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Archive for October, 2013

Last night’s class was the first of two relating to the Eucharist. We had a small turnout, only seven students, so no one escaped participation. For those of you following along with our home edition, the main chapter for the lesson was Chapter Ten.

 We began with an opening prayer that contained several references to Jesus as the “bread of life” and other similar images. We discussed this briefly.

 We introduced the first Eucharist at the Last Supper. We talked about how this was a Jewish Passover meal, but Jesus changed things. We provided a biblical/historical account of the Passover from Exodus and pointed out that, since Jesus and his apostles were all Jewish, the Last Supper began as their annual religious meal.

 The text referenced Jesus’s declaring a “new covenant.” So we talked about the meaning of a covenant, the ancient Jewish covenant dating back to Abraham and Moses, and the idea of Jesus establishing a new covenant at the Last Supper.

 We had the class read silently the next page that outlined how the Eucharist is a memorial, a meal and also a sacrifice. We talked a little about the concept of a sacrifice. We had them take a sheet of blank paper and create three columns, headed by “memorial,” “meal” and “sacrifice.” As they read the text, they were to list the ways the Sacarament fulfills each of these concepts.

 We spent most of the rest of the class discussing and emphasizing the concept of “real presence,” that Jesus is truly present in the consecrated host and wine, and not just a symbol, as believed by most other Christian denominations.

 We finished up with a Q&A review from the quiz at the end of the chapter. And of course, we quizzed all the students on “What did you learn tonight?”

 Next week, we’ll cover Chapter 11, which is the second chapter on the Eucharist, but the focus is on the structure of the Mass.

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I have assembled a schedule of lessons for the rest of the CCD year. Just so you’ll know, this is highly optimistic. There are all kinds of things that can and will divert us from this plan, but at least it gives us a yard stick to measure how far behind we are at any time.

By the way, several years ago, we arranged for a family in our parish to have their newborn son baptized on a Wednesday evening. We used the Baptism ceremony as a teaching tool. It worked out very well for both the CCD classes and the family. Monsignor Costigan did everything the same as he would otherwise. The ceremony was held n the church with no shortcuts. The only differences were that Monsignor explained what he was doing and its significance at each step. And the child had about 150 honorary godparents in attendance. That child’s older sister happens to be in our class this year. We would love to do this again this year, if only we can find parents with a child in need of baptizing who are willing to go along with it. If you are such a parent, or you know someone who might be willing, please let me know.

Here is the tentative class schedule.

 Oct 30 – Eucharist 1 Ch 10

 Nov 6 – Eucharist 2 Ch 11

 Nov 13 – Liturgical Year & Advent Ch 6 & 13

 Nov 20 – Advent Project (family)

 Dec 4 – Christmas Pageant prep

 Dec 11 – Christmas Pageant prep

 Dec 18 – Christmas Pageant program (Family)

 Jan 15 – Confirmation Ch 8

 Jan 22 – Confirmation Ch 9

 Jan 29 – Prayer – Ch 12

 Feb 5 – Ten Commandments (not in textbook)

 Feb 12 – Ten Commandments

 Feb 19 – Reconciliation Ch 16

 Feb 26 – Lent and Easter Triduum Ch 20 & 21

 March 19 – Lent Project (Family)

 March 26 — Anointing of the Sick Ch 18

 April 2 – Matrimony Ch 24

 April 9 – Holy Orders Ch 25

 April 16 – Easter Ch 27

 April 23 – Open

 April 30 – Last Class

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This continues to be a very good group, and Mrs. Rudolphi and I are enjoying our Wednesday evenings very much. Last night, we finished up the Sacrament of Baptism.

Since last week’s lesson covered the mechanics of Baptism, last night we focused a little more on the theory. We presented and discussed the three main functions of the sacrament.

1.) Joins us with Christ.

2.) Brings us into the Church.

3.) Wipes us free of all sin.

We spent a little time discussing Original Sin and, frankly did not do a very good job of it. We discussed the story of Adam and Eve and emphasized that the story as related in Genesis should be looked at for the message, not the literal account. The Garden of Eden story was a way to explain how a perfect, all loving God placed his creations into a world full of suffering, death, etc. God started out with a perfect world (Eden). It was man who exercised his free will to disturb the plan. That Original Sin is passed down through the generations.

Monsignor Costigan stopped by later in the class, and we asked him to address Original Sin. His explanation was much better than mine. He explained that Original Sin isn’t really a sin. It is simply the state of being born without the presence of God’s grace.  Baptism brings the recipient into contact with God and fills him/her with His grace. (I guess that shows why he is a monsignor, and Mrs. R and I are one-hour-a-week CCD teachers.)

We also discussed the four main signs or symbols of Baptism and their meanings..

1.) Water (Cleansing us from sin.)

2.) Sacred Chrism (oil) (Holy Spirit)

3.) White garment (Purity)

4.) Lit Candle (The light of Christ in our life.)

We allowed the class to pair off with partners to complete the review/quiz section at the end of the chapter. We were about to start discussing the quiz when Msgr. Costigan stopped by. He did answer a question one student asked several weeks ago, that Mrs. R and I just didn’t know. It had to do with the pipe system in the church that is used to wash the chalice and other items used in the Eucharist, and also for disposing of unconsumed consecrated wine. The pipe returns the liquid directly into the Earth and not into the sewage system.

I think we will move on to the Eucharist next week, but I’m not sure. When I have the chance to look at my notes, I’ll post a new entry to let you know.

 

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We have a number of students who have or will have sports-team scheduling conflicts on Wednesday evenings. Here is what we worked out with one family.

