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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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We had a really good class last night. Mrs. Rudolphi and I are liking these kids more and more every week. They are bright, attentive, cooperative and engaged.

As the students arrived, we had them complete a crossword puzzle with answers from last week’s lesson. We had one somewhat funny coincidence. The answer for one of the words was to be “blessedtrinity.” One student answered “theholytrinity.” Not only is it the same thing, but the letter-count is the same, and the third letter is a “cross letter” and it is an “e” in each answer. We all got a chuckle out of that.

We continue to work on reinforcing their knowledge of the basic prayers. They had the Hail Mary down pat, so we moved on to the Lord’s Prayer.

The rest of the evening was spent on Chapter 3, which is a broad-brush overview of the Sacraments. We started by handing out a work sheet with two columns, labeled…

Sacraments I have received

Sacraments I expect to receive at some time

We asked them to fill in the boxes based on their own experience. We used this as a springboard to explain each Sacrament. Most were not familiar with Holy Orders or Anointing of the Sick. It led to a good Q & A discussion. Many did not understand that it IS possible for someone to receive all seven Sacraments. And much to their surprise, there are actually a few married Catholic priests with families.

We divided the class into pairs and threes and asked them to read P 36 together and to answer three questions which they would find the answers in the text.

What are some of the signs of God’s love in the world? (Many good answers)

What is the greatest gift of God’s love? (Jesus)

What is sanctifying grace?

This led to a good discussion of grace. Most had just a scant understanding, and the definition in the book didn’t help much. We explained grace as simply being God’s love for them. To bring it to life, we asked if there were times that they felt their parents love more than others. Many good answers, like hugs, comforting moments, and so on. We used this concept to explain that the Sacraments are God’s way of transmitting his love to us, just like a parent transmits his or her love through a hug or a kiss.

We showed the class that the Sacraments are divided into three categories.

Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist)

Sacraments of Healing (Reconciliation, Annointing of the Sick)

Sacraments of Service of Communion (Holy Orders, Matrimony)

It was a good discussion and they seemed to grasp the concepts.

We had volunteer read aloud from text and covered the concepts of Christian initiation (process of becoming a member of the Church) and a Common Vocation (a call for all Christians to live good and holy lives and to be witnesses of the faith.)

That got us only about half way through the chapter. Next week we will finish off.

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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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Three classes left to go. We’re in the home stretch, with two of our more interesting classes still ahead of us. Unfortunately, our lesson last week was not one of them. We covered the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick (Ch 18).

We hit several key points.

The Sacrament has evolved over the years when it was called “Last Rites” and was administered only to those on death’s door.

Anyone can receive the Sacrament, if they are seriously ill, facing surgery or other health issue

It can be received more than once.

The purpose of the Sacrament is to heal the recipient spiritually, not necessarily physically. Although, we did discuss the frequent link between mental and emotional health, and physical health. For example, we hear about people who just “worry themselves sick.”

The Sacrament is frequently combined with Reconciliation and the Eucharist. When a person is near death, he/she may be given a tiny piece of the Eucharist called “viaticum” (provisions for the road or journey).

We were sidetracked with an interesting set of questions, starting with one student asking what would happen if a person took excessive use of the Sacrament. When I asked her why someone would do that, she said, “I don’t know. Maybe as a way to get attention?” These kids are more astute than sometimes we give them credit.

Our next class will focus on the Sacrament of Matrimony, which is usually a fairly interesting class. The following week, we will do a lesson on prayer, which also is pretty good. We’ll finish up on April 27 with as visit from Monsignor Costigan, and maybe some pizza to celebrate the completion of another year.

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Here is an update on the schedule for CCD for the rest of this year.

We will not have a regular class for the next two weeks (February 3 & 10) due to the parish mission and Ash Wednesday. However, we consider these two events a part of our CCD program. Please bring your child to the mission on Wednesday, Feb 3rd at 7 pm. We hope parents and siblings will stay also.  The mission should be over by 8 pm.

On the following week, Feb 10, Ash Wednesday Mass will be celebrated at 7 pm. Again, we hope our students will attend with their family.

Here is the tentative line-up of topics for the remainder of the year.

Feb 17 – Ten Commandments 1

Feb 24 – Ten Commandments 2

March 2 – Forgiveness (Ch 15)

March 9 – Penance (Ch 16)

March 16 – No Class

March 23 – Anointing of the Sick (Ch 18)

March 30 – Matrimony (Ch 24)

April 6 – Holy Orders (Ch 25)

April 13 – Prayer (Ch 12)

April 20 – Overflow date

April 27 – Last Class

As you can see, we are fairly well booked. Frankly, the second half of the year has some of the more interesting and engaging lessons. As always, parents are most welcome to sit in. I have one date open (April 20). I expect something will occur to shift the schedule to occupy that date. I’m not worried. We may have a CCD Penance Service that may fill one of the earlier dates and cause everything else to shift down. That is still up in the air as of this writing.

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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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