Enjoy this All Saints Day/All Souls Day lesson plan, suitable for young people in grades 7–8.
The young people will
describe the process of canonization.
explain how the feasts of All Saints and All Souls developed.
describe the lives of specific saints and why they admire them.
Student Handout A (Life Everlasting)
Student Handout B (Profiles of Saints)
Student Handout C (Prayer Service)
Family Handout (Favorite Family Saints)
Ask the young people how they celebrate Halloween. (dressing up as ghosts, monsters, or famous people from the past, decorating with ghosts, skeletons, and tombstones) Ask:
What is occurring in nature around the time of Halloween that might make us think about death more? (Nights are getting longer. Nature is dying or going dormant all around us.)
Continue by saying: People find death frightening because it seems to be the end of life. So at Halloween we make light of death. With our costumes, parties, and decorations, we try to make death less threatening. But as Christians, we know that death is not the end. We have eternal life through Jesus’ death and Resurrection. That is why the Church celebrates two important feasts this time of year, All Saints and All Souls.
Pass outStudent Handout A (Life Everlasting), and give one to each young person. After they have had time to read it, begin a discussion of the Catholic understanding of life after death.
Ask: What is it that makes it possible to choose to remain faithful to God and spend eternity with him in heaven? (grace) Does God wish to punish us by sending us to hell? (No, hell is our choice. We chose to cut ourselves off from God’s life forever. God only wishes happiness for us.) Then have the young people discuss the canonization process.
Pass out Student Handout B (Profiles of Saints), and have the young people complete the exercise. When they have finished, have them share what they wrote with another person. Then ask volunteers to share what they wrote with the class.
Conduct a brief Student Handout C (Prayer Service). Remember to take time for silent reflection after the reading. The young people can name relatives and friends who have died as well as people they heard about in the news who are deceased.
Print out the Family Handout (Favorite Family Saints), and have the young people take it home to share with their families.
Enriching the Faith Experience
Make a list of the saints depicted in your church’s stained glass windows. Have each young person choose a saint to research. Then take the class to church and have the young people talk about the life of the saint depicted on each window.
Ask the young people to do research on a relative who has died and whom they never met. Ask them to interview someone who did know this person and write a short report for the class. If possible, they could bring in a picture of the person to show during the report.
Have the young people design banners representing their patron saints. Encourage them to include significant symbols from their saints’ lives.