The Papal Visit to the Philippines is a truly momentous event, not only for millions of Filipino Catholics, but for the Filipino people as a whole.
After all, the Pope is considered a VIP (Very Important Person), regardless of one's religion, and his coming to the Philippines — especially to visit the victims of Typhoon Yolanda — definitely merits lots of preparation and planning.
If you're a parent with young children though, you may find that the Papal Visit might not seem like such a big deal to your little kids. Don't let that be the case — make Pope Francis's visit more meaningful by helping your kids learn these five things:
1. Your values and beliefs play an important role in your life. According to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the Mass concluding Pope Francis’s four-day visit to the country “may draw up to 6 million people.” Thousands of people are also expected to attend the other events marking his visit.
Most of these attendees to the various Papal Visit activities will probably be facing discomforts like standing and waiting for hours, heat, hunger, and dealing with huge crowds.
2. You can make a difference in the world, no matter how old or young you are. Pope Francis is what all of us would consider a “senior citizen.” At the age of 78, he may even be old enough to be our children’s great grandfather!
Despite his elderly status though, the Pope still travels extensively, bringing the message of hope to millions of people.
Lesson for your kids: Even if you are what other people consider “too young” or “too old,” you can still help others. You don’t have to go far to do so — start at home and in your community.
3. You should care for others and treat them equally, even if they are "different." Pope Francis is widely known for his “message of inclusion,” especially for serving the needs of the poor and the “unwanted” of society.
In November 2013, an image of the Pontiff embracing a disfigured man went viral on social media, highlighting his desire to reach out to those who have been marginalized by others.
It is no wonder then that Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda, quoted on BomboRadyo Philippines, said that even non-Catholics are excited to see Pope Francis.
Lesson for your kids: Every human being has a right to life, and to basic needs like food, shelter and clothing. Treat others with respect and dignity, even if they look, act, or believe differently from you.
4. No matter how powerful or influential you are, you must remain humble and simple. In an article titled “10 Things You Need to Know About Pope Francis,” published on the official 2015 Papal Visit to the Philippines website, Pope Francis is said to “see himself as a sinner” who “wants to keep it simple.” This reflects his great humility.
5. It's important to show "mercy and compassion" to everyone around you, especially those in need. The official theme of this year’s Papal Visit is “Mercy and Compassion”. His Holiness’s main purpose is to “comfort Filipinos devastated by the typhoon and the earthquake that hit the Visayas.” Like the Pope, we, too, must show mercy and compassion to others, especially those who need it the most.
Lesson for your kids: Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
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Whether or not you and your kids will be able to see the Pope in person this week, don’t miss the opportunity to learn from him and all that he represents. Set aside some time during the upcoming holidays in honor of his visit, and make lasting memories with your kids by teaching them these five important lessons.