Each Friday during Lent our church prays the Stations of the Cross. It’s a chance to figuratively go on a pilgrimage and remember the last hours of Jesus and it’s one of my favorite Lenten traditions.
It didn’t used to be. When I was a child in Catholic school we had to do Stations of the Cross and it involved lots of incense (lots) and what felt like an interminable amount of kneeling. It was torture when I was a child. Now that I’m an adult I have been to different sorts of Stations and while I find a beauty in even the long, formal, incense-filled methods – the simple ways of following the Station speak to me the most. Yes, there is still a lot of kneeling but I figure I can spend 20-30 minutes kneeling and standing as I remember what Jesus went through on that Good Friday long ago.
Each year I take the kids through a local outdoor Stations of the Cross walk (I’ve written about it before). It is something that we all enjoy and the kids ask each Lent when we are going to do it again. So I decided a couple years ago that it was time to forge the connection between those Stations and the prayer pilgrimage that happens inside our church during Lent.
At our church the Stations are led by volunteers, not a priest. For the past three years we have led one Friday’s session for our church. The girls and I alternate reading the stations and J carries the cross from station to station so that the congregation can follow along. I even lead the group in singing between stations – yes, *I* lead singing (but I turn off the microphone for that part, otherwise it really would be torture).
We led the Stations of the Cross this past Friday night. It took less than 30 minutes and as we left the church I asked the kids what they thought of it. I was so happy to hear that they each liked it. They thought it was special – not just to lead the prayer but to participate in the pilgrimage. In fact, E asked the priest after Mass this weekend why he doesn’t announce it more often to get more people to show up. (There are usually just 25-30 people gathered.)
As I listened to the three of them talk about this special Lenten tradition – I realized it was a tradition that has pulled them closer to their faith. A tradition that has honestly touched each of them. I think that half hour on Friday night just might have been some of the best 30 minutes I’ve ever given my kids.