Compassion in Action

Sometimes the language we use when speaking or writing about things is pretty abstract. It’s always good give more life, more substance, to your story by citing examples or giving more detail.

I talk about compassion a lot here on the site, talk about how urgent it is and so on.

Because you’re reading this, no doubt you’re on-board with that idea that compassion and acting compassionately are very important.

It wouldn’t be a bad thing to come up with a really good, a really clear example of someone acting compassionately.

Here we go: last Saturday night, Hanna Pignato, a waitress at the Joe’s Crab Shack on the Daytona Beach Pier noticed that a young swimmer in the ocean beneath her restaurant was struggling in a rip current.

Most folks would have hollered for a life guard or dialed 9-1-1.

Not Hanna. She gave her apron and wallet to a colleague and jumped into the sea.

Unfortunately for this hero, she hit a sandbar and broke her foot and fractured three vertebrae.

The swimmer was pulled to safety by someone else and Hanna was barely able to swim back to shore safely.

But the overarching fact here is that she put it all on the line. She acted compassionately, to say the least, when the limit of most folks’ compassion would have been to feel intensely sad if the boy had not ultimately been saved from the rip current.

Hanna is a hero. Her ennobling act of compassion stuns and inspires me.

Needless to say, her medical expenses are considerable. And her apartment is on the third floor so this is a big deal.

If you’re able to help Hanna, I hope you will. Click on this if you’d like to know how you can help.

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis

A Week of Destiny

Today is Palm Sunday and Churches in every corner of the globe will be full of worshipers thinking about Jesus riding into Jerusalem on the back of that colt and being heralded and praised by a multitude of followers.

Churches here in the Eastern Time Zone are starting to fill with folks of all ages, with families dressed in their “Sunday best”, ready to commemorate and relive that ride and that day.

When this celebration comes each year, we see ourselves as a follower of the Master, as one who may have been there for the actual event.

This is as it should be.

But what was it like for Jesus?

What thoughts were going through his mind as that day unfolded?

None of us knows the particulars, of course, but there’s little doubt in my mind that destiny–or his thoughts around it–cast a long shadow over the events of that day, over what has been known for centuries as the Triumphal Entry.

As we go through all the events of Holy Week. it’s a good thing to keep in mind that the thanks and accolades that others may bestow on us from time to time can be wonderful.

But for most of us–as was true for Jesus–those accolades don’t always last and our lives will most likely not be a joyous and unending festival of gratitude and praise.

For some, a darker destiny may await.

Jesus said that no servant is greater than his master and when one makes a conscious choice to follow in Jesus’s footsteps–to live a life of service for others–there may be–there almost certainly will be–a cross to bear.

It’s certainly true that most people go through life acting mostly on instinct. Mostly doing what furthers their own interests and–at the end of the day–maximizes the chance that they’ll live, thrive and survive, as that saying goes.

Jesus, of course, is our ultimate example of a person who saw himself in a very different way. And he knew that his destiny was a life lived for others.

May we follow his example. May we always remember that, first and foremost, we choose a life lived–not for selfish reasons alone–but for others.

And may that be our focus throughout the events of Holy Week. And always.

Brother Ben

What We Believe

The Fellowship of St Francis lists the following Six Principles and commends them to all People of Good Will:

The First Principle: On Compassion for All Compassion is the highest, purest and best motivation for People of Good Will in dealing with one another. Calling people of faith back to the practice of compassion is the first great urgency of the times in which we live.

The Second Principle: On Compassion for the Earth Compassion for the Earth and all who live on it–not only the human species–is the second great urgency of the times in which we live. St Francis is our unique example and modeled this compassion in his day and we aspire to do the same. Therefore, we commit to caring for our Earth compassionately and we use compassion toward all animals–whether wild or domesticated–at all times.

The Third Principle: On Prayer Prayer is the Universal attempt on the part of mankind to appeal to the Divine One(s) for comfort and help. Prayer–which may be seen as focused intention–is to be commended but not to be used as a thoughtless incantation or treated superstitiously.

The Fourth Principle: On Sacred Literature We commend Sacred Literature to all people of faith and people of good will and do not claim that the Christian Scriptures are authentic and binding but that Sacred Writing from all other religious traditions are invalid, counterfeit or sinister.***We especially reject the teachings from any religious tradition that say there are people destined for heaven and happiness but that other humans are accursed, condemned or damned and that eternal punishment in Hell is appropriate and the will of the Divine One. ***As to a general principle in interpreting or making sense of Sacred Literature, we commend the use of literary criticism and historical and scientific tools and reject superstition in the interpreting of Sacred Literature.

