Some ‘Start-Now’ Homework!

Hello Class,

In addition to learning about Confirmation, we talked about the test we recently took, how much we have to catch up on, and that it is my goal to have you learn all you can in an easier, enjoyable way that will help you to remember things in less time.  Have you ever had an annoying kid in the back of the class who never seemed to pay attention, barely studied, and got great grades?  We want you to be that kid! (minus the annoying part, of course).  Not only do I want you to really like learning about your faith and remember it, but you also want you to have more success at school, with less effort, and more time to do the other things you enjoy.

Last week, some of you discovered that you are probably visual learners, and many of you seem to favor listening and learning.  Many people also find mouthing words help them with memorization, while others learn faster by drawing, music, handwriting, and different forms of repetition.  Before our next class, we’re going to have you discover which strategies work the best for you! 

The Hail Holy Queen Challenge

As you know, our goal is that each of you will be able to know and recite the Hail Holy Queen by our next class.  We’re going to do our best.  But like I had told you during class, we don’t want you to overdo it, or cram words into your head for just the day.  Not only are we going to slowly and gently learn a new prayer over time, but we will use this opportunity to help you discover the easiest way for you to make things ‘stick’ with less effort.  YOU ARE NOT TO SPEND MORE THAN 10 MINUTES EACH DAY ON THIS!  If you do more than that, you’re not discovering what is easiest – and that’s part of our goal here.

So here’s how I’d like you to roll…

Days 1-2  Perhaps your a repetition learner.  Recite the Hail Holy Queen aloud twice, line by line the way you would sing “One the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…”  Do this twice each day.  Oh, and here’s a video to get you motivated.  Watch the whole thing!

And at night, simply whisper the prayer aloud to yourself at night just before you go to bed.  Read it.  Do it only once.  In fact, include a reading of the Hail Holy Queen just before you go to bed for the next couple of weeks.

Days 3-4 – Perhaps you’re a imagery learner.  Doodle each line of the Hail Holy Queen while saying it aloud, twice each day.

Days 5-6 – Perhaps you are a muscle-memory learner.  Handwrite the prayer twice each day, but mouth the words while you are writing.

Day 7 – Take it easy for this day.  Just whisper the prayer as you go to bed.

Days 8-9 – Perhaps you’re an auditory learner.   Can you put the words to music?  Is there a decent song with a good tune that work with the words?  Try to sing the entire prayer twice, either aloud, or your head.  Do this twice each day.

Days 10-11 – Perhaps you’re a visual learner.  If you have access to the Internet, watch the following video twice each day, while whispering it to yourself.  Be certain you are moving your lips.

For the rest of the time until class – Pick whichever one or two methods you thought was most effective.  Not necessarily what you liked the most, but what you thought was most effective.  You will learn to like what gives you better grades, greater success, and more time to do what you enjoy most.  Do those two exercises only once each day until we meet again.

The next time we meet, we will talk about your experience, but we will pray the Hail Holy Queen as well.

Game on!

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Last Class – With Movies!

Hey Gang,

This past Sunday we learned more about the Sacrament of Confirmation.  We reviewed about the use of the holy oil called chrism.  We learned more about how oil was used to show people were marked for a special purpose by God to be priests, prophets and kings, and how we echo that call through service and sacrifice (like priests), tell the truth even when it is not popular (like the prophets), and to be the protector of those who are given to us (like good kings).

We also learned that when you get confirmed that you will take the name of a saint.  Often times, when a person changes their name, it marks a new stage in their life.  St. Paul’s name used to be Saul.  Abraham used to be named Abram.  Young brides take the name of their husbands.  Pope Francis name used to be Jorge.  I encourage you to begin learning about the saints and finding one who you feel a real connection with.

What else did we talk about?  We talked about that when we are Confirmed, we accept the responsibility for making our faith our own, and how we offer our lives for the faith.  We talked about the martyrs, and read from our book about the children in China who kept their faith under torture.  I told you about a couple of martyrs from Mexico when being Catholic was made illegal by the government.  These included a priest named Fr. Miguel Pro who used disguises to avoid capture to continue and to continue giving the Sacraments to the people.  We spoke about Bl. Jose Luis Sanchez del Rio,  an 14 year old boy who kept his faith while the skin was carved off of his feet, who died saying “Vive Cristo Rey!” or Long Live Christ the King!  We talked about the Christian refugees in Syria, and the very real suffering they endure daily because they would not deny Jesus.  When we look at people like this, we begin to understand that we must take our faith very seriously and that is very much worth every effort to learn about our faith, and who Jesus is to us.

But there is another way that a Confirmed Catholic gives up his or her life.  Our existence – that is, our time on earth – is actually our life as well, right?  When you volunteer, when go to Mass, when you pray for someone, when you help someone younger, weaker, or sicker than you, when you obey your parents, you are offering up your life – your existence – for your faith.  Our faith is how we follow Jesus.  You are offering up a portion of your life in following Jesus.  Perhaps you haven’t thought of it in that way…

They say that love can’t be measured.  I say, love can be measured in sacrifice.  For certain, your parents love you more than that cute boy or cute girl in school.  You know this because you know they make sacrifices for you.  When you see Jesus on the Cross, you can also be certain that He loves you, unconditionally, and that He holds absolutely nothing back.  When we witness sacrifice, and grow to recognize and appreciate it over time, we just want to learn more.

