Stations of the Cross - HC Cathedral Boston 2019

OSV Kids Stations of the Cross: Devotions Just Right for Children

In her new booklet, OSV Kids Stations of the Cross, Colleen Pressprich proves that the Stations of the Cross can be made accessible to kids without watering down the impact of the devotion.

One of the things I look forward to each Lent is the parish celebration of the Stations of the Cross each Friday. When my children were in grade school, they would go to the church on Friday afternoons to pray the Stations. Parents were invited to attend, and I often did when my schedule allowed, but the resource the school was using for the Stations was complicated, with flowery language.

That’s not a problem with this new resource from OSV Kids. Colleen Pressprich and illustrator Adalee Hude have created a prayer resource that’s long on reverence and simplicity and short on complicated vocabulary and graphic detail.

Each Station begins with the traditional call-and-response used at the Stations of the Cross. A brief meditation follows, accompanied by a few questions to help the children relate the challenges and suffering Jesus faced to experiences in their own lives. In the prayer for each Station, the children ask for Jesus’ help in meeting challenges such as loneliness, tiredness, frustration, discouragement, and forgiveness.

The meditation and prayer from the Second Station are good examples of how the suffering Jesus experienced is depicted in a child-appropriate way:

The soldiers make Jesus carry his own cross to the hill where he will die. The cross is very heavy. Jesus was in prison all night, and he hasn’t eaten any food since the Last Supper the night before. He also has been beaten. He is tired and weak, yet he still chooses to take up his own cross and walk toward his death because he loves us.

Have you ever had to do something very hard even though you were tired? How did it feel? What helped you keep going? What do you think Jesus was thinking when he lifted the heavy cross onto his back?

Dear Jesus, please remind us that you are with us when we are tired and don’t want to do what is asked of us. Please help us to remember that we can offer up what we don’t like as a prayer. Amen.

 

I would recommend OSV Kids Stations of the Cross for use with children in elementary school. It’s an excellent resource for families to use to pray the Stations together, and would also be great for use in Catholic schools or religious education programs.

Don’t skip the author’s note at the beginning of the book. Pressprich addresses this to parents, teachers, and priests; in it, she explains how adults can model faith-sharing by using some of the questions in the meditation for each Station.

OSV Kids Stations of the Cross has received an Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat, which indicate that the book is free from doctrinal or moral error.

It’s important to note that while the Stations of the Cross is a popular devotion during Lent, the Stations can be prayed all year ’round. I remember that when I was a child, my great-aunts and great-uncle used to visit a church every single day to pray the Stations—even while on vacation! If you find that the Stations of the Cross becomes a special devotion for your family, think about ways you could pray it as a family once a month, perhaps on the First Friday.


Copyright 2022 Barb Szyszkiewicz
Photo copyright 2019 Barb Szyszkiewicz, all rights reserved.

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Our Lady of Lourdes

The Miracle You Want vs. the Miracle You Need

Christy and Todd WIlkens took their son Oscar to Lourdes with the Order of Malta on a pilgrimage, hoping for healing.

The couple was desperate for a miracle. Their little boy was suffering from a seizure disorder that had begun during his infancy. After a year of chasing treatment after treatment, Christy could see that nothing was helping Oscar—at least, nothing that doctors or hospitals could offer him.

In Awakening at Lourdes: How an Unanswered Prayer Healed Our Family and Restored Our Faith, Christy Wilkens describes the details of her last-ditch spiritual effort to heal what modern medicine could not. She and her husband were exhausted, and the constant caregiving, monitoring, and medical visits for Oscar did not leave much left over for their five older children—or their marriage.

As they began their journey at the airport, Christy and Todd learned immediately about the loving care Oscar—and she and her husband—would receive from the team of Order of Malta volunteers, known as a “pod,” who were assigned to her family, and only to her family. Even as they learned what Oscar needed, these volunteers provided what Christy and Todd needed as well, including time to process the 24/7 caregiving their little boy had required for the past year.

A pilgrimage to Lourdes is much, much more than simply a trip to a shrine that boasts a spring of healing water, as the Wilkens family learned. It is a spiritual experience, bringing healing and wholeness in unexpected ways.

Awakening at Lourdes is a timely read during National Marriage Week, and as we prepare to celebrate the February 11 feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.


Copyright 2022 Barb Szyszkiewicz
Image: Stencil

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detail of stained glass window with heart and line from Prayer of St Francis

At Simply Catholic: Prayer as Petition

My latest article on prayer, Prayer as Petition, is available at SimplyCatholic.com.

A few highlights:

Prayer of petition, quite simply, is asking for God’s help. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus encourages us to place our needs before God in prayer.

In all humility, we reach out to God, knowing that he is the source of all good things, including forgiveness.

Prayers of petition are often very spontaneous: “God, help me!” Even if we feel far from God, we are able, in our supplication, to turn to him for help.

Read it all at SimplyCatholic.com.

This is the eighth and final article in a series on prayer.

detail of stained glass window with heart and line from Prayer of St Francis


Copyright 2021 Barb Szyszkiewicz
Photo copyright 2021 Barb Szyszkiewicz, all rights reserved.

At Simply Catholic: Prayer as Intercession

My latest article on prayer, Prayer as Intercession, is available at SimplyCatholic.com.

A few highlights:

Intercessory prayer is a powerful way to support others spiritually.

We are always encouraged to pray for others, ultimately entrusting their needs to God’s will.

Just as we might pray for someone in need, whether a loved one, friend, or stranger, we can also call upon the saints in heaven to pray for them as well — or for our own needs.

