The United States Catholic Catechism for Adults explains that a saint is a “person who, after having lived a life of virtue, dies in the state of grace and has been granted the reward of eternal life by God. The saints enjoy the beatific vision and unceasingly intercede for those still in earthly life. They also serve as a model and inspiration to us” (AC Appendix A. Glossary). The lives of the saints show us what it means to love God and others, to put our beliefs into practice, and to demonstrate our concern for others.
The saints are a light for us on our journey of faith because they lived their faith in concrete ways. The saints come from all walks of life and from every racial, social, and economic group. What they share in common is their desire to respond to God’s call. Teaching about the saints give students the opportunity to see how those who have gone before us in faith who lived out their baptismal calling in extraordinary ways. The example of the saints can motivate our students to express their faith in Jesus by acting with love, care, kindness, peace, and justice toward others.
Incorporate the saints into your weekly lessons in the following ways:
• Go to RCL Benziger’s saintsresource.com to locate saint stories to share with your students.
• Purchase a book on the lives of the saints. Make sure that it is organized according to the calendar. Take time each week to read aloud a story from the book and help the students make the connection between the saint’s life and lived faith. Ask your catechetical leader to suggest an appropriate book for the grade level you teach. Better yet, let your catechetical leader know that a book on the lives of the saints would make a excellent Catechetical Sunday or end-of-the-year gift for each catechist!
• After sharing a saint story with your class, invite the students to suggest ways in which they can follow the saint’s example in their own lives.
• Choose a “Saint of the Month” to share with older students. Invite the students to use various saint reference books and the internet to research biographical information about the saint. Have the students write short reports or create skits highlighting some aspect of the saint’s life. You might also have the students work in groups to create a poster or bulletin board display on the saint.
• Over the course of the year, encourage the students to compile a booklet of saints they have “met” in your class. Give them time of a regular basis during your sessions to add to the booklet. The booklet pages might include a profile on the saint, a drawing that illustrates how the saint showed love for God and others, and a short prayer. At the end of the year, display the booklets in a public area of the parish so that others may benefit from your students’ work.
• Using resources suggested by your catechetical leader, explain the beatification and canonization process to older students. Invite them to visit the Vatican web site at www.vatican.va to learn about the holy men and women who have been beatified or canonized recently.
• Explain to your students that the Church teaches that everyone in heaven is considered a saint, whether or not they have been officially canonized. Remind them they we are all called to sainthood and that if we try our best to live as disciples of Jesus, we, too, will be welcomed into God’s kingdom and share everlasting life with the Communion of Saints in heaven.