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This was our second to the last class for the CCD year. We are charging towards the finish line.

We opened the class with a short review of last week’s lesson on the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. Then we moved on to the main topic of the class, the Sacrament of Matrimony, including the outlines of a Catholic marriage and family. Sometimes this can be a sensitive subject, so we started off with a warning. I don’t know the details of all our students’ families, and don’t really need to. However, it is quite likely there are students in our class who have experienced divorces and/or other unusual family situations, with their parents or other members of their family. I emphasized that while we would be teaching the Church’s position on marriage, the students should not take anything as a criticism or judgment on any particular people or situations.

Some of the key points we discussed were:

— Jesus thought enough of the importance of marriage to perform his first miracle at the wedding feast at Cana.

— Marriage has been part of the human experience since the very beginning – ie: Adam and Eve.

— Boys and girls, and men and women are different but equal.

— A Catholic marriage is intended to be a permanent commitment. We talked about some short-lived celebrity marriages and the popular concept of a “starter marriage,” but indicated the Church believes you should enter into a marriage fully aware and prepared and with the full intention of making it a life-long commitment. We discussed the concept of a covenant.

— While the Catholic Church makes it difficult to get out of a marriage, it also makes it difficult to get into it. Priests and other non-Catholic clergy frequently screen couples and can decline to marry them.

— We discussed the difference between a promise and a vow. A promise is made between one person and another. A vow is a promise made to God. The marriage commitment is a vow.

–The difference between a civil marriage and a religious marriage. A wedding before a judge may cover the legal aspects of marriage, but is very different than a religious marriage, where two people stand before God and promise to maintain a life-long commitment. A Catholic marriage covers both the civil and religious aspects. We were asked whether you could have a civil wedding and then later have a religious wedding. We gave several examples of how this happens.

From there we said that Matrimony forms the basis for a Catholic family. We talked about responsibilities within families, including the responsibilities of children. We drew two columns on the white board and head one “adults” and the other “children.” We first asked the class to name responsibilities of the adults or parents in a family and we got the set of answers you would expect – cook dinner, financial support, teach children, etc. When we asked about the other side of the chart, the going was a little more difficult. Aside from household chores, the idea that they might have some responsibilities towards their parents was a little strange.

We introduced two concepts. (Parents, you can thank us later for this.) The first was to respect their parents; to listen to them; and to try to fulfill their parents’ wishes and expectations. In other words, “Don’t make your parents’ job of raising you difficult.”

The second concept was to give their parents the opportunity to spend time with each other. Don’t be so needy and demanding of their parents’ every waking minute that they never to spend any time with just them.

Next week will be the final CCD class session. Monsignor Costigan will be a guest speaker to talk about his life as a priest. We will have a pizza snack and drinks.

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I missed my summary for last week. We covered the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. We also went over to the church for a “personal safety” talk by Mrs. Lisa Fogarty.

This week, our topic was the Sacrament of Matrimony, including the outlines of a Catholic marriage and family. Sometimes this can be a sensitive subject, so we started off with a warning. I don’t know the details of all our students’ families, and don’t really need to. However, it is quite likely there are students in our class who have experienced divorces and/or other unusual family situations, with their parents or other members of their family. I emphasized that while we would be teaching the Church’s position on marriage, the students should not take anything as a criticism or judgment on any particular people or situations.

Some of the key points we discussed were:

— Jesus thought enough of the importance of marriage to perform his first miracle at the wedding feast at Cana.

— Marriage has been part of the human experience since the very beginning – ie: Adam and Eve.

— Boys and girls, and men and women are different but equal.

— A Catholic marriage is intended to be a permanent commitment. We talked about some short-lived celebrity marriages and the popular concept of a “starter marriage,” but indicated the Church believes you should enter into a marriage fully aware and prepared and with the full intention of making it a life-long commitment. We discussed the concept of a covenant.

— While the Catholic Church makes it difficult to get out of a marriage, it also makes it difficult to get into it. Priests and other non-Catholic clergy frequently screen couples and can decline to marry them.

— We discussed the difference between a promise and a vow. A promise is made between one person and another. A vow is a promise made to God. The marriage commitment is a vow.

