A Cheerful Heart and Lots of Coffee

A Cheerful Heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones

Proverbs 17:22

That verse is one I heard many times growing up, and it really has a ring of truth for me. A dash of cheerfulness is definitely an essential ingredient when we’re putting together a plan to live well each day.

May I also suggest you incorporate a couple of cups of coffee into your wellness plan?

Studies that show that the juice of the sacred bean can be a boon for one’s health are not hard to find. A new one published in March in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition is the most recent.

The study’s bottom line: quaff up to five cups each day and you’re likely to reap considerable health benefits.

Here’s a link to an article that excerpts that study. It’s an excellent source if you’d like know more without diving into the clinical literature.

Work on cultivating that cheerful outlook, friends, and make sure you don’t slack up on your caffeine consumption!

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Let All Creatures

If you’ve taken a look around here on our site, you’ve no doubt noticed that one of the things we’re all about here at The FSF is advocating for animals. All animals. Any animals. 

We are connected to all life on this planet. It’s simply not tenable to imagine that our species is at the top of some imagined hierarchy and all other animals are here for our pleasure, our amusement or–worst of all–so we can eat or otherwise exploit them.

To have St. Francis as an icon, a model and a patron for our Fellowship is a good thing. His love for animals and for all God’s creation is very well known.

But adoring the Creation certainly did not begin with this holy and humble man.

Roughly 2,000 years before Francis came along, the Psalmist painted a vivid and engaging picture of how all manner of creatures “speak” their gratitude heavenward and join a chorus of voices which include people of faith:

Praise the Lord from the Earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps

Fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word!

Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars

Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds!

from Psalm 148

So when we’re feeling a bond with some other-than-human friends who are a part of the created order, it’s nothing new. We are merely engaging in a very human and very constructive behavior–expressing a fervent hope that all of God’s creatures praise him!

And as we do this, may we also root out the pernicious idea that our thoughts, our actions and our voices belong in this chorus but that others’ voices do not.

Brother Ben

A Meditation: God’s Unfailing Love and our Gratitude

Last week I published a brief post about God’s faithfulness and our response of gratitude that can come from reflecting or meditating on it. It was based on verses 2 and 3 of the 26th Psalm.

When I think about God’s love and unfailing goodness, it always reminds me that her love can always be appropriated by all of us, all of her children.

This amplifies my feelings of great gratitude! It’s such a splendid thought–one upon which I often meditate–that each of us bears the image of the Divine One in our soul.

Looking for the Divinity in your fellows will help to align your soul–and your intentions–in a direction of gratitude. And when our intention is aligned this way, our actions will follow suit.

This principle, this truth about human behavior, is as unfailing as God’s Love.

Here’s is a meditation, a mantram that can help to focus your intentions in that way:

Oh God, thank you for your love and unfailing goodness!

A suggested meditation for grateful people

The aforementioned post from last week laid the foundation for this one and can be found here.

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

The Divine One is Faithful

Test me, Lord, and try me,
    examine my heart and my mind;
for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love
    and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.

This passage from Psalm 26 is a favorite of mine. And it reminds us that keeping in mind God’s unfailing love and faithfulness is an outlook on life that will serve anyone well.

No one expects life to be that proverbial bowl of cherries. All of us have known moments of pain and great despair. Sadly, some of us have seen more of that side of life than most will ever know.

Nevertheless, cultivating that attitude of gratitude–as the Psalmist does in this passage–reminds us that the Divine One loves humanity. And that each of us was fashioned in the Divine Image.

Looking for and honoring that reflection of God, that Divine Spark, in the people we meet each day will point us in the direction of gratitude. Gratitude and awe.

The unfailing goodness and love of God is all around you and in everyone you meet!

Embrace it. Embrace it and be grateful!

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis

Drink the Wine of Violence

There have been times in the last two years when it seemed as though people who make policy or enforce the laws in our country have inverted our cherished and long-held values and ideals.

At times it almost seems as though they value heartlessness, advocate for cruel policies and practices and encourage or condone violent acts.

Because most of us have not seen such a sad spectacle in our lifetimes, it’s hard to imagine that problems like these are–for lack of a better word–normal.

Not normal in the sense that we should accept these terrible things. But in the sense that cruel, heartless people do take hold of the reigns of power from time to time and that when they do, cruelty and heartlessness begin to manifest and metastasize.

Things were no different when the writer of Proverbs recorded this text:

14 Do not enter the path of the wicked,
   and do not walk in the way of evildoers. 
16 For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong;
   they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble. 
17 For they eat the bread of wickedness
   and drink the wine of violence. 

from Proverbs, Chapter 4

These are dark days in our shared history. Dark, baleful days for people of faith. Especially those who will not bend the knee to Mammon nor worship a god of cruelty, rage and revenge!

But in spite of all the dark and tragic things going on around us right now, I can tell you this: countering anger and hate with more anger and hate will do nothing to change any of it!

Rather we must recommit ourselves to the values we have learned from our loving parents, our teachers, our Rabbis, Priests, Pastors and Imams.

The values of love, of community and of compassion.

Our hope is to be found in holding fast to these values.

Channeling the rage and hate we see all around us today will only further sicken our country and our kin.

We must choose love. We must choose compassion.

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

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

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

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, Inc. All Rights Reserved

The Fellowship of St Francis is a new and completely independent work and is not affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church or any other church or ministry.