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We had an odd class on Wednesday. I don’t think the first half was very successful, but the second half, which consisted of watching some videos, had a greater impact.

We used the Faith Assessment that dealt with Bible characters as the basis for our discussion.

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

Unfortunately, our students’ familiarity with that subject, especially from the Old Testament was very weak. Ironically, if it were not for the necessity of covering the faith assessment as preparation for Confirmation, the Old Testament would have been the main subject for the 6th grade curriculum. So after struggling through that, we played four short videos from a series I found. The first two explained the Book of Genesis, and the second, the Book of Exodus. They were animated and fairly well done, and the class was entranced.

You probably have already received the schedule for the rest of the year from other sources, including the hand out we passed out on Wednesday, but just in case, here it is again.

CCD -Only Seven Classes Left

Wednesday, March 15, 2017-No Class. Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Wednesday March 22, 2017-Family CCD. Classes meet with family in the Church for Stations of the Cross

Thursday March 23, 2017-Family Parish Penance Service @ 7pm in the Church.

Wednesday March 29, 2017-Class

Wednesday April 5, 2017-Class

Wednesday April 12, 2017-Class

Wednesday April 19, 2017-Class

Wednesday April 26-Last Class

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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.

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I thought we had a good class on Wednesday, but maybe not the “home run” we are always striving for.

The topic of discussion was the Ten Commandments. We began by distributing a sheet with the Commandments listed, and a photocopy of one of the chapters in Exodus where they are presented. We gave the class some of the background surrounding the story of the Israelites escape from Egypt, Moses, Mount Sinai and the stone tablets. Then we had six students read the biblical passage.

During this exercise and a subsequent discussion about taking the Lord’s name in vain, some of the children were very cute. The student assigned to read the passage with the tenth commandment stopped short. The passage contained the word “ass,” referring to an animal. He looked at me and said, “I’m not allowed to say that word.” I told him in that a context, the word referred to a donkey and it was OK to say it. As expected, it produced a round of giggles from the rest of the students. Likewise, during our discussion of using the Lord’s name, I had to grant them a “special exemption” so we could use examples and have a discussion.

We then discussed the first three commandments. We discussed what “false Gods” meant in the context of the Exodus story. However, we also brought the concept forward to the 21st century. We broke the class into three groups and asked them to brainstorm a list of false Gods in modern times — for both adults and children. We defined modern false gods as anything in life that can become more important than God, or can get between a person and God. As an example and to start the process, I suggested that for many people, money is a false god. The students caught on to the concept very quickly and all three groups produce very interesting and thought provoking lists. If they got nothing else out of the class, I hope that is one concept that will stick with them.

We then progressed into a discussion of misusing God’s name and of keeping the Sabbath. We spent some time discussing why most Christians celebrate the Sabbath on the first day of the week rather than the seventh.

All and all, it was a pretty successful class. Next week, we will tackle the remaining seven Commandments, and have the class develop a set of Commandments for modern-day 5th graders.

What follows below is simply a repetition of the email I sent out earlier this morning. If you have already read it, then this will be redundant.

Mrs. Hubert, Mrs. Rudolphi and I share a concern we think we should bring to your attention.

After class, some of our children have been heading out to meet their rides in the parking lot. This is difficult for us to control. In addition to sorting through the mild chaos of dismissal, frequently the children are being “picked up” by an older sibling. We don’t know if they are going to meet a parent in another classroom or in the parking lot.

We would like to strongly discourage this practice. The school parking lot is not a safe place for unaccompanied children. This is especially true during this time of year, when it is dark, and even more so when there is another activity happening at the school like there was this week.

So we would like to ask you, please, to come into the school building to pick up your child. Please do not ask them to meet you in the parking lot. If you have a situation where that is difficult (sleeping baby, older grandparent driver or whatever), just let us know, or instruct your child to tell us. Mrs. Rudolphi or I will be happy to walk your child (children) to your car. Seriously. We don’t mind.

Thank you very much for your cooperation on this.

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Good class last night. We were very happy to see that ten of our 13 students braved the lousy weather to attend. Thank you, parents!

Our main focus was the Ten Commandments. We had lots of discussion and lots of questions. Those are the best classes.

We started with a story, telling the class the background that lead to God delivering the Commandments to Moses on Mt. Sinai.

We had volunteers read the passage from Exodus 20 that is the first mention of the Commandments. (The students were somewhat “atwitter” last night, and references to an “ass” (ie: jackass) and “alien” caused more than a little giggling.)

We distributed list of the traditional “Ten Commandments” that demonstrated how some different religions count them. For example, Catholics count the God-related commandments as the first three, while many Protestant churches count them as four. On the other end, Catholics divide the last two “you shall not covet…” Commandments into two separate statements, while most Protestant sects combine them into one. We pointed out this only a concern if they are talking to a Protestant friend about the 4th Commandment, for instance. A Protestant would be talking about the Commandment to respect the Sabbath, while the Catholic would be honoring his father and mother.

As we walked through and discussed the first four Commandments, we talked about some of these points.

With the first Commandment, we spent some time talking about false gods. In the time of Moses, the issue was not to worship the sun, the Earth, a statue, etc. We asked the students to think about some of the false gods people may encounter today. They came up with ideas like money, drugs, alcohol, fame, celebrities, and so on.  We connected the Commandment to relevant issues today.

The second Commandment, to not take the Lord’s name in vain, was fairly easy for them to grasp. One student did confess she had a lot of trouble with that one. We suggested that it was a challenge she should try to master with prayer.

We talked about the concept of a Sabbath and why most Christians consider Sunday the Sabbath, rather than the “seventh day” (Saturday.) We pointed out that many early Christian leaders wanted to make a distinction between their older Jewish faith and their new Christian religion. Designating Sunday, the day Christ rose from the dead, as the Sabbath was one way to do that. We also discussed that in today’s culture, we have largely gotten away from the concept of resting and avoiding work on the Sabbath, and not necessarily for the better.

As we discussed the fourth (Honor your father and mother.) Commandment, we emphasized several points. The Commandment may seem fairly obvious to fifth graders because they are still very dependent on their parents for the essentials of living. However, even ten and eleven year-olds may need to be reminded from time to time to love, respect and obey their parents. We pointed out that the main thrust of the Commandment was not towards children, but rather towards adults, especially adults whose parents are older and may depend on them. Role reversal. At the time the Commandments were written, it was not unusual for older, dependent tribe members who became a burden to be rejected or abandoned to die. While we typically don’t do that today, the Commandment is especially important when parents or grandparents grow older and need the younger family members’ love and assistance.

Next week, we will finish up with the last six Commandments, and they always generate some interesting discussion. How can you go wrong discussing murder, lying, theft, jealousy, adultery, and gossip?  Should be fun. Parents – come on out and enjoy the class. You are most welcome.

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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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Before I get any further, there is an important schedule change. The calendar I have had posted on this blog since September has a mistake.

We WILL be off next week (April 11) due to the public schools’ spring break.

Our final class of the year will be the following Wednesday, April 18.

There will be NO class on April 25 or any subsequent Wednesdays.

Last night, we had a good session. We covered the Ten Commandments. Originally, I thought we had two classes to cover this subject, but, obviously, I was wrong. So we had to move a little more quickly to cram all ten into the class session.

You can sure tell that it’s spring. While generally well behaved, the students were very “antsy.” During our discussions, hands were up all the time, and everyone wanted to tell a story.

We started by reading the first (of several) version of the commandments in Exodus 20.  Then we walked through the commandments. Among the items of discussion were:

The commandments are split into two sections — those that pertain to God and those that pertain to man.

Different religions count the commandments differently. Catholics divide the God-related directives into three commandments, while many Protestant religions count them as four. On the other hand, Catholics count the “covet” directives as two separate commandments (9 & 10) while the Protestants combine them into one. This is only important when people refer to commandments by their number rather than its verbiage. We distributed a chart that showed how the commandments are arranged by various faiths.

We talked a little about “false gods” and what things might be considered “false gods” today – anything that can get between you and your relationship with God. Among the examples the students came up with were money, alcohol, drugs, entertainment, sports, etc. We emphasized that while most of these are not evil in themselves, they can become harmful when they assume a too-great measure of importance.

We talked about using God’s name improperly and the Sabbath.

We discussed the importance of honoring and respecting parents, not only when they are children but also as adults, especially when their parents are older and may need their assistance.

The commandment against killing did not generate as much discussion as in past years.

Most of our students were not familiar with the term “adultery.” We described it as someone in a married couple having another boyfriend or girlfriend on the side. We did emphasize that God included two commandments respecting the sanctity of marriage. One (adultery) was aimed at the married couple. The second (not to covet your neighbor’s wife) is aimed at someone outside the marriage who might want to break it up.

The commandment against stealing was grasped easily and did not provoke much discussion. We did have a couple of questions that involved some convoluted “what if” scenarios. We didn’t spend much time on those.

We discussed the concept of “false witness” in terms of lying about someone or just spreading rumors and gossip.

We talked about the concept of coveting. Most of the class was not familiar with the term. We described the difference between simply admiring something that belongs to a friend (a new baseball mitt, a bicycle, a cell phone, etc.) and coveting it. They covet it when they want it so badly that they are willing to do something wrong to get it for themselves.

Our last class will be in two weeks. We will do something special, although I’m not sure just what it will be. We have two weeks to think about it.

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