The YouCat is the short title for the Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church. This is a summary of the Christian faith for anyone who wants to learn more about what Catholics believe. It is not just for young people but for anyone who wants to explore the Christian faith.
The YouCat is incredibly accessible and easy to read, but full of depth and wisdom. It is in a question and answer format, e.g. “Why did God create us?” or “What is baptism?” There is a straightforward answer to each question in bold, followed by a longer more reflective answer. There are inspiring questions in the margins. There are thought-provoking images and a helpful index. If you want to go deeper in any area there are also references to the longer Catechism of the Catholic Church.
The YouCat is in four sections. These sections cover: (1) What Christians believe, based around the Creed; (2) How they worship God, especially through the seven sacraments; (3) Living the Christian life, including the moral teaching of the Bible and the Church; and (4) Prayer and the Spiritual Life.
How to get your copy. The text of the YouCat is not available online. It’s best if you can buy a hard copy of this book for your own private study. The full title is the YouCat: Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church (there are various editions in various languages). Or your Sycamore leaders may provide copies for each member of the group.
Order an English edition of the YouCat here – from the Catholic Truth Society.
Each Sycamore session has a short set of readings from the YouCat that follow the same theme. For example, Sycamore Session 4 (“Who is Jesus?”) points you to paragraphs #86 to #112 in the YouCat which are about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Please remember that the numbers (#) refer to paragraph numbers in the YouCat and not to page numbers. And the number in square brackets, for example [7 pages], refers to roughly how long this passage is in terms of the pages you need to read (excluding picture pages).
We recommend that you commit to 45 minutes of reading and preparation each week. The sessions will not work if you have not done the reading and prepared for the discussion. We know from experience that people enjoy the reading when they are able to set aside a little time each week, and the group discussion then becomes much more interesting. But if people just rush the reading at the last minute, or have not managed to do the reading, then the discussion time can be a bit awkward.
It’s best if use the YouCat as a text book and write your own notes onto it. Don’t be shy of marking your own copy (even if you normally dislike writing on books): this is a working book and not an object to be polished and admired from afar. It should look used by the end of the course!
As you read and reflect, you can mark your text as you go along. This is our advice:
This forces you to engage with the text, and to make it more personal. It helps you to remember things. And it also means that the discussion the next week goes much better, because you are ready to talk about things and share ideas, even if you read the text a few days before. If your group leader says “What did you find interesting?” you can quickly look through the exclamation marks you made. If they say “What questions do you have?” you can refer back to the question marks in your book. It’s just a fact for most people, that when we make notes and mark what we read then we get more involved and remember more.
Some people will be uneasy about putting question marks (for fear of looking ignorant) or crosses (for fear of seeming arrogant or argumentative); but the only way to have an honest discussion in the Sycamore session if people are being honest about their questions and concerns. In this way the group can grow together in trust and grow in faith.
The teaching of the YouCat itself is always a reference point, and the references in the YouCat to the larger Catechism of the Catholic Church (in square brackets at the end of each bold paragraph) allow you to go deeper if you want.