October 28, 2020

Conditions Ripe for Catechesis

The Lord's Prayer (2), Cranach

By Chaplain Mike

In the preface to Martin Luther’s Small Catechism, the Reformer describes the conditions of Biblical and theological understanding among the people of his day.

Martin Luther, to all faithful and godly pastors and preachers: grace, mercy, and peace be yours in Jesus Christ, our Lord.

The deplorable, miserable conditions which I recently observed when visiting the parishes have constrained and pressed me to put this catechism of Christian doctrine into this brief, plain, and simple form. How pitiable, so help me God, were the things I saw: the common man, especially in the villages, knows practically nothing of Christian doctrine, and many of the pastors are almost entirely incompetent and unable to teach. Yet all the people are supposed to be Christians, have been baptized, and receive the Holy Sacrament even though they do not know the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, or the Ten Commandments and live like poor animals of the barnyard and pigpen. What these people have mastered, however, is the fine art of tearing all Christian liberty to shreds.

…Therefore dear brothers, for God’s sake I beg all of you who are pastors and preachers to devote yourselves sincerely to the duties of your office, that you feel compassion for the people entrusted to your care, and that you help us accordingly to inculcate this catechism in the people, especially the young. If you cannot do more, at least take the tables and charts for catechism instruction and drill the people in them word for word…

Luther was appalled at these spiritual conditions among the common folks who lived in the towns and villages of Germany. Even worse, he found that their pastors and church leaders had forsaken their primary responsibilities of teaching, pastoral care, and discipleship that would ground people in God’s Word and equip them to pray and fulfill their vocations as Christians in the world. Adding to the problem, there were almost no resources to aid in this work.

Out of these deplorable circumstances arose a renewed ministry of catechesis that undergirded and sustained the Protestant Reformation.

Parent Teaching His Child the Commandments, Wright

It was because of such conditions that Martin Luther was led to write his catechisms. Designed for use in the churches and in homes, he urged pastors in particular to use them in the following way:

  • Choose one form of the Ten Commandments, Creed, and Lord’s Prayer, and have people learn them by heart.
  • After they have memorized the texts, take time to teach through them point by point, using whatever methods that will help; but maintain consistency.
  • After they have mastered the Small Catechism, take up teaching the Large Catechism, to give a broader and deeper understanding of these texts. Be sensitive to the situations you are addressing, and give emphasis to those teachings that apply most pertinently to the circumstances of the people.
  • Finally, in the light of the fact that many were neglecting the Sacrament because of the Roman Catholic abuses they had left behind, teach people the benefits of going regularly to the Lord’s Table.

Luther concludes with this appeal:

So look to it, you pastors and preachers. Our ministry today is something else than it was under the pope. It has become a serious and saving responsibility. Consequently it now involves much more trouble and labor, danger and trial, and in addition it brings you little of the world’s gratitude and rewards. But Christ Himself will be our reward if we labor faithfully. The Father of all grace help us to do just that. To Him be praise and thanks forever through Christ our Lord. Amen.

According to Roland H. Bainton’s classic biography, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther, the Small Catechism was an innovation in its day, in that it was intended for teaching the young in both church and home. Before this time, with few exceptions, catechisms had been for adults. At first, the busy reformer sought to delegate this work to others, but the results were unsatisfactory, so in 1529, he himself produced the Large and Small Catechisms. The Large Catechism was more extensive and included more polemic against the religious abuses of his day. The Small Catechism is, on the other hand, free of disputation, and represents what Bainton calls, “an inimitable affirmation of faith.” Luther himself said it was one of a few of his works that he hoped would remain even though all the rest perish.

I love Luther’s confession of his own need for the simple practice of contemplation and prayer the Small Catechism enables him to maintain:

Do not think the catechism is a little thing to be read hastily and cast aside. Although I am a doctor, I have to do just as a child and say word for word every morning and whenever I have time the Lord’s Prayer and the Ten Commandments, the Creed and the Psalms. I have to do it every day, and yet I cannot stand as I would. But these smart folk in one reading want to be doctors of doctors. Therefore I beg these wise saints to be persuaded that they are not such great doctors as they think. To be occupied with God’s Word helps against the world, the flesh, and the Devil, and all bad thoughts. This is the true holy water with which to exorcise the Devil. (Bainton, 264)

What of our own day? Are conditions today ripe for a renewal of catechesis?

