On Monday nights, I teach a class of fifth graders Religious Education (RE). The majority of the class made their confirmations in early February; the remainder will do so in mid-April with their siblings. Due to the oddities of this scheduling (we're playing catch-up with these younger grades because of the newly Restored Order of the Sacraments (pdf)), we completed the sacramental preparation part of our course by the end of January, and since then, we've been working through a traditional fifth grade RE text.
There's no way we're getting through the whole book, so last week I reviewed the table of contents and the lessons and started pulling out which lessons we would go over. Last week we covered Lent and started the section on prayer. This week we finished the prayer lesson, and started the lesson on the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
And somehow or other, with about 10 minutes left to go in the class, we came around to one of the students asking me about the recently-aired documentary on the Tomb of Jesus.
Don't get me started...
Fortunately, I had read enough around the web to be able to thoroughly refute the idea that the Jesus in the tomb was, you know, The Jesus. But I also managed to convey to them the very earliest history of the Church: if Jesus really was buried somewhere, that means the Resurrection is a lie. Why would the apostles lie about something like that? Why would St. Peter, and all the apostles, go to their deaths professing the truth of the Resurrection if it was just some bizarre joke they were playing?
And then we got started on the DaVinci Code... and I got a bit impassioned about what garbage that is, and even more impassioned over the Church's supposed suppression of women. Hmmm, let's take a look at that idea, shall we? Mary, the mother of Jesus, is the most revered human (aside from Jesus, who is also God), who ever lived. And she is? Yes, a woman! We can talk about countless saints who also happen to be female, but I prefer to go way, way back to the morning of the Resurrection. To whom did the Angel appear in the empty tomb, to announce what had happened? To the women, members of society viewed as property, valued only slightly above slaves, with very few rights of their own. At that time, women were not even allowed to testify in court.
If you were going to make up a story, why would you choose the most unreliable witnesses, according to your culture, to be the ones to receive the most important message ever? It doesn't make any sense at all as a lie, does it?
Anyway, there was some good question-and-answer stuff and many of the kids were actually engaged in the conversation -- we even ran over by about 2 minutes, which has never happened before. One of the other topics that came up was the subject of Mary's perpetual virginity. I struggled to explain how, if you truly believe that Jesus is God, it's the only thing that makes sense: what human is fit to occupy the space that once held God? Such a space is sacred, and always should remain so. As these things often go, the best analogy occurred to me much later:
The tabernacle isn't a breadbox.