Archive for November, 2011

Oh, wow! We had a very lively and interesting class last night.

We started off with a mandatory “good touch-bad touch” discussion. In light of all the news coming out of my brother’s and sisters’ alma mater (Penn State), it was probably well timed.

We went over seven or eight guidelines or pieces of advice for children to follow to avoid becoming abuse victims. I don’t have my guide sheet with me right now. I’ll update this posting in a day or so with some of the specifics. The two primary themes were “You can and should say ‘no’ to an adult who is making you feel uncomfortable” and “Talk to your parents.”

I did reference the Penn State issue in a very general way, and recommended the children ask their parents about it if they want to know more.

As has already been very obvious, this class just loves to ask questions and discuss things. So you can imagine how this subject took the lid off the can of worms. Almost none of the questions or discussions focused on personal abuse. They were much more interested in talking about stranger abduction, someone breaking into their house, and similar subjects. Mrs. Rudolphi was a tremendous help in this discussion. We let it go for a while, but eventually some of the questions just got to be absurd. Some of the students were just making up bizarre situations to keep things going. So we moved on to other things.

We really didn’t have time for a full lesson after that, so we organized a “quiz bowl.” We divided the class into four teams. We have them a few minutes to review the chapters of the Gospel of Matthew that they have (supposedly) already read (Chapters 1-5). Then we asked them questions from those chapters. We allowed it to be “open book,” but didn’t give them a whole lot of time to look up answers if they were starting from scratch. Actually, I was fairly happy at their recall. It went well.

We have no class next week due to the Thanksgiving week. We’re back on November 30. The Season of Advent will be on the agenda for that night.

Please ask your child to read Chapter 6 of Matthew, and any of the previous chapters he or she may have missed.

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Another busy class session last night. We had pretty-close to a full house, with a new student thrown in.

We finish up the Sacrament of Baptism last week, but in the rush to close out the chapter before the end of class, we pretty-much glossed over the important symbols of Baptism (water, sacred chrism (oil), a candle and a white garment.) I thought it would be a good idea to introduce the students to the concept of symbols and their importance in the Church.

We talked a little about the concept of symbols and then I distributed an exercise. I asked them to think of symbols they encounter in their everyday life and draw it on one side of the paper. On the other side they should write what the symbol represents. I had drawn an American flag and the initials “USA” on the top line as an example. The class came up with some pretty good ideas.

From there, we listed the four symbols of Baptism and discussed their meanings.

  • Water – Cleans the soul. Washes away sin.
  • Candle – Light (love) of God.
  • White Garment – A sin-free soul.
  • Sacred Chrism – A physical representation of the Gift of the Holy Spirit

When we finished that, we shifted gears completely and introduced the class to the liturgical year.  We started with a story about a Native American boy who was obsessed with studying and getting ahead and never took time to play with his friends or enjoy life. His grandfather took him fishing to convey a message that there is a time for everything and that he shouldn’t be so focused on just one thing.

We talked about the various ways we keep track of the year, like the normal calendar, sports seasons, the school year and so on. We described the various seasons of the liturgical calendar and their meanings.

We had a little difficulty conveying the reasons why the liturgical calendar doesn’t match up with the regular calendar the same way every year. To that end, we described how the date of Easter moves around, from late-March through late-April, and the formula for the way the date is selected. (Easter is the first Sunday of a full moon, following the vernal equinox. The Church has standardized the date of the full moon in the lunar cycle, the 14th day of the cycle,  and the day of the equinox, March 21, even though it may not be exactly astronomically correct in some years. )

As always, we had a bunch of questions and a lot of discussion. It’s a little rowdy, but for the most part, the class is paying attention and getting involved. Mrs. Rudolphi and I are trying our best to spread things around and include more of the class in the various discussions.

And a final note – one of our students, Alexis, and her mom are collecting canned food for the homeless. They will collect the cans next week during CCD. Your child should have given you a flier.

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We had another good class Wednesday evening. We finished up our discussion of Baptism.

We reviewed the three aspects or purposes of Baptism.

1. Wipes us free from sin.

2. Initiates us to the Church and the “Communion of Saints”

3. Gives us the spiritual strength to live as God wishes us to live

We discussed that while all of this class was baptized as infants, there are people who are baptized when they are older. We talked a little about RCIA and what that is all about.

We also talked about godparents and their role – a back-up for parents on the spiritual side. Some of the class had some difficulty understanding that the baptismal godparents are not necessarily the people who designated to care for a child in the event something happens to the parents. We explained that the two concepts are entirely different. The guardians would deal with all aspects of a child’s life; the godparents only the spiritual.

We pointed out that everyone is called to Baptism. There are no qualifications and no one is rejected.

We talked about praying for the dead, and pointed out that yesterday, coincidentally, was All Souls Day, when the church prays for all deceased. Some students expressed surprised that they were “allowed” to pray for the soul of any deceased person. “Even if they didn’t live in Savannah?”

We got a little into the mechanics of the sacrament. One of the photos in their book showed an adult being baptized in a tub or pool in a church. We talked about how different churches sometimes do things differently. However, Catholics believe that it doesn’t matter whether it is total immersion or just a cup of water. It works fine both ways.

We pretty much blew right past the four main symbols of Baptism.

  • Water
  • Chrism oil
  • White garment
  • Candle

I think we’ll spend a little time next week talking about religious symbols and their importance in worship.

We finished up with the surprising (to the students) revelation that anyone can perform a Baptism in an emergency. We pointed out that this emergency situation most often is called into play with a critically ill newborn baby.

Learn something new every day.

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