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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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We had a pretty good, but not great, class last night. Normally the subject of the Sacrament of Matrimony generates many more questions and much more discussion. Last night our group was pretty flat.

 

So we tackled Matrimony and marriage. Some of the key points we discussed included:

 

–Matrimony is probably the single sacrament, along with Holy Orders that will have an effect on your subsequent life every day. Your choice of a spouse is probably the single most important decision you will make in your life.

 

– Marriage has been part of the human experience since the very beginning – ie: Adam and Eve.

 

– Boys and girls, and men and women are different but equal. We discussed some historical trends on gender equality and also the way the genders are perceived in other parts of the world, like the Middle East.

 

– A Catholic marriage is intended to be a permanent commitment. We talked about some short-lived celebrity marriages and the popular concept of a “starter marriage,” but indicated the Church believes you should enter into a marriage fully aware and prepared and with the full intention of making it a life-long commitment. We discussed the concept of a covenant.

 

– We discussed the difference between a promise and a vow. A promise is made between one person and another. A vow is a promise made to God. The marriage commitment is a vow.

 

— The Catholic Church takes Matrimony very seriously. The Church believes the union is intended to be permanent. It is difficult to get out of a Catholic marriage, but it is also difficult to get into it. Priests screen and counsel couples to try to make sure they know what they are getting into and are making a good decision. You can’t just show up at a parish office and ask to get married this afternoon, like you can at the county courthouse. Mrs. Rudolphi shared her experience of getting married. At the time, she and her husband were of different faiths. One minister declined to marry them because he thought that would be too much of an difference to overcome.

 

–We discussed some of the specifics of the marriage ceremony and also the concept of fidelity. We also discussed the concept that in Matrimony, the bride and groom are the actual celebrants and the priest is a witness and blesses the union.

 

From there we said that Matrimony forms the basis for a Catholic family. We talked about responsibilities within families, including the responsibilities of children. We drew two columns on the white board and head one “adults” and the other “children.” We first asked the class to name responsibilities of the adults or parents in a family and we got the set of answers you would expect – cook dinner, financial support, teach children, etc. When we asked about the other side of the chart, the going was a little more difficult. Aside from household chores, the idea that they might have some responsibilities towards their parents was a little strange.

 

We threw out some suggestions and got them thinking. Several students mentioned the obligation to respect their parents; to listen to them; and to try to fulfill their parents’ wishes and expectations. In other words, as we reinforced, “Your parents’ biggest job is to be your parents. Don’t make that job unnecessarily difficult.”

 

We have three more classes left. We will actually teach lessons in the next two, and probably do something fun and special for the last class. Next week, we plan to cover Holy Week and Easter. We’ll finish up the Sacraments with a discussion of Holy Orders the week after Easter.

 

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In looking towards tomorrow’s class, I just realized I had not posted anything about last week’s class. I haven’t heard any cries of outrage, so I guess no one is really missing it. Kinda disappointing…

In any case, we had a small turnout, only 8 students. We covered the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.

Tomorrow, we will cover the Sacrament of Matrimony. This is one subject that can occasionally strike close to home. Students who may have issues at home, like divorced or separated parents, sometimes have interesting questions. We try very hard to be sensitive to issues like this. In eight previous years of teaching this, I have not had any problems or complaints. All the same, parents should just be aware of what we will be covering. As always, parents are most welcome and invited to sit in on the class.

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I think it’s clear we are getting near the end of the year and spring is upon us. Our class was not particularly ill-behaved last night, but the students fell short of being highly enthusiastic. As mentioned in my earlier post, in past years our session on Matrimony has typically generated some interesting questions and discussions. Last night it was a bit like going over the grocery list. Oh well. Somewhat surprisingly, I did get some good responses from my end-of-the-class “What did you learn tonight” questioning. So despite a low level of excitement, they must have picked up something.

We started off with a warning. I don’t know the details of all our students’ families, and don’t really need to. However, I do know that there are students in our class who have experienced divorces and/or other unusual family situations. I emphasized that while we would be teaching the Church’s position on marriage, the students should not take anything as a criticism or judgment on any particular people or situations.

Some of the key points we discussed were:

— Jesus thought enough of the importance of marriage to perform his first miracle at the wedding feast at Cana.

— Marriage has been part of the human experience since the very beginning – ie: Adam and Eve.

— Boys and girls, and men and women are different but equal.

— A Catholic marriage is intended to be a permanent commitment. We talked about some short-lived celebrity marriages and the popular concept of a “starter marriage,” but indicated the Church believes you should enter into a marriage fully aware and prepared and with the full intention of making it a life-long commitment. We discussed the concept of a covenant.

— We discussed the difference between a promise and a vow. A promise is made between one person and another. A vow is a promise made to God. The marriage commitment is a vow.

–The difference between a civil marriage and a religious marriage. A wedding before a judge may cover the legal aspects of marriage, but is very different than a religious marriage, where two people stand before God and promise to maintain a life-long commitment. A Catholic marriage covers both the civil and religious aspects. We were asked whether you could have a civil wedding and then later have a religious wedding. We gave several examples of how this happens.

Next week, we plan to wrap up the chapter on Matrimony and then cover Holy Orders. We’ll have a break the week after Easter (April 3). Then we come back for three final class sessions. We bypassed a lot of chapters in the book in our effort to make it through all seven sacraments. We may go back and pick up some of the chapters we skipped earlier. Or, we may break away from the text and teach two classes on the Ten Commandments. The “BigTen” are not an official part of our curriculum this year, but they have produced some lively classes in the past. Besides, some reinforcement can’t hurt. I’d rather have some final classes in which the students are interested and engaged. Hope springs eternal.

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Hello, parents!

Mrs. Rudolphi and I are looking forward to teaching your child’s CCD class on Wednesday evenings.

The 5th grade curriculum will focus on the liturgy and the sacraments. While we have some material to cover, including some memorization, we also hope to make the short time we will spend together rewarding and enjoyable for your child.

It has been our experience that, when they get going, 5th graders and full of interesting questions. If it has anything remotely related to God, the Church, religion, or living, we will talk about it.

Please understand I will have your child for less than an hour just once a week. You can do several things to help us make this a productive experience for your son or daughter.

  • Ask your child if we have given them a task to do during the week and assist them with it.
  • Please have your child to the school before 6:30 p.m.
  • Please support us and encourage your child to come to CCD class willingly and with enthusiasm.

As we will be covering the sacraments, including matrimony and anointing of the sick, our class discussion may come in close contact to real-life events in your child’s life (death in the family, divorce, etc.) If there is something I should know in order to be appropriately sensitive, please tell me.

We have only three class-rules, and we hope you will help us reinforce these to your children.

1. Show up.

2. Participate

3. Don’t be a “jerk.”

(You might be surprised how well 5th graders understand Rule #3. It almost never requires any further explanation.)

You are most welcome to sit-in on the class at any time.

I hope you will stay abreast of what’s happening with your child on Wednesday evenings. To help you do so (and for the fourth year), I have created this blog/Web site.  I will try to keep it updated on a weekly basis with reports on the class activity and announcements.

I will leave the full rundown of last year’s class is here on the site, so if you would like to get an idea of what is ahead, you can look backwards and see.

Feel free to contact Mrs. Rudolphi or myself for any reason. Our contact information is under the “About ” tab at the top of this page.

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We had a fairly interesting class last night. We finished up the Sacrament of Matrimony. It was our plan to also cover Holy Orders, but that didn’t happen.

As we did last week, we emphasized the Church’s teaching that the marriage vow is a life-long commitment.  We talked about the concept of “fidelity. (We also emphasized that we are trying to teach them the way they should approach marriage when they are older, and in no way are judging or criticizing anyone they may know or in their family who may be divorced.)

We pointed out that Matrimony is the only sacrament in which the participants are the ministers, and the priest or deacon is just a witness, to put God’s blessing and “seal of approval” on the union.

We emphasized the importance of a family as being a building block of the Church. We talked a little about responsibilities in a family – both the adults and children.  We let the students brainstorm for a while to come up with responsibilities. They did a pretty good job for both groups.

Mrs. Rudolphi and I did have one awkward moment.  Mrs. R said she was anticipating a question about gay marriage, but, fortunately, that did not arise. Instead, the question stemmed from a paragraph in the textbook.

“The deacon or priest asks the couple three important questions…Will they lovingly accept children from God and raise them in the faith?”

“So Mr. Sullivan, suppose it’s not a good time for a couple to have children? Like maybe one of them is in the military and is being sent away. What can they do then?”

We responded that the Church does not approve of artificial means of birth control, but there are other, natural means a couple can use. And then we said that we really don’t have permission from their parents to get involved any more deeply in that kind of subject, and strongly suggested that they talk with their parents.

I don’t know if that was the best response, but it was the best I could come up with on short notice.

Next week, we plan to cover the Sacrament of Holy Orders very briefly. We will devote the remainder of that class and the next class (after the Easter break) to covering the Ten Commandments. This was part of the 5th grade curriculum when we used the older text, but it is not part of the new Sadlier text. However, in past years, the classes when we discussed the Commandments were some of the best of the entire year. We usually get the students to consider some concepts they haven’t thought of before. It generates lots of questions, ideas and discussion. So we are going to finish off the year with that subject.

As always, parents are most welcome to come and sit in on the class. If you have been holding back and waiting for an interesting one, these next two classes just might be “it.”

Please take a moment to glance at the schedule of classes under the tab at the top of this page. We have class next week (April 4). We are off the week after Easter, but then back for two final classes.

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