TORONTO (CCN)—There is an old joke among Catholics that if you want to quote something from the Bible, ask a good Protestant.
Catholics do not grow up studying the Sacred Scriptures from cover to cover the way other Christians do, but Pope Francis hopes to change all that with the YouCat Foundation’s latest book, the YouCat Bible.
“The Bible is not something to be put on a bookshelf but, rather, to be kept on hand,” the Pope writes in his preface. “Read attentively. Do not remain on the surface, as with a comic book.”
Although it is not meant to be read as a comic book, the YouCat Bible is peppered with photos, illustrations and commentaries designed for a high school and university student audience. This format is consistent with the original YouCat book, a youth catechism resource written and edited by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna under the commission of Pope Benedict XVI.
Pope Benedict XVI gave the book to participants of World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid, Spain. In 2012, it was named the best-selling Catholic book worldwide, selling almost two million copies in 20 languages in its first year.
YouCat has since expanded to five other youth resources, including a youth prayer book and a Confirmation book, a Confession book and last year’s DoCat book on Catholic social teaching.
Now, YouCat tackles the challenge of introducing the next generation to the most read book in the world.
“For young people, they hear the Bible at Mass and if they even have a Bible, they look at it every once in a while,” said Fr. Joseph Fessio, director of Ignatius Press, which distributes the English translation of the YouCat series. “This catechism book explains what the whole Bible is…. It’s really an introduction to a full-study Bible.”
Fessio said that although the YouCat Bible is not a full Bible, it gives young people key texts that are easy to digest. It also instructs the reader how to read and pray with the text and provides historical and theological commentary.
“Our concern was to make sure we didn’t omit anything essential and I think we succeeded in that,” Fessio told The Catholic Register. “There are some parts, especially in the Old Testament, like the Book of Numbers, that you should read at some point but there’s a lot in there that I don’t think you need to know right away.”
The YouCat Bible was developed by Scripture scholars in consultation with young people to ensure a highly-readable experience.
“I hope they use it to learn about Jesus and strengthen their faith and share it with their other friends,” said Fessio. “This is a step to a full adult study Bible.”
The YouCat Bible is available through ignatius.com.
(The Catholic Register)