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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
Apostles
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.

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After promising to be diligent about posting updates, I missed the very first class. Oh well. Here we go for last night’s class.

We had a pretty good class last night. Ms. Hanzel and I teamed up with Cindy LeMay and the sixth grade class for a “field trip” to the church.

Before we went, we prayed the Lord’s Prayer together. That was a bit of an eye opener. I think one focus of our instruction this year will be on memorizing some of the basic prayers.

Mrs. LeMay lead a tour of the stained glass windows. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the students picked out images that I had difficulty seeing. Did you know the windows on the left represent stories from the Old Testament, while those on the right are from the New Testament? I didn’t.

Mrs. LeMay also prepared a “scavenger hunt.” She had a sheet with cryptic questions about various objects in the church. The students had to find or answer them. The class really got into it although they were mostly asking the teachers for the answers. We preserved their answer sheets and plan to go over the questions and answers in next week’s class.

 

 

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This was our second to the last class for the CCD year. We are charging towards the finish line.

We opened the class with a short review of last week’s lesson on the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. Then we moved on to the main topic of the class, 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 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. Monsignor Costigan will be a guest speaker to talk about his life as a priest. We will have a pizza snack and drinks.

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Spring is in the air, and the natives are restless. Our lesson and a role playing exercise, which has done very well in past years, wasn’t quite as successful as we hoped, because some of our guys were a little rowdy.

We tackled the concept of forgiveness and the Sacrament of Reconciliation (aka Penance or Confession.)

We covered the four steps of forgiveness and the way the process evolves, whether between friends or between a person and God (Penance.)

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

To bring the concept to life, we divided the class into pairs. We asked each pair of students to come up with a scenario or story of why one of the two was angry with the other. We then attempted to interview each pair, discover why they had a rift and walk them through the forgiveness process. I would grade the exercise as a D+ or a C-. It wasn’t a total disaster, but it did not go smoothly.

We moved on to discuss a number of other concepts.

– 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.

Mrs. Hanzel took over the second half of the class. She covered how the students should examine thei4r conscience before going to Confession. We also reviewed the mechanics of the Sacrament, and demonstrated a few examples. We provided the students with several aids, 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 collected them back and will redistribute them next week. (See below.)

There will be no class this week because of public schools’ spring break. Next Wednesday (March 27), we will have a Penance Service in the church for all the CCD classes, which is why we spent so much effort last week. Families are welcome to join in the Penance Service. Please bring your child to the classroom. We will meet there and walk over to the church together.

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We had another good class last night. Mrs. Hanzel took half the lesson and did a great job.

In the first half of the class period, we finished up the exercise on the Commandments we began last week. The class was broken into groups of two or three and asked to come up with a list of commandments that were appropriate and relevant to fifth graders. The students really got into the exercise. They presented their results and they were great.

Mrs. Hanzel then took the lead and presented a lesson on the season of Lent. We started by showing a video which you can watch here.

The audio was not very strong, so we told the class they needed to be quiet and to listen carefully. They must have been interested because we didn’t hear a peep. Mrs. Hanzel then passed out a Lent questionnaire and a graphic drawing showing a path through the six weeks of Lent, and we talked about it.

Important note: We will have no class for the next two weeks. Here is what the rest of the year looks like.

February 27 – No class due to First Penance

March 6 – Ash Wednesday. Mass and distribution of ashes for your family at 7 pm.

March 13 – We will cover the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

March 20 – No class. SCCPSS spring break

March 27 — Penance Service in the church. Students should report to the classroom.

April 3 – We will cover the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.

April 10 – We will cover the Sacrament of Matrimony

April 17 – THIS IS THE LAST CLASS. We will cover the Sacrament of Holy Orders, most likely with a guest speaker.

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We had a good class last night. We finished off our coverage of the Ten Commandments and started a group exercise that we will continue next Wednesday.

We started out by pointing out that the first three commandments, which we covered last week, deal with our relationship with God, while the last seven address our relationships with other people.

#4. “Honor your father and mother” As mentioned above, we emphasized the need to love and respect your parents throughout their life and to help and support them when they need it. We talked a little about the role reversal that frequently happens in life. Right now, the students are highly dependent on their parents. 30 or 40 years from now their parents might be dependent on them.

#5 “You shall not kill” Not a lot of discussion here.

#6 “You shall not commit adultery” Surprisingly, the first student I called up on could define adultery. We emphasized the importance of the marriage vows, but did not wander far afield on this one.

#7 “You shall not steal” Again, this one was pretty obvious to the class. We did broaden the definition to go beyond just physical objects to include intangibles like ideas, software, pirated music downloads, and so on.

#8 False witness – Most of the class had a pretty good general idea of what this was all about. However, we expanded the discussion to include issues more relevant to them, like gossip and rumors.

#9 & 10 Two “covet” commandments – We described “covet” as to want something so badly that you are willing to commit a wrong to get it. Regarding coveting a neighbor’s goods, it pointed out that it is OK to admire something like a new phone or something similar a friend gets. But when you want it so badly you are willing to steal it, it is coveting.

We didn’t spend a lot of time on the issue of coveting another’s wife or husband, but we did point out that God so values marriage that two of the commandments refer to it. The adultery commandment applies to the people within the marriage, but the covet commandment addresses someone outside the relationship.

We then 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 four small groups and gave them poster boards and markers. 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.

We let them work on that for about ten minutes until it was time for pick-up. We will continue next week and allow them to present their commandments to the class. We will then take a little time to talk about Lent.

There will be NO CCD in two weeks, on February 27.

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First off, an apology for not being more regular in writing these updates. Some health/medical issues in my family have caused a great deal of disruption to our normal routine.

On Wednesday, Mrs. Hanzel started he class with a review of last week’s lesson, with a focus on knowing The Lord’s Prayer. Then we stepped outside the normal curriculum to take a look at the Ten Commandments. This subject used to be a part of the 5th grade curriculum, but it dropped out when we switched textbooks a few years ago. However, since these classes produced such engagement and energy, I kept them a part of our curriculum.

We started by telling the story of the Israelites escape from Egypt and how they came the base of Mt. Sinai. We talked about how they were worshiping idols, generally misbehaving and needed a set of rules to live by. We then had the students take turns reading aloud from Exodus Chapter 20, which is the first description of the Commandments.

We distributed a listing of the Commandments that included a chart showing how they are numbered differently in different religions. (Most Protestant churches break up the first three “God Commandments” into four and combine the “covet commandments” into just one.) We pointed out that this is only an issue when you discuss a particular commandment with a Protestant friend. If you are discussing the Fourth Commandment, a Catholic would be talking about “Honor your mother and father,” but the Protestant friend would be talking about keeping holy the Sabbath. We walked our way through the first three Commandments with these key points.

#1 “I am the Lord your God…” We discussed how worshiping statues and other idols was common in the time of Moses. We asked the class to think about false gods in a modern sense. We broke the class into small groups and asked them to brainstorm some things that modern people might place higher than God. They came up with things like money, popularity, music stars, gambling, alcohol abuse, drugs, and even electronic games.

#2 “You shall not make wrongful use of the name of God” We talked about using God’s name improperly. We also pointed out that the early Jewish people took this commandment so far as to give God a name that could not be pronounced. It eventually evolved into Yahweh or Jehovah.

#3 “Keep holy the Sabbath” We discussed why Christians changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday, and the requirement to attend Mass on Sunday.

Next week, we will complete our coverage of the last seven Commandments. Either next week or the following week (depending on our progress), we will introduce our favorite exercise of the CCD year, when we ask the class to come up with a set of commandments relevant to modern 5th graders. That is always interesting.

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