Archive for March, 2012

We had a fairly interesting class last night. We finished up the Sacrament of Matrimony. It was our plan to also cover Holy Orders, but that didn’t happen.

As we did last week, we emphasized the Church’s teaching that the marriage vow is a life-long commitment.  We talked about the concept of “fidelity. (We also emphasized that we are trying to teach them the way they should approach marriage when they are older, and in no way are judging or criticizing anyone they may know or in their family who may be divorced.)

We pointed out that Matrimony is the only sacrament in which the participants are the ministers, and the priest or deacon is just a witness, to put God’s blessing and “seal of approval” on the union.

We emphasized the importance of a family as being a building block of the Church. We talked a little about responsibilities in a family – both the adults and children.  We let the students brainstorm for a while to come up with responsibilities. They did a pretty good job for both groups.

Mrs. Rudolphi and I did have one awkward moment.  Mrs. R said she was anticipating a question about gay marriage, but, fortunately, that did not arise. Instead, the question stemmed from a paragraph in the textbook.

“The deacon or priest asks the couple three important questions…Will they lovingly accept children from God and raise them in the faith?”

“So Mr. Sullivan, suppose it’s not a good time for a couple to have children? Like maybe one of them is in the military and is being sent away. What can they do then?”

We responded that the Church does not approve of artificial means of birth control, but there are other, natural means a couple can use. And then we said that we really don’t have permission from their parents to get involved any more deeply in that kind of subject, and strongly suggested that they talk with their parents.

I don’t know if that was the best response, but it was the best I could come up with on short notice.

Next week, we plan to cover the Sacrament of Holy Orders very briefly. We will devote the remainder of that class and the next class (after the Easter break) to covering the Ten Commandments. This was part of the 5th grade curriculum when we used the older text, but it is not part of the new Sadlier text. However, in past years, the classes when we discussed the Commandments were some of the best of the entire year. We usually get the students to consider some concepts they haven’t thought of before. It generates lots of questions, ideas and discussion. So we are going to finish off the year with that subject.

As always, parents are most welcome to come and sit in on the class. If you have been holding back and waiting for an interesting one, these next two classes just might be “it.”

Please take a moment to glance at the schedule of classes under the tab at the top of this page. We have class next week (April 4). We are off the week after Easter, but then back for two final classes.

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What happened to class # 22 last week? Beats me.  I remember we covered the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, but beyond that, I just don’t remember. Oh well. On to this week.

Sorry for the late posting this week. I had an out of town meeting on Thursday and was “pooped” when I got back to Savannah.

We had a good class on Wednesday evening. The prime topic was the Sacrament of Matrimony. As innocent as it sounds, this particular lesson has the potential to open cans of worms. We emphasize the Church’s teachings on the sanctity and the permanence of marriage, but we realize this can touch very close to home to children who have divorced parents or other relatives. We try to teach the Church’s “ideal” without inadvertently seeming to criticize someone in the student’s family.  I think we were successful this time around, and left those cans of worms unopened. If you parents received some negative feedback from your child, please let me know.

We started with the concept of the equality of the genders, in a marriage relationship and in life. We pointed out that this concept flies in the face of the generally held beliefs of thousands of years. However, here in the light of the 21st century, we recognize that while God made men and women different, he also made them equal. Half-jokingly I said that, if anything, we are seeing that women are probably the superior sex.  Mrs. Rudolphi agreed.

We spent a little time (probably too much) discussing the difference between the civil and religious aspects of a wedding. You can get married before a judge at the courthouse, but that covers only the civil aspect and is not a sacrament. Getting married in the Church covers both the civil and religious aspects.

We also discussed the concept of matrimony as a vow. A vow is a promise before God, which is much more serious than an every day promise to a friend. We also discussed he concept of a covenant, which was term none of the students knew.

We had some interesting questions, some of which, we believe, were just asked to see what kind of reaction they would get.

“I know of someone who is already pregnant, and they just now got married. How does that happen?”

“How old do you have to be to get married?”

One girl asked us why all the pictures in our text showed the brides wearing white dresses?

Me: It’s a tradition, but you can wear whatever color you like.

Her: Even black?

Me: Yes.

Her: But why do they usually wear white?

Me: It symbolizes purity or innocence.

Her: Innocent of what?

