Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Last week, we tackled the Sacrament of Confirmation. We started by talking about the Holy Spirit and Pentecost. We emphasized that the Holy Spirit is God and that aspect or person of God that stays with us daily. We told the story of Pentecost and then showed a short video to reinforce the concept.

We transitioned into a discussion of the role of the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Confirmation. We discussed the idea of confirming their basic beliefs as Catholic. We broke them into pairs and asked them to list some of their core Catholic beliefs. We gave them some hints, like “Think of the Apostle’s Creed.” It went OK.

We discussed the role of Confirmation as a major milestone on their growth as Catholics. Most of them weren’t asked if they wanted to be baptized, but when they approach young adulthood, they do get the chance to decide and confirm their faith. We compared it to other young adult ceremonies in other religions, like evangelical protestants’ “born again” or the Jewish Bar Mitzvah.

We returned to the text and asked them to read a page silently and look for the answers to a few questions.

Why does the Confirmation sponsor place his or her hand on the shoulder of the candidate?

How does the bishop anoint the candidate?

Why does the newly confirmed offer peace to the bishop?

We spent some time talking about the Gifts of the Holy Spirit and completed a match-game exercise.

We finished up with a game of Hangman. Unfortunately, despite going through nearly the entire alphabet, they weren’t able to solve “Pentecost.” Too bad.

Read Full Post »

We started the class a little differently this week. We have had a small problem lately with classroom behavior. It hasn’t been terrible, but some of the antics have been distracting, both to the rest of the class and to me. We usually go through this about this time every year.  Mrs. Hanzel has not been able to help out since the Christmas break, so I have been on my own. I realize that the CCD class comes at the end of a long day for them. Their regular school is their “job.” Our class is like overtime.

So I asked the class for their cooperation. I don’t expect or want them to just sit there with their hands folded. We want a lively class with a lot of exchange, but we need some better focus. I try to present lessons that, while not necessarily entertaining, are interesting. We engage in activities like role playing that break up the routine. That doesn’t work when several students are trying to make themselves the center of attention. I asked them to work with me, pay attention and avoid activities that disrupt or distract. For the most part, it worked. I did have to call out two young ladies, who ironically, were late for class and didn’t hear the message. When I was making a point, one who was sitting in the front row, stood up, turned around to her friends and used both hands to point to herself. I addressed her and told her about my talk before she got to class. I told her and the class that was exactly the kind of attention-seeking, distracting activity I was talking about.

For the lesson, we finished our discussion of the Eucharist by focusing on the Mass. Most of the class agreed that they really didn’t understand what was going on. To start off, we compared the structure of the Mass to visiting some friends with their family. In this case, we are visiting in God’s house.

— We start a visit by going to the door and being welcomed by our hosts. This is like the introductory rites.

— Typically, we visit and chat with our friends. This like the opening prayers and the readings. We talk to God and God talks to us.

— And since we never show up for dinner without bringing something, we do the same at Mass. This is the offertory and presentation of the gifts.

— Eventually, we and the host prepare the meal and we sit down and eat. This, of course, is the consecration, Eucharistic prayer and communion.

— And finally, we say good bye and go home. The same at Mass.

We passed out a one-sheet outline of the Mass. It included a column indicating when we sit, stand and kneel. Typically, we stand when we are praying, sit when we are listening and kneel during the most sacred part of the Mass.

We played a video that covered a lot of the same information, but it reinforced the lesson. These Catholic Central videos are energetic and interesting. They may be slightly advanced for 5th graders, but not by much. The class seems to enjoy them. You can watch the one from this week here.

We finished up by passing out the missals/hynmals we use in the church, and showed the class how to use the missal to follow along with the Mass.

Next week, we will begin a two-week lesson on Confirmation.

Read Full Post »

This is a way-late update for last week’s class. Being partially retired with two small (23 mos and 8 mos) grandchildren is busier than working full time.

We began our coverage of the Eucharist. We talked about the Passover and how the first Eucharist, at the Last Supper, was a Seder meal. The class was quite surprised to learn that Jesus and his followers were all Jewish.

If the class got anything out of the lesson it would be the concept of “real presence,” our belief that Jesus is truly present in the host and wine.

We had the class team up with a partner and read a passage from the text that explained the Eucharist as being a memorial, a sacrifice and a meal.

This week, we will finish up on the Eucharist by looking at the structure of the Mass and explaining how to use a  missal (hymnal) to follow along.

Read Full Post »

We continued our coverage of the Sacrament of Baptism. We emphasized that everyone is called to be baptized. And a Baptism in another Christian church is usually accepted by the Church. We then had volunteers read the first page of Ch 5 in the textbook. We had written questions on the white board for them to find answers in the text which we discussed.

