Top Five Reasons to Use Your “YOUCAT”

UPDATE TO ALL: I understand that there are issues with the YOUCAT. (1) It is not the actual Catechism nor should it be treated as such. (2) Some of the ambiguities can stimulate conversation and some of which are just in the Italian translation. (3) In an age where millions of young Catholics are terribly under-Catechized (many nominal at best), I don’t see how this resource will be damaging if it inspires many to engage their faith for the first time. The books are being handed out whether we want them to or not. Instead of bringing a scandal that is unnecessary, let’s in the words of Blessed JPII say, “Be Not Afraid!”

If you are reading this, maybe you just received your YOUCAT at World Youth Day in Madrid. Maybe you are not in Madrid (sigh), but already have one (like me–sigh again). Likely, you are someone who may have heard about the YOUCAT but don’t have one yet. once you get one, why should you use it?

#1- Because Papa Says So

When your daddy tells you to do something, you probably ought to do it. Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI commissioned this project in an effort to unlock the kingdom of God for generations that have been told there is no hope. As the one who holds those keys of the kingdom received from St. Peter through his successors in the Petrine office, the Pope reminded us that “in hope we are saved”, even that our faith is grounded in a certain and confident hope (Spe Salvi). The YOUCAT is your opportunity to study your faith, so that your faith may not fail you (Lk 22:32).

"Read your YOUCAT"

#2- Because It’s 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.”-PBXVI foreword to the

Its time that when people ask us questions about our faith, we don’t act like a regular tracked students who got shoved into an AP class on accident (Huh?). The beauty of the Catholic faith is that it is simple. The enemy doesn’t want us to know it, so he spreads the evil rumor that Catholicism is like learning origami without hands. Sure the Church has the advantage of 2,000 years of thinking about stuff. Yet it is precisely in her simple, coherent and authoritative (Matt 7:29) teaching that she separates herself from all other teachers, and confounds the wise (1 Cor 1:27).


The Catholic faith has been, is and will always  be about an encounter with the person of Jesus Christ (PBXVI, Deus Caritas Est). We encounter the Risen Christ in the Sacraments of His Church, especially the Eucharist, precisely because we are humans and not angels. We touch, we taste, we smell, hear and see that God is good and his mercy endures forever (Ps 34:8). Learning your faith–with tools like the YOUCAT–empowers you to “know in him you have believed” (2 Tim 1:12).

#3- Because We Got One

The YOUCAT is not the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It’s aredacted, representation of the teachings of the  Church (CCC) in a format conducive to our image driven, too-little-time-for-much culture. Some religions don’t know what they believe. Some pretend they don’t believe anything. As Catholics, our Church is led by the Holy Spirit to infallibly proclaim the Truth (Magisterium). As such, we–as church–are people who believe.

Using the YOUCAT makes a lot of sense. If you had a debit card with a million dollars in an account, you would use it. YOUCAT=Ditto.

#4- Because Your Friends Deserve It

Friends don’t let friends drive drunk. Heck, friends don’t let friends get drunk. Great friends will not only keep you out of trouble but will place you on the path to life. As young Catholics, our friendships must include a dynamic engagement of our faith. Faith should not be compartmentalized but should pervade every area of our lives. Knowing your faith is a service to your friends–a service to heaven.

#5- The Truth is the Truth

Remember, the YOUCAT is not the Catechism of the Church. it’s kind of like an official sermon meant for young Catholics.  An über faithful sermon.

Some criticize the YOUCAT‘s copious quotations from non-Catholics, but I like them. St. Paul was always apt at redeeming truth wherever he found it, and in a world where the Church has been painted as outmoded and irrelevant, the YOUCAT does a good job of putting the Church right back into the heart of the cultural conversation. I cannot see how it hurts that a catholic might, in the course of sharing his or her faith, make a reference to a more popularly known figure (there are a ton of saint quotes too). In fact, that is precisely the kind of evangelism we need to foster amongst young Catholics who find themselves living everyday in a more and more secular world.

For a full review written by another contributor for this site, Brandon Vogt, check it out here.

You can buy the YOUCAT here.

