Teaching children to pray is a critical part of parenting. Beyond the Our Father and Haily Mary, it’s fantastic to get kids involved in seasonal prayers like The Way of the Cross, which is traditionally prayed by Catholics on Fridays in Lent. However, between endless distractions and busy schedules, it can be hard to make time for family prayer. If you want to pray The Way of the Cross with the kids, you will need preparation and conversation, visual aids, and maybe even a family outing to make it happen.
Prepare with a conversation about prayer
Explain The Way of the Cross to your children before inviting them to pray it with you. If you need to, delve into the deeper meaning of this prayer for yourself first. Then, using the Gospel, help your family to understand one or two moments of the Crucifixion – pay special attention to your words if you have children who are sensitive to stories about suffering. Explain why Catholics pray The Way of the Cross and how it enriches our lives. When children understand the circumstances of their prayers, it is easier for them to pay attention and make the most of prayer time.
Use visual aids in prayer
Some children need images to help them pay attention to activities like prayer. If you have a child-friendly book with images of the Stations of the Cross, bring that out for kids to use while you pray. An illustrated Bible will work, too; just flip it open to the Gospels that recount Christ’s death. If all else fails, remember that we live in an age of technology – don’t be afraid to put an image of each Station of the Cross up on the TV to help your little ones concentrate!
Take a family outing to pray
If you want to create family memories that will last a lifetime, make praying The Way of the Cross an event. Collect the kids and go out to pray The Way of the Cross at a nearby church or simply outside at a peaceful park. Venturing outside the house to pray signals to kids that this is an important event and, by removing them from more familiar surroundings, encourages children to pay closer attention to what they are doing. If you’re in a church, you can also follow the Stations of the Cross along the walls to help your family link Jesus’ passion and death to the progress of your prayers.
The Way of the Cross is a solemn way to mark the reason for our Faith and to share the Faith with our families. Challenge yourself to pray The Way of the Cross with your family at least once this Lent!
If you're not sure of the actual ins and outs of this traditional Catholic prayer, we have a quick guide on praying the Way of the Cross.