About thirty years ago, Pope John Paul II tasked Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (who is now Pope Benedict XVI) to coordinate the world’s bishops in producing a book that would answer modern questions about the Catholic faith. In 1992, the Catechism of the Catholic was published, and it was published in every language to help make the faith more accessible. It offers a wonderful summary of what the Catholic Church believes and teaches – which is why I often quote it here in the different things I write or in the talks I am invited to share.
Then , in preparation for World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid, the Church published the Catechism in a new language: that of young people in a handy yellow book called YouCat (the youth Catechism of the Catholic Church.) Written on the same four pillars as the Catechism of the Catholic Church, found in Acts 2:42 – The teaching of the Apostles (Creed), the Breaking of the Bread (Sacraments), the communal (moral) life, and prayer, YouCat seeks to bring the insight of faith into the day to day life of Catholic young people. Pope Benedict wrote a beautiful introduction to YouCat, in which he spoke very clearly of what he wanted young people to do with YouCat:
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 quiet 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.
You need to know what you believe. You need to know your faith with that same precision with which an IT specialist knows the inner workings of a computer. You need to understand it like a good musician knows the piece he is playing. Yes, you need to be more deeply rooted in the faith than the generation of your parents so that you can engage the challenges and temptations of this time with strength and determination. You need God’s help if your faith is not going to dry up like a dewdrop in the sun, if you want to resist the blandishments of consumerism, if your love is not to drown in pornography, if you are not going to betray the weak and leave the vulnerable helpless.
A few years ago, I took advantage of this great resource and put together a series of posts going through the “Big Headings” from the index of YouCat for further reflection:
Section 1: What We Believe
- Why Are We able to believe?
- Man is Receptive to God
- God Approaches Us
- We Respond to God
- The Christian Profession of Faith
- I Believe in God the Father
- I Believe in Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God
- I Believe in the Holy Spirit
Section 2: How We Celebrate the Christian Mysteries (Sacraments/Liturgy)
- God Reacts (Responds) to Us In Sacred Signs
- God and the Sacred Liturgy
- How we Celebrate the Mysteries of Christ
- The Sacraments of Initiation
- The Sacraments of Healing
- The Sacraments of Communion and Mission
- Other Liturgical Celebrations
Section 3: How We are To Have Life in Christ (Moral Life)
- Why Are We Put on Earth, What We Are Supposed to Do, and how God’s Holy Spirit Helps Us to Do it…
- The Dignity of the Human Person
- Human Community Part 1 (Social Justice)
- Human Community Part 2 (Law & Grace)
- The Church
- The Ten Commandments
- The First Commandment: Worship God Alone
- The Second Commandment: Respect God’s Name
- The Third Commandment: The Lord’s Day
- The Fourth Commandment: Honor your Father and Mother
- The Fifth Commandment: You Shall Not Kill
- The Sixth Commandment: You Shall Not Commit Adultery
- The Seventh Commandment: Don’t Steal
- The Eighth Commandment: On Lying
- The Ninth Commandment: On Lust
- The Tenth Commandment: On Envy