By guest writer Michael Astle.
The other day I met a 6-year-old who knows more about the saints than your average adult Catholic. How is this possible? Well, that’s what happens when your elder brother and sister play SaintCards with you.
To be fair, little James probably doesn’t understand what centuries are; he just knows that St. Elizabeth of Hungary has the number 13 in her card’s corners twice. Still, when he’s a bit older, he won’t have a hard time remembering she lived and died in the 13th century. He also knows the flowers on St. James the Lesser and St. Dymphna’s cards mean they both have feast days near his birthday, in May. Although he may not yet fully comprehend what an apostle is, he already knows their cards are orange and can name quite a few of them.
For James, it’s important to know all this so he can match the cards to gain treasure pieces, or as he calls them, “jewels”. At the end of each 10- to 15-minute game, whoever ends up with the most treasure in heaven wins and gets to lay everyone’s treasure at the feet of Jesus, who has His own special card.
But perhaps more importantly, through simple, easy-to-learn fun, these children are being inspired by so many examples of virtue. They’re discovering the history of the Church every time they realise that two particular saints lived in the same area at the same time and so might have known each other, and as the game’s motto says, they’re getting to know our family in heaven.
I wondered whether anyone had thought of using SaintCards in RE class. It may only be short, but the kids don’t want to go to bed until they’ve played “just one more game”, three or four times over if their mother’s not watching (though something tells me she doesn’t really mind their enthusiasm). All children love heroes. Isn’t it better that those heroes be holy, than some of the less-worthy figures today’s society presents to young souls?
It was good to be catching up with their father once again. It’s not every day one gets to hear about the role of saints in the new evangelism from a man who’s taking an active role in it. But it is always a joy to see parents training up their children in the ways of the Lord.
Watching the children play with their new cards made me think about just how little I know about the saints. Thankfully David Williams, SaintCards‘ creator, has also released a kit called the Heaven Hold’em Expansion. It uses the same deck of cards but with different rules more geared towards adults. So it shouldn’t be too long before I can catch up with everything James and his siblings have learnt. After all, I can’t exactly introduce it to my own relatives’ children before I know enough to beat them, can I?
At the moment I’m told there aren’t too many copies of it available in Australia due to shipping costs. But attempts to find a distributor are underway so hopefully it might at least be in some local Catholic stores in time for Christmas. Or at least they’d better be. It seems James has some friends who’ll be asking Santa for their own sets now.