In the years I’ve been a catechist, I’ve come to realize that there are only three texts that are essential. There are plenty that are nice, some that are even helpful, but only three that I would call “must have.”
The Holy Bible
Don’t be ignorant of Scripture. And help your students not to be ignorant either.
I have a lesson that I do that involves half the class using the missalette and half the class using the Bible. It’s a visual way of showing them that what’s in the missalette is the same as what’s in the actual Bible.
One of my goals when I teach weekly religious education classes with 3rd grade and older is to have them open their Bibles at least once during the hour we’re together. It’s not an easy goal and I don’t always get to it.
All the same, this is the most important book we have at our disposal.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
You can find it online for free and in searchable formats, but there’s something to be said for the good ole brick version. I like to read things out of the actual Catechism every so often, and with the older kids, especially the Confirmation class, I make them all turn to the paragraph.
It’s important to know how the Catechism works, because it’s how all Church documents work. Numbered paragraphs are weird, but they sure are nice when it comes to finding something specific.
And who knew there was so much good stuff in the Catechism? And that it was so easy to read?
I use the Youcat with nearly every single class I teach. It’s indispensable and it’s something that even adults can understand. I tell parents, whenever I can get their attention, that this is a resource they too need to have in their home, one they need to also be familiar with.
The topics are set in question-and-answer format, so everyone who’s a fan of the old Baltimore Catechism can perk up and get on board. The phrasing is modern and there’s an index (which I hope to see improved and expanded).
Best of all, the Youcat cross-references with both the Bible and the Catechism, so you can read more about every topic. It’s a sort of introductory text, but it’s where almost everyone I know (myself included) need to start. If you haven’t already checked it out, I encourage you to do so!
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