Monday, February 27, 2012

Stations of the Cross

We adore Thee, O Christ, and we praise Thee,
Because by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.

The Stations of the Cross are a beautiful Devotion of Prayers to Jesus for us to meditate on what He endured in His Passion. I would encourage everyone to pray as a family. It is a beautiful practice, a beautiful prayer. Its a way to draw family members in to be a comfort for them throughout their lives.

We haven't always been good about praying Stations of the Cross as a family. When I was a younger mom, I worried I wasn't doing it "right". People would tell me it had to be done in a church. I knew my little ones wouldn't behave while we were up and down kneeling and moving through the church, and I wouldn't be able to pay attention and might end up mad. Yes, I know, anger isn't an appropriate emotion at church, but some kids can push their mommy's to that point. When I was a younger mother, worrying too much about everything else, I found it was easier to pray the Stations at home.

We have come to love Friday evenings in Lent for our special time to pray the Stations together. When my oldest was ten, he carved fourteen circle intentions in a log so I could place fourteen candles, each for a Station on Christ's Passion. We would have all the lights out, and light the candles on the log. We would take turns reading the station's details, recite the prayers together and then extinguish a candle. We would have a lone candle to help with the reading, for after placing Christ in the tomb, all lights are extinguished. They would be silent with amazement and respect. Christ is the Light of the World  and He has died and been placed in a tomb.

I had one very sensitive child ask repeatedly:
"Did Jesus die on the cross?" - (softly spoken)...
"Yes, dear; "
"but then what happened?"
long pause...
deep audible breath...
"HE CAME BACK TO LIFE!!" joyfully shouted, with a jump for emphasis.

It is important to introduce the stations to children when they are young, so they can understand the Passion, meditate on His Love and Sacrifice. The Passion was bloody, brutal, and extremely horrifically violent. He make it all new again by rising from the dead. Children seem to understand and accept without fear. It usually generates many deep questions.

Last year found us with our parish hall under construction and quiet Friday nights. We found another family  up for an adventure of visiting parishes far and near in our diocese for their Stations and support their fish fry, additionally to keep this devotion alive and well attended. Sometimes we had many join us, other weeks a little more quiet.

My children looked forward to going to Stations every Friday night! We enjoy the variety of styles of praying the stations.My sister's country church prayed by candle light. Some churches followed the priest station to station, others the hallways marked with the stations were tight, so we prayed from our pews. Some celebrated the "15th" station of Christ's resurrection, most didn't.

We have resumed this tradition this year. Our new host church hadn't had a fish fry in quite a few years, and had some difficulty getting it coordinated. Dinner was served an hour and half after ordered. We were blessed to have a visit with our priest while waiting. I am sorry to think he didn't see all best behavior while little girls were hungry for dinner didn't understand the wait. But, it is Lent, everything isn't to go perfectly, right? We need to have little things pop up and give us something to improve our demeanor, something extra to "offer up."

The dinners are not all Fish Fry's; we have a stone soup gathering and Enchilada Dinner to look forward to. We hope to host one here, praying the stations outside along a path in the trees, starting late enough to light the candles out and follow the station in the back yard. Last year my favorite Lenten moment was the sound of voices singing the Stabat Mater floating up through my neighborhood.

Like many prayers, meditations can take on different meanings to us at different points in life due to experience and spiritual maturity. It's one reason I like stations at different churches is the books vary and the focus of the meditation is different.

Consider the tenth station: Jesus is stripped of garments. Is it about atoning for our immodesty, our vanity, our attachment to wordly things, or treasuring people's opinions or our inability to suffer of the flesh when we fear it is all ripped anew? Good to reflect on. Each time could be a different focus.

Walking the Stations of our Lives: making memories, developing friendships, sharing fellowship and offering prayer.

Lord Jesus, crucified,
Have mercy on us!

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