‘On Earth as it is in Heaven’
living simply in the era of Pope Francis
On the 18th May, a bustling crowd gathered for the launch of the ‘On Earth As It Is In Heaven: Being a Church For the Poor in the Era of Pope Francis’ resource at the new state-of-the-art diocese HQ at St Boniface House, Ashburton. The first of two half-days of discussion and reflection was led by Simon Giarchi, David Wells, Jonathon Henderson and Mary Conway.
The new exciting resource ‘On Earth as it is in Heaven’ aims to support parishes, parish groups, Catholic Associations and individual Catholics to begin to take small steps in the right direction towards better loving our neighbours. It is designed to help us to reflect, to discuss and to respond to the challenges of our day therefore supporting us to put the Gospel into action.
Inspired by livesimply and the work and mission of CAFOD, the resource aims to connect us to the Church’s social teaching, and as a consequence live in accordance with the life and teaching of Jesus. The beauty of this, of course, is that while we respond to the needs of the oppressed and the hungry, we bring a greater dignity and sense of purpose to our own lives.
Talking about putting our faith into action Simon Giarchi CAFOD’s Manager for the Diocese of Plymouth said:
“Our Christianity is indeed a deep challenge and is certainly not the easy option. If we accept the challenge laid out for us by the Church, through CAFOD’s work and through livesimply and try to live our faith in today’s world our transformed lives can become truly counter-cultural and a powerful witness to Love in action. This is particularly exciting and inspiring to do in the era of Pope Francis”.
‘On Earth as it is in Heaven’ was produced by the Diocese of Plymouth’s Vicariate for Formation, the Justice and Peace Commission and CAFOD Plymouth. It is a locally focussed resource to help better live out our Christianity and actively love our neighbours in all aspects of our lives here in Cornwall, Devon and Dorset. The resource is an enjoyable tool to use for private reflection or with others in small groups. The aim of the material is to help us to reflect on how we choose to live our lives as Christians, to consider whether our choices are giving us what we yearn for, and to understand how our choices impact upon others.
The launch event began with an opening prayer inspiring those present to become ‘loving witnesses to justice,’ by allowing God to ‘shape the choices we make.’ A slideshow of images from CAFOD’s projects across the world accompanied the text of the prayer of St Francis.
First to speak was David Wells, whose presentation ‘7 deadly sins of group leading’ highlighted the pitfalls of trying to launch the new resource if it was seen as ‘guilt news’ rather than ‘good news.’ He began by reflecting on how he had reacted to previous initiatives, such as livesimply. Giving a personal testimony he explained how his life had felt like ‘an attic filled with nostalgia, that was rotting,’ he said: “My life is a very long list of unfinished business, livesimply started to help me ‘tidy up.’’
David said he hoped the new resource ‘On Earth as it is in Heaven’ would bring about a similar change in those who took it up in the ‘right spirit,’ in trying to ‘make simple changes in their lives for a better world.’ He emphasized that the resource was not trying to launch a new campaign, but rather accompany people along the way the ‘important thing is to allow people to go from where they are, to their next step.’ He said: “The flavour of this exercise is not ‘I am going to change the world,’ but ‘what is my next step in my faith filled journey of love for God, my neighbour and for the Lord’s creation?”
The new resource aims to provide a springboard for community and individual responses to these questions and makes suggestions. Amongst these are series of guided reflections for groups to discuss, reflect and pray on how a community of love and concern can be brought about. It contains suggestions for prayer, for building an inclusive community towards immigrants, for reaching out to those who serve in the armed forces, for living in solidarity with poor, for becoming stewards of creation and ethical shoppers, as well as for putting our faith into action through political campaigning.
Jonathon Henderson, the newest member of the Vicariate of Formation team, highlighted the way in which the ‘On Earth as it is in Heaven’ resource could be supported using the internet and technology. Looking to inspire the audience, he outlined how an ‘online community’ could be built up. He suggested using the internet as a way of sharing thoughts, ideas and resources.
Jonathan invited us to see the resource as an opportunity to build an even stronger diocesan community saying: “The resource should be seen as a catalyst to building up communities across the diocese. The wider diocesan community can be brought closer together by sharing the livesimply journey on the internet too, posting feedback of what’s worked, as well as by highlighting the livesimply ideas and experiences shared in group discussions.”
The day finished with a series of group workshops on themes contained within the resource, followed by a shared lunch. Simon Giarchi of CAFOD helped to summarise the findings of the discussions when he said the resource should inspire us to “meet each other on the road and journey together.” David wells added “a resource doesn’t really do anything unless our gestures speak with passion.” Mary Conway beautifully invited us to “discern what truly nourishes; a life blessed, broken and given away for others.”
Taking after the example of Pope Francis, it is hoped that those present at the event will share the ‘On Earth as it is in Heaven’ resource and their livesimply journey even more fully with their family, parishes, Catholic organisations as well as throughout their personal journey of faith and be inspired to make little changes in their lives, which together can make a big difference across the diocese, and in the whole world.
Two more days are planned to launch ‘On Earth as it is in Heaven’ across the Diocese of Plymouth:
- Cornwall Launch: 2 November St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Bodmin 10-1pm
- Dorset Launch: 25th January St Mary’s Catholic First School, Dorchester 10-1pm
For further information on the resource call CAFOD Plymouth on: 01364 645 440, to receive IT support for your local community from the Diocese, please contact Jonathon Henderson at firstname.lastname@example.org. For further information and website links in support of the ‘On Earth as it is in Heaven’ resource see the following;
http://www.plymouth-diocese.org.uk/livesimply where a pdf version of the resource for On Earth as it is in Heaven can be accessed for free.
Let us know you are coming or interested, and we will remind you closer to the time.