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Posts Tagged ‘covenant’

Sorry for the late posting. Life has been busy, but I’m off for the MLK holiday today so I have a minute.

Last Wednesday’s class was the first “normal” lesson we have had since before Thanksgiving. Continuing our overview of the sacraments, we started on the Eucharist.

We emphasized that the Eucharist is the greatest of all the sacraments, and the center of all Catholic worship. We then examined the first Eucharist at the Last Supper. We pointed out that this was a Seder meal, and once again, that Jesus and all his apostles were Jews. We discussed the idea of a covenant, the Jews belief in their covenant with God and Jesus creating a new covenant.

We handed out a sheet of paper with three columns, labeled memorial, meal and sacrifice. We had the class team up with a partner and read the next section together. We asked them to write a few words in each column to describe how the Eucharist is each of those three concepts.

The next section dealt with the story of the two disciples who met Jesus after his resurrection on the road to Emmaus. They didn’t recognize him until they stopped for the night and had a meal. When Jesus broke the loaf of bread, the disciples suddenly recognized him and then he disappeared. We talked a little about the significance of breaking bread. To reinforce the story, we divided the class into two groups and had them role play the story.

We reinforced the concept of “real presence.” That is, that Jesus is truly present in the consecrated host and wine, and not just a symbol.

We finished with the last section of the chapter in the text, which emphasized Jesus’s statements that he is the bread of life, and “I am the living bread that came down from Heaven.” We had volunteers read the text.

Next week we will continue with the Eucharist with a study of the structure of the Mass. Monsignor Costigan is scheduled to be a guest visitor.

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Last night we tackled the Sacrament of Matrimony. We started with a disclaimer. Since this subject can sometimes run close to situations in the students’ own family life, we pointed out that we know very little about their families and nothing we discuss (especially the Church’s teachings about the permanence of marriage and divorce) should be taken personally.

We had volunteers read some sections aloud and for other sections we had students pair up and read to each other. Some of the key points we covered and discussed include:

Men and women are different but equal.

Marriage and having children have been part of God’s plan since the beginning.

God puts such importance on marriage that two of the Ten Commandments pertain to it (adultery, and coveting neighbor’s wife/husband). Also, Jesus’s first miracle was performed at the wedding at Cana. We read the biblical account, John 2:1-11.

We discussed the concept of a promise, a vow (promise to God) and a covenant. Matrimony uses vows to establish a covenant between the bride and groom.

The Catholic Church teaches that a marriage is a sacred commitment to the spouse and to God, and is intended to last so long as both parties are alive.

While a Catholic marriage is extremely difficult to get out of, it is also difficult to get into. The Church actively works to weed out couples who are not truly committed to one another or are too immature to make such a commitment.

When a couple is married in the Church, they are actually being married twice. The first is the civil contract, recognized by the state with all the legal issues related to that like shared possessions, custody of children, inheritance, tax benefits, etc. The second is the religious matrimony of two people standing before a priest and their families and making a promise to God to remain faithful to each other. The first can be accomplished by going to the courthouse. Only in the Church do you get the entire package.

The bride and groom are the celebrants of the Sacrament. The priest only oversees the process and blesses the union.

Three of our girls asked if they could present a skit. They acted out a marriage ceremony, although with a lot of giggles.

And for another year, no one asked about gay marriage. Although I thought with the three girls acting out the ceremony, we were coming very close. I was prepared with an answer, but it  never came up.

We didn’t accomplish as much as we would have liked. (This class is slightly more time consuming than some others.) We may take a few minutes next week to talk about the obligations of adults and children within a family. For the rest of next week’s class, we will talk about prayer, types of prayer, times for prayer, ease of prayer and a dissection of the Lord’s Prayer. The following week, April 27, will be our final class. Monsignor Costigan will visit, talk about his life as a priest and answer questions. We plan to provide a pizza snack for the students.

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Last night’s class was the first of two relating to the Eucharist. We had a small turnout, only seven students, so no one escaped participation. For those of you following along with our home edition, the main chapter for the lesson was Chapter Ten.

 We began with an opening prayer that contained several references to Jesus as the “bread of life” and other similar images. We discussed this briefly.

