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Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

I missed my summary for last week. We covered the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. We also went over to the church for a “personal safety” talk by Mrs. Lisa Fogarty.

This week, our topic was the Sacrament of Matrimony, including the outlines of a Catholic marriage and family. Sometimes this can be a sensitive subject, so we started off with a warning. I don’t know the details of all our students’ families, and don’t really need to. However, it is quite likely there are students in our class who have experienced divorces and/or other unusual family situations, with their parents or other members of their family. I emphasized that while we would be teaching the Church’s position on marriage, the students should not take anything as a criticism or judgment on any particular people or situations.

Some of the key points we discussed were:

— Jesus thought enough of the importance of marriage to perform his first miracle at the wedding feast at Cana.

— Marriage has been part of the human experience since the very beginning – ie: Adam and Eve.

— Boys and girls, and men and women are different but equal.

— A Catholic marriage is intended to be a permanent commitment. We talked about some short-lived celebrity marriages and the popular concept of a “starter marriage,” but indicated the Church believes you should enter into a marriage fully aware and prepared and with the full intention of making it a life-long commitment. We discussed the concept of a covenant.

— While the Catholic Church makes it difficult to get out of a marriage, it also makes it difficult to get into it. Priests and other non-Catholic clergy frequently screen couples and can decline to marry them.

— We discussed the difference between a promise and a vow. A promise is made between one person and another. A vow is a promise made to God. The marriage commitment is a vow.

–The difference between a civil marriage and a religious marriage. A wedding before a judge may cover the legal aspects of marriage, but is very different than a religious marriage, where two people stand before God and promise to maintain a life-long commitment. A Catholic marriage covers both the civil and religious aspects. We were asked whether you could have a civil wedding and then later have a religious wedding. We gave several examples of how this happens.

From there we said that Matrimony forms the basis for a Catholic family. We talked about responsibilities within families, including the responsibilities of children. We drew two columns on the white board and head one “adults” and the other “children.” We first asked the class to name responsibilities of the adults or parents in a family and we got the set of answers you would expect – cook dinner, financial support, teach children, etc. When we asked about the other side of the chart, the going was a little more difficult. Aside from household chores, the idea that they might have some responsibilities towards their parents was a little strange.

We threw out some suggestions and got them thinking. Several students mentioned the obligation to respect their parents; to listen to them; and to try to fulfill their parents’ wishes and expectations.

We introduced two concepts. (Parents, you can thank us later for this.) The first was to respect their parents; to listen to them; and to try to fulfill their parents’ wishes and expectations. In other words, “Don’t make your parents’ job of raising you difficult.”

The second concept was to give their parents the opportunity to spend time with each other. Don’t be so needy and demanding of their parents’ every waking minute that they never to spend any time with just them.

Next week will be the final CCD class session. Father Kavanaugh will be a guest speaker to talk about his life as a priest. We will have a pizza snack and drinks.

This has been a fantastic year from Mrs. Rudolphi’s and my viewpoint. Our students have been active, engaged and a lot of fun. I hope we are as lucky as this with future groups.

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It’s been a while since my last update. Sorry. It has been a very busy spring.

Class # 18, March 14 – We finished up the Commandments. We talked about the sanctity of life as a follow up to some questions asked the week before. We finished up with one of my favorite exercises of the year. We retold the story of Moses and Mt. Sinai with a minor revision. In this story there was a group of fifth graders in the crowd when Moses presented the Commandments. The fifth graders objected, saying there wasn’t really much there that applied to them, since they are really into murder and aren’t even sure what that adultery thing is. They sent Moses back up the mountain to ask God for another set of Commandments, this one relevant to 5th graders. We broke the class into groups of two and three and let them write on the white boards. We told them to imagine they are God, and to come up with a second set of Commandments, this one applying to the issues fifth graders face. They all came up with some really great answers.

Class # 19, March 28 – I was unable to teach this class as I was at home following some minor surgery. Mrs. Rudolphi took the class and began the first of two sessions on forgiveness and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Class #20, April 4 — We finished up our lesson on forgiveness and the Sacrament of Reconciliation (aka Penance or Confession.)

We covered the four steps of forgiveness, and compared a scenario between friends with the Sacrament.

Admission of wrongdoing / Confess sins
Expression of sorrow or regret / Act of Contrition
Forgiveness by the injured party / Absolution
Some form of making things whole / Penance

We discussed a number of other concepts.

–You can do wrong or sin by doing nothing when there is some act you should be performing. Inaction can be as wrong as action.

