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Our students (five) were lively and engaged last night, even on an evening when their teacher was not at the top of his game.

We continued our march through the faith assessment as groundwork  for serious Confirmation prep starting next year in seventh grade. If you would like to see the information we are using as our guide this year, you can find it on the parish Website here.

Our subject last night was the Sacraments. I would have thought that it would be a fairly easy topic, seeing as we spent all of last year (5th grade) covering them. We distributed a quiz that asked the students to define grace, and then to list the seven Sacraments by category (Initiation, Healing and Service of Communion) and provide a short definition. We then discussed the results, which were mixed. We had a fairly wide ranging discussion with questions like…

“Can a person receive all seven sacraments?” (Yes)

“Can a person receive Annointing of the Sick more than once?” (Yes)

And so on.

We then played a short (about three minutes) video about grace and the various types of grace. After we watched it once, we told the class, that we would play it again, and this time, they should really try to pull at least a couple of concepts or ideas out of it. After our second viewing, we discussed the ideas the students pulled from the piece. It went well. Since the idea of playing the video twice came to me on a whim, I’m glad it worked out.

The overall message of the class was that the Sacraments are a means God uses to convey grace. As our final exercise, we divided the class into a group of two (boys) and three (girls) (self-selected, by the way) and asked them to draw a picture of one of the white boards that depicts he conveyance of grace through one of the Sacraments. They could pick whichever Sacrament they want. Both groups did well, and the girls even did a short skit to complement theirs.

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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.

http://saintpetertheapostle.com/church/faith-formation/know-faith/

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJjW3LXuHzo

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.

We were back last night for our first real class since early November. Wow! Our subject last night was the Cardinal Virtues. The activity started slow, but it picked up and the students got involved.

We wrote the virtues on the white board and then went through them individually, probing the class’s  knowledge and explaining them. We explained that unlike the Theological Virtues we discussed several classes ago, the Cardinal Virtues are not directly linked to God. They refer to the way we act towards our neighbors. They were first discussed by Plato in The Republic (although I couldn’t remember that title last night.)  In simple terms…

Prudence – Making good decisions, especially between right and wrong.

Justice – Respecting the rights of others and giving everyone his or her rightful due. We pointed out though, that Christian teachings of love may dictate that you should give someone more than they are entitled, but not less.

Fortitude – The strength to do the right thing, even under difficult circumstances.

Temperance – Moderation and the ability to control physical desires.

We had six students, so we divided them into two groups and asked them to devise a role-play skit to demonstrate either Prudence or Justice. When that was complete, we repeated it with Fortitude and Temperance. The students got into this exercise very well and we had some excellent skits that demonstrated they seemed to get the concepts we had discussed.

We walked across the hall to the library and played a short video that was produced by a couple of teens in which they also acted out skits to demonstrate the virtues. It was a little goofy, but I think it helped reinforce what we had done a few minutes earlier.

Back in the class, we distributed paper and pens. We asked the students to think of someone in their family who was a good example of one of the virtues. We asked them to write a letter or a card to that relative, thanking them for their example and telling them what they mean to them. We went around the room and asked each student what relative they addressed and why. Some wanted to read their letter, but others did not, which was OK. We suggested they either give or mail their letter to the addressee.

Both Mrs. Rudolphi and I will be unavailable next week due to work conflicts. Mrs. Ann Van Brimmer (Abby’s mom) we teach the class. The subject will be the Rosary. We will have string and bead rosaries available, however if your child has a set off rosary beads, have them bring it to class.

 

We had a very short class last night, because only one of our eight students made it. It must have been a busy night on the middle school activity circuit. Since our lesson plan revolved around some group activities, we just saved the lesson plan for January.

Our last class before the Christmas break (We’re a church, so we don’t have to say “holiday break.”) will be next Wednesday, December 14. We will meet in the church for the Christmas Pageant. Bring the family!

One “heads up,” I strongly suspect the Christmas Pageant will not take the entire 60 minute class period. If you cannot stay for the pageant, you should be prepared to return before 730 to pick up your child.

Meanwhile, Merry Christmas! We hope to see everyone on January 4.

We had an interesting class last Wednesday. Our faith assessment exercise dealt with some basic Catholic teachings and practices.

The source of divine revelation? Scripture and tradition.

