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Posts Tagged ‘adam and eve’

We had a pretty good, but not great, class last night. Normally the subject of the Sacrament of Matrimony generates many more questions and much more discussion. Last night our group was pretty flat.

 

So we tackled Matrimony and marriage. Some of the key points we discussed included:

 

–Matrimony is probably the single sacrament, along with Holy Orders that will have an effect on your subsequent life every day. Your choice of a spouse is probably the single most important decision you will make in your life.

 

– 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. We discussed some historical trends on gender equality and also the way the genders are perceived in other parts of the world, like the Middle East.

 

– 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.

 

– 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 Catholic Church takes Matrimony very seriously. The Church believes the union is intended to be permanent. It is difficult to get out of a Catholic marriage, but it is also difficult to get into it. Priests screen and counsel couples to try to make sure they know what they are getting into and are making a good decision. You can’t just show up at a parish office and ask to get married this afternoon, like you can at the county courthouse. Mrs. Rudolphi shared her experience of getting married. At the time, she and her husband were of different faiths. One minister declined to marry them because he thought that would be too much of an difference to overcome.

 

–We discussed some of the specifics of the marriage ceremony and also the concept of fidelity. We also discussed the concept that in Matrimony, the bride and groom are the actual celebrants and the priest is a witness and blesses the union.

 

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. In other words, as we reinforced, “Your parents’ biggest job is to be your parents. Don’t make that job unnecessarily difficult.”

 

We have three more classes left. We will actually teach lessons in the next two, and probably do something fun and special for the last class. Next week, we plan to cover Holy Week and Easter. We’ll finish up the Sacraments with a discussion of Holy Orders the week after Easter.

 

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This continues to be a very good group, and Mrs. Rudolphi and I are enjoying our Wednesday evenings very much. Last night, we finished up the Sacrament of Baptism.

Since last week’s lesson covered the mechanics of Baptism, last night we focused a little more on the theory. We presented and discussed the three main functions of the sacrament.

1.) Joins us with Christ.

2.) Brings us into the Church.

3.) Wipes us free of all sin.

We spent a little time discussing Original Sin and, frankly did not do a very good job of it. We discussed the story of Adam and Eve and emphasized that the story as related in Genesis should be looked at for the message, not the literal account. The Garden of Eden story was a way to explain how a perfect, all loving God placed his creations into a world full of suffering, death, etc. God started out with a perfect world (Eden). It was man who exercised his free will to disturb the plan. That Original Sin is passed down through the generations.

Monsignor Costigan stopped by later in the class, and we asked him to address Original Sin. His explanation was much better than mine. He explained that Original Sin isn’t really a sin. It is simply the state of being born without the presence of God’s grace.  Baptism brings the recipient into contact with God and fills him/her with His grace. (I guess that shows why he is a monsignor, and Mrs. R and I are one-hour-a-week CCD teachers.)

We also discussed the four main signs or symbols of Baptism and their meanings..

1.) Water (Cleansing us from sin.)

2.) Sacred Chrism (oil) (Holy Spirit)

3.) White garment (Purity)

4.) Lit Candle (The light of Christ in our life.)

We allowed the class to pair off with partners to complete the review/quiz section at the end of the chapter. We were about to start discussing the quiz when Msgr. Costigan stopped by. He did answer a question one student asked several weeks ago, that Mrs. R and I just didn’t know. It had to do with the pipe system in the church that is used to wash the chalice and other items used in the Eucharist, and also for disposing of unconsumed consecrated wine. The pipe returns the liquid directly into the Earth and not into the sewage system.

I think we will move on to the Eucharist next week, but I’m not sure. When I have the chance to look at my notes, I’ll post a new entry to let you know.

 

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I think it’s clear we are getting near the end of the year and spring is upon us. Our class was not particularly ill-behaved last night, but the students fell short of being highly enthusiastic. As mentioned in my earlier post, in past years our session on Matrimony has typically generated some interesting questions and discussions. Last night it was a bit like going over the grocery list. Oh well. Somewhat surprisingly, I did get some good responses from my end-of-the-class “What did you learn tonight” questioning. So despite a low level of excitement, they must have picked up something.

We started off with a warning. I don’t know the details of all our students’ families, and don’t really need to. However, I do know that there are students in our class who have experienced divorces and/or other unusual family situations. 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.

— 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.

Next week, we plan to wrap up the chapter on Matrimony and then cover Holy Orders. We’ll have a break the week after Easter (April 3). Then we come back for three final class sessions. We bypassed a lot of chapters in the book in our effort to make it through all seven sacraments. We may go back and pick up some of the chapters we skipped earlier. Or, we may break away from the text and teach two classes on the Ten Commandments. The “BigTen” are not an official part of our curriculum this year, but they have produced some lively classes in the past. Besides, some reinforcement can’t hurt. I’d rather have some final classes in which the students are interested and engaged. Hope springs eternal.

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Good morning, parents and friends. We had an interesting class last night. Sorry you missed it. (I’m assuming that most of our students are probably not reading this. It’s OK if they do, but I suspect it isn’t at the top of their hit parade.)

We had some interesting feedback from last week’s discussion about the scientific and biblical accounts of creation. Apparently they loved it. Given the choice, I think our students would prefer an anthropology class over religion. Too bad. We’re teaching religion.

We did finish off our discussion of the first chapter of Genesis. I emphasized again that the target audience for Genesis was a group of nomadic sheep and goat herders. It had to be written in a way they could understand, and still convey its important messages.

1.) God created the world and everything that is in it.

2.) What he created is good.

The details of how he did it are left up to science. And the Bible is a religious book, not a science text.

