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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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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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