ANN MARIE MO| GUEST
What are your favorite comfort foods? On a chilly winter day, I crave a steaming bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup, paired with a hearty chunk of freshly baked bread. Comfort foods satisfy our bellies and warm us up from head to toe.
Just as our physical bodies require sustenance, our souls ache for comfort and nourishment too. Many people feed their souls with temporal things—possessions, relationships, and financial success. But these perishable gifts cannot impart lasting peace or satisfaction, for God has created our souls with a hunger that only he can satisfy. Jesus confirms this in his words: “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).
For Christian parents, it is a critical task to pass biblical truth on to our children, for them to know that true peace and satisfaction are rooted only in the Lord Jesus Christ and his atoning work on the cross. To teach our children the basics of our Christian faith, many excellent catechisms exist.
What Is a Catechism?
During the Reformation, many pastors wrote catechisms to provide a systematic method of teaching the Bible to God’s people. In the form of simple questions and answers, a catechism summarizes key biblical doctrines. Questions build incrementally on one another and provide a basic understanding of Christianity. But aren’t catechisms old-fashioned? Won’t children think catechizing is boring? Providentially, many engaging resources exist today to spark our children’s interest in catechisms and to introduce them to the richness of these works. For our children to know true biblical comfort in this fallen world, we must train them diligently from Scripture and catechisms provide an effective method of training.
The Heidelberg Catechism, written in 1563 by two pastors, is a compendium of biblical truth that is essentially a book of comfort. While the catechism covers the Gospel, the Apostles’ Creed, the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, and other biblical topics, it presents these subjects in the context of the catechism’s first question: “What is your only comfort in life and in death?”[i] This theme of comfort resonates throughout the catechism.
The English word comfort derives from the Latin word confortare, which means to strengthen greatly. The two Latin roots, con and fortis, literally mean with strength. So, the idea conveyed in biblical comfort is something far more profound than in comfort food. The comfort that God imparts from his eternal Word by the Holy Spirit strengthens his people to persevere and to grow in Christ through hardships….