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Posts Tagged ‘holy days’

It was a bit of an odd class last night. We had only four students, but we didn’t generate a lot of energy so it seemed like an uphill struggle. We seem to go through this about this time every year — the mid-winter CCD blahs. I need to be a little more creative next week to promote better engagement.

We wanted to finish off last week’s lesson that we didn’t complete, and also to fill in some gaps that became evident in our discussion last week. Last week, most of the students had difficulty identifying and explaining the two parts of the Mass, the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. We started by reviewing the order of the Mass. We pointed out that structurally, the Mass is a lot like going to a friend’s house for dinner with your family. You greet. You talk and listen. You bring a gift. You help prepare the meal. And then you have a meal. We distributed missalettes along with a worksheet. The idea was to find the answers on the worksheet by looking them up in the missalette. For example, “What is the first reading this Sunday?”

We then worked our way through the Holy Days of Obligation and other Church holy days, like Ash Wednesday. At this point, the students’ eyes were starting to glaze over. So we took a break and played several short videos on the Liturgical Year and Holy Days of Obligation.

Next week we are going to cover the structure of the Catholic Church and touch a little on the Bible.

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We continued our trek through the elements of the Catholic faith as detailed in the parish’s “Faith Assessment.” Last night’s subject was liturgical celebrations. We covered such things as the two parts of the Mass, the liturgical year, holy days of obligations, etc. You can take a look at the material — questions AND answers on the parish Web site here.

http://saintpetertheapostle.com/church/know-faith-week-10-liturgical-celebrations/

Many of these were “head scratchers” for our students. This surprised me a little, because I know they have been exposed to this material in the past. We taught some of it during the fifth grade year we shared. I really didn’t expect anyone to have trouble identifying Ash Wednesday, for instance.  That’s all the more reason Mrs. Rudolphi and I try to find ways to make the material we teach “stick” with the students after they walk out the door. Sometimes we are more successful than others, I guess.

Monsignor Costigan paid us a visit, which is always interesting. He quizzed the class on some of the Church’s holy days. We called him back in a few minutes later, when we had a question about the Paschal Candle. I thought it was at the front of the church, but one of our students, an altar server was sure it was at the back. Monsignor Costigan cleared that up and we were both right. The Paschal Candle is beside the altar during Easter Season and then moves to the back of the church for the rest of the year. I really should pay closer attention.

We finished up a little early so the students could visit the book fair. Next week, we will finish up on the liturgical celebrations and maybe get into the Church’s leadership and structure.

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We decided we needed a break in our routine last night, so we split the session up into two parts.

Before we started, we added about a minute of silent, personal prayer to our opening prayer. We first introduced that last week.

For the first half hour, we finished up the chapter on prayer that we had begun last week. We covered sacramentals. These are objects, blessings, etc. that remind us of some religious concept. Examples we discussed from recent experience and objects within the room included the Sign of the Cross, the Crucifix, a statue of Mary, a Rosary and others.

We briefly discussed the practice of maintaining the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle behind the altar. We talked about how this is tangible evidence of God’s presence in the church. It is why we genuflect and bow to the altar.

We also discussed Holy Days of Obligation. The class had trouble naming more than one of the six (Christmas was the easy one.) until one student found a list in the back of the textbook. Sly dog!

In case you are wondering yourself, the complete list is:

  • Solemnity of Mary Jan 1
  • Feast of the Ascension 40 days after Easter
  • Feast of the Assumption Aug 15
  • All Saints Day Nov 1
  • Feast of the Immaculate Conception Dec 8
  • Christmas Dec 25

(I wonder whatever happened to the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25? That was one of the HDBs when I was growing up.)

The second half of the class was a “quiz bowl” that covered material we had taught since September. We split them up into four teams of 4-5 students each. We allowed them to consult with each other and also reference the textbook, but didn’t give them much time to look up something.  It was great to see the class lively and engaged. However, it was also somewhat disheartening to realize how little many of the students have retained from material we have covered and reviewed several times.

For example, there is no good reason why a team of five students shouldn’t be able to name the three parts of the Holy Trinity without having to look it up.

Other “easy” questions that we have covered repeatedly in different forms, but gave multiple teams difficulty,  included:

Name the three Sacraments of Initiation. (Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist)

What is the sacrament by which man is made a priest or deacon? (Holy Orders)

Name three of the twelve apostles.

There are four key symbols of Baptism. Name three of them. (Holy Water, white garment, Sacred Chrism and a candle.)

What is the first season of the Church’s liturgical year? (Advent)

What is the only Sacrament of Initiation we can receive over and over again? (Eucharist)

We probably need to re-evaluate our teaching methods. If the students are not retaining the material — even after lively and engaged discussions — then we’re just wasting everybody’s time.

Any ideas?

By the way, we have backed off on our original plan to have the students read the Gospel of Matthew throughout the year. We simply do not have time to review and discuss it in class.  It may (or may not) have been a good idea in concept, but it just hasn’t worked in the roughly 50 minutes we spend together each week.

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