Could your child be a saint? He might not act like one now, but the Church’s answer to that question is a definite YES!
To encourage things in that direction, work with your young children (ages 3-7) to create their very own holy card. The activity introduces kids to these basic concepts:
- What it means to be a saint
- That each of us is called to be a saint in our own way; no one else can be the saint God has called us to be
If you haven’t seen a holy card before, think of baseball cards—except with saints on the front and a prayer to or by the saint on the back. Typically the image of the saint on the front contains symbols of the saint’s particular charism. For example, St. Martin de Porres is typically pictured holding a cross and a broom, sometimes with various animals at his feet. These symbols represent some of the ways he lived out his vocation to holiness.
What you need
You’re going to need paper (heavy cardstock works best) and crayons or other coloring materials.
Optionally, you might want to print out a picture of your child. Also, if you have examples of saints’ holy cards around, you might have those on hand.
What to do
Begin by asking:
- Do you know what a saint is? A saint is someone who loves God, other people, and all of God’s creation. A saint shows that love in what he or she says and does.*
Explain that your child is called to be a saint—that is, she’s called to know and love God, and live that love out through her life.
If you have holy cards on hand, show them to your child, explaining a little about each saint, and pointing out the different symbols of the saint’s holiness in the image. Show the prayer on the back.
Bring out the paper and coloring materials. Help your child draw a picture of herself. Alternatively, you might print out a picture of your child, then cut it out and paste it to the paper; your child can draw symbols of his holiness all around the picture.
Then brainstorm with your child different symbols to include in the self-portrait. Ask:
- What are some of the ways you show love for God?
- What are some of the ways you show love for other people?
- How are you helpful to others?
When the “saintly portrait” is finished, turn over the paper and help your child to compose their own simple prayer to include on the back. You might prompt him by asking:
- How do you tell God/Jesus you love him? What words can you use?
Here’s what the finished product looked like at our house:
Matthew had help from his older sister in drawing the outline of his self-portrait, which he then colored in; he also added many symbols that he thought up himself.
He needs to keep his question marks and exclamation marks straight, though:
* There are more nuanced definitions of sainthood that you might offer older kids; the Church traditionally defines a saint as someone who sees God face to face in heaven, and it canonizes (or publicly recognizes) those whose lives showed heroic virtue, and therefore offer an example to all the rest of us.