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Posts Tagged ‘reconciliation’

We had an interesting class Wednesday evening, even if it didn’t go as planned. The students were full of questions about the subject of the class, Baptism, so we went with the flow. If they are asking question, they are engaged, and that is the best. So we had a rather free-flowing discussion that covered a lot of ground.

For our pre-class exercise, we handed out a question sheet, and asked the students to answer some questions about themselves, like…

My name is:
I was born on:
I was baptized on:
At (church):
My Godparents are:

We were pretty sure there would be unanswered questions, so we asked them to take the sheet home with them and ask their parents for help. Parents – please ask your child about this.

We intended to cover the second of two chapters on Baptism, but wanted to backtrack and go over a handful of key points from the chapter we skipped. These included the purposes of Baptism.

Joins us with Christ
Brings us into the Church
Wipes us free from all sin

The last point prompted a lot of questions, particularly about the relationship between Baptism and Reconciliation. We also talked some about original sins; what happens to babies who die before being baptized; and the nature of Heaven. It was a pretty free-wheeling discussion, but all, more or less, on target.

We finally started into the chapter in the textbook. We had volunteers read the first page. We handed out a sheet with questions, the answers for which were contained in the text, and asked the students to locate and answer the questions.

1. Does everyone get baptized at the same age? (No)
2. What do we call adults or older children who are preparing for Baptism? (catechumens)
3. Who helps prepare people for Baptism? (the entire Church community)
4. What do Godparents do? (multiple answers)
5. What is the best day to be Baptized? (Sunday)

On the issue of godparents, we did make a distinction between what it means in the Church, as opposed to a common lay meaning. Outside the church godparents are often considered the intended guardians of a child if both parents should die. Within the Church, that may or may not be the case. We explained that frequently godparents are not a couple, and may be married to other people (eg: an aunt from one side of the family and an uncle from the other.) Within the Church, the godparents stand up for a child during the ceremony and answer questions in his or her place. They are also expected to be involved in the child’s life, especially their spiritual life.

We left the class with a small “homework” assignment. Before the next class, they are to find a way to shine the light of Christ they received at Baptism with some person or persons. Next week, we will ask them what they did. You may wish to remind your child of this.

Also, next week, we will finish off the chapter on Baptism and conduct a role-play where students will walk through a mock Baptism ceremony.

When I mentioned this to the class, several jumped in and asked “with a real baby?” We won’t do that next week, but that is something we have done in the past. Monsignor has presided over at least two real Baptisms, in church, with the family, but during a Wednesday evening CCD time slot. Usually, most if not all the other classes attend. Initially some were skeptical of this, but the two times we did it, it worked out great. Monsignor Costigan walked through the ceremony and explained the significance of each step. And the roughly 150 students present, were totally well behaved. The difficulty with doing this every year is finding a set of parents who are willing to have their child’s Baptism performed on a Wednesday evening. So parents – If you know of a family who should be having a child baptized between now and the end of April, and might be willing to be part of the program, please let me know.

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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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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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We’re hitting the home stretch of the CCD year. We will have no class next week (March 18) due to St Patrick’s Day week. We’ll be back March 25 with the CCD Penance Service. Please note – students’ families are most welcome to join this service. We will meet, as usual, in the classroom and walk over to the church as a group. If parents do not stay for the service, the students can be picked up in the gym at the school.

Last night’s class was a good one, but Mrs. Rudolphi and I can tell spring is in the air. The class was not ill-behaved. They were mostly engaged, but it took a little more work to keep them focused. They love the group or role-playing exercises but we didn’t have one in last night’s class None the less, we struggled onward.

Our focus was to finish the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Penance, Confession.) We picked up on last week’s lesson of forgiveness and the four elements of any forgiveness process, and connected them to the four key elements of Reconciliation.

  • Admit the wrongdoing. / Confess sins.
  • Feel and express regret or sorrow. / Act of Contrition
  • Forgiveness / Absolution
  • Some make-up or reparation / penance

Other key points of discussion were:

–We discussed our conscience and how we should know right from wrong. We included instruction from parents and teachers, the Commandments and experience.

–There is no sin so great that God will not forgive you, if you are sincerely sorry and ask for his forgiveness.

— You should receive the Sacrament at least once a year, but can do so at any time, and should do so frequently.

–We discussed private confessions vs a Penance Service and also the time and place of private confessions at St. Peter’s.

–Should you feel an urgent need for forgiveness, you can call a priest any time, 24/7.

–The priest is bound to secrecy about what is confessed.

–We discussed avoiding people, places and things that lead (tempt) you to commit a sin. They seemed to get this concept. Several students freely admitted they had friends who were “trouble.”

