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After a three week layoff, we got back to CCD business last Wednesday. We planned to continue our three-part lesson, with a faith assessment quiz, a video on saints and discussion of the Holy Spirit and Confirmation from the text Confirmed in the Spirit. Unfortunately, we could not get the audio to function with the classroom computer. Paula’s husband, John, labored over it for 15 minutes and couldn’t get it to budge. So we didn’t have a video.

Our faith assessment quiz was a fill-in-the-blanks quiz on the Commandments. Since we spent several class periods on this last year, we had the students complete this individually. Everyone pretty much had it down cold.  We also discussed the two greatest commandments as presented by Jesus.

You shall love your God with all your heart, mind and soul. (paraphrased)

You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

We discussed that a lot of people today seem to have trouble with the second one. We pointed out that Jesus did not say that you should love your neighbor, unless he or she …

…looks different from you.

…comes from a different country.

…does things you don’t agree with.

–and so on.

Jesus just said “Love your neighbor.”

As we got into the Confirmed in the Spirit text, we started by just allowing the students to flip through the pages to get an idea of what we would be covering. We then discussed the scripture verse at the top of page 2 in which Jesus told his apostles that he would be leaving them soon, but he would send the Spirit to be with them. We discussed the context of the passage. Jesus referred to an “advocate.” We discussed the various roles described by “advocate.” We also discussed that God, in the form of the Holy Spirit remains with us to be our advocate today.

We gave them a homework assignment. Before they were to go to bed Wednesday night, they were to say a sincere prayer to God, thanking him for protecting them through Hurricane Matthew.

This coming week’s faith assessment will focus on the Apostles’ Creed. I told them that before we broke on Wednesday. The Creed is in the back of their text, which they should have at home.

By the way, we have extra books, but it sure would be great if you would remind your child to bring their text back to class on Wednesday. That way they can mark it up, etc. and not worry about messing up more than one book.

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We had a very good class last week. We finished up the last three of the Ten Commandments.

False witness – Most of the class had a pretty good general idea of what this was all about. However, we expanded the discussion to include issues more relevant to them, like gossip and rumors.

Two “covet” commandments – We described “covet” as to want something so badly that you are willing to commit a wrong to get it. Regarding coveting a neighbor’s goods, it pointed out that it is OK to admire something like a new phone or something similar a friend gets. But when you want it so badly you are willing to steal it, it is coveting.

We didn’t spend a lot of time on the issue of coveting another’s wife or husband, but we did point out that God so values marriage that two of the commandments refer to it. The adultery commandment applies to the people within the marriage, but the covet commandment addresses someone outside the relationship. Interestingly enough, this general concept showed up in the exercise that comprised the rest of the class.

We then retold the story of Moses and Mt. Sinai with a minor revision. In this story there was a group of fifth graders in the crowd when Moses presented the Commandments. The fifth graders objected, saying there wasn’t really much there that applied to them, since they are really into murder and aren’t even sure what that adultery thing is. They sent Moses back up the mountain to ask God for another set of Commandments, this one relevant to 5th graders. We broke the class into groups of two and three and gave them poster boards and markers. We told them to imagine they are God, and to come up with a second set of Commandments, this one applying to the issues fifth graders face.

Once we got the group of guys to stop squabbling over who was going to write what, it went smoothly and very well. It’s always interesting to see what they come up with.

“Don’t bust your friend’s crush.” That was one I had to ask about.

We had each group present their list to the class. Everyone did great. Mrs. Rudolphi and I were very pleased.

This week we will start our two-part lesson on Reconciliation be examining the concept of forgiveness. See ya then!

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We had a really good class last night. I hope your children came home talking about it. If not, ask them.

We stepped outside the normal curriculum to take a look at the Ten Commandments. This subject used to be a part of the 5th grade curriculum, but it dropped out when we switched textbooks a few years ago. However, since these classes produced such engagement and energy, I kept them a part of our curriculum.

Last night was no exception. The students engaged and participated with interest. They generated lots of ideas, questions, etc., even from some of the students who are sometimes more reticent. Two of our students, who do not normally volunteer to read aloud did so.

