Read the article, The 12 Days of Christmas Creation Challenge, and answer the following reflection questions. Then share your answers in pairs or groups.
1. What do you think could have been added to make it a uniquely Australian 'Twelve Days of Christmas'?
2. The article talks about the Pope's encyclical, Laudato Si'. What is an encyclical? Who was this particular one addressed to? Is this different from whom encyclicals are usually addressed to?
3. How could you could make a difference to the environment over the Advent period?
4. Pope Francis states in Laudato Si' that concern for the natural world is no longer ‘optional but is an integral part of the Church teaching on social justice.’ What do you think he means by this?
5. If you were writing ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas Challenge’ what would you include, what would you leave out and why?
1. Go the Internet and search for Laudato Si’. Find a summary of the encyclical and note down all the things Pope Francis says about the environment and how we should be looking after our home.
2. In No. 9 ‘Gifts that give life to the Planet and its inhabitants’ think of a gift that you may give to a charity as a class. Organise for people to bring in a small donation towards it. Examples may be deciding to buy an environmental toy or game to put under a Christmas tree where they are collecting gifts for people less fortunate than yourselves. With money collected you may decide to collect for a particular project set up by a reputable charity such as Caritas. Some examples may be a $10 donation that would provide a family with some chickens in order to feed the family with eggs and also as a form of income. Another $10 donation may buy some seeds for a family so that they are able to grow food for themselves. Larger donations of $40 may provide a family with a goat for milk, a great source of protein for children. $90 may provide a school with a hand washing station in order that students keep clean and don’t pass on diseases that may be rife in their area.
3. Put up a Christmas Crib in your classroom for the last few days of school. Leave the crib empty and when you come back next year you can put Baby Jesus in the crib. Make up a short liturgy that you could run on return to school before you pack away the Crib until the end of the year.
For younger students
1. Explain to the students what an encyclical is and then give them a summary of what Pope Francis says about our responsibility with the environment.
2. Read to students ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas Creation Challenge’ in the magazine. Put students into groups and give them each one of the challenges and ask them how they think they could change things at home in this Advent period.
3. Give students some recycled paper and get them to colour it in in any fashion they like that depicts the ‘real’ Christmas season. This paper will be used to wrap some of their presents at home. They need to tell the family all about their recycling project and what it means for the environment.