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Posts Tagged ‘priest’

Last night was the last class of the 2015-16 CCD year. (Last September seems like last century.) We had pizza and fruit punch, and Monsignor Costigan visited. He talked about his career as a priest and answered a large number of questions from the class. It was a good session and a great way to cap off the year. Have a great summer. We’ll see you around the island and on Wednesday evening’s next fall.

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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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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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This continues to be a very good group, and Mrs. Rudolphi and I are enjoying our Wednesday evenings very much. Last night, we finished up the Sacrament of Baptism.

Since last week’s lesson covered the mechanics of Baptism, last night we focused a little more on the theory. We presented and discussed the three main functions of the sacrament.

1.) Joins us with Christ.

2.) Brings us into the Church.

3.) Wipes us free of all sin.

We spent a little time discussing Original Sin and, frankly did not do a very good job of it. We discussed the story of Adam and Eve and emphasized that the story as related in Genesis should be looked at for the message, not the literal account. The Garden of Eden story was a way to explain how a perfect, all loving God placed his creations into a world full of suffering, death, etc. God started out with a perfect world (Eden). It was man who exercised his free will to disturb the plan. That Original Sin is passed down through the generations.

Monsignor Costigan stopped by later in the class, and we asked him to address Original Sin. His explanation was much better than mine. He explained that Original Sin isn’t really a sin. It is simply the state of being born without the presence of God’s grace.  Baptism brings the recipient into contact with God and fills him/her with His grace. (I guess that shows why he is a monsignor, and Mrs. R and I are one-hour-a-week CCD teachers.)

We also discussed the four main signs or symbols of Baptism and their meanings..

1.) Water (Cleansing us from sin.)

2.) Sacred Chrism (oil) (Holy Spirit)

3.) White garment (Purity)

4.) Lit Candle (The light of Christ in our life.)

We allowed the class to pair off with partners to complete the review/quiz section at the end of the chapter. We were about to start discussing the quiz when Msgr. Costigan stopped by. He did answer a question one student asked several weeks ago, that Mrs. R and I just didn’t know. It had to do with the pipe system in the church that is used to wash the chalice and other items used in the Eucharist, and also for disposing of unconsumed consecrated wine. The pipe returns the liquid directly into the Earth and not into the sewage system.

I think we will move on to the Eucharist next week, but I’m not sure. When I have the chance to look at my notes, I’ll post a new entry to let you know.

 

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Wow! Spring is in the air; the weather is nice; the end of the CCD year is in sight; and attention spans are dropping to goldfish level. We had a pretty good class last night, but Mrs. Rudolphi and I had to work for it.

We started off by covering the Sacrament of Holy Orders. This may not be the most exciting topic, so we whipped through it fairly quickly. We spent some time talking about the jobs of bishop, priests and deacons and what they entailed. I was somewhat surprised to learn that about half the class thought “Monsignor” was Monsignor Costigan’s first name. Huh?

We shifted gears to start our discussion of the Ten Commandments. In past years, this has been one of the best lessons of the year. There is lots of opportunity for discussion and questions.

We set the scene for how God relayed the commandments to Moses, and had volunteers read aloud the commandments from Exodus 20.

We pointed out that while these commandments are fairly short, there is a much larger body of work that expounds on and details the concepts they present.  Specifically, we mentioned the remainder of the first five books of the Bible, and the Jewish Talmud.

We distributed a chart that demonstrated how different religious count the commandments differently. For example, most American Protestant churches divide the Catholic first commandment (“I am the Lord your God…”) into two separate commandments. On the other hand, they combine the Catholic ninth and tenth commandments (coveting your neighbor’s wife and coveting your neighbor’s goods) into one, so it still works out to a total of ten.

We then got into a discussion of the first commandment which prohibits the worship of false gods. We talked about the concept of false gods in the time of Moses, and then asked “What are some false gods people worship today?” In other words, what are some of the things in today’s society that people can think are more important than God? The class picked up on this very quickly (Yea!), and started naming things like celebrities, entertainment (video games), money, fame, popularity, and so on. We emphasized the concept that the importance of any of these things can grow out of reason and assume the stature of a “false god.” Anything that comes between them and God can be a false god. We mentioned that as they grow into adults, they may know people or even be tempted themselves, by issues like gambling, drugs, alcohol and sex.

Next week, we will go through the remaining nine commandments and try to relate them to a 5th grader’s experience.  It should be interesting. Parents are invited to sit in.

