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Posts Tagged ‘act of contrition’

We’re hitting the home stretch of the CCD year. We will have no class next week (March 18) due to St Patrick’s Day week. We’ll be back March 25 with the CCD Penance Service. Please note – students’ families are most welcome to join this service. We will meet, as usual, in the classroom and walk over to the church as a group. If parents do not stay for the service, the students can be picked up in the gym at the school.

Last night’s class was a good one, but Mrs. Rudolphi and I can tell spring is in the air. The class was not ill-behaved. They were mostly engaged, but it took a little more work to keep them focused. They love the group or role-playing exercises but we didn’t have one in last night’s class None the less, we struggled onward.

Our focus was to finish the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Penance, Confession.) We picked up on last week’s lesson of forgiveness and the four elements of any forgiveness process, and connected them to the four key elements of Reconciliation.

  • Admit the wrongdoing. / Confess sins.
  • Feel and express regret or sorrow. / Act of Contrition
  • Forgiveness / Absolution
  • Some make-up or reparation / penance

Other key points of discussion were:

–We discussed our conscience and how we should know right from wrong. We included instruction from parents and teachers, the Commandments and experience.

–There is no sin so great that God will not forgive you, if you are sincerely sorry and ask for his forgiveness.

— You should receive the Sacrament at least once a year, but can do so at any time, and should do so frequently.

–We discussed private confessions vs a Penance Service and also the time and place of private confessions at St. Peter’s.

–Should you feel an urgent need for forgiveness, you can call a priest any time, 24/7.

–The priest is bound to secrecy about what is confessed.

–We discussed avoiding people, places and things that lead (tempt) you to commit a sin. They seemed to get this concept. Several students freely admitted they had friends who were “trouble.”

We sent them home with a “cheat sheet” to help them prepare for the Penance Service. It includes some Commandments-based questions to assist with their examination of their conscience and the Act of Contrition. We encouraged them to think about it over the next two weeks and bring the sheet with them to the Penance Service.,

I talked with Monsignor Costigan last night about coming to talk with the class about Holy Orders and the priesthood in general. He is available on April 15, so we will flip-flop our last two classes. We will have Monsignor on April 15, and then cover the Sacrament of Matrimony on April 29.

Regarding the class on Matrimony, this occasionally can run afoul of things that may have happened or are happening in a student’s home life. (divorce, separation, etc.) Mrs. R and I try to deal with this with sensitivity, especially since we don’t know what we may stir up. If you have any concern, please give me a call and let’s chat. In nine previous years of teaching 5th grade CCD, I have not had any complaints from parents. Of course, you are always most welcome to come and sit in on the class.

We will finish up the year with an instructional Baptism in the church on April 29. We did this several years ago and it worked out very well. We will cap that evening with some sort of little reception/refreshments to send the students out the door with good wishes.

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We had a very busy and packed class session last night.

Father John visited to hear the class’s individual confessions. He brought along some chrism oil. The chrism is not associated with reconciliation, but our main lesson last night was about the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. Over the past few months, we had talked about chrism several times and I could tell the students just weren’t getting the concept. I thought if they could see it, they would understand. Father John went around and put a “dab” on the back of each of the students’ hands.

Before Father John began hearing confessions, he led the group in the Act of Contrition. I didn’t know he was going to do this, so I had not given the class any advance notice. The problem is that the students don’t know the Act by heart, so Father John was pretty much on his own.

After that, Father John went across the hall to an empty classroom and the students shuttled over, one at a time for their confessions. I was a little surprised how well it went from an organizational standpoint. I was able to continue teaching the lesson while the students came and went. Parents – You may wish to ask your child about the experience and encourage them to receive Reconciliation more often.

Our main lesson was on Anointing of the Sick.

–We talked about the modern concept of the sacrament and how it differs from the old “last rites” that was usually administered only to someone about to die.

–We spent some time talking about the connection between spiritual/mental well being and physical health.

–We discussed how the sacrament is frequently combined with the Eucharist and Reconciliation. We introduced the concept of “viatecum”, where a dying person is given a tiny piece of the Eucharist to “take along with way” on their journey to Heaven.

–We had a group of volunteers read aloud the steps of the Anointing while two other students acted it out, one as the recipient and one as the priest.

We have just a few class sessions left before we call it quits for the year. Over the next few weeks, we’ll cover the Sacraments of Holy Orders and Matrimony. If we have time, we will also discuss the Ten Commandments. The chapter on Holy Orders does not usually generate a lot of excitement among 5th graders, but in past years, the discussions of Matrimony and the Ten Commandments have been very lively and interesting. As always, parents are welcome to sit in. Also, especially as it relates to Matrimony, if there are any issues in your child’s life that I should know about so I don’t just stick my foot in it, please let me know.

