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Posts Tagged ‘vow’

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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We had a fairly interesting class last night. We finished up the Sacrament of Matrimony. It was our plan to also cover Holy Orders, but that didn’t happen.

As we did last week, we emphasized the Church’s teaching that the marriage vow is a life-long commitment.  We talked about the concept of “fidelity. (We also emphasized that we are trying to teach them the way they should approach marriage when they are older, and in no way are judging or criticizing anyone they may know or in their family who may be divorced.)

We pointed out that Matrimony is the only sacrament in which the participants are the ministers, and the priest or deacon is just a witness, to put God’s blessing and “seal of approval” on the union.

We emphasized the importance of a family as being a building block of the Church. We talked a little about responsibilities in a family – both the adults and children.  We let the students brainstorm for a while to come up with responsibilities. They did a pretty good job for both groups.

Mrs. Rudolphi and I did have one awkward moment.  Mrs. R said she was anticipating a question about gay marriage, but, fortunately, that did not arise. Instead, the question stemmed from a paragraph in the textbook.

“The deacon or priest asks the couple three important questions…Will they lovingly accept children from God and raise them in the faith?”

“So Mr. Sullivan, suppose it’s not a good time for a couple to have children? Like maybe one of them is in the military and is being sent away. What can they do then?”

We responded that the Church does not approve of artificial means of birth control, but there are other, natural means a couple can use. And then we said that we really don’t have permission from their parents to get involved any more deeply in that kind of subject, and strongly suggested that they talk with their parents.

I don’t know if that was the best response, but it was the best I could come up with on short notice.

Next week, we plan to cover the Sacrament of Holy Orders very briefly. We will devote the remainder of that class and the next class (after the Easter break) to covering the Ten Commandments. This was part of the 5th grade curriculum when we used the older text, but it is not part of the new Sadlier text. However, in past years, the classes when we discussed the Commandments were some of the best of the entire year. We usually get the students to consider some concepts they haven’t thought of before. It generates lots of questions, ideas and discussion. So we are going to finish off the year with that subject.

As always, parents are most welcome to come and sit in on the class. If you have been holding back and waiting for an interesting one, these next two classes just might be “it.”

Please take a moment to glance at the schedule of classes under the tab at the top of this page. We have class next week (April 4). We are off the week after Easter, but then back for two final classes.

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What happened to class # 22 last week? Beats me.  I remember we covered the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, but beyond that, I just don’t remember. Oh well. On to this week.

Sorry for the late posting this week. I had an out of town meeting on Thursday and was “pooped” when I got back to Savannah.

We had a good class on Wednesday evening. The prime topic was the Sacrament of Matrimony. As innocent as it sounds, this particular lesson has the potential to open cans of worms. We emphasize the Church’s teachings on the sanctity and the permanence of marriage, but we realize this can touch very close to home to children who have divorced parents or other relatives. We try to teach the Church’s “ideal” without inadvertently seeming to criticize someone in the student’s family.  I think we were successful this time around, and left those cans of worms unopened. If you parents received some negative feedback from your child, please let me know.

We started with the concept of the equality of the genders, in a marriage relationship and in life. We pointed out that this concept flies in the face of the generally held beliefs of thousands of years. However, here in the light of the 21st century, we recognize that while God made men and women different, he also made them equal. Half-jokingly I said that, if anything, we are seeing that women are probably the superior sex.  Mrs. Rudolphi agreed.

We spent a little time (probably too much) discussing the difference between the civil and religious aspects of a wedding. You can get married before a judge at the courthouse, but that covers only the civil aspect and is not a sacrament. Getting married in the Church covers both the civil and religious aspects.

We also discussed the concept of matrimony as a vow. A vow is a promise before God, which is much more serious than an every day promise to a friend. We also discussed he concept of a covenant, which was term none of the students knew.

We had some interesting questions, some of which, we believe, were just asked to see what kind of reaction they would get.

“I know of someone who is already pregnant, and they just now got married. How does that happen?”

“How old do you have to be to get married?”

One girl asked us why all the pictures in our text showed the brides wearing white dresses?

Me: It’s a tradition, but you can wear whatever color you like.

Her: Even black?

Me: Yes.

Her: But why do they usually wear white?

Me: It symbolizes purity or innocence.

Her: Innocent of what?

Mrs. Rudolphi: It symbolizes that she is a virgin.

Her: A virgin? What’s a virgin?

Mrs. Rudolphi: You know the answer to that.

Her: No, really (laughing). I don’t know. What’s a virgin?

Mrs. Rudolphi: Ask your parents.

At this age, we are never quite sure, just exactly how much our students have learned about sex from their parents, school, friends, TV, etc., so we try to tread lightly.  It is not our goal, nor do we have a mandate, to conduct a sex-education class.  If we were dealing with 13-year olds, for instance, we would be much more confident that all our students have already had “Birds and Bees 101.” With fifth graders, we think but we can’t sure that their parents have, at least, covered the basics.  That having been said, Mrs. R and I are about 99% certain that our young student was putting us on. Imagine that!

Next week we’ll finish up a little more of matrimony and then cover our final sacrament, Holy Orders.

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