Posts Tagged ‘holy spirit’

Last week, we tackled the Sacrament of Confirmation. We started by talking about the Holy Spirit and Pentecost. We emphasized that the Holy Spirit is God and that aspect or person of God that stays with us daily. We told the story of Pentecost and then showed a short video to reinforce the concept.

We transitioned into a discussion of the role of the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Confirmation. We discussed the idea of confirming their basic beliefs as Catholic. We broke them into pairs and asked them to list some of their core Catholic beliefs. We gave them some hints, like “Think of the Apostle’s Creed.” It went OK.

We discussed the role of Confirmation as a major milestone on their growth as Catholics. Most of them weren’t asked if they wanted to be baptized, but when they approach young adulthood, they do get the chance to decide and confirm their faith. We compared it to other young adult ceremonies in other religions, like evangelical protestants’ “born again” or the Jewish Bar Mitzvah.

We returned to the text and asked them to read a page silently and look for the answers to a few questions.

Why does the Confirmation sponsor place his or her hand on the shoulder of the candidate?

How does the bishop anoint the candidate?

Why does the newly confirmed offer peace to the bishop?

We spent some time talking about the Gifts of the Holy Spirit and completed a match-game exercise.

We finished up with a game of Hangman. Unfortunately, despite going through nearly the entire alphabet, they weren’t able to solve “Pentecost.” Too bad.

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We had another good class Wednesday evening. Continuing our three-part format, we started with the weekly Faith Assessment, which was the Apostles’ Creed. We had the students fill out a fill-in-the-blank quiz and just about everyone did very well. We then discussed the creed, its meaning and history, comparing it to the Nicene Creed we recite at Mass.

We walked across the hall to the library where we watched a Chris Stephanik video about more saints.


Returning the class, we talked a little more about picking a saint’s name for Confirmation. Some students have already picked a name, at least for now, and we talked about some of their choices.

We phased into short lesson on Confirmation and the Holy Spirit. We broke the class into groups of two or three students and asked them to think of things that represent the Holy Spirit. We sent them to the white board to draw their ideas. Some interesting ideas, and interesting representations. (dove, flame, wind, cross)

Next week our Faith Assessment is on the Beatitudes. At this point, we are thinking about making that the focus of the entire class. As I mentioned in my email earlier this week, it would be great if the students were familiar with the Beatitudes before coming to class. They can be found Matthew 5:3-10.

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After a three week layoff, we got back to CCD business last Wednesday. We planned to continue our three-part lesson, with a faith assessment quiz, a video on saints and discussion of the Holy Spirit and Confirmation from the text Confirmed in the Spirit. Unfortunately, we could not get the audio to function with the classroom computer. Paula’s husband, John, labored over it for 15 minutes and couldn’t get it to budge. So we didn’t have a video.

Our faith assessment quiz was a fill-in-the-blanks quiz on the Commandments. Since we spent several class periods on this last year, we had the students complete this individually. Everyone pretty much had it down cold.  We also discussed the two greatest commandments as presented by Jesus.

You shall love your God with all your heart, mind and soul. (paraphrased)

You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

We discussed that a lot of people today seem to have trouble with the second one. We pointed out that Jesus did not say that you should love your neighbor, unless he or she …

…looks different from you.

…comes from a different country.

…does things you don’t agree with.

–and so on.

Jesus just said “Love your neighbor.”

As we got into the Confirmed in the Spirit text, we started by just allowing the students to flip through the pages to get an idea of what we would be covering. We then discussed the scripture verse at the top of page 2 in which Jesus told his apostles that he would be leaving them soon, but he would send the Spirit to be with them. We discussed the context of the passage. Jesus referred to an “advocate.” We discussed the various roles described by “advocate.” We also discussed that God, in the form of the Holy Spirit remains with us to be our advocate today.

We gave them a homework assignment. Before they were to go to bed Wednesday night, they were to say a sincere prayer to God, thanking him for protecting them through Hurricane Matthew.

This coming week’s faith assessment will focus on the Apostles’ Creed. I told them that before we broke on Wednesday. The Creed is in the back of their text, which they should have at home.

By the way, we have extra books, but it sure would be great if you would remind your child to bring their text back to class on Wednesday. That way they can mark it up, etc. and not worry about messing up more than one book.

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As I mentioned in last week’s post, we are taking a three-prong approach to the material, at least for the first few weeks.

We opened by asking the students to break into groups of two or three and to complete this week’s Faith Assessment quiz. This week’s FA focused on our parish and diocese. If interested, you can see the quiz on the parish Web site.


