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Posts Tagged ‘holy communion’

Well, we certainly had an unusual CCD session last night. As your child probably told you, the fire alarm in the school went off at around 6:35 pm. It turned out to be a problem with the alarm, but we reacted as if it might not be. We corralled the students and headed towards the front door. Mrs. Hubert directed us into the gymnasium. I think she didn’t want 150 children wandering around the parking lot in the dark. After a few minutes in the gym, we headed out again, this time for the church.

We remained there until about 7:05, listening to the eighth grade Confirmation class practicing their spiel about their Confirmation-saint. Our class may have found it interesting, because they sat quietly and were well behaved.

We got back to the school around 7:10 pm, clearly not enough time to cover a full lesson. After taking a moment to get a plan together, we decided to go ahead and begin our lesson on the Eucharist. Wherever we left off, we would just pick up again in the next class on November 18.

The text began with an account of the Last Supper. We talked a little about the original Passover in the Book of Exodus and the evolution of the Jewish Seder meal. The Last Supper was both a Seder meal, as well as the first Mass. In describing the Last Supper, we emphasized the passage that is paraphrased in the Consecration (“This is my body…etc.”) The students were able to identify the passage as something they had heard at Mass.

We spent a fair amount of time talking about the concept of Real Presence. That is, our belief as Catholics that Jesus Christ is truly present in the consecrated host and wine and that Communion is not just symbolic. We contrasted this to the “Communion” as practiced in some Protestant churches which is considered symbolic. We used a crucifix and a statue of Mary as examples of symbols.

We pointed out that the Eucharist is really the central element of the Catholic faith. However, a moment later, when I asked the class what they think is the most important Sacrament, the answers I received were Baptism and Confirmation. Oh well.

No class next week, November 11, due the Confirmation Mass being held at the Church. We’re back on November 18, where we will pick up and, hopefully, complete our coverage of the Eucharist and Mass.

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Last night’s class was the first of two relating to the Eucharist. We had a small turnout, only seven students, so no one escaped participation. For those of you following along with our home edition, the main chapter for the lesson was Chapter Ten.

 We began with an opening prayer that contained several references to Jesus as the “bread of life” and other similar images. We discussed this briefly.

 We introduced the first Eucharist at the Last Supper. We talked about how this was a Jewish Passover meal, but Jesus changed things. We provided a biblical/historical account of the Passover from Exodus and pointed out that, since Jesus and his apostles were all Jewish, the Last Supper began as their annual religious meal.

 The text referenced Jesus’s declaring a “new covenant.” So we talked about the meaning of a covenant, the ancient Jewish covenant dating back to Abraham and Moses, and the idea of Jesus establishing a new covenant at the Last Supper.

 We had the class read silently the next page that outlined how the Eucharist is a memorial, a meal and also a sacrifice. We talked a little about the concept of a sacrifice. We had them take a sheet of blank paper and create three columns, headed by “memorial,” “meal” and “sacrifice.” As they read the text, they were to list the ways the Sacarament fulfills each of these concepts.

 We spent most of the rest of the class discussing and emphasizing the concept of “real presence,” that Jesus is truly present in the consecrated host and wine, and not just a symbol, as believed by most other Christian denominations.

 We finished up with a Q&A review from the quiz at the end of the chapter. And of course, we quizzed all the students on “What did you learn tonight?”

 Next week, we’ll cover Chapter 11, which is the second chapter on the Eucharist, but the focus is on the structure of the Mass.

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One of the things I like about teaching 5th grade is that we are not a sacramental class. Since we do not have a rigid curriculum to prepare our students for their First Communion or Confirmation, we have the flexibility sometimes to adjust on the fly and talk about whatever is on our collective minds.

Last week we taught an overview of the Sacraments. We thought it would be a good idea to spend more time on that subject, to reinforce what we discussed last week. So we took the first 40 minutes of the class on two review exercises. The first was a word-game, and the second was a true-false, match-the-definition quiz format. We had the students complete them on their own, and then we talked about them.

By the time we were done with those, there was only about 20 minutes left in the class session, not enough time to start a brand-new chapter. The class was full of questions, some sacrament-related, and some not. So we spent the rest of the class in discussion. Among our subjects were:

–The difference between the Catholic Eucharist and Protestant churches’ communion.

–What happens to the unconsumed over consecrated hosts and wine after Mass.

— The origins and legends of Halloween, and its connection to All Saints Day.

Last week, we said a class prayer for Mrs. Rudolphi’s grandmother who was seriously ill. Since then, she passed away, so we said another prayer for her as our closing prayer.

And as is our usual practice, we closed by asking each student what he/she learned that night. All students were able to cite at least one thing, and were rewarded with a cookie.

