Given mine is an early-to-bed, early-to-rise kind of family, attending a Friday evening Stations of the Cross prayer service is not feasible in this current stage of life. Yet my heart still longs to pray the Stations during Lent. So at the beginning of Lent, I went on an online scavenger hunt to find ways to bring the Stations of the Cross into my home. One idea here, another idea there, and voilà: a Stations of the Cross suitable for the home mantle. Sure, the home mantle now looks very pretty, but the reality is we’ve still struggled to pray the Stations as a family.
Maybe I set the bar a little too high for my young family? Here’s another option to consider, one that has been proving more feasible. In the March issue of the Magnificat, Father Peter John Cameron, in his typical pastoral, wise ways, suggests the following:
“Try each day taking just one of the fourteen Stations of the Cross and making it the focus of your meditation … If you start on the first of March, you will be able to get through all fourteen Stations two times before Good Friday.”
One station … one day at a time? I can do this! Better yet, my family can do this!, too If you start today, you won’t get through them twice, but you will certainly have plenty of time to get through them once. It’s more realistic for my young family to reflect on one station a day, right before dinner, rather than all fourteen at the end of a long day.
Whew! Do you know how good It feels to lower that bar of expectations?
I’ve also taken up the “one-a-day” practice for individual prayer and reflection. A great resource is the booklet A Way of the Cross for Mothers by J. Katherine Reilly. The prayers and reflections in the book link the sufferings of Jesus’ journey to Calvary to the everyday challenges of our motherhood. It helps take the frustrations, insecurities, and fears we experience throughout our days, and use them as opportunities for spiritual growth and self-awareness. Here’s an example:
The Third Station: Jesus Falls for the First Time
Reflection: It was very frightening the first time each of us felt exasperated, helpless, tired, and frazzled with a continually crying baby. We felt embarrassed and ashamed, convinced that we were a total failure at the task entrusted to us. What was even worse was knowing it would happen again, fearing we’d never be able to deal competently with our child, and if we couldn’t deal with an infant, how could we handle a teenager?
When Jesus fell that first time, already exhausted from the night’s ordeal, how humiliated he must have felt in front of the jeering crowd. Did he have the physical and emotional strength to complete the mission he had undertaken? What if he fell again? Whatever doubts flooded his mind, however weakened he felt, we know he picked himself up and continued his journey.
It’s helpful to reflect on one station each morning and allow the message to soak in throughout my day. The prayers have provided a bit of order and focus to my days, and what a relief to find a Lenten practice that is doable for my family. Now that’s grounds for celebration. Let’s raise a glass of something you haven’t given up, and toast Lenten simplicity.
Copyright 2013 Lisa Schmidt