We had an interesting discussion of the material.

We showed a short (7 minute) video on the life of Mother Theresa.

Then we moved into the Confirmation prep phase of the class by distributing the text and asking the students to spend a minute or two flipping through it. Since much of our Confirmation prep will involve discussions of the Holy Spirit, I thought it would be a good idea to make sure the students had a decent handle on just who the Holy Spirit is. As we went around the class asking for answers to “Just who or what is the Holy Spirit?” we received a variety of answers. Finally, I asked “OK, in just one word, who is the Holy Spirit?” and several students responded “God!” which, of course is correct.

We spent a little time discussing the Holy Trinity and the relationship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. How can there be one God, but three persons? I explained the Church calls this a mystery. As human beings, we are simply not smart enough to fully understand that mystery. However, I pointed out I had a couple of models to share, that are not exact explanations, but night circle the target enough to give them an idea.

The first was to point to themselves and the various parts that make up them. For example, they have a physical body that is them. They also have an intellect and personality — their likes, dislikes, sense of humor, and so on. That is also them, but it is different from their physical body. There is also their spirit or soul, which is distinct from their body and intellect/personality, but just as much a version of the same person.

My second example was to point to the roles each of us play in life. We are a son or daughter, a brother or sister, a friend, an athlete, a student, a musician, and so on. Each is a version of us. When we think of God as the creator of the universe, we are thinking of God the Father. When we think about God as our redeemer, we are thinking about God the Son. When we think about God as the deity who is present with us every day, who we pray to and who helps us, we are thinking of God the Holy Spirit. One God, but three different roles.

Again, emphasized these are not accurate explanations to the mystery of the Holy Trinity, just imperfect examples that might allow them to see a Trinity, but only one God.

We allowed the students to take their textbooks home with them. Please help them to remember to bring them back next week.

As I mentioned in the email I sent this morning, I am not sending next week’s Faith Assessment quiz. I jumped the gun on that. Next week’s exercise is on the Commandments, both the original ten from Exodus (Exodus 20 or 34) , and the two greatest commandments as described by Jesus. (Matthew 22:35-40) We spent two or three class periods in 5th grade discussing the Commandments, so I HOPE our students remember at least a little bit of it. In any case, if you would like to ask your child to take a few momements to review the Commandments in advance of next week’s class, that would be great.

Next week, we will send the Faith Assessment quiz home with our students for research in advance of the next class.

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My apologies for the long gap in updates. I was unable to teach the first two classes in January due to a work-related travel and a family crisis. I was back last week to finish up our coverage of the Sacrament of Confirmation (Chapter 9).

We opened by reviewing the story of the Pentecost which Mrs. Rudolphi covered in the previous weeks. Not everyone was in attendance for those lessons, so it was worth repeating the story and the effect the Holy Spirit had on the apostles. We connected that story to Confirmation.

Before going any further, we asked one key question, “So, just who is the Holy Spirit?” As expected, there was some confusion. The simple, one-word answer is “God.”

We followed the chapter in the text, mixing up volunteers reading, and pairs reading together and extracting the answers to some questions from the text, which we then discussed. The last part of the lesson dealt with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit (wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.) We discussed each one and had the class complete a match-game exercise linking each gift to a description of it.

We will not have a regular class for the next two weeks due to the parish mission and Ash Wednesday. We will be back February 17 with the first of two classes on the Ten Commandments. This is always a fun and interesting subject to teach. I am looking forward to it.

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We had no update for last week’s class, because I was not there. Lisa Fogarty took over the class for one evening. (I had an early morning meeting in Atlanta on Thursday morning and had to drive up on Wednesday and spend the night.) I was very happy to hear that Mrs. Fogarty had a great time with the class and was extremely complimentary of the students.

Mrs. F finished off Pentecost last week and made the connection between Pentecost and the Sacrament of Confirmation.

Last night, we picked up on that theme and covered some of the specifics of receiving Confirmation. The key points of discussion included:

  •  During Confirmation we restate our core beliefs (Baptismal promises.) We broke the class into smaller groups and asked them to brainstorm some of their core beliefs as Catholics.
  •  The role of Confirmation sponsors
  •  The meaning of the bishop’s words “…be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit”
  •  The meaning of the Sign of Peace

 In one of our discussions a couple of weeks ago, it was apparent there was some confusion over concept of the “Holy Spirit.” We talked about the Holy Trinity and emphasized that when we refer to the Holy Spirit, we are simply referring to God in his/her role of being with us every day.

