Welcome to the blog: “On Earth as it is in Heaven…”, the beginning of what we hope develops into a conversation among concerned and interested people about how together we can put the values and principles of Catholic social teaching and Faithful Citizenship into action to create a more just, compassionate and peaceful world. This blog is sponsored by the Justice and Peace Ministry of Catholic Charities Department of Social and Community Development in the Archdiocese of New York, and we hope that wherever you live you will add your voice to this on-going exchange!
Today, we live in a world of stark contradictions: despite tremendous advances in technology and resources that allow us to travel to and communicate with even the most remote sections of our planet, we have not been able harness these advances in the interest of global cooperation, assistance and understanding. We still live in a world where almost 2.1 billion people live on less the $2 a day and almost 1 billion go to bed hungry every night; where 16,000 children die daily of malnutrition and almost 15 million have been orphaned by AIDS. This year alone, people across the world still suffer violence under the burden of 35 active armed conflicts and 183 non-state terrorist acts; 16 countries have been documented as using torture against those they detain and citizens of 7 nations are in danger of seeing their societies slip into genocidal killing. Even within the boarders of our own country, 36.5 million of our fellow Americans live in poverty – 15.6 million of these in extreme poverty (income below one half of the poverty line ($10,294.00 per year for one person)), and whether it is the 1.2 million lives lost every year to abortion, or the 30 million documented and undocumented immigrants living within our communities, the questions of how far our society’s circle of concern and protection should extend still abound.
It is no wonder then that, during a recent phone conversation, a dear friend with whom I was catching up exclaimed: “that’s one tall order!!” when I told her the name of the blog I was going to be working on would be called “On Earth as it is in Heaven”. She finished up the sentiment by concluding her comments with the observation: “…especially in New York”.
When I later got off the phone call with her, I sat for a while and pondered her observations on the blog’s title. Indeed, given the world situation detailed above ‘On Earth as it is in Heaven’ does seem a particularly tall order, and especially here in post-financial meltdown New York. But on further reflection I felt better when I thought of the origin of the words “on Earth as it is in Heaven” – they are of course the sixth line of the prayer that every Christian child around the world – no matter their denomination – can repeat, the prayer that is recited at every Mass celebrated in every corner of the Earth – the prayer that Jesus taught us. These words represent both our hope, and a promise: our hope that in the fullness of time we will witness God’s will manifest here on Earth, and a promise that we – every one of us who repeat the prayer that Jesus taught – will be builders of His Kingdom on Earth.
Our Catholic tradition supplies us with some wonderful blueprints of what this Kingdom will look like in the principles of our Catholic social teaching – the only real task before us is to decide how we will work together and begin to assemble the pieces. And this essentially is conversation that we hope to have on “On Earth as it is in Heaven”. Some of the topics we hope to cover in our future conversations include:
- Sharing information on upcoming events – both here in the Archdiocese of New York and elsewhere – that folks can participate in to deepen their understanding of Catholic social teaching and Faithful Citizenship, and other opportunities to live out these principles in the world;
- Sharing information on the world situation in terms of poverty, hunger, disease, war, and human suffering to better understand their causes and implications on both a global and local scale; and
- Sharing ways that you can get involved in the actual work of helping to alleviate some of this human suffering in order to be builders of Jesus’ Kingdom here on Earth.
The image we would like to convey for our conversations is that of a dinner party, a gathering where we can learn from, inspire and share with one another; where we all have a place at the table. Because the topics we will be discussing – religion, political policy and their interactions – are ones that your parents taught you were never to be discussed in polite company, our conversation may be a bit different from others that you may have had around a table, but it is our hope that these discussions will generate far more light then heat, and will inform, educate and hopefully – at least sometimes – entertain!
And so we wind up where we began – with technology, a conversation and a hope that “on Earth as it is in Heaven” will help contribute to a future world of greater cooperation, assistance and understanding among all God’s people.
Talk to you soon …