Like what I had to say? Hate it? Check me out at my blog where I discuss why I’m Catholic and other things about that @

Tapas for World Youth Day

Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith” (cf. Col 2:7)
Happy World Youth Day! Jesus Christ is risen and He asks us to share His message of Love with everyone we can.

Right now, more than a million people (youth in age and at heart) have descended on the Spanish city of Madrid in various assorted Catholic t-shirts, carrying countless rosaries, and meeting new people who join in the Hail Mary with funny accents.

Ignitum’s very own Trista, Fabi, and Marc are over in Madrid celebrating World Youth Day among the funny accents and I’m sure you wait in anticipation for their stories! While we sit here in America, let us not twiddle our thumbs. Let’s have a stay-cation World Youth Day!

The quote at the top of this post is the 2011 WYD theme. To get ourselves in the Madrid mindset, repeat after me:

“Arraigados y edificados en Cristo, firmes en la fe.”

It was the double “r” that gave you trouble, wasn’t it? Next, redeem yourself by engaging in another Spanish culture characteristic: time for tapas!

There is no better meal than the Last Supper, or a papal Mass in Madrid as a close honorable mention, but we are setting the stage for our stay-cation World Youth Day. This requires good, Spanish food.

If you’re skilled in the kitchen, attempt some barbecued mini ribscevichefoie toast with jamon Ibéricofried black pudding (Morcilla Frita)shrimp fritters (Tortillitas de camarones), and spicy sausage and cheese tortillas. For those who cannot or do not want to set off another smoke alarm, find a Spanish restaurant and indulge in the salty, cheesy delicious finger foods.

Now that we understand the menu, we need to create the Madrid atmosphere. Invite your closest one million friends to join you at the Spanish restaurant, or at your home, and pray together.

Perhaps that number makes you uncomfortable and you’d rather invite five or six. Either way, make an effort to band together with youth, especially if that includes people whom you have never met.

This is the Catholic Super Bowl party; get rowdy with praise for Christ, people, it’s time for the Popemobile!

Instead of endzones and defensive plays, we have EWTN and blogs:

Once your one million (or half a dozen) buds are gathered, armed with tapas on paper plates and standing around the computer monitor, open the meal with a blessing for our brothers and sisters in Madrid, for the Pope that his words might inspire those in Spain who are sacrificing sleep and good hygiene to be on the ground at World Youth Day, and that this week sparks a refreshed spirit among the World’s Catholic youth.

“Over the years, I have often repeated the summons to the new evangelization. I do so again now, especially in order to insist that we must rekindle in ourselves the impetus of the beginnings and allow ourselves to be filled with the ardour of the apostolic preaching which followed Pentecost. We must revive in ourselves the burning conviction of Paul, who cried out: “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel” (1 Cor 9:16).”

-Bl. Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Letter, NOVO MILLENNIO INEUNTE

All of the Spanish calories in the world are nothing if we don’t allow Christ to reenergize our faith life so that we might share it with others. We are “planted and built up in Jesus Christ” and we must make the effort to be “firm in the faith” (cf. Col 2:7).

Spes et Mutatio

My darling husband, making a move on the Pontiff's Ring

Some of our contributors are off in the wilds of Spain this week, taking part in World Youth Day.  We heard from Trista on Monday, and Marc is posting (with video) all through the week at Bad Catholic.  It’s great fun, as a stay-at-home-pilgrim, to watch the joy and excitement of those lucky young people who have gone to be with the Pope during this great event.

I had personal friends who attended World Youth Day in Toronto way back in 2002, and then I was in college when Cologne, Germany, hosted Benedict XVI on not only his first World Youth Day, but his very first Apostolic visit as Pontiff. Those were heady days, the earliest months of Benedict’s reign, when all of Christendom was alive with hope, with expectation, with excitement!  The drama of a Papal funeral, then the unbearable anticipation during the Conclave–then bells, horns, streamers, shouting at that white smoke!  Dozens of us packed into the campus rectory, most still eating lunch (it was about 12:30 Eastern time when Ratzinger first appeared at the balcony), and the chaplains were alternately shouting in excitement and shushing the rest of us.  Who is it?  Where is he?  Could it be?  WHO is it??

We were all “young people,” people who by definition only remembered one Pope, and that was John Paul.  “The Pope” simply was John Paul, we had known no other, and now here was this old, philosophical, methodical, serious German sitting on Peter’s throne.

