Saint Dismas

25th March

Saint Dismas has been described as ‘the saint who was canonised by Christ Himself’ from the cross! He is also referred to as ‘the Good Thief’ and ‘The Thief who stole Heaven’!

Can a thief be good? What do we really know about him?

There is only one brief mention of him in the Gospel of St. Luke Ch. 23, 39-43. He is one of the two thieves who were crucified together with Our Lord. While one thief was mocking Jesus for not being able to save them and himself, Dismas the other thief, acknowledged his own deserved punishment, while claiming that Jesus did not deserve the cruel death. He did not ask for a miracle to be saved from the painful death, but he beseeched Jesus, “… remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

It is possible that this could mean that Dismas must have been aware of Jesus as He went about Galilee and Judea, preaching about the Kingdom of God, healing the sick and raising the dead. His request was followed by an affirmation from Jesus, “Truly I say to you today you will be with me in Paradise.” Even in that last hour, with His last breath, enduring extreme pain, Jesus saw the repentance of Dismas, and He not only stretched his arms on the cross but He also stretched them in a last embrace of love and mercy for ‘the Repentant Thief.

The children will enjoy the narrative of The Prodigal Son from the Children’s Bible or you can watch an interpretation of it here.

Discuss with the children how (the level of this discussion will depend on the children’s age):

  • God is like the father in the story
  • What they think the son did wrong
  • The way the father treated the son on his return
  • God will not stop loving us when we do something wrong
  •  God always forgives us when we say “I am sorry” to Him and to those we have wronged

We all have done wrong things at some time.

Encourage children to acknowledge some of the wrong things they think they might have done and want to ask forgiveness for.

Refrain from pointing out their ’naughtiness’ yourself! Let them reach the point of admitting them themselves.

Lead them to suggest ways to ask for forgiveness, to say “I am sorry.” Some children find it hard to verbalise it. Let them suggest ways to ‘break the ice,’ with those they have wronged: give a hug, a kiss,  leave for them a note, a message, a flower. . .

We can ask God for forgiveness in prayer, in a quiet time.

If children are of a certain age you can also add that Jesus left us the Sacrament of Reconciliation where we can say “I am sorry to God” and where we are made strong to be better persons.

Focus on the response of Jesus to Dismas’ request. Jesus did not reproach him. He could easily have told him, “Now you are sorry, because you are afraid, because you are going to die!” He accepted his deep, genuine repentance when Dismas admitted his wrongdoings.

Explore with the children how they feel when they are wronged:

  • if they find it difficult to forgive – their reaction, when someone who had wronged them tells them “I’m sorry”
  • if they continue to harbour grudges and ill-feelings towards them
  • if they keep reminding themselves and the others the wrong they had done towards towards them.

For Family Prayer time:
Choose to pray chaplets from the Sorrowful Mysteries.

Consider having a simple penitential prayer time where the family can ask forgiveness from God and members of the family they feel they have wronged.

During a quiet prayer time introduce children to a simple Act of Contrition
Guided Prayer- Act of Contrition.

Pray or Sing the ‘Our Father.’

Even though he made lots of sins in his life, St. Dismas surrounded and asked Jesus on the Cross to forgive him. This episode shall remind us that, God is willing to forgive us and hug us despite all the bad deeds and sins we do in our life. All we need to do is to surrender!  

Activity: Worship Song!

Today we shall sing and praise the Lord with this worship song.

How to use this space

God speaks to us in many ways, including through the Saints of the Church. Here you will find useful background and activities to better understand the holy life, helping you to connect the saints to daily life in a meaningful way.