The Fifth Principle: On Respect for All All persons bear in them the imprint or image of the Divine One and are therefore worthy of love and respect. We clearly disavow and condemn any teaching of any religious tradition that says some people enjoy God’s favor and that others are to be shunned, persecuted or denied respect or any of society’s considerations or protections.

The Sixth Principle: On the Make-up of a Church or Fellowship The benefits of a Church, Congregation or Fellowship are not reserved only for people with religious beliefs and practices which might be considered to be orthodox in our time and cultural setting but are the right of any association, congregation or fellowship of like-minded individuals for the purpose of fostering greater faith, love, compassion and any loving, positive spiritual practice.***We especially disavow any teaching or understanding that individuals who participate together in a Fellowship or Congregation must believe, embrace or adhere to any particular doctrine or dogma to be accepted or loved or to be acceptable in the sight of God.

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis All Rights Reserved

It’s time to ban the bags

It’s no secret that the Earth is slowly being buried under mountains of trash.

There are a million angles to this sad story and one of the most important involves the prevalence of single-use, plastic shopping bags.

Well, California was the first of the 50 States to ban single-use plastic shopping bags. That happened back in August of 2014.

New York is about to become the second to do it.

Of course, some members of the public think it’s an awesome thing. Some, predictably, are complaining about it.

Sara Goddard sits on the City Council of Rye, New York and is one of the folks who advocated for this new law in her State.

Now that it’s about to take effect, she has put together a quick feature in a question-and-answer format to help people get up to speed on how this change might work out, how it might affect them.

I have no idea whether anyone who may read today’s feature lives in the Empire State or not, but because similar legislation is under consideration in other states, I’m thinking that running it here could be a good thing.

I would love to see this spread to Florida, my home state. I consider that a long shot at best but public opinion on this issue seems to be changing very quickly.

And that’s a good thing.

Brother Ben

What is Love, anyway?

Once two close friends were talking about things of great importance. Many things.

After a while, one of them turned to the other and asked, “what is love, anyway?”

And the other replied, “I can’t give you a definition, but I know it when I see it!”

I have to say that that time-honored saying has the ring of truth all about it. It certainly resonates with me.

Well, I saw it today. Or perhaps I should say I recognized love clearly a few minutes ago when I read this in a post on social media from a friend who just went through a very serious surgery:

“My Home Care nurse is a sweet Jamaican women, who massages my feet with lotion, while singing Jesus Loves Me!”

Yeah, that’s love!

Brother Ben

The Cold Monster Cometh

Back on Monday night I started to feel it. That funny tickle you get in your throat when the cold monster begins to stalk you.

When I woke up Tuesday morning, I knew that it was for real and that I was in for another three days of total misery.

You know the drill: feelin’ like you’re gonna die and afraid you might not!

At times in those first 18 hours, it seemed like it might not be all that bad. But in the end is was a rough one. The fever, chills and delirium lasted for the better part of Wednesday.

I’m much better now four days in and grateful that I was able to move around work commitments and all of that. Still lots of coughing and so on. Been here before.

Because of my severe allergies, I have been through this scenario many times.

I’d love it if this were the last one but I know it’s not. So what I’m focusing on–other than the usual prevention strategies–is to do what works in any of life’s difficult or unpleasant situations: use the tools in my tool bag and ask for help.

I have more OTC cold preparations than CVS and several of my friends showed their caring and support in many ways.

That made a three day knot of misery almost bearable.

Helping to keep the FSF moving forward and my blogging in general were a couple of things that were placed on hold for the last 3 1/2 days.

I’m delighted to be out of that nasty, cold-induced funk and ready to be productive again.

Brother Ben

What does the EPA do?

If you’re a part of this movement or if you’ve taken a few minutes to check us out here at FSFtoday.org, you know that environmental issues are right at the heart of our ministry.

If you care about our planet, no doubt you’ve made sure that the way you go about living your life reflects that attitude of caring. Caring about the Earth on which we all depend.

No doubt you also think that public policy should be made and be carried out in ways that favor the Earth. Ways that, if they don’t actually help our planet, would at least not harm it.

Well, if you feel that way, you’d definitely be at odds with the way our policies about the environment are being made and being carried out right now.

If you’d read this far, some thought relating to the EPA most likely has popped into your head.

And yes, how the EPA goes about its business is a very big deal.

If you’re not quite sure what the EPA does or whether its work actually matters, this article from Nat Geo would be a big help.

It’s a fairly quick read. I recommend it highly.

Public policy matters. It matters a lot.

It’s time to step up our game. The welfare of our Planet and the survival of our species depend on us and what we do. Our elected officials are not only not helping, they’re making it harder for concerned citizens and Earth defenders to do anything.

The sad truth is that this will not change unless we force those in power to make the changes.

Brother Ben