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We are approaching the finish line. Only two more classes left in the CCD year.

 

Last night, we covered Holy Week, especially the Eastern Triduum and Easter. We started by asking the students to name some ways they show they express love to someone, and then said we would be talking about how Jesus expressed his love for all of us.

 

We began by having the students both read aloud and silently some material in the text covering Holy Thursday and Good Friday.

 

–We talked about the meaning of the term “Paschal Mystery.”

 

–We discussed why the resurrection is the center of the Christian faith.

 

–We compared the Mass on Holy Thursday to the Last Supper, which is essentially the basis of our modern Mass.

 

–We talked about the practice of washing feet, in Biblical times and now on Good Friday.

 

–We discussed why the cross is the central image of Christ’s suffering and death.

 

–We talked about the veneration of the cross ceremony on Good Friday evening.

 

–We indicated that Holy Saturday is usually a quiet day, leading up to the celebration of the resurrection at the Easter Vigil Mass.

 

We transitioned to an entirely different chapter in the text to discuss Easter.

 

–We compared the feeling of Lent of sacrifice and penance, culminating with the remembrance of Jesus’s death and burial to that of Easter, a joyous celebration.

 

–We had three volunteers role-play a dialogue from the text describing the scene on the first Easter morning when Mary Magdalene and others went to Jesus’s tomb only to find an angel waiting for them.

 

–We discussed the signs of Easter, like white and gold vestments, Alleluias, and the readings from the Acts of the Apostles.

 

–We also talked a little about how Jesus appeared to many people during the next 40 days.

As always, we finished by asking each student to name one thing they learned in that class, and rewarded all reasonable answers with a cookie. Last night, that process went exceptionally well.

 

Next week we will cover Holy Orders. Our final class will be April 30. We will do something special, but I’m not sure just what yet. I have two weeks to think about it.

The older group of CCD students will present a “Living Stations of the Cross” this Friday night at 8 pm. That is just about the time the Knights of Columbus Fish Fry will be ending. The program should last between 30-45 minutes, so it’s not an all-night commitment.

In past years, this has been a fairly moving program. I recommend it. (Full disclosure — I am one of the readers this year.)

Seriously, I think your family would enjoy this. Please give a thought to attending. Bring your family to the fish fry and stick around for the stations.

Thanks.

 

 

We had a pretty good, but not great, class last night. Normally the subject of the Sacrament of Matrimony generates many more questions and much more discussion. Last night our group was pretty flat.

 

So we tackled Matrimony and marriage. Some of the key points we discussed included:

 

–Matrimony is probably the single sacrament, along with Holy Orders that will have an effect on your subsequent life every day. Your choice of a spouse is probably the single most important decision you will make in your life.

 

– Marriage has been part of the human experience since the very beginning – ie: Adam and Eve.

 

– Boys and girls, and men and women are different but equal. We discussed some historical trends on gender equality and also the way the genders are perceived in other parts of the world, like the Middle East.

 

– A Catholic marriage is intended to be a permanent commitment. We talked about some short-lived celebrity marriages and the popular concept of a “starter marriage,” but indicated the Church believes you should enter into a marriage fully aware and prepared and with the full intention of making it a life-long commitment. We discussed the concept of a covenant.

 

– We discussed the difference between a promise and a vow. A promise is made between one person and another. A vow is a promise made to God. The marriage commitment is a vow.

 

– The Catholic Church takes Matrimony very seriously. The Church believes the union is intended to be permanent. It is difficult to get out of a Catholic marriage, but it is also difficult to get into it. Priests screen and counsel couples to try to make sure they know what they are getting into and are making a good decision. You can’t just show up at a parish office and ask to get married this afternoon, like you can at the county courthouse. Mrs. Rudolphi shared her experience of getting married. At the time, she and her husband were of different faiths. One minister declined to marry them because he thought that would be too much of an difference to overcome.

 

–We discussed some of the specifics of the marriage ceremony and also the concept of fidelity. We also discussed the concept that in Matrimony, the bride and groom are the actual celebrants and the priest is a witness and blesses the union.

 

From there we said that Matrimony forms the basis for a Catholic family. We talked about responsibilities within families, including the responsibilities of children. We drew two columns on the white board and head one “adults” and the other “children.” We first asked the class to name responsibilities of the adults or parents in a family and we got the set of answers you would expect – cook dinner, financial support, teach children, etc. When we asked about the other side of the chart, the going was a little more difficult. Aside from household chores, the idea that they might have some responsibilities towards their parents was a little strange.

 

We threw out some suggestions and got them thinking. Several students mentioned the obligation to respect their parents; to listen to them; and to try to fulfill their parents’ wishes and expectations. In other words, as we reinforced, “Your parents’ biggest job is to be your parents. Don’t make that job unnecessarily difficult.”

 

We have three more classes left. We will actually teach lessons in the next two, and probably do something fun and special for the last class. Next week, we plan to cover Holy Week and Easter. We’ll finish up the Sacraments with a discussion of Holy Orders the week after Easter.

 

In looking towards tomorrow’s class, I just realized I had not posted anything about last week’s class. I haven’t heard any cries of outrage, so I guess no one is really missing it. Kinda disappointing…

In any case, we had a small turnout, only 8 students. We covered the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.

