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Posts Tagged ‘penance’

Spring is in the air, and the natives are restless. Our lesson and a role playing exercise, which has done very well in past years, wasn’t quite as successful as we hoped, because some of our guys were a little rowdy.

We tackled the concept of forgiveness and the Sacrament of Reconciliation (aka Penance or Confession.)

We covered the four steps of forgiveness and the way the process evolves, whether between friends or between a person and God (Penance.)

Admission of wrongdoing / Confess sins
Expression of sorrow or regret / Act of Contrition
Forgiveness by the injured party / Absolution
Some form of making things whole / Penance

To bring the concept to life, we divided the class into pairs. We asked each pair of students to come up with a scenario or story of why one of the two was angry with the other. We then attempted to interview each pair, discover why they had a rift and walk them through the forgiveness process. I would grade the exercise as a D+ or a C-. It wasn’t a total disaster, but it did not go smoothly.

We moved on to discuss a number of other concepts.

– The seal of the confessional. The priest must not disclose anything you confess.

– The priest is an intermediary between you and God.

— No sin is too great that it cannot be forgiven.

Mrs. Hanzel took over the second half of the class. She covered how the students should examine thei4r conscience before going to Confession. We also reviewed the mechanics of the Sacrament, and demonstrated a few examples. We provided the students with several aids, including an “Examination of Conscience for Children” and a step-by-step “cheat sheet” for Confession, including one version of the Act of Contrition. We collected them back and will redistribute them next week. (See below.)

There will be no class this week because of public schools’ spring break. Next Wednesday (March 27), we will have a Penance Service in the church for all the CCD classes, which is why we spent so much effort last week. Families are welcome to join in the Penance Service. Please bring your child to the classroom. We will meet there and walk over to the church together.

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We had another good class last night. Mrs. Hanzel took half the lesson and did a great job.

In the first half of the class period, we finished up the exercise on the Commandments we began last week. The class was broken into groups of two or three and asked to come up with a list of commandments that were appropriate and relevant to fifth graders. The students really got into the exercise. They presented their results and they were great.

Mrs. Hanzel then took the lead and presented a lesson on the season of Lent. We started by showing a video which you can watch here.

The audio was not very strong, so we told the class they needed to be quiet and to listen carefully. They must have been interested because we didn’t hear a peep. Mrs. Hanzel then passed out a Lent questionnaire and a graphic drawing showing a path through the six weeks of Lent, and we talked about it.

Important note: We will have no class for the next two weeks. Here is what the rest of the year looks like.

February 27 – No class due to First Penance

March 6 – Ash Wednesday. Mass and distribution of ashes for your family at 7 pm.

March 13 – We will cover the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

March 20 – No class. SCCPSS spring break

March 27 — Penance Service in the church. Students should report to the classroom.

April 3 – We will cover the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.

April 10 – We will cover the Sacrament of Matrimony

April 17 – THIS IS THE LAST CLASS. We will cover the Sacrament of Holy Orders, most likely with a guest speaker.

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It’s been a while since my last update. Sorry. It has been a very busy spring.

Class # 18, March 14 – We finished up the Commandments. We talked about the sanctity of life as a follow up to some questions asked the week before. We finished up with one of my favorite exercises of the year. We retold the story of Moses and Mt. Sinai with a minor revision. In this story there was a group of fifth graders in the crowd when Moses presented the Commandments. The fifth graders objected, saying there wasn’t really much there that applied to them, since they are really into murder and aren’t even sure what that adultery thing is. They sent Moses back up the mountain to ask God for another set of Commandments, this one relevant to 5th graders. We broke the class into groups of two and three and let them write on the white boards. We told them to imagine they are God, and to come up with a second set of Commandments, this one applying to the issues fifth graders face. They all came up with some really great answers.

Class # 19, March 28 – I was unable to teach this class as I was at home following some minor surgery. Mrs. Rudolphi took the class and began the first of two sessions on forgiveness and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Class #20, April 4 — We finished up our lesson on forgiveness and the Sacrament of Reconciliation (aka Penance or Confession.)

We covered the four steps of forgiveness, and compared a scenario between friends with the Sacrament.

Admission of wrongdoing / Confess sins
Expression of sorrow or regret / Act of Contrition
Forgiveness by the injured party / Absolution
Some form of making things whole / Penance

We discussed a number of other concepts.

–You can do wrong or sin by doing nothing when there is some act you should be performing. Inaction can be as wrong as action.

–The seal of the confessional. The priest must not disclose anything you confess.

–The priest is an intermediary between you and God.

— No sin is too great that it cannot be forgiven.

–There are usually regular times for Confession, but you can call a priest any time and ask him to hear your confession.

–And we reviewed the mechanics of the Sacrament. We provided the students with several take-homes, including an “Examination of Conscience for Children” and a step-by-step “cheat sheet” for Confession, including one version of the Act of Contrition.

