Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Praying the Stations with Kids: Part 2

Note: Last week, I shared some ideas on praying the Stations of the Cross with young children. Here are a few more ideas, reprinted from my article that was originally published on the Catholic social networking site 4Marks.

6. Make a game of it
I know that some people might not agree with this concept. It certainly isn’t right for every family. But I find that it works well with my daughter, who always needs to move a lot in order to absorb and understand things. I’ve set down some rules, however, to ensure that the game doesn’t become too boisterous and detract from the prayerful experience of the stations.

I purchased a beautiful set of prints from a Catholic bookstore. I put each print in different places around our house, then give my children hints on where they can find them. They must walk to the hinted location. When we have found the print, we discuss what we see in it, and what it means to us. Then we say an “Our Father,“ after which each child makes up a short prayer about the station. Sometimes we might sing a song, too. I will then give them a hint about the next location, and we will walk there and repeat the process. We do this as long as I can keep their attention. Some days we might only do four stations; other days we might be very lucky and do all fourteen!

On the 4Real Forums several years ago, there was a discussion about filling a shoebox with small items that represent each station. The children then take turns pulling the appropriate item out of the box before the station’s prayers are said. This link describes the items they use:

Others may opt to use the Resurrection Eggs, a set of 12 plastic eggs that contain little items symbolizing
Jesus’ passion and death. These are available from many Christian booksellers. 

7. Use votives while praying the Stations
Some families have successfully kept their child’s attention by using 14 votive candles. Begin in a room illuminated only by the 14 votives. A simple meditation or prayer is done for each station, after which a child extinguishes a candle. (Children love doing this!) The room is completely dark after the last station. This clever use of candles, light and darkness creates a lasting impression on children and adults!

For photos and more inspiration, check out Ruth's blog, Just Another Day in Paradise  or TracyC's Magnolia Cul-De-Sac.  (She has a wonderful way to display her stations of the cross prints, too!) also has an informative article entitled Candelabrum for Stations of the Cross.

8. Break it up and do only a couple of stations each day.
Although it is best to pray all the stations in one sitting, this may not be realistic with young children. Instead, consider saying one or two stations each day. It could become part of your evening prayer time. You will then cover all station in about a week. By breaking the devotion into smaller pieces, your children will retain more, too.

9. Do the online Stations with your children.
Here is one way you can use technology to build your child’s faith! There are many online sites that offer virtual stations of the cross. Here are two that I have used with my children:

Passionist Missionaries Stations of the Cross for Children

AinglKiss' Stations of the Cross for Kids

When we discuss the Stations of the Cross in the atrium where I teach, I like to show actual pictures of the  Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem.  You can find them here:

10. Provide things for your children to do during parish devotions.
You can still occasionally attend the traditional Stations devotion at your parish with your young children. Just try to be flexible and realize that you may not be able to stay for all fourteen stations. When I need to take my children with me, I bring a small cloth bag filled with appropriate and quiet things to keep them busy. My bag includes a Stations of the Cross coloring book and books. Here are some resources:

Loyola Press offers a free downloadable book on Stations of the Cross.

CatholicMom has a downloadable coloring book.  Some of the drawings are rather detailed so bring along colored pencils instead of crayons!

St. John the Baptist Catholic Church also has free Stations of the Cross coloring pages.

11. Use Prayer Gems
I developed a prayer tool for my daughter called Prayer Gems.  I'll be sharing photos and a description of them soon on this blog!  So please check back in a day or so for more information.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Chery, I just tried to comment on part 1 of this and was having technical problems. I'd love for you to post this on our Celebrating Lent Link-Up and any other posts you have about Lent as well!