Catechist Corner

It's all about sharing the faith.

The Game of Life

Hey!  You guys may not remember me.  I’m the Catechist that used to post on this blog.  It’s been how long?  Oh yeah, a month and a half.  I’m embarrassed by the fact that I haven’t posted in so long.  Life got a little bit crazy for me in December.  Work picked up as we neared the end of the year, plus Advent and Christmas time always get busy with things happening at the parish, preparing for time with family and buying gifts.  Additionally, it’s gotten only crazier in January.  Oh, before I forget … a belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

So what’s been going on you might ask?  Besides all the things at work that would bore you, I’ve been busy working on Religious Education stuff.  My classes have been going well.  In my 6th Grade class, we’ve discussed wisdom, focusing on individuals like King Solomon.  I was able to use one of my favorite Old Testament stories (1 Kings 3:16-28) to show wisdom in action.  It was great to see their reactions as I read parts of the story and stopped for impressions.  We’ve also discussed some of the prophets that foretold of the coming of the Messiah, like Isaiah & Zechariah.  I think the differences of how the Messiah was described were a bit tough for them to grasp.  With those topics, we wrapped up the formal curriculum around the Old Testament.

This week, we moved into the New Testament, exploring parts of the Gospels in a little more detail.  We got to focus on one of my favorite New Testament stories, “The Boy Jesus in the Temple” (Luke 2:41-52).  Oddly enough, the prior week I got asked the question if Jesus knew he was God from the time he was born.  I referred to this passage to help express my opinion.  As we reviewed this story, I chose to focus on Luke 2:51.  We discussed the significance of the fact the Jesus was “obedient” to his parents.  I always find it such a powerful example that Jesus, who is God, was obedient to His human parents.

On top of my 6th Grade lessons, I had the opportunity to present at RCIA this past week.  My topic was “The Sacraments of Healing”.  As much as I felt comfortable with my knowledge around the Sacrament of Reconciliation, I still felt that this needed to be spot on, so I did a lot of work with the Catechism and some other resources to help make sure I got it right.  Additionally, I had never done much work around the Anointing of the Sick, so this gave me an opportunity to increase my own knowledge as well.  I felt very good about my presentation and our catechumen asked some insightful questions which was a signal to me that my presentation was giving him reason to think.

On top of that, I’m also working with my CRE and fellow catechists in developing a plan for our 6th Grade Retreat that will be happening in early February.  My CRE provided me the framework and I helped build out a more detailed discussion plan.  The theme of the retreat will be the Ten Commandments.  Lastly, I’ve been methodically working on my pastor to allow me to create a Facebook page for our parish.  After months of my pastor not having time to focus on it, we met today and he agreed that we needed to do it.  And just like in the business world, the person who has the idea gets the project.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m very excited about doing this.  It will be a great opportunity to stay connected to parishioners beyond the Sunday Liturgy, but for it to be successful, it needs constant focus.  Please pray for me as I deal with whatever the game of life throws my way.

Until next time, keep sharing the faith.