And we loved it.

Now, six years and many letters, audiences, and Apostolic visits later, Catholic youth are still fired up by Benedict XVI, because he’s our Papa.  The great change he has brought into our lives, the “radical departure,” has been nothing other than a renewed commitment to preaching the beautiful paradox of Truth–unchanging, immutable, yet forever mysterious and discovered anew.  Bringing continuity and tradition back into our lives, the Pope has brought love and given a safe haven for the millions of souls across the globe that yearn desperately for solid ground.  The secular world tells us that solid ground is old hat, is limiting, is merely there to hold us back.  In Madrid, millions of pilgrims are gathering because they know the Truth will set them free.

Stay tuned this week, look into the sites, like Seth at OneBillonStories, where 21st-Century pilgrims are sharing their experiences with the rest of us.  Pray for them.  Ask them to pray for you.  Join the throng, drink in the hope, revel in the change.  Catholicism is young again!

Taking the High Road

Today we honor Our Lady’s Assumption into Heaven. This glorious event is cause for great hope, because it is a sign that our Lord will be faithful to fulfill the promise He made to us in John 14:

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where I am going you know the way.

(v. 3-4)

Jesus made this promise to His disciples, sinners just like me and you, who doubted the Lord, despite all the times He’d proven Himself to them in the past. They had a hard time wrapping their heads around this idea of knowing the way to a place they’d never been (v. 5).

We hear Jesus’ response in John 14:6

I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes the the Father except through me.

Jesus is the Road that each of us must walk upon if we wish to make it to the place He is preparing for us in His Father’s house (v. 2). But instead of just setting us on a road and wishing us the best, our Lord, in His  infinite mercy and wisdom, gives us an example to follow, a fellow Pilgrim, Our Blessed Mother, who has walked this Road and knows all the  the Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful, and Glorious places that it leads. He gave us His Mother to be our guide along the way, leading us always closer to Her Son.

Mary’s life calls us higher because it is a direct route to the Heart of Jesus. During her life on earth, she gave her unreserved, “Yes!” to the Lord, and at the end of her life she was brought before Him body and soul – through His power and His love – without tasting death or knowing corruption.

In the same way, we who strive to be faithful to our Baptismal vows should pray to become ever more obedient to the will of God, and docile to the Holy Spirit. Then, although it is extremely unlikely that any of us will be assumed into Heaven before our death, Christ will draw us into Himself at the end of time, and we will know that perfect union with the Lord that Our Lady has lived in from the beginning. We will be given glorified bodies, and receive the crown of everlasting life, if only we will persevere in walking the Road of Mary. In this we have confidence, because all these promises have already been fulfilled in our Blessed Mother. 

As a side note: if you’re reading this, I’ve been praying for you! In fact, many of the contributors here at Virtuous Planet have just finished a novena in honor of the Assumption, offered for your intentions and the intentions of the site. So congrats, dear reader! You are thoroughly covered in the prayers of Our Lady.

Together with all the members  of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary around the world, I will be praying a second novena for you beginning tomorrow. Below you will find the novena prayer; please join me in lifting up all the editors, contributors, and especially the readers of Virtuous Planet to the Lord through Our Lady.

If you have specific intentions you would like to have prayed for, please leave them in the comments below, or shoot me an email using the address you can find on this page of my blog, Catholic Unveiled. Pax et bonum, everyone!

Novena Prayer
August 16 – 24 

O Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Mother of men, we believe with all the fervor of our faith in your triumphal Assumption into Heaven, body and soul, where you are acclaimed as Queen of all the choirs of angels, and the countless multitude of saints. We unite with them in thanking and praising God who has exalted you above all the heavenly hosts.

In your mercy, dearest Mother, look down upon our struggles and our weaknesses. Help us to remain pure, mind and body, to bear the crosses of life, and to live and die in close union with your Divine Son. Intercede with Him on our behalf, and obtain the graces and favors we ask in this Novena.
(Here mention your requests.)

The Memorare

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee O Virgin of virgins, my Mother. To thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful; O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

(Add your daily Rosary)

Have Courage in Prayer

Silence. What do we do when we pray and nothing happens?