In the Jan/Feb, 2010 edition of Modern Reformation magazine, David R. Nienhuis’s article, “The Problem of Evangelical Biblical Illiteracy: A View from the Classroom” decries the fact that today, even with the vast cache of resources available to Christians in America, there is a “widespread recognition that the Bible continues to hold pride of place as ‘America’s favorite unopened text’ (to borrow David Gibson’s wonderful phrase), even among many Christians.”

Great Commission, Eck

Nienhuis, associate professor of New Testament Studies at Seattle Pacific University, lays the blame on several factors, current and historic, such as:

  • The fact that, in general, people are reading and studying less in today’s culture.
  • The various shifts in historic American evangelicalism, which moved the church from doctrine to experience, from theology to morality, from catechesis to consumer-driven church growth models.

But Nienhuis also dares to say something that I have heard few state in the clear way he does. He is concerned about the actual models of biblical instruction that we practice in evangelical Christian education.

This is part of what I find troubling about what appears to be the dominant model of biblical literacy employed among evangelicals in their attempts to raise children of faith. This approach emphasizes the memorization of discrete Bible verses and “facts,” mostly in the service of evangelism and apologetics. By mastery of passages that are deemed doctrinally relevant and emotionally empowering, it is hoped that believing youth will be equipped to own their faith, share it with seekers, and defend it against detractors. Most of the students in my classes who consider themselves “familiar with the Bible” have been trained to approach Scripture in this fashion.

Before I go on, let me be clear that I have a deep respect for the venerable and immensely valuable tradition of memorizing Scripture. Indeed, it is a central component in learning the language of faith. The deliberate, disciplined, prayerful repetition of those texts the church has come to especially value has long been a strategy for inscribing the Word of God directly on the heart and mind of the believer (Jer. 31:31-34). My comments thus far, however, should make it plain that I do not see how a person trained to quote texts out of context can truly be called biblically literate.

Professor Nienhuis goes on to describe how this way of approaching the Bible does not teach people to read the Bible as it is written. Instead, people learn to treat the Scriptures as a “grab-bag” of texts which ultimately serve to reaffirm one’s previous commitments, rather than taking one more deeply into the depths of the Biblical story and challenging our presuppositions at fundamental levels. This approach also leads to an uncritical, out of context, a-historical attachment to the Scriptures that leads people to assume that simply quoting a bare text provides answers to profound questions.

The article ends with this hope, much in line with Luther’s goal in creating the catechisms nearly 500 years ago:

We want to create a community ethos of habitual, orderly, communal ingestion of the revelatory text. We do so in the hope that the Spirit of God will transform readers into hearers who know what it is to abide before the mirror of the Word long enough to become enscripturated doers; that is, people of faith who are adept at interpreting their individual stories and those of their culture through the grand story of God as it is made known in the Bible.


  1. Isaac (the poster formerly known as Obed) says

    The deplorable conditions Luther found weren’t limited to Germany. In England, the priests themselves were so poorly catechized at the time of the English Reformation, that Abp. Cranmer and his crew had to write two books of homilies that were to be read to the congregation in lieu of a sermon proper. I.e. most of the priests could not even be trusted to give a solid sermon!

    Now, to bring it home, I’d say that at least 75% of the preachers I’ve heard in the last 10 or so years should be issued a book of homilies until they can prove that they’ve stepped up their game a bit.

    As far as biblical literacy goes, what say ye about lectionaries or other systematic reading plans? Will pushing these kinds of things help fix the problem?

    Along similar lines, at a workshop one of our bishops gave recently, it was mentioned that the pre-medieval “curriculum” of celtic seminaries primarily consisted of making the seminarians memorize the psalms and hand-write their own copy of the bible. Simple, and yet… I don’t think I’d want to do that!

    • Honeslty…thinking of some of the mega church pastors here in the US and the cult of personality that surrounds them..(Rick Warren, John MacArthur, Andy Stanley, etc..)..I can’t imagine them doing such a thing. Now a couple I can…I can see Greg Boyd, Francis Chan and either John Piper or Matt Chandler doing such a thing. Though I might have some issues with Piper’s approach….

    • Actually, we don’t really do the same thing. In our digitally dependent age, we don’t memorize catechisms or Scripture. We just pull up the full text on our iPhone after we butcher a paraphrase or two.

