SYCAMORE SESSIONS: YOUCAT READING


 1: THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS: 279-290

279: We can’t get through life by ourselves. God’s grace – especially in Sacraments.

280: Human dignity – from conception to natural death.

281: True happiness only in God.

282-283: True happiness: the Beatitudes.

284: Beatitudes are Jews’ list of priorities.

285: The eternal happiness in heaven.

286: God’s biggest gift to humanity is freedom – the more we do good, the freer we become.

287: Evil deprives us of what is good and destroys us of freedom – slavery to sin.

288: Humans are responsible for what they do, unless coerced, ignorant, fear.

289: Doing evil must be stopped when it is to the detriment of the freedom of others.

290: The Holy Spirit frees us. The more we sin, the more we think only of ourselves.


2: THE EXISTENCE OF GOD: 3-6; 352-357

3: It is natural to seek for God.

4: All creation points towards God, and beauty and good.

5: Excuses to not search for God – fear of change & difficulty.

6: Our language cannot contain God, so our speech must constantly be purified.

352: 1st Commandment – not to have other gods and to love the only God.

353: Worship of God frees us from servitude to this world.

354: Belief in God must be a free act.

355: False gods: other idol (inc. wealth); superstition; provoking God; sacrilege; desecration, corruption.

356: New Age focuses on cosmic energy & divinity within. Only Jesus Christ can save – not ourselves.

357: Atheism is not a sin if the person has learned nothing about God.


3. A GOD WHO SPEAKS: 7-10; 358; 71-85

7: God has opened His heart to us and revealed what we can understand.

8: Old Testament.

9: In Jesus Christ God becomes visible.

10: Jesus Christ is God’s last Word. We don’t need any more. Private revelations do not reveal any more.

358: The Old Testament forbids us to make images of God but in Jesus Christ we have The Image (icon).

71: The Gospels are The Testimony.

72: “Jesus” – God saves.

73: “Christos” – the anointed One. Christians names after Him.

74: The New Testament calls Jesus “Son”.

75: Jesus is “Lord” i.e. God – e.g. Thomas.

76: The Incarnation – one like us in all things but sin.

77: Jesus is truly God and truly human. No division, no confusion.

78: His life remains a “Mystery”

79: Jesus had mind, soul and body.

80: Mary remained a virgin – truly, not symbolically.

81: Mary had no other children. “Brothers & sisters” refer to cousins.

82: Mary is “Mother of God” – God-bearer from conception.

83: Immaculate Conception – Mary totally free.

84: Mary more than merely passive instrument – her consent was crucial.

85: Jesus gave Mary to us as our mother from the cross.


4: WHO IS JESUS?: 86-112

86: Jesus lived a normal life for 30 years.

87: Jesus was baptised – didn’t need it, but took on OUR sins.

88: Jesus was truly tempted.

89: Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom of God – i.e. it begins in those who allow it.

90: Jesus worked miracles.

91: Miracles were signs of the Kingdom.

92: Jesus chose 12 Apostles with particular mission. Bishops today & Peter, the first Pope.

93: Transfiguration – to help the witnesses understand His death & resurrection.

94: Jesus knew what was going to happen.

95: Jesus chose it to happen at the Passover – feast of liberation from slavery.

96: Jesus was killed because He forgave sins & challenged the Sabbath practices.

97: Sin crucified Jesus, not a particular people.

98: His death exchanges death for life.

99: Last Supper – washing of feet & command of the Eucharist.

100: Jesus showed He feared death in the Garden.

101: The Cross is the utmost degradation, and still Jesus showed perfect love on it.

102: When suffering is unavoidable, we should unite it with Jesus.

103: Jesus truly died.

104: To be a Christian is to believe that Jesus rose from the dead.

105: The disciples saw Him risen.

106: The testimonies in the New Testament are the proof.

107: The Risen Jesus allowed His disciples to touch Him, and He ate with them.

108: He revealed that death would no longer have dominion.

109-110: Jesus ascended to heaven from where He will judge the living & the dead.

111-2: Jesus will have the last appearance & say!


5: THE HOLY SPIRIT & THE CHURCH: 113-128

113: Jesus promised “another Counsellor”. The Apostles experienced new gifts.

114: Without the Holy Spirit, we cannot understand Jesus.

115: The Holy Spirit shows in healing, water, storm, fire, dove – the Sacraments!

116: The Holy Spirit is at work in the prophets, preparing the way for Jesus Christ.

117: The Holy Spirit came into Mary and she brought forth Jesus.