The woman begs Jesus, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.”

The Gospel of Matthew tells us Jesus did not respond at all; he seems to ignore her completely. To walk on in silence.

This narrative really hits home with me, having a brother suffering from a brain tumor. How difficult it is to know his need of deep healing and comfort, and my prayers – like those of the Canaanite woman – seem to fall off into silence (so it seems).

In faith, we must believe, it isn’t that the Lord doesn’t hear the woman. And it isn’t that the Lord doesn’t hear my prayers for my brother. He is asking something more, something deeper from me, and from the Canaanite woman. In fact, this Gospel shows how God works at many levels, not just for the one praying.

Let us imagine for a moment that the day of the encounter between Jesus and the Canaanite woman is over. It is evening and Jesus is sitting with his disciples. Perhaps, while stirring the coals of the fire he simply questioned them, “Remember the woman on the road today? The one calling out repeatedly?” And I can imagine the disciples answering him, “Yes, Lord. And why did you ignore her?”

This is a teaching moment. Jesus knows that there will times in the future when, after his Ascension into heaven, the disciples are going to pray to the Lord and, seemingly, not be heard. Jesus knows that the disciples are going to have the responsibility to give answer to the people’s questions, “how is it that we call out to the Lord, and we don’t see him. We don’t find healing that we are seeking. Doesn’t he hear us?”

The disciples are going to recall this story of the Canaanite woman. They are going to remember very clearly just how well Jesus heard the her plea, and they will be able to answer with conviction that yes, God hears our cries just as much. Jesus is helping the disciples understand, there is a persistence in our prayer that we are called to, especially when we don’t hear an answer, but only silence. Can we do that? Can we be people of such fervent prayer? Even when all that comes back to us is silence?

The Canaanite woman understood this. She demonstrates her comprehension when at last Jesus speaks to her; she knows she is in the presence of something greater than herself. For this reason, she can say:

“Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.”

A translation might read (loosely), “Yes, it’s true I don’t deserve to be in your presence, Lord, yet I believe, that even the ‘scraps’ that I get will be enough for me.”

Looking at the woman’s faith gives us room to ponder and to pray, and to ask the Lord to give us a faith like hers. But in our asking, we must be prepared for silence, and perhaps to be rebuked from time to time. Not because Jesus looks at our unworthiness (even though we are), but He sees each of us beyond the measure that we see our self. And, like the Canaanite woman, we too are called to have courage in prayer, and thus be men and women of deep, lasting faith.


Gospel: Matthew 15:21-28

Cheering My Love

When I first saw footage of people greeting and listening to the Pope, one aspect struck me as odd: Why did everyone cheer for him? He isn’t a rock star or a celebrity and cheering for him seemed so out of place. Shouldn’t they be bowing their heads, whispering a prayer, or just plain clapping? I wondered. What’s all the hooting and hollering about?

A few years later, while I lived abroad, I visited the Vatican and stood in St. Peter’s Square myself, moved by the beauty of the place. I found it hard to concentrate on the moment, though: there were so many people, too many languages, and a lot of movement. It didn’t feel reverent or special; I could barely hear Pope Benedict; and I wasn’t moved by my experience. If people cheered, I don’t remember it, and I certainly didn’t join in.

In 2007, I was a student at The Catholic University of America, and I had grown a lot more in the faith since my visit to St. Peter’s Square. Pope Benedict visited the United States that year, and on a hot April day, he visited The Catholic University of America to speak about Catholic Education. Students, decked out in specially-made “Benedict 16” baseball shirts, crowded onto Law School Lawn. We carried Vatican flags and sang hymns and worship songs in preparation. The excitement was palpable.

At the sight of the Secret Service escort, I began to tremble. The Pope! My Pope! Benedict XVI! Right in front of my eyes! Smiling, waving, shaking hands! The Bishop of Rome! The Vicar of Christ!

Overcome with joy, I lifted my voice and joined the roar of the crowd. The cheering finally made sense!

We cheered in thanksgiving.

We cheered with joy.

We cheered to say the words we never have the opportunity to say face-to-face:

Thank you, dear Pope, for your vocation!


Thank you for your witness to Christ!


Thank you for your loving guidance!