    • Technically Cranmer only edited one of the books of homilies; the other came along during Elizabeth’s reign. As for coming up with a new book of homilies, why not just update Cranmer’s? I worked on it for my undergrad thesis and found it a very rich and rewarding text, well worth rereading. And near as I can tell, Anglicans should still technically be using the two books of homilies as the 35th article (in the 39 articles) calls for them to be continued to be “read in Churches by the ministers diligently and distinctly, that they may be understanded by the people.” (The 11th article on Justification likewise points readers back to the Book of Homilies for a “more largely… expressed” articulation of the theology). That all said, they would need some significant revision to be at all understandable to a contemporary audience.

      • Isaac (the poster formerly known as Obed) says

        I’ve been chugging through the first one. It’s pretty good stuff. A project I’d like to work on personally would be to get it updated at least to the way KJV renders English. The edition I have has very archaic spellings (all the “u”s are “v”s and such).

  2. “Luther was appalled at these spiritual conditions among the common folks who lived in the towns and villages of Germany. Even worse, he found that their pastors and church leaders had forsaken their primary responsibilities of teaching, pastoral care, and discipleship that would ground people in God’s Word and equip them to pray and fulfill their vocations as Christians in the world.”

    LOL!!!!! Man I’d love to see this done at some of the mega churches that exist in this country. Some fo them do train to equip people in vocations…but only in a business franchise sense. Hence McDonalds…I mean McLean Bible. They train and put some people in different campuses…but its’ only for the purpose of the church worshipping itself.

    Okay…off to bed….

  3. Isaac,

    Maybe it is the circles I travel in, but I rarely hear poor sermons. Maybe because the preachers I hear typically all have M.Div.s or higher and have been trained in the basics of Greek, hermeneutics, etc.

    • Michael,

      There are plenty of folks with M.Div’s and Greek and Hebrew who preach horribly. Letters after one’s name are never an assurance of orthodoxy or good preaching.

    • Isaac (the poster formerly known as Obed) says

      Count yourself blessed, then, Michael! Many of the preachers I’ve heard in the last 10 years or so don’t even preach a coherent sermon. Their rabbit trails’ rabbit trails have rabbit trails! Things have gotten better since I moved into a denomination that requires more education. Sometimes I think the issue isn’t so much poor hermeneutics as much as it is poor homiletics. When I took my homiletics class for my Master’s I remember thinking that I hadn’t come across a single preacher that kept to the guidelines/rules we were taught.

      • David Cornwell says

        Homiletics was emphasized in my seminary. I tried to stick to what I learned in my preaching, although I’m sure at times did a poor job.

      • What constitutes “good” preaching isn’t always “coherent,” in my experience.

        • Isaac (the poster formerly known as Obed) says

          Preaching by its very nature is communication. If the communication is so poor that you really can’t tell what the preacher is on about, he hasn’t done his job.

    • Some of the worst sermons I’ve heard have come from Pastor’s w/ M.Div’s. The Imonk has a great essay on this called “Those Magnificent Young Men In Their Pastoring Machines”. Talks alot about today’s Seminaries teaching everything accept how to be a Pastor & give a sermon.
      some of the best & most honest sermons have heard came from the Lay people. “the Word coming from the Body” – This is one reason I’ve started to enjoy a community service w/ an ‘open’ pulpit (kind of Quaker style).

  4. Martin Luther: the pastor’s pastor.

    As for Professor Nienhuis, he really needs to consider the times. The early 16th century was at the very dawn of the transition between the written word and oral culture. Sure, his concerns are somewhat valid today, but not then.

    • Excuse me….should be *printed word.

    • Perhaps we need to consider that we are in the transition between the digital culture and the written word. Is this then a seminal moment to consider our approach to ministry?

      • I’m struggling to put this into words, but Chap Mike is absolutely on to something here: we are facing not just illiteracy , but an epistimology (sp?) shift. Not only is generation next learning in different ways, it seems they flat do not trust the old ones. Somebody needs to take a stand for the written word in a way that does not trash nano technology whole cloth. this will take some thought and wisdom.

        Maybe start with Neil Postman’s “Amusing Ourselves To Death”, and transfer his secular take on things into a package for the new catechesis. Faster, brighter, and more electronic is not necessarily better. Pastors, or course, will have to offer up their “Cool god” on some kind of altar, and stop trying to be the next Rob Bell. OK….now I’m ranting. Great post, Chap Mike.

