Posts Tagged ‘deacon’

Wow! Spring is in the air; the weather is nice; the end of the CCD year is in sight; and attention spans are dropping to goldfish level. We had a pretty good class last night, but Mrs. Rudolphi and I had to work for it.

We started off by covering the Sacrament of Holy Orders. This may not be the most exciting topic, so we whipped through it fairly quickly. We spent some time talking about the jobs of bishop, priests and deacons and what they entailed. I was somewhat surprised to learn that about half the class thought “Monsignor” was Monsignor Costigan’s first name. Huh?

We shifted gears to start our discussion of the Ten Commandments. In past years, this has been one of the best lessons of the year. There is lots of opportunity for discussion and questions.

We set the scene for how God relayed the commandments to Moses, and had volunteers read aloud the commandments from Exodus 20.

We pointed out that while these commandments are fairly short, there is a much larger body of work that expounds on and details the concepts they present.  Specifically, we mentioned the remainder of the first five books of the Bible, and the Jewish Talmud.

We distributed a chart that demonstrated how different religious count the commandments differently. For example, most American Protestant churches divide the Catholic first commandment (“I am the Lord your God…”) into two separate commandments. On the other hand, they combine the Catholic ninth and tenth commandments (coveting your neighbor’s wife and coveting your neighbor’s goods) into one, so it still works out to a total of ten.

We then got into a discussion of the first commandment which prohibits the worship of false gods. We talked about the concept of false gods in the time of Moses, and then asked “What are some false gods people worship today?” In other words, what are some of the things in today’s society that people can think are more important than God? The class picked up on this very quickly (Yea!), and started naming things like celebrities, entertainment (video games), money, fame, popularity, and so on. We emphasized the concept that the importance of any of these things can grow out of reason and assume the stature of a “false god.” Anything that comes between them and God can be a false god. We mentioned that as they grow into adults, they may know people or even be tempted themselves, by issues like gambling, drugs, alcohol and sex.

Next week, we will go through the remaining nine commandments and try to relate them to a 5th grader’s experience.  It should be interesting. Parents are invited to sit in.

Our last class will be April 24. While I doubt we will try to teach a normal lesson that night, we’ll have some activity planned that will put a closure on the year.



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First, let’s get a schedule item out of the way. There is NO class next week as it would conflict with Halloween. We’ll see the children back on November 7.

We had a good class last night. Mrs. Rudolphi and I are now getting to know the students a little better and vice versa. We are starting to be able to adjust our methods slightly to accommodate their differences.

Rather than moving on to the next chapter, we spent the time reviewing and reinforcing the previous chapter, which was an overview of the seven sacraments. We really didn’t spend much time last week on the Sacraments of Service of Communion (Holy Orders and Matrimony). So I passed out a sheet of paper with six questions related to those sacraments. We asked the class to read the section of the text on Holy Orders and Baptism and to answer the questions as they read. We discussed the questions and answers afterwards and spent a fair amount of time talking about deacons, bishops and the pope. There was relatively little interest in Matrimony. We’ll revisit that later in the year.

We followed up on that by asking the students to complete a “word scramble” exercise in the text. The whole idea here was to simply reinforce the names and purposes of the seven sacraments.

We finished up with something we tried last week and it worked very well. We asked each student “What did you learn tonight?” and rewarded their answer with a cookie. The variety of answers is interesting and (to an amateur teacher) rewarding.


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We decided we needed a break in our routine last night, so we split the session up into two parts.

Before we started, we added about a minute of silent, personal prayer to our opening prayer. We first introduced that last week.

For the first half hour, we finished up the chapter on prayer that we had begun last week. We covered sacramentals. These are objects, blessings, etc. that remind us of some religious concept. Examples we discussed from recent experience and objects within the room included the Sign of the Cross, the Crucifix, a statue of Mary, a Rosary and others.

We briefly discussed the practice of maintaining the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle behind the altar. We talked about how this is tangible evidence of God’s presence in the church. It is why we genuflect and bow to the altar.

We also discussed Holy Days of Obligation. The class had trouble naming more than one of the six (Christmas was the easy one.) until one student found a list in the back of the textbook. Sly dog!

In case you are wondering yourself, the complete list is:

  • Solemnity of Mary Jan 1
  • Feast of the Ascension 40 days after Easter
  • Feast of the Assumption Aug 15
  • All Saints Day Nov 1
  • Feast of the Immaculate Conception Dec 8
  • Christmas Dec 25

(I wonder whatever happened to the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25? That was one of the HDBs when I was growing up.)

