Saturday, February 25, 2012

Walking the Way of the Cross like a child

(photo from Lent 2011)

Praying the Stations of the Cross on Fridays with the children can be less than meditative.  We have been doing it in our home every Lent since Una was maybe 4 or 5.  I have done it with babes-in-arms, with toddlers circling my legs, and with little guys who can't stay still.  But the kids love the break in routine and yesterday evening I realized that it can make a deep impression on a child.

It was a good evening.  Dominic looked at a picture book version of the Stations and managed to find each one as we went along.  The rest of us used this one, which I must say, although geared for children it is very nicely done and gives the child a lot of food for thought at each station.  Even Gemma participated by holding a little illustrated prayer book and standing or kneeling as appropriate.

We got to the Fourteenth Station and I noticed that Adrian, one of the more sensitive of my children, was kneeling in front of me and wiping his eyes with the backs of his hands.  As we prayed the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Glory Be, the activity with his hands began to pick up, and he was sniffling.  As we finished with the Sign of the Cross, I pulled him over into a hug, and the floodgates opened.   He began to sob, and he was so embarrassed...his siblings were asking me, "What's wrong with Adrian?"  "Nothing," I answered.  "He's feeling the way we all should feel when we contemplate Jesus' death."  I picked Adrian up and carried him into my bedroom as he wept into my shoulder.  I sat him on the bed, and tried to calm him.   He was still sobbing and trying to catch his breath enough to tell me something.  He finally managed it.

"I feel so bad for Jesus.  The Roman soldiers were so mean."  Yes, they were, I told him, but it was all part of God's plan.  Nobody could make Jesus do anything He didn't want to do.  That's how much He loves us.

He had more to say, but was having trouble pulling himself together.  "I just wish I could have seen Him when he was on earth."  I agreed that it would have been wonderful to see him as he walked among people working miracles and preaching, but that He had to ascend to heaven after His resurrection so that he could do what He couldn't while He was with us in the flesh; that is, to be present to us in all the tabernacles of the world and in Holy Communion.

He kept crying.  "Don't ever be ashamed of those tears, Adrian," I told him.  "We are the ones who ought to be ashamed because we are not crying, not moved to tears by what our Lord suffered."

Oh, Lord, that I might see!  That I could love Your with Your mother's heart and be pierced through with sorrow for what my sins have done to You.  Yes, I do weep sometimes, but not nearly enough.

"Adrian, these tears are a gift.  You'll be making your first Confession during this Lent, and I think God is making your heart ready for it."

May the contemplation of Jesus' sacrifice make a deep impression on us all, and may we see ourselves as personally culpable for His suffering--so that the joy of Easter fill us to the brim.