Read the article, The carriers of hope, and answer the following reflection questions. Then share your answers in pairs or groups.
Questions for reflection
1. Why do certain prayers hold such power for us through the ages?
2. Call to mind one Christian prayer (e.g. The Our Father). As you remember the words, sit with each line for a moment, reflecting on the different people who might hear the words. How does it deepen the experience of praying?
3. Does living in an area where people of a certain faith are persecuted make people treasure that faith more? How does it make you feel about faith, knowing that some people make such sacrifices as believers?
4. Pope Francis the coming of Jesus was a ‘revolution of goodness’. Do you think such a revolution is possible in our world? Why might Christmas be a time to dream of such a revolution?
5. Pope Francis says the poor are the ‘first carriers of hope’. How can we become closer to the poor at Christmas?
1. Creative response: Imagine that you are living in a war zone, and you hear the Salve Regina prayer being prayed by a group of Christians hiding in fear (it begins ‘Hail Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy…’). What is your response to the prayer? How does it impact on you?
2. Pope Francis recently visited Myanmar and Bangladesh, two other countries where Christians are a minority group. Look up some articles online about the Pope’s visit. What did he say while he was there? Who did he meet with? How did he respond to politically sensitive issues like Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya? Write your own article, reporting on the Pope’s visit and arguing whether or not it was a successful one.
3. Christmas in solidarity: Brainstorm some ways your school help support Christians and others who are suffering around the world this Christmas? For example, you could put together a Christmas disco, where students donate money to have a party one lunch time, with funds going to Caritas or Aid to the Church in Need.
For younger students
1. Read Sarah Sona’s winning story in the Young Journalist Award to the students (here). Talk about what it must be like for families to flee their homes in search of safety. Remind the students of the story of Mary and Joseph, and their flight into Egypt. Why do they think organisations like Caritas support people like Sara? Get them to brainstorm some ways we support people like Sara at Christmas, then put together a poster showing some of the things we can do to help others around the world at Christmas.