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Posts Tagged ‘christian’

I skipped last week’s summary, but it was real simple. Mrs. Hanzel taught a lesson on the rosary, and we prayed a decade. Had a wide ranging discussion and answered a lot of questions.

Last night, we had a combination class. For the first half of the class period, we discussed the church/liturgical calendar and the seasons (Lent, Advent, etc.) We compared it to other ways of tracking the year, such as the calendar year, a school year, sports seasons and so on. We emphasized the Easter Triduum (three days) which lasts from Holy Thursday evening to Easter evening. The events of these three days are the basis of the Christian/Catholic religion and without those events, we would not be Christian. We also discussed how and why Easter moves around on the calendar.

During the second half of the class we had a quiz bowl. The idea was to challenge the students to try to recall what we have been teaching, and hopefully reinforce some of those lessons. Mrs. Hanzel divided the class randomly into three teams (3-3-4). I had prepared a bunch of questions on slips of paper, which each team pulled out of a bowl. Some of the questions were real easy and some were tougher. Not surprisingly, there were some serous “duh” moments. We also had some pleasant surprises. On at least two occasions a team answered with a response I wasn’t looking for, but was also correct. Although he teams were picked randomly, one team consisted of three of our four boys. They cleaned up and won by a wide margin.

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Sorry for the delay in posting this update. The past couple of days were just a little busy.

In any case, on Wednesday evening, we tackled the last six of the Ten Commandments. This was a rather unstructured, free-flowing discussion. Perhaps it was a little too unstructured, as keeping the class focused on a group discussion was a little challenge. The temptations of cutting up and chatting with one’s neighbors was more than some of our little band could withstand. Even so, it was fairly lively and most of the group was involved.

We started with a review of the first four commandments we covered last week, then moved on to the next set. Here are the key points we discussed.

“You shall not kill” – Surprisingly, there weren’t as many questions about this as I had anticipated. Some students were concerned about killing animals, like for food. Some others were concerned that God had killed in the Bible (the plagues on Egypt in Exodus and the Great Flood in Genesis.) We talked a little about self-defense and then moved on.

“You shall not commit adultery” – We defined “adultery” simply as breaking your marriage vows or “cheating” on your husband or wife. (There was no need to go into greater detail with this age group.) We jumped out of order and also included #9 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.” in he discussion. We pointed out that both commandments underscore the importance God puts on the sanctity of marriage. While the adultery commandment is aimed at the married couple, the covet prohibition is targeted towards the third person in an adulterous triangle.

“You shall not steal” – This must have been self explanatory, as we had no questions or “…but what if?” scenarios.

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” – The class understood the obvious point of the commandment. We elaborated a little and tried to relate it to their age group by including gossip in he conversation. They seemed to make the connection and understood how simple playground gossip can be harmful and run afoul of this commandment.

“You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor” – In earlier discussions, we defined “covet” (which was a concept that no one initially understood) as wanting something so much that you are willing to do something wrong to get it. We gave a few examples and the idea seemed to click.

In response to a question from one of the students, we had a discussion about why the Jewish people did not follow Jesus and become Christians. We provided some historical perspective and explained how in the years immediately following Christ’s resurrection, here was much discussion in the Jewish and Christian community about the nature of Christ. Not everyone believed him to be the Messiah and the Son of God. Those who did followed the apostles and other early Christian leaders. Those who did not remained Jews.

As always, we concluded the class by polling each student and asking them to name one thing they learned that evening. Everyone who responded (and that was all of them), was rewarded with a homemade cookie.

This week, I may start with an exercise. We’ll break the class into small groups and ask them to imagine they are assigned to write a set of commandments for today’s fifth graders. It might be interesting to see what they come up with. They will probably take around half the class period. During the second half, we will cover the upcoming season of Lent.

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As Mrs. Rudolphi and I discussed after class this week, we aren’t making much progress through the text, but we are having some interesting class sessions. The students are full of questions and enjoy the discussions. Since fifth grade is not a sacramental preparation class (as are first, second, seventh and eighth), we don’t feel a real need to stick strictly with the text. If the class wants to question and discuss a subject that is vaguely related to religion, God, morality, etc,  we’ll run with it.

We do have one problem we need to address. There are a handful of students who have really taken the advice to “get engaged.” However, more than half of the questions and comments tend to come from that handful of the students. We (I) need to do a better job of spreading it around and getting the more quiet students involved. That will be a goal next week.

On another down-note, we did not discuss the class’s reading assignment, chapter four of the Gospel of Matthew, because only two students admitted to have actually read it. Please give us some help on this at home. Each chapter is quite short and shouldn’t take the student more than a few minutes to read it. We asked them to double-up this week and read both chapters four (last week’s assignment) and five (this week’s assignment.) Parents – please give your child a little nudge. Thanks.

This week’s class was the first of two sessions on the Sacrament of Baptism.  We discussed the concepts that Baptism is the first sacrament to be received and no other sacrament can be received without Baptism. Baptism brings the recipient into the Church (Body of Christ, community, etc.) We also discussed how Baptism wipes our souls free from sin, but we can receive it only once. After that, we have Penance/Reconciliation for forgiveness.

One student asked why an infant would need to have his sins forgiven when he hasn’t had the chance to commit any. That opened the discussion of original sin. Many of the students didn’t think it was fair that God would penalize someone born today for the sin of Adam and Eve. We pointed out that is why have the Sacrament of Baptism.

A student asked why we are typically baptized as babies. Why not, he asked, wait until you are about to die and then get all your sins forgiven at the same time. This led to a lively discussion that largely focused on the idea that you never know when your life may end.

One student then asked how it is that we know all these teachings (all Christian teachings) are true?  This led to a discussion of the concept of faith, which, to be honest, I don’t think we handled very well. Towards the end of the class, Father John stopped by, so we kicked the question over to him. I’m not sure he answered it much better. I’m betting this question will come up again.

Next week, we plan to finish up the Sacrament of Baptism.  Hopefully.

By the way, parents, you are always welcome to sit in on the class and observe, and/or participate as you wish.

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