The second half of the class was a “quiz bowl” that covered material we had taught since September. We split them up into four teams of 4-5 students each. We allowed them to consult with each other and also reference the textbook, but didn’t give them much time to look up something.  It was great to see the class lively and engaged. However, it was also somewhat disheartening to realize how little many of the students have retained from material we have covered and reviewed several times.

For example, there is no good reason why a team of five students shouldn’t be able to name the three parts of the Holy Trinity without having to look it up.

Other “easy” questions that we have covered repeatedly in different forms, but gave multiple teams difficulty,  included:

Name the three Sacraments of Initiation. (Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist)

What is the sacrament by which man is made a priest or deacon? (Holy Orders)

Name three of the twelve apostles.

There are four key symbols of Baptism. Name three of them. (Holy Water, white garment, Sacred Chrism and a candle.)

What is the first season of the Church’s liturgical year? (Advent)

What is the only Sacrament of Initiation we can receive over and over again? (Eucharist)

We probably need to re-evaluate our teaching methods. If the students are not retaining the material — even after lively and engaged discussions — then we’re just wasting everybody’s time.

Any ideas?

By the way, we have backed off on our original plan to have the students read the Gospel of Matthew throughout the year. We simply do not have time to review and discuss it in class.  It may (or may not) have been a good idea in concept, but it just hasn’t worked in the roughly 50 minutes we spend together each week.

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We are not making very fast progress through the curriculum, but we sure are having some interesting classes. We are having lots of discussions, questions, etc.

We started with a quick overview of Chapter 3 of Matthew. Only a few students had read it before the class. Your help reminding your child about that weekly assignment would be greatly appreciated. This week’s assignment is Chapter 4.

Since it has been a couple of weeks since we covered the first half of the chapter, we continued with a review of the main points.

We covered the Seven Sacraments —  broken down into the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist), Healing (Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick) and Communion of Service (Matrimony and Holy Orders.)

We discussed the concept that we receive Sanctifying Grace through the Sacraments.  Again, we described “grace” as simply God’s love. We compared God’s love to parental love. Through the Sacraments, we receive God’s love, in a similar fashion that a child receives and feels his/her parents’ love through actions like a hug and kiss. As Mrs. Rudolphi put it, “The Sacraments are God’s way of giving you a hug.”

We discussed the concept of a vocation as a calling. We talked about how, as Catholics, we share a common vocation to holiness and evangelization. Of course, the term “evangelization” was a new one to nearly all the students. After defining the concept, we brainstormed on different ways they, as fifth graders, could answer the call to evangelization.  We suggested the best way to evangelize is simply to live a good life and serve as an example.  One student correctly described it as being a “role model.” We emphasized that they should not go out of their way to call attention to their actions, ie: showing off. Rather, just do the right thing (What would Jesus do?) and let their actions be their message.

Several weeks ago, we briefly covered the Sacraments of Initiation. So last night, we did an overview of the remaining four. There wasn’t much discussion of Reconciliation, as the students were already familiar with it.

We had many questions about the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. We pointed out that modern medicine has accepted that there is a definite connection between a person’s mental/spiritual outlook and their physical health. So Anointing of the Sick serves two purposes. Together with Reconciliation and the Eucharist, it prepares a person for the possibility (or imminence) of death, but it also can serve a healing role in a spiritual sense.

The students had greater difficulty getting their minds around the Sacraments of Matrimony and Holy Orders. They seemed to understand that through Holy Orders, a priest enters a life of service. They had a little tougher time understanding that a man and woman enter a life of service to each other through Matrimony.

We had a lot of discussion about why priests are not allowed to marry (most of the time.) One of the students asked if, instead of getting married, a priest just “had a regular relationship?”  Yikes! That one came out of the blue. We talked a little about the hierarchy of deacons, priests, bishops, cardinals and the pope. And, of course, we mentioned that Savannah has a new bishop.

We finished off with a story about the exceptions to the “no married priests” rule. Yes, there are some married priests. Ask your child about it. See if anyone was listening.

By the way, our text is published by Sadlier Publishing Company. If you are interested, you can find some outlines and other material at their Web site. We are using the  “Project Disciple – We Believe” curriculum.

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