Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Augustine and the Catechumenate

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Augustine and the Catechumenate

Article excerpt

HARMLESS, WILLIAM, S.J. Augustine and the Catechumenate. (Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press. 1995. Pp. x, 406. $34.95.)

A friend once discovered a volume of Augustine's sermons in translation. He assumed that, with a little adaptation, he could make use of them but he was soon disabused of such a thought. Here the author begins with a different agenda and a more sophisticated approach. The Rite for the Christian Initiation of Adults tells the pastor what to do but rarely advises him what to say, i.e., concerning curriculum and teaching styles. In the hope of gaining light from the patristic era about the latter as well as the former, Harmless selects Augustine as a test case. After a brief survey of earlier patristic catechetical practice, he begins with Augustine's own catechumenate in Milan. Unlike a Cyril of Jerusalem or an Ambrose, Augustine left us no clear-cut series of pre- or post-baptismal instructions.

From the many gaps in our knowledge, the author seeks to put together a coherent picture of Augustine's practice. For the evangelization phase, he analyzes On Catechizing the Simple. For the catechumenate proper, he studies a series of sermons which some scholars believe were delivered between December, 406, and the beginning of Lent, 407. …

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