–The difference between a civil marriage and a religious marriage. A wedding before a judge may cover the legal aspects of marriage, but is very different than a religious marriage, where two people stand before God and promise to maintain a life-long commitment. A Catholic marriage covers both the civil and religious aspects. We were asked whether you could have a civil wedding and then later have a religious wedding. We gave several examples of how this happens.

From there we said that Matrimony forms the basis for a Catholic family. We talked about responsibilities within families, including the responsibilities of children. We drew two columns on the white board and head one “adults” and the other “children.” We first asked the class to name responsibilities of the adults or parents in a family and we got the set of answers you would expect – cook dinner, financial support, teach children, etc. When we asked about the other side of the chart, the going was a little more difficult. Aside from household chores, the idea that they might have some responsibilities towards their parents was a little strange.

We threw out some suggestions and got them thinking. Several students mentioned the obligation to respect their parents; to listen to them; and to try to fulfill their parents’ wishes and expectations.

We introduced two concepts. (Parents, you can thank us later for this.) The first was to respect their parents; to listen to them; and to try to fulfill their parents’ wishes and expectations. In other words, “Don’t make your parents’ job of raising you difficult.”

The second concept was to give their parents the opportunity to spend time with each other. Don’t be so needy and demanding of their parents’ every waking minute that they never to spend any time with just them.

Next week will be the final CCD class session. Father Kavanaugh will be a guest speaker to talk about his life as a priest. We will have a pizza snack and drinks.

This has been a fantastic year from Mrs. Rudolphi’s and my viewpoint. Our students have been active, engaged and a lot of fun. I hope we are as lucky as this with future groups.

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Last night we tackled the Sacrament of Matrimony. We started with a disclaimer. Since this subject can sometimes run close to situations in the students’ own family life, we pointed out that we know very little about their families and nothing we discuss (especially the Church’s teachings about the permanence of marriage and divorce) should be taken personally.

We had volunteers read some sections aloud and for other sections we had students pair up and read to each other. Some of the key points we covered and discussed include:

Men and women are different but equal.

Marriage and having children have been part of God’s plan since the beginning.

God puts such importance on marriage that two of the Ten Commandments pertain to it (adultery, and coveting neighbor’s wife/husband). Also, Jesus’s first miracle was performed at the wedding at Cana. We read the biblical account, John 2:1-11.

We discussed the concept of a promise, a vow (promise to God) and a covenant. Matrimony uses vows to establish a covenant between the bride and groom.

The Catholic Church teaches that a marriage is a sacred commitment to the spouse and to God, and is intended to last so long as both parties are alive.

While a Catholic marriage is extremely difficult to get out of, it is also difficult to get into. The Church actively works to weed out couples who are not truly committed to one another or are too immature to make such a commitment.

When a couple is married in the Church, they are actually being married twice. The first is the civil contract, recognized by the state with all the legal issues related to that like shared possessions, custody of children, inheritance, tax benefits, etc. The second is the religious matrimony of two people standing before a priest and their families and making a promise to God to remain faithful to each other. The first can be accomplished by going to the courthouse. Only in the Church do you get the entire package.

The bride and groom are the celebrants of the Sacrament. The priest only oversees the process and blesses the union.

Three of our girls asked if they could present a skit. They acted out a marriage ceremony, although with a lot of giggles.

And for another year, no one asked about gay marriage. Although I thought with the three girls acting out the ceremony, we were coming very close. I was prepared with an answer, but it  never came up.

We didn’t accomplish as much as we would have liked. (This class is slightly more time consuming than some others.) We may take a few minutes next week to talk about the obligations of adults and children within a family. For the rest of next week’s class, we will talk about prayer, types of prayer, times for prayer, ease of prayer and a dissection of the Lord’s Prayer. The following week, April 27, will be our final class. Monsignor Costigan will visit, talk about his life as a priest and answer questions. We plan to provide a pizza snack for the students.

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This week’s class is the last “normal” class session of the CCD year, and it didn’t come a week too soon. Next week, we will meet in the church for our “instructional Baptism.” I have written before how much Mrs. Rudolphi and I enjoy this group of students. They are personable, funny, well behaved and respectful, but also energetic and, usually, engaged. However, spring is clearly in the air. It is still light outside. The weather is great. And, for the most part, the children don’t really want to be there. (Which might have been the reason why only 11 of our 17 students were present.) Keeping their attention this week was a chore.