      • That is a great thought Chaplain Mike. Love to hear more about what you think that might/should entail.

  5. I would LOVE to have had this kind of foundation- my Biblical knowledge has come through mostly reading it on my own, seeking out resources such as commentaries to use in my own personal devotional times. And I beg to differ with the use of Scripture that is mentioned in these past comments- I grew up and still attend an Evangelical church, and our scripture memorization is often based on a lesson where we have systematically gone through a Bible study of a passage of scripture: for example- as we went through Romans in our [youth group] Christian Education classes, we memorized key verses where fundamental tenants of our faith are held (Romans 8:1, Romans 10:9-10.

    That aside, I find it appalling how it is acceptable for us Christians to be Scripturally illiterate, but that Muslims and Jews spend summers abroad studying with respected teachers, memorizing and deepening their understanding of their own holy books.

    • The Seeker says

      Actually I lived in Saudi Arabia for eight years and there were people who memorized the entire Koran.

  6. Luther may well have been dismayed at the dearth of Christian knowledge found in German churches in his time, but I strongly suspect he would be equally dismayed to see the same problems in churches which bear his name today. And I level that criticism as a Lutheran myself. I’ve sat through too many Bible studies where the most basic biblical knowledge was a complete mystery to the attendees. For instance, when asked (in a passing manner) how many plagues had been visited upon Egypt, a group in excess of 20 people agreed that the answer was seven. I was aghast. And these are not new converts we’re talking about. Most of these people were well over 50 and had grown up in the church.

    I’m enjoying the recent posts on catechesis and am already thinking of ways we might revitalize the practice in my own church. Keep them coming!

    • I know one pastor who complained a few years ago that some of the *adults* in his Bible study had their knowledge more informed by Veggie Tale videos than by the Bible.

      • I remember teaching a class on Joshua in which there was much more recognition of the Veggie Tales version than actual knowledge of the Biblical story.

        • It was actually you I was talking about.

        • But if we speaking of not only a language shift, printed to digital, but also an epistimological (sp?) shift, wouldn’t Veggies Tales be a prime example of effective communication in the next generation. It’s largely a digital based narrative teaching that breaks up serious topics with comic relief (think of a light Mark Driscoll) . If Veggie Tales were more gospel centered than morality centered, you may be on to some killer children’s ed!

          “The Lord has given this land to us, no need to fuss, he knows what he’s doing. And He is gonna take care of us, if we will follow him.” – Jr. Asparagus in Josh and the Big Wall

          • I’m not convinced we should make the shift, Brendan. In my mind, it is not a matter of passing on information, but of providing teaching in a context that encourages reflection, contemplation, prayer, relational discussion, community, and movement toward maturity—one aspect of which is inner quiet and the capacity to listen to God and others.

            If the “next generation” is going to try to learn from the kinds of technological noise that Veggie Tales represents, heaven help us all.

            Like it our not, the medium is the message, and nothing can replace the Word written, read, spoken, prayed, contemplated.

          • Beautifully said, CM. The medium *IS* the message. It’s a point I often come to in discussing contemporary worship as well (though I understand that’s my extension of what you said, not yours necessarily).

          • The medium is the message – Marshall McLuhan (A Canadian I might add 🙂 )

  7. I like it when you share Luther’s writings, Chaplain Mike, as I did not grow up with these and I find what he writes to be very interesting.

    The Catholic Church hierarchy has done much through its history to bring distrust upon itself. Someone said (and it may have even been a fictional character) something to the effect that if the priests and bishops have not destroyed Christianity in all this time, then one person out to destroy Christianity will not be successful at destroying it either!

    I am a person who tends to “question authority” and I don’t like being told what to do and what to think, so some might wonder how I can be a Catholic, even though I am a marginal once at best. BUT, in spite of the fact that the Catholic Church is so organized in terms of what it says people are supposed to think and do, the truth is that there is more freedom within the Catholic Church in some respects than within some non-Catholic traditions. I think of the Pope writing about non-baptized babies and saying that we can trust God’s mercy in terms of how those babies are “handled” after death. I think of the writings of the Pope that say that there are truths to be found in all great world religions. I even think that if “pushed” to say one way or the other, the Pope would say that God can save anyone who is truly seeking to know, love and serve God even if they never heard of the person, Jesus the Christ. (Of course, it would still be Jesus who was doing the saving, whether the person fully realized that or not.) I can’t put words in the Pope’s mouth, but my reading of him would lead me to believe this. Nevertheless, the Catholic Church also teaches that God works through the Church to bring the love and grace of God to people.

