Friday, October 12, 2012

YouCat - The Introduction



I usually skip introductions. I don't want to waste time reading about a book when I could spend my time reading the actual book. It's a habit I picked up in college, when my professors demanded that we engage with the text itself without any distractions. We read introductions last, after we'd formed our own opinions and arguments, and we argued with them. So, these days, when I'm not writing papers on everything I read, I seldom read introductions at all.

I made an exception for the YouCat introduction because Pope Benedict wrote it, and I'm sort of a groupie. Also, when YouCat came out, I was skeptical. We had the big catechism, so why did we need a flashy little yellow version with cartoons and pictures? Benedict explains that he wanted a catechism in the 'language of youth.' What does it mean to have a catechism in the 'language of youth?' Does it mean YouCat is dumbed down for the Twitter generation?

Benedict says no. It's more a difference in audience and emphasis. The CCC takes a tone of careful instruction. It's the book you run to, for instance, when your neighbor tries to say that 'personally opposed but publicly enthusiastic' is a totally acceptable position on the wholesale slaughter of unborn children. YouCat is less about arguments and apologetics, and more about answering the eternal questions of youth. “Who am I? Why am I here? What should I do?” For me, at the grand old age of 35, these questions are no longer so pressing. It's pretty clear what God's calling me to do in most situations, and if I forget, there's a short person attached to my leg or hip who will loudly remind me.

But I remember what it was like to be 20, full of burning questions, zeal, and dreams, but with no clear direction. YouCat gives direction. Benedict promises that, unlike most items marketed to the coveted 16-25 demographic, YouCat does not aim to please its audience. He promises that the book will reveal our destiny as humans, but that it will also make demands and require its readers to change their lives. YouCat is the voice of God, speaking through the Church, calling the young to repentance and holiness.

YouCat's introduction is worth the read. It explains what Benedict was thinking when he issues this cute little convertible sports car of a catechism, and it gives a glimpse of the power that lurks under the hood. In the introduction, Benedict explodes the modern world's, and especially the post-Vatican II American church's, false dichotomy between passion and knowledge. Over the years, many catechists seem to have lost sight of the fact that in order to love someone and serve them, you first have to know them. YouCat seeks to restore the lost and forgotten knowledge.

It seems a fitting tool to explore the Year of Faith.

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