1 Kings 3:16-28 (Douay-Rheims)
View in: NAB RSVCE Vulg
16Then there came two women that were harlots, to the king, and stood before him:
17And one of them said: I beseech thee, my lord, I and this woman dwelt in one house, and I was delivered of a child with her in the chamber.
18And the third day, after that I was delivered, she also was delivered, and we were together, and no other person with us in the house, only we two.
19And this woman's child died in the night: for in her sleep she overlaid him.
20And rising in the dead time of the night, she took my child from my side, while I thy handmaid was asleep, and laid it in her bosom: and laid her dead child in my bosom.
21And when I rose in the morning to give my child suck, behold it was dead: but considering him more diligently when it was clear day, I found that it was not mine which I bore.
22And the other woman answered: It is not so as thou sayest, but thy child is dead, and mine is alive. On the contrary she said: Thou liest: for my child liveth, and thy child is dead. And in this manner they strove before the king.
23Then said the king: The one saith, My child is alive, and thy child is dead. And the other answereth: Nay, but thy child is dead, and mine liveth.
24The king therefore said: Bring me a sword. And when they had brought a sword before the king,
25Divide, said he, the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other.
26But the woman whose child was alive, said to the king, (for her bowels were moved upon her child,) I beseech thee, my lord, give her the child alive, and do not kill it. But the other said: Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it.
27The king answered, and said: Give the living child to this woman, and let it not be killed, for she is the mother thereof.
28And all Israel heard the judgment which the king had judged, and they feared the king, seeing that the wisdom of God was in him to do judgment.
Luke 2:41-52 (Douay-Rheims)
View in: NAB RSVCE Vulg
41And his parents went every year to Jerusalem, at the solemn day of the pasch,
42And when he was twelve years old, they going up into Jerusalem, according to the custom of the feast,
43And having fulfilled the days, when they returned, the child Jesus remained in Jerusalem; and his parents knew it not.
44And thinking that he was in the company, they came a day's journey, and sought him among their kinsfolks and acquaintance.
45And not finding him, they returned into Jerusalem, seeking him.
46And it came to pass, that, after three days, they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them, and asking them questions.
47And all that heard him were astonished at his wisdom and his answers.
48And seeing him, they wondered. And his mother said to him: Son, why hast thou done so to us? behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.
49And he said to them: How is it that you sought me? did you not know, that I must be about my father's business?
50And they understood not the word that he spoke unto them.
51And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them. And his mother kept all these words in her heart.
52And Jesus advanced in wisdom, and age, and grace with God and men.
Luke 2:51 (Douay-Rheims)
View in: NAB RSVCE Vulg
51And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them. And his mother kept all these words in her heart.

6 + 6 = Q&A

Q&ASome of my readers may remember a post I made a few months ago called “6 + 6 = Awkward“.  Well, it’s that time of year where we review the Ten Commandments.  After some introductory reading, I chose to review each commandment in detail.  I asked for a volunteer to read the First Commandment aloud.  A boy raised his hand and I chose him to read.  The first words out of his mouth were, “What is adultery?”

I actually chuckled.  I forced patience on them because I told them there were five other commandments that we needed to review before we got to that one.  It’s very clear though, what was on their minds and that they already had an idea of what that commandment relates to.  To no surprise, they had questions, lots and lots of questions.

When we finally got to the Sixth Commandment, I explained it’s literal meaning as well as it’s broader meaning, just like I did with each commandment before it.  Then I let the questions begin:

– What does adultery mean?
– You have to be married?  Why?
– How about if it’s with your girlfriend?
– What if you live with your boyfriend?
– What if you love your boyfriend?
– What if it happens the day before you get married?
– Is being a homosexual a sin?
– What if someone has already done stuff?

I have to thank my students from last year for preparing me for this discussion.  Last year, I flew by this topic and avoided answering questions in any detail.  Not this year.  I felt like I missed a teaching opportunity the last time this happened and I did not want a repeat of that this year.  Oddly enough, I did not prepare for the discussion.  In fact, I completely forgot what had happened last year; but when the first question arose, I felt at perfect ease discussing it.

The Holy Spirit must have been guiding me last night because I had a “sex” discussion with these kids without skipping a beat.  I did everything possible to control the giggle-fest that ensued once the discussion began and I was successful in doing so.  Also, while talking about it, I wrote the word “Sex” on the board to dispel any sense of hesitation or shyness on my part.  My inclination was that by have a serious and open discussion about what the Church teaches regarding this topic, I had more of a chance of making an impact.

We focused on things like the importance of sex only happening within a marriage, why it is otherwise considered a mortal sin, what the natural purpose of the act is (i.e. love, commitment and procreation), why being with a boyfriend / girlfriend is not enough, etc.  We even discussed why being a homosexual, or more accurately having those tendencies, is not a sin in and of itself.  I focused on the fact that a person is not a sin, only acts are sins.  I did this to help distinguish between the dignity we all deserve as human beings and the sinfulness of acts that we may commit, irrelevant of any sexual tendencies.

All in all, the discussion went very well.  I made it a point to not let it digress and gave them the opportunity to ask some questions that were clearly on their minds.  My only regret was not having a little more time.  I know I left some questions unanswered and since next week is a unit review, I may leave a little extra time to answer any remaining questions.  I’d rather they ask me and come away with an accurate understanding of what we are called to believe then to have the questions remain without answers or with poor answers from others.  Of course, recognizing the controversial nature of the topic, I gave my CRE a heads up just in case any parents called in about it.  While my comments were perfectly in line with the teachings of the Church, that does not mean that some parent out there may not like what was discussed.