By the way, Mrs. Rudolphi was not able to assist on Wednesday. My wife, Patty, joined the fun.

Our topic was the Sacrament of Matrimony, including the outlines of a Catholic marriage and family. Sometimes this can be a sensitive subject, so we started off with a warning. I don’t know the details of all our students’ families, and don’t really need to. However, it is quite likely there are students in our class who have experienced divorces and/or other unusual family situations, with their parents or other members of their family. I emphasized that while we would be teaching the Church’s position on marriage, the students should not take anything as a criticism or judgment on any particular people or situations.

Some of the key points we discussed were:

— Jesus thought enough of the importance of marriage to perform his first miracle at the wedding feast at Cana.

— Marriage has been part of the human experience since the very beginning – ie: Adam and Eve.

— Boys and girls, and men and women are different but equal.

— A Catholic marriage is intended to be a permanent commitment. We talked about some short-lived celebrity marriages and the popular concept of a “starter marriage,” but indicated the Church believes you should enter into a marriage fully aware and prepared and with the full intention of making it a life-long commitment. We discussed the concept of a covenant.

— While the Catholic Church makes it difficult to get out of a marriage, it also makes it difficult to get into it. Priests and other non-Catholic clergy frequently screen couples and can decline to marry them.

— We discussed the difference between a promise and a vow. A promise is made between one person and another. A vow is a promise made to God. The marriage commitment is a vow.

-–The difference between a civil marriage and a religious marriage. A wedding before a judge may cover the legal aspects of marriage, but is very different than a religious marriage, where two people stand before God and promise to maintain a life-long commitment. A Catholic marriage covers both the civil and religious aspects. We were asked whether you could have a civil wedding and then later have a religious wedding. We gave several examples of how this happens.

–We also discussed the concept that in Matrimony, the bride and groom are the actual celebrants and the priest is a witness and blesses the union.

From there we said that Matrimony forms the basis for a Catholic family. We talked about responsibilities within families, including the responsibilities of children. We drew two columns on the white board and head one “adults” and the other “children.” We first asked the class to name responsibilities of the adults or parents in a family and we got the set of answers you would expect – cook dinner, financial support, teach children, etc. When we asked about the other side of the chart, the going was a little more difficult. Aside from household chores, the idea that they might have some responsibilities towards their parents was a little strange.

We threw out some suggestions and got them thinking. Several students mentioned the obligation to respect their parents; to listen to them; and to try to fulfill their parents’ wishes and expectations.

We introduced two concepts. (Parents, you can thank us later for this.) The first was to respect their parents; to listen to them; and to try to fulfill their parents’ wishes and expectations. In other words, “Don’t make your parents’ job of raising you difficult.”

The second concept was to give their parents the opportunity to spend time with each other. Don’t be so needy and demanding of their parents’ every waking minute that they never to spend any time with just them.

Next week will be the final CCD class session. As I have mentioned before, all the CCD classes will meet in the Church. We will have an instructional Baptism. This is a real Baptism. The child to be baptized is the daughter of one of our parish families. (She portrayed the Baby Jesus in the Christmas Pageant.) Monsignor Costigan did one of these around six years ago and it turned out very well. Although it is the last class, this is one our students will not want to miss. Parents are most welcome to stay for the class/ceremony, however, if you do not, drop off and pick up will be at the church.

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We had a pretty good, but not great, class last night. Normally the subject of the Sacrament of Matrimony generates many more questions and much more discussion. Last night our group was pretty flat.

 

So we tackled Matrimony and marriage. Some of the key points we discussed included:

 

–Matrimony is probably the single sacrament, along with Holy Orders that will have an effect on your subsequent life every day. Your choice of a spouse is probably the single most important decision you will make in your life.

 

– Marriage has been part of the human experience since the very beginning – ie: Adam and Eve.

 

– Boys and girls, and men and women are different but equal. We discussed some historical trends on gender equality and also the way the genders are perceived in other parts of the world, like the Middle East.

