1 This sermon has been undertaken for the instruction of children and uneducated people. Hence from ancient times it has been called in Greek, a “catechism” — that is, instruction for children. 2 Its contents represent the minimum of knowledge required of a Christian. Whoever does not possess it should not be reckoned among Christians nor admitted to a sacrament,2 just as a craftsman who does not know the rules and practices of his craft is rejected and considered incompetent. 3 For this reason young people should be thoroughly instructed in the various parts of the Catechism or children’s sermons and diligently drilled in their practice.
4 Therefore, it is the duty of every head of a household to examine his children and servants at least once a week and ascertain what they have learned of it, and if they do not know it, to keep them faithfully at it. 5 I well remember the time when there were old people who were so ignorant that they knew nothing of these things — indeed, even now we find them daily — yet they come to Baptism and the Sacrament of the Altar and exercise all the rights of Christians, although those who come to the sacrament ought to know more and have a fuller understanding of all Christian doctrine than children and beginners at school. 6 As for the common people, however, we should be satisfied if they learned the three parts which have been heritage of Christendom from ancient times, though they were rarely taught and treated correctly, so that all who wish to be Christians in fact as well as in name, both young and old, may be well-trained in them and familiar with them. (Shorter Preface of Large Catechism -Tappert, p. 362).