118: Pentecost is the birthday of the Church.

119: The Holy Spirit builds up the Church and gives her the necessary gifts & renewal.

120: The Holy Spirit helps me to receive God, pray, respond.

121: Church – ekklesia: to be called out. Intimate communion with Jesus Christ.

122: God wants the Church – He wants us together.

123: The task of the Church is to continue Jesus’s work.

124: Church is human and divine.

125: Baptism makes us the People of God.

126: The Body of Christ – inseparable and dependent.

127: The Bride of Christ – intimate union of love.

128: Temple of the Holy Spirit – the building has now been replaced by the People.


6: THE BIBLE: 11-19

11: The importance to hand on our faith.

12: Scripture & Tradition. The Bible came from the community.

13: The Church cannot err in matters of faith because of the promise of the Holy Spirit.

14: The Bible evolved in the hearts of those chosen by God. The “Canon” (final text) decided in 4th Century.

15: The Bible has cultural ideas of the times they were written in to convey truths.

16: The right way to read the Bible is prayerfully.

17: Old Testament.

18: New Testament.

19: The Church draws her life and strength from Scripture.


7: THE GIFT OF FAITH: 20-25; 299-309

20: To respond is to believe.

21: Faith is gift, necessary, free, certain, loving, must grow, joyful.

22: To believe, allow to be drawn into mystery of Jesus Christ.

23: Faith exists so that we might know things that are not apparent to reason, yet real.

24: We need the Church for faith to develop.

25: The Christian Creeds are the fruits of the Church’s joint journey in faith.

299: Virtues are interior dispositions, positive habits, passion for good.

300: We must not give in to disorderly passions, but focus on what is good.

301: Prudence – i.e. what is essential.

302: Justice – i.e. to give each his due. Equity & fairness.

303: Fortitude – perseverance.

304: Moderation – not to let impulses rule.

305: Supernatural virtues – foundation in God.

306: Faith, hope & charity.

307: Faith – the power to assent to God.

308: Hope – trusting in God.

309: Charity – giving of what God has given to us.


8: THE POWER OF PRAYER: 469-489

469: Prayer is turning heart towards God.

470: God has created us for Himself – so we have an inclination to pray.

471: Abraham listened – and moved.

472: Moses spoke with God, and God revealed Himself to him.

473: Psalms – prayer of the Jewish people.

474: Jesus learned to pray as a Jewish man.

475: Jesus’ whole life was a prayer – but Gospels show certain moments.

476: In the biggest test, in the Garden, He prayed “Abba…”

477: Jesus is our model in learning to pray.

478: Many who cried to Jesus in His earthly life were heard.

479: Mary – Amen, let it be.

480: Hail Mary

481: Rosary.

482: Early Christians prayed together.

483: Five types of prayer:

484: Blessing – calling down of God.

485: Adoration – kneeling, prostrate – He is great, we are little.

486: Petition – Knock and the door will be opened. Postures: stand, sit, kneel, prostrate, hands.

487: Abraham petitioned. Jesus did.

488: Thanksgiving – especially Eucharist.

489: Praise – delight in God.


9: FINDING TRUE FREEDOM: 291-298; 343-351

291: Reason & conscience enables us to know right & wrong. What I do, intention, circumstances.

292: The end does not justify the means.

293: Our good passions repel the bad ones.

294: Passions ordered to good are virtues, which become the motive force of good.

295: Conscience is the inner voice of God.

296: No one can be compelled to act against conscience.

297: A person though must form their conscience with the Church’s spirit-filled experience.

298: God will not blame us from actions from a wrong conscience, as long as we are not to blame for not forming it.

343: The Church preserves centuries of the living Word of God, and helps us to lead a good life.

344: The teaching authority of the Church about morals.

345-6: Five precepts of the Church – the minimum requirements!

347: Practising our faith is necessary if we are to be salt of the earth & light of the world.

348: Being a Christian is more than living a good life – it’s having a living relationship with Jesus.

349: 10 Commandments

350: All human life is included within the 10 Commandments – we are related to God & each other.

351: The 10 Commandments are part of the binding revelation & can never be dispensed.


10: THE MEANING OF LOVE: 321-342; 359-366

321: You cannot be a Christian alone.

322: Society can never be more important than the individual.

323: Principle of subsidiarity – a higher authority cannot take away initiatives by individuals.

324: No society can exist without justice and love.

325: Every society must be ruled by those appointed by its citizens.

326: Authority must act for the common good.

327: Common good – freedom, peace and security.

