Monthly letters to help put the work of the catechist of the Good Shepherd into the context of the larger world · from the archives
by Catherine Maresca
On several of my album pages that introduces or uses the cross as a sign in the material, Sofia Cavalletti wrote “The cross is a sign of victory over death.” For older children she added “and evil.” This is our Christian hope. Jesus died and rose, making his victory over evil and death ours to claim, little by little, as we are nourished, healed, reconciled, and called to serve others.
Last year, I retired from my position as catechist at Christian Family Montessori School after 30 years of working as a Level I, Level II, and Level III catechist, and DRE, (never all at the same time). While I continue to meet with one after-school group of 6-12-year-old children, leaving the staff of CFMS opens up time to pursue the projects of the Center.
As I left, the elementary children of the school presented me with a book of 186 crosses they had drawn, inspired by a small collection of crosses to trace in our atrium. It is striking to see both what is and is not included and the symbols and colors paired with the cross in these images.
There is no blood, no sign of suffering, and no tears.
There are abstract designs, rainbows, concepts such as peace, love, beauty, grace, caring, elegance, sympathy, knowledge, and joy, plants, hearts, water, animals, light, fire, eternal life or heaven, circles, the elements, sound, earth, time and Eucharist.
These children have been surrounded by the language and images of the cross as a sign of death and resurrection, and also the language and images of the cross as a sign of suffering and death. But when we look at this art that comes from them we see that they are affirming the cross as a sign of resurrection – life in all its forms, water and light and color and shapes and all that is good.
This is just one of many gifts children have to offer the church. They can nudge us away from our tendency to belabor penitence, suffering, and death and instead to celebrate fully the joy of the resurrection always present in our lives.
As winter turns to spring and we rejoice in every sign of new life spread over our landscape, use Lent to practice watching for the risen life God wrests out of every evil and death, as well as every good thing we offer to God and one another. Easter will be a wonderful season of celebration indeed.
A version of this article was originally published for the Raven Foundation on Patheos.