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We had a really good practice session for the Christmas pageant last night. I am very impressed at how seriously the students are taking their roles. They really want to do well and it shows. We had two full-scale run-throughs, complete with the music. Then we practiced the speaking parts over and over until we ran out of class time. Also, our shepherds are doing a very good job keeping the younger third-grade “sheep and goats” in line. A few notes:

– We would like to have one additional practice this coming Saturday morning (Dec 13) from 10-11 am. If your child has a conflict and cannot attend, it’s not the end of the world. In which case, please take special note of the next paragraph. If they do not have a conflict, please try to get them there. The practice will be at the church.

– If your child is one of our readers, please ask him to practice his/her material with you. The more repetition they have, the easier and less threatening it will be when they stand up in front of a church full of people. Emphasize they should project loud and read slow. (Many tend to read too fast and run their words together, especially as they come to the end of a sentence or the end of the reading.)

– Our first performance will be during the regular CCD class session next week (Dec 17.) Please drop off your child at the church by 6:00 pm. It is not necessary for them to be dressed up for this performance.

– Even if your child is not a reader, please bring them next Wednesday anyway. We may have some “no-shows” and may need to put them into the lineup. In any event, this is a class project and they are a part of the class.

– The second program will be during the Christmas Eve children’s mass at 4:00 pm. Please deliver your child to the school a half hour early, at 3:30 pm so we can get them organized and squared away. (A last minute rush is likely to just get them flustered.) Dress for this program should be “church clothes.” One note for the girls (and Mrs. Rudolphi has mentioned this to them), they may be sitting on the floor. So if they are wearing a dress or skirt, some kind of tights or leggings might be appropriate.

– After the program on Christmas Eve, they will be allowed to spend the rest of the Mass with their family. You may wish to give them an idea in what part of church you plan sit and leave a space for them. Mrs. R and I will probably be spending the rest of Mass in the narthex, so if you don’t connect, we’ll make sure they are OK.

Our class last night was devoted to getting organized and practicing for the Christmas Pageant. I think I have everyone properly assigned to the role they want. Several students have been assigned as shepherds, with the others assigned the narrator roles. We have more readers than we have roles, so some students will read on both dates and some on just one.

Parents – If your child is a reader, it would be really great if you would encourage and assist him or her to practice their lines this week. The sections are really very short, just a sentence or two for most of them. It was obvious last night there are some words that are not familiar (Herod, Nazareth, Galilee, etc.). The single, number one piece of advice for nearly all the children will be this; “Speak Up!” We hope to run through the program at least four times next Wednesday, which, hopefully, will give the students a chance to get comfortable with their role.

We MAY have a final rehearsal on Saturday morning, December 20. We will know after we get a chance to see how well the entire troupe is doing after next Wednesday’s practice.

I just looked and realized that, once again, I did not post an update on last week’s class. I might be losing my mind.

In any case, last week, we covered the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The subject is important, but the class wasn’t the most interesting. The major point we tried to drive home was that as Catholics, we believe that Christ is truly present (Real Presence) in the consecrated bread and wine. The Eucharist is not merely symbolic, as is practiced in some Protestant churches.

Given the importance of that sacrament, I thought it would be a good idea to spend a little more time on it and reinforce the concepts. So we had the students complete the end-of-chapter exercises and then we discussed their answers. Several students, who were not there last week, had some difficulty, but they were allowed to look for the answers in the preceding chapter. Actually, the textbook publishers really make it fairly easy. Most of the answers to the review exercises are highlighted in red text in the book. We allowed them to work with a partner, but most of the class preferred to just work on their own.

We only had about 20 minutes left when we completed our discussion of the Eucharist. (I am the Les Miles of class time management. If you don’t recognize the reference, ask a college football fan.) I wanted to cover a short chapter on the liturgical year. We really didn’t have time to go step-by-step through the chapter. So instead we just talked a little about the liturgical year and the Church’s upcoming “New Years Day” on November 30 (First Sunday of Advent.)

We will have no class next week, as it is the evening before Thanksgiving. We’re back on December 3. The rest of our classes until the Christmas break will be devoted to preparation for the Christmas Pageant. The third grade will provide the actors and the fifth grade will provide the narrators. I polled the class to get an idea of who wants to read and who would just as soon be one of the shepherds or whatever.

What I really need from parents is an idea of who I can count on for our two “performances.” The first performance will be during the regular last regular CCD class session before the break, December 17. Unless I hear otherwise, I will assume that all the children will be available for that program.

The second program will be at the children’s Mass on Christmas Eve afternoon. I’m not sure of the exact time. We know that some of our students may not be available for that program because of travel plans, other family plans or whatever. So what I need to know is who will be available or not for Christmas Eve. I will sort out the readers and give them assignments based on that information. Some students may read at one program, and some may read at both. We’ll just have to see how the chips fall.

