The ‘descent into hell’ is as important as the other articles of the Creed (because it joins Old Testament with New, and shows Our Lord as the Centre of all history), but it is outside all our experience and imagination. Tell the children we have to make a picture of it as best we can.
The moment when Our Lord expired on the Cross was the moment when the atonement was made, the world was saved, the Old Law was ended, the New begun, Our Lord’s work of redemption complete. That is why He said: ‘It is finished,’ and why the Veil of the Temple (before the Holy of holies) was miraculously rent in two.
While Our Lord’s body still hung lifeless on the Cross, His Soul had gone straight to the world of departed spirits (‘Hell,’ Limbo, etc).
Picture a vast ‘place’ in the spirit world, and the souls of the just who waited there (we must picture the spirits in bodily form) ” Adam and Eve whose sin had closed the gates of heaven, Abraham and the patriarchs who had believed so long ago, the prophets and kings who had longed for the Messias; David, Isaias, and myriads of others who had done God’s will as they knew it, down to holy Simeon and Anna, the Holy Innocents, John the Baptist, St Joseph himself all waiting patiently, and knowing the time near. Suddenly, the Soul of Jesus, bright with glory, appears in the sight of all, and they welcome Him with joy and adoration. He passes through them, with greetings for this one and that one, making His way to our first parents, and the second Adam meets the first Adam, with God’s message of full forgiveness.
Then to all the vast throng of spirits Jesus announces the Good News of Redemption. He fills their souls with the light of glory, spreading from the glory of His own Soul –as many lamps lighted from one and then (either now or at the Ascension) He heads them in grand procession into heaven.
– Rev. F.H. Drinkwater, Catechism Stories Part I: the Creed (1939)