Involving Children in the Way of the Cross (Part I)

Last Friday I posted a Stations of the Cross for Children. That’s the “what” of doing stations. I also want to address the “how” and the “why”. Today, a bit on the “how.”

You really can’t do the Stations without stations. Traditionally, there are 14 stations, each representing a step on the road to Calvary: Jesus Falls the First Time, Jesus is Stripped, Jesus is taken down from the Cross. When praying with children, I like to include a 15th station: Jesus Rises from the Dead. It’s nice to end on a definitively optimistic note (grown ups can handle an implied hope). Your “stations” or stops can be as simple as the number, but children really need something more vivid.

I have these prints, which Bill says he had in his classroom when he went to Catholic school way back when. They are colorful, and not too violently graphic. A friend of mine has the same ones, and she has them on the walls of her home year round. I prop mine on chairs on Friday evenings.

Buying a set of stations is nice, but this is also a wonderful opportunity for your children to be creative. My old homeschool group does a stations one Friday every Lent and families pick a station for which they are responsible. Last year, the stations were dioramas with various mediums. LEGOs were popular. Dolls. Clay models. Some were quite large. Several years ago, I used shoe boxes (post new Easter shoe shopping) and had the kids make shadow box dioramas.

This year, I think that homeschool group is doing “live” stations. The students will dress up for the different scenes. The youth group at another parish I belonged to did that for the community stations as well. It’s very nice, and definitely keeps the attention of even young children. Of course, that’s not very practical for a single family.

Two-dimension art is excellent too. Iconography is meant to be done prayerfully. My children enjoy drawing their own stations while listening to Gregorian chant. I enjoy the hour of peace and quiet. I planned to upload a few of the drawings my children have done, but my scanner refuses to cooperate. As soon as I get that fixed, I will update this page.

Whether you have the children create their own 2D or 3D stations or have them act them out, they can not help but think about the sufferings of Christ. And if you use their dioramas or drawings as you pray them in your home, they will have a sense of ownership that will connect them more closely to the meditation.

Stations of the Cross for Children

If you are interested in a Way of the Cross for Children, I have one here. I wrote it, so please give me credit if you share with others. If that link doesn’t work (I’m new to this file sharing technology), email me and I will send it to you directly.

I love the stations of the cross, and we do them every Friday during Lent. If you have never tried it, maybe this is the year to start.

I’ve been trying to put together a booklet with these stations plus tips and suggestions for doing them at home or in a group setting. If you have any questions about the stations or comments on how your family does them, please leave them here so I can be sure to address them or incorporate them in this future work of mine.

My stations are intended to be flexible for different ages. I do not think that a family with all children under the age of 5 should read every single word in the document and say every single prayer. But most children are fascinated by the movement from station to station and the genuflecting. And many 3 and 4 year olds are quick to pick up the line “Because by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.” I have lots of other ideas about doing the stations with children, so perhaps I will do a special post every Friday this Lent to hopefully inspire you.