So parents, please send me an email and let me know if your child will be available to participate in the Christmas Eve program. We had one student who said her family might be travelling as early as the December 17 date. If this is also the case with any students, please let me know that also.

My email is: savannahmike1130 at gmail.com (Obviously, insert the @ sign in place of “at.”)

I will also be sending out an email to all the parents for whom I have addresses this weekend with the same request.

I hope your family has a great Thanksgiving holiday. I know I have a lot to be thankful for, including the opportunity to work with your fantastic children. See y’all in December.

I didn’t write an update last week, but I didn’t even realize it until I sat down to write this update. Sorry ‘bout that. Actually, the two classes were really one lesson, just split into two weeks, so this should work. .

I’d like to start by praising this group of students once again. The class is fairly large — 18 at full attendance. They can be energetic and enthusiastic, but when it is time to calm down and listen, they can do that. They are generally interested in what we are doing and want to participate. What this means is we can create some lessons that are a little risky from a teaching standpoint, but more interesting for the students. For example, as I will describe below, last night, we had them role-play the Sacrament of Baptism, complete with water and oil (olive.) With some other classes, this could have degenerated into total chaos, but with this class it worked. We had no water fight and no one spilled the olive oil on anyone else. And hopefully, it is more interesting than just reading about it from the text. Please help us reinforce this behavior with your children.

Last week, we started a discussion of the Sacrament of Baptism. We began with a discussion of the three purposes of Baptism.

1.) To join us with God
2.) To bring us into the Church
3.) To wipe our souls clean or original and any other sins

We pointed out that usually a Baptism is administered by a priest or deacon, but in the event of an emergency, anyone can perform a Baptism. We mentioned that this is very unusual, and most often occurs in the case of a newborn infant that is not expected to live long enough for a priest to get to the hospital.

All of this opened the floor to a wide-ranging set of questions. We let this run its course, which pretty-much took the rest of the class period. This caused us to postpone our role-play exercise until the following week. On the other hand, if the students are asking appropriate questions, it means they are interested in the subject. I would rather discuss a topic that interests the students than to adhere to our own arbitrary timetable. This is time consuming, because we don’t usually just answer the question immediately. We will turn it around and ask the student, “What do you think?”, then involve other students and take the discussion from there.

Last night, we divided the class into three groups of five or six students. We showed them three pages in the text that describe the celebration of Baptism. We told them we wanted them to work as a team to teach and role-play this process. We had props, including a little water, some olive oil, candles and white tee-shirts (white garment.)

The actual presentations were a little chaotic. If you were watching them, you might not have learned much. However, since we had all three groups do the entire ceremony (rather than breaking it up), we hope they learned and will remember something through their participation.

Looking ahead, we have only one more regular class period before the Christmas break. The Advent program will be November 19. The class sessions between Thanksgiving and Christmas will be taken up by practice for the Christmas Pageant. Originally, I planned to cover the Eucharist before Thanksgiving. I need to take a look and see the best way to tackle the lesson schedule.

I had no update on last week’s class, because I was out-of-town on vacation. Mrs. Rudolphi took over and did a fantastic job, as I understand.

Last week’s focus was on the chapter that provided an overview of the seven Sacraments. This is very important, as it is the overview of the entire year. Among other activities, Mrs. R broke the class into groups and had each group teach one of the sub-sets of the Sacraments.

Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation

Sacraments of Healing – Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick

Sacraments of Service of Communion – Matrimony and Holy Orders

Mrs. R told me it went better than she expected. That’s always a nice surprise.

Last week’s lesson was sufficiently important, we thought it worthwhile to spend last night reviewing and solidifying it. We began by allowing the students to work with a partner and complete two review activities in the text book. One was a word-scramble. The other was a combination of T-F and matching. We then spent the rest of the class discussing the quizzes. This gave us the opportunity to review some more complex terms and concepts. Like…

Sanctifying Grace – No one could really explain this concept, which was no surprise. We described grace as simply God’s love for us as individuals. We compared it to a parent’s love. We asked the class to think of times when they really felt their parents’ love, such as when they are praised, given a hug, and so on. An act like a love and kiss is a parent’s way of conveying love to a child. The Sacraments are God’s way of conveying his love (grace) to each of us.

Common Vocation – Firstly, we described the meaning of “vocation.” The common vocation is essentially our calling to holiness and evangelization. We discussed evangelization a little. We pointed out that it doesn’t necessarily mean preaching. It also means showing you follow God by the way you love your life and the way you treat other people.

We issued one assignment for the week ahead. We asked the students to look for opportunities to serve God by the way they treat other people. Next week, we will ask them what they did in the week that demonstrated service to some other person. We suggested it may be something as simple as picking up a book another student drops on the school bus.

We spent a little more time discussing the meanings of the three categories of Sacraments and why they are called that.

The Sacraments of Initiation are all beginnings of one type or another.

