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Archive for January, 2011

This is a late post. I was on the road Thursday and Friday for my work and didn’t have the time to update. Sorry.

This lesson had the potential to be one of the best of the year, based on teaching it in past years. Unfortunately, this particular group has a great deal of difficulty staying focused on the main activity and discussion. The side chatter, cutting up and general mayhem kept the lesson from achieving its potential.

This has been an issue since the first of the year, and to be honest, it has been very  frustrating. We are going to discuss this at the start of class this week. Any of our students who are not interested in making at least some effort to control themselves and not distract their fellow students (and the teacher) with unwarranted side conversations, joking around and generally misbehaving will be asked to leave the class. If you get a call to come and pick up your child, you’ll know why.

The primary thrust of this week’s class was forgiveness and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We talked about the concept of forgiveness in regular day to day life and compared it to the act of forgiveness in the sacrament. Each process usually consists of four steps.

  1. The “wrong doer” must admit they did wrong.
  2. They must express regret and ask for forgiveness
  3. The injured party offers forgiveness.
  4. Frequently, the “wrong doer” offers some reparation to make up for the damage done.

In Reconciliation these steps are the equivalent of:

  1. Confessing our sins.
  2. Praying the Act of Contrition
  3. The priest’s providing absolution.
  4. The penance.

As a way of demonstrating this process, we asked for two volunteers to role-play an act of forgiveness. We asked them to create a story to explain why Clair is angry at Robbie. Then we did an Oprah Winfrey type talk show where we put the two together to work out their differences. We followed the model above.

We also hit a couple of other issues regarding the Sacrament of Reconciliation, including:

–There is really no reason to be embarrassed to talk with the priest. At their relatively young age, there is probably nothing they can confess that the priest hasn’t heard before.
–The absolution covers all minor sins, confessed or not, but all “mortal sins” must be confessed.
–The priest is absolutely bound by secrecy and cannot reveal what you confess to anyone else.
–There is nothing you can do that is so serious that you cannot be forgiven.

This week will include coverage of “Anointing of the Sick” and we’ll move on from there.

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We had an interesting class last night. Lots of energy and lots of participation. With the help of Mrs. Rudolphi, we were able to keep most of that energy focused on the lesson.

The main point of the class was to study the Lord’s Prayer. However, we started off with a short quiz. You will recall that before Christmas, we challenged the class to read one book of the Bible over the Christmas break. We suggested the Gospel of Matthew, since it is relatively short and is a narrative read. One student said she has read the Gospel, and another said he had read the entire Bible two years ago. They wanted to take the quiz, and several other students also wanted to give it a shot, just to see if they could compete for the prize. (The prize for answering seven of the ten questions was a super-size Hershey bar.)

To be honest, I was both surprised and disappointed at how poorly all of the students did. I didn’t think the quiz was particularly difficult. They were simple questions about the life of Christ. There were a couple of slightly obscure references, but most were common-knowledge questions. The child who said she had read Matthew got only one question right. Several others answered two or three. The high score was four. Yikes!

I have posted the quiz under the tab at the top of the page. Take a look and see what you think. I’d be interested in any feedback.

It’s too late to do anything about it this year, but next year, I think we will include a little bit of the life of Christ in the curriculum throughout the year.

Oh, by the way, the candy bars stayed in my bag. I’ll find some other “takers.”

For the rest of the class, we worked our way through The Lord’s Prayer. We broke it down into its seven components and discussed exactly what we are asking of God in each segment.

We talked about prayer in general, and how and when we can and should pray.

We discussed Jesus’s advice to be humble when we pray.

We challenged the students to start a habit. They say when you do anything every day for a month, it becomes a habit. We challenged them to pray The Lord’s Prayer every morning in connection with something else they do every morning (taking a shower, getting dressed, waiting for the school bus, etc.) We’ll remind them of this for the next several weeks and see how they do.

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We had a very active class last night. The kids were energetic and at least half-way focused.

We started off with a couple of pieces of “old business.”