  1. Does everyone get baptized at the same age? (No)
  2. What do we call adults or older children who are preparing for Baptism? (catechumens)
  3. Who helps prepare people for Baptism? (the entire Church community)
  4. What do Godparents do? (multiple answers)
  5. What is the best day to be Baptized? (Sunday)

On the issue of godparents, we did make a distinction between what it means in the Church, as opposed to a common lay meaning. Outside the church godparents are often considered the intended guardians of a child if both parents should die. Within the Church, that may or may not be the case. We explained that frequently godparents are not a couple, and may be married to other people (eg: an aunt from one side of the family and an uncle from the other.) Within the Church, the godparents stand up for a child during the ceremony and answer questions in his or her place. They are also expected to be involved in the child’s life, especially their spiritual life. I am not sure even broaching this topic was a great idea. It caused quite a bit of confusion and questions along the lines of “What happens if my parents die and….?”

Then we came to the fun (risky) part of the lesson. We divided the class into three groups of three and had them role-play a Baptism. One student was the priest, one the catechumen and one the godparent. We had water, but didn’t have oil, a white garment or a candle – the four symbols of the Sacrament – so we faked those. We gave them a few minutes to prepare and then had them walk through the process. I let the “priest” say the prayers and anoint with make believe oil, and dribbled the water.

The exercise did not go totally off the rails. It actually went fairly well. The students really got into it. Hopefully, by acting out the Sacrament, they may actually remember it.

This week, we will start our coverage of the Eucharist and the Mass.

Read Full Post »

We barreled into our first class of 2020 full throttle. Between all the holidays, Penance service and the Christmas pageant, it’s been nearly two months since our last “regular” class session.

Our topic was the first of two classes on Baptism (Ch 4 in the text.) We started off with a short video that provided a broad overview of the Sacrament. You can view it here.

One element that was in the video but not in the rest of our lesson was that the Church recognizes the baptisms from most other Christian denominations. We discussed this.

We then asked the students to read page 44 and highlight key points. These included:

  • Baptism is the foundation of Christian life.
  • Baptism frees us from past sins. We discussed infant Baptism.
  • Through Baptism we establish a connection with God and become a part of the Church.

Volunteers read page 45 aloud. It presented the concepts of original sin (which we did not do a very good job explaining), incarnation and salvation. We emphasized that the Sacrament of Baptism opens the path for us to have a relationship with God.

We finished up with a game of “hangman” using words from the lesson. The students really got into this, so we will do it again in the future.

Next week, we hope to finish up our coverage of Baptism, with more on the specifics of the sacrament, and some role playing.

Read Full Post »

This will be a short entry, as there isn’t much to say that I haven’t already said. Last night, we had our second rehearsal for the Dec. 18 Christmas Pageant. We have ten students who are narrators and four who are shepherds, angels or biblical royalty.

No class next week for Thanksgiving.

The parish Advent Penance Service will be held on Dec. 4 at 6:30 pm. (That is the correct time.) Please, come with your child(ren). If you want to sit with us, Mrs. Hanzel and I will be up near the choir. Last night, we did spend a few minutes going over the procedure for a confession. I distributed some “cheat sheets” with the step-by-step process and the Act of Contrition. I collected them back,however, and will bring them on Dec 4.

Dress rehearsal will be Dec. 11. Drop off and pick up at the church.

Christmas Pageant on Dec. 18. Please have your child at the church by 6:15 at the absolute latest. Students coming in late and sliding in under the tag just causes chaos for all of us, including the other students.

Mrs. Hanzel and I hope you have a great Thanksgiving and we’ll see you in two weeks.

Read Full Post »

We started rehearsals for the CCD Christmas Pageant last night. Before we did that, however, Mrs. Hanzel had a short quiz on the material about the sacraments we have been discussing for the past several weeks. We were a little disappointed about the poor retention. We were somewhat surprised at how many of the students could not name either one of the two priests at our church. (“I don’t know who they are because I don’t ever go to church.” What? Seriously!)

As in year past, we are providing the narrators for the presentation while the third grade provides the “actors.” We have nine or ten speaking parts depending on how we divide it up. Last night we had eight volunteers to read and two who preferred to abstain. There were four students absent last night. I suspect we will pick up one or two readers from that group next week.

The class did very well. We have a few who need to speak up, but generally they did well. And they were so well behaved that Mary Zimmer, the music director who was preparing for choir practice, came over to compliment them.

So here is what our schedule looks like for the next few weeks.

11/20 – Drop off and pick up at the church.

11/27 – No Class

12/4 – Parish Penance Service. Attend with family.

12/11 – Dress rehearsal. Drop off and pick up at the church.

12/18 – Christmas Pageant. Please have your student at the church no later than 6:15 pm.

12/25 and 1/1 –No class

1/8/2020 – Back to work.

