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Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

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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We had another great class on Wednesday. The students get the most engaged when we have something to talk about. Lots of questions and lots of discussion.

We tackled the second half of the Ten Commandments.

We discussed the two commandments concerning marriage, and made the distinction between the two. The first is issued to the husband and wife to be faithful to each other, while the second, “Thou shall not covet…” is aimed at a third party interfering with another’s marriage vows.

We discussed the concept of coveting – to want something so badly you are willing do commit a wrong to get it. They hadn’t really thought about that very much before this class, so it created some interesting discussion.

We also discussed honesty; harmful lies about others; perjury; and the difference between a lie and a mistake.

We also spent time discussing the magnitude of sins, and the difference between mortal and venial sins.

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