On The Catechumenate

Ambrose Andreano

Ever since I became a catechumen in the Orthodox Church, I have reflected deeply on the nature of what it truly means to be a catechumen. A catechumen is someone who is being prepared to enter communion with the Church. At the end of this process, they are received and given the Eucharist. But is that really all there is to it?

There is a special part of the Divine Liturgy dedicated to the catechumens, where they all physically gather to be prayed over. During times without catechumens, there are no people in the center of the church during that part of the service, which may tempt us to believe there are no catechumens in the building. However, we deceive ourselves if we believed such a thing. Indeed, it would be a fearful thing if it were true of any parish.

The Lord came to me in my meditations one day. He spoke to my heart, saying:

“Unless you have the heart of a catechumen, you cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

At first glance one may interpret this to simply mean one must first become a catechumen (as merely a means to then enter the Church) in order to be saved. However, that is not what the Lord was telling me.

The heart of a catechumen is constantly seeking God. It is a heart that wants to learn more and more about Christ and how to worship Him. It is a heart that, like David expressed in Psalm 1, meditates on the law of the Lord day and night. It is a heart that desires to have a closed mouth and open ears, as St. James guides us. It is a heart that knows its place before God and before others. It is soft and easily molded for the glory of God. When one is received into the Church, one must never cease to be a catechumen (within the heart) just because one no longer goes up front for the prayer.

The kingdom of God receives only those who truly remain catechumens even after they begin to receive the Eucharist. May the Lord remember this catechumen in His kingdom.

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Mat 18:3)

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