Mrs. Rudolphi: It symbolizes that she is a virgin.

Her: A virgin? What’s a virgin?

Mrs. Rudolphi: You know the answer to that.

Her: No, really (laughing). I don’t know. What’s a virgin?

Mrs. Rudolphi: Ask your parents.

At this age, we are never quite sure, just exactly how much our students have learned about sex from their parents, school, friends, TV, etc., so we try to tread lightly.  It is not our goal, nor do we have a mandate, to conduct a sex-education class.  If we were dealing with 13-year olds, for instance, we would be much more confident that all our students have already had “Birds and Bees 101.” With fifth graders, we think but we can’t sure that their parents have, at least, covered the basics.  That having been said, Mrs. R and I are about 99% certain that our young student was putting us on. Imagine that!

Next week we’ll finish up a little more of matrimony and then cover our final sacrament, Holy Orders.

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As I am posting this, I notice the class number. Have we really been doing this for 21 weeks? My, how time flies when you are having fun.

We had a good class last night. It least it felt good to the teachers.

We finished up on the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Penance, Confession, etc.). We concentrated on the general concept and process of forgiveness in any situation, whether between friends or between a person and God.

We prayed the Act of Contrition as our opening prayer. We then broke the class up into pairs for a role playing exercise. We asked the students to get with their partner and come up with a back story. One of the two did something to the other, and the second person is angry about it. After they had a few minutes to come up with their story, we briefed the two groups separately about how they should act out the exercise.

  • At first the offender should deny the act.
  • Eventually he or she should cave in and admit they did the deed.
  • The offender should say they are sorry.
  • The offended party should forgive them.
  • They should agree one some action to make up for the offense.

We had them play it out on their own, and then asked if anyone wanted to repeat the role-play for the entire class. Every pair but one wanted to play out their scenario. They ere very creative and enthusiastic. I was just a little surprised out much every single student “got into it.” They say students remember 10% of what they are told, but 90% of what they do. Maybe some of this will “stick.”

We used this exercise to introduce the idea that any act of forgiveness, including the Sacrament of Reconciliation, usually involves four distinct steps.

1.) Confession – The offender must own up to the offense.

2.) Contrition – The offender must feel and express regret or sorrow.

3.) Forgiveness – The other party forgives the offender.

4.) Reparation – The offender does something to make up for the offense.

We emphasized these steps match up to the sacramental steps of confession of sins; the Act of Contrition; the priest’s absolution; and the penance.

We talked about some of the other aspects of the sacrament.

Individual confessions are heard at St Peter’s on Saturdays from 4:30-5:00 pm, in the confessional just off of the daily chapel/cry room.

You can call the church office or the rectory to arrange for an individual confession at any time.

In our parish, we usually have two communal reconciliation services, — during Lent and Advent.

The priest is bound to secrecy about whatever you confess.

We talked about how confessions used to be conducted in the dark confessional. Now you can meet the priest face-to-face, or you may still do so anonymously by remaining behind a curtain or screen.

The need for an individual confession led to a discussion of mortal and venial sins. Unfortunately, we really didn’t have the opportunity for much discussion about this. We defined mortal sins as ones as the big ones, like murder, bank robbery and kidnapping. Venial sins are the minor offenses. We didn’t really want to be overly creative about listing mortal sins. We said that mortal sins must be confessed to be forgiven. However, if a person forgets about some venial sins during a confession, they are still covered by the blanket absolution.

For homework, we asked the class to investigate when the parish Lent reconciliation service will be held and to ask their parents to take them. (Tuesday, March 20, 7:00 pm)

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Father John came by to visit as we were just starting the class and stayed for the entire session.

He talked about forgiveness and God’s ability and willingness to forgive.

He also answered questions on a variety of subjects.

Taking a look at the calendar (Click the tab at the top of the page.), we have only seven more class sessions remaining in the CCD year, and that counts the final class when it’s pretty tough to get anything done. That may sound like a lot, but not when I look at the material we have still to cover. Of the sacaraments, we have covered half of Reconciliation, and have not hit at all Holy Orders, Anointing of the Sick and Matrimony.  I would also like to spend one or two class sessions on the Commandments.

We will pick up the pace for these last few weeks. The good news is that these subjects are usually pretty interesting and generate a lot of questions and discussion.  It should be fun.

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