–The seal of the confessional. The priest must not disclose anything you confess.

–The priest is an intermediary between you and God.

— No sin is too great that it cannot be forgiven.

–There are usually regular times for Confession, but you can call a priest any time and ask him to hear your confession.

–And we reviewed the mechanics of the Sacrament. We provided the students with several take-homes, including an “Examination of Conscience for Children” and a step-by-step “cheat sheet” for Confession, including one version of the Act of Contrition.

We have three classes remaining. Next week we will cover Annointing of the Sick, followed by Matrimony the week after, and we will finish up with a visit from Father Kavanaugh to talk about life as a priest.
Next week we will also have a short (15 minute) age appropriate, session on “Good touch, bad touch,” taught by Lisa Fogarty. The students who were there last night should have brought home an “opt out” sheet in the event you do not wish your child to participate in this session. If our child was not there last night and you do not wish your child to participate, please contact Mrs. Hubert.

Also, in two weeks, we will cover the Sacrament of Matrimony. This has the potential to come close to delicate family situations, like a recent divorce for instance. In 13 previous years of teaching this chapter, we have not encountered any issues, but there is always a first time. If there is something going on in your child’s life that I should be aware of, please let me know and I will do my best to be sensitive about it.

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As expected, we had a very interesting class last week.
Our main focus was the Ten Commandments. We had lots of discussion and lots of questions.

We started with a story, telling the class the background that lead to God delivering the Commandments to Moses on Mt. Sinai. We had volunteers read the passage from Exodus 20 that is the first mention of the Commandments. (Despite my warning, the references to an “ass” (ie: jackass) and “alien” caused more than a little giggling.)

We distributed list of the traditional “Ten Commandments” that demonstrated how some different religions count them. For example, Catholics count the God-related commandments as the first three, while many Protestant churches count them as four. On the other end, Catholics divide the last two “you shall not covet…” Commandments into two separate statements, while most Protestant sects combine them into one. We pointed out this only a concern if they are talking to a Protestant friend about the 4th Commandment, for instance. A Protestant would be talking about the Commandment to respect the Sabbath, while the Catholic would be honoring his father and mother.

As we walked through and discussed the first five Commandments, we talked about some of these points.

With the first Commandment, we spent some time talking about false gods. In the time of Moses, the issue was not to worship the sun, the Earth, a statue, etc. We asked the students to think about some of the false gods people may encounter today. They came up with ideas like money, drugs, alcohol, fame, celebrities, and so on. We connected the Commandment to relevant issues today.

The second Commandment, to not take the Lord’s name in vain, was fairly easy for them to grasp.

We talked about the concept of a Sabbath and why most Christians consider Sunday the Sabbath, rather than the “seventh day” (Saturday.) We pointed out that many early Christian leaders wanted to make a distinction between their older Jewish faith and their new Christian religion. Designating Sunday, the day Christ rose from the dead, as the Sabbath was one way to do that. We also discussed that in today’s culture, we have largely gotten away from the concept of resting and avoiding work on the Sabbath, and not necessarily for the better.

As we discussed the fourth (Honor your father and mother.) Commandment, we emphasized several points. The Commandment may seem fairly obvious to fifth graders because they are still very dependent on their parents for the essentials of living. However, even ten and eleven year-olds may need to be reminded from time to time to love, respect and obey their parents. We pointed out that the main thrust of the Commandment was not towards children, but rather towards adults, especially adults whose parents are older and may depend on them. Role reversal. At the time the Commandments were written, it was not unusual for older, dependent tribe members who became a burden to be rejected or abandoned to die. While we typically don’t do that today, the Commandment is especially important when parents or grandparents grow older and need the younger family members love and assistance.

We finished up with “You shall not kill.” As expected, that prompted questions about exceptions, like war, accidents and self-defense. Then one of our students suggested that euthanasia (Although, she did not use that word.) would be acceptable with a terminally ill person. That tossed us back a little. We talked some about the sanctity of life and that life is a gift from God. We ran out of time before we ran out of the subject. We will be taking it up first-thing on Wednesday. Should be fun.

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We had a last minute change of plans for last night’s class. Originally, we planned to cover the first of two lessons on the Ten Commandments. However, at 6:32 pm, there were only three students in the room. In the past, our classes on the Commandments have been some of the best of the year, with lots of questions, discussions and engagement. I didn’t want more than half the class to miss out on it. Meanwhile, Monsignor Costigan was presenting a program in the church that Mrs. Hubert said would be appropriate for our age range. We changed our minds several times, as more students arrived (7 of 8 total), but we ended up going to the church and listening to Monsignor after all.

