The Large Catechism
A Christian, Profitable, and Necessary Preface and Faithful, Earnest Exhortation
of Dr. Martin Luther to All Christians, but Especially to All Pastors and Preachers,
that They Should Daily Exercise Themselves in the Catechism, which is a Short
Summary and Epitome of the Entire Holy Scriptures, and that they May Always
Teach the Same.
We have no slight reasons for treating the Catechism so constantly [in Sermons]
and for both desiring and beseeching others to teach it, since we see to our
sorrow that many pastors and preachers are very negligent in this, and slight
both their office and this teaching; some from great and high art [giving their
mind, as they imagine, to much higher matters], but others from sheer laziness
and care for their paunches, assuming no other relation to this business than if
they were pastors and preachers for their bellies' sake, and had nothing to do but
to [spend and] consume their emoluments as long as they live, as they have
been accustomed to do under the Papacy.
And although they have now everything that they are to preach and teach placed
before them so abundantly, clearly, and easily, in so many [excellent and] helpful
books, and the true Sermones per se loquentes, Dormi secure, Paratos et
Thesauros, as they were called in former times; yet they are not so godly and
honest as to buy these books, or even when they have them, to look at them or
read them. Alas! they are altogether shameful gluttons and servants of their own
bellies who ought to be more properly swineherds and dog-tenders than care-
takers of souls and pastors.
And now that they are delivered from the unprofitable and burdensome babbling
of the Seven Canonical Hours, oh, that, instead thereof, they would only,
morning, noon, and evening, read a page or two in the Catechism, the Prayer-
book, the New Testament, or elsewhere in the Bible, and pray the Lord's Prayer
for themselves and their parishioners, so that they might render, in return, honor
and thanks to the Gospel, by which they have been delivered from burdens and
troubles so manifold, and might feel a little shame because like pigs and dogs
they retain no more of the Gospel than such a lazy, pernicious, shameful, carnal
liberty! For, alas! as it is, the common people regard the Gospel altogether too
lightly, and we accomplish nothing extraordinary even though we use all
diligence. What, then, will be achieved if we shall be negligent and lazy as we
were under the Papacy?
To this there is added the shameful vice and secret infection of security and
satiety, that is, that many regard the Catechism as a poor, mean teaching, which
they can read through at one time, and then immediately know it, throw the book
into a corner, and be ashamed, as it were, to read in it again.