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I’m a little late posting an update for last week’s class. I was traveling for work Thursday and Friday of last week and, to be honest, didn’t think about it over the weekend. Oops.

We had a small group turn out last Wednesday, maybe only 10 or 12 students. We started off the first of two chapters covering the Eucharist. We covered several key points.

–The first Eucharist was at the Last Supper, which in turn was a Jewish Passover meal (Seder.) We talked a little about the origin of the Passover celebration and the Passover story in Exodus. We had a lot of questions about why God would kill the Egyptian first-born sons, which didn’t help us stay in topic. My fault.

–We connected the words in Luke’s Gospel account of the Last Supper to the words used in the consecration in the Mass. We emphasized Jesus’s command to “Do this in memory of me.”

–We discussed the concept of the Real Presence, that Catholics believe that Jesus is truly present in the bread and wine of the Eucharist. This differs from what most Protestant faiths profess, that their “holy communion” is simply representative of Jesus’s body and blood, not a Real Presence.

–We emphasized that the Eucharist is at the very center of what it means to be a Catholic.

I’d like to tell you that I was making a significant impact on the students, but in truth, I think everything I was throwing out was bouncing right back at me.  It wasn’t working. Then we changed the subject.

We were talking a little about the connection to Passover and Jewish history. Students started asking questions about the Bible and the focus switched to the biblical account of creation (Adam and Eve, etc.). There seemed to be a lot of interest, and since I was making such great progress with our earlier topic (sarcasm), I decided to head off in a totally different direction. (We’ll pick up where we left off with the Eucharist this week.)

Most of the students were very confused about the relationship between the biblical account of Creation and what they learn in school. They didn’t understand why Adam and Eve weren’t eaten by the dinosaurs. So we talked a little about how Genesis was written for a group of illiterate, nomadic goat herders who lived in tents in the desert. Those people had no concept of the Big Bang, DNA, evolution or anything of that nature. We told the class that Genesis tells us that God created the world and everything in it, and that what he created is good. However, the Bible is a religious book, not a science text. So it’s up to science to explain what “tools” God used and how he did it. The creation story in Genesis should be viewed as a broad story with a strong underlying truth. The details are left to science. As such, Genesis is not really in conflict with their science classes.

This probably sounds a lot like “intelligent design,” however, I pointed out again, we are teaching a religion class, not a science class.

This week, I want to finish up just a little more on the Creation story and then complete the half-taught lesson on the Eucharist.

An important scheduling note – NEXT WEEK, February 13, is Ash Wednesday. There will be no CCD class. We ask parents to bring their children and join them for Mass at 7 pm.

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Sometimes you beat the bear and sometimes the bear beats you. I’m afraid it was my turn to be beaten Wednesday night. The class was reasonably well behaved; that was not the problem. Whether it was the subject material, my teaching efforts or some external force, we just couldn’t get the class engaged. When I mentioned this to Mrs. Rudolphi after class she agreed, but said “Don’t worry about it Mike. I think maybe three of them were listening to you.” In any case, we plow on.

The class was the first of two on the Eucharist. We discussed the origin of the sacrament at the Last Supper, and explained the Last Supper as a celebration of the Jewish Passover. We emphasized that through the Eucharist we are:

Nourished in the Word of God

Joined more closely to Christ and one another

The grace of Baptism grows I us

We are strengthened to love and serve others.

We explained the concept of a covenant, and described the original covenant between God and the Jewish people. We also described how, at the Last Supper, Jesus disposed of the old covenant and created a new covenant for his followers. We celebrate this covenant in the Eucharist.

We discussed the Eucharist’s role as a memorial, a meal and a sacrifice. We had the class break up into pairs to work together. They read a passage from the text and listed ways the Eucharist fits into each of these roles.

We read the story of Jesus appearing to two of his disciples on the road to Emmaus. The disciples did not recognize Jesus until they stopped for a meal. When Jesus broke the loaf of bread, suddenly the disciples recognized him. We compared this story to connecting with Jesus through the breaking of bread in the Eucharist.

We particularly emphasized the key Catholic belief that Jesus is truly present in the bread and wine of the Eucharist. (Real Presence) We pointed out that while many Protestant churches have communion services, they believe the bread and wine (or grape juice) only represent Jesus. We believe that while the bread and wine do not change chemically, Jesus is truly present there.

We briefly discussed he concept of Jesus as the “bread of life.”

We gave out two “homework” assignments.

  1. To ask their parents to take them to Mass this weekend, and, when they receive the Eucharist, to think about the concepts we discussed.
  2. If they have not already done so, read all of the Gospel of Matthew through Chapter 8. We’ll have a short quiz at the start of class next week.

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