Thank you for your encouragement!


Thank you for praying for us!


We love you!


This week, I am encamped in Madrid as one of the many pilgrims from around the world who have come together to celebrate, pray, and learn with Pope Benedict XVI. This is not a penitential pilgrimage. Our faces will not be dour and lined with the weight of our sins. We are there to celebrate God’s mercy and love and to celebrate the ever-youthful Church. I’m so excited to see Pope Benedict and so ready to cheer my love!

The Assumption: Bringing Mary Close

When I first became Catholic, I had a lot of issues with Mary. How could she hear and answer our prayers? How could the Church describe her as the Mother of God? How in the world could we believe that she never sinned?

But one teaching stood out as particularly difficult: the Assumption. This one says that at the end of her life Mary, body and soul, was drawn into heaven. Difficult as that sounds, it is one of the rare infallible dogmas of the Church; all Catholics are obliged to believe it.

So when confronted with this elusive teaching, I was forced to do some digging. In my investigation I first turned to history, which seemed to back up this strange claim —or at the very least it didn’t reject it. Simply put, we have no relics, no grave, and no earthly remains of Mary.

Almost all the other apostles are still memorialized in their tombs or places of death, but when it comes to Mary, we have none of that.

If anyone throughout history wanted to disprove the Assumption—and there have been many with just that desire—all they had to do was find Mary’s body.

Just as the Jewish leaders could have squashed the Christian movement, built on Jesus’ resurrection, if they produced his rotted corpse, so the Assumption could be confuted if Mary’s body was ever found. But nobody, up and down the centuries, has ever claimed to have it. That silence spoke volumes.

History revealed to me that it was at least possible for this dogma to be true. But interestingly, as I became both persuaded by the Assumption and increasingly devoted to Mary, I experienced an odd conflict: the more I believed in Mary’s importance, the less I wanted her Assumption to be true. That might sound odd, but I reasoned that the more devotion I had for this great woman, the more disappointed I was that I had no earthly connection to her.

Back in May, I was unexpectedly invited to Rome. There I toured the relics of a number of holy men and women. I got to dwell at the tomb of Pope John Paul II, a profound spiritual hero. I prayed near the relics of St. Jerome, one of the Church’s greatest biblical scholars and another personal model. And of course, as I basked in the beauty of St. Peter’s Basilica, the bones of St. Peter radiated throughout the church. Each of these experiences was profoundly invigorating, in huge part because I was physically proximate to the remains of such holy people.

But, to my great displeasure, there was no Mary. I saw plenty of frescoes and numerous mosaics depicting Mary’s face, but that’s all there was. At the end of the day, there were pictures and images—but no real relics.

Picture what it would be like to pray at the tomb of Mary, the greatest saint and perfect disciple. Imagine the ecstatic, undoubtedly powerful experience. Knowing how powerful Marian relics would be, why would God leave the remains of all these great heroes but take Mary away from us? Why would he remove her from this earth, transporting her beyond the cosmos?

To answer, we must understand the Assumption. The dogma says that God whisked Mary to heaven. But we must remember that heaven is not a place within our own space and time. It is not so much a distant realm but a deeper version of this current reality.

Much as a circle is transformed into a sphere when it moves into a third dimension, so heaven deepens and fulfills the world we currently live in. A sphere is more complete and is a fuller version of what a circle could only shadow. So it is with heaven.

Under that rubric, the Assumption shimmers in a new way. It means that through this event, God didn’t launch Mary away from our world. Instead, he brought her close to it. “The kingdom of heaven is near,” Jesus says, which suggests heaven is as close as your beating heart. If Jesus was right, the closer Mary is to heaven, the closer she is to us.

We may not be able to pray near her bones, but we have a much closer connection than that. For us, who hunger for a deep, physical connection with the holiest saint in history, this is thrilling. It means that the Assumption is not only true, but that it’s one of God’s great gifts to the world.

Yet, there’s more. The closer we move toward Mary, the closer we trek toward heaven. And it’s there we discover not only the Mother of God, but God himself.

Which cuts to the heart of this great dogma and reveals its satisfying conclusion: Mary, through her Assumption, is our gate to the divine. We’re invited to tread her same path, to join Mary “on earth as in heaven.”

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