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Posts Tagged ‘sacrament’

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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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 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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Our students (five) were lively and engaged last night, even on an evening when their teacher was not at the top of his game.

We continued our march through the faith assessment as groundwork  for serious Confirmation prep starting next year in seventh grade. If you would like to see the information we are using as our guide this year, you can find it on the parish Website here.

Our subject last night was the Sacraments. I would have thought that it would be a fairly easy topic, seeing as we spent all of last year (5th grade) covering them. We distributed a quiz that asked the students to define grace, and then to list the seven Sacraments by category (Initiation, Healing and Service of Communion) and provide a short definition. We then discussed the results, which were mixed. We had a fairly wide ranging discussion with questions like…

“Can a person receive all seven sacraments?” (Yes)

“Can a person receive Annointing of the Sick more than once?” (Yes)

And so on.

We then played a short (about three minutes) video about grace and the various types of grace. After we watched it once, we told the class, that we would play it again, and this time, they should really try to pull at least a couple of concepts or ideas out of it. After our second viewing, we discussed the ideas the students pulled from the piece. It went well. Since the idea of playing the video twice came to me on a whim, I’m glad it worked out.

The overall message of the class was that the Sacraments are a means God uses to convey grace. As our final exercise, we divided the class into a group of two (boys) and three (girls) (self-selected, by the way) and asked them to draw a picture of one of the white boards that depicts he conveyance of grace through one of the Sacraments. They could pick whichever Sacrament they want. Both groups did well, and the girls even did a short skit to complement theirs.

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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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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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