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Confronting Easter's Tough Questions
By Susan Hines-Brigger


Joyous But Confusing Time
Tackling the Tough Issues
For Teens: Living the Message
For Kids: The Special People in Your Life

I guess I should have seen it coming. My daughter, Madison, has never been a child just to accept things at face value. She wants answers and explanations for everything. Even worse, she wants answers that make sense.

It all started last Easter when we were attending Holy Week services and Easter Mass. During the readings I could see the look of confusion on Madison’s face.

So it really was no surprise when over dinner one night she said, “Mom, remember how you told me that, when someone dies, their spirit goes to heaven but they can never come back and be like me and you again?”

“Yes,” I replied, afraid of where this line of questioning was heading.

“So what’s the deal with Jesus? I thought you said he died. So how could he come back to life on Easter?”

I quickly looked to my husband, Mark, for help. He promptly offered to clear the table.

And when I told my sister that I was tackling this topic, she told me that her daughter, Rosie, had recently asked her about the crucifix in front of their church.

“If Jesus isn’t dead anymore, when are they going to take him down off of that thing?”

Obviously, I’m not the only parent dealing with this.

Joyous But Confusing Time

Holy Week and Easter Sunday are very important times in the life of the Church. They signify our basic beliefs as Catholics.

They are also very challenging and potentially confusing times for children—and sometimes even adults. The story of Christ’s death alone is enough to give most children nightmares.

But that doesn’t mean we should avoid these topics. As hard as it is, this is the exact situation we signed up for when we said yes to having children, had them baptized and promised to raise them in the Catholic faith. Easter provides too important a message not to address it with our children.

Tackling the Tough Issues

As I said before, I struggle with this issue as much as any other parent. So, in attempting to figure this out for myself, I have culled a few tips from others. Here they are:

• Read the Easter story from the Bible. Take note of any questions your child has. Try to address them as best and honestly as you can.

• Explain that when Jesus came back it was not in the same form as you and I. That may have been why some of his disciples didn’t recognize him at first. One example a priest friend gave me was that a baby grows in the mother’s womb for nine months. Once the baby is born, it cannot return to the womb because he or she has moved on to a different life.

• Ask for help. If you don’t feel that you can answer your child’s questions, consider getting input from others, such as your parish priest.

• Focus on the positive. Point out that by dying on the cross Jesus showed us how much he really loves us. You might want to explain this in terms your child can grasp, such as, “You know how much Mommy and Daddy love you. Well, Jesus loves you that much—and more.”

• Let your child lead the discussion. If my husband and I have learned one thing the hard way, it’s not to put any ideas in Madison’s head that aren’t already there. Wait for your child to ask about something before addressing the topic.

• The bottom line is: You know your child best and what he or she can handle. Let that be your guide in dealing with this season’s difficult topics.

Perhaps you’ve got some of your own tips that may help. If so, send them to me. I’d love to read them and try them out!

Next Month: What's the Big Deal About Lying?



For Teens: Living the Message

Now that you are a bit older, you can grasp the story of the Easter season a little better than when you were younger. You can also recognize some of the season’s major themes, such as love, betrayal, sacrifice, suffering. Read over the Bible story of Christ’s passion and identify some of the themes. Then take some time to reflect on how these themes manifest themselves in your life. Have you been betrayed by a friend as Jesus was by Judas? How did you react? Is there something you want or believe in so strongly that you are willing to sacrifice for it?

For Kids: The Special People in Your Life

One thing we learn at Easter is that we are very special to Jesus and that he loves us very much. Who are some special people in your life?

Ask your mom or dad if they have extra pictures of these people and make a scrapbook of the special people in your life. You can make your own scrapbook with materials from your local craft store or from around the house, such as construction paper and stickers. Or you can simply put the pictures in a small photo album. If you don’t have any photos, ask your mom or dad to take the photos for you or buy a disposable camera so you can do it yourself. If necessary, draw your own pictures.


Do you have ideas or suggestions for topics you'd like to see addressed in this column? If so, send them to me at “Faith-filled Family,” 28 W. Liberty Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202-6498, or e-mail them to

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