328: Everyone is responsible for each other.

329: Social justice comes from the inalienable dignity of every single person.

330: All people are equal in God’s sight.

331: When injustice is man-made, it contradicts the Gospel.

332: Dignity of human work – universal access to material, intellectual & spiritual goods of the world.

333: Natural law – inscribed on all human hearts.

334: The old covenant expresses truths that by nature are evident to human reason.

335: Old Covenant: Torah (10 Commandments). But we need the strength of faith to complete it.

336: Jesus came not to abolish the old law but fulfil it.

337: We cannot be saved by our own power – we need God, and we need baptism to free us.

338: God’s grace is Him communicating with us.

339: Grace brings us into the inner life of God – helping us to be God-like. It comes from the Sacraments, charisms, or in the graces of state (marriage, ordained).

340: Grace does not compel.

341: No one can gain heaven by their own efforts.

342: We are all called to be saints. Holiness is what we were created to be.

359: God has told us His name, which is the key to the heart of the Almighty.

360: Sign of the Cross – calling upon Him strengthens us.

361: The name of a person matters – patron saints.

362: The Sabbath is the command to rest.

363: Jesus taught the Sabbath is for God, so He healed on the Sabbath.

364: Christians replaced the Sabbath with Sunday – the day of the Resurrection.

365: Obligation to attend Sunday Mass and refraining from work that prevents the nature of the day.

366: The state should preserve Sundays to stop human being absorbed with the working world.


11: THE LIGHT OF CHRIST: 26-40

26: The Creeds of the Church are formulas of our common faith.

27: Jesus instructed His disciples to baptise “in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” The approved Creeds of the Church elaborate on that.

28: The Apostles’ Creed.

29: The Nicene Creed.

30: God is One.

31: God reveals His holy name to Moses (YHWH in Hebrew), but Jews never verbalise it and call God “Lord” (Adonai).

32: God is truth because of what Jesus revealed.

33: God is love because Jesus proved it on the Cross by dying for pure love.

34: God must be the first place in the believer’s life.

35: God is Trinity – three persons, one God, not in solitude but in perfect communion.

36: The Trinity is a mystery, but Jesus reveals it.

37: Jesus addressed God as Abba, Father.

38: The working of the Holy Spirit is when we discover God within us.

39: Jesus truly revealed He is God particularly in the Resurrection.

40: The ways of God are not our ways, and so to call on God is to believe He is all-powerful.


12: CREATION, FALL, SALVATION: 41-70

41: The account of Creation is a theological statement, not a scientific one.

42: Christians can accept the theory of evolution provided that we don’t fall into the trap of believing that humans are just a random product of it.

43: Creation is not by chance. God’s handwriting is all over creation.

44: The Father is the Creator, the Son is the meaning & heart of creation, the Spirit holds all together.

45: We believe in Natural Law – that God’s Law is deeply implanted in human beings.

46: The 7 days of creation are symbolic of order, beauty and wisdom.

47: The seventh day of rest is about completion and fulfilment.

48: God created the world out of love and for love & His glory.

49: God guides in mysterious but certain ways, without taking away our freedom.

50: Humans can reject God’s will. God invites us to collaborate.

51: God allows evil only so as to make something better result from it.

52: Heaven is not a place in the universe, but a condition in the next life.

53: Hell is separation from God. Jesus described it as “outer darkness.”

54: Angels are pure spirit, without a body, constantly in the presence of God.

55: Humans can interact with angels, and every person has a guardian angel.

56: Humans are created in the image and likeness of God, and therefore the summit of creation.

57: Humans must have love and respect for animals as they are God’s creatures.

58: Unlike all other creatures, humans are endowed with a spirit. We are someone, not something.

59: God created everything for humans.

60: Jesus in unique because He shows us not only God’s true nature, but also human’s.

61: All humans are equal in dignity.

62: As humans are body and spirit, the soul is united to the body but not identical to it.

63: A person’s soul is God-given, not evolutionary or generative.

64: God is not male or female, but humanity is in order to give expression to God’s creativeness.

65: Homosexual practice is not approved by the Church but all persons, whatever their sexual orientation, must be respected and loved.

66: God does not want suffering and death, but humans alienated themselves from God.

67: Sin is more than incorrect behaviour, but rooted in rejection of God.

68: The Original Sin of Adam & Eve is that root that exists in us all that we do not trust God.

69: Humans are wounded by original sin but not doomed because of God’s grace.

70: God sends Jesus Christ to snatch us from the power of sin.