I received a review copy of the YOUCAT and was so enamored with it that I found myself using it--and talking my co-catechist into using it, too!--for our Confirmation boot camp this summer. In fact, I approached our pastor and we ordered enough that the Confirmation class was able to each have a copy to use. (Next year, I'm hoping to be able to get copies for all the kids to keep.)

Instead of using the unexciting and very blah textbook for my PSR class, I'm using the YOUCAT, the Bible, and the Catechism. I put my first couple of lessons together by referencing the textbook to make sure I was getting all the information, but just recently, I stopped using the textbook altogether (we have a list of topics being covered each week anyway, and they're based on the Catechism and not the textbook chapters).

It’s worth purchasing for Pope Benedict’s introduction. I read a paragraph of it out loud twice, on two different days, to our Confirmation kids.

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. [emphasis mine]

As a resource to help young people (and us “older than young” people too!) know their faith, the YOUCAT opens a door. There have been some objections to the YOUCAT, and I've read some of them. Even so, I firmly believe there is a place for the YOUCAT, and I will continue to use it. I'll be in line to purchase the second edition when that’s ready.

Here's why I have been telling everyone that the YOUCAT is something that should be in every Catholic home and why I'm using it so extensively in my own catechetical endeavors:

1. The language is easy to understand.

Most people are intimidated by the thick green Catechism. Honestly, I was, too, until recently. It just looks...HUGE, for one thing, and imposing, for another. It's filled with footnotes and sometimes it's just a lot to take in.

The YOUCAT taps into some of the difficult language, because hey, we're Catholic and we use words like "catechesis" and "sacrament" as a matter of course. But it includes definitions in the margins and

2. The content is thorough, cross-referenced, and easy to use, and the design is catchy.

When you have it side-by-side with a copy of the Catechism, you see how they fit together. The YOUCAT taps into the Catechism and includes references.

Within moments of holding it in their hands, every kid who I've seen with the YOUCAT in hand has figured out that the little stick figure on the bottom is a little page-flipping movie-thing. It's the size of a paperback book and makes use of the space well--lots of white space, photographs, and colored highlights.

3. The Q&A format makes it easy to use and leads, naturally, to discussion.

Maybe this is why the people I know who prefer the Baltimore Catechism for religious education like the YOUCAT. Maybe it's why I find it so easy to use for my 5th grade PSR class.

Have you used the YOUCAT? What are your thoughts about it?

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