Through the period of Lent and especially as we approach the Holy Week, many Christians are thinking about and reflecting on the sacrifice of Jesus. However, when we are thinking about it with small children, it’s hard to know what to say so they can appreciate it and yet not be disturbed or scared!
Over fifty years ago, Sofia Cavalletti (a Hebrew and Scripture scholar) and Gianna Gobbi (her Montessori collaborator), came up with a brilliant idea that allows the children to think about the Lenten story. The City of Jerusalem Map is one of the works in our Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Atrium.
This is an amazing work that allows us to walk alongside Jesus through his last days, his death, and his resurrection. Children come to understand that Jerusalem was a real city and become familiar with its features. They also begin to appreciate that Jesus spent some of the most important moments of his life in Jerusalem.
As I’ve worked with this material over the years and with children of different ages, I’ve come to appreciate it so much. In a very gentle way, without becoming overly emotional, this material takes children to the heart of our faith. It gently explains the Last Supper and Jesus’ death, and it celebrates the joy and hope that is His resurrection. The focus is not on Christ’s suffering and death, but rather on His passing through suffering and death to the joy of His ressurection. Christ is risen!
We can show children the cross and the tomb, but we always remove the cross and replace it with a candle. The candle is lit as we sing “The light of Christ has come into the world, the light of Christ has come into our hearts.”