Session 1: A Saint's Story
The objective of this session is to introduce the lives of several saints to the youth. Prepare for this session by gathering and reading short stories of saints prior to this session.
Materials for the Lesson:
For this session, you will need fabric, felt, markers, scissors, cardboard, and one paper handout describing an assigned saint for each group. You may want Smarties candy for a creativity bonus.
Gather materials and writings about the following saints prior to this session. A good resource for readings on these saints is Orthodox Saints Volumes 1-4, by George Poulos (Holy Cross Press).
- St. Myron of Crete
- Miracle of Archangel Michael
- St. Paraskevi
- St. Theophilos the Neomartyr
- St. Eustathios Plakidas
- St. Euphrosynos the Cook.
Begin the session with a prayer.
Organize the campers into five groups. Give each group one handout containing a Saint's story. Tell the campers that they have 15-20 minutes to read the handout and prepare a 3-minute skit to present to the group that explains the story of their group's saint. Every person in the group must participate in the skit. Share that "smarties" will be given to those groups with creative ideas in explaining the story and/or creative use of props and people.
As the facilitator, go from group to group listening to the campers; answer questions and encourage them to be creative in their presentations.
After 15 to 20 minutes, bring the group back together and have each group present their three minute skit. After each presentation, ask the following discussion questions.
Why does our church consider this person to be a saint?
How might the story change if it happened today?
What would be the same if the story happened today?
What is a martyr?
Tie the saints stories into the daily lives of the campers.
Close with a prayer.
Session 2: To Be a Saint
The objectives of this session are to help the campers to discover the roles we play, the reasons why the Church designates certain people as saints, to think about the saints among us and the saint within us.
Materials for the Lesson:
You will need a bowl or hat containing small paper strips with various roles in society written on them. Saints Activity 1 Handout: Roles We Play.
Gather the campers and begin the session with a prayer.
Activity 1: Get in Line: A Life to Live
The goal of this activity is to introduce that idea that God's order may not be our order or that of society. The campers will choose a role from the hat, and without showing their role to anyone else, will silently form a line in order of what they consider to be "good" roles on one side, and roles they might consider as "missing the mark," on the other side. Again, they are to be silent throughout this entire activity, however, appropriate hand gestures are acceptable. The order will be contrasted against the life and stories of several saints, whom often defied the order or role that society assigned them.
Allow the campers to begin forming their line. After a few moments, have the campers show each other their sheets of paper and ask them to change their position, should they believe they belong elsewhere in the line. Again, this activity should be done silently.
As the facilitator, call the following roles forward and describe how that role was similar to the life of a Saint:
Thief, please step forward. You might have been the thief on a cross to the right of Christ who defended Christ and asked to be "remembered in His kingdom." At this request, Christ replied, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise". (Luke 23:43).
Cook, please step forward. You might have been St. Euphrosynos, whose elder monk had a vision that illustrated that God showed favor on him, despite the fact that he was thought of as the lowliest monk in the monastery.
Teacher, please step forward. You might have been St. Pareskevi, who taught many about Christ before she was ordered to be boiled alive in oil. Miraculously, she was spared by God and did not burn. Later, however, she was beheaded by the Romans for her refusal to deny Christ.
Soldier, please step forward. You might have been St. Kallistratos, an army soldier who believed in Christ at a time when much of the Roman world was pagan and didn't believe in God. When it was discovered that Kallistratos believed in God, his Roman commander received orders to tie him in a sack and throw him in the ocean to drown him for his refusal to deny Christ. After this punishment was performed, the other soldiers turned to find Kallistratos had resurfaced in a miracle of God, carried on the back of two dolphins. In amazement, 49 of the soldiers decided to follow Kallistratos in his belief and were imprisoned with Kallistratos. After refusing to deny Christ, the soldiers and Kallistratos were thrown into the ocean in sacks; again, as the Romans could not believe that the miracle could happen twice. Amazingly, the same miracle with the dolphins happened again to all 50 of them. Finally, Kallistratos and the 49 soldiers became martyrs when they were chopped to pieces and fed to the fish in the sea for their refusal to deny Christ.
Mother, please step forward. You might have been St. Anna who was the mother of the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos, or bearer of God.
President, please step forward. You might have been St. Constantine, who, who as leader of the Roman Empire, saw a vision of the cross in the sky and was told by a voice that "in this sign you will be victorious." He had his army place the sign of the cross on their shields and won the battle. He later established Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire. Despite his great victories and blessings from God, he was not sure that he wanted to become a part of the faith. Showing that even onto the last moment, God is merciful, he became Chrismated and became a Christian on his deathbed shortly before he died.
Activity 2: The Saints Among Us: The Saint Within Us
The goal of this activity is to discuss that we are called to be saints, and that each saint maintains his or her distinct personality.
Materials for the Lesson:
You will need markers and a large role of newsprint (or similar paper).
As illustrated in many icons, saints are depicted demonstrating portions of their lives and characteristics that define their uniqueness. Similarly, the campers will be given an opportunity to draw a silhouette of one another, highlighting the characteristics that define each of us. During this activity campers are asked to consider what "saintly" characteristics or attributes various members of their group demonstrate. Have the campers decide what roles each of them plays that demonstrate their ability to move against society and its definition of a human being.
Organize the campers into groups of two. Give each group on long sheet of paper. Have the campers trace each other's silhouette with a marker. Each group should ask what characteristics describe them that might make up the characteristics of a saint. Have each person decide and then write the saintly characteristics of the members of their group on their silhouette. This exercise is one that is designed to help the campers think critically of what goes into the making of a saint. While characteristics can include being a good teammate on your soccer team, playing music for the enjoyment of others, being a true friend, being honest, giving of yourself to help others, etc., characteristics may also be harder to discern such as being merciful or loving.
Note that if a saint was once a queen, the icon would depict her with a crown. If a saint was a writer, they would hold a piece of paper with writing on it. If the saint was a soldier, they would bare a sword.
The silhouettes can be gathered and displayed in the classroom.
These may be discussed as the campers are tracing the silhouettes.
How does one become a saint?
Why does the church recognize certain people as saints?
Discuss how there may be many more saints that are not recognized by the Church.
How might we begin to emulate the attributes of sainthood in our everyday lives?
What aspects and characteristics of your "silhouette" are you including?
What parts can you consider adding to your walk as a Christian?
Close with a prayer.
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