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Posts Tagged ‘God’s love’

We had a busy night last evening. The class was lively and engaged.

We started with a chapter review of last week’s lesson on prayer, the various types of prayer, etc. Terms like “petition” and “intercession” didn’t stick very well, but overall, the students seemed to get the general idea. We were extremely encouraged to note the number of students who volunteered that they have been trying to spend at least 30 seconds in private prayer every day. Most said they did so during their moment of silence at school. Whatever works! (Parental encouragement is always helpful on this point!)

Our primary lesson was the first of two on forgiveness and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  We started by reading the story of the prodigal son. (Luke 15:21- ) As we discussed the story, we asked how they would react if they had been the father or the other brother in the story. Most agreed that the son who blew his part of his father’s fortune shouldn’t get off easy. We contrasted this most natural human reaction to God’s infinite love. We emphasized that God’s capacity for forgiveness is infinite and there is nothing they could do that is so evil that God would not accept them back with open arms. Several students asked about sinners in Hell and Satan. “If God will forgive anything, what’s their story?” We replied that you must ask for forgiveness and express remorse (contrition). We’ll cover the four main steps of forgiveness when we hit the next chapter (in three weeks.)

We broke the class up into small groups of 3-4 students each and asked them to work as a team to write, and then act out, a short story about the act of forgiving. I was a little surprised how much they got into this project. Each group did a very good job acting out their little scenario.

We presented the biblical story of Jesus’s giving the Apostles and their successors the power to forgive sins (John 20:21-23).

As the clock started to run down to dismissal time, we briefly covered the concept of sin. We asked the question. “Can you sin, while doing nothing?” We discussed the concept of sinning through inaction. That is, not doing something that they ought to do. We re-introduced them to the Confiteor and read the prayer together, with an emphasis on…

“…I have greatly sinned in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do…”

Next week, we’ll have a special class. Cathy Scanlon will take our class on a guided tour of the church with explanations for the various symbols, objects, etc. It should be interesting. I expect I’ll learn something myself. If any parents would like to come along for a refresher, you would be most welcome. We’ll meet in the classroom and then walk over to the church. We’ll bring the children back to the school for after-class pick up — probably in the school lobby.

The following week is Ash Wednesday (Feb 22). We will not have CCD class that week, but I believe there will be an ashes service that evening. As they say at Mass, “Check the bulletin for other important announcements.”

We’ll be back on February 29. (Yes, it’s Leap Year, folks.) We’ll be focusing on the four steps of any forgiveness process and the specifics of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

 

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Mike writes:

Last night wasn’t the best class we’ve had this fall.  I wasn’t on my best game and the kids, as Susan said, “had ants in their pants.” They weren’t bad or misbehaved. We just had trouble getting engaged. That’s life. Some days you get the bear, and some days the bear gets you.

Content-wise, we backed up and covered the chapter we missed last week (Chapter 2 in the text book.)

We started by talking again about the importance of participating in the Church community, and not just sitting on the sidelines and watching. The text showed pictures of people participating in the mass.

We began a soft introduction to the concept of the sacraments. The key concept was that the sacraments are a means of receiving God’s grace. In the course of discussion, we elaborated on two concepts.

When the text mentioned “grace,” I asked the class if they knew what that was. I received blank stares. So we backed up a little and talked about love and people who loved them. We asked the students about times they felt they were receiving their parents’ love more than others. They came up with occasions like when their parents care for them, hug them, fix their favorite meal, do things with them, and so on.  We described “grace” as God’s love for them, and the sacraments as an occasion for them to receive and feel God’s love.

The text emphasized the Holy Trinity, which brought up a whole additional concept foreign to most of the students. Beyond the basics of the Sign of the Cross, no one could really describe the concept of God and the Holy Trinity. We asked, “So how can God be one being but three persons?” One student very astutely answered, “Because he is GOD!” Using that as a springboard, we talked about the nature of God and the Trinity with three concepts.

1. It is beyond our abilities as humans to totally understand the full nature of God. And, yes, God can be one being and three persons because he is, well, God.

2. We told that because of that we could not provide them with a totally accurate description of the nature of the Trinity, but there two examples that may approach the truth. The first was St. Patrick’s description of the Trinity as being like a shamrock with one stem but three leaves.

3. We also asked the students to think about some of the various roles they have in life. They came up with concepts like son, daughter, grandchild, friend, student, soccer player, Scout, band member and others. They are one person, but they have various identities depending on what they may be doing or who they are with. We compared this to God. When we think of God as the Creator, that is the Father. When we think of God as the Savior, that is Jesus, the son. And when we think of God as the source of continuing love and grace, that is God the Holy Spirit.

We finished off with a five minute “quiz bowl,” to reinforce some of the lessons. For whatever it is worth, the students’ retention is really excellent. Something is sticking. There is hope! Back next week.

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