Monsignor had several good themes, including prayer, which Mrs. Rudolphi covered with the class last week, and forgiveness, which will be a serious topic for us in a few weeks. The class was well behaved and answered several of Monsignor’s questions.

Next week, we will tackle the Commandments, regardless of our attendance.

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I have been very derelict in my responsibility to keep this blog updated. Sorry about that. Here is a catch-up.

Jan 31 — We completed our coverage of the Sacrament of Confirmation. We spent a fair amount of time discussing that this sacrament confirms what was done for them by their godparents at Baptism. Since our entire class was baptized as infants, we pointed out they had no say in whether they were to become Catholics or not. However, they will be old enough to make a choice for themselves to become a full time Catholic. We also  pointed out that most religions have a similar process when a child reaches their early teens.

Feb 7 — We had a special treat. One of Mrs. Scanlon’s second graders and his  younger sister had not been baptized as infants. Father Kavenaugh baptized the pair on Feb 7. Our class sat in and observed. Father did a great job explaining the steps and their meaning.

Feb 14 — Ash Wednesday. No class.

Feb 21 — I was out of town on family business. (My wife’s and my first grandchild was born in South Carolina last week. )  Mrs. Rudolphi took over the class and presented a lesson on prayer.

Feb 28 — This week’s class will be the first of two on the Ten Commandments.  These have been some of our favorite classes of the year. The subject brings out many, many questions and lots of great discussion. If parents ever thought they would like to sit in on a class, this would be the one to do so.

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Here is a wrap of up our last two classes.

Jan 17, 2018 – Monsignor Costigan was our guest speaker for this class. Since we were coming out of our lesson on the Eucharist, he focused much of his time on the Eucharist and the structure of the Mass. We had prepared a one-page outline of the order of the Mass which we passed out to the class and encouraged them to take it to Mass with them.

Jan 24, 2018 – This was the first of two classes on the Sacrament of Confirmation. It focused primarily on the Pentecost. We started by asking a simple question, “Who is the Holy Spirit?” Somewhat to our surprise the class got the right answer immediately – God. (The last time I asked that question of a fifth grade class, it took about ten minutes to drive them to the right answer.) We read the Biblical account from Acts out of the text and discussed the way the Holy Spirit completely transformed the scared and timid Apostles and turned them into brave ministers of God’s Word. We talked a little more about the symbols of Pentecost and Confirmation.

We then broke the class into two groups and had them read a page from the text. We asked each group to develop a series of questions, like a quiz, for them to ask to the other team. I expected this to last only a few minutes, but the class was really into it. They were engaged and, hopefully, learning while they came up with both questions and answers. So we turned it into a “quiz bowl” and let it run to the end of the class.

I guess it was effective, as none of the children had any trouble coming up with an answer to “what did you learn tonight?” and earning a cookie.

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Sorry for the late posting. Life has been busy, but I’m off for the MLK holiday today so I have a minute.

Last Wednesday’s class was the first “normal” lesson we have had since before Thanksgiving. Continuing our overview of the sacraments, we started on the Eucharist.

We emphasized that the Eucharist is the greatest of all the sacraments, and the center of all Catholic worship. We then examined the first Eucharist at the Last Supper. We pointed out that this was a Seder meal, and once again, that Jesus and all his apostles were Jews. We discussed the idea of a covenant, the Jews belief in their covenant with God and Jesus creating a new covenant.

We handed out a sheet of paper with three columns, labeled memorial, meal and sacrifice. We had the class team up with a partner and read the next section together. We asked them to write a few words in each column to describe how the Eucharist is each of those three concepts.

The next section dealt with the story of the two disciples who met Jesus after his resurrection on the road to Emmaus. They didn’t recognize him until they stopped for the night and had a meal. When Jesus broke the loaf of bread, the disciples suddenly recognized him and then he disappeared. We talked a little about the significance of breaking bread. To reinforce the story, we divided the class into two groups and had them role play the story.

We reinforced the concept of “real presence.” That is, that Jesus is truly present in the consecrated host and wine, and not just a symbol.

We finished with the last section of the chapter in the text, which emphasized Jesus’s statements that he is the bread of life, and “I am the living bread that came down from Heaven.” We had volunteers read the text.

Next week we will continue with the Eucharist with a study of the structure of the Mass. Monsignor Costigan is scheduled to be a guest visitor.

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