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Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

January 2, 2013

Extending the Peace of Christmas

The following exercise is a prayer experience that focuses on repairing hurts and divisions and extending the peace of the Christmas season. Distribute copies of a paper with two equal circles and one 3" x 5" index card to each student. Play a recording of Christmas carols as the prayer experience begins. Have the students gather near a creche. Light a candle. Then say:

One of the best indications that people are followers of Jesus Christ is by the way they live out the virtue of peace. Many Christmas songs speak of pace. The enveloping feeling of peace that seems to take over a person, a family, a community during the Christmas seasons is part of Christmas that affects a great number of people. You may have thought, "I wish it could be Christmas all year long."

To make the feeling of Christmas peace last for 365 days a year would take an about-face by individuals and society. Rather than letting grudges with family members and friends simmer and explode, making peace entails saying words like "I am sorry" and "What can I do to make things better?" How often do you use these words in your relationships? Is your life one of peace, identified by reconciliation, honesty, justice, and respect? Or, is your life one of "un-peace" marked by hurt, anger, injury, put-downs, mistrust, and disrespect? If you are honest, you would probably have to admit that your life is a mixture of both. As we prepare for prayer, reflect on some of the times that we are not peaceful people and what we can do to bring real peace to others."

Have the students refer to the paper with two circles. Continue with the prayer script below.

Think of some family members and friends whom you have hurt. Write their initials in the left circle—people you have embarrassed, disappointed, teased, left out, disrespected, take of advantage of.

Think of people who have hurt you. In the right circle, write the initials of people who have hurt you in any of these ways: embarrassed you, disappointed you, teased you, left you out of an activity, disrespected you, taken advantage of you. (Allow a few minutes for writing.)

What would you have to do or say in order to heal the hurts you have been thinking about and make peace with these people? I am going to pass out an index card to each person.l I would like you to write three or four constructive ideas for making peace in your relationships. These notes won't be delivered, though you should write them as if they were to be given to the people you thought about. Some of the items on the index cards will be read anonymously to help us continue our prayer. Write a private number or symbol on your card to help you reclaim your card after the prayer.

Pass out the index cards. Allow time for writing. Then collect the cards. Distribute copies of a Christmas carol with lyrics that speak of peace. Lead a singing of verse one. Then read anonymously several of the ideas for making peace from various index cards. Read only one or two items from each card and replace any names or nicknames with initials. After you have gone through about half the pile, lead a singing of verse two of the Christmas carol. Then continue reading ideas from other index cards. When all have been read, ask everyone to stand around the creche. Conclude by leading the following prayer from the responsorial psalm of Christmas day. Say:

Sing a new song to the Lord!

Everyone on this earth,

sing praises to the Lord,

sing and praise his name.

R: A savior is born, Christ the Lord!"

Day after day, announce,

"The Lord has saved us!"

Tell every nation on earth,

"The Lord is wonderful

and does wonderful things!"

R: A savior is born, Christ the Lord!"

Tell the heavens and the earth

to be glad and celebrate!

Command the ocean to roar

with all of its creatures

and the fields to rejoice

with all of their crops.

R: A savior is born, Christ the Lord!"

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