Posts Tagged ‘religious education’

As expected, we had a very interesting class last week.
Our main focus was the Ten Commandments. We had lots of discussion and lots of questions.

We started with a story, telling the class the background that lead to God delivering the Commandments to Moses on Mt. Sinai. We had volunteers read the passage from Exodus 20 that is the first mention of the Commandments. (Despite my warning, the references to an “ass” (ie: jackass) and “alien” caused more than a little giggling.)

We distributed list of the traditional “Ten Commandments” that demonstrated how some different religions count them. For example, Catholics count the God-related commandments as the first three, while many Protestant churches count them as four. On the other end, Catholics divide the last two “you shall not covet…” Commandments into two separate statements, while most Protestant sects combine them into one. We pointed out this only a concern if they are talking to a Protestant friend about the 4th Commandment, for instance. A Protestant would be talking about the Commandment to respect the Sabbath, while the Catholic would be honoring his father and mother.

As we walked through and discussed the first five Commandments, we talked about some of these points.

With the first Commandment, we spent some time talking about false gods. In the time of Moses, the issue was not to worship the sun, the Earth, a statue, etc. We asked the students to think about some of the false gods people may encounter today. They came up with ideas like money, drugs, alcohol, fame, celebrities, and so on. We connected the Commandment to relevant issues today.

The second Commandment, to not take the Lord’s name in vain, was fairly easy for them to grasp.

We talked about the concept of a Sabbath and why most Christians consider Sunday the Sabbath, rather than the “seventh day” (Saturday.) We pointed out that many early Christian leaders wanted to make a distinction between their older Jewish faith and their new Christian religion. Designating Sunday, the day Christ rose from the dead, as the Sabbath was one way to do that. We also discussed that in today’s culture, we have largely gotten away from the concept of resting and avoiding work on the Sabbath, and not necessarily for the better.

As we discussed the fourth (Honor your father and mother.) Commandment, we emphasized several points. The Commandment may seem fairly obvious to fifth graders because they are still very dependent on their parents for the essentials of living. However, even ten and eleven year-olds may need to be reminded from time to time to love, respect and obey their parents. We pointed out that the main thrust of the Commandment was not towards children, but rather towards adults, especially adults whose parents are older and may depend on them. Role reversal. At the time the Commandments were written, it was not unusual for older, dependent tribe members who became a burden to be rejected or abandoned to die. While we typically don’t do that today, the Commandment is especially important when parents or grandparents grow older and need the younger family members love and assistance.

We finished up with “You shall not kill.” As expected, that prompted questions about exceptions, like war, accidents and self-defense. Then one of our students suggested that euthanasia (Although, she did not use that word.) would be acceptable with a terminally ill person. That tossed us back a little. We talked some about the sanctity of life and that life is a gift from God. We ran out of time before we ran out of the subject. We will be taking it up first-thing on Wednesday. Should be fun.


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We had a last minute change of plans for last night’s class. Originally, we planned to cover the first of two lessons on the Ten Commandments. However, at 6:32 pm, there were only three students in the room. In the past, our classes on the Commandments have been some of the best of the year, with lots of questions, discussions and engagement. I didn’t want more than half the class to miss out on it. Meanwhile, Monsignor Costigan was presenting a program in the church that Mrs. Hubert said would be appropriate for our age range. We changed our minds several times, as more students arrived (7 of 8 total), but we ended up going to the church and listening to Monsignor after all.

Monsignor had several good themes, including prayer, which Mrs. Rudolphi covered with the class last week, and forgiveness, which will be a serious topic for us in a few weeks. The class was well behaved and answered several of Monsignor’s questions.

Next week, we will tackle the Commandments, regardless of our attendance.

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I have been very derelict in my responsibility to keep this blog updated. Sorry about that. Here is a catch-up.

Jan 31 — We completed our coverage of the Sacrament of Confirmation. We spent a fair amount of time discussing that this sacrament confirms what was done for them by their godparents at Baptism. Since our entire class was baptized as infants, we pointed out they had no say in whether they were to become Catholics or not. However, they will be old enough to make a choice for themselves to become a full time Catholic. We also  pointed out that most religions have a similar process when a child reaches their early teens.

Feb 7 — We had a special treat. One of Mrs. Scanlon’s second graders and his  younger sister had not been baptized as infants. Father Kavenaugh baptized the pair on Feb 7. Our class sat in and observed. Father did a great job explaining the steps and their meaning.

Feb 14 — Ash Wednesday. No class.

Feb 21 — I was out of town on family business. (My wife’s and my first grandchild was born in South Carolina last week. )  Mrs. Rudolphi took over the class and presented a lesson on prayer.

