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Archive for February, 2012

We had a different class last night. We had a “field trip” over to the church. We joined the sixth grade class for a very nice program presented by Cathy Scanlon. She had a complete set of priest’s vestments and the various “tools” used during the Mass, like the chalice, paten, etc.  She explained the various colors for the vestments, the seasons of the Church year and the uses for all the parts of the altar kit. Much of this we have already covered in class, but reinforcement is always good.

We only had about half the class in attendance last night, which was too bad. Despite the reaction of a few of the students who had trouble sitting still for 45 minutes, it was really an interesting and informative program.

Next week is Ash Wednesday. There will not be a normal CCD class. We strongly encourage parents to bring their child to the Mass and ashes service at 7 pm.

Hope to see you then!

 

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We had a busy night last evening. The class was lively and engaged.

We started with a chapter review of last week’s lesson on prayer, the various types of prayer, etc. Terms like “petition” and “intercession” didn’t stick very well, but overall, the students seemed to get the general idea. We were extremely encouraged to note the number of students who volunteered that they have been trying to spend at least 30 seconds in private prayer every day. Most said they did so during their moment of silence at school. Whatever works! (Parental encouragement is always helpful on this point!)

Our primary lesson was the first of two on forgiveness and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  We started by reading the story of the prodigal son. (Luke 15:21- ) As we discussed the story, we asked how they would react if they had been the father or the other brother in the story. Most agreed that the son who blew his part of his father’s fortune shouldn’t get off easy. We contrasted this most natural human reaction to God’s infinite love. We emphasized that God’s capacity for forgiveness is infinite and there is nothing they could do that is so evil that God would not accept them back with open arms. Several students asked about sinners in Hell and Satan. “If God will forgive anything, what’s their story?” We replied that you must ask for forgiveness and express remorse (contrition). We’ll cover the four main steps of forgiveness when we hit the next chapter (in three weeks.)

We broke the class up into small groups of 3-4 students each and asked them to work as a team to write, and then act out, a short story about the act of forgiving. I was a little surprised how much they got into this project. Each group did a very good job acting out their little scenario.

We presented the biblical story of Jesus’s giving the Apostles and their successors the power to forgive sins (John 20:21-23).

As the clock started to run down to dismissal time, we briefly covered the concept of sin. We asked the question. “Can you sin, while doing nothing?” We discussed the concept of sinning through inaction. That is, not doing something that they ought to do. We re-introduced them to the Confiteor and read the prayer together, with an emphasis on…

“…I have greatly sinned in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do…”

Next week, we’ll have a special class. Cathy Scanlon will take our class on a guided tour of the church with explanations for the various symbols, objects, etc. It should be interesting. I expect I’ll learn something myself. If any parents would like to come along for a refresher, you would be most welcome. We’ll meet in the classroom and then walk over to the church. We’ll bring the children back to the school for after-class pick up — probably in the school lobby.

The following week is Ash Wednesday (Feb 22). We will not have CCD class that week, but I believe there will be an ashes service that evening. As they say at Mass, “Check the bulletin for other important announcements.”

We’ll be back on February 29. (Yes, it’s Leap Year, folks.) We’ll be focusing on the four steps of any forgiveness process and the specifics of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

 

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We decided we needed a break in our routine last night, so we split the session up into two parts.

Before we started, we added about a minute of silent, personal prayer to our opening prayer. We first introduced that last week.

For the first half hour, we finished up the chapter on prayer that we had begun last week. We covered sacramentals. These are objects, blessings, etc. that remind us of some religious concept. Examples we discussed from recent experience and objects within the room included the Sign of the Cross, the Crucifix, a statue of Mary, a Rosary and others.

We briefly discussed the practice of maintaining the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle behind the altar. We talked about how this is tangible evidence of God’s presence in the church. It is why we genuflect and bow to the altar.

We also discussed Holy Days of Obligation. The class had trouble naming more than one of the six (Christmas was the easy one.) until one student found a list in the back of the textbook. Sly dog!

In case you are wondering yourself, the complete list is:

  • Solemnity of Mary Jan 1
  • Feast of the Ascension 40 days after Easter
  • Feast of the Assumption Aug 15
  • All Saints Day Nov 1
  • Feast of the Immaculate Conception Dec 8
  • Christmas Dec 25

(I wonder whatever happened to the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25? That was one of the HDBs when I was growing up.)

The second half of the class was a “quiz bowl” that covered material we had taught since September. We split them up into four teams of 4-5 students each. We allowed them to consult with each other and also reference the textbook, but didn’t give them much time to look up something.  It was great to see the class lively and engaged. However, it was also somewhat disheartening to realize how little many of the students have retained from material we have covered and reviewed several times.

For example, there is no good reason why a team of five students shouldn’t be able to name the three parts of the Holy Trinity without having to look it up.

Other “easy” questions that we have covered repeatedly in different forms, but gave multiple teams difficulty,  included:

Name the three Sacraments of Initiation. (Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist)

What is the sacrament by which man is made a priest or deacon? (Holy Orders)

Name three of the twelve apostles.

There are four key symbols of Baptism. Name three of them. (Holy Water, white garment, Sacred Chrism and a candle.)

What is the first season of the Church’s liturgical year? (Advent)

What is the only Sacrament of Initiation we can receive over and over again? (Eucharist)

We probably need to re-evaluate our teaching methods. If the students are not retaining the material — even after lively and engaged discussions — then we’re just wasting everybody’s time.

Any ideas?

By the way, we have backed off on our original plan to have the students read the Gospel of Matthew throughout the year. We simply do not have time to review and discuss it in class.  It may (or may not) have been a good idea in concept, but it just hasn’t worked in the roughly 50 minutes we spend together each week.

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