of Satan: The candidate and sponsors turn to face the west, the back of the
church. West is symbolic of darkness, since the sun sets the west. Through this movement the
devil, the “lord of darkness”, is confronted and rejected, along with “and all his works, all his
worship, all his angels, and all his pomp.”
The Acceptance of Christ: Turning back to face the east, symbolising the Light of Christ, the
candidate and sponsors accept Jesus “as King and as God.” They seal this acceptance by repeating the words of the Creed, which outlines the Church’s basic beliefs about God,
Church, and salvation.
Tertullian: "When we are going to enter the water, but a little before, in the presence of the congregation and under the hand of the president, we solemnly profess that we disown the devil, and his pomp, and his angels"
Canons of Hippolytus: the catechumen turns to the West (symbolically the region of darkness) and repeats: "I renounce thee, Satan, with all thy pomp."
St. Cyril of
The Apostolic Constitutions: “I renounce Satan, and his works, and his pomps, and his worships, and his angels, and his inventions, and all things that are under him.”
St. Gregory Nazianzen: “Breathe and spit upon him”
Once a person becomes a catechumen, he should begin to incorporate the various aspects of Holy Tradition into his everyday life. He should begin to attend both Vespers and Divine Liturgy every
weekend. This is also the time to establish a routine of prayer and fasting. We should begin to thank God for His bounty to us at each meal. We should set up an Icon Corner and maintain a