Species are disappearing while humans…

It’s alarming to think about, but it’s nevertheless true that hundreds of thousands of species are disappearing while humans carry on with their ever-expanding enterprise to exploit absolutely everything on God’s green Earth.

In early March of this year–just over two months ago at the time of this writing–the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, or IPBES, issued a Global assessment and highlighted for an ignorant and often-uncaring world just how grave the situation is.

Nature is collapsing at an astonishing rate and many humans are blissfully unaware that this is happening.

The assessment was quite wide-ranging and examined closely many dark trends which we have not yet addressed as aggressively as we must to keep our situation for going from merely horrible to unthinkable.

Among the issues which the assessment addressed are:

  • Land degradation
  • The health of fish stocks
  • Plastic pollution
  • The rapid collapse whole ecosystems
  • The full extent of the threat to non-human species
  • How much of the Earth’s land surface and water resources are devoted to livestock and farming

To read the press release issued by the IPBES at the time the results and conclusions of the assessment were publicized, click here.

It’s past time to stop driving so many plant and animal species into extinction and putting at risk our own survival.

Way past time.

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Gratitude and St Francis

On the last two Tuesdays, I published posts on the dual themes of God’s Faithfulness and our response of gratitude which naturally arises from it.

In today’s third and final meditation on those subjects, I want to focus on the gratitude of St Francis, whom we here in the FSF look to as an icon and a guide on our spiritual path.

When Francis returned from a war–fought between his city of Assisi and the competing city of Perugia–he was a changed man.

He was captured in the aftermath of that war and held for ransom by Perugian partisans. It was during this time in captivity–which lasted a full year–that young Francis received his visions and embraced a life of poverty and simplicity and–most of all–a life of service to God and to all humanity.

One of the results of Francis embarking on this path of love and service to all was that he became very grateful to God for his life, his calling and his new way of living–that is, to serve others and, in fact, all creation.

Fr Fausto Gomez, in an essay entitled The gratitude of St. Francis, speaks of this beloved friar’s great gratitude that colored his every thought and action:

“In the life of St. Francis, who is the most popular saint ever, there is a virtue that describes well his whole life: gratitude: The humble saint of Assisi was a grateful son of God, a brother to all neighbors, and a creature of the universe.”

from “The Gratitude of St. Francis”, by Fausto Gomez

If you’re reading this, I doubt very seriously whether you need to read an exhortation or reminder to be grateful.

My object here is merely to point out that St Francis is, indeed, a good and appropriate model for our Fellowship and an excellent example of how gratitude and service to others can inform and give meaning to our lives today.

I’m grateful for the love of God. And for the life of St Francis and so many other holy women and men who point us toward the Divine One and her great love for humanity.

And I’m grateful for the opportunity and the privilege to answer that call. God’s call to love and to serve humanity and all of God’s Creation each day.

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc., is a new and independent ministry and is not associated in any way with the Roman Catholic Church or any other body.

Can you eat compassionately?

Yes, you most certainly can! The food choices we make are very important, and in ways you may not have thought about.

The ways we choose to eat have big effects on our economy, the environment, our healthcare system and certainly on animals.

The effects that I’ve focused on the most lately are how my eating choices affect my own health.

I’ve told many friends over the years about how I went vegetarian for three years in the early ’90s. About how the health effects were startling. About how I lost 90 lbs. About how it made me more serene, more at peace.

Well, back in ’95, I went back to eating meat, junk food and lots and lots of pasta. Plenty of sugar, as well.

And, as you might imagine, the results were not good.

So the direct effects to our health and well-being are a big deal. I don’t want to make this post all about me but let me just say that the issue of our food choices is a big deal for me again now because back on Earth Day, I eliminated meat and sugar from my diet.

The results–just as back in 1992–have been startlingly good. For me, the strategy is just to go back to what worked. It worked very well for me a quarter-century ago, and it’s working again.

How our food choices effect all those other things I mentioned earlier in this post are extremely important, of course.

Here is a link to a brief and excellent article that covers ten of the most important reasons why eliminating meat from your diet is a good way to go.

Because acting compassionately is at the very heart of our mission here at the FSF, the ways in which our food choices affect animals is a very big deal. Here’s an article that focuses mostly on that aspect of this issue.

Yes, we most certainly can eat compassionately!

And for many of us, choosing to love and protect animals rather than eating them could be a very good place to start.

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Compassion is what they do

For most people who have a career or a job, there are always opportunities to care about the people you interact with each day.

Almost everybody has opportunities to act compassionately, to be the hand or the voice of compassion.

In some professions, acting compassionately is just what they do.

I’m not sure we can ever show appropriate gratitude to those in the nursing profession. But today is “their” day and I think that’s a wonderful thing.

If you know a nurse or come in contact with one today–or any day, for that matter–tell them you appreciate their compassionate care.

They do so much for so many; the patients committed to their care know very well how much people in the medical profession channel that spirit of compassion and love as they do what they do each day. Nurses, especially.

I went through repeated hospitalizations and a serious surgery back in 2014 and I was–and still am–in awe of the care nurses provide. It was almost overwhelming at the time and the memories of my time in their care are still fresh in my mind.

Show some gratitude to someone today. Especially if you “catch them” in an act of blatant compassion!

If it is someone in that esteemed profession, all the better!

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

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.

Happy Earth Day!

In honor of Earth Day, my kids’ school sent home a rock with each student. Their assignment was to paint the rock, and they would all be placed in the school’s Serenity Garden.

My daughter painted her vision of the Earth with the words “Love is the Answer” on it. But, after some contemplation, she decided to paint over “is the Answer” and just leave “Love”.  Why? Because although she believes in her heart that love really is the answer to all the problems of this world, she knows that if we just learn to love the Earth, we will love our way to the answer.

Big hugs.

-Stacey ❤

Compassion in Action

Sometimes the language we use when speaking or writing about things is pretty abstract. It’s always good to 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, Inc.