Catechumens

Converts to Christianity being prepared for baptism. In the early church there was a very thorough preparation before entrance into the privileges of church membership. According to the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus, the catechumenate was in two parts: a preliminary (often long) training in doctrine and ethics, followed by an intensive spiritual preparation immediately before baptism at Easter. The latter included fasting, prayer, and exorcism. After the time of Constantine the Great, the number of converts was too great to continue this lengthy preparation. After a brief period of teaching, those approved by the church had special spiritual preparation during Lent; this included prayer, fasting, and exorcism, and learning the Creed. No catechumen could share in the Eucharist until after baptism. The more widespread infant baptism became, the less there was heard of the catechumenate. It was finally compressed into a brief rite to be performed at the church door before the baptism of an infant (see e.g., the Latin Sarum rite and the 1549 English Prayer Book).