We have three classes remaining. Next week we will cover Annointing of the Sick, followed by Matrimony the week after, and we will finish up with a visit from Father Kavanaugh to talk about life as a priest.
Next week we will also have a short (15 minute) age appropriate, session on “Good touch, bad touch,” taught by Lisa Fogarty. The students who were there last night should have brought home an “opt out” sheet in the event you do not wish your child to participate in this session. If our child was not there last night and you do not wish your child to participate, please contact Mrs. Hubert.

Also, in two weeks, we will cover the Sacrament of Matrimony. This has the potential to come close to delicate family situations, like a recent divorce for instance. In 13 previous years of teaching this chapter, we have not encountered any issues, but there is always a first time. If there is something going on in your child’s life that I should be aware of, please let me know and I will do my best to be sensitive about it.

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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 finished up our lesson on forgiveness and the Sacrament of Reconciliation (aka Penance or Confession.)

We began with a review of our last class, which seems like it was a year ago. We covered the four steps of forgiveness.

  1. Admission or confession
  2. Expression of sorrow or contrition
  3. Forgiveness by the injured party
  4. Some form of penance or reparation

And, of course, we connected these steps to the elements of the Sacrament. We discussed a number of other concepts.

–You can do wrong or sin by doing nothing when there is some act you should be performing. Inaction can be as wrong as action.

–The seal of the confessional. The priest must not disclose anything you confess.

–The priest is an intermediary between you and God.

— No sin is too great that it cannot be forgiven. One of the students asked about suicide. That prompted a short, but interesting discussion.

–There are usually regular times for Confession, but you can call a priest any time and ask him to hear your confession.

–And we reviewed the mechanics of the Sacrament. We provided the students with a two-sided “cheat sheet.” On one side was a series of questions to help them examine their conscience. The other side had a step-by-step instructions on how to go through the process, including a version of the Act of Contrition.

We broke the class into groups of two or three and asked them to read the final page of the lesson in the text. It included a list of four actions to help us turn our hearts and minds to God.

–Follow Jesus’s example and spreading the good news

–Trust in God

–Care for the needs of others

–Pray daily

We asked them to brainstorm examples of how they might do that.  During the discussion that followed, we emphasized several points.

One of the best ways to spread the good news is simply to live a good life and be an example for others to see. Related to that, under “caring for the needs of others” several students cited grand gestures, like feeding the hungry and so on. We suggested that those kinds of acts are great, but equally important are the little things that they can do every day. We brainstormed some daily life examples.

We talked about the importance of trusting God, but pointed out that prayers aren’t always answered in the way we expect. We told the fictional story of the rural minister whose church was being threatened by rising flood water. Saying he trusted in God, he rejected the help to be rescued by the four wheel drive patrol, a boat and even a helicopter, and he drowned. When he arrived at the gates of Heaven, he was wet and angry. St. Peter told him, “Reverend, we heard your prayers. We sent the four wheel drive vehicle, a boat and eventually a helicopter to rescue you. What exactly were you waiting for?

We also talked about finding a time during their daily routine to spend a few moments praying. One girl indicated she tried to pray when her father was driving her to school. I didn’t ask if that was a reflection on her Dad’s driving skill.

We have four weeks left in the “season.” We will cover Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and Matrimony, and then have a wrap up session in the final week.

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This week we started our two-part lesson on the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Right off, we pointed out to the students that the Sacrament of Reconciliation is also called Penance or Confession. It’s the same sacrament, just different names.

Our initial goal was to discuss the concept of forgiveness in general, whether it be a part of a Confession or just among friends or family. We introduced the four steps necessary for any process of forgiveness. Later, we connected these general concepts to the actual steps in Reconciliation.

  1. Admission of wrongdoing / Confess sins
  2. Express regret or sorrow / Act of Contrition
  3. Forgiveness / Absolution
  4. Reparation or payback / Penance

We divided the class into pairs and threes and asked them to prepare a role-playing exercise. One student in each group was to be angry because or something done by the other student(s). They team was to come up with a story to explain why the first student was angry with the other(s). They then role-played the forgiveness process. We threw a couple of curves at them, for example, by asking one of the groups with two offenders each to blame the other for the offense. We then let them play it out, sometimes completing the process and sometimes not. The scenarios that bogged down were just as instructional, maybe more so, than those that ran to completion. The students got into the exercise, and, hopefully, they learned something from it.

We then went to the textbook and began the chapter on Reconciliation. We had volunteers read aloud page 140 which describes the four steps of Reconciliation – contrition, confession, penance and absolution. We connected each of these steps to the list we discussed earlier, although pointing out that the text put the steps in a different order.

The students then read P 141 silent. It described individual and group celebrations of the Sacrament as well as the seal of confession. We discussed this until time ran out.

We will have no class next week since it is the night before St. Patrick’s Day. We will be back in two weeks and finish our discussion of Reconciliation.

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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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