Feb 28 — This week’s class will be the first of two on the Ten Commandments.  These have been some of our favorite classes of the year. The subject brings out many, many questions and lots of great discussion. If parents ever thought they would like to sit in on a class, this would be the one to do so.


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Here is a wrap of up our last two classes.

Jan 17, 2018 – Monsignor Costigan was our guest speaker for this class. Since we were coming out of our lesson on the Eucharist, he focused much of his time on the Eucharist and the structure of the Mass. We had prepared a one-page outline of the order of the Mass which we passed out to the class and encouraged them to take it to Mass with them.

Jan 24, 2018 – This was the first of two classes on the Sacrament of Confirmation. It focused primarily on the Pentecost. We started by asking a simple question, “Who is the Holy Spirit?” Somewhat to our surprise the class got the right answer immediately – God. (The last time I asked that question of a fifth grade class, it took about ten minutes to drive them to the right answer.) We read the Biblical account from Acts out of the text and discussed the way the Holy Spirit completely transformed the scared and timid Apostles and turned them into brave ministers of God’s Word. We talked a little more about the symbols of Pentecost and Confirmation.

We then broke the class into two groups and had them read a page from the text. We asked each group to develop a series of questions, like a quiz, for them to ask to the other team. I expected this to last only a few minutes, but the class was really into it. They were engaged and, hopefully, learning while they came up with both questions and answers. So we turned it into a “quiz bowl” and let it run to the end of the class.

I guess it was effective, as none of the children had any trouble coming up with an answer to “what did you learn tonight?” and earning a cookie.


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Sorry for the late posting. Life has been busy, but I’m off for the MLK holiday today so I have a minute.

Last Wednesday’s class was the first “normal” lesson we have had since before Thanksgiving. Continuing our overview of the sacraments, we started on the Eucharist.

We emphasized that the Eucharist is the greatest of all the sacraments, and the center of all Catholic worship. We then examined the first Eucharist at the Last Supper. We pointed out that this was a Seder meal, and once again, that Jesus and all his apostles were Jews. We discussed the idea of a covenant, the Jews belief in their covenant with God and Jesus creating a new covenant.

We handed out a sheet of paper with three columns, labeled memorial, meal and sacrifice. We had the class team up with a partner and read the next section together. We asked them to write a few words in each column to describe how the Eucharist is each of those three concepts.

The next section dealt with the story of the two disciples who met Jesus after his resurrection on the road to Emmaus. They didn’t recognize him until they stopped for the night and had a meal. When Jesus broke the loaf of bread, the disciples suddenly recognized him and then he disappeared. We talked a little about the significance of breaking bread. To reinforce the story, we divided the class into two groups and had them role play the story.

We reinforced the concept of “real presence.” That is, that Jesus is truly present in the consecrated host and wine, and not just a symbol.

We finished with the last section of the chapter in the text, which emphasized Jesus’s statements that he is the bread of life, and “I am the living bread that came down from Heaven.” We had volunteers read the text.

Next week we will continue with the Eucharist with a study of the structure of the Mass. Monsignor Costigan is scheduled to be a guest visitor.


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Parents —

Hopefully, you have received a Flocknotes email from Paula Hubert explaining why we are cancelling CCD for this week. The visitation and Rosary are expected to attract a very sizeable crowd. We are concerned that many cars and our students mixing in a dark parking lot would be a really bad idea.

This will necessitate a second rehearsal next Saturday morning, from 10-1130 am in the church. We are sorry about that, but we don’t want to set your children up for embarrassment by not having them sufficiently prepared. Two rehearsals is fairly bare bones as it is.

I need one favor from you. We are counting on all of our students to be there for both the Saturday morning practice as well as the actual pageant on Wednesday, December 13. If our child cannot attend one or both of these sessions, please let me know at the earliest.









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We began practice for the December 13 Christmas pageant. It went well. We are providing the narrators to complement the “actors” from the third grade class. All our readers did a good job. A few of our students do not want to read, so they are either helping or in the cast.

If your child is one of our readers, they should have brought their script home. Please take a few minutes and help them practice their lines. All the readings are very short, although some students have more than one assignment. The more familiar they are with their lines, the more comfortable they will be and the better job they will do.

Next week, please drop your child off at the church and pick them up there also. There is no need to meet them in the classroom and then drag them across the parking lot and back. The same will apply to the performance on December 13.

In past years when we have done this, we also had a dress rehearsal the Saturday morning before the performance. That would be December 9 this year. This is Mrs. Hogan’s show, and she hasn’t confirmed that rehearsal, but you may want to mark that event on your calendar. We will know for sure shortly.


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