 We finished up by introducing the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. (wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, fear of the Lord.) Again we broke the class into groups and assigned each group two or three of the gifts to discuss and come up with an explanation or example. We ran out of time on this exercise. We’ll devote a few minutes to this next week.

 Our main focus next week will be on the concept of prayer. Believe it or not, in past years, this subject has generated a fairly interesting class session. As always, parents are invited and welcome to sit in on any classes and participate (or not) at your comfort level.


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First off, my apologies for no update last week. I had work-related meetings in Atlanta that called me away. Mrs. Cathy Scanlon presented one of her programs, which I understand, went very well.

Last night, we were back in business. We finished off the second of our two chapters on the Sacrament of Confirmation. We got off to a rough, but somewhat amusing, start with our opening prayer. The prayer at the beginning of the chapter included a passage in Spanish that was intended to be sung. I am totally non-musical, so that was a non-starter. I thought we would just read it. I asked if any of our students spoke any Spanish, thinking they might be able to read it more easily than the rest of our English-speaking tongues. Two students claimed to speak a little Spanish. However, when it came time for them to read the passage, let’s just say they oversold their abilities. We stumbled through it and trusted that God would understand our hearts were in the right place.

We started with a quick review of our discussion of Pentecost from two weeks ago. We connected the effect of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost to Confirmation in the modern day.

We discussed the specific parts of the Confirmation ceremony, including an emphasis on the Baptismal Promises. We pointed out that when people are baptized as infants, they don’t have any choice in the matter and that their godparents make the promises for them. As part of Confirmation, they have the opportunity to make those promises themselves. We broke into the groups and had the groups list and then share some of the key beliefs they hold as Catholics.

As we continued our discussion of the elements of Confirmation, we passed out sheets with three questions on them, and asked the class to read a section silently and to answer the questions on the sheets, which we then discussed.

We emphasized that Confirmation brings the candidates into full initiation in the Church and that from that point on, they are considered adults in the faith.

Finally, we talked about the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. (wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord). Relating back to Pentecost, we pointed out how the Holy Spirit changed meek and terrified Apostles into bold and brave messengers of God’s word.

As usual, we ran out of time before we ran out of material. We continued our practice of ending class by asking each student to name one thing they learned that night. A cookie is the reward. Some students had to struggle with the question, but all eventually were able to name one thing. Small victories.

The the way, it has taken a while, but I think the class is finally starting to “click” a little with Mrs. Rudolphi and myself. While a good number of the students remain very active and “chatty”, they appear to be a little more engaged and comfortable working with us. Even some of the quieter students, who avoided attention and participation during the fall, are coming out of their comfort zones and participating in discussions. Mrs. Rudolphi continues to be a great “enforcer,” trying to keep a lid on the extraneous chatter, comments and note-passing while I focus more on the lesson.

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Hello, parents! Most of you received an email or a take-home note from me yesterday. I am trying to establish an email-list for communicating with you about schedule changes and other important information. If you did NOT receive either an email or a note, would you, please send me an email with your address, so I can add it to my list? My personal email is savannahmike1130@gmail.com.

One note — I will continue to use this blog/Web site to provide you with updates on the class activities. I plan to use the email list only for urgent announcements, like a class schedule change.

We had a good class last night, especially for it being the first class since the Christmas break. The focus of the class was the Pentecost and its significance as the earliest start of the Sacrament of Confirmation.

After reading an account of the event, we broke the class up into groups of 5 or 6 and had them role-play and act out the Pentecost. The students really got into it and did a good job. It was especially interesting to see how they represented the roaring wind and the flames.

We transitioned from Pentecost into an initial discussion of Confirmation, including…

  • The role of the Holy Spirit
  • That the sacrament is a milestone on becoming an adult in the eyes of the Church.
  • That most religions have some sort of ceremony for early teens where they “confirm” their desire to be a Catholic (or whatever) and transition into full membership in the Church.
  • The role of sponsors.
  • Why a candidate picks a Confirmation name.

In another effort to keep them involved, we again divided them into the same three groups and had them read a passage and select two questions from the material. They asked the rest of the class the questions and solicited answers. It went pretty well. Good questions, too. We’ll probably try that again in the future.

I will not be able to lead the class next week. Mrs. Rudolphi will be there. Mrs. Cathy Scanlon will present a program for the class, most likely in the church. However, deliver and pick up your child in the school, as usual.

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Happy New Year, and welcome back!

