Posts Tagged ‘emergency baptism’

Last night’s class almost left the rails, but it turned out pretty well anyway.

We finished up the lesson on the Sacrament of Baptism. Most of the students returned their “homework,” where we asked them to ask their parents about the church where they were baptized, the priest and their godparents.

Father Kavanaugh stuck his head in for a few minutes and talked about Baptism.

We had the class read aloud one page of the text and had them answer a few questions. We then spent a few minutes talking about an emergency Baptism, in which anyone can perform the rite. (Typically this is most common when a person, like a newborn, is near death and there isn’t time for a priest to get to the scene.)

We then divided the class into two groups and assigned them to read and study the last two pages of the chapter, which describes the actual prayers and actions of a normal Baptism. And then they played it out. We provided a little water, oil, a candle and a white garment (t-shirt.) They really got into it, maybe a little too much.

We think they learned something. At least, when we did our end-of-class “what did you learn tonight” activity, they all were able to recite something quickly and without duplication.

I think I had the chance to speak to all the parents last night, but just to be safe, here are the plans for the Christmas pageant. Our class will provide the narrators. Two students do not want to read, so they will be assigned to play one of the characters. We will rehearse November 29 and Dec 6. The pageant will be held during the regular CCD class period on December 13. We may have a final “dress rehearsal” on Saturday morning, December 9. We’ll let you know. If your child is nervous about this, please assure him or her that Mrs. Rudolphi and I will get them “coached up” ahead of time and will be there to support them on the evening of the performance. We have done this for a number of years, and we haven’t lost anyone yet. Feel free to give me a call or send me an email if you have any questions.

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We had a very small turnout last week, only six students.

e dove into our lesson on the Sacrament of Baptism. We started with a discussion on some of the key elements of the Sacrament. Mostly this was just me talking with the class, which I prefer not to do, but we had some key points to cover. In the text, Baptism is covered in two chapters. We jumped straight to the second chapter, so we had some back filling to do.

We began with a discussion of the three purposes of Baptism.

1.) To join us with God

2.) To bring us into the Church

3.) To wipe our souls clean or original and any other sins

We pointed out that usually a Baptism is administered by a priest or deacon, but in the event of an emergency, anyone can perform a Baptism. We mentioned that this is very unusual, and most often occurs in the case of a newborn infant that is not expected to live long enough for a priest to get to the hospital.

We then divided the class into two groups (3 boys and 3 girls — their choice.) We asked each group word together to read and understand one of the first two sections of the chapter. (Each chapter is divided into four one-page sections.) Then they should teach what they learned to the rest of the class. We provide them with a sheet of questions to be found in the text that highlight the key points they should be prepared to cover. When it was all said and done, we only had time for the girls to make their presentation. They did OK. This was the first time we have attempted this with this class, so it was about what I expected.

This week, we plan to do the same with the group of boys who did not present last week, and also add on the second half of the chapter. We will give each group the opportunity to role-play and actually act out a Baptism, complete with water, oil, candle and white garment. We did this last year, and it actually worked out fairly well. So, hopefully, Wednesday’s class will be interesting.

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This week’s class is the last “normal” class session of the CCD year, and it didn’t come a week too soon. Next week, we will meet in the church for our “instructional Baptism.” I have written before how much Mrs. Rudolphi and I enjoy this group of students. They are personable, funny, well behaved and respectful, but also energetic and, usually, engaged. However, spring is clearly in the air. It is still light outside. The weather is great. And, for the most part, the children don’t really want to be there. (Which might have been the reason why only 11 of our 17 students were present.) Keeping their attention this week was a chore.

By the way, Mrs. Rudolphi was not able to assist on Wednesday. My wife, Patty, joined the fun.

Our topic was the Sacrament of Matrimony, including the outlines of a Catholic marriage and family. Sometimes this can be a sensitive subject, so we started off with a warning. I don’t know the details of all our students’ families, and don’t really need to. However, it is quite likely there are students in our class who have experienced divorces and/or other unusual family situations, with their parents or other members of their family. 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.

— While the Catholic Church makes it difficult to get out of a marriage, it also makes it difficult to get into it. Priests and other non-Catholic clergy frequently screen couples and can decline to marry them.

— 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.

–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.

We introduced two concepts. (Parents, you can thank us later for this.) The first was to respect their parents; to listen to them; and to try to fulfill their parents’ wishes and expectations. In other words, “Don’t make your parents’ job of raising you difficult.”

The second concept was to give their parents the opportunity to spend time with each other. Don’t be so needy and demanding of their parents’ every waking minute that they never to spend any time with just them.

Next week will be the final CCD class session. As I have mentioned before, all the CCD classes will meet in the Church. We will have an instructional Baptism. This is a real Baptism. The child to be baptized is the daughter of one of our parish families. (She portrayed the Baby Jesus in the Christmas Pageant.) Monsignor Costigan did one of these around six years ago and it turned out very well. Although it is the last class, this is one our students will not want to miss. Parents are most welcome to stay for the class/ceremony, however, if you do not, drop off and pick up will be at the church.

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Mrs. Rudolphi and I are continuing to have a great time with this class. Because they are reasonably cooperative and behaved, we can do some things that we might have never attempted with a larger or more difficult group.

For example, our lesson last night was on the Sacrament of Baptism. When I walked into the room with a handful of paper towels, Mrs. R asked me what was going on. I told her. “We are going to have the class act out a Baptism. I have some water and some olive oil to use.” She gave me a “Have you totally lost your mind?” look. That is something we would have never attempted this early in the year with any past classes, and probably not at all with some.  With this group, however, it was worth the attempt, and it worked.

As I indicated, the focus of last night’s class was the Sacrament of Baptism. (Chapter 5 in the book for those of you who are following along with our home edition.)

We started by emphasizing several points.

1.) The Church welcomes everyone to be baptized. There are no admission requirements. Everyone is welcome.

2.) Not everyone gets baptized at the same age. We discussed infant, older child and adult Baptism.

3.) We discussed preparation typical for an adult Baptism, and the role of godparents in an infant Baptism.

We also discussed the concept of an emergency Baptism, when anyone can perform a Baptism. The most common occasion for this would be a gravely ill newborn baby who is not expected to live long enough for a priest to arrive. We had an interesting question from one of the students, “What about a miscarriage?” We answered that a baby who is miscarried is also frequently baptized.

We then broke the class into two groups and assigned each group a page in the text that described the Baptism ceremony, complete with some of the priest’s prayers. Each group included a reader, a priest, a person to be baptized, godparents, and so on. Each group was instructed to each their piece of the lesson to the other half of the class, and to demonstrate the actions.

It worked out just great! They got themselves organized fairly efficiently and each group did a nice job with their lesson/demonstration. The second group even handled the pouring of water and the anointing with oil without making a total mess out of it. (Of course Mrs. Rudolphi controlled the water supply. She gave the “priest” a water-bottle cap with only a few drops of water in it. I held on to the oil and only allowed the “priest” to dip his finger in a small amount.)

We still have some important elements of Baptism that we need to cover. Last night’s lesson focused mostly on the actual ceremony. Next week, we want to wrap up some loose ends like the origin (John the Baptist and Jesus’s baptism), the role of Baptism in forgiving sin (both original and regular), and the primary symbols of the Sacrament. That should not take the entire class. If we have time, we will cover a short chapter on the liturgical calendar before moving on to the next Sacrament.

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We had originally planned on covering the first of two chapters on the Sacrament of Confirmation, but after thinking about it, we changed our minds. Since our class last week on Baptism was pretty-much a fiasco, we thought it important to take some time to reinforce some of the basic principles on Baptism.

We used the exercise at the end of the Baptism chapter. The students did several of the exercises (multiple choice, match question and answer, etc.) and then talked about them.

As expected, the students were very surprised to hear that, in the case of an emergency, anyone can perform a Baptism. We talked about the most common of those “emergency Baptisms,” that of a newborn baby who is not expected to live long. That prompted many questions about what happens if the baby dies without being baptized, is stillborn, etc. Our response is that we don’t really know, but we believe God is all loving and all merciful. We have trouble imagining God would not have mercy on an innocent baby.

We have six students who have volunteered to be readers at the Christmas program on December 19, the last class session before Christmas. One of those readers is also available for Christmas Eve 6 pm Mass. If you are the parent of any of our six readers, and it turns out you can attend the Dec 24 6 pm Mass, let me know. We can always add more students to the lineup.

We will have no class next week (November 21) since it is “Thanksgiving Eve.” We are back on November 28 with a lesson on Confirmation and a rehearsal for our Christmas readers.

Mrs. Rudolphi and I hope you and your family have a great Thanksgiving.

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We had another good class Wednesday evening. We finished up our discussion of Baptism.

We reviewed the three aspects or purposes of Baptism.

1. Wipes us free from sin.

2. Initiates us to the Church and the “Communion of Saints”

3. Gives us the spiritual strength to live as God wishes us to live

We discussed that while all of this class was baptized as infants, there are people who are baptized when they are older. We talked a little about RCIA and what that is all about.

We also talked about godparents and their role – a back-up for parents on the spiritual side. Some of the class had some difficulty understanding that the baptismal godparents are not necessarily the people who designated to care for a child in the event something happens to the parents. We explained that the two concepts are entirely different. The guardians would deal with all aspects of a child’s life; the godparents only the spiritual.

We pointed out that everyone is called to Baptism. There are no qualifications and no one is rejected.

We talked about praying for the dead, and pointed out that yesterday, coincidentally, was All Souls Day, when the church prays for all deceased. Some students expressed surprised that they were “allowed” to pray for the soul of any deceased person. “Even if they didn’t live in Savannah?”

We got a little into the mechanics of the sacrament. One of the photos in their book showed an adult being baptized in a tub or pool in a church. We talked about how different churches sometimes do things differently. However, Catholics believe that it doesn’t matter whether it is total immersion or just a cup of water. It works fine both ways.

We pretty much blew right past the four main symbols of Baptism.

  • Water
  • Chrism oil
  • White garment
  • Candle

I think we’ll spend a little time next week talking about religious symbols and their importance in worship.

We finished up with the surprising (to the students) revelation that anyone can perform a Baptism in an emergency. We pointed out that this emergency situation most often is called into play with a critically ill newborn baby.

Learn something new every day.

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