What is the YOUCAT and how do I use it?
The YOUCAT is THE official Youth Catechism (YOUCAT) of the Catholic Church. Recommended by Pope Benedict XVI, the YOUCAT is a presentation of the Catholic faith written in a contemporary format suitable for young people. Although the YOUCAT is targeted specifically toward teens and young adults, I believe the YOUCAT can be used by anyone looking to for an introduction to Catholicism. It is also a great resource for parents, catechists, youth ministers, pastors or anyone else reaching out to young Catholics. In order to get the most out of using the YOUCAT, you need to understand how it is organized; but more importantly you need to use it! Heed the urging of the Holy Father:
So I invite you: Study this Catechism! That is my heartfelt desire. This Catechism was not written to please you. It will not make life easy for you, because it demands of you a new life. It places before you the Gospel message as the “pearl of great value” (Mt 13:46) for which you must give everything. So I beg you: Study this Catechism with passion and perseverance. Make a sacrifice of your time for it! Study it in the quite of your room; read it with a friend; form study groups and networks; share with each other on the internet. By all means continue to talk with each other about your faith.
Pope Benedict XVI
How the YOUCAT is organized
The YOUCAT is presented in a Question-and-Answer format. Each answer is followed by a number in parenthesis. These numbers correspond to the sections of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) that can be referred to for more in-depth treatment of the topic. A short commentary follows each answer and is intended to provide further understanding of the topic discussed and the impact of that topic on the reader’s life. The margins of the YOUCAT contain additional information to help the reader think more about the topic. These include quotes from sacred scripture, the saints, teachers of the faith and other non-religious authors; as well as definitions and cross references to other sections of the YOUCAT. These supplementary materials are highlighted by the following icons:
Finally, an index of subjects is included at the end of the book. Here you can find an alphabetical listing of topics discussed in the YOUCAT, along with the corresponding numbers of the questions that cover that particular topic. Numbers listed in bold refer to the question where that topic is primarily addressed, and the other numbers indicate further discussion of the topic.
How to Use the YOUCAT
There are probably dozens of ways to use the YOUCAT, but I would suggest the following:
Get to know the YOUCAT. Look through the table of table of contents to see what topics are covered and where you can find them. Then, skim through the entire YOUCAT. Take time to stop and read whatever grabs your attention. Read through the entire YOUCAT one time quickly.
Go back and study each section. Once you are familiar with the YOUCAT, go back to the beginning and start studying each section. There are 527 questions, or topics, spanning 287 pages in the YOUCAT. You can go through them as quickly or slowly as you like depending on how in-depth you go into each topic.
Read and reflect. I would encourage you to take the time to refer to the sections in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, read the passages of scripture and the quotes provided and then reflect on how all of it ties together and what it means to you and your life.
Keep a journal. After you’ve reflected on the material, jot down the points that stuck out or make some notes on your personal reflections. You can make it as detailed as you like. You can draw pictures if you enjoy expressing your creative side. You can create a blog, as I have, to share your thoughts with others or just to keep an electronic journal.
Connect and share! Get connected with others interested in sharing the faith and start discussion groups or small group studies. Connect in person if you can, but connect through social media if you can’t. Use this network to help you live out the faith actively. Share your faith with Twitter or on Facebook. No matter how you choose to connect and share, recall the words of Pope Benedict XVI “By all means continue to talk with each other about your faith.”
Links to Helpful resources
The Catechism of the Catholic Church – electronic version on the Vatican website.
The New American Bible – electronic version on the Vatican website.
Newman Connection – Exploring YOUCAT – Exploring YOUCAT is a free course from the Newman Connection. Fr. John Sims Baker of Vanderbilt, Fr. Tony Stephens of the Fathers of Mercy, and Fr. Jim Kelleher will all three guide you through the inner workings of the YOUCAT expanding upon and preaching upon some of the most important questions and topics posed.
YOUCAT.org – interactive website where you can connect and share with others
YOUCAT.us – Ignatius Press website for the YOUCAT