Now that most public liturgies are canceled—both Masses and parish Stations of the Cross—many of us are feeling the void in our Lenten practices.
The good news is: you don’t have to gather in your parish church to meditate on the mysteries of our salvation. Yes, such communal prayer is very important, but communal Stations are not the only way to pray them. You can—from your own home—enter into these mysteries. The Stations of the Cross can be prayed by anyone and at any time.
As Catholics, we can, and should, foster a spirit of prayer in our own homes. (Not only during Lent, but always!)
The tradition of parish families gathering for “Soup and Stations” is wonderful. (Or the Friday fish-fry!) It's wonderful to pray together, and share a meal together. Such customs provides comradery and community. Even if we cannot gather together with friends physically this Lent, we can still be united in spirit.
Here are some simple steps to help you introduce the tradition of "Soup and Stations" to your family while you're all at home:
1. Gather supplies.
Many of us aren't able to buy a home-sized set of the Stations of the Cross. Even if we did, we might not have space on our walls to hang those Stations!
But you don't need the actual wall-images in order to practice this devotion. You just need a Stations of the Cross booklet—and it's helpful to get one for each member of your family so that everyone is able to follow along. There are many resources here.
If you have little ones who cannot read, give them a Stations of the Cross coloring book. Everyone can participate!
This Magnetic Stations of the Cross set, for example, is perfect for families!
2. Invite other families to join you in spirit.
You may not be able to gather in person, but you can pray the Stations at the same time as other families. Not only does this help others feel the real community of the Church, it also ensures that your family will, in fact, pray the Stations on Friday night!
Pick a time that works for each family to begin in their own home—you could even do a video call if you wanted too!
3. Make soup for your family.
Observe the Lenten Friday fast by making a hearty meatless soup.
Open up one of those cans you purchased last week or find a simple recipe online. The secret to a great soup is just to combine what you have in the fridge or pantry and then share it with a smile! It doesn’t have to be perfect to be tasty! (Pro tip: some nice bread and butter can make any soup delicious.)
You can find some wonderful meatless Lenten soups here.
4. Pray the Stations of the Cross.
Where can you pray the Stations, since you're not in a Church with those beautiful wall-images?
You can gather in your living room. If you have a family prayer altar, that's ideal. If not, no worries—just set out a crucifix or another image of Jesus, and let that be the focal point of your prayer. If you can, light a candle!
Text your friends to remind them that it’s time for the Stations, gather the family together, and begin.
You can take turns leading each Station, or you can choose one person to lead the prayers. For example, if it says “Priest” before a line, that is the leader’s role. A designated leader can recite the opening prayers that the priest would normally say.
5. Eat and spend time together.
Once the Stations of the Cross are completed and the soup is ready, sit down to dinner. Take time to be a true community for each other.
Whether there are two or twelve at the table, know that the entire Communion of Saints in heaven is joining you in your prayer and meal. Put down the phones and be together.
6. Don’t stress about whether it’s perfect.
Maybe you have to fumble around with the prayers and aren’t sure if you’re “doing it right.”
Maybe the baby has a temper tantrum in the middle of the seventh Station and you have to rush through to the end.
Maybe the soup burns, and you have to eat peanut butter and jelly.
That’s okay. We are striving to enter into the suffering and death of Our Lord, and accompanying Him on His Journey. We are “becoming one with the Cross.” We are not falling asleep spiritually but “praying that we may not enter into temptation.” Remember: it doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.
Lastly, as we gather in prayer this Friday, let us remember our Blessed Mother. Pope John Paul II reminds us:
[Our Lady] stood on the hill of Golgotha as the Mother of the dying Son, as the Disciple of the Teacher of truth, as the new Eve standing beneath the tree of life, as the woman of sorrow, the companion of the “man of sorrows, acquainted with grief” (Is 53:3), the Daughter of Adam, Our Sister, the Queen of Peace. As the Mother of Mercy, she bends over her children who still face dangers and exhaustion, to see their sufferings, to hear the cry arising from their afflictions, to bring them comfort and to renew their hope of peace.
—Pope John Paul II, Way of the Cross at the Colosseum
If you plan a Soup and Stations in your home, tell us about it in the comments below!
Do you have any other idea or suggestions that families would find helpful?