We had one really funny incident. We were discussing the 4th Commandment (Honor your father and mother.). As one point of discussion, I was trying to drive the class towards the idea that as parents get elderly, it is the responsibility of their children to care for them. One of our students said: “Well, when people get old they become week and feeble, and need hearing aids.” As you may know, I wear hearing aids and have done so for more than 25 years. So I pulled one off and replied, “You mean like this one?” The poor girl’s mouth dropped open and she turned beet red. We laughed and I told her it was OK. But the whole thing was very funny.

But back to the lesson…

We started by telling the story of the Israelites escape from Egypt and how they came the base of Mt. Sinai. We talked about how they were worshiping idols, generally misbehaving and needed a set of rules to live by. We then had the students take turns reading aloud from Exodus Chapter 20, which is the first description of the Commandments.

We distributed a listing of the Commandments that included a chart showing how they are numbered differently in different religions. (Most Protestant churches break up the first three “God Commandments” into four and combine the “covet commandments” into just one.) We pointed out that this is only an issue when you discuss a particular commandment with a Protestant friend. If you are discussing the Fourth Commandment, a Catholic would be talking about “Honor your mother and father,” but the Protestant friend would be talking about keeping holy the Sabbath. We walked our way through the first seven Commandments with these key points.

#1 “I am the Lord your God…” We discussed how worshiping statues and other idols was common in the time of Moses. However, we asked the students to think of things in today’s world that some people may elevate to a priority higher than God. They came up with things like money, popularity, music stars, gambling, alcohol abuse, drugs, and even electronic games.

#2 “You shall not make wrongful use of the name of God” We talked about using God’s name improperly. We also pointed out that the early Jewish people took this commandment so far as to give God a name that could not be pronounced. It eventually evolved into Yahweh or Jehovah.

#3 “Keep holy the Sabbath” We discussed why Christians changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday, and the requirement to attend Mass on Sunday.

#4. “Honor your father and mother” As mentioned above, we emphasized the need to love and respect your parents throughout their life and to help and support them when they need it.

#5 “You shall not kill” Not a lot of discussion here. We talked a little about self-defense and war, but didn’t go very deep into other issues.

#6 “You shall not commit adultery” Surprisingly, the first student I called up on could define adultery. We emphasized the importance of the marriage vows, but did not wander far afield on this one.

#7 “You shall not steal” Again, this one was pretty obvious to the class. We did broaden the definition to go beyond just physical objects to include intangibles like ideas, software, pirated music downloads, and so on.

Next week, we will finish off with the last three (false witness and the two “covet commandments.”) We will then break them into groups and have them come up with a set of commandments relevant for today’s 5th graders. That is always fun.

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We had a fun class last night. At least Mrs. Rudolphi and I enjoyed it.

We finished up our coverage of the Ten Commandments with a group exercise that the students really seemed to get into. You may recall that last week, we sent them off with a homework assignment. Their task was to imagine that Moses went back up Mt. Sinai and asked God for a second set of commandments, this time focused on issues relevant to 5th graders. They were to imagine they were God and to come up with those 5th grader Commandments.

We broke the class into four groups of 3-5 students and gave each group a poster board and marker. We have them 15 minutes to come up with as many Commandments as they could. They went to work diligently. They were a little rowdy and noisy, but each group produced very nice, well thought-out Commandments. We had each group present their work product to the rest of the class, and I quizzed them a little on what they had developed.

It is our goal each week to try to get the students to actually think and not just listen or read. Hopefully, something they have to think or do themselves, will be more likely to stick with them after they leave the room. That is the idea behind an exercise like that. Mrs. R and I cannot emphasize enough how happy we are that the students in this class are generally behaved, engaged and manageable. We don’t expect them to be perfect little angels, and they are not. They can be a little chatty and sometimes boisterous. But we do not have any students who are actively trying to sabotage what we are trying to do, and that is not always the case. The up-side for the students is, that because of their behavior, we are able to present activities like the one last night, which they seem to find interesting and enjoy. You can’t do that if you are worried about who is setting the trash can on fire. (Just kidding.)