 

– A Catholic marriage is intended to be a permanent commitment. We talked about some short-lived celebrity marriages and the popular concept of a “starter marriage,” but indicated the Church believes you should enter into a marriage fully aware and prepared and with the full intention of making it a life-long commitment. We discussed the concept of a covenant.

 

– We discussed the difference between a promise and a vow. A promise is made between one person and another. A vow is a promise made to God. The marriage commitment is a vow.

 

— The Catholic Church takes Matrimony very seriously. The Church believes the union is intended to be permanent. It is difficult to get out of a Catholic marriage, but it is also difficult to get into it. Priests screen and counsel couples to try to make sure they know what they are getting into and are making a good decision. You can’t just show up at a parish office and ask to get married this afternoon, like you can at the county courthouse. Mrs. Rudolphi shared her experience of getting married. At the time, she and her husband were of different faiths. One minister declined to marry them because he thought that would be too much of an difference to overcome.

 

–We discussed some of the specifics of the marriage ceremony and also the concept of fidelity. We also discussed the concept that in Matrimony, the bride and groom are the actual celebrants and the priest is a witness and blesses the union.

 

From there we said that Matrimony forms the basis for a Catholic family. We talked about responsibilities within families, including the responsibilities of children. We drew two columns on the white board and head one “adults” and the other “children.” We first asked the class to name responsibilities of the adults or parents in a family and we got the set of answers you would expect – cook dinner, financial support, teach children, etc. When we asked about the other side of the chart, the going was a little more difficult. Aside from household chores, the idea that they might have some responsibilities towards their parents was a little strange.

 

We threw out some suggestions and got them thinking. Several students mentioned the obligation to respect their parents; to listen to them; and to try to fulfill their parents’ wishes and expectations. In other words, as we reinforced, “Your parents’ biggest job is to be your parents. Don’t make that job unnecessarily difficult.”

 

We have three more classes left. We will actually teach lessons in the next two, and probably do something fun and special for the last class. Next week, we plan to cover Holy Week and Easter. We’ll finish up the Sacraments with a discussion of Holy Orders the week after Easter.

 

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In looking towards tomorrow’s class, I just realized I had not posted anything about last week’s class. I haven’t heard any cries of outrage, so I guess no one is really missing it. Kinda disappointing…

In any case, we had a small turnout, only 8 students. We covered the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.

Tomorrow, we will cover the Sacrament of Matrimony. This is one subject that can occasionally strike close to home. Students who may have issues at home, like divorced or separated parents, sometimes have interesting questions. We try very hard to be sensitive to issues like this. In eight previous years of teaching this, I have not had any problems or complaints. All the same, parents should just be aware of what we will be covering. As always, parents are most welcome and invited to sit in on the class.

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We had a pretty good class this week. The students were reasonably well behaved and fairly engaged.

Although we intended to spend a little time wrapping up the Sacrament of Matrimony and then cover Holy Orders, we spent the entire class discussing Matrimony.

We began by discussing the concept of a permanent commitment and how important it is for a couple to be fully aware and prepared before getting married. While the Catholic Church makes it difficult to get out of a marriage, it also makes it difficult to get into it. Priests and other non-Catholic clergy frequently screen couples and can decline to marry them if they think the couple is not ready or right for each other. As we were discussing this, Mrs. Rudolphi (Where does she come up with this stuff?) announced, “That happened to me!” Huh? It turns out that Mrs. R was Protestant and her fiancée was Catholic. They first went to a Protestant minister and he declined to perform the ceremony because he believed the difference in their faiths was too much for them to overcome. That story was a bit of an eye opener for the class.

We discussed some of the specifics of the marriage ceremony and also the concept of fidelity. We also discussed the concept that in Matrimony, the bride and groom are the actual celebrants and the priest is a witness and blesses the union.

From there we said that Matrimony forms the basis for a Catholic family. We talked about responsibilities within families, including the responsibilities of children. We drew two columns on the white board and head one “adults” and the other “children.” We first asked the class to name responsibilities of the adults or parents in a family and we got the set of answers you would expect – cook dinner, financial support, teach children, etc. When we asked about the other side of the chart, the going was a little more difficult. Aside from household chores, the idea that they might have some responsibilities towards their parents was a totally foreign to them.