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The focus of last night’s class was the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This was the first of three classes that will be largely devoted to Reconciliation/Penance/Confession. Last night, we discussed the “theory.” Next week, we will go through the specifics of confession. And finally, on March 13, Father John will be available to hear the class’s individual confessions. We really hope and encourage that we have a great turnout that night. (Parents – hint, hint!) We did emphasize that our preparation last night and next week should have them ready to celebrate the sacrament and it shouldn’t be a big deal.

We started out talking about the concept of forgiveness in general. I asked two students to help with a role-playing exercise. They were to come up with a make-believe story of Jacob doing something to anger Kaitlin. They decided that Jacob had torn up Kaitlin’s homework.

In the role-play Kaitlin confronted Jacob with it, Jacob denied it. Eventually, Jacob caved in and admitted that he had done the deed. I guided them through the process as Jacob expressed remorse; Kaitlin forgave him; and Jacob offered to try to make it right by going to the teacher and telling her what happened so Kaitlin wouldn’t get a bad grade. We used this exercise to introduce the idea that any act of forgiveness usually involves four distinct steps.

1.) Admission – The offender must own up to the offense.

2.) Sorrow or contrition – The offender must feel and express regret or sorrow.

3.) Forgiveness – The other party forgives the offender.

4.) Reparation or “pay back” – The offender does something to make up for the offense.

Then, using the text, we walked our way through the process of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, connecting each of those four steps to the key parts of the sacrament.

Admission = Confessing our sins

Sorrow = Act of Contrition

Forgiveness = Absolution

Reparation = Penance

We prayed the Act of Contrition together as a class. Other key points we discussed were:

— The difference between mortal and venial sins. Reconciliation forgives all venial sins, even those that the person may have forgotten, but mortal sins must be confessed. We described mortal sins as the kind of crimes you would go to prison for. We didn’t see any need to get more detailed at this age.

— That the priest is an intermediary for God

— Two types of the sacrament, an individual confession and the group Penance services

— The absolute bond of secrecy for anything discussed in Confession.

By the way, after our rather unrewarding experience last week, I took a little firmer posture in terms of classroom management. We have just a few children who are rather needy of attention and try to get it by being either disruptive or loudly outspoken. Normally, I am inclined to allow our class discussions to run free, but there are some students who take excessive advantage of that. Last night, I did not give them as much free rein and it worked. So, parents, if you hear something about that from your child, that’s what it was all about. If you have any question, please feel free to give me a call.

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As I am posting this, I notice the class number. Have we really been doing this for 21 weeks? My, how time flies when you are having fun.

We had a good class last night. It least it felt good to the teachers.

We finished up on the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Penance, Confession, etc.). We concentrated on the general concept and process of forgiveness in any situation, whether between friends or between a person and God.

We prayed the Act of Contrition as our opening prayer. We then broke the class up into pairs for a role playing exercise. We asked the students to get with their partner and come up with a back story. One of the two did something to the other, and the second person is angry about it. After they had a few minutes to come up with their story, we briefed the two groups separately about how they should act out the exercise.

  • At first the offender should deny the act.
  • Eventually he or she should cave in and admit they did the deed.
  • The offender should say they are sorry.
  • The offended party should forgive them.
  • They should agree one some action to make up for the offense.

We had them play it out on their own, and then asked if anyone wanted to repeat the role-play for the entire class. Every pair but one wanted to play out their scenario. They ere very creative and enthusiastic. I was just a little surprised out much every single student “got into it.” They say students remember 10% of what they are told, but 90% of what they do. Maybe some of this will “stick.”

We used this exercise to introduce the idea that any act of forgiveness, including the Sacrament of Reconciliation, usually involves four distinct steps.

1.) Confession – The offender must own up to the offense.

2.) Contrition – The offender must feel and express regret or sorrow.

3.) Forgiveness – The other party forgives the offender.

4.) Reparation – The offender does something to make up for the offense.

We emphasized these steps match up to the sacramental steps of confession of sins; the Act of Contrition; the priest’s absolution; and the penance.

We talked about some of the other aspects of the sacrament.

Individual confessions are heard at St Peter’s on Saturdays from 4:30-5:00 pm, in the confessional just off of the daily chapel/cry room.

You can call the church office or the rectory to arrange for an individual confession at any time.

In our parish, we usually have two communal reconciliation services, — during Lent and Advent.

The priest is bound to secrecy about whatever you confess.

We talked about how confessions used to be conducted in the dark confessional. Now you can meet the priest face-to-face, or you may still do so anonymously by remaining behind a curtain or screen.

The need for an individual confession led to a discussion of mortal and venial sins. Unfortunately, we really didn’t have the opportunity for much discussion about this. We defined mortal sins as ones as the big ones, like murder, bank robbery and kidnapping. Venial sins are the minor offenses. We didn’t really want to be overly creative about listing mortal sins. We said that mortal sins must be confessed to be forgiven. However, if a person forgets about some venial sins during a confession, they are still covered by the blanket absolution.

For homework, we asked the class to investigate when the parish Lent reconciliation service will be held and to ask their parents to take them. (Tuesday, March 20, 7:00 pm)

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