Thanks to our Diocesan Schools Commissioner, Sarah Barreto, for the following reflection on ‘Let us Dream’ a book written by Pope Francis in collaboration with Austen Ivereigh
In Let us Dream, Pope Francis offers a deeply personal and passionate reflection on the Covid crises in his own life and insightful observations on the present Covid crisis as he looks and sees what is going on around the world. His conclusion is that Covid, as well as bringing untold suffering, has brought blessing in the present and can shape our future for the better. But, he says, for this to happen, “We have to see clearly, choose well and act right” p7. *1 “In the days after Easter, the Church invites us to follow her on her journey as she emerges from the empty tomb in the light of the resurrection and from the upper room prompted by the Holy Spirit. It is a hope-filled story as we see the Church continue to grow, as she responds to the Holy Spirit and builds up the different fledgling communities. We know, too, of course, that the life in the early Church was not without a crisis or two! Indeed, it was these crises as much as anything else that helped to shape its present and future.” *2
Many people remember the prayer at St Peter’s in the early days of the pandemic. Many probably hoped that a miracle would occur, and the pandemic be stopped in its tracks. It was not – and it is likely that Pope Francis did not expect that it would be. But, sometimes, miracles are slower in unfolding. Had people said what they hoped for in March 2020, it would have been an end to the disease. In the year and more since, people have been challenged and blessed. They have asked – and been asked – hard questions. They have seen dedicated and unstinting service from some – and greed and corrupt behaviour in others. They have seen – or heard of – people dying with hospital staff taking the place of families and families unable to grieve in ways that help to start the healing process of bereavement.
Through all of this and more, Pope Francis has contemplated – looking and listening to what is happening all around the world – reflecting and discerning what is at work – and exploring what action would be needed to create a better future for humanity and the planet we call home.
A few colleagues came together for a weekly Reading Group, for around an hour over 5 weeks, to consider and discuss together this simple but beautiful text in a little more detail. We met throughout the pandemic to organise and deal with essential practicalities, but we thought some might value time now “to see” – “to choose” and “to act”. As vaccination was beginning to be made available throughout the world and at our own curial offices, this was a timely moment to review where we have been – to identify where we are – and to dare to dream together of what is yet to come. The format of each session was simple with a Welcome and introductions, Opening Psalm followed by small group conversations around the reading and questions to consider like the ones below.
Is it possible for a country or a society to move forward unless its members agree to embrace positive change through concrete actions? What is that change for you and through what concrete actions might it be embraced? How can you encourage others to share the vision and make it a reality?
We would encourage everyone to read and share this uplifting and practical book.
*1. Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future by Austen Ivereigh (Author), Pope Francis (Author) Simon & Schuster (1 Dec. 2020)
* 2. Reflections on Let us Dream: The Path to a Better Future Catholic Bishops’ Conference Spirituality Committee April 2021