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I had no entry last week, because I was out of town for work. Mrs. Van Brimmer took over the class and taught the Rosary. I understand it went very well.

We had our usual group of six students last night, as we continue to work our way through the “Faith Assessment” questions and answers. These are basic elements of the Catholic faith that our students should be familiar with before Confirmation. You can see the entire program here.


Last night, we were on the “Miscellaneous Questions” section. We had the students take the quiz to start, to see what they already know, and to make them think about the questions. Then we discussed them.

  1. What does catholic mean?
  2. Transubstantiation is:
  3. Can a non-catholic receive communion at a Catholic mass? Why or why not?
  4. What is the distinction between the Virgin Birth of Jesus by Mary and the Immaculate Conception?
  5. What is fasting and abstinence? In which liturgical season are these generally practiced?
  6. Where do you find the letters INRI? What do they stand for?
  7. Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, Fear of the Lord and Wisdom are the seven __________?

If you don’t know the answers, feel free to click the link above and learn.

Given the importance of transubstantiation to our Catholic faith, we supported that concept by watching a video by Bishop Robert Barron on the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.


We finished up with a little throwback in Church history. In the past, we had discussed that prior to the Second Vatican Council, the Mass was said in Latin. Although I had explained that everyone had a translation available, the class never seemed to grasp the idea. A few weeks ago, when helping my siblings clean out some boxes at my father’s home in Pittsburgh, I came across my original St Joseph’s Sunday Missal, with all the Sunday masses in two columns, English on the left and Latin on the right. I passed it around the class. The students were very interested.

This continues to be a small, but great group of students.  They are engaged and behaved. We can talk about things, have open discussions and even joke around without the entire lesson running off the rails. They are fun and interesting to work with. Mrs. Rudolphi and I look forward to each week.

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We had a very active and energetic class last night. It was fun. I hope our students also learned something.

This was the first of two classes on the Sacrament of Reconciliation (aka Penance, Confession) that will prepare the students for the CCD Penance Service on March 25. We focused last night on the concept of forgiveness and the four steps necessary for any forgiveness process, whether it be in a confessional or just between two friends.

1.) Admission/Confession – The doer must admit to the offense.
2.) Contrition/Sorrow – The doer must feel and express sorrow for the offense.
3.) Forgiveness – The injured party accepts the apology and forgives the doer.
4.) Reparation/Pay-Back – The doer usually does something to make up for the offense. Of course in the Sacrament, this is the penance.

We had the students pair up with a partner and come up with some kind of story that involved one student committing some act that angered the second student. We then walked them through the forgiveness process.

The students were very creative and really got into the exercise. One pair of girls (Marlee and Hannah) had scripted out an elaborate skit and needed no encouragement or prompting at all. They were great! In several cases, the process bogged down because one of the students would not admit to the offense, express sincere regret or provide the forgiveness. This actually worked out very well. We used these cases to show how the forgiveness process breaks down if one party or the other does not follow through.

Next week, we will continue on this general subject, but we will get more into the specifics of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, including preparation for the Sacrament.

Remember, there will be no class on March 18. We will be back full-speed with the Penance Service on March 25.

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Our class last night was devoted to getting organized and practicing for the Christmas Pageant. I think I have everyone properly assigned to the role they want. Several students have been assigned as shepherds, with the others assigned the narrator roles. We have more readers than we have roles, so some students will read on both dates and some on just one.

Parents – If your child is a reader, it would be really great if you would encourage and assist him or her to practice their lines this week. The sections are really very short, just a sentence or two for most of them. It was obvious last night there are some words that are not familiar (Herod, Nazareth, Galilee, etc.). The single, number one piece of advice for nearly all the children will be this; “Speak Up!” We hope to run through the program at least four times next Wednesday, which, hopefully, will give the students a chance to get comfortable with their role.

We MAY have a final rehearsal on Saturday morning, December 20. We will know after we get a chance to see how well the entire troupe is doing after next Wednesday’s practice.

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In looking towards tomorrow’s class, I just realized I had not posted anything about last week’s class. I haven’t heard any cries of outrage, so I guess no one is really missing it. Kinda disappointing…

In any case, we had a small turnout, only 8 students. We covered the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.

Tomorrow, we will cover the Sacrament of Matrimony. This is one subject that can occasionally strike close to home. Students who may have issues at home, like divorced or separated parents, sometimes have interesting questions. We try very hard to be sensitive to issues like this. In eight previous years of teaching this, I have not had any problems or complaints. All the same, parents should just be aware of what we will be covering. As always, parents are most welcome and invited to sit in on the class.

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  Last night was the first class back after a lengthy break. The subject of our lesson was the Sacrament of Reconciliation/Penance/Confession. It was a lively class, but whether or not the students actually learned anything, I can never be sure.

  I started out with an unrelated issue about an 8-year old girl who was asked to leave a Christian school in Virginia because of her tom-boyish appearance and hair style. I pointed out to the class, that while the school claimed to upholding “Christian values,” they might want to reread their gospels. Jesus took much heat from judgmental groups like the Pharisees because he frequently associated with people who they scorned, like Mary Magdaline and Matthew (apostle) who was a tax collector (basically a thief under the Roman Imperial system.) If Jesus were running that “Christian” school, I seriously doubt he would have asked her to leave.