The Precepts of the Church. (ie: obligations as Catholics)

— Attendance at Mass on Sundays and Holy Days.

–Confession at least once a year

–Receive the Eucharist during Easter Season.

–Observe days of fast and abstinence

–Help provide for the needs of the Church (time, treasure and talent)

The follow up discussion was interesting. Many of these concepts were foreign to the students, so we had some “I didn’t know that!” responses.

The faith assessment also included a section on the Theological and Cardinal Virtues. We explained the differences and asked the students to place each virtue in the correct category.

Theological – Faith, Hope and Charity (or Love)

Cardinal – Prudence, Justice, Temperance and Fortitude

We had to define most of them and explained that the Theological Virtues are gifts from God and concern our relationship to God. The Cardinal Virtues were actually first conceived by Plato and concern our relationships to fellow humans.

After a fair amount of discussion, we walked across the hall to view a video by a Father Barron on the Theological Virtues. The video is targeted for adults, but, as I told the students, they should be able to follow most of it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PuyKsaj6GbM&t=117s

When we returned to our classroom, we were just about out of time. We left them with a homework assignment. We would appreciate it if our parents would follow up on this. Our next class will deal with the Cardinal Virtues in more depth. Their assignment is to do a little internet research on the Cardinal Virtues, so they will have some background before they come to class. Here is a site with some information I have used.

http://catholicism.about.com/od/beliefsteachings/tp/Cardinal_Virtues.htm

Important scheduling information — We will have no class this week, since it would be the night before Thanksgiving. Also, we will not have class next week, November 30, as that is the evening of our parish’s Confirmation Mass. We will be back December 7.

Class #6 November 9, 2016

We had a small group last night, only four students. Our goal was to teach the Stations of the Cross. We started out with our faith assessment quiz (fill in the blanks) and quickly discovered there wasn’t much for us to teach. Of the 42 possible answers among the three students who completed the exercise (One student was late.) there were 41 correct answers. No shabby.

Nonetheless, we persevered on. We walked across the hall to the library to watch a short video on the stations. We then walked over to the church. We distributed booklets to all the students and we conducted a Stations ceremony. We had the students read the narrator’s part and all read the prayer at the end of each station.

We finished a little early. We returned to the classroom and chatted about several other Stations-related issues.

Next week, our faith assessment and our class will focus on some key Catholic teachings including the “Precepts (rules) of the Church” and the Theological and Cardinal Virtues. These are most likely not top of mind topics for our students. It would be great if they could do just a little research on these topics before we hit next week’s class.

Our focus for CCD this week was the Beatitudes. Taught by Jesus during his Sermon on the Mount, they appear in Matthew 5.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn,for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

We began with the Faith Assessment quiz (fill in the blank) to see if anyone could recall any of the Beatitudes without prompting. That was a big zero. So we issued Bibles, went over them and had the students complete their quizzes that way.

From there we discussed the role of the Beatitudes as complements to the Ten Commandments. The Commandments mostly tell us what not to do, while the Beatitudes provide us with positive ways to live our lives. We demonstrated the importance of positive direction by asking for a volunteer and playing the “warmer-colder” game. We picked an object in the room and without telling the volunteer what it was, we asked them to identify it while we provided only negative feedback (colder.) Although, she came very close, she could not identify it. When we did it again, but this time with both positive (warmer) and negative feedback, she selected the object in about 15 seconds.

We transitioned across the hall to the library. The students pulled up beanbag chairs and sat back to watch a video targeted at middle-high schoolers on the Beatitudes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjY8x7LHIPQ

Then, for the first time in my 11-plus years of teaching CCD at St. Peter’s, we sang a song to reinforce what the class was (hopefully) learning. We pulled a video of “Blest are They”. We played a few verses to allow the students to get a handle on the melody, and then started it again and we all (mostly) sang along.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwSkmzw8dY8

Back in the main classroom, we spent the rest of the class discussing the Beatitudes and the meaning of each of them. Each one has a positive action (Blessed are the pure of heart…) and a positive consequence (…for they shall see God.) We talked a little about some of the terms like, what it means to be meek, poor in spirit and so on.

Next week, our lesson will be on the Stations of the Cross. We will spend some time in the church, but both drop off and pick up will be in the regular classroom.