Tomorrow, we will cover the Sacrament of Matrimony. This is one subject that can occasionally strike close to home. Students who may have issues at home, like divorced or separated parents, sometimes have interesting questions. We try very hard to be sensitive to issues like this. In eight previous years of teaching this, I have not had any problems or complaints. All the same, parents should just be aware of what we will be covering. As always, parents are most welcome and invited to sit in on the class.

  Last night was the first class back after a lengthy break. The subject of our lesson was the Sacrament of Reconciliation/Penance/Confession. It was a lively class, but whether or not the students actually learned anything, I can never be sure.

  I started out with an unrelated issue about an 8-year old girl who was asked to leave a Christian school in Virginia because of her tom-boyish appearance and hair style. I pointed out to the class, that while the school claimed to upholding “Christian values,” they might want to reread their gospels. Jesus took much heat from judgmental groups like the Pharisees because he frequently associated with people who they scorned, like Mary Magdaline and Matthew (apostle) who was a tax collector (basically a thief under the Roman Imperial system.) If Jesus were running that “Christian” school, I seriously doubt he would have asked her to leave.

  From there we moved on to the concept of forgiveness, both in everyday life and in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We pointed out that most acts of forgiveness involve four steps.

1.) Admission of guilt

2.) Expression of sorrow

3.) Forgiveness

4.) Reparation

  In Reconciliation, these take the form of…

1.) Confessing our sins to the priest

2.) Act of Contrition

3.) Absolution

4.) Penance

  I had two volunteers who I had selected earlier (They were the first two to show up before class.) role-play a little mini-drama. Brighid had taken and broken Emmeline’s pen. At first she denied it. They she admitted it, said she was sorry and Emmeline forgave her. Brighig offered to buy Emmeline a new pen to replace the one she broke.

  We connected that process to the Sacrament. We walked through the process of Reconciliation, emphasizing that the forgiveness comes from God. The priest is just the intermediary. Also we emphasized that the priest is bound to the secrecy of the confession and cannot / will not tell anyone else what you confess. We prayed an Act of Contrition as a class.

  We have just a few weeks left in the year and at least three more sacraments to cover – Holy Orders, Annointing of the Sick and Matrimony. It’s the home stretch.

 

Welcome back!

It seems like a hundred years since we last met as a class. Actually, it’s only been a few weeks. We will have a regular class session tomorrow evening (March 26.) The focus will be on the Sacrament of Reconciliation, including a role-playing exercise that is usually pretty interesting. See ya then!

We had an interesting class last night. The students responded very well to a group project for the first half of the class, but some were somewhat less cooperative during the discussion phase during the second half. This really is not a surprise. We seem to go through this nearly every year around this time. We have become comfortable with each other, but also the wear of the weekly grind starts to show. As I have said in the past, this is overall a really good group. But the more we engage in a less restrictive, open-discussion kind of program, the tougher it is to keep some of our band focused on the main class activity. We have to work to keep it from degenerating into a total  free-for-all.  Defying gender stereotypes, it is a few of our boys who are the real chatterboxes. For our next regular class (not until March 26), I think I’ll separate the boys’ social club and tighten up a little on our discussion format.

I had not originally planned to milk the Ten Commandments for three entire class periods, but I’m glad I did. Our class last night focused on one activity. I introduced it by telling a story of Moses receiving the Commandments from God with some alterations. When he came down from Mount Sinai, the Israelites realized that many of the Commandments, as presented, had little relevance to fifth graders.

“Do you mean like that ‘covet your neighbor’s wife’ thing, Mr. Sullivan?” asked one student.

“Yeah, that’s what I mean.”

So Moses went back up to the mountain and told God that he needed some additional commandments that would address the issues facing fifth graders. I broke the class into three groups of three or four and asked them to imagine, just for the purposes of this exercise, that they were God. What kind of commandments would God issue that would be relevant to today’s fifth graders? I gave them a piece of poster board and a marker to list their commandments.

This part of the exercise went pretty well. One group worked well as a team and produced an excellent group product. Another team didn’t work well together, but each student came up with their own list. The third group quickly came up with a list of five commandments, then crossed them out, and spent the rest of the class squabbling among themselves. Sigh.

I was really impressed with what the students came up with. For the most part, they took the assignment seriously and came up with some very interesting commandments.

When that was complete, we went around and had each group present their commandments and discussed them. This was a bit of a struggle, but we got through it.

We spent the last few minutes of the class discussing the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Out next CCD session will be in three weeks, March 19, and it will be a Lenten Penance service just for CCD students and their families. I passed out and briefly discussed a “cheat sheet” for students’ examination of their conscience and the procedure for confession. I strongly encouraged them to attend with their families. (And I extend that encouragement to you parents!)

Mrs. Hubert asked me to send out an email, which I will do, to make sure everyone knows the schedule for the next several weeks.

March 5 – Ash Wednesday.  There will be a Mass and ashes service in the church at 7 pm. We encourage everyone to attend with their family.

March 12 – No class due to the public school system spring break. Enjoy!

March 19 – Lenten Penance Service in the church at 6:30 pm, for all CCD students and their families.

March 26 – Back in the classroom for a regular CCD class.

We hope to see everyone at the Ash Wednesday Mass next week and then back for CCD following the spring break.

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