Mrs. Rudolphi and I introduced two concepts. (Parents, you can thank us later for this.) The first was to respect their parents; to listen to them; and to try to fulfill their parents’ wishes and expectations. In other words, “Don’t make your parents’ job of raising you difficult.”

The second concept was to give their parents the opportunity to spend time with each other. (Mrs. Rudolphi said “Date night!”) Don’t be so needy and demanding of their parents’ every waking minute that they never to spend any time with just them.

As an example, I related a conversation I had just this week with a mother of two elementary school-age children. She said she was dreading spring break, because one of her children has never learned how to entertain himself. He requires his mother to entertain him…all the time.  Every weekend and every break, he constantly nags her “What are we going to do now?” Fortunately, most of our class was amazed by the story.

Maybe, they will take that lesson home with them and, maybe, make their parents’ life just a little easier.  Hope springs eternal.

We are off next week for spring break, and then back for three classes. I plan to spend some time going over Holy Orders and then as much time as we can spare on the Ten Commandments.

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I think it’s clear we are getting near the end of the year and spring is upon us. Our class was not particularly ill-behaved last night, but the students fell short of being highly enthusiastic. As mentioned in my earlier post, in past years our session on Matrimony has typically generated some interesting questions and discussions. Last night it was a bit like going over the grocery list. Oh well. Somewhat surprisingly, I did get some good responses from my end-of-the-class “What did you learn tonight” questioning. So despite a low level of excitement, they must have picked up something.

We started off with a warning. I don’t know the details of all our students’ families, and don’t really need to. However, I do know that there are students in our class who have experienced divorces and/or other unusual family situations. I emphasized that while we would be teaching the Church’s position on marriage, the students should not take anything as a criticism or judgment on any particular people or situations.

Some of the key points we discussed were:

— Jesus thought enough of the importance of marriage to perform his first miracle at the wedding feast at Cana.

— Marriage has been part of the human experience since the very beginning – ie: Adam and Eve.

— Boys and girls, and men and women are different but equal.

— A Catholic marriage is intended to be a permanent commitment. We talked about some short-lived celebrity marriages and the popular concept of a “starter marriage,” but indicated the Church believes you should enter into a marriage fully aware and prepared and with the full intention of making it a life-long commitment. We discussed the concept of a covenant.

— We discussed the difference between a promise and a vow. A promise is made between one person and another. A vow is a promise made to God. The marriage commitment is a vow.

–The difference between a civil marriage and a religious marriage. A wedding before a judge may cover the legal aspects of marriage, but is very different than a religious marriage, where two people stand before God and promise to maintain a life-long commitment. A Catholic marriage covers both the civil and religious aspects. We were asked whether you could have a civil wedding and then later have a religious wedding. We gave several examples of how this happens.

Next week, we plan to wrap up the chapter on Matrimony and then cover Holy Orders. We’ll have a break the week after Easter (April 3). Then we come back for three final class sessions. We bypassed a lot of chapters in the book in our effort to make it through all seven sacraments. We may go back and pick up some of the chapters we skipped earlier. Or, we may break away from the text and teach two classes on the Ten Commandments. The “BigTen” are not an official part of our curriculum this year, but they have produced some lively classes in the past. Besides, some reinforcement can’t hurt. I’d rather have some final classes in which the students are interested and engaged. Hope springs eternal.

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We had a fairly interesting class last night. We finished up the Sacrament of Matrimony. It was our plan to also cover Holy Orders, but that didn’t happen.

As we did last week, we emphasized the Church’s teaching that the marriage vow is a life-long commitment.  We talked about the concept of “fidelity. (We also emphasized that we are trying to teach them the way they should approach marriage when they are older, and in no way are judging or criticizing anyone they may know or in their family who may be divorced.)

We pointed out that Matrimony is the only sacrament in which the participants are the ministers, and the priest or deacon is just a witness, to put God’s blessing and “seal of approval” on the union.

We emphasized the importance of a family as being a building block of the Church. We talked a little about responsibilities in a family – both the adults and children.  We let the students brainstorm for a while to come up with responsibilities. They did a pretty good job for both groups.

Mrs. Rudolphi and I did have one awkward moment.  Mrs. R said she was anticipating a question about gay marriage, but, fortunately, that did not arise. Instead, the question stemmed from a paragraph in the textbook.