Read it all at SimplyCatholic.com.

This is the seventh in a series of eight articles on prayer. A new one will be published each Tuesday at SimplyCatholic.com.


stained glass window in church

 


Copyright 2021 Barb Szyszkiewicz
Photo copyright 2015 Barb Szyszkiewicz, all rights reserved.

Our Lady of Fatima statue

At Simply Catholic: Prayer to Mary and the Saints

My latest article on prayer, Prayer to Mary and the Saints, is available at SimplyCatholic.com.

A few highlights:

The saints and Mary cannot answer our prayers; only God can do that. But they can, and we believe they do, hear our prayers and pray for us, acting as intercessors on our behalf with God.

Our holy helpers, the saints, are the “cloud of witnesses” mentioned in the Letter to the Hebrews who surround us, helping us “persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith” (12:1-2).

By uniting our prayers with those of Mary and the saints and learning more about their lives and their example, we can draw closer to God.

Read it all at SimplyCatholic.com.

This is the sixth in a series of eight articles on prayer. A new one will be published each Tuesday at SimplyCatholic.com.

Our Lady of Fatima

Miraculous Medal holy card

At SimplyCatholic.com: Devotional Prayer

My latest article on prayer, Devotional Prayer, is available at SimplyCatholic.com.

A few highlights:

Rosaries, chaplets, novenas, the Stations of the Cross, the Angelus, grace before meals, the veneration of relics, and sacramentals: all of these are related to devotional prayer.

Our physical human nature benefits from the use of objects and actions that increase our focus on prayer.

Through devotional prayer, Catholics sanctify time (time of day, days of the week, and months of the year) as well as observe holy days and liturgical seasons.

 

 

 

Read it all at SimplyCatholic.com: Devotional Prayer.

This is the fifth in a series of eight articles on prayer. A new one will be published each Tuesday at SimplyCatholic.com.


Copyright 2021 Barb Szyszkiewicz
Photo copyright 2021 Barb Szyszkiewicz, all rights reserved.

St. Casimir Church Riverside NJ detail of Brother Sun stained glass window

At SimplyCatholic.com: Prayer as Thanksgiving

My latest article on prayer, Prayer as Thanksgiving, is available at SimplyCatholic.com.

A few highlights:

Expressing our gratitude to God reinforces our relationship to him, in the same way expressing our thanks to someone for giving us a gift or helping us can strengthen our friendship or family bond.

Prayer of thanksgiving can be a spontaneous “Thank God!” after hearing good news after a difficult time, or a formal prayer such as Grace before Meals.

We need to look for, and be grateful for, God’s gifts even in difficult times or when we’re dealing with something unexpected.

Read it all at SimplyCatholic.com: Prayer as Thanksgiving.

This is the fourth in a series of eight articles on prayer. A new one will be published each Tuesday at SimplyCatholic.com.

St. Casimir Church Riverside NJ detail of Brother Sun stained glass window

At SimplyCatholic.com: Prayer as Blessing

My latest article on prayer, Prayer as Blessing, is available at SimplyCatholic.com.

A few highlights:

Blessing, as prayer, most fully exemplifies how prayer is a two-way street.

Praying in blessing and adoration is our deepest communication with God. We’re not asking for anything, confessing anything, or even thanking him.

By praying in this way, we put our spiritual priorities in order.

Read it all at SimplyCatholic.com: Prayer as Blessing.

This is the third in a series of eight articles on prayer. A new one will be published each Tuesday at SimplyCatholic.com.

Monstrance


Copyright 2021 Barb Szyszkiewicz
Photo copyright 2019 Barb Szyszkiewicz, all rights reserved.

Holy Cross Cathedral Boston 2019

At Simply Catholic: Prayer as Liturgy

I have a new article up at Our Sunday Visitor’s SimplyCatholic.com: Prayer as Liturgy.

A few highlights:

Liturgy, which includes but is not limited to the Holy Mass, is considered “formal” prayer because it follows a certain pattern, or rubric. Liturgical prayer is also “common” prayer, meant to be prayed by the community as a group.

The liturgy of the Church includes the Mass, the Liturgy of the Hours, and the celebrations of the sacraments.

Liturgical prayer invites us to engage in praise, blessing and adoration, thanksgiving, petition and intercession as a community.

Read the whole thing: Prayer as Liturgy.

This is the second in a series of eight articles on prayer. A new one will be published each Tuesday at SimplyCatholic.com.

 

Boston's Holy Cross Cathedral, copyright 2019
Boston’s Holy Cross Cathedral

 


Copyright 2021 Barb Szyszkiewicz
Photo copyright 2019 Barb Szyszkiewicz, all rights reserved.

woman raising hands in prayer, silhouetted against a sunset

At Simply Catholic: Prayer as Praise

I have a new article up at Our Sunday Visitor’s SimplyCatholic.com: Prayer as Praise.

A few highlights:

Prayer of praise is focused entirely on the expression of wonder and awe at who God is and what God has done.

The Bible shows that praising God involves not only our spiritual efforts, but our physical muscles as well.

If praising God in front of others might be outside your comfort zone, there are ways to work around this.

Just as Blessed Solanus Casey advised us to “thank God ahead of time,” we don’t have to wait until the mood strikes us to praise God.

Also: find out how we praise God at Mass.

Read the whole thing: Prayer as Praise

This is the first in a series of eight articles on prayer. A new one will be published each Tuesday at SimplyCatholic.com.

 

woman raising hands in prayer, silhouetted against a sunset

 

 

 


Copyright 2021 Barb Szyszkiewicz
Image: Stencil Pro