We sent them home with a “cheat sheet” to help them prepare for the Penance Service. It includes some Commandments-based questions to assist with their examination of their conscience and the Act of Contrition. We encouraged them to think about it over the next two weeks and bring the sheet with them to the Penance Service.,

I talked with Monsignor Costigan last night about coming to talk with the class about Holy Orders and the priesthood in general. He is available on April 15, so we will flip-flop our last two classes. We will have Monsignor on April 15, and then cover the Sacrament of Matrimony on April 29.

Regarding the class on Matrimony, this occasionally can run afoul of things that may have happened or are happening in a student’s home life. (divorce, separation, etc.) Mrs. R and I try to deal with this with sensitivity, especially since we don’t know what we may stir up. If you have any concern, please give me a call and let’s chat. In nine previous years of teaching 5th grade CCD, I have not had any complaints from parents. Of course, you are always most welcome to come and sit in on the class.

We will finish up the year with an instructional Baptism in the church on April 29. We did this several years ago and it worked out very well. We will cap that evening with some sort of little reception/refreshments to send the students out the door with good wishes.

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We had a very active and energetic class last night. It was fun. I hope our students also learned something.

This was the first of two classes on the Sacrament of Reconciliation (aka Penance, Confession) that will prepare the students for the CCD Penance Service on March 25. We focused last night on the concept of forgiveness and the four steps necessary for any forgiveness process, whether it be in a confessional or just between two friends.

1.) Admission/Confession – The doer must admit to the offense.
2.) Contrition/Sorrow – The doer must feel and express sorrow for the offense.
3.) Forgiveness – The injured party accepts the apology and forgives the doer.
4.) Reparation/Pay-Back – The doer usually does something to make up for the offense. Of course in the Sacrament, this is the penance.

We had the students pair up with a partner and come up with some kind of story that involved one student committing some act that angered the second student. We then walked them through the forgiveness process.

The students were very creative and really got into the exercise. One pair of girls (Marlee and Hannah) had scripted out an elaborate skit and needed no encouragement or prompting at all. They were great! In several cases, the process bogged down because one of the students would not admit to the offense, express sincere regret or provide the forgiveness. This actually worked out very well. We used these cases to show how the forgiveness process breaks down if one party or the other does not follow through.

Next week, we will continue on this general subject, but we will get more into the specifics of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, including preparation for the Sacrament.

Remember, there will be no class on March 18. We will be back full-speed with the Penance Service on March 25.

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We had a fun class last night. At least Mrs. Rudolphi and I enjoyed it.

We finished up our coverage of the Ten Commandments with a group exercise that the students really seemed to get into. You may recall that last week, we sent them off with a homework assignment. Their task was to imagine that Moses went back up Mt. Sinai and asked God for a second set of commandments, this time focused on issues relevant to 5th graders. They were to imagine they were God and to come up with those 5th grader Commandments.

We broke the class into four groups of 3-5 students and gave each group a poster board and marker. We have them 15 minutes to come up with as many Commandments as they could. They went to work diligently. They were a little rowdy and noisy, but each group produced very nice, well thought-out Commandments. We had each group present their work product to the rest of the class, and I quizzed them a little on what they had developed.

It is our goal each week to try to get the students to actually think and not just listen or read. Hopefully, something they have to think or do themselves, will be more likely to stick with them after they leave the room. That is the idea behind an exercise like that. Mrs. R and I cannot emphasize enough how happy we are that the students in this class are generally behaved, engaged and manageable. We don’t expect them to be perfect little angels, and they are not. They can be a little chatty and sometimes boisterous. But we do not have any students who are actively trying to sabotage what we are trying to do, and that is not always the case. The up-side for the students is, that because of their behavior, we are able to present activities like the one last night, which they seem to find interesting and enjoy. You can’t do that if you are worried about who is setting the trash can on fire. (Just kidding.)

We had only about 20 minutes left in the class period when we finished the Commandments exercise, not enough time to even start another lesson. Our opening prayer was the Lord’s Prayer and that gave me an idea. After a quick consult with Mrs. R, we decided to walk the class through the Lord’s Prayer and help them understand what they are actually saying to God when they recite the prayer. As we suspected, the entire class admitted that they didn’t understand the prayer, and they simply recited the prayer because they had memorized it. We took each line, analyzed it and discussed it. Again, they were very engaged and seemed to develop some understanding through the process.

We have no class for the next two weeks, but there are Wednesday evening activities to which we encouraged the students to ask their parents to bring them. Next week is Ash Wednesday. Mass and ashes at 7:00 pm. The following week is the Book of Kells program. Information is available here.

When we come back on March 4th we will begin a two-week lesson on the Sacrament of Reconciliation and prepare the students for the CCD Penance Service on March 25.

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