Read Full Post »

I skipped last week’s summary, but it was real simple. Mrs. Hanzel taught a lesson on the rosary, and we prayed a decade. Had a wide ranging discussion and answered a lot of questions.

Last night, we had a combination class. For the first half of the class period, we discussed the church/liturgical calendar and the seasons (Lent, Advent, etc.) We compared it to other ways of tracking the year, such as the calendar year, a school year, sports seasons and so on. We emphasized the Easter Triduum (three days) which lasts from Holy Thursday evening to Easter evening. The events of these three days are the basis of the Christian/Catholic religion and without those events, we would not be Christian. We also discussed how and why Easter moves around on the calendar.

During the second half of the class we had a quiz bowl. The idea was to challenge the students to try to recall what we have been teaching, and hopefully reinforce some of those lessons. Mrs. Hanzel divided the class randomly into three teams (3-3-4). I had prepared a bunch of questions on slips of paper, which each team pulled out of a bowl. Some of the questions were real easy and some were tougher. Not surprisingly, there were some serous “duh” moments. We also had some pleasant surprises. On at least two occasions a team answered with a response I wasn’t looking for, but was also correct. Although he teams were picked randomly, one team consisted of three of our four boys. They cleaned up and won by a wide margin.

Read Full Post »

What happened to last week’s class? I would have sworn I had posted a report.

In any case, we began our coverage of the sacraments with a lesson that summarized he concept and lightly touched on each one. We started by handing out a work sheet with two columns, labeled…

Sacraments I have received

Sacraments I expect to receive at some time

We asked them to fill in the boxes based on their own experience. We used this as a springboard to explain each sacrament. This began a wide ranging discussion with many, many questions that dealt with the sacraments and other religious and church-related issues. It was a fun exchange.

Last night we finished up our overview of the seven sacraments. We have noticed we spend a lot of time simply on vocabulary. On every page of the text, there are important concepts described in words most, if not all of the class simply don’t understand. Last night, I was thinking of words like reconciliation, reconcile, sanctifying and initiation.

We had the class read page 36 of the text to themselves, while looking for the answers to three questions. We then discussed them.

What are some of the signs of God’s love in the world? (Many good answers)

What is the greatest gift of God’s love? (Jesus)

What is sanctifying grace?

This led to a good discussion of grace. Most had just a scant understanding, and the definition in the book didn’t help much. We explained grace as simply being God’s love for them. To bring it to life, we asked if there were times that they felt their parents love more than others. Many good answers, like hugs, comforting moments, and so on. We used this concept to explain that the Sacraments are God’s way of transmitting his love to us, just like a parent transmits his or her love through a hug or a kiss.

We showed the class that the sacraments are divided into three categories.

Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist) We discussed how Baptism begins us on our journey; Confirmation firms our resolve; and Eucharist recharges our spiritual batteries whenever we partake in the Sacrament.)

Sacraments of Healing (Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick) We discussed how God’s love, transmitted through the sacraments have a spiritually healing effect.)

Sacraments of Service of Communion (Holy Orders, Matrimony) We discussed how each sacrament involves service. At one point in the discussion of Holy Orders, we talked about bishops, priests and deacons. In describing what deacons could do, one student asked if they could perform exorcisms. Where did that come from? The question was an honest one, but I was not prepared to answer it. I don’t know anything about exorcisms except what I see in movies. I kicked that can down the road until either Father Kavanaugh or Monsignor Costigan pay us a visit.

We finished up with the end of the chapter exercise, a combination of T-F questions and matching columns. We used the ensuing discussion as our “what did you learn tonight?” exercise and rewarded the students with a cookie.

Next week, Mrs. Hanzel will be introducing the class to the Rosary.

Read Full Post »

We had a lively class last night. And that’s not “code” for ill behaved. The group was just energetic.

We started with a follow up to our tour of the church last week. Ms. Hanzel distributed a pre-class exercise that asked the students to match various items in a drawing of the interior of a church to a list of common things, like an altar, pews, etc. After the students worked on it on their own, we went over it. Most of the class were successful with most of the questions. We then redistributed the scavenger hunt sheets that had riddles about objects in the church. Some of the riddles were a little “out there” but, again, the students did pretty well.
Scavanger Hunt 10-2
We changed gears about half way through the class and finished up the chapter we started two weeks ago. We divided the class into four teams of three or four students and assigned them a handful of paragraphs from the text. They were to work together to read and understand their assignment and plan a way to teach that section to the reminder of the class. The four topics were…

Disciples and the Kingdom of God
Parables and the story of the mustard seed
The church

In the past, this has sometimes gone well and sometimes fallen flat on its fact. Last night, it went fairly well. Three of the four groups showed some imagination, which isn’t bad.

Next week we move into our coverage of the sacraments, which will be the main theme for the rest of the year.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »