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Posts Tagged ‘Catholicism’

We had a last minute change of plans for last night’s class. Originally, we planned to cover the first of two lessons on the Ten Commandments. However, at 6:32 pm, there were only three students in the room. In the past, our classes on the Commandments have been some of the best of the year, with lots of questions, discussions and engagement. I didn’t want more than half the class to miss out on it. Meanwhile, Monsignor Costigan was presenting a program in the church that Mrs. Hubert said would be appropriate for our age range. We changed our minds several times, as more students arrived (7 of 8 total), but we ended up going to the church and listening to Monsignor after all.

Monsignor had several good themes, including prayer, which Mrs. Rudolphi covered with the class last week, and forgiveness, which will be a serious topic for us in a few weeks. The class was well behaved and answered several of Monsignor’s questions.

Next week, we will tackle the Commandments, regardless of our attendance.

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We had an interesting class Wednesday evening, even if it didn’t go as planned. The students were full of questions about the subject of the class, Baptism, so we went with the flow. If they are asking question, they are engaged, and that is the best. So we had a rather free-flowing discussion that covered a lot of ground.

For our pre-class exercise, we handed out a question sheet, and asked the students to answer some questions about themselves, like…

My name is:
I was born on:
I was baptized on:
At (church):
My Godparents are:

We were pretty sure there would be unanswered questions, so we asked them to take the sheet home with them and ask their parents for help. Parents – please ask your child about this.

We intended to cover the second of two chapters on Baptism, but wanted to backtrack and go over a handful of key points from the chapter we skipped. These included the purposes of Baptism.

Joins us with Christ
Brings us into the Church
Wipes us free from all sin

The last point prompted a lot of questions, particularly about the relationship between Baptism and Reconciliation. We also talked some about original sins; what happens to babies who die before being baptized; and the nature of Heaven. It was a pretty free-wheeling discussion, but all, more or less, on target.

We finally started into the chapter in the textbook. We had volunteers read the first page. We handed out a sheet with questions, the answers for which were contained in the text, and asked the students to locate and answer the questions.

1. Does everyone get baptized at the same age? (No)
2. What do we call adults or older children who are preparing for Baptism? (catechumens)
3. Who helps prepare people for Baptism? (the entire Church community)
4. What do Godparents do? (multiple answers)
5. What is the best day to be Baptized? (Sunday)

On the issue of godparents, we did make a distinction between what it means in the Church, as opposed to a common lay meaning. Outside the church godparents are often considered the intended guardians of a child if both parents should die. Within the Church, that may or may not be the case. We explained that frequently godparents are not a couple, and may be married to other people (eg: an aunt from one side of the family and an uncle from the other.) Within the Church, the godparents stand up for a child during the ceremony and answer questions in his or her place. They are also expected to be involved in the child’s life, especially their spiritual life.

We left the class with a small “homework” assignment. Before the next class, they are to find a way to shine the light of Christ they received at Baptism with some person or persons. Next week, we will ask them what they did. You may wish to remind your child of this.

Also, next week, we will finish off the chapter on Baptism and conduct a role-play where students will walk through a mock Baptism ceremony.

When I mentioned this to the class, several jumped in and asked “with a real baby?” We won’t do that next week, but that is something we have done in the past. Monsignor has presided over at least two real Baptisms, in church, with the family, but during a Wednesday evening CCD time slot. Usually, most if not all the other classes attend. Initially some were skeptical of this, but the two times we did it, it worked out great. Monsignor Costigan walked through the ceremony and explained the significance of each step. And the roughly 150 students present, were totally well behaved. The difficulty with doing this every year is finding a set of parents who are willing to have their child’s Baptism performed on a Wednesday evening. So parents – If you know of a family who should be having a child baptized between now and the end of April, and might be willing to be part of the program, please let me know.

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Monsignor Costigan visited our class at my request last night.  Originally, the class was to be focused on the Sacrament of Holy Orders. However, I thought it would be more interesting to have Monsignor to come and talk about his life as a priest and the priesthood in general, and to answer questions.

