I finally managed this vacation to take a look at YOUCAT, The Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church, English edition from Ignatius Press. The book did not disappoint. Although I cannot claim that I did more than breeze through it, this is one for every Catholic home bookshelf. If you find the CCC, The Catechism of the Catholic Church, too monumental at times, this book is for you, young or old. I would venture to say that there is not and never has been since I've been a priest (1976) a catechism on the market as well organized and useful as this one.
The question and answer format with references to the more ample teaching of the CCC, no small amount of great commentary and lots of quotes in the outside columns, are complemented by lovely and lively photography all through the book. My reservations over some of the little line-drawings (stick-men) in the margins are not even worth mentioning. The index is far superior to that of the CCC and if you know the general structure of the CCC this book will soon be at your command as a handy reference, and especially via the 10 Commandments to the whole spectrum of fundamental moral teaching and much more. It is definitely something Father should keep on hand when he is preparing his Sunday homily, because the definitions are crystal clear and succinct; many of the marginal quotes from popes, great saints, philosophers and otherwise great thinkers are ready at hand for almost every topic.
The back cover conveys the Holy Father's urgency in encouraging this project for youth with a precis from the Pope's Foreword to YOUCAT:
"Study this Cathechism!
This is my heartfelt desire.
Sthudy this Catechism
with passion and perseverance.
Study it in the quiet of your room;
read it with a friend;
for study groups and networks;
share with each other on the Internet...
You need to be more deeply rooted in the faith
than the generation of your parents..."
Pope Benedict XVI
Personally, no doubt by chance, YOUCAT got me thinking about the urgency of the unity (one of the Marks of Christ's Church: One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic) of the Church and particularly about the news items referring to the summons of Bishop Bernard Fellay to come to Rome for 14 September. A couple comments by people in the know were not only guarded but pessimistic about the possibility of reconciliation of this community with the Catholic Church. They said that the young of that group have never known and feel no attraction to Catholic unity, which to me seems an off-handed almost frightful condemnation of people who are supposed to know and love the faith. As the Anglicans seeking Catholic communion were invited to embrace the CCC, maybe these young traditionalists might find their way home with YOUCAT. It clearly presents Catholic teaching even on extra ecclesiam nulla salus est:
"136. How does the Church view other religions?
The Church respects everything in other religions that is good and true. She respects and promotes freedom of religion as a human right. Yet she knows that Jesus Christ is the sole redeemer of all mankind. He alone is 'the way, and the truth, and the life' (Jn 14:6). [841-848]
Whoever seeks God is close to us Christians. There is a special degree of 'affinity' to Muslims. Like Judaism and Christianity, Islam is one of the monotheistic religions. The Muslims, too, revere God the Creator and Abraham as their father in faith. Jesus is considered a great prophet in the Qu'an; Mary, his Mother, as the mother of a prophet. The Church teaches that all men who by no fault of their own do not know Christ and his Church but sincerely seek God and follow the voice of their conscience can attain eternal salvation. However, anyone who has recognized the Jesus Christ is 'the way, and the truth, and the life' but is unwilling to follow him cannot find salvation by other paths. This is what is meant by the saying, Extra ecclesiam nulla salus (outside of the Church there is no salvation)."
Balanced statements on issues relating to government and society, and overall concerning our quest for truth, fill me with hope in terms at least of unity as possible on theological or doctrinal questions. I am not so naive as to think that a little book can dismiss the hurt and pain, the sense of betrayal which accompanies many of the defections from Catholic unity. My hope would be that the YOUCAT testifies convincingly and accessibly to our faithfulness to the truth which comes to us from God. As with the CCC so with YOUCAT, we have another marvelous banner to waive and rally the troops in our struggle, not unlike that of the Church in earlier times, to defend the faith which comes to us from the Apostles.
The scandal of my life time is not being able to comprehend those who walk away from the fight. What would St. Athanasius and many others have said? It's much like my conviction that ad Orientem worship is a sine qua non for healing the rift or should I say focusing us again in our prayer ad Dominum! I cannot impose it, but I certainly can witness to it and encourage worship which is beautifully linear and focused on Christ.
I strive to do it gently and respectfully as does our Holy Father. Ubi Petrus, ibi Ecclesia et tamquam salus est! We dare not abandon the fight or set our own rules of engagement. Who said, "In waiting and calm our strength lies"?