Last Week’s Class – Jan 17

Hello Class!

Last week, we learned about Confirmation – and we started off with an honest look at our readiness for this sacrament the hard way.  We reviewed the questions to our test and discovered that most every item mentioned was something that should have been learned somewhere between kindergarden and 5th grade.  In the process of doing this, we all discovered holes that we need to work on.  You all agreed that you wanted to catch up on your prayers and other areas on your own time, so we can continue to learn as we do during class.  Not to worry though.  Did you know that formal classroom education and the university systems were first created by the Catholic Church?  We have great, “classical” ways to learn more, learn faster, and with less effort.  I will teach you these tricks during class time, all while using them on the other things you will be learning as well.

In the previous week, we learned that when we were Baptized as infants, we had godparents to help us during the ceremony.  Our minds were not strong enough at the time to accept the responsibility that comes with being a Catholic.  Confirmation fortifies, – or strengthens – the grace you received at Baptism.  What makes it cool is that you will be professing your faith for yourself.  You won’t need an adult to speak up for you anymore!  But as Peter Parker was told just before he became Spiderman, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”

We talked about how it used to be long, long ago, that young people were often seen and treated as adults.  They often received the same responsibilities, trial punishments, and expectations of adults, and so forth.  As the expected level of education grew and grew, it seems that so did “adolescence”.  Society continues to have lower and lower expectations of you young people.  Not so with the Catholic Church.  When you become Confirmed – when you speak up for yourself and say that you claim The Faith as your very own – the expectations become higher.  If you can’t get a ride to Mass, you are expected to do your absolute best to get there.  As you start to make some money on your own, you can share a personal sacrifice to help the community, or use it to light a candle for someone you want to pray for.  If you have a younger brother or sister, you can help them with their prayers and religious ed homework.  You should be praying at night without needing to be reminded.  You can be the one to lead grace before dinner.  Fasting and abstinence is something you would join in on as well.  There’s no shortage of good things that you will be able to do to help our community through the Church.

Confirmation and Baptism.   How are they alike?  Let’s start with the oil.

There is that special oil called Chrism.  It smells just Heavenly.  It is used at Baptism, Confirmation, and during the ordination (or ‘making’) of priests.  We talked about how body builders use oil to make themselves look more powerful, how women would used it to make their skin look more radiant, how fighters (and even today’s boxers) use oil when preparing for combat, so punches roll off of them better and they can continue to fight longer.  But more importantly, we talked about how oil has been used since very ancient times to make someone a priest, prophet or king.  While we have great respect these roles for their  importance, you need to understand that YOU are being marked as someone who is responsible for making sacrifices (like a priests), speaking the truth (like prophets), and serving, feeding, and protecting the helpless (like a good king).  When we receive the Chrism oil at Confirmation, we are choosing to support or shoulder these tasks along with those other adults in the Catholic Church who continue to take their faith seriously.

Sponsors!  We talked about sponsors as well.  During Baptism, we have a sponsor who speaks on our behalf.  Throughout your preparation for Confirmation, instead of a godparent, you will have a sponsor who helps to coach you along.  Do you remember when we talked about the traits you would want in a coach?  Some of your answers included someone who knows the rules well, someone who played well, someone who played the game in a higher level or division, someone who knows what is needed to win, someone who takes the ‘game’ very serious.  The fact is, if you want to learn how to be excellent, and enjoy being on the winning side, you want to pick the best possible coach.  The same goes when picking out a sponsor.  You get to choose who you want for a sponsor.  Do you want a sponsor who doesn’t go to Mass?  You’d be better off getting a coach who smokes and eats powdered donuts in a lawn chair in the middle of the track field.

Do you want to pick someone who goes to Mass once a week?  I’d say that’s a good but minimum starting point.  Do you want someone who prays daily?  Absolutely.  Do you want someone who goes to Mass during the week or is very involved at the Church?  Sounds much, much better.  Do you want someone who goes to Confession often?  Now you’re working with someone who can teach you the strategy you need to win.

Oh, let’s talk homework again.  We are warming you up in a way for your Confirmation – for when you receive it in high school.  We are starting by having you think about who you would want to choose as a good Confirmation sponsor.  Because, as we learned with our test, everyone has many prayers they need to know and memorize, you may need to be asking them for some help in memorizing them.  And remember, praying is something that you do.  It’s like hitting a baseball or playing volleyball.  You can’t just think about it to be able to do it well enough to win.  In fact, to practice the skills necessary to be good in these sports really means practicing these sports with others.  In a nutshell, this will mean that you may eventually praying with your future sponsor as well.

We will talk a little more next week about Confirmation next week – the cool stuff that takes place during the ceremony.   More to look forward to!

Mr. B