These six Lectures on the Christian Sacraments were delivered in Jerusalem in the middle of the fourth century. They belong to a period of rapid transition for the Church. Less than forty years before, Christianity had been an illegal religion, the object of intense persecution. Now it was the favored religion of the state. Potential converts thronged the shining new basilicas, built through the beneficence of Constantine and his successors. Catechetical instruction was needed and it was provided by gifted preachers and teachers like St Cyril of Jerusalem.
The first of the lectures, the "procatechesis," is a hearty welcome to the candidates for baptism and introduces them to the periods of doctrinal instruction. The remaining five, the "mystagogical catechesis," are an exposition on the rites of Christian initiation--baptism, chrismation, and the Eucharist--for the newly baptized. A rich source of information on the history and worship of the fourth century, the lectures remain a source of instruction and inspiration. The present edition, with its scholarly introduction and Greek text as well as its eminently readable English translation, makes this remarkable text available to the specialist and non-specialist alike.
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