We had only about 20 minutes left in the class period when we finished the Commandments exercise, not enough time to even start another lesson. Our opening prayer was the Lord’s Prayer and that gave me an idea. After a quick consult with Mrs. R, we decided to walk the class through the Lord’s Prayer and help them understand what they are actually saying to God when they recite the prayer. As we suspected, the entire class admitted that they didn’t understand the prayer, and they simply recited the prayer because they had memorized it. We took each line, analyzed it and discussed it. Again, they were very engaged and seemed to develop some understanding through the process.

We have no class for the next two weeks, but there are Wednesday evening activities to which we encouraged the students to ask their parents to bring them. Next week is Ash Wednesday. Mass and ashes at 7:00 pm. The following week is the Book of Kells program. Information is available here.

When we come back on March 4th we will begin a two-week lesson on the Sacrament of Reconciliation and prepare the students for the CCD Penance Service on March 25.

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Sorry for the late posting. This past week has just been busy.

We had a pretty good class last week. We covered the last seven Commandments. We had a lively and interesting discussion. How can you not have fun when the subjects include lying, cheating, stealing and killing?

We spent a fair amount of time discussing the fourth “Honor your father and mother” Commandment. We discussed the importance of that Commandment when parents become older and may become dependent upon their children.

As always, the concept of coveting was a new one for the students. They seemed to catch on to it however.

“Bearing false witness” was a little obscure until we talked about it for a while. We asked and discussed whether gossip would be covered by that Commandment.

The concept of adultery is always one we try to handle with some delicacy. We used it to confirm the sanctity of marriage. We also pointed out that there are two Commandments that address the sin. The sixth prohibits it on the part of one of the partners in the marriage. The ninth prohibits a third party outside the marriage from getting between the couple.

I left them with a homework assignment. I asked them to imagine that Moses came back down Mt. Sinai with a second set of commandments specifically targeted towards fifth graders. I asked them to think of what some of those commandments might be. This week, we will break the class into small groups and ask them to create their own stone tablets (poster boards and markers) with the fifth grade Commandments. We will also discuss the upcoming season of Lent.

As expected we have a schedule change, and I think it will be for the better. We will have a Penance Service specifically for the 3-8 grade CCD students and their families on Wednesday, March 25.

Also, for our last class on April 29, we will have a real, live Baptism. One of our parish families has agreed to have their child baptized on a Wednesday night with the entire CCD group in attendance. (The baby is the same child who played the Baby Jesus at the Christmas Pageant. She will be back for an encore performance.) We did this several years ago, and it turned out great. Monsignor Costigan talked his way through the ceremony and explained each step and its meaning. This is a “must see” event.

So here is the schedule for the remainder of the year.

Feb 11 – Finish Commandments and Ch 20 Lent
Feb 18 – No Class –Ash Wednesday
Feb 25 – No Class — Book of Kells Program
March 4 – Ch 15 Healing
March 11 –Ch 16 Reconciliation
March 18 – No class
March 25 – Penance Service in the church
April 1 — Ch 18 Anointing of the Sick
April 8 – No Class
April 15 — Ch 24 Matrimony
April 22 – Holy orders
April 29 – Baptism Ceremony in the church

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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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Parents – Please take note of a schedule change in the CCD calendar. We will NOT have class on Wednesday, February 25, because of the Book of Kells event at the church.

We strongly encourage you to mark that date on your calendar and bring your family to the program. Check the event poster below. You also can see additional information and purchase tickets via the parish Web site.

With that adjustment, here is a list of the remaining classes, and my plan of lessons.

Jan 28 – Commandments 1
Feb 4 – Commandments 2
Feb 11 – Ch 20-21 Lent & Triduum
Feb 18 – No Class –Ash Wednesday
Feb 25 – No Class — Book of Kells Program
Feb 25 – Ch 15 Healing
March 4 –Ch 16 Reconciliation
March 11 – Ch 18 Annointing of the Sick
March 18 – No class
April 1 – Ch 24 Matrimony
April 8 – No class
April 15 – 25 Holy orders
April 22 – Unassigned
April 29 – Last Class

The list of lessons may change again. We have an event pending. If it comes through, it will take up one of the classes. To be announced.

Kells

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