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We had a good class last night. We finished off our coverage of the Ten Commandments and started a group exercise that we will continue next Wednesday.

We started out by pointing out that the first three commandments, which we covered last week, deal with our relationship with God, while the last seven address our relationships with other people.

#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. We talked a little about the role reversal that frequently happens in life. Right now, the students are highly dependent on their parents. 30 or 40 years from now their parents might be dependent on them.

#5 “You shall not kill” Not a lot of discussion here.

#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.

#8 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.

#9 & 10 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.

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 four small groups 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.

We let them work on that for about ten minutes until it was time for pick-up. We will continue next week and allow them to present their commandments to the class. We will then take a little time to talk about Lent.

There will be NO CCD in two weeks, on February 27.

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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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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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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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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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Last night was our second-to-last CCD class for the year and the last one during which we will try to teach a serious lesson. Spring fever is certainly upon us. The students were all hovering about six inches over their seats when we began class. Lots of energy!

As expected, we had a pretty interesting discussion. Last week, we discussed the Ten Commandments in general and the first commandment in detail. Last night, we went over the final nine commandments. There were lots of questions and plenty of discussion. Among the points we discussed were:

— Don’t use the name of God improperly, through exclamations, cursing and so on.

— Why Catholics celebrate the Sabbath on Sunday rather than the “seventh day,” and our obligations to honor the Sabbath, such as attending Mass.

— The fourth commandment to honor your father and mother is intended for all ages, not just children. It’s easy to honor your parents when you are a child and are dependent on them. However, God wants us to honor our parents, especially when they are old and they are dependent upon us.

— “You shall not kill” raised a ton of questions, including war, accidents and suicide. We could have spent all night talking about the morality of military combat, but we didn’t have that much time. We simply pointed out that while God hates war, sometimes a justified war is better than the alternative.

Accidents are not considered a sin. However, someone who kills another in a car “accident” would certainly have some responsibility if they had been drinking, using drugs, driving recklessly, etc.

We discussed the Church’s teaching that suicide is a mortal sin. While many of the students believed their life belongs only to hem, we pointed out that their life is a gift from God, and so for someone to take their own life would be taking something that belongs to God. We did discuss two important related points.

1.) Many people who commit suicide are mentally impaired and may not be responsible for their actions.

2.) Only God knows if the person may have repented and asked for forgiveness at the last moment.

Because of these points, we emphasized that they should never judge what might have happened if they hear about a suicide.

— The commandment prohibiting adultery raised some questions, mostly “What is adultery?” (Of course, one of those questions came after we had just spent ten minutes explaining and discussing it. Thank you for paying attention.) We referred back to our discussion of marital fidelity when we covered Matrimony, and the importance of keeping marriage vows to be faithful.

–“You shall not steal” was pretty straight-forward. The class understood it right off and we didn’t have much discussion.

–The prohibition against false witness raised some questions. We tried to relate the concept to 5th grade lives by talking about gossip and rumors, which they seemed to understand.

— The ninth and tenth commandments prohibit coveting your neighbors wife (or husband) and anything that belongs to your neighbor. “Covet” was a new concept to most of the class. We said that while it is OK to admire something that belongs to another person. It is wrong to want it so badly they would be willing to steal it or do something else wrong to obtain it.  We related the same concept to a married couple. While the sixth commandment obliges a married couple to be faithful to each other, the ninth commandment prohibits a third person from trying to interfere in the couple’s relationship. At their age, the students didn’t seem to understand why someone would do such a thing. Mrs. Rudolphi and I assured them that while this may be a foreign concept to them now, as they grow older they will see that it is not as uncommon as they might think.

Next week will be our last class. We are going to do something special. I’m just not sure exactly what that will be.

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