The Sacraments of Healing each involve a spiritual healing.

The Sacraments of Service (of Communion) involve service. We asked the class “who is being served by whom” in Matrimony and Holy Orders. They had a little difficulty grasping that in Matrimony, the husband and wife serve each other. They got the Holy Orders concept of serving both God and man a little easier.

So, this week, please ask your son or daughter, what they have done or are doing to demonstrate they are serving God through their actions towards others. Next week, we’ll start getting more in depth into Baptism.

Sorry for the late posting. Life has been pretty busy for the past few days.
We had a good class Wednesday evening. Mrs. Rudolphi and I had our new photo sheets, so we at least knew the students’ names. It will still be several weeks before we really get a feel for the class and the students for us. As first glance, though, this looks like a good group.

As we did last week, we started instruction with the opening prayer. We emphasize the proper way to pray the Sign of the Cross. Many students are inclined to simply wave their hand in the general direction of their head and shoulders. We are teaching them that the Sign is a prayer and they should recite it slowly, with their hand touching their forehead, navel, left and right shoulders.

The first part of the lesson dealt with John the Baptist, Jesus’s baptism and the mystery of the Holy Trinity. We talked about John’s role as the precursor to Jesus. We also pointed out that this scene in the Bible that all three persons of the Trinity appear at the same time. (Jesus, the Holy Spirit as a dove, and the Father as a voice from the clouds)

This lead us to a discussion of what exactly is the Holy Trinity, specifically, how there can be one God, but three persons. We were discussing this and I was about to try to explain it when Monsignor Costigan and Paula Hubert walked in. Monsignor was on a recruiting mission for altar servers. I offered him the opportunity to explain the mystery. He declined but said he was interested in hearing my explanation. Gee, no pressure there. Explain the mystery of the Trinity to a group of fifth graders with the pastor listening and grading. I told the class that it wasn’t possible for us as humans to fully understand this mystery of God, but there are several explanations that might come close. I picked out two students and asked them about the various roles they have in life (brother, student, daughter, sister, athlete, friend, cousin, etc.) They are a single human being, but they have different sides to them depending on the role they are in at any moment. To the same extent, the three persons of the Trinity can be thought of as the different roles of God. The Father is the creator; the son is the savior or Messiah; and the Holy Spirit is the side of God who is with us every day and extends God’s love. It may not be the best explanation, but the class seemed satisfied, and so was Monsignor. Whew!

Our next section dealt with the various ways Jesus shows us God’s love. We passed out a sheet with four questions. We asked the students to read the page silently and find the answers to the questions in the text. Some of the various examples involved Jesus feeding people and curing a blind beggar. We also noted the way Jesus treated sinners. He did not shun them; he welcomed them and forgave them.
Our next section was to deal with the way Jesus invites people to follow him. We broke the class up into four groups of four students. We assigned each group a piece of the chapter. We asked them to read their section and then prepare to teach it to the rest of the class. We ran out of time before they had a chance to present their mini-lesson. We’ll tackle that first thing on Wednesday.

We finished, as we will every week, but going around the room and asking each student what they learned that evening. It took a little “teeth pulling,” but everyone was able to cite something. They were rewarded with a cookie.

The year at a glance

This will definitely change at least once. It always does. But here is a tentative schedule of lessons for the year.

Please note: On this schedule, I have Ash Wednesday, Feb 18, listed as “no class.” We usually ask all the families to bring their children to the Ash Wednesday service at the church in lieu of a regular CCD class. However, as it stands right now, the “official” CCD calendar shows that date as a regular class session. I think the official calendar will change between now and then.

Sep 24 – Get organized
Oct 1 – Chapter 1 Jesus shares God’s life
Oct 8 – Ch 3 The Sacraments
Oct 15 – Ch 4 Baptism 1
Oct 22 – Ch 5 Baptism 2
Oct 29 – Ch 10 Eucharist 1
Nov 5 – Ch 11 Eucharist 2
Nov 12 – Ch 6-7 Liturgical Year & Advent
Nov 19 – Advent Program
Nov 26 – No class
Dec 3 – Pageant practice
Dec 10 – Pageant Practice
Dec 17 – Pageant Program
Dec 24, 31, Jan 7 – No class
Jan 14 – Ch 8 Confirmation 1
Jan 21 – Ch 9 Confirmation 2
Jan 28 – Commandments 1
Feb 4 – Commandments 2
Feb 11 – Ch 20-21 Lent & Triduum
Feb 18 – Ash Wednesday
Feb 25 – Ch 15 Healing
March 4 –Ch 16 Reconciliation
March 11 – Ch 18 Anointing of the Sick
March 18 – No class
March 25 – Ch 12 Prayer
April 1 – Ch 24 Matrimony
April 8 – No class
April 15 – 25 Holy orders
April 22 – Unassigned
April 29 – Last Class

 

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