The last two weeks have been crazy, to say the least. Religious Education classes are underway, I had my last session for my Introduction to Catechesis course last week, work has been busier then usual and home life has been action packed as well. So, I am once again behind in posting here on Catechist Corner and I will try to capture two weeks into one post.
As you may know, 6th grade Catechesis focuses on the Bible, mostly the Old Testament with ties to the New Testament to show how the old foretells and connects to the new. The first week’s lesson is about what the Bible is. The first reaction of my students, of course, is that it is a book. I like to point out that is is not a book, but a library of books and I explain why that is the case. I also like to ask how many students know if they have a Bible at home and where it is. I’m generally disappointed by the result of the informal poll. This year, two kids knew they had one but didn’t know where and one knew where his Children’s Bible was. To be honest, that was better then last year so I can take comfort that we are trending up.
We also review what the purpose of the Bible is as well as the different types of writing that can be found within the books of the Bible. I’m still amazed at how many different writing styles are utilized, but my students aren’t as excited about that as I am. Maybe it’s because it’s the first class and they are being cautious? Anyway, before class ended, I handed out a letter for my students to take home to their parents, the parent interview I spoke about last week and a small prayer sheet with some basic prayers they would need to learn if they didn’t know them already. Lastly, I showed the class one of my favorite videos about the Bible. It was a fun way to show the different things we would learn this year.
For week two, we started class reviewing the results of their interview. A couple of them forgot to bring it and one I think forgot to do it, but since I wasn’t collecting them, that was disappointing but incidental. We started with discussing if anything surprised them about their parents’ responses. Since shyness fell upon the class, I started going around and asking for responses to the specific questions. Most responses were straight forward, but I think it was a valuable exercise in getting the child and the parent talking about some faith topics. I think I will tweak how I do this next year, but the concept is a keeper and may even send another interview home later in the year … maybe around Lent?
This week’s topic was the Creation Stories. This is a good way to start because it is something that most of them are already familiar with. We discuss what happens in each story, how the stories differ, what the stories tell us about God and what our roles are as human beings in relation to the rest of creation. I love how this concept of stewardship ties into the one of the Church’s social teachings. Even at 6th grade, these teachings are relevant.
During class, we got into an off topic discussion on Heaven, Hell and Purgatory. I don’t remember how we got there, but there were a lot of questions around this topic, and I mean a lot: “Who goes to heaven?” “What is Purgatory?” “Once you go to Hell, can you ever get out?” “How long do you have to spend in Purgatory?” “Do animals go to Heaven?” “What do you mean squirrels don’t go to Heaven?” “If I die with my dog, my dog doesn’t go to Heaven?” I’m expecting some hate mail from the animal responses, but we’ll see how it goes. That being said, it was a lively discussion and it gave me a sign. There is interest on their part and there are questions that they are looking to have answered. That means that there is hope in enhancing their faith forward this year if I go about it the right way.
Before class ended, I handed out rosary beads to all of my students in honor of October being the month of the Rosary and a small pamphlet on how to pray the Rosary. I’m hoping this may spark a devotion or two at home. I found out as I was leaving class, that a few of my students asked our Pastor to bless their new Rosary so I have hope that there is interest and that the seeds that I plant may bear fruit after all.
Until next time, keep sharing the faith.