Monday, March 17, 2008

Two Book Reviews for Holy Week

The Way of the Cross for Children – a coloring book by Kathryn Mulderink, OCDS, with drawings by Victor KyNam

Kathryn Mulderink, lay Carmelite and Catholic homeschooling mom of seven, originally wrote these beautiful prayers for the 14 Stations of the Cross for her own children and has used them for several Lenten seasons.

Kathryn’s poignant prayers and meditations on the Stations of the Cross combined with Victor KyNam’s sensitive illustrations make this book one that will touch the hearts of the children who peruse it. The Way of the Cross for Children offers brief meditations entitled “I Think of Jesus”, which help children to reflect on the suffering that Jesus experiences during His Passion, while reminding them of His overwhelming, unconditional love for each one of us. This is followed by a prayer “I talk to Jesus” which gently encourages children to open their hearts to Him, to broaden their prayer intentions, and to change their behavior in response to His love. A one line clincher sums up the lesson to be learned from each Station.

Here is an excerpt:

Sixth Station – Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

We adore You, O Christ and we bless you.
Because by Your holy Cross You have redeemed the world.

I think of Jesus:
Jesus does not look like Himself;
His face is all covered with blood and bruised and swollen.
He cannot see well because of the blood in His eyes.
Veronica feels very sorry for Him and risks making the soldiers
angry by stepping out of the crowd and wiping His face on her veil.

I talk to Jesus:
Jesus, I have more than Your picture on my soul.
You are really there, Jesus, with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Just as our sins made Your beautiful face bruised and bloody,
Help me to realize that sin makes it hard to see You in me.
But when I help others like Veronica did,
Your face shines through me to others.
Help me to be as brave as Veronica in doing good to others.
Teach me to love You as I should and help me never to sin again.

Being kind to others makes Your Face clear
And helps them know that You are near.

The Way of the Cross for Children is presented in a child friendly format, using simple language. It is recommended for ages 5 – 12. The prayers and meditations are short, but comprehensive, specifically designed for children’s’ shorter attention spans. Victor KyNam offers ink drawings the child can color, thus adding the kinesthetic (touch) mode of learning to this multi-modal devotional activity, increasing retention and stimulating interest. The book itself is spiral – bound and is designed to last through coloring and many Fridays.

Walk New: A Way of the Cross for Teens by Kathryn Mulderink, OCDS, with illustrations by Father Victor KyNam. These meditations were used for the St. John Bosco Youth Day at Holy Hill in Wisconsin.

Written for teens and young adults, Walk New: A Way of the Cross for Teens presents a mature, in-depth reflection on the Stations of the Cross relevant to the spiritual needs of young adults living in our culture today. Entrusting this work to the intercession of St. Maria Goretti and St. Aloysius, patron saints of young adults, the author prays: “May their example of purity and innocence inspire others to follow Christ courageously in every circumstance of their lives.”

Kathryn invites readers to place themselves at the scene of the Passion. She begins each of the Stations of the Cross with a Scripture verse followed by a detailed description of the event and a reflective prayer. This format is highly effective in stimulating and maintaining the interest and attention of the reader, who is a first hand witness in the events and is given the opportunity to share in the innermost thoughts and feelings of those who were there.

Here is an excerpt from the Fourth Station of the Cross: Jesus meets His Mother:

“Put yourself there: He will reign … His kingdom will have no end” (Lk 1:33)

"This is what Gabriel had told Mary, but Simeon said that he would be a sign that is “spoken against” and that a sword would pierce her own soul (Luke 2: 34 – 35). Surely these words returned to her now, all the hints of sorrow and salvation hanging between them, falling into sense as their eyes meet."

"He is to reign and yet, He is being dragged through the streets as a criminal rude gestures and ridicule accompanying the King to His throne. A sword of sorrow penetrates deeper than anyone can know, plunging deep into her soul. She feels helpless as she watches the light of her life stumble in excruciating pain, but she is all – YES for the Father. She has never drawn back from her FIAT. “Be it done unto me according to Your word.” (Lk 1: 38) She accepts this as He accepted every detail of her life: as the Father’s perfect will, which she need not understand. She must only trust."

"Jesus is strengthened by seeing His Mother. He notices that this suffering is the reason she is what she is, that this is the price for her purity and sinlessness. Because of His passion, the pristine heart exists, alone without obstacle to grace, alone open completely to God’s will, alone able to reach out fully to Him in this moment."

Kathryn Mulderink’s The Way of the Cross for Children and Walk New: A Way of the Cross for Teens are both very unique and different from other Stations of the Cross devotionals that I have read in that they are very poignant, yet gentle, reflecting Kathryn’s deep feminine spirituality as a mother and a lay religious; both testify to her strong love for Jesus and His Holy Mother and her eagerness to share this love with others.

I highly recommend both devotionals, and not just for Lent - but to be used throughout the Liturgical Year.

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