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Posts Tagged ‘ten commandments’

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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We had a very good class last week. We finished up the last three of the Ten Commandments.

False witness – Most of the class had a pretty good general idea of what this was all about. However, we expanded the discussion to include issues more relevant to them, like gossip and rumors.

Two “covet” commandments – We described “covet” as to want something so badly that you are willing to commit a wrong to get it. Regarding coveting a neighbor’s goods, it pointed out that it is OK to admire something like a new phone or something similar a friend gets. But when you want it so badly you are willing to steal it, it is coveting.

We didn’t spend a lot of time on the issue of coveting another’s wife or husband, but we did point out that God so values marriage that two of the commandments refer to it. The adultery commandment applies to the people within the marriage, but the covet commandment addresses someone outside the relationship. Interestingly enough, this general concept showed up in the exercise that comprised the rest of the class.

We then 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 gave them poster boards and markers. 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.

Once we got the group of guys to stop squabbling over who was going to write what, it went smoothly and very well. It’s always interesting to see what they come up with.

“Don’t bust your friend’s crush.” That was one I had to ask about.

We had each group present their list to the class. Everyone did great. Mrs. Rudolphi and I were very pleased.

This week we will start our two-part lesson on Reconciliation be examining the concept of forgiveness. See ya then!

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We had a really good class last night. I hope your children came home talking about it. If not, ask them.

We stepped outside the normal curriculum to take a look at the Ten Commandments. This subject used to be a part of the 5th grade curriculum, but it dropped out when we switched textbooks a few years ago. However, since these classes produced such engagement and energy, I kept them a part of our curriculum.

Last night was no exception. The students engaged and participated with interest. They generated lots of ideas, questions, etc., even from some of the students who are sometimes more reticent. Two of our students, who do not normally volunteer to read aloud did so.

We had one really funny incident. We were discussing the 4th Commandment (Honor your father and mother.). As one point of discussion, I was trying to drive the class towards the idea that as parents get elderly, it is the responsibility of their children to care for them. One of our students said: “Well, when people get old they become week and feeble, and need hearing aids.” As you may know, I wear hearing aids and have done so for more than 25 years. So I pulled one off and replied, “You mean like this one?” The poor girl’s mouth dropped open and she turned beet red. We laughed and I told her it was OK. But the whole thing was very funny.

But back to the lesson…

We started by telling the story of the Israelites escape from Egypt and how they came the base of Mt. Sinai. We talked about how they were worshiping idols, generally misbehaving and needed a set of rules to live by. We then had the students take turns reading aloud from Exodus Chapter 20, which is the first description of the Commandments.

We distributed a listing of the Commandments that included a chart showing how they are numbered differently in different religions. (Most Protestant churches break up the first three “God Commandments” into four and combine the “covet commandments” into just one.) We pointed out that this is only an issue when you discuss a particular commandment with a Protestant friend. If you are discussing the Fourth Commandment, a Catholic would be talking about “Honor your mother and father,” but the Protestant friend would be talking about keeping holy the Sabbath. We walked our way through the first seven Commandments with these key points.

#1 “I am the Lord your God…” We discussed how worshiping statues and other idols was common in the time of Moses. However, we asked the students to think of things in today’s world that some people may elevate to a priority higher than God. They came up with things like money, popularity, music stars, gambling, alcohol abuse, drugs, and even electronic games.

#2 “You shall not make wrongful use of the name of God” We talked about using God’s name improperly. We also pointed out that the early Jewish people took this commandment so far as to give God a name that could not be pronounced. It eventually evolved into Yahweh or Jehovah.

#3 “Keep holy the Sabbath” We discussed why Christians changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday, and the requirement to attend Mass on Sunday.

#4. “Honor your father and mother” As mentioned above, we emphasized the need to love and respect your parents throughout their life and to help and support them when they need it.

#5 “You shall not kill” Not a lot of discussion here. We talked a little about self-defense and war, but didn’t go very deep into other issues.