Our last class will be April 24. While I doubt we will try to teach a normal lesson that night, we’ll have some activity planned that will put a closure on the year.

 

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We had a very busy and packed class session last night.

Father John visited to hear the class’s individual confessions. He brought along some chrism oil. The chrism is not associated with reconciliation, but our main lesson last night was about the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. Over the past few months, we had talked about chrism several times and I could tell the students just weren’t getting the concept. I thought if they could see it, they would understand. Father John went around and put a “dab” on the back of each of the students’ hands.

Before Father John began hearing confessions, he led the group in the Act of Contrition. I didn’t know he was going to do this, so I had not given the class any advance notice. The problem is that the students don’t know the Act by heart, so Father John was pretty much on his own.

After that, Father John went across the hall to an empty classroom and the students shuttled over, one at a time for their confessions. I was a little surprised how well it went from an organizational standpoint. I was able to continue teaching the lesson while the students came and went. Parents – You may wish to ask your child about the experience and encourage them to receive Reconciliation more often.

Our main lesson was on Anointing of the Sick.

–We talked about the modern concept of the sacrament and how it differs from the old “last rites” that was usually administered only to someone about to die.

–We spent some time talking about the connection between spiritual/mental well being and physical health.

–We discussed how the sacrament is frequently combined with the Eucharist and Reconciliation. We introduced the concept of “viatecum”, where a dying person is given a tiny piece of the Eucharist to “take along with way” on their journey to Heaven.

–We had a group of volunteers read aloud the steps of the Anointing while two other students acted it out, one as the recipient and one as the priest.

We have just a few class sessions left before we call it quits for the year. Over the next few weeks, we’ll cover the Sacraments of Holy Orders and Matrimony. If we have time, we will also discuss the Ten Commandments. The chapter on Holy Orders does not usually generate a lot of excitement among 5th graders, but in past years, the discussions of Matrimony and the Ten Commandments have been very lively and interesting. As always, parents are welcome to sit in. Also, especially as it relates to Matrimony, if there are any issues in your child’s life that I should know about so I don’t just stick my foot in it, please let me know.

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Last night, we finished off our two-part lesson on the Sacrament of Reconciliation, aka Penance or Confession.

We began by having the class read silently from the text, the last section of the chapter on Reconciliation. The text suggested four ways they could come closer to God. We asked them to suggest real-life examples of each of the following:

1.) Following Jesus’s example and spreading the “good news”

2.) Trusting God when we need help

3.) Caring for the needs of others

4.) Praying daily

We brainstormed a little on #1. We suggested one great way a fifth grader could follow Jesus’s example and spread the “good news” would be by example. Simply by living a good life and following Jesus’s two great commandments, “Love God” and “Love your neighbor,” they would serve as an example to those around them.

The issue of trust was a little more difficult for them to understand. We talked a little about how praying and trusting in God is a great goal, don’t expect God to necessarily answer you the way you want.

I told the joke about the preacher who was caught in a rising flood and waved off a jeep, a boat and a helicopter that tried to rescue him. When he drowned and showed up in Heaven he was angry and felt like God had let him down. St Peter responded, “We sent you a jeep. We sent you a boat. And finally, we sent you a helicopter. Just exactly what were you waiting for?”

The moral – God may answer your prayers, but not always in the way you expect.

When we talked about caring for others, as usual, the students thought in terms of grand gestures –feeding the poor and so on. We pointed out that “caring for the needs of others” can also a matter of how you treat people during routine interactions throughout any day.

When we talked about daily prayer, the class was easily able to come up with examples of formal prayer occasions – before bed, before meals and so on. We pointed out that prayer does not have to be formal, involved and time consuming. Short prayers like “Thank you, God, for this day” while getting dressed in the morning or “Please help me do well on this test” also count. Our text has an entire chapter devoted to the concept of prayer. I hope we have time to fit it in this spring.

Next week, Father John will hear our class’s individual confessions during the regular class period. So our next step was to talk about some of the specifics of the preparation for and the actual procedure of confession. Mrs. Huber had already prepared a two-part hand-out. The first part was a guide to assist the students examining their conscience. It was built around the framework of the Ten Commandments. We talked about some of the questions on the sheet, and sent it home with the students to prepare for next week.

The second part was an outline of the mechanics of receiving the sacrament. We had the class follow along as a volunteer and I demonstrated the procedure, with me sitting in for the priest.

As mentioned above, Father John will be hearing confessions during the class period next week. While that is going on, I believe we will have a regular lesson and just allow the students to go and return as needed. Our next class will focus on the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.

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