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From the Introduction
Background: The Stations of the Cross
Since the earliest centuries of the Church, Christians have made pilgrimages to Jerusalem in order to retrace the steps of Jesus during his suffering and death (the Via Dolorosa or “Way of Sorrow”). Around the fifteenth century, Christians began the practice of prayerfully meditating on the Passion of Christ by reproducing that pilgrimage in miniature in what eventually became known as the Stations of the Cross.
Today, there are fourteen stations, each of which represents an event during Christ’s Passion. Besides the traditional Stations, Pope John Paul II introduced a form more closely linked to events recorded in the Scriptures; this form is known as the Scriptural Stations of the Cross.
The bishops of the Philippines also recently introduced a “new” set of stations that merges elements of the traditional Stations of the Cross with the Scriptural Stations of the Cross. This is the version that you’ll find here. It’s well suited for younger children who are not yet familiar with the story of Jesus’ Passion. It also prepares children for the rhythm of the Triduum, which begins with our recollection of the Last Supper on Holy Thursday and ends with the Resurrection at the vigil of Easter.
Using The Stations of the Cross for Children
There are several ways you can use The Stations of the Cross for Children:
- You can print out one copy and display the stations in your home, moving from station to station as a family as you say them.
- You can print out enough copies for each person in your family to have one, and use it as a book.
- You can display the accompanying PowerPoint presentation on a screen, using a printout of these pages as a script to narrate the slideshow.
If you print out the stations, consider using cardstock or heavy photo paper; you can also laminate the printouts for later use.
Review these stations before using them with your children, and note where it would be good to adjust wording to better suit the needs of your children. You might also customize the prayer intentions to reflect your family’s own concerns.
These stations are short and sweet, geared to the attention span of younger children. If you’d like to expand them, you or an older child can read the related Scripture reference. (Station 6, Jesus Falls, has no Scriptural reference.) You might also consider singing a song or saying a prayer at each station.
Finally, you can find more information, including a listing of the traditional Stations of the Cross and the Scriptural Stations of the Cross, at pbgrace.com; search for “Stations of the Cross for Families.” For tips on using thirty seconds of silence with children, look up “Thirty Seconds of Silence,” also on the Peanut Butter & Grace website.