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Making a Memory Cross

As Holy Week begins, we are invited as the disciples were to watch and pray.

How will you watch? Pray?

What lines from each of today's readings draw you closer to Jesus in his passion? Draw a cross on a separate piece of paper, with open space in the four arms. You may make it a simple cross or a more elaborate one, like ones you might see in church. Choose four lines from the readings and write them on the cross you drew. Hang your cross and pray these lines during Holy Week in memory of Jesus.

Would it be possible for you to do something during Holy Week to help someone who feels forgotten by God?

The Choices We Make

The Passion According to Matthew is a very dramatic reading. In some parishes, the priests and people take various parts. As part of the parish "crowd," it is hard to join in with "Crucify him!" But that is what some people did at the time of Jesus' passion. Look at the list of people below. Each one or group had a part in the passion of Jesus. Each person made a choice. Some helped Jesus. Some made his suffering worse. What would you have done? Read the gospel again, and explain why you think the people on this list made good choices, or suggest better choices they could have made. You may want to join in groups and have each group consider a few people.

Pontius Pilate

chief priests and elders

the crowd standing before Pilate

Pilate's wife

the person who scourged Jesus

the Roman soldiers who stripped off his clothes and wrapped him in a cloak

the soldiers who fixed a crown of thorns on his head

the soldiers who stuck a reed in his right hand

the soldiers who mocked and spat at him

Simon of Cyrene

the soldier who gave him a drink of wine with gall

the soldiers who divided his clothes among them

the people who went by and insulted him on the cross

the insurgents who hung near him and taunted him

the man who gave Jesus a sponge soaked with wine

the centurion who said, "Clearly this was the Son of God!"

When are you tempted to go along with the crowd rather than make your own decision?

A Palm Sunday Procession

You may want to give your group the opportunity to have a Palm Sunday procession. Using green oak tag or construction paper, cut a large leaf out for each child. Or, use real branches (perhaps snips from evergreens or spring branches). Tell the children that this is the day that the people of Jerusalem welcomed Jesus into their city and sang, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"

Listen to or sing favorite songs or hymns as the children process around the room. Stop the procession at the prayer table. Invite the children to share a sign of peace with one another. Then pray these or similar words: "Lord Jesus, we welcome you into our hearts today. Help us to welcome one another and share peace with one another as we walk with you this week. We ask this in your name, Lord Jesus. Amen."

Our Holy Week Prayer

Point out to the children that in this Sunday's gospel we hear all about Jesus' passion and death. Today begins a special week of prayer within the Church. Explain to the children that during this week we remember all that Jesus did for us, especially dying on the cross to save us.

Distribute the reproducible master. Have the children color parts of the path each day during holy week as they pray the prayer. Encourage the children to display this in their home and to pray it with their families.

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