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The Art of Accompaniment in Faith Formation
Helping Children Understand the Mystery and Meaning of Jesus' Death and Resurrection
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Helping Children Understand the Mystery and Meaning of Jesus' Death and Resurrection

The mystery of Jesus’ death and resurrection is central to our faith, and as Catholics, we experience it at every age. Children grow in their ability to understand the Easter story. When children are young, it's best to avoid too much blood and violence in images or videos depicting the Crucifixion. Too many details about Jesus’ passion can be overwhelming and scary for children this age, and we don’t want them to become overly-focused on the more morbid details. Rather, we want them to know Jesus as a loving, and powerful friend who is also God. When discussing Jesus’ suffering and death with children this age, we can say, “Even though Jesus was very kind and good, there were some people who didn’t like him. They were mean and hurt Jesus, and he died. But that wasn’t the end of the story. Because Jesus was God’s Son, he could even beat death. He came back and saw his friends again before going to his father in heaven.” Young children can experience a simplified version of the Stations of the Cross, as long as they have some developmentally appropriate way to experience this devotion — for example, a child’s guide­book. It’s important to keep the Resurrection in mind and fore­shadow this, even as we are talking with kids about Jesus’ death, to continually reassure them that this story had a happy ending.
 
As children grow, older kids and teens can handle a little more information about the Good Friday story, because they are better able to understand the context. A more traditional version of the Stations of the Cross and similar depictions of Jesus’ suffering are appropriate for this age group, particularly if we can relate Jesus’ own suffering back to our everyday lives. It’s important that children know that doing good sometimes involves sacrifice and suffering. But God is with us and understands suffering because he became a human being who suffered also. And the Resurrection teaches us that, with God, there is an Easter Sunday for every Good Friday.

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