Today is Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent for the Catholic Church—a time when we journey with Jesus towards His death and resurrection at Easter. One way that Catholics prepare to celebrate Jesus’ passion is by praying the Stations of the Cross (fourteen things that happened from Jesus’ condemnation by Pilate to His death). As we reflect on these Stations, we are drawn into Jesus’ suffering and what it means for our own lives.
Walk into any Catholic Church and you’ll see the Stations of the Cross arranged around the sanctuary. In our church, the Stations feature near life-size figures in gold sketching against a black background. So our girls are familiar with these pictures, but it’s hard to explain each Station in terms that an almost-five-year-old and a two-year-old would understand.
When I saw that Victor Teh’s new eBook The Way of the Cross, I thought this would be the perfect chance to teach our daughters this beautiful tradition.
The eBook features full-page, colour posters of each Station, with a brief description of the Station and a short prayer—in words children can understand. For example, in the Second Station, when Jesus accepts His cross, the prayer is, “Dear Lord Jesus, every time I grumble about housework, show me how you accepted the heavy cross without complaining. Help me to accept my chores joyfully. Amen.” Each poster is also available as a black and white coloring page, giving children something to do while reflecting upon the stations.
The eBook also includes a prayer card for each Station and round and square badges for crafts or buttons. These would be excellent resources for a Sunday School, school, or homeschool. The artwork is attractive and gives parents or teaches more opportunities to discuss what is happening in each scene (as I look at the posters, I can just imagine some of the questions that Sunshine would have about them).
Every year on Good Friday, several local churches gather to pray the Stations of the Cross while hiking up Mt. Tolmie. This has been a great activity to do with the girls, as they don’t have to sit still or be quiet while we are praying. This year, I think I’ll print the prayer cards for them to bring along; at each Station, they can have the picture to look at while we pray. When Sunshine learns to read, these will also be great resources for her as she can follow along with the prayers herself.
The Way of the Cross is also available as a paperback picture book. You can order The Way of the Cross eBook from the Happy Saints website. While you’re there, check out Victor’s gorgeous artwork and his other eBooks for more resources on the saints. You can also find Happy Saints on Facebook.
Do you have special traditions for Lent and Easter that help your children get involved?