Thursday, February 22, 2007

Parental Love Shown in Catechisms

My last post mentioned catechisms, so I thought I would share a bit of this historical perspective with you.

In his work When Fathers Ruled: Family Life in Reformation Europe (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1983), historian Steven Ozment says, "Evidence of strong parental affection for children can also be gleaned from children's catechisms, especially those designed for use at home" (p. 170). He gives a couple examples of dialogues from the pen of Lutheran pastor and poet Erasmus Alberus which were written for his 3 1/2 year old daughter Gertrude. Here is one of them.

Alberus: Do you love Jesus?
Gertrude: Yes, father.
A: Who is the Lord Jesus?
G: God and Mary's son.
A: How is his dear Mother called?
G: Mary.
A: Why do you love Jesus? What has he done to make you love him?
G: He has shed his blood for me.
A: He has shed his blood for you?
G: Yes, father.
A: Could you be saved if he had not shed his blood for you?
G: Oh no!
A: What would then have happened?
G: We would all be damned.
A: We would all be damned?
G: Yes, father.
A: O Lord God, it would have been bad for us poor people, if the Lord had not shed his blood for us.
G: Had the child Jesus not been born, we would be lost altogether.
A: Do you thank the Lord Christ that he has shed his blood for you?
G: Yes, father.
A: How? Tell me, child.
G: I thank you, Lord Jesus Christ, that you have become my brother and saved me from all want through your holy death. I praise you eternally for your great goodness.

Would to God that we had fathers today who would take such an active and affectionate interest in their children's eternal well-being!

No comments: