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Posts Tagged ‘faith’

We had an interesting class last Wednesday. Our faith assessment exercise dealt with some basic Catholic teachings and practices.

The source of divine revelation? Scripture and tradition.

The Precepts of the Church. (ie: obligations as Catholics)

— Attendance at Mass on Sundays and Holy Days.

–Confession at least once a year

–Receive the Eucharist during Easter Season.

–Observe days of fast and abstinence

–Help provide for the needs of the Church (time, treasure and talent)

The follow up discussion was interesting. Many of these concepts were foreign to the students, so we had some “I didn’t know that!” responses.

The faith assessment also included a section on the Theological and Cardinal Virtues. We explained the differences and asked the students to place each virtue in the correct category.

Theological – Faith, Hope and Charity (or Love)

Cardinal – Prudence, Justice, Temperance and Fortitude

We had to define most of them and explained that the Theological Virtues are gifts from God and concern our relationship to God. The Cardinal Virtues were actually first conceived by Plato and concern our relationships to fellow humans.

After a fair amount of discussion, we walked across the hall to view a video by a Father Barron on the Theological Virtues. The video is targeted for adults, but, as I told the students, they should be able to follow most of it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PuyKsaj6GbM&t=117s

When we returned to our classroom, we were just about out of time. We left them with a homework assignment. We would appreciate it if our parents would follow up on this. Our next class will deal with the Cardinal Virtues in more depth. Their assignment is to do a little internet research on the Cardinal Virtues, so they will have some background before they come to class. Here is a site with some information I have used.

http://catholicism.about.com/od/beliefsteachings/tp/Cardinal_Virtues.htm

Important scheduling information — We will have no class this week, since it would be the night before Thanksgiving. Also, we will not have class next week, November 30, as that is the evening of our parish’s Confirmation Mass. We will be back December 7.

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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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Last night, we finished off our two-part lesson on the Sacrament of Reconciliation, aka Penance or Confession.

We began by having the class read silently from the text, the last section of the chapter on Reconciliation. The text suggested four ways they could come closer to God. We asked them to suggest real-life examples of each of the following:

1.) Following Jesus’s example and spreading the “good news”

2.) Trusting God when we need help

3.) Caring for the needs of others

4.) Praying daily

We brainstormed a little on #1. We suggested one great way a fifth grader could follow Jesus’s example and spread the “good news” would be by example. Simply by living a good life and following Jesus’s two great commandments, “Love God” and “Love your neighbor,” they would serve as an example to those around them.

The issue of trust was a little more difficult for them to understand. We talked a little about how praying and trusting in God is a great goal, don’t expect God to necessarily answer you the way you want.

I told the joke about the preacher who was caught in a rising flood and waved off a jeep, a boat and a helicopter that tried to rescue him. When he drowned and showed up in Heaven he was angry and felt like God had let him down. St Peter responded, “We sent you a jeep. We sent you a boat. And finally, we sent you a helicopter. Just exactly what were you waiting for?”

The moral – God may answer your prayers, but not always in the way you expect.

When we talked about caring for others, as usual, the students thought in terms of grand gestures –feeding the poor and so on. We pointed out that “caring for the needs of others” can also a matter of how you treat people during routine interactions throughout any day.

When we talked about daily prayer, the class was easily able to come up with examples of formal prayer occasions – before bed, before meals and so on. We pointed out that prayer does not have to be formal, involved and time consuming. Short prayers like “Thank you, God, for this day” while getting dressed in the morning or “Please help me do well on this test” also count. Our text has an entire chapter devoted to the concept of prayer. I hope we have time to fit it in this spring.

Next week, Father John will hear our class’s individual confessions during the regular class period. So our next step was to talk about some of the specifics of the preparation for and the actual procedure of confession. Mrs. Huber had already prepared a two-part hand-out. The first part was a guide to assist the students examining their conscience. It was built around the framework of the Ten Commandments. We talked about some of the questions on the sheet, and sent it home with the students to prepare for next week.

The second part was an outline of the mechanics of receiving the sacrament. We had the class follow along as a volunteer and I demonstrated the procedure, with me sitting in for the priest.

As mentioned above, Father John will be hearing confessions during the class period next week. While that is going on, I believe we will have a regular lesson and just allow the students to go and return as needed. Our next class will focus on the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.

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