Until next time, keep sharing the faith!

1 Kings 3:16-28 (Douay-Rheims)
View in: NAB RSVCE Vulg
16Then there came two women that were harlots, to the king, and stood before him:
17And one of them said: I beseech thee, my lord, I and this woman dwelt in one house, and I was delivered of a child with her in the chamber.
18And the third day, after that I was delivered, she also was delivered, and we were together, and no other person with us in the house, only we two.
19And this woman's child died in the night: for in her sleep she overlaid him.
20And rising in the dead time of the night, she took my child from my side, while I thy handmaid was asleep, and laid it in her bosom: and laid her dead child in my bosom.
21And when I rose in the morning to give my child suck, behold it was dead: but considering him more diligently when it was clear day, I found that it was not mine which I bore.
22And the other woman answered: It is not so as thou sayest, but thy child is dead, and mine is alive. On the contrary she said: Thou liest: for my child liveth, and thy child is dead. And in this manner they strove before the king.
23Then said the king: The one saith, My child is alive, and thy child is dead. And the other answereth: Nay, but thy child is dead, and mine liveth.
24The king therefore said: Bring me a sword. And when they had brought a sword before the king,
25Divide, said he, the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other.
26But the woman whose child was alive, said to the king, (for her bowels were moved upon her child,) I beseech thee, my lord, give her the child alive, and do not kill it. But the other said: Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it.
27The king answered, and said: Give the living child to this woman, and let it not be killed, for she is the mother thereof.
28And all Israel heard the judgment which the king had judged, and they feared the king, seeing that the wisdom of God was in him to do judgment.
Luke 2:41-52 (Douay-Rheims)
View in: NAB RSVCE Vulg
41And his parents went every year to Jerusalem, at the solemn day of the pasch,
42And when he was twelve years old, they going up into Jerusalem, according to the custom of the feast,
43And having fulfilled the days, when they returned, the child Jesus remained in Jerusalem; and his parents knew it not.
44And thinking that he was in the company, they came a day's journey, and sought him among their kinsfolks and acquaintance.
45And not finding him, they returned into Jerusalem, seeking him.
46And it came to pass, that, after three days, they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them, and asking them questions.
47And all that heard him were astonished at his wisdom and his answers.
48And seeing him, they wondered. And his mother said to him: Son, why hast thou done so to us? behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.
49And he said to them: How is it that you sought me? did you not know, that I must be about my father's business?
50And they understood not the word that he spoke unto them.
51And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them. And his mother kept all these words in her heart.
52And Jesus advanced in wisdom, and age, and grace with God and men.
Luke 2:51 (Douay-Rheims)
View in: NAB RSVCE Vulg
51And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them. And his mother kept all these words in her heart.

6 + 6 = Awkward

ShockedI’d like to think that I’m ready for anything when it comes to my class.  I prepare pretty well for what I’m going to cover.  I know the material and if all else fails, I have my own Catholic upbringing and understanding to fall back on.  So with this prideful comfort, the occasional dose of humility is not a bad thing.

The day we reviewed the Ten Commandments and tied them to the Greatest Commandments given to us by Jesus, I thought I’d take the opportunity to also review an Examination of Conscience based on the Ten Commandments.  The reason I chose to do this was to expand their understanding from the very literal view they had of them.

I began to explain to them that each Commandment was thematic in nature and besides the obvious literal meaning, they each had implied meanings as well.  We went through each Commandment and I offered them an expanded view of it.  This generated questions like:

“You mean if I miss Mass on Sunday because I my parents go too early and I want to sleep, that’s against the First Commandment?”  If you choose to not go to any Mass, not the one on Saturday night, nor one at a different time on Sunday, they you would be violating both the First and Third Commandments, the First for making sleep more important then God and the Third for missing Mass.

“Why does not listening to teachers break the Fourth Commandment?  They aren’t my parents.”  The Forth Commandment speaks of people with authority over you.  Beyond your parents, that can include people like your grandparents or other family members, your teachers, Father here at the Church, police officers and your boss when you get older, among others.  They are all an extension of your parents, so to speak, and deserve your respect.  Remember that the next time you decide not to behave in this class.  ;)

“Com’on!!  Being lazy is a sin??”   By being lazy, you are taking time away from more important things that you should be doing.  Therefore, being lazy is like stealing; but instead of stealing a physical item, you are stealing time.  There is a time for resting, when all is done; but being lazy is choosing to rest or waste time instead of doing other more important things that you are responsible for.