  From there we moved on to the concept of forgiveness, both in everyday life and in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We pointed out that most acts of forgiveness involve four steps.

1.) Admission of guilt

2.) Expression of sorrow

3.) Forgiveness

4.) Reparation

  In Reconciliation, these take the form of…

1.) Confessing our sins to the priest

2.) Act of Contrition

3.) Absolution

4.) Penance

  I had two volunteers who I had selected earlier (They were the first two to show up before class.) role-play a little mini-drama. Brighid had taken and broken Emmeline’s pen. At first she denied it. They she admitted it, said she was sorry and Emmeline forgave her. Brighig offered to buy Emmeline a new pen to replace the one she broke.

  We connected that process to the Sacrament. We walked through the process of Reconciliation, emphasizing that the forgiveness comes from God. The priest is just the intermediary. Also we emphasized that the priest is bound to the secrecy of the confession and cannot / will not tell anyone else what you confess. We prayed an Act of Contrition as a class.

  We have just a few weeks left in the year and at least three more sacraments to cover – Holy Orders, Annointing of the Sick and Matrimony. It’s the home stretch.


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The focus of our class Wednesday night was prayer. Some of the key points we covered and discussed included:

  • Prayer is a personal conversation with God.
  • It’s nice that the Church and others have already composed numerous prayers, you don’t have to recite a formal prayer to talk to God. Just using your own words and thoughts is just fine.
  • The various types of prayer (petition, praise, intercession, thanksgiving, etc.) We discussed examples of each one.
  • While a conversation is supposed to be two-way, don’t expect God to come to you as a voice from Heaven. He is much more subtle than that. To make that point, we read a somewhat humorous account of someone talking to God about their bad day and asking why God would let everything go so wrong that day. This was very well received. Everyone wanted a copy. We made the copies and distributed them.
  • Regular prayer is a matter of creating a habit. We suggested the students think of sometime during the day when they are doing the same thing every day, like taking a shower, brushing teeth, waiting for a school bus, etc. We challenged them to start saying a short prayer every day during this activity (or non-activity.) We told them that if they did this long enough, eventually it would become a habit and the daily activity would serve as a reminder for a prayer.

We did a short activity. We asked the students to make themselves comfortable in their chairs and to place their hands on the desk in front of them. We had them close their eyes and just be quiet for a few seconds. We then asked them to imagine that God was right there with them and was listening to their thoughts. What would you say to him? We gave about 20-30 more seconds and let them open their eyes and resume the class.

 And, as always, we finished the class by asking each student to name something they learned that night.

Next week, we are going to tackle the Ten Commandments. This is not part of the regular curriculum. It was part of the curriculum for the book we used for the first few years I taught CCD. We changed texts a few years ago. I continue to address this subject, simply because it has produced some of the liveliest and most interesting discussions. Typically, we take two weeks to cover this assignment.

 Parents – If you would like to sit in on the class, you are most welcome. It should be fun.

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There are several important items for parents to be aware. Our regular schedule will be all turned around until after the Christmas holiday break.

The CCD next week (Wednesday, November 20) will be an Advent family program for all grades, parents, siblings, etc. in the Parish Center.  Please join us with your entire family.

There will be no CCD class during Thanksgiving week (November 27).

Our class will meet as usual the first two weeks in December (Dec 4 and 11), but our activity will be focused mostly on preparation for the Christmas Pageant program. See more on that below.

The program for last CCD Wednesday before the Christmas break (Dec 18) will be a Christmas Pageant in the church. Again, we hope you can attend with your entire family. See below.

The Christmas Pageant

For the second year, the fifth grade has been asked to provide the narrators/readers for the Christmas Pageant. We hope everyone in the class can participate in one or both of the presentations. The pageant will be presented twice, once during the regular CCD class time on Wednesday, December 18, and once during the 4 pm Mass on Christmas Eve.

We will have rehearsals during the regular CCD class session on Dec 4 and 11. We will also PROBABLY have a Saturday morning rehearsal, most likely on Saturday, December 14. Exact details on the Saturday session TBA.

We hope all our students would like to participate, but it is not mandatory. We won’t force anyone to get up and read in the church if they really don’t want to do so. For anyone who does not want to read, we will assign them a non-speaking role in the production.

We have 13 students and nine reader roles. So, if things go well, we will have slot for everyone to read at least once, and some students to read in both productions. I will be asking the students for volunteers at the class session after Thanksgiving.

VERY IMPORTANT!!! —  Parents, we will assume, unless you tell us otherwise, that your child will be available to participate on December 18, during the regular class time. However, the program at 4 pm Mass on December 24 is much more uncertain. We know alternate family plans may prevent your child from participating. Please let me know via email, telephone or note if your child will be able to be part of the Christmas Eve Mass program. We can divvy up the roles and, hopefully, satisfy everyone, if we know what we are working with.

Call or email with any questions. Contact info under the “About” tab at the top of this page.


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