Catechisms for Your Kids: Baltimore Catechism & YouCat

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When the Holy Father announced the Year of Faith, one of the major ideas he had in mind was for Catholics to make a concerted effort to catechize themselves, particularly through reading the Catholic Bible, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the principle documents of the Second Vatican Council. There have even been special indulgences granted for it!

But don’t forget that there are great ways to include your kids in this venture too. Parents and children studying the faith together can not only be fun, but can also be great way to facilitate spiritual bonding (the most important kind!) as the whole family journeys together into a deeper understanding of the Christian faith during this special Year of Faith. When your kids go off to college one day, you’ll be glad you did it. Here is a breakdown of  two tried-and-true tools for you to do this in addition to family Bible reading time.

The Baltimore Catechism

Baltimore Catechism

Baltimore Catechism

The Baltimore Catechismwas written by the U.S. Bishops and was the standard of Catholic catechesis in the U.S. from 1885 to the 1960’s. Even though it’s now largely fallen into disuse, it’s still a good resource. If it was good enough for your grandparents, it’s good enough for your kids, right?

There are two versions of the Baltimore Catechism available: the official version written by the U.S. bishops at Third Plenary Council of Baltimore, and the St. Joseph version adapted for smaller children.

The Baltimore Catechism is divided into individual lessons with a definition of terms at the start of each. Each section is then divided into a brief question and answer format which makes for quick reading and quick apprehension. Included in the back are standard Catholic prayers and hymns that children should learn. The Baltimore Catechism is divided into No. 1, 2, 3, and 4 which are available individually or in a complete set. The numbers are intended for grade-level appropriateness for elementary, middle, and high school, respectively, with the last one ideal for educators.

The second version is The New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism. It’s based on the Baltimore Catechism but revised with the addition of lots of pictures, large print, and easy-to-understand language and presentation that’s more attractive to children. It also includes discussion questions, T/F, fill-in-the blanks, bible reading passages, projects, and prayers after each section. In the back are the Holy Rosary, Stations of the Cross, Catholic Prayers including the Mass, and a dictionary of terms. This is divided into No. 1 and 2, for elementary and middle school respectively, which are available individually.

The New St. Joseph Catechism

The New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism

If you have young children, the St. Joseph Revised is your best bet, which is also an ideal version for classroom or homeschool use. Older children are probably fine to read the original Baltimore Catechism, and this one is also more suited to individual reading and reference.

YouCat

YouCat

YouCat

The YouCat is a hip, catchy shortening of  “Youth Catechism” and is ideal for teenagers.  It’s based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church–the standard presentation of Catholic doctrine commissioned by Pope John Paul II–but written in a compendium form in language accessible to modern teenagers. You can read more about the YouCat straight from an online letter written by the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI here.  The YouCat is just over 300 pages and can be easily read by teenagers without excuse that it’s “too long” or “too hard”. If you think your teenager wouldn’t be interested to read this, the Holy Father asks you to give them the benefit of the doubt: “Many people say to me: The youth of today are not interested in this. I disagree, and I am certain that I am right. The youth of today are not as superficial as some think. They want to know what life is really all about. . . This book is exciting because it speaks of our own destiny and so deeply engages every one of us.”  Give the gift of the YouCat to the teenagers in your life, and you just may be surprised to find the faith shine in them a little more brightly.

Do you have plans to catechize your children in a special way during this Year of Faith? How has it been going so far?  Please share any tips or advice with other readers.

Copyright 2013 Gretchen Filz

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10 Comments

  1. The problem that I run into is that lot of good resources are meant for school age children, but my oldest is a pre-schooler. I want to introduce him to our rich faith as early as possible, but I feel I have very few resources.

    I don’t suppose you know of anything designed for preschoolers…good Bibles, good books about basic Catholicism, good books on saints/holiness…that sort of thing.

    I appreciate it.

    • Yes, if you go to http://www.catholiccompany.com and type in the search box “I Am Special Pre-school” and “Come and See pre-school”. You can also type “board book” into the search box and pull up all those children’s books & bibles that are targeted to that age group. If that isn’t helpful, please call customer service directly to have someone assist you: 866-522-8465

    • My oldest son is in preschool (turned 4 in September) and for Christmas we bought him a book about the Mass called “Don’t Drink the Holy Water! (Big Al and Annie go to Mass).” It is published by Ligori Publications and written by Fr. Joe Kempf. It includes a CD which complements the book chapter by chapter and also has a special parent/teacher section. My son asks to watch the DVD almost every day and follows along in the book. It is a beautiful explanation of why we go to Mass and what happens there, and even adults can benefit from it! Last Christmas we bought him a toy Mass kit produced by Wee Believers which includes a child-friendly book explaining what each item is – once again, something even adults can learn from! May God bless your family as you seek to share the faith with your little ones.

    • This website setonhome.org has great books for preschooler on saints, the Catechism and Bibles. It is a Catholic Home School site and we have used the curriculum for years, but they also have a book store where you can buy individual books and materials. They have lots of really neat stuff for preschool age children. Check it out!

  2. I am sooo glad to read someone who recommends the Baltimore Catechism. I use the St. Joseph version for my children that I homeschool. I use it as DRE for students who have missed years in the religios education and need to catch up on their sacraments. There truly is not anything out there more clear, concise and child-friendly when teachingthem the faith. My dad, thank goodness, taught me from it duringthe post-Vatican age. He was wise enough to recognize that the books taking its place were not adequate for my religious instruction. I hope lots of people follow your advice.

    As for YOUCAT, what a great gift idea for my daughter who is receiving Confirmation this year. I’m calling her godfather right now and asking that he get it for her!

  3. I LOVE the St Joseph Baltimore Catechism! I used it when I was homeschooling my oldest son. Apparently his younger brother used to listen in to those lessons, as anytime I try to teach something about the faith he “already knows” and tells me he learned it from the Baltimore Catechism. Life has been hectic with a major move, but as soon as I can unpack my books I will find that Baltimore Catechism (and my Faith & Life series) to use with my twelve year old daughter. Thanks for reminding about they Year of Faith and bringing it into our families!

    • Yes, I was quite impressed with how it’s organized and presented. Both versions have been time-tested by a couple of generations, so they have definitely proved their worth!

  4. Geraldine Pagarigan on

    I would like to ask your assistance where can I get conservative Catholic Catechism for preschoolers and children less than 12 years old. I have five grandnieces and grandnephews I wish to teach Catholic Catechism. Please advise. Thank you.