 We introduced the first Eucharist at the Last Supper. We talked about how this was a Jewish Passover meal, but Jesus changed things. We provided a biblical/historical account of the Passover from Exodus and pointed out that, since Jesus and his apostles were all Jewish, the Last Supper began as their annual religious meal.

 The text referenced Jesus’s declaring a “new covenant.” So we talked about the meaning of a covenant, the ancient Jewish covenant dating back to Abraham and Moses, and the idea of Jesus establishing a new covenant at the Last Supper.

 We had the class read silently the next page that outlined how the Eucharist is a memorial, a meal and also a sacrifice. We talked a little about the concept of a sacrifice. We had them take a sheet of blank paper and create three columns, headed by “memorial,” “meal” and “sacrifice.” As they read the text, they were to list the ways the Sacarament fulfills each of these concepts.

 We spent most of the rest of the class discussing and emphasizing the concept of “real presence,” that Jesus is truly present in the consecrated host and wine, and not just a symbol, as believed by most other Christian denominations.

 We finished up with a Q&A review from the quiz at the end of the chapter. And of course, we quizzed all the students on “What did you learn tonight?”

 Next week, we’ll cover Chapter 11, which is the second chapter on the Eucharist, but the focus is on the structure of the Mass.

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What happened to class # 22 last week? Beats me.  I remember we covered the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, but beyond that, I just don’t remember. Oh well. On to this week.

Sorry for the late posting this week. I had an out of town meeting on Thursday and was “pooped” when I got back to Savannah.

We had a good class on Wednesday evening. The prime topic was the Sacrament of Matrimony. As innocent as it sounds, this particular lesson has the potential to open cans of worms. We emphasize the Church’s teachings on the sanctity and the permanence of marriage, but we realize this can touch very close to home to children who have divorced parents or other relatives. We try to teach the Church’s “ideal” without inadvertently seeming to criticize someone in the student’s family.  I think we were successful this time around, and left those cans of worms unopened. If you parents received some negative feedback from your child, please let me know.

We started with the concept of the equality of the genders, in a marriage relationship and in life. We pointed out that this concept flies in the face of the generally held beliefs of thousands of years. However, here in the light of the 21st century, we recognize that while God made men and women different, he also made them equal. Half-jokingly I said that, if anything, we are seeing that women are probably the superior sex.  Mrs. Rudolphi agreed.

We spent a little time (probably too much) discussing the difference between the civil and religious aspects of a wedding. You can get married before a judge at the courthouse, but that covers only the civil aspect and is not a sacrament. Getting married in the Church covers both the civil and religious aspects.

We also discussed the concept of matrimony as a vow. A vow is a promise before God, which is much more serious than an every day promise to a friend. We also discussed he concept of a covenant, which was term none of the students knew.

We had some interesting questions, some of which, we believe, were just asked to see what kind of reaction they would get.

“I know of someone who is already pregnant, and they just now got married. How does that happen?”

“How old do you have to be to get married?”

One girl asked us why all the pictures in our text showed the brides wearing white dresses?

Me: It’s a tradition, but you can wear whatever color you like.

Her: Even black?

Me: Yes.

Her: But why do they usually wear white?

Me: It symbolizes purity or innocence.

Her: Innocent of what?

Mrs. Rudolphi: It symbolizes that she is a virgin.

Her: A virgin? What’s a virgin?

Mrs. Rudolphi: You know the answer to that.

Her: No, really (laughing). I don’t know. What’s a virgin?

Mrs. Rudolphi: Ask your parents.

At this age, we are never quite sure, just exactly how much our students have learned about sex from their parents, school, friends, TV, etc., so we try to tread lightly.  It is not our goal, nor do we have a mandate, to conduct a sex-education class.  If we were dealing with 13-year olds, for instance, we would be much more confident that all our students have already had “Birds and Bees 101.” With fifth graders, we think but we can’t sure that their parents have, at least, covered the basics.  That having been said, Mrs. R and I are about 99% certain that our young student was putting us on. Imagine that!

Next week we’ll finish up a little more of matrimony and then cover our final sacrament, Holy Orders.

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