When we covered the Apostles’ Creed before the Christmas break, we had a question about the phrase that says that Jesus “…descended into Hell…”  I did not have an explanation at the time, but with help from Msgr Costigan, I came up with this explanation.  In simple terms, the phrase does not refer to the place of the damned. Rather it refers to a “region of death.” The phrase confirms that Jesus’s spirit was truly separated from his body in a state of death. He wasn’t just “asleep,” as some early heretics professed. By his soul/spirit separating from his body and moving to a “region of death,” he was truly dead.

We also asked if any of the students took us up on our challenge to read one entire book of the Bible over the break. We suggested Matthew, since it is relatively short and a narrative read. One student claims that she did. Next week, we’ll have a short quiz to see if she remembered anything she read. If any other students want to give it a shot over the next week, they are welcome to do so.

We then went into a review of the Eucharist that was in the form of a crossword puzzle. After giving the students the opportunity to complete the puzzle on their own, we went over the questions and answers.

For the last half of the class, we distributed missalettes. We walked the students through a typical Sunday Mass, and showed them how to follow along in the missalette. In addition…

We discussed how the first Mass was the Last Supper, and that the structure of the Mass is similar in its basic form to visiting a friend’s house for dinner.

When you arrive at your friend’s house, you don’t sit down and eat immediately. You visit first. In the Liturgy of the Word, we talk to God through prayer, and he talks to us through the readings.

You never go to someone’s house for dinner empty handed. You always take a gift of some kind, which is what we do in the mass in the presentation of the gifts.

The meal must be prepared. In the Mass, the Eucharist is prepared through the Liturgy of the Eucharist, including the consecration, etc.

Eventually, you sit down to dinner. In Mass, that would be communion.

We also talked about when and why we stand, kneel and sit. Essentially, we…

  • Stand when we pray, or out of respect, as in the case of the Gospel.
  • Kneel during the most reverential parts of the Mass (and we’re not praying.)
  • Sit when we are listening or observing.

We’ll have to check back with them to see if any of it “stuck.”

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We had a good class last night, probably the best of the year. The students were fairly well-engaged. We had a lot of questions and discussion.

We continued our study of the sacraments, moving on to the Eucharist. We had a wide-ranging discussion that included:

  • The importance of the Eucharist as the most significant sacrament and the center of the Catholic faith.
  • Our belief that the consecrated bread and wine are actually the body and blood of Jesus, and not just a representation as believed by most Protestant faiths.
  • What the host is composed of. Why it looks and tastes (“like cardboard”) the way it does. The students were actually very interested in discussing the composition of the host. They had some difficulty getting their brains around the idea that our flat, unleavened hosts are a type of bread.
  • Why only priests can consecrate the bread and wine.
  • We compared the Mass to the Last Supper, and discussed how the command “Do this in memory of me” was Jesus’s instruction to the Apostles to continue to celebrate the Eucharist.
  • What happens to the hosts and wine that is not consumed at Mass.
  • We got off on a discussion of priests, nuns and brothers, and marriage. There actually are some married priests, and I shared the story of how surprised I was when I first encountered one when we moved to Tulsa, Okla., in the late 80s.

We ran out of time long before we ran out of questions and discussion.

Next week, we will spend a few minutes finishing up on the Eucharist and reviewing what we have covered.

For the second half of the class, I am going to distribute misselettes. I will walk the class through a Mass and show them how to use the misselettes to follow what is happening. From our discussions, I can tell that most of the students do not currently have a solid idea of the structure of the Mass and what is happening at any given time. I hope this will fall into the category of “news you can use.”

As always, if any of you parents would like to sit-in, you would be most welcome.

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I hope everyone had a great Christmas and New Year season. We start back again this week (Jan 5.) We will have a fairly accelerated pace through St Patrick’s Day. Lots of important material. And the most interesting chapters are in the second half of the year.

As always, parents are most welcome to sit in and/or participate (optional) at any time.

See y’all on Wednesday.

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