The sacraments: that uniquely Catholic topic that is both fun and intimidating to teach (and learn). They were the core of our day today, and it turned out not-dull, methought (and I think the kids weren’t miserable).
Today we had a couple of great object lessons. KJ brought three volunteers to the front at the beginning of the day, where she had three cups filled partially with water. She told them to get ready and then, “GO! Fill the cup with love!”
Two of the kids just stood there, priceless expressions on their faces. The third, though, laughed and blew kisses into her cup. We really can’t plan these things!
The discussion that followed was about our senses and the sacraments and how they lead us to God. We renewed our baptismal vows, learning about what happens in baptism along the way. What do baptismal promises really mean? What are we (or our parents) agreeing to? What does that imply?
When you say “I believe,” what happens? Belief leads to action. Our actions also reveal our beliefs.
Our second session opened with “Zombies vs Jesus“:
What followed was a rousing discussion of “Why should I go to Mass?” and “Why do I have to go to Mass?” We talked about many reasons why Mass sucks…and why that really doesn’t matter. I tried not to think about what percentage of these kids aren’t going to Mass each week, because I can’t change that.
But I can influence how they understand what they’re missing. And I can point out to them the power they have, even though they can’t drive yet. I’ve pointed out to these kids (and to many classes before them) that marketers have their eyes on them: they represent a dollar figure and potential funds. They’re being used even as they buy their favorite socks with the special logo on them or the headbands that fit a certain way. They wear pay to wear branding on the front of their t-shirts, but they won’t fight to get to the front of the communion line?
We closed with Adoration, and the rousing response to the complete silence, when we talked about it later, was positive. Dare I suggest they loved it? Yeah, it was novel, this experience of silence, and I see in these kids the hope that hey, our culture may be going to the dogs, but the crew in the wings could really be a bunch of superheroes.
We opened our third session with another of my favorite object lessons. (Add “playing with fire” to the reasons I love being Catholic.)
You need a candle, a lighter, and a can of Oust. (Or something flammable.)
You’re the candle. The Holy Spirit is the flame. Lighting the candle is baptism. Confirmation makes you explode with grace: spray some Oust (at a safe distance from anything else, of course).
I didn’t really even need to talk after that, but I find that Confirmation is greatly misunderstood, so we spent some time busting some myths (inspired by material Mark Hart included in the original One-Eight Confirmation program):
Myth 1: Confirmation makes you an adult in the Church.
Um, no. Sorry, kids, but…you’re still kids. Confirmation isn’t tied to age, however much we may make it that way in our current parish set-up.
Myth 2: Confirmation is a graduation from the toll of religious education.
Confirmation is a sacrament of initiation. An initiation is the beginning. This is not the eye-rolly inspirationally “first day of the rest of your life” talk, either. Nope, we’re preparing you for the battle ahead. We have a party to celebrate your initiation into the ranks of confirmed, but you’re not graduating.
Myth 3: Confirmation is “choosing” to be Catholic.
Let’s not pretend that these kids can drive themselves. They can make it hard on their parents, but most of them are showing up at 8:30 in the wee morning hours because Mom or Dad are making them come. Even the holiest among them would rather be sleeping, I’m quite sure of it. And besides that, the Catholic choice happened at baptism; it doesn’t happen at Confirmation. Confirmation is about strengthening and completing (and supercharging) the graces of baptism.
After my myth-busting, I went over what will happen at Confirmation itself: the bishop will quiz you and if you fail, that’s it, all over. (I can’t even help it: and every year, they sort of wonder and they’re not…quite…sure…) Joking aside, we talking about what specifically happens during the Mass.
We wrapped the day up with a discussion of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and a group project where each team made two posters and presented their gifts to the rest of the class.
Once again, I found myself amazed at how the mysteries of the rosary tied in so well with the topics at hand. Today, we prayed the glorious mysteries and, for what won’t be the last time, I caught myself referring to the scriptures in my discussions. (This year, I’ve been using the Scriptural Rosary…and since my favorite scriptural rosary app is only on iOS, I’ve been actually using the website itself from my phone. Most years, I use the book from Christanica.)