The seven Sacraments include Baptism, the Eucharist, Reconciliation, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders and Anointing of the Sick. They are an important part of the Christian faith, guiding followers through their lives toward salvation with grace. The meaning behind these initiatory phases can be complicated, even to adults. Leading simple children's activities on the seven Sacraments is an ideal way to introduce preschoolers to these sacred ceremonies, what they mean and why they are important.
By having a baby baptized in the Catholic church, parents are committing to raise their child in the Catholic faith. Craft guardian angels with your preschooler to symbolize God's helpers watching over and guiding him. Make the angel's body from a paper cup. Cut wings out of construction paper and glue them to the cup. Glue a small Styrofoam ball to the top of the cup for the head. Attach cotton balls to the wings and pieces of yarn to the head for hair. Stick googly eyes to the face of the angel. Draw the nose and mouth on. Bend a pipe cleaner into a halo shape. Glue it onto the top of the head. Decorate your guardian angel using paint, glitter glue and markers.
The Eucharist is commonly called communion. Wine and bread represent the blood and the body of Christ. Christians are brought nearer to God through the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Make a miniature chalice and wafer using oven-bake or air-dry clay. Follow the directions on the clay package to prepare, shape and dry your pieces. You and your youngster can use them later for dramatic plays acting out the ceremony where the Eucharist is received. He can display them on a shelf in his room as a reminder of the Sacrament.
Reconciliation consists of conversion, confession and celebration. Catholics who receive this Sacrament are given God's forgiveness and in turn, are called to forgive others as well. Carefully carve a soap bar into the shape of a cross or a dove with a knife. Your child can use it in the bath or when washing his hands to remind him of this important Sacrament.
Confirmation is the Catholic Sacrament of committing to the Christian faith, received when the church believes the child is capable of understanding the decision. Help your little one make his own set of rosary beads to build an understanding of this Sacrament. Pull a pipe cleaner through 10 beads. Twist the two ends together. String another bead onto the end. Bend the pipe cleaner into the shape of a cross. Guide your child in praying the Rosary using his prayer beads to teach him about this Sacrament.
The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is the act of a couple committing to each other so that the two become one. Teach your child the meaning of this Sacrament by making rings together. Bend pipe cleaners into marriage bands. Add beads or decorations if you like. Tell him, "The ring is the shape of a circle. It has no beginning and no end just like the commitment of marriage."
6. Holy Orders
The priest is ordained vows to lead Catholics with the Sacrament of the Holy Orders. Help your preschooler make a collage to represent this important work. Give him magazines and newspapers, and ask him to look through and find pictures of people helping others in their community. He can cut the pictures out and use them to make a collage. Provide a picture of a priest to glue to the collage. When he is finished, you can discuss how each picture represents the role the priest has taken.
7. Annointing the Sick
The Sacrament of Anointing the Sick involves physical, spiritual and mental healing. You and your child can create Get Well cards to send to sick people who belong to your church. If you know a neighbor or a friend who is old and in need of help, visit with your child and help out around the house. Maybe someone in your church community just had a baby. Ask your child to help you make a casserole to drop off. These kind acts will remind your child of this Sacrament and encourage him to help others.