He did a great job and the class seemed genuinely interested. There were a TON of questions. After a series of questions focused on the “seal of the confessional,” I did need to ask the class to broaden out their questions. Fifth graders love to come up with convoluted “what if…” scenarios that sometimes need to be reined in.

Next week will be our last traditional class period, and we will cover the Sacrament of Matrimony. This is usually an interesting class with lots of questions and discussion. I’m looking forward to it.

We will cap off the CCD year with a final class on April 29. We will have a “teaching Baptism.” This will involve all or nearly all grades. We will have a full-scale baptism of the infant daughter of one of our parish families, and Monsignor will explain each of the prayers and actions as he proceeds. We did this several years ago and it was a big success. We will finish up with some kind of reception/refreshments. Should be fun.

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We’re almost home, parents. The barn is in sight. Don’t give up on us now. A few of our “regulars” were absent last night, and we missed them. It’s been three weeks since our last regular class. We had our CCD Penance service last week. It went very well and I think the students who were there thought it was a rewarding and meaningful experience.  In our year-long coverage of the Sacraments, we are five down and two to go. We covered #5 yesterday, Anointing of the Sick.

We began by comparing the Sacrament of today with the old, “Last Rites” or Extreme Unction of yesteryear. It is no longer administered to just those on their death bed, but the grace of the Sacrament can benefit anyone who is sick, undergoing surgery or any other health issue. We talked a little about the mind-body-spirit connection. Anointing of the Sick is not faith-healing and is not intended to cure a person’s ailment. It can give a person a sense of peace that may allow their body to heal better.

We discussed who can and should receive the Sacrament, and when and where it is administered.

We had one student read a blow-by-blow description of the way the Sacrament is administered while two other students role-played a priest and a sick person. (We actually used some olive oil as chrism and they did NOT make a mess of it!)

We finished with the end of the chapter quiz and discussed the answers.  And as always, we asked each student to cite one thing they learned during the class and rewarded them with a chocolate chip cookie.

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We had a pretty good class this week. The students were reasonably well behaved and fairly engaged.

Although we intended to spend a little time wrapping up the Sacrament of Matrimony and then cover Holy Orders, we spent the entire class discussing Matrimony.

We began by discussing the concept of a permanent commitment and how important it is for a couple to be fully aware and prepared before getting married. 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 if they think the couple is not ready or right for each other. As we were discussing this, Mrs. Rudolphi (Where does she come up with this stuff?) announced, “That happened to me!” Huh? It turns out that Mrs. R was Protestant and her fiancée was Catholic. They first went to a Protestant minister and he declined to perform the ceremony because he believed the difference in their faiths was too much for them to overcome. That story was a bit of an eye opener for the class.

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 totally foreign to them.

Mrs. Rudolphi and I 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. (Mrs. Rudolphi said “Date night!”) Don’t be so needy and demanding of their parents’ every waking minute that they never to spend any time with just them.

As an example, I related a conversation I had just this week with a mother of two elementary school-age children. She said she was dreading spring break, because one of her children has never learned how to entertain himself. He requires his mother to entertain him…all the time.  Every weekend and every break, he constantly nags her “What are we going to do now?” Fortunately, most of our class was amazed by the story.

Maybe, they will take that lesson home with them and, maybe, make their parents’ life just a little easier.  Hope springs eternal.

We are off next week for spring break, and then back for three classes. I plan to spend some time going over Holy Orders and then as much time as we can spare on the Ten Commandments.

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First off, my apologies for no update last week. I had work-related meetings in Atlanta that called me away. Mrs. Cathy Scanlon presented one of her programs, which I understand, went very well.

Last night, we were back in business. We finished off the second of our two chapters on the Sacrament of Confirmation. We got off to a rough, but somewhat amusing, start with our opening prayer. The prayer at the beginning of the chapter included a passage in Spanish that was intended to be sung. I am totally non-musical, so that was a non-starter. I thought we would just read it. I asked if any of our students spoke any Spanish, thinking they might be able to read it more easily than the rest of our English-speaking tongues. Two students claimed to speak a little Spanish. However, when it came time for them to read the passage, let’s just say they oversold their abilities. We stumbled through it and trusted that God would understand our hearts were in the right place.

