Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Virtue Ethics: An Ethical Development Program for High School Youth

Alternate Activity 3: Are You a Saint?

Part of Virtue Ethics

Activity time: 10 minutes

Description of Activity

Participants examine a moral decision step-by-step.

Tell the group that there is a classic story about St. Godric, a Christian holy man known for his kindness to animals. Invite them to use the story to play a game, "You Are St. Godric."

You, St. Godric, are a hermit, living in the woods. You hear horns, from a distance. The hunt must be on. How do you feel about the hunt?


You love animals and would never want to see one hurt. You go outside. From here, you can even hear the hunters, riding through the forest. A beautiful stag comes crashing through the brush. You realize he is the subject of the hunt. What do you do?


You empathize with the poor hunted animal. You look into the eyes of the stag and see fear. It is trembling and exhausted. You open the door to your hut and urge the stag inside. You hear the hunting party approaching. What do you do?


You, St. Godric, sit outside your hut, in quiet meditation. The dogs, in hot pursuit of the stag, come leaping into the clearing, but stop short at the man and the hut. The hunters follow. They look around for the stag and not seeing him, they ask you, "Where is the stag we were chasing?" What do you say?


You open your eyes, fixing the hunters in your gaze. "God knows where he may be." The hunters think, "This is a holy man. He would never lie. If the stag had come this way, he would tell us." Thinking that they have lost the prey, the hunting party goes home. When the forest is clear, you open the door and the stag goes free. How do you feel?

After the activity, discuss it. These questions may help:

  • What is the conflict in this story?
  • Does St. Godric lie to the hunters?
  • Why did the hunters trust St. Godric? If someone puts their trust in you, do you feel more responsible for acting in a trustworthy way?
  • St. Godric felt he needed to hide the truth for a greater good: to protect the stag. Can you think of examples where you might be willing to hide the truth or perhaps even lie for a greater good? What about lying to keep from hurting someone's feeling? Where do you draw the line?
  • At every step, St. Godric had a decision to make about how he would behave. Have you ever had a situation where you made one bad choice and everything turned out badly? Is there anything you can do in such a situation?