Originating from the Latin meaning one entering the Church, catechumen has been a part of the Roman Catholic Church for more than two thousand years. Recently the term catechism, which comes from the Latin meaning to teach by word of mouth, has somewhat replaced the use of catechumen in the Roman Catholic Church.
Catechism originated in Europe during the time of the Protestant Reformation, when those who the Church considered to be heretics started to preach and teach Christian creeds that were their own. The Christian creeds of the heretics were known as catechisms, and were done in question and answer format. Today, there is the Catholic catechism that teaches many Roman Catholics the beliefs of the Church.
During the time of the 1500s and 1600s when the Roman Catholic Church developed quite a few reforms to counteract those of the Protestant Reformation, the Catholic catechism originated. Due to the fact the Protestants were using their catechisms to teach their beliefs to their children and other protestant, the Roman Catholic Church need a way in which to slow the spread of Protestantism, and so the Catholic catechism was born.
At the Council of Trent (1540s 1560s) Church leaders decided that the Roman Catholic Church needs to have their own set of catechisms to use to spread the beliefs of the Church. In 1566 during the height of the threat that Protestantism had on the Church, the first Catholic catechism was published for parish priests in order to help them keep order in their various parishes.
The purpose of the Catholic catechism is to teach persons about the various teachings and doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church, and to act as a guide to those persons new to the Catholic Church during the time that they learning about the Catholic faith. The essentials of the Catholic catechism are divided into four sections, these are the: guide to prayer, importance of Jesus, mystery of the Eucharist and the basic beliefs or creeds.
The Catholic catechism was developed especially for clergy men and other individuals who taught RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation) courses to those new to the Catholic faith. However, anyone who has an interest in the teachings of the Catholic Church has access to the Catholic catechism.
Anyone who reads the Catholic catechism will find that reading it is quite easy. The catechism is divided into various sections in its table of contents. The various sections are numbered throughout each chapter, and at the end of each chapter there is a summary highlighting the key points. Additionally, if you need to search for specific terms, you can make use of the detailed index.