“The deacon or priest asks the couple three important questions…Will they lovingly accept children from God and raise them in the faith?”

“So Mr. Sullivan, suppose it’s not a good time for a couple to have children? Like maybe one of them is in the military and is being sent away. What can they do then?”

We responded that the Church does not approve of artificial means of birth control, but there are other, natural means a couple can use. And then we said that we really don’t have permission from their parents to get involved any more deeply in that kind of subject, and strongly suggested that they talk with their parents.

I don’t know if that was the best response, but it was the best I could come up with on short notice.

Next week, we plan to cover the Sacrament of Holy Orders very briefly. We will devote the remainder of that class and the next class (after the Easter break) to covering the Ten Commandments. This was part of the 5th grade curriculum when we used the older text, but it is not part of the new Sadlier text. However, in past years, the classes when we discussed the Commandments were some of the best of the entire year. We usually get the students to consider some concepts they haven’t thought of before. It generates lots of questions, ideas and discussion. So we are going to finish off the year with that subject.

As always, parents are most welcome to come and sit in on the class. If you have been holding back and waiting for an interesting one, these next two classes just might be “it.”

Please take a moment to glance at the schedule of classes under the tab at the top of this page. We have class next week (April 4). We are off the week after Easter, but then back for two final classes.

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What happened to class # 22 last week? Beats me.  I remember we covered the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, but beyond that, I just don’t remember. Oh well. On to this week.

Sorry for the late posting this week. I had an out of town meeting on Thursday and was “pooped” when I got back to Savannah.

We had a good class on Wednesday evening. The prime topic was the Sacrament of Matrimony. As innocent as it sounds, this particular lesson has the potential to open cans of worms. We emphasize the Church’s teachings on the sanctity and the permanence of marriage, but we realize this can touch very close to home to children who have divorced parents or other relatives. We try to teach the Church’s “ideal” without inadvertently seeming to criticize someone in the student’s family.  I think we were successful this time around, and left those cans of worms unopened. If you parents received some negative feedback from your child, please let me know.

We started with the concept of the equality of the genders, in a marriage relationship and in life. We pointed out that this concept flies in the face of the generally held beliefs of thousands of years. However, here in the light of the 21st century, we recognize that while God made men and women different, he also made them equal. Half-jokingly I said that, if anything, we are seeing that women are probably the superior sex.  Mrs. Rudolphi agreed.

We spent a little time (probably too much) discussing the difference between the civil and religious aspects of a wedding. You can get married before a judge at the courthouse, but that covers only the civil aspect and is not a sacrament. Getting married in the Church covers both the civil and religious aspects.

We also discussed the concept of matrimony as a vow. A vow is a promise before God, which is much more serious than an every day promise to a friend. We also discussed he concept of a covenant, which was term none of the students knew.

We had some interesting questions, some of which, we believe, were just asked to see what kind of reaction they would get.

“I know of someone who is already pregnant, and they just now got married. How does that happen?”

“How old do you have to be to get married?”

One girl asked us why all the pictures in our text showed the brides wearing white dresses?

Me: It’s a tradition, but you can wear whatever color you like.

Her: Even black?

Me: Yes.

Her: But why do they usually wear white?

Me: It symbolizes purity or innocence.

Her: Innocent of what?

Mrs. Rudolphi: It symbolizes that she is a virgin.

Her: A virgin? What’s a virgin?

Mrs. Rudolphi: You know the answer to that.

Her: No, really (laughing). I don’t know. What’s a virgin?

Mrs. Rudolphi: Ask your parents.

At this age, we are never quite sure, just exactly how much our students have learned about sex from their parents, school, friends, TV, etc., so we try to tread lightly.  It is not our goal, nor do we have a mandate, to conduct a sex-education class.  If we were dealing with 13-year olds, for instance, we would be much more confident that all our students have already had “Birds and Bees 101.” With fifth graders, we think but we can’t sure that their parents have, at least, covered the basics.  That having been said, Mrs. R and I are about 99% certain that our young student was putting us on. Imagine that!

Next week we’ll finish up a little more of matrimony and then cover our final sacrament, Holy Orders.

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