Title: Sign of the Cross
Subject: Nomenclature for the life of the church
Age: 3 to 7 years
Liturgical time: non-specific, near the beginning in the year; suggested after Altar I.
Doctrinal Content: The cross is a sign that God is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in One. The cross is a symbol and a blessing from Jesus to keep close to you. The cross signifies Jesus' death and resurrection.
Direct aim: This lesson will foster an understanding of the use of the sign of the cross and its meaning to strengthen the child's connection with our Triune God.
Indirect aim: This lesson will also enable the child to independently use the sign of the cross to initiate the child's relationship with God; in and out of church, in private and public prayer, and any time the child wants to make an offering of them to God and to encourage reverence for the Trinity.
Materials for the Lesson:
Cross from Altar I
two chairs side by side
right hand with trinity finger hold
The Lesson Plan:
Invite the children to sit next to you. Make the sign of the cross, gesturing only. Point to the cross from Altar I, and discuss its meaning. Explain to the child, "We can have this sign much closer to us than on the altar." Explain further, "When we make the sign of the cross it is a way to use our bodies to glorify God and to remember what He did for us, He died and He is Risen."
Demonstrate to the children the way to position your fingers. Model the sign of the cross using no words in a slow reverential manner. Invite the child to repeat and model. Continue with the lesson by saying, "We can say these words out loud or to ourselves when making the sign of the cross: ‘In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.' Or, ‘Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, Amen.'"
Discuss the meaning of these words. Focus on God as Trinity, Three Persons in One Essence, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Model doing the cross and saying the words above together, then ask the children to repeat. After explaining all of this and modeling it, tell the children, "You can do this anytime and feel close to Jesus."
If the child is able to understand, explain to them what the position of our fingers mean with the sign of the cross.
- The thumb, index and middle fingers represent Father, Son, and Holy Spirit;
- the ring and little finger represent the two natures of Christ, human and Divine;
- and the tips of the two fingers rest on our palm to indicate that Christ descended from heaven and took on flesh to save us.
Write or trace the words off of a card: "In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen." Or "Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Amen." They can trace these words onto a beautiful card and decorate and frame it.
For children who want to see themselves and practice they can stand in front of a mirror to cross themselves.
Notice: This lesson plan utilizes training and the general philosophy/method of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program. Materials found in this document, however, have been created specifically to incorporate the theology and dogmatic teaching of the Orthodox Church. The author of this lesson offers special recognition to Mrs. JoAnne Padget, CGS Instructor, who provided instruction and guidance in the CGS method. The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program requires intensive study and strongly recommends that teachers using their program enroll in and complete coursework through an authorized CGS instructor. More information about CGS is available at http://www.cgsusa.org.