I drew a picture on the board of the ancient Hebrews concept of the world. Rather than the modern view of planets, a solar system, galaxies, etc, the Hebrews thought the world was like a “snow dome” a flat disc covered with a dome and suspended in water.

The Hebrew concept of the world

The Hebrew concept of the world

We talked about this and then had the students take turns reading the first chapter of Genesis aloud, with that concept in mind.

Although I really didn’t want to go that far, there was a lot of interest in the Adam and Eve story. The class had trouble grasping the concept that the story was more symbolic than historical. One student asked if Adam and Eve were the first humans, and they had children, did that mean that their children had to marry one another to produce the next generation. (Where do they come up with these things?) I really didn’t want to get involved in a lengthy discussion of early humans and evolution, so I just pointed out that there were many things that Bible does not address, like Adam and Eve’s other children and so on. It wasn’t a very good answer, but it got us off of an uncomfortable subject.

Finally, we got back to the main topic of the class, the Eucharist. We passed out a sheet of paper with three columns, with headers for the Eucharist as a Memorial, as a Meal and as a Sacrifice. We asked the students to pair up with a partner and to read a portion of the text that described the Sacrament in those three terms. They were to write a few words about the Eucharist in each column. Aside from the difficulty of getting them to settle down and actually concentrate on that task, it went fairly well. Some of the students had difficulty grasping the concepts of memorial and sacrifice. So we talked a little bit about the use of objects and actions to remember a person or event. We also talked some about the practice of most ancient cultures to sacrifice farm animals or other valued items as a way of worshiping God. We don’t do that anymore. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and subsequently the Eucharist replaced that practice.

A reminder that next week’s CCD class (February 13) will be replaced by Mass and ashes (It will be Ash Wednesday.) at 7 pm in the church. We encourage all our CCD families to attend.

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I’m a little late posting an update for last week’s class. I was traveling for work Thursday and Friday of last week and, to be honest, didn’t think about it over the weekend. Oops.

We had a small group turn out last Wednesday, maybe only 10 or 12 students. We started off the first of two chapters covering the Eucharist. We covered several key points.

–The first Eucharist was at the Last Supper, which in turn was a Jewish Passover meal (Seder.) We talked a little about the origin of the Passover celebration and the Passover story in Exodus. We had a lot of questions about why God would kill the Egyptian first-born sons, which didn’t help us stay in topic. My fault.

–We connected the words in Luke’s Gospel account of the Last Supper to the words used in the consecration in the Mass. We emphasized Jesus’s command to “Do this in memory of me.”

–We discussed the concept of the Real Presence, that Catholics believe that Jesus is truly present in the bread and wine of the Eucharist. This differs from what most Protestant faiths profess, that their “holy communion” is simply representative of Jesus’s body and blood, not a Real Presence.

–We emphasized that the Eucharist is at the very center of what it means to be a Catholic.

I’d like to tell you that I was making a significant impact on the students, but in truth, I think everything I was throwing out was bouncing right back at me.  It wasn’t working. Then we changed the subject.

We were talking a little about the connection to Passover and Jewish history. Students started asking questions about the Bible and the focus switched to the biblical account of creation (Adam and Eve, etc.). There seemed to be a lot of interest, and since I was making such great progress with our earlier topic (sarcasm), I decided to head off in a totally different direction. (We’ll pick up where we left off with the Eucharist this week.)

Most of the students were very confused about the relationship between the biblical account of Creation and what they learn in school. They didn’t understand why Adam and Eve weren’t eaten by the dinosaurs. So we talked a little about how Genesis was written for a group of illiterate, nomadic goat herders who lived in tents in the desert. Those people had no concept of the Big Bang, DNA, evolution or anything of that nature. We told the class that Genesis tells us that God created the world and everything in it, and that what he created is good. However, the Bible is a religious book, not a science text. So it’s up to science to explain what “tools” God used and how he did it. The creation story in Genesis should be viewed as a broad story with a strong underlying truth. The details are left to science. As such, Genesis is not really in conflict with their science classes.

This probably sounds a lot like “intelligent design,” however, I pointed out again, we are teaching a religion class, not a science class.

This week, I want to finish up just a little more on the Creation story and then complete the half-taught lesson on the Eucharist.

An important scheduling note – NEXT WEEK, February 13, is Ash Wednesday. There will be no CCD class. We ask parents to bring their children and join them for Mass at 7 pm.

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After a week off, we ended up in a wide ranging discussion, from the meaning of The Lord’s Prayer to the origin of sin.

We began by finishing up the last chapter on The Lord’s Prayer. For many people, especially children, prayers are simply words to be memorized. They recite a prayer without really knowing the meaning of what they are saying. We walked our way through the Our Father and talked about the meaning of each line.

We moved to the next chapter. It started with an exercise that involved a list of personal characteristics, some good (generous, kind, respectful, etc) and some less desirous (selfish, rough, lazy, etc.). The students were asked to circle ten attributes that applied to them, both good and bad. It provoked an interesting discussion. Surprisingly, they were quite willing to grab onto some of the negative labels. I’m not sure what that means.

From there, we went on to the biblical story of Adam and Eve and the origin of sin and evil.  We covered free will, heaven, hell and purgatory. We talked about what their impressions of heaven and hell might be.

The key point to the discussion was that our happiness and reward / punishment in the next life will depend on the choices we make in this one.

We have no class next week, March 31, due to Holy Week.  When we come back on April 7, we will cover the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick.  This is actually one of our better class sessions. We will talk about the four stages of forgiveness and get into some role playing. In the past, the classes have gotten very engaged. I hope the same for this group. So if you are not doing anything on Wednesday, April 7, come on by and join the fun.

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