Burn the Shields with Fire

There are wars raging in every corner of our planet at this moment.

War has been a part of human existence from the very beginning. And in places where conflicts are raging now, people know from their own grim experience that war is a very hellish thing that should be avoided at all cost.

Here in the US, we’ve been involved in hundreds of wars but have not had the fighting come to our shores since Pearl Harbor.

And before that, one must go all the way back to the War of 1812 to find a time when a foreign adversary attacked us right here, where we live.

And so the thought of wars may not evoke much of a response from a typical American.

But those who have lived through–or are living through wars right now–know full well what a horrible, suffocating, life-stealing tragedy war is.

From a Faith perspective, Peace and Peace-making must be our goal.

The Psalmist hoped–as have countless men and women of faith–that The Divine One will, one day, put an end to war and the instruments of war.

9 Come now and look upon the works of the Lord, *
what awesome things he has done on earth.

10 It is he who makes war to cease in all the world; *
he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear,
and burns the shields with fire.

11 “Be still, then, and know that I am God; *
I will be exalted among the nations;
I will be exalted in the earth.”

Psalm 47: 9-11

Does this hope in the heart of Humanity that God will one day put an end to war mean that we should simply wait patiently for that coveted day to arrive?

Does it mean that we should not work for Peace nor attempt to be instruments of reconciliation among our fellows and even among Nations?

It cannot mean those things.

Peace must be our goal.

As I write this, the U.S. is closer to an actual shooting war than we have been in a long time.

One of the things that is so frustrating and disquieting is that it’s possible–even likely when one looks at the facts–that our elected leaders are foolishly spoiling for a war.

If that’s the case, those in our country who have the power to set in motion conflicts and wars are certain to get their wish.

If so, it will be yet one more time when those who, like the writer of Psalm 47, will have their desire for Peace thwarted while humanity descends, once more, into the dark and desolate hellscape of war.

Brother Ben

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

We are failing badly in our stewardship of the Earth

As you most likely know, caring for the Earth, our common home, has been a huge priority for us here at the Fellowship of St Francis.

So if I say something about the degradation of the Earth and that we’re all in deep trouble as these trends proceed, no one will be surprised.

But as more and more signs and facts come in, I’ll be passing them along.

Don’t turn away. Get involved.

The signs are everywhere. I wish it were not so.

We can–and we must–do better.

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Kindness is All

It’s a simple idea. It’s one you see on tee shirts and Church road signs and things of that sort.

“Kindness is All”

It’s easy to dismiss such notions once the truths they contain have morphed into buzz-phrases.

And yet, we can’t jettison such an idea entirely; it still bears an unmistakable ring of truth.

Kindness matters.

It truly does.

We are living at a time when so many have discarded our shared, time-honored values of kindness and compassion and learn instead to act with indifference and selfishness. 

Don’t succumb.

Even the broader culture in which we are living–where kindness seems to be in short supply, indeed–is sending an invitation to celebrate and practice kindness today.

I’ll chime in, too.

Be kind.

Be kind when it’s easy.

Be kind when the voices urging selfishness, indifference and cruelty roar their loudest.

Kindness is All.

 

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

On the Feast Day of St Francis

On the Feast Day of St Francis, I will be giving some thought to the subject of this devout man and the life he lived.

I’ll be thinking a lot about why we venerate him so. Why we still hold him up as a great example these 700 years after his passing.

I’ll be thinking about his great love for all of God’s creation. The natural world and all her inhabitants.

Good things to think about at any time.

And especially today.

Blessings to all of you today, on the Feast Day of St Francis.

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis

The Prayer of St Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;

Oh, Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.  

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

The Legacy of St Francis

Note: Because tomorrow is the Feast Day of St Francis, this is a very fitting time to feature this post again. It originally appeared on March 20th.

Yes, it is St Francis of Assisi who was chosen to be front-and-center for this new ministry.

Yes, that St Francis.

There are two great urgencies that are at the heart of what the FSF is about.

The first is to make compassion the foundation for all that we do, for all our interactions with our fellows.

And the second is use to treat the Earth, our common home, with wisdom and that same compassion. And to extend this compassion to all of Earth’s inhabitants, not just to the Human species.

With these two urgent priorities in mind, Saint Francis was a most suitable choice as the icon and a wise, compassionate patron for the Fellowship.

Francis was an unfailingly wise, loving and compassionate figure in his time. His love for animals and for the Earth were noted by his contemporaries and by the leadership of the Church in the 13th Century and are the reasons that he is considered to be a special patron for animals and for the environment.

So it is very fitting to have this well-loved and venerated figure to lead the way, so to speak, for our fledgling Fellowship.

 

Brother Ben

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

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

The Widow’s Mite

This passage from Chapter 21 of Luke’s gospel was one of the Lectionary readings for October 1st.

Verse 1: He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; 2he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. 3He said, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; 4for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.’

Luke 21:1-4

In our churches, do we shower the big givers with accolades for their contributions but ignore others who give smaller amounts but give sacrificially?

I think we all know the answer to that question.

This has been an issue for a very, very long time.

Jesus saw how this operates back in his time. It’s still going on today, of course.

Large churches–especially ones that have embraced and are spreading the prosperity gospel nonsense–will never be free of this tendency to put their large givers on a pedestal and slight or ignore members who–like the widow in this passage–give lesser amounts but are giving sacrificially.

Let’s resolve–whether corporately or simply in our individual lives–to focus on each person we know who are putting their hands to the work, and to not simply lavish praise on our fellows who are able to write the big checks.

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Seventy Times Seven

Just about everyone on this planet understands how vitally important relationships are.

It’s a universal thing. It spans all cultures and has been understood since the time our species first appeared on the scene.

But it’s also true that understanding this and living it are two different things.

I was listening to two close friends this week talk about how some difficult scenarios have played out in their relationships–their family relationships, in particular–and how it’s affected them. And other family members as well.

It reminded me of some very similar times and similar issues in my own life.

And it reminded me that in our relationships–whether things are going well, or not–forgiveness is always the best way to go.

It’s not always easy; not at all.

It may not always be clear how we can even get to that place of forgiving.

But we must always try.

I am not so naive as to say that forgiveness is always possible.

But we must try. Forgiveness should be our lodestar, our goal.

And then we leave the outcome in God’s hands.

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.