#6 “You shall not commit adultery” Surprisingly, the first student I called up on could define adultery. We emphasized the importance of the marriage vows, but did not wander far afield on this one.

#7 “You shall not steal” Again, this one was pretty obvious to the class. We did broaden the definition to go beyond just physical objects to include intangibles like ideas, software, pirated music downloads, and so on.

Next week, we will finish off with the last three (false witness and the two “covet commandments.”) We will then break them into groups and have them come up with a set of commandments relevant for today’s 5th graders. That is always fun.

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Here is an update on the schedule for CCD for the rest of this year.

We will not have a regular class for the next two weeks (February 3 & 10) due to the parish mission and Ash Wednesday. However, we consider these two events a part of our CCD program. Please bring your child to the mission on Wednesday, Feb 3rd at 7 pm. We hope parents and siblings will stay also.  The mission should be over by 8 pm.

On the following week, Feb 10, Ash Wednesday Mass will be celebrated at 7 pm. Again, we hope our students will attend with their family.

Here is the tentative line-up of topics for the remainder of the year.

Feb 17 – Ten Commandments 1

Feb 24 – Ten Commandments 2

March 2 – Forgiveness (Ch 15)

March 9 – Penance (Ch 16)

March 16 – No Class

March 23 – Anointing of the Sick (Ch 18)

March 30 – Matrimony (Ch 24)

April 6 – Holy Orders (Ch 25)

April 13 – Prayer (Ch 12)

April 20 – Overflow date

April 27 – Last Class

As you can see, we are fairly well booked. Frankly, the second half of the year has some of the more interesting and engaging lessons. As always, parents are most welcome to sit in. I have one date open (April 20). I expect something will occur to shift the schedule to occupy that date. I’m not worried. We may have a CCD Penance Service that may fill one of the earlier dates and cause everything else to shift down. That is still up in the air as of this writing.

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We had an interesting class last night. The students responded very well to a group project for the first half of the class, but some were somewhat less cooperative during the discussion phase during the second half. This really is not a surprise. We seem to go through this nearly every year around this time. We have become comfortable with each other, but also the wear of the weekly grind starts to show. As I have said in the past, this is overall a really good group. But the more we engage in a less restrictive, open-discussion kind of program, the tougher it is to keep some of our band focused on the main class activity. We have to work to keep it from degenerating into a total  free-for-all.  Defying gender stereotypes, it is a few of our boys who are the real chatterboxes. For our next regular class (not until March 26), I think I’ll separate the boys’ social club and tighten up a little on our discussion format.

I had not originally planned to milk the Ten Commandments for three entire class periods, but I’m glad I did. Our class last night focused on one activity. I introduced it by telling a story of Moses receiving the Commandments from God with some alterations. When he came down from Mount Sinai, the Israelites realized that many of the Commandments, as presented, had little relevance to fifth graders.

“Do you mean like that ‘covet your neighbor’s wife’ thing, Mr. Sullivan?” asked one student.

“Yeah, that’s what I mean.”

So Moses went back up to the mountain and told God that he needed some additional commandments that would address the issues facing fifth graders. I broke the class into three groups of three or four and asked them to imagine, just for the purposes of this exercise, that they were God. What kind of commandments would God issue that would be relevant to today’s fifth graders? I gave them a piece of poster board and a marker to list their commandments.

This part of the exercise went pretty well. One group worked well as a team and produced an excellent group product. Another team didn’t work well together, but each student came up with their own list. The third group quickly came up with a list of five commandments, then crossed them out, and spent the rest of the class squabbling among themselves. Sigh.

I was really impressed with what the students came up with. For the most part, they took the assignment seriously and came up with some very interesting commandments.

When that was complete, we went around and had each group present their commandments and discussed them. This was a bit of a struggle, but we got through it.