We started with a quick review of our discussion of Pentecost from two weeks ago. We connected the effect of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost to Confirmation in the modern day.

We discussed the specific parts of the Confirmation ceremony, including an emphasis on the Baptismal Promises. We pointed out that when people are baptized as infants, they don’t have any choice in the matter and that their godparents make the promises for them. As part of Confirmation, they have the opportunity to make those promises themselves. We broke into the groups and had the groups list and then share some of the key beliefs they hold as Catholics.

As we continued our discussion of the elements of Confirmation, we passed out sheets with three questions on them, and asked the class to read a section silently and to answer the questions on the sheets, which we then discussed.

We emphasized that Confirmation brings the candidates into full initiation in the Church and that from that point on, they are considered adults in the faith.

Finally, we talked about the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. (wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord). Relating back to Pentecost, we pointed out how the Holy Spirit changed meek and terrified Apostles into bold and brave messengers of God’s word.

As usual, we ran out of time before we ran out of material. We continued our practice of ending class by asking each student to name one thing they learned that night. A cookie is the reward. Some students had to struggle with the question, but all eventually were able to name one thing. Small victories.

The the way, it has taken a while, but I think the class is finally starting to “click” a little with Mrs. Rudolphi and myself. While a good number of the students remain very active and “chatty”, they appear to be a little more engaged and comfortable working with us. Even some of the quieter students, who avoided attention and participation during the fall, are coming out of their comfort zones and participating in discussions. Mrs. Rudolphi continues to be a great “enforcer,” trying to keep a lid on the extraneous chatter, comments and note-passing while I focus more on the lesson.

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Our CCD schedule has been a little weird for the past few weeks and will continue so until the Christmas break. Here’s the story.

December 12 (next week) 6-730 pm – Rehearsal for the nine students and two shepherds who are in the Christmas pageant on December 19 and (in some cases) December 24. This includes:

Readers

  • Danielle C (also Dec 24)
  • Brendan C
  • Caroline J
  • Jacob E
  • Elizabeth Anne C (also Dec 24)
  • Jake F (also Dec 24)
  • Autumn H
  • Madeline H (also Dec 24)
  • Hannah B

Shepherds

  • Will G
  • Carter P

There may be another shepherd. I’m not sure. Check with your child. If he/she says they are a shepherd, they probably are.

The remainder of the class has the night off.

Please drop-off and pick-up your child at the church. The school will be closed that evening.

Please note – The start time on December 12 will be 6:00 pm. If you can’t get your child to the church by then, it won’t be the end of the world, but if you can accommodate the earlier time, it would be great.

Also, the students will be served pizza after the rehearsal.

Saturday, December 15 – A final rehearsal for the Christmas pageant for readers and shepherds. I believe it is at 10 am. We’ll confirm that next week.

Wednesday, December 19 6:30 pm – Christmas pageant in church, followed by refreshments and snacks in the school gym. Everyone should attend, as it this is essentially a regular CCD time slot. This will be the final CCD class before the Christmas break. We hope parents will join their children for the pageant, but if you are not able to do so, drop off your child at the church, but pick up at the school.

Monday, December 24, 6:00 pm Mass – The four readers who have volunteered to participate in the pageant-portion of the Mass should attend. Please have your child there early. 5:30 pm would be good. Certainly no later than 5:45 pm. Please have them dressed nicely. The readers for this Mass are Danielle, Elizabeth Anne, Jake F and Madeline.

Questions? Call or email me.

Last night, half the class was involved in the rehearsal for the pageant, which left me with only around nine students for a class. We had an informal discussion of the season of Advent, focusing on the concept of preparing ourselves spiritually for the coming of Christ. Then we went over to the church and listened to their classmates work on their readings.

 

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