We started off 2012 with a good class last night. As we got going, we did ask the class to make a stronger effort to listen to our discussions and to actually follow along when another student is reading aloud from the text. Sometimes I think some of the students just “zone out” when we are reading from the text., I (half-jokingly), pointed out, it can be frustrating to tell someone “The sky is blue.” But when you ask them a minute later, “What color is the sky?” you get a blank stare. While we do try to generate a lot of information through discussion, we also have to pull information out of the textbook.

Before the break, we had started on the Sacrament of Confirmation.  We had discussed the Pentecost and the relationship of that event to Confirmation. Last night, we began by reviewing that to refresh everyone’s memory.

We compared Confirmation to Baptism in two ways.

— We described Baptism as the first step to entering into the Church community, and Confirmation is the second half of the process.

— We also discussed Confirmation as an opportunity for them to make a commitment to God and the Church.  Since most children are baptized as infants, they really don’t have a say in the process. Their baptismal promises are made by their godparents; their parents select their godparents; and they don’t choose their own name. In Confirmation, they make their own commitment; select their sponsor; and choose a Confirmation name. We pointed out that most other religions have some kind of commitment ceremony around the time a child turns 12-14.

As expected, the idea of taking another name was fascinating to the class, and we spent probably too much time discussing that.

We talked about the need for preparation to receive Confirmation and emphasized that it is a two-year process, beginning in seventh grade. We walked through the actual process of the sacrament.

We finished up with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, but to be honest, I don’t think that concept stuck with the class very well. It is a subject that could easily occupy an entire class session to get across.  At least they have been exposed to the concept, if they don’t fully understand it.

We’re done with Confirmation. We’ll start the next class with a short review and then move on.

Our readings of the Gospel of Matthew have fallen off, just because we have been busy with other material and haven’t remembered to make assignments. We’ll talk about that next week and resume the assignments. I think we’re up to around Chapter 7. If you would like to encourage your child to read and review those first chapters before next week, that would be great.

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Until I started working on this update, I didn’t realize I hadn’t written a summary for last week’s class. Sorry about that.

Last week, we started with a review of the liturgical year with the intention of concentrating on the season of Advent. As often happens, the discussion of the liturgical year opened up a ton of questions so we spent the entire class answering and discussing.

This week, Father John joined us at the beginning of class. He wanted to encourage the students to attend the parish Advent penance service next Tuesday (Dec 13) at 7 pm in the church. Naturally, the students had a bunch of questions for him. It was very obvious that, for most of the class, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is not a concept with which they are familiar or comfortable. After Father John left to move on to the next class, we continued the discussion of Reconciliation. Not surprisingly, many of the students were very nervous or even scared about the idea of sitting down with someone (a priest) and talking about what they have done wrong. We emphasized several points.

The priest is bound to secrecy about whatever they discuss. Under no circumstances will they pick up the phone and call the parents or anyone else.

At their age, there is nothing they could possibly tell the priest that would surprise him.

The priest is simply an intermediary to God, and God already knows what you have done, so what’s the big secret?

We had our usual run of questions, many of which started with “What if…” When the “what if” scenarios started to get a little outrageous, we shut down the discussion of Reconciliation and moved on to the lesson of the day, the Sacrament of Confirmation.

We started by pointing out that we would be discussing Confirmation from several different angles.

  • Confirmation as a way of receiving, via the Holy Spirit, the strength to live as God wishes them to.
  • Confirmation as completing their initiation into the Church.
  • Confirmation as a commitment.

We read and discussed the events of the first Pentecost. We told them how the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles and turned them from meek and terrified men into strong evangelists.  We compared this power to a sports team or an athlete who gets so psyched up and motivated that he or she can conquer a superior opponent. We compared the Sacrament of Confirmation to the first Pentecost. Through the Sacrament of Confirmation, the grace of the Holy Spirit will give them the strength and determination to be faithful followers of Christ.

We talked about how their first step into the Church came with Baptism, and the second with the Eucharist.  The Sacrament of Confirmation rounds out the three sacraments of initiation and completes their membership into the Church.

It was our intention to further discuss Confirmation as the recipient’s commitment to fully join the Church and live their lives as Christians. We didn’t get to that. We’ll hit that when we finish with the Sacrament after the Christmas break.

This week (It’s now Monday, by the time I am finishing this.), the students should report to the Church for a Christmas program. Parents and siblings are also most welcome.

As you will note from the schedule, there will be no CCD class the following two weeks. We’ll be back on January 4.

Mrs. Rudolphi and I hope you and your family have a fantastic Christmas season. We’ll see everyone after the first of the year.

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