Dear Catholic Exchange:
In a publication for CCD teachers, there was a suggested lesson on the Communion of Saints. The activity was to have the children make holy cards where they would draw a picture of themselves and label the picture “Saint [child's own name].”
Is this in conformity with our Catholic teaching?
Greetings in Christ. I hope this response will adequately address your question.
As members of the “Church militant,” i.e., “pilgrims of earth,” these children are part of the Communion of Saints, as are all people on earth (Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 946, 954). So the publication is correct to include the children as part of the Communion of Saints.
Holy cards have traditionally borne the image of canonized saints, i.e., those whom the Church has declared to be in heaven with God. Given this traditional use, attempting to use holy cards in a new way including as a sanctified, self-image for which one can strive can confuse children and their parents. For example, a child could be confused as to his proper place in the Communion of Saints, specifically that heaven is basically a fait accompli and that he doesn’t really need to carry his cross as Jesus directed (cf. Mt 10:38; Mt 7:13-14). To avoid confusing children and their parents, who these days are often not well-formed themselves, the best way to use holy cards is in the traditional manner: By introducing children to canonized saints who can serve as role models and heavenly intercessors for them.
In summary, while the Church has no explicit teaching or discipline that holy cards cannot be used in a new way, we counsel that they should be used in the traditional manner.
United in the Faith,
Thomas J. Nash
Senior Information Specialist
Catholics United for the Faith
827 North Fourth Street
Steubenville, OH 43952
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