Maria Dikareva, Specialist in Research and Methodology, St Philaret’s Institute (Moscow)
This article is devoted to identifying the basic requirements for future catechumens by taking the Transfiguration Brotherhood and the ancient church as examples, and using their sample experience to analyze conditions under which these requirements can be met. A comparison of ancient and modern traditions quickly identifies a core set of requirements which should be aspired to as normative, as well as revealing a dynamic of change in requirements over time. Minimum requirements for entry into the catechumenate generally include trust in God and the Church, faith in God as Creator and Father and a willingness to obey Jesus Christ, who was sent by Him, as the only true Teacher. In addition, the person should not currently be subject to the sins of murder/suicide (e. g. alcoholism, self-harm through the use of narcotics), idolatry (magic, esoteric teaching, healing, etc.), adultery or fornication, or should show the readiness to deal with his/her problem in the near term. He or she should also possess a sincere and selfless desire to become a Christian, i. e., to change his life in accordance with Christian doctrine. Over the course of catechetical history, however, requirements have changed, as have the external conditions of Christian life. Requirements for catechumens developed the most together with the development of catechesis and the practice of sponsorship in the 3rd century, and then disappeared in the 4th century, largely because of the impossibility of carrying out initial interviews with all those desirous of becoming catechumens. In terms of conditions for the restoration of early Christian norms for entering the catechumenate, we might point to the lengthened period for bearing witness and to the development of the practice of sponsorship, particularly in the experience of the Transfiguration Brotherhood. The novelty of this research lies in its analysis of modern practice within the Russian Orthodox Church (e. g., in the Transfiguration Brotherhood, which has existed since 1971).
Keywords: theology, catechetics, catechization, sponsorship, becoming a catechumen, Transfiguration Brotherhood, requirements for catechumens