    One area that I think Christians need to work on is that we are not to judge people who are outside the church. It is only fellow Christians that we need to confront when they are teaching wrongly or behaving in ways that are an offense to the loving teachings of Jesus. Erwin McManus had a nice online sermon I listened to about this very thing.

  8. Mike (the other chaplain) says

    Love Luther! Thanks for this post…..although I did not use his catechism directly, I was inspired by it to have my kids memorize the Lord’s Prayer, The Creed, Ten Commandments, et. al.

  9. “But these smart folk in one reading want to be doctors of doctors.”

    There is some program available — I can’t remember its name or affiliation — that allows you to get a doctorate in a matter of weeks. You pay the fee (a couple hundred dollars, if that), listen to a bunch of CD’s, and get a “diploma.” Several pastors in our area — including my former pastor — have done it and are now calling themselves “Dr. So-and-so”; it’s even on their church signs. It’s sickening to me both as the daughter of a minister and as a teacher Luther would be doing a half-gainer in his grave if he knew about that one.

  10. The last part of the catechism course for my confirmation students is the Small Catechism. I tell our adults, too – Go back and read the Small Catechism! It’s a masterpiece of theological writing that is not only succinct, but also very enjoyable reading. We have pocket size copies and hand them out!

  11. Poor doctrinal scholarship in Luther’s Germany. And in Cranmer’s England. And throughout nearly all of Europe in the early Middle Ages. And again today. It’s a persistent problem.

    Good doctrinal scholarship is only possible when the individual, and the leaders of each particular congregation, and the denomination itself are committed to Biblical and creedal knowledge. There are whole denominations that deny the worth of creeds, insisting they are right to do so because all truth is found in the Bible or in the sacraments. But their members are often ignorant or befuddled. Even in churches with excellent cathecisms, leaders sometimes gloss over them because the paritioners needn’t understand so long as the priest does. And even where the church and leaders have a lively appreciation of doctrine, some individuals will close their minds to them. It’s a hard thing to get all the necessary conditions together.

    For my part, I was sharpest in doctrine and Biblical scholarship while I was actively in ministry (overseas missions) myself, when I felt a strong sense of duty and obligation to serve others well. We also had a pretty good level Biblical appreciation, if not doctrine, at an evangelical church. That contemporary community church had nothing by way of creedal foundation, but it had two very good pastors and some good lay teachers, so it upheld a pretty high standard.

    I admire the Westminster Confession, and Calvin’s Institutes, and Luther’s treatises on Romans and on Free Will. There are things in the Catholic Catechism that perplex me, but I respect that, too.

  12. I guess I ignored Luther because of his comments on Judaism and science. I must look into his other techings.

  13. If I may jump into the discussion as an “evangelical fundamentalist. I was taught the catechism etc in my childhood. Luther’s disgust at what he observed was because he was assuming the people were Christians because they were baptized and “churched”. So was I. It was not until I truly heard the gospel and received Christ as my own that I began to hunger for the word. I came to Christ through reading the Scriptures which were mostly a mystery to me. But once Christ came to live in me I couldn’t get enough of them. I still can’t!! That was 38 years ago and I still love the word. I have taught women’s groups for a good part of those 38 years. I know you have discussed the issue of transformation but that is exactly what happened in my life. 2 Corinthians 5:17 is still in the book. It is the Holy Spirit who gives the hunger and He is the one who teaches us. It is His word to us. Religion may give us catechisms etc but the Lord gives us Life and a living, powerful word.

    • Adrienne, I had a similar spiritual awakening and subsequent experience, and was likewise tempted to dismiss my early experiences as mere religion. Upon more reflection in recent years, I have become convinced that God was with me all along, and that he used my early religious exposure and training in ways I am only beginning to appreciate.

      • I agree with you completely. I had a foundation supplied by my parents and church. I don’t take those lightly and as you say am thankful for them the older I get.

