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Posts Tagged ‘liturgical year’

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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I have assembled a schedule of lessons for the rest of the CCD year. Just so you’ll know, this is highly optimistic. There are all kinds of things that can and will divert us from this plan, but at least it gives us a yard stick to measure how far behind we are at any time.

By the way, several years ago, we arranged for a family in our parish to have their newborn son baptized on a Wednesday evening. We used the Baptism ceremony as a teaching tool. It worked out very well for both the CCD classes and the family. Monsignor Costigan did everything the same as he would otherwise. The ceremony was held n the church with no shortcuts. The only differences were that Monsignor explained what he was doing and its significance at each step. And the child had about 150 honorary godparents in attendance. That child’s older sister happens to be in our class this year. We would love to do this again this year, if only we can find parents with a child in need of baptizing who are willing to go along with it. If you are such a parent, or you know someone who might be willing, please let me know.

Here is the tentative class schedule.

 Oct 30 – Eucharist 1 Ch 10

 Nov 6 – Eucharist 2 Ch 11

 Nov 13 – Liturgical Year & Advent Ch 6 & 13

 Nov 20 – Advent Project (family)

 Dec 4 – Christmas Pageant prep

 Dec 11 – Christmas Pageant prep

 Dec 18 – Christmas Pageant program (Family)

 Jan 15 – Confirmation Ch 8

 Jan 22 – Confirmation Ch 9

 Jan 29 – Prayer – Ch 12

 Feb 5 – Ten Commandments (not in textbook)

 Feb 12 – Ten Commandments

 Feb 19 – Reconciliation Ch 16

 Feb 26 – Lent and Easter Triduum Ch 20 & 21

 March 19 – Lent Project (Family)

 March 26 — Anointing of the Sick Ch 18

 April 2 – Matrimony Ch 24

 April 9 – Holy Orders Ch 25

 April 16 – Easter Ch 27

 April 23 – Open

 April 30 – Last Class

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It was great having the opportunity to meet with this year’s 5th grade CCD class last night.  Mrs. Rudolphi was travelling on business yesterday, so my wife, Patty, came along to assist.

We have a fairly large class. It looks like roughly 20 students as of right now. We typically pick up a few extra in the first weeks of class.

We started with opening prayer, the Hail Mary. My first “lesson” of the year was to teach the students how to properly pray the Sign of the Cross. Too many children at this age have no appreciation for the significance of it, or even realize it is a prayer.  They will quickly wave their hand in the general direction of their forehead and chest and mumble a few words. I showed them how to pray the Sign of the Cross slowly, with their handing touching their forehead, navel, the left shoulder and the right shoulder.

The next item of business was to take a picture of each of the children. I use these “head shots” to create a picture sheet of the class with their names. It allows Mrs. Rudolphi and I to connect names and faces a lot more quickly. Before I started doing this, we had to use name tags for several weeks. Remember, we only have them for less than an hour, and with a week in between classes. It’s hard to remember 20 new names and faces without a little help.

We talked about the general curriculum, which for 5th grade is the sacraments.

We discussed the class rules, which are pretty easy.

1.)   Show up.

2.)   Participate.

3.)   Don’t act like a jerk.

We emphasized the importance of respect, for both their fellow students and us, the teachers.

I could tell from our brief exposure last night that most of the students are fairly well behaved and eager to participate.  However, as expected, there are a few who can be a little rowdy and seek to be the center of attention. We’ll work with them. If that is not successful, we’ll turn to their parents to deal with them.

Parents – Please understand. We do not want to be unnecessarily strict. We like to make the class as fun as we can. And many of our discussions are fairly informal and free ranging. However, we have a relatively short period of time with the students each week. We also feel a strong need to pull everyone, even the quiet kids, into class discussions and activities. We really don’t have the latitude or the patience to compete with students who are disruptive, need to be the center of attention or feel the compulsion to entertain the class with their clowning around.

We still had roughly 30 minutes remaining in the class period, so we taught a short lesson on the liturgical year. We compared the liturgical year to the calendar year and also to other non-calendar years, like the school year and sports seasons. After going through the six seasons of the liturgical year, we finished up with a participation exercise. We read one-sentence descriptions of the various seasons (ie: This season begins on Ash Wednesday.). Whoever first identified the season got up and joined the “team” of other students who had ID’d that season.

We have a smart board in the room and I want to make use of it. Last night, however, there was some password problem that kept it out of operation.

As I mentioned in my last posting, I will not be able to attend the next two class sessions. I’ll be back on October 10. The students should still meet in the classroom at 6:30 pm. Mrs. Rudolphi will be there to organize things. As it stands right now, Father John is preparing a class for next week. Mrs. Cathy Scanlon will take them to the church for a class session the following week.

As I have mentioned before, we invite and encourage parents to sit in on the class at any time.

 

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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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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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