Small acts of kindness can have a great impact
by Rebecca Parkinson (revised, originally published in 2007)
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To introduce the idea of doing small acts of kindness via the story of Theresa.
Preparation and materials
You will need a single flower and the words, ‘What matters is not great deeds, but great love’ displayed so that the children can read them.
Find an image of Theresa, also known as Thérèse of Lisieux (such as those at the Society of the Little Flower's website, at: www.littleflower.org/abouttherese/learn/index.asp), and have the means to display it during the assembly (optional, check copyright if used).
Today I am going to introduce you to a very special person called Theresa. She lived more than 140 years ago.
She was born on 2 January 1873 and died on 30 September 1897, at the young age of 24. Her mother died when Theresa was just four years old, leaving her father with five children to look after. One of her sisters, called Mary, took over running the household, while her eldest sister, Pauline, took charge of telling the younger children about God.
When she was 14, Theresa decided that she wanted to dedicate her life to God, so she became a nun (someone who goes to live with others who give their lives to God).
Theresa struggled with illnesses all her life, but she was noted as being full of fun, loving drama and being happy working with other nuns at any task. In 1896, however, she began to suffer from a serious illness called tuberculosis and spent the last few months of her life in the convent hospital. Even so, she never stopped being cheerful!
Theresa was made a saint in 1925. A 'saint' is a person who is a great example to us because he or she lived a special life and/or had special gifts.
Although Theresa didn’t have a very long life, she used every minute she had to care for other people. Her best-known saying is, ‘What matters in life is not great deeds, but great love.’
Draw attention to the displayed quote.
Theresa became known as someone who would show love to others by doing little things. Sometimes she gave flowers (she loved flowers, hence her nickname ‘little flower’), sometimes she prayed, sometimes she showed love and attention to people who struggled with problems.
Theresa knew that she wasn’t physically strong enough to carry out great deeds, but she made a big difference to people’s lives by the little things she did for them. Very often, though, it's the little things that have the greatest effect on people’s lives, the little things which show them someone cares.
Time for reflection
Close your eyes and think about a little thing someone has done for you that made you feel special or happy. It may have been a kind word, asking you to play with them or even giving you a special present.
Decide to do something today that will make someone else feel special.
Explain that you will pause in the middle of the prayer so that children who want to can silently say 'Thank you' for a special person they know.
Thank you for people who do things for me that make me feel happy and loved.
Thank you especially for (pause).
Please help me to do something today to show someone that I care about them.
‘When I needed a neighbour‘ (Come and Praise, 65)