In our last session before Holy Week, I like to walk through the Passion story with my group. Last year I tried starting with Joe Paprocki’s Bible story treasure hunt. I hid pictures of symbols related to the events of the Passion around the room and gave the young people a few minutes to find them all. They found most without trouble, and I gave hints to help them find the more well-hidden ones. It was an active way to begin our most serious session of the year.
Then I invited the young people to sit with the collected symbols in a circle of seats I had arranged before they arrived. Usually we sit at tables, so this arrangement hinted to them that this session was different. Since some young people had found more symbols than others, I invited them to share with one another so that each person had one or two. This would be important for the Scripture activity which followed—reading the Passion narrative according to Mark 14:1—15:47. I told the young people that as we read the Gospel, they were to call out “Stop” whenever we read the section pertaining to the symbol he or she was holding. This made for more active listening to what is an essential, though long, reading. If someone missed a cue to share a symbol, I paused the reading to call attention to the story element.
After we read the Passion narrative, I handed out a Scripture reflection sheet to help the young people process the story. Then we moved to a prayer focusing on one aspect of the Gospel, the Agony in the Garden. For this we used a guided reflection from Christ Our Life, Grade 7, Chapter 21.
Before we left, I reviewed the days of Holy Week with the young people. We listed on the board what we recall each day during that week and the specific parish services we had each day, so that the young people would know what to expect. I encouraged participation in all of the special services of Holy Week, and we closed the session on a quiet note. We weren’t ready to jump into the joy of Easter just yet.
How do you prepare young people to experience the fullness of Holy Week?