We spent the last few minutes of the class discussing the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Out next CCD session will be in three weeks, March 19, and it will be a Lenten Penance service just for CCD students and their families. I passed out and briefly discussed a “cheat sheet” for students’ examination of their conscience and the procedure for confession. I strongly encouraged them to attend with their families. (And I extend that encouragement to you parents!)

Mrs. Hubert asked me to send out an email, which I will do, to make sure everyone knows the schedule for the next several weeks.

March 5 – Ash Wednesday.  There will be a Mass and ashes service in the church at 7 pm. We encourage everyone to attend with their family.

March 12 – No class due to the public school system spring break. Enjoy!

March 19 – Lenten Penance Service in the church at 6:30 pm, for all CCD students and their families.

March 26 – Back in the classroom for a regular CCD class.

We hope to see everyone at the Ash Wednesday Mass next week and then back for CCD following the spring break.

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Sorry for the delay in posting this update. The past couple of days were just a little busy.

In any case, on Wednesday evening, we tackled the last six of the Ten Commandments. This was a rather unstructured, free-flowing discussion. Perhaps it was a little too unstructured, as keeping the class focused on a group discussion was a little challenge. The temptations of cutting up and chatting with one’s neighbors was more than some of our little band could withstand. Even so, it was fairly lively and most of the group was involved.

We started with a review of the first four commandments we covered last week, then moved on to the next set. Here are the key points we discussed.

“You shall not kill” – Surprisingly, there weren’t as many questions about this as I had anticipated. Some students were concerned about killing animals, like for food. Some others were concerned that God had killed in the Bible (the plagues on Egypt in Exodus and the Great Flood in Genesis.) We talked a little about self-defense and then moved on.

“You shall not commit adultery” – We defined “adultery” simply as breaking your marriage vows or “cheating” on your husband or wife. (There was no need to go into greater detail with this age group.) We jumped out of order and also included #9 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.” in he discussion. We pointed out that both commandments underscore the importance God puts on the sanctity of marriage. While the adultery commandment is aimed at the married couple, the covet prohibition is targeted towards the third person in an adulterous triangle.

“You shall not steal” – This must have been self explanatory, as we had no questions or “…but what if?” scenarios.

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” – The class understood the obvious point of the commandment. We elaborated a little and tried to relate it to their age group by including gossip in he conversation. They seemed to make the connection and understood how simple playground gossip can be harmful and run afoul of this commandment.

“You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor” – In earlier discussions, we defined “covet” (which was a concept that no one initially understood) as wanting something so much that you are willing to do something wrong to get it. We gave a few examples and the idea seemed to click.

In response to a question from one of the students, we had a discussion about why the Jewish people did not follow Jesus and become Christians. We provided some historical perspective and explained how in the years immediately following Christ’s resurrection, here was much discussion in the Jewish and Christian community about the nature of Christ. Not everyone believed him to be the Messiah and the Son of God. Those who did followed the apostles and other early Christian leaders. Those who did not remained Jews.

As always, we concluded the class by polling each student and asking them to name one thing they learned that evening. Everyone who responded (and that was all of them), was rewarded with a homemade cookie.

This week, I may start with an exercise. We’ll break the class into small groups and ask them to imagine they are assigned to write a set of commandments for today’s fifth graders. It might be interesting to see what they come up with. They will probably take around half the class period. During the second half, we will cover the upcoming season of Lent.

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Good class last night. We were very happy to see that ten of our 13 students braved the lousy weather to attend. Thank you, parents!

Our main focus was the Ten Commandments. We had lots of discussion and lots of questions. Those are the best classes.

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. (The students were somewhat “atwitter” last night, and 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 four 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. One student did confess she had a lot of trouble with that one. We suggested that it was a challenge she should try to master with prayer.

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.

Next week, we will finish up with the last six Commandments, and they always generate some interesting discussion. How can you go wrong discussing murder, lying, theft, jealousy, adultery, and gossip?  Should be fun. Parents – come on out and enjoy the class. You are most welcome.

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