As I have said before, I try to be realistically age-appropriate in my Lent plans for our family, and the post-dinnertime Stations at our church is too late for our younger kids. The full prayer meditation takes about a half-hour, which again, is a bit much to ask of our kiddos at such a late hour. So, for the past two years, we have opted out of our parish Stations experience. Instead, I focus on the Stations for our family during the last two weeks of Lent leading up to Easter. This allows us to do one station per night and the final three stations on Good Friday. This way, all of our kids can participate in the prayers, we can talk about each one, and all of our kids can certainly focus attention on a single station each night (the prayers for each station take only about 2 minutes).
This past Monday, I set up our Stations of the Cross in our dining room:
Last year, I made our own version of Catholic Icing's Stations of the Cross Eggs. These are a wonderful addition to our routine.
Each egg represents one station and contains a wooden heart with the number of the station and a small object representing the event (with the exception of one egg, which represents Stations 3, 7, and 9, Jesus' three falls. The Catholic Icing version uses an 18 egg set to allow for separate eggs for all these stations. I just fill the one egg with enough pieces for the three falling stations). This is a great way to hold the attention of preschoolers, and I often give the job of opening the egg to our younger kids so they can show the object to the rest of us as we are doing our prayer.
To help with our prayers, we also use the Saint Joseph's Press Stations of the Cross Coloring Book.
It has large, age-appropriate pictures for each station, as well a special prayer coloring page specific for each station.
I like the introduction page of the coloring book so much, because it explains simply for the kids why we pray the Stations of the Cross. We use this page as the introduction to our prayer each night for each station.
After the introduction, we light a candle and read the station for the day, open an egg and talk briefly about what the station means, say a short prayer specific to the station and then say together,
"We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you. For by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world."
Then we blow out the candle, make the sign of the cross, and we are done.
This year, I gave the kids Stations of the Cross wheels from Oriental Trading Company so they would have their own visual aid to color each day. The kids colored the top of the wheel, I helped them assemble them, and now they get to color the station windows that we do each day. Everyone has enjoyed this and put a lot of effort into their work:
|G-Bear's Stations Wheel|
|J-Bear's Stations Wheel|
|E-Bear's Stations Wheel|
|Buddy Bear's Stations Wheel|
However we pray the Stations, our greatest prayer is that the Lord will use this time to draw all of us closer to Himself. Lent and Easter are precious seasons because we are asked to take time to reflect on how much Jesus loves us. The Stations are a reminder and a brief glimpse into that love. For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not die but have eternal life. (John 3:16)