The parents take over the lesson on the weeks the child cannot attend class. We can provide you with a textbook with lessons we will be teaching. I write about each class here, and usually will also indicate what we will be doing next week. It should be fairly easy to keep up in parallel. When the season is over, or on nights when there isn’t a scheduling conflict, the student can rejoin the class and should be reasonably up to speed.

And I am always available to answer a question via phone, email or in person before or after class.

Parents — If you are interested in taking advantage of this, just get in touch so we can get you a text book.

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Mrs. Rudolphi and I are continuing to have a great time with this class. Because they are reasonably cooperative and behaved, we can do some things that we might have never attempted with a larger or more difficult group.

For example, our lesson last night was on the Sacrament of Baptism. When I walked into the room with a handful of paper towels, Mrs. R asked me what was going on. I told her. “We are going to have the class act out a Baptism. I have some water and some olive oil to use.” She gave me a “Have you totally lost your mind?” look. That is something we would have never attempted this early in the year with any past classes, and probably not at all with some.  With this group, however, it was worth the attempt, and it worked.

As I indicated, the focus of last night’s class was the Sacrament of Baptism. (Chapter 5 in the book for those of you who are following along with our home edition.)

We started by emphasizing several points.

1.) The Church welcomes everyone to be baptized. There are no admission requirements. Everyone is welcome.

2.) Not everyone gets baptized at the same age. We discussed infant, older child and adult Baptism.

3.) We discussed preparation typical for an adult Baptism, and the role of godparents in an infant Baptism.

We also discussed the concept of an emergency Baptism, when anyone can perform a Baptism. The most common occasion for this would be a gravely ill newborn baby who is not expected to live long enough for a priest to arrive. We had an interesting question from one of the students, “What about a miscarriage?” We answered that a baby who is miscarried is also frequently baptized.

We then broke the class into two groups and assigned each group a page in the text that described the Baptism ceremony, complete with some of the priest’s prayers. Each group included a reader, a priest, a person to be baptized, godparents, and so on. Each group was instructed to each their piece of the lesson to the other half of the class, and to demonstrate the actions.

It worked out just great! They got themselves organized fairly efficiently and each group did a nice job with their lesson/demonstration. The second group even handled the pouring of water and the anointing with oil without making a total mess out of it. (Of course Mrs. Rudolphi controlled the water supply. She gave the “priest” a water-bottle cap with only a few drops of water in it. I held on to the oil and only allowed the “priest” to dip his finger in a small amount.)

We still have some important elements of Baptism that we need to cover. Last night’s lesson focused mostly on the actual ceremony. Next week, we want to wrap up some loose ends like the origin (John the Baptist and Jesus’s baptism), the role of Baptism in forgiving sin (both original and regular), and the primary symbols of the Sacrament. That should not take the entire class. If we have time, we will cover a short chapter on the liturgical calendar before moving on to the next Sacrament.

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One of the things I like about teaching 5th grade is that we are not a sacramental class. Since we do not have a rigid curriculum to prepare our students for their First Communion or Confirmation, we have the flexibility sometimes to adjust on the fly and talk about whatever is on our collective minds.

Last week we taught an overview of the Sacraments. We thought it would be a good idea to spend more time on that subject, to reinforce what we discussed last week. So we took the first 40 minutes of the class on two review exercises. The first was a word-game, and the second was a true-false, match-the-definition quiz format. We had the students complete them on their own, and then we talked about them.

By the time we were done with those, there was only about 20 minutes left in the class session, not enough time to start a brand-new chapter. The class was full of questions, some sacrament-related, and some not. So we spent the rest of the class in discussion. Among our subjects were:

–The difference between the Catholic Eucharist and Protestant churches’ communion.

–What happens to the unconsumed over consecrated hosts and wine after Mass.

— The origins and legends of Halloween, and its connection to All Saints Day.

Last week, we said a class prayer for Mrs. Rudolphi’s grandmother who was seriously ill. Since then, she passed away, so we said another prayer for her as our closing prayer.

And as is our usual practice, we closed by asking each student what he/she learned that night. All students were able to cite at least one thing, and were rewarded with a cookie.

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We had a good class last night. Mrs. Rudolphi was back and was impressed with our group as were my wife and I last week. So far, this has been a very good group. Hopefully we can nurture that quality, and we’ll have a great year.

For our lesson, we presented a broad-brush-stroke profile of the sacraments.

We started by discussing the sacraments as a way of receiving grace. Since the concept of “grace” is sometimes difficult to understand, we described it as simply God’s love. We compared God’s love to the love they receive from their parents. While they may know their parents love them all the time, there are certain times when they may feel it more than others, like when getting a hug. Just as a hug may convey a parent’s love to a child, so the sacraments convey God’s love, aka “grace,” to the recipient.

We talked about the sacraments, and why they are organized into three groups.

Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation. We briefly discussed the concept of “initiation” or beginning.

Sacraments of Healing – Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick. We discussed how Reconciliation “heals” your soul. The healing characteristics of Anointing of the Sick is a little more difficult. We described how spiritual/psychological health and physical health are often related. On the negative side is the idea of a person who “worries themselves sick.” On the plus side, a spiritual healing can contribute to physical healing, and that’s where Anointing of the Sick comes in. We pointed out that it frequently is administered in conjunction with the Eucharist and Reconciliation.

Sacraments of Service – Holy Orders and Matrimony. We covered these from the text book but didn’t have enough time to discuss them in any detail. More of that in the future.

Last night’s lesson was just an introductory overview of the sacraments. As the year goes on, we will revisit each one of them in much greater detail.

At the beginning of class, I reminded the students that at the end of class I would ask each one of them a question – “What did you learn tonight?” On most nights, we will provide a small reward, like a cookie, to everyone who can respond with at least one thing they learned in the previous hour. At the end of last night’s class, everyone earned their cookie, although a couple of students has to take some time to think about it.

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