It was really encouraging and inspiring to read about the Live Simply programme at St. Joseph’s Dinnington and Blessed William Richardson, Kiveton, in the last edition of Hallam News. It sounds so happy and creative as well as challenging. It inspired me to write about our own attempts at St. Vincent’s Crookes to take guidance from Cafod’s Live Simply advice, and from Pope Francis’ Laudato Si.
As at St. Joseph’s, our first efforts centred on the call to look at our natural surroundings. We couldn’t come together in church in the same way during the pandemic, so we began considering space outside where we might pray and meditate and enjoy God’s Creation. We started by saying a daily Rosary outside last year during the Season of Creation, and as September wore on, so grew the idea of getting a statue of Our Lady for the garden. We kept adding winter flowers and spring bulbs anywhere we could, and then came an outside crib for Christmas. We had ‘Carols in the Car Park’ one evening – a delight to be able to sing together safely. We used greenery from the hedges for an online Advent Wreath-making session. We took round pots of snowdrops and a candle to parishioners who were isolating at Candlemas. Children painted stones to place at the foot of the outside Crucifix in Holy Week. And we constructed a couple of vegetable and flower beds for children to sow in the Spring. They have watched their flowers grow and die, but the seeds are there to feed the winter birds, and to sow again next Spring. God is good.
Now that the building is in frequent use again, we are working on church housekeeping. Can we exchange our use of harmful cleaning products for greener versions? Use refillable containers to reduce plastic waste? Avoid single-use plastic altogether? Make sure we are recycling everything we can? Turn the heating down a degree? Share car use?
We echo the thoughts expressed by St. Joseph’s that some efforts will be increasingly challenging, especially if they cause us or our loved ones inconvenience or expense, or mean giving up parts of our way of life that are dear to us. But we have our faith, we have prayer, and we have the Holy Spirit working within us. Please, it would be very encouraging to hear thoughts from other parishes. How can we join together in Hallam to ‘live simply, that others may live’?