Today was my second Sunday teaching CCD at Sacred Heart. I'm working with the 9th graders who are in the first year of the CCD program. At Sacred Heart the CCD program is a two-year cycle. Ninth graders attend classes that are more inquiry-based where we discuss the basics of the faith and have an open forum for any questions that they have. The 10th grade program is a Confirmation-prep program that ends in May when they are confirmed as full members of the Catholic Church. Last week was simply a "get-to-know-you" week where we played some name games and shared some details from our lives. This week we started the curriculum.
Each week has a focal topic for discussion, and this week's topic was "God." My essential questions for the kids were, "Is it reasonable to believe in God" and "What kind of relationship can we hope to have with God?" I did a little bit of lecturing and then we had some discussion. I shared my personal faith story with them, and they shared some of their doubts and beliefs with me and the rest of the class. It's interesting for me to teach about Faith. It really gives me an opportunity to explore what I think and feel about my own faith. I still question and wonder and grapple with my understanding, and exploring faith through the eyes of the young helps me to investigate all that with fresh eyes. I understand their doubt and their fears because I have been there myself. I spent ten years in the desert before finding God and realizing that I needed Him to truly make sense of the world.
Tonight some of the students asked very legitimate questions about prayer and God's promise to help us and guide us. Of course, the questions that asked were "big" questions with no real answers. They were questions that are unanswerable and we struggle with them every day. When we pray to God to take care of the infirm or the dying, is that selfish because we really want God to make them live and not die? If they do die, is God actually answer our prayers? If He is, how is that answering them when what we wanted was for the person we are praying for was to heal? We discussed how Heaven is Paradise, and we should all be so lucky as to earn our place there. We also talked about how God doesn't always answer our prayers in the most obvious way. (Here is where I talked about Kiki and her struggles with patience!) Instead of granting us what we ask for, God instead often provides us with an opportunity to practice and refine the trait that we seek (patience, humility, faith, strength ...).
We also brainstormed for a while what traits the ideal father would have. We then transferred those traits to God, Our Father and compared which aligned well and which needed to be deleted or added. During that part of our discussion, one of the kids posed a really great question. If God knows all and knows what we want and what we are going to ask for, why doesn't He just give it to us? I loved that question because it really helped to cement the "God as our Father" relationship for the kids. I responded to his question by giving the example of a father who repeatedly watches his child fail at a task, waiting for that child to simply ask for help. We've all been there and had that experience, and God is no different. He wants us to acknowledge our need for His help and intervention and humble ourselves to ask for His aid. The kids seemed to "get it" and really start to make connections to their own relationship with God. Hopefully we'll continue to have great conversations like this.
I'm enjoying my new "position" so far, and I'm happy to be able to offer my 'talent" to the church as well as my "treasure." It is a nice change of pace from my everyday teaching, but it definitely presents its own set of challenges. I'll keep posting as the weeks progress.