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Archive for October, 2010

We are moving along quickly…maybe a little too quickly, but we have lots of ground to cover. Last night, we had a pretty good class, with the very able assistance of Mrs. Shonda Peecksen.

We started with a review of last week’s lesson on Baptism. This week’s lesson was to finish Baptism and move on to Confirmation.

We started with a story of a fifth grader who moved to a new town and was the new kid in the school. We asked the students of they had someone like that in their class, how they could help him feel at home. Not surprisingly, about half the class had experienced what it is like to be the new kid. We used this example to emphasize that how they live their life every day is an important part of being a Catholic.

The next part of the lesson walked us through the baptism and confirmation of an older child.  We discussed the four important symbols of Baptism:

  • Water
  • Candle
  • White garment
  • Chrism oil

As we moved into Confirmation, we pointed out that most religions have some kind of reaffirmation process for children when they reach their early teens. We asked the class if anyone had asked them if they wished to be baptized and, since all of them were baptized as either infants or small children, the unanimous answer was “no.” We talked about how with Confirmation, the sacrament is their opportunity to step forward and “confirm” their faith and their desire to live as a Catholic.

We briefly discussed the custom of taking the name of a patron saint as a Confirmation name. We also sidetracked into a brief discussion of the various rites of the Church (Latin Rite, Eastern Rite, etc.) and how some churches may have different customs as they pertain to Baptism and Confirmation.

We ran out of time before we ran out of material, which isn’t such a bad thing. It means we had a lot of discussion.

Next week, we’ll do a quick summary / review of Baptism and Confirmation and move on to the concept of grace. The story of St Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus is the centerpiece of the lesson.

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We have several fewer CCD classes this year than last. So last night, rather than reviewing and expanding on the Beatitudes, we moved on to the first of the Sacraments we will be covering – Baptism.

We started off with an extra activity. We discussed the importance of the Latin language in Catholic tradition and history. Then we began learning to pray the Glory Be (Gloria Patri) in Latin. We’ll do this each week. Hopefully, through repetition, they will actually be able to recite it on their own by the end of the year.

This particular chapter has somewhat of a split personality. It covers two significant issues.

1.) Jesus’s incarnation as both God and man.

2.) The role of Baptism in removing sin and initiating us into the Church (Body of Christ.)

We covered the story of Jesus’s baptism in the Jordan River. We had the class brainstorm examples from Jesus’s life that demonstrate his identities as both God and man.

God – resurrection, miracles, curing the sick, etc.

Man – born, family, died, tangible, etc.

We brainstormed reasons why Jesus, who was free from sin, wanted to be baptized in the first place.

The class was very surprised to learn that Baptism is the only Sacrament that does not require a priest, and  we discussed examples.

We finished off with the stories of two saints, a Catholic priest who died in a Nazi concentration camp (Maxmillian Kolbe), and a French nun (Rose Duchesne) who ministered to Native Americans in Kansas in the early 19th century.

Next week, we move deeper into Baptism.

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This continues to be a very “active” group of students, but we muddled through OK last night. Paula Hubert’s husband, John, sat in and helped out.

I changed my mind and went ahead and taught the chapter on the Beatitudes. (“Blessed are the poor in spirit.. etc.”)

We started by discussing the concept of sharing our God-given gifts with others. At first the kids were focused on giving material things and money to charity. We expanded the definition of “gifts” to include their talents and their time. We had them brainstorm of lots of examples, and they came up with some good ones.

We transitioned into the biblical story of the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes. We compared the Beatitudes, which are mostly positive statements, to the Ten Commandments, which are largely negative (“You shall not…”). We selected a volunteer and played the old “warmer-colder” game with undisclosed object in the room. When giving only negative feedback, the student couldn’t locate the object. However, when we added the positive (warmer) feedback, he located the plastic pumpkin almost immediately. We compared this to what the Ten Commandments tell us compared to also including the positive-focused Beatitudes. The students actually seemed to “get it.”

We broke the class into small groups of two or three students and assigned one Beatitude to each group. We asked them to think and talk about their assigned Beatitude and come up with a story, example or experience that demonstrates how it can relate to their age group. I was actually a little surprised at how well they did. They didn’t sidetrack too much and all but one of the groups completed the assignment and were able to report their discussion to the whole class.

That exercise was somewhat time consuming (which is OK) so we ran out of time before we ran out of material. We’ll finish up that chapter next week.

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So Wednesday night, we were discussing the various ways we show reverence and respect in church — actions like genuflecting, blessing ourselves with Holy Water, and so on.

One student told me:

“I’m not sure what to do. My family doesn’t go to church very often, so I really don’t know what kinds of things you are supposed to do there.”

Huh?

I’d like to suggest those parents step up a little. The 50 minutes or so we spend in CCD each week aren’t going to accomplish a darn thing if there isn’t some reinforcement at home. Weekly mass attendance would be great, but attendance sufficient that your child is familiar with the common customs isn’t asking too much. You really do owe it to your kids. It’s not their fault.

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There is light on the horizon. We had a good class last night.

As I referenced in my post from two weeks ago, this had been a difficult group to get organized and under control. Apparently, last week’s session with a substitute teacher was very rough.

After an opening prayer, I started last night’s class with a discussion of proper behavior with an emphasis on the third of our three class rules, “Don’t be a jerk.” One of the students actually volunteered that “talking while someone else is talking” constitutes being a jerk. Once we got things rolling, we kept it moving and really didn’t give the kids any opportunity to wander off track. I was aided considerably by Mrs. Shelly Rudolphi, a parent from another grade, who is going to help out from time to time.

All that having been said — we would still be most grateful if you would reinforce the concept of proper classroom behavior with your child. The classes are much more interesting for the students when everyone is on the same page.

Last night’s subject matter wasn’t the most interesting in the book, so I was happy when everyone stayed with the program.

We opened by talking about the sacraments and naming them.

We discussed how the sacraments are a way of receiving God’s grace. We described grace simply as God’s love. We talked about parental love and asked them if there were times when they felt their parents love more times than others. The students offered some great examples, including “When my mom takes me to MacDonalds even without my asking.” (Ha!) We described how the sacraments are God’s way of sending his love (grace), just as parents do when they hug, care, etc for their children.

We covered the concept of the Paschal Mystery – the life, suffering, death, resurrection and ascension or Christ.

We talked about ways we show respect in church, by blessing with Holy Water, genuflecting, paying attention, etc, and why – the presence of Jesus in the form of the Eucharist in the tabernacle.

We read the story of Father Miguel Pro, a Mexican priest who was martyred by the Mexican government in the early 20th century.

We finished with a short exercise in which they each selected two sacrament-related actions to perform during the coming week. (For example, for Annointing of the Sick, the action was to say a prayer for someone who is ill or suffering.) Please follow up with your child to see what he or she selected, and encourage them to follow through.

The next chapter in the text is on the Beatitudes. However, that is pretty dry. I think we will jump ahead and find a slightly more interesting chapter as an effort to keep up the momentum we started last night. I’ll come back to the Beatitudes at a later time.

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I was out of town last Wednesday, Sept 29. The class had a substitute teacher. That is why we are not up to date here in blog-city.

We’re back tonight.  The fun continues.

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