“What is adultery?”  The Sixth Commandment talks about being faithful to your spouse or your station in life.  (A girl raises her hand so I assume there is a question and I call on her.)  “You know, the sex sins are the hardest to resist.”  Um…Uh…Um…

Never in a million years would I have expected that statement to come up in a sixth grade religion class.  It took me completely by surprise and for the first time, I had nothing to say.  It was somewhat awkward and I think I squeezed out a “Yes, they can be” and moved on.  While I’m sure I responded quickly, it felt like an eternity as I scrambled to come up with a response.  Her statement was no where in my lexicon when I was in 6th grade and I was stunned at the fact that 6th graders could be concerned about this.  I felt like an ostrich with his head in the sand, completely unaware of what was really going on around me and my response made me feel like I was hiding from it.

Upon reflection, I know the Holy Spirit offered me a little dose of humility at that moment, however I can’t help but feel that I missed an opportunity with the class there.  This is clearly something that is on their minds and at least one student felt comfortable enough to voice it in my class.  But, where do you draw the line?  I can just imagine parents’ reactions to students saying, “You’ll never guess what we talked about in religion class tonight!”

Has anyone else had to deal with this, maybe at a slightly older grade level?  How do you cover this material?  Where do you draw the line?  What is appropriate to say and what is better directed elsewhere?

Nonetheless, Catechists should be forewarned!  Covering the Sixth Commandment in a 6th Grade class can lead to an awkward moment.  For me, 6 + 6 does equal “Awkward”!

1 Kings 3:16-28 (Douay-Rheims)
View in: NAB RSVCE Vulg
16Then there came two women that were harlots, to the king, and stood before him:
17And one of them said: I beseech thee, my lord, I and this woman dwelt in one house, and I was delivered of a child with her in the chamber.
18And the third day, after that I was delivered, she also was delivered, and we were together, and no other person with us in the house, only we two.
19And this woman's child died in the night: for in her sleep she overlaid him.
20And rising in the dead time of the night, she took my child from my side, while I thy handmaid was asleep, and laid it in her bosom: and laid her dead child in my bosom.
21And when I rose in the morning to give my child suck, behold it was dead: but considering him more diligently when it was clear day, I found that it was not mine which I bore.
22And the other woman answered: It is not so as thou sayest, but thy child is dead, and mine is alive. On the contrary she said: Thou liest: for my child liveth, and thy child is dead. And in this manner they strove before the king.
23Then said the king: The one saith, My child is alive, and thy child is dead. And the other answereth: Nay, but thy child is dead, and mine liveth.
24The king therefore said: Bring me a sword. And when they had brought a sword before the king,
25Divide, said he, the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other.
26But the woman whose child was alive, said to the king, (for her bowels were moved upon her child,) I beseech thee, my lord, give her the child alive, and do not kill it. But the other said: Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it.
27The king answered, and said: Give the living child to this woman, and let it not be killed, for she is the mother thereof.
28And all Israel heard the judgment which the king had judged, and they feared the king, seeing that the wisdom of God was in him to do judgment.
Luke 2:41-52 (Douay-Rheims)
View in: NAB RSVCE Vulg
41And his parents went every year to Jerusalem, at the solemn day of the pasch,
42And when he was twelve years old, they going up into Jerusalem, according to the custom of the feast,
43And having fulfilled the days, when they returned, the child Jesus remained in Jerusalem; and his parents knew it not.
44And thinking that he was in the company, they came a day's journey, and sought him among their kinsfolks and acquaintance.
45And not finding him, they returned into Jerusalem, seeking him.
46And it came to pass, that, after three days, they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them, and asking them questions.
47And all that heard him were astonished at his wisdom and his answers.
48And seeing him, they wondered. And his mother said to him: Son, why hast thou done so to us? behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.
49And he said to them: How is it that you sought me? did you not know, that I must be about my father's business?
50And they understood not the word that he spoke unto them.
51And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them. And his mother kept all these words in her heart.
52And Jesus advanced in wisdom, and age, and grace with God and men.
Luke 2:51 (Douay-Rheims)
View in: NAB RSVCE Vulg
51And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them. And his mother kept all these words in her heart.