        • my Catholic upbringing was very much ‘training’ in religious tradition (positive sense) & the fundamentals of Christian thought+practice. it provided me with a reference point of what my small missional Catholic parish provided as far as a church family+identity. my parochial school (1st – 8th grades) may not have been the best academically, but it was consistent with the catechism time taught in each grade.

          my encounter with Jesus did not contain any reference to my Catholic religious experience. i stayed in the Catholic Church for ~6 months until prompted to leave it. now this is not a precendent for anyone other myself, but it could be similar to the OT law vs. the NT gospel message Jesus proclaimed. anyway, i think God met me where i was at & how He had made me. my journey as a newly ‘awakened’ disciple began then, October 1974…

  14. Steve Newell says

    This last fall, the men’s bible study at my church studied Luther’s Large Catechism on the Ten Commandments. While there are aspects of Luther’s writings we didn’t agree with (different culture and time), the overall impact really showed us how hard it is to completely obey each command. For example, we all agreed that the 8th Commandment is very difficult since we are always talking about other people when they are not around (Lutheran/Catholic numbering, 9th for everyone else).

    • “(Lutheran/Catholic numbering, 9th for everyone else).”

      There certainly are few things that we all do the same! We don’t even all say the Lord’s Prayer (Our Father) the same way. Even the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed are not said said exactly the same way by all Christians, but the actual beliefs within those creeds are accepted by MOST groups within Chrisianity, so at least we have that. Although, what they mean by what they say they believe can vary.

  15. I have enjoyed this post & largely agree. I have been working w/ my daughters to learn the Apostle’s Creed, they know the Lord’s Prayer b/c we end each service with it at church. I have been looking at Luther’s Small Catechism & it looks pretty good & will probably use it some when they get older.
    My worry is that we can focus too much on the facts of the Bible instead of teaching the narrative of the salvation of God’s people.
    Sunday Schools spend alot of time on stories with lots of facts, not always alot of sharing how much God loves us. I think helping Children understand the character of God is most important – God is Love.

  16. Posted this on the first catechesis post but it seems most have moved the discussion to the newer entries, so I’ll post again:
    This is great, thought-provoking topic. As a lifelong Southern Baptist, I have virtually no experience with catechesis. But I can see what a terrific tool it could be to ensure my three children are grounded…well as Packer says, “in the Gospel.” I found a generic website that listed the First Catechism and the Westminster Shorter Catechism and broke them into sections by grade level. Any general thoughts on using this as a tool to instruct children? (And in light of the current post, would Luther’s be better suited?)

    • The WC is more academic and particular to the Presbyterian stream coming out of the Reformation. As such, it has strong emphases on Calvinistic distinctives and practices like keeping the Sabbath. The earlier Reformation catechisms , like Luther’s, are more ecumenical. The Heidelberg Catechism is Reformed and not quite as dogmatic or academic as Westminster. They are all valuable in my opinion. Your convictions may lead you to one or another.

    • Third says:

      > Any general thoughts on using this as a tool to instruct children? <

      We read through the Westminster Confession little by little at dinner with our kids.

      If you start with the teaching, and then explain and comment on it from your own perspective, you can deal with any differences between the Confession and your own denomination. It is a great exercise in teaching your kids that other people sometimes have good reasons for doing things differently.

    • Matthäus says

      There are also a few specifically Baptist catechisms out there, including ones put together by Spurgeon and Broadus. Might take a look. Spurgeon’s is based at least in part on the Westminster Catechism.

  17. “This is part of what I find troubling about what appears to be the dominant model of biblical literacy employed among evangelicals in their attempts to raise children of faith. This approach emphasizes the memorization of discrete Bible verses and “facts,” mostly in the service of evangelism and apologetics. ”

    I think this is why Jesus taught in parables. When the legalists wanted to focous on the rule: “Love Your Neighbor.” Jesus focused on the practice, which is much more deep, and challenging. Unfortunately, when we as Christians focus on the “rule”, the short verse and the pithy one liner, we miss out on the broader application and what Jesus is really trying to tell us.

  18. David Cornwell says

    Susanna Wesley, the mother of John and Charles used a program like this to bring up her 19 children (9 died). As soon as the children could talk they were taught the Lord’s Prayer which they said morning and night. As they got older they added prayers for their parents, collects, and were taught a short catechism. Susanna’s father was a Presbyterian preacher, so this was probably the Westminster Shorter Catechism. They also started memorizing scripture passages.