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Posts Tagged ‘sin’

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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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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We had a busy night last evening. The class was lively and engaged.

We started with a chapter review of last week’s lesson on prayer, the various types of prayer, etc. Terms like “petition” and “intercession” didn’t stick very well, but overall, the students seemed to get the general idea. We were extremely encouraged to note the number of students who volunteered that they have been trying to spend at least 30 seconds in private prayer every day. Most said they did so during their moment of silence at school. Whatever works! (Parental encouragement is always helpful on this point!)

Our primary lesson was the first of two on forgiveness and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  We started by reading the story of the prodigal son. (Luke 15:21- ) As we discussed the story, we asked how they would react if they had been the father or the other brother in the story. Most agreed that the son who blew his part of his father’s fortune shouldn’t get off easy. We contrasted this most natural human reaction to God’s infinite love. We emphasized that God’s capacity for forgiveness is infinite and there is nothing they could do that is so evil that God would not accept them back with open arms. Several students asked about sinners in Hell and Satan. “If God will forgive anything, what’s their story?” We replied that you must ask for forgiveness and express remorse (contrition). We’ll cover the four main steps of forgiveness when we hit the next chapter (in three weeks.)

We broke the class up into small groups of 3-4 students each and asked them to work as a team to write, and then act out, a short story about the act of forgiving. I was a little surprised how much they got into this project. Each group did a very good job acting out their little scenario.

We presented the biblical story of Jesus’s giving the Apostles and their successors the power to forgive sins (John 20:21-23).

As the clock started to run down to dismissal time, we briefly covered the concept of sin. We asked the question. “Can you sin, while doing nothing?” We discussed the concept of sinning through inaction. That is, not doing something that they ought to do. We re-introduced them to the Confiteor and read the prayer together, with an emphasis on…

“…I have greatly sinned in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do…”

Next week, we’ll have a special class. Cathy Scanlon will take our class on a guided tour of the church with explanations for the various symbols, objects, etc. It should be interesting. I expect I’ll learn something myself. If any parents would like to come along for a refresher, you would be most welcome. We’ll meet in the classroom and then walk over to the church. We’ll bring the children back to the school for after-class pick up — probably in the school lobby.

The following week is Ash Wednesday (Feb 22). We will not have CCD class that week, but I believe there will be an ashes service that evening. As they say at Mass, “Check the bulletin for other important announcements.”

We’ll be back on February 29. (Yes, it’s Leap Year, folks.) We’ll be focusing on the four steps of any forgiveness process and the specifics of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

 

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As Mrs. Rudolphi and I discussed after class this week, we aren’t making much progress through the text, but we are having some interesting class sessions. The students are full of questions and enjoy the discussions. Since fifth grade is not a sacramental preparation class (as are first, second, seventh and eighth), we don’t feel a real need to stick strictly with the text. If the class wants to question and discuss a subject that is vaguely related to religion, God, morality, etc,  we’ll run with it.

We do have one problem we need to address. There are a handful of students who have really taken the advice to “get engaged.” However, more than half of the questions and comments tend to come from that handful of the students. We (I) need to do a better job of spreading it around and getting the more quiet students involved. That will be a goal next week.

On another down-note, we did not discuss the class’s reading assignment, chapter four of the Gospel of Matthew, because only two students admitted to have actually read it. Please give us some help on this at home. Each chapter is quite short and shouldn’t take the student more than a few minutes to read it. We asked them to double-up this week and read both chapters four (last week’s assignment) and five (this week’s assignment.) Parents – please give your child a little nudge. Thanks.

This week’s class was the first of two sessions on the Sacrament of Baptism.  We discussed the concepts that Baptism is the first sacrament to be received and no other sacrament can be received without Baptism. Baptism brings the recipient into the Church (Body of Christ, community, etc.) We also discussed how Baptism wipes our souls free from sin, but we can receive it only once. After that, we have Penance/Reconciliation for forgiveness.

One student asked why an infant would need to have his sins forgiven when he hasn’t had the chance to commit any. That opened the discussion of original sin. Many of the students didn’t think it was fair that God would penalize someone born today for the sin of Adam and Eve. We pointed out that is why have the Sacrament of Baptism.

A student asked why we are typically baptized as babies. Why not, he asked, wait until you are about to die and then get all your sins forgiven at the same time. This led to a lively discussion that largely focused on the idea that you never know when your life may end.

One student then asked how it is that we know all these teachings (all Christian teachings) are true?  This led to a discussion of the concept of faith, which, to be honest, I don’t think we handled very well. Towards the end of the class, Father John stopped by, so we kicked the question over to him. I’m not sure he answered it much better. I’m betting this question will come up again.

Next week, we plan to finish up the Sacrament of Baptism.  Hopefully.

By the way, parents, you are always welcome to sit in on the class and observe, and/or participate as you wish.

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We had another great class on Wednesday. The students get the most engaged when we have something to talk about. Lots of questions and lots of discussion.

We tackled the second half of the Ten Commandments.

We discussed the two commandments concerning marriage, and made the distinction between the two. The first is issued to the husband and wife to be faithful to each other, while the second, “Thou shall not covet…” is aimed at a third party interfering with another’s marriage vows.

We discussed the concept of coveting – to want something so badly you are willing do commit a wrong to get it. They hadn’t really thought about that very much before this class, so it created some interesting discussion.

We also discussed honesty; harmful lies about others; perjury; and the difference between a lie and a mistake.

We also spent time discussing the magnitude of sins, and the difference between mortal and venial sins.

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After a week off, we ended up in a wide ranging discussion, from the meaning of The Lord’s Prayer to the origin of sin.

We began by finishing up the last chapter on The Lord’s Prayer. For many people, especially children, prayers are simply words to be memorized. They recite a prayer without really knowing the meaning of what they are saying. We walked our way through the Our Father and talked about the meaning of each line.

We moved to the next chapter. It started with an exercise that involved a list of personal characteristics, some good (generous, kind, respectful, etc) and some less desirous (selfish, rough, lazy, etc.). The students were asked to circle ten attributes that applied to them, both good and bad. It provoked an interesting discussion. Surprisingly, they were quite willing to grab onto some of the negative labels. I’m not sure what that means.

From there, we went on to the biblical story of Adam and Eve and the origin of sin and evil.  We covered free will, heaven, hell and purgatory. We talked about what their impressions of heaven and hell might be.

The key point to the discussion was that our happiness and reward / punishment in the next life will depend on the choices we make in this one.

We have no class next week, March 31, due to Holy Week.  When we come back on April 7, we will cover the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick.  This is actually one of our better class sessions. We will talk about the four stages of forgiveness and get into some role playing. In the past, the classes have gotten very engaged. I hope the same for this group. So if you are not doing anything on Wednesday, April 7, come on by and join the fun.

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