National Arbor Day 2020

Yes, it’s National Arbor Day today. But with most of America — and the world, for that matter — staying close to home, celebrating this auspicious day is just a bit different this time.

My celebration of the day this year includes two things. Small things, but things which nevertheless help the cause.

I just made a donation to the National Arbor Day Foundation. This is something I look forward to doing each year.

If you would like to do that today, follow this link.

I’m also going to use today’s hashtag on my twitter account. And that is: #ArborDayAtHome. When you use that tag, the Foundation will plant a tree for your gesture of support and good will. Up to 50,000 trees.

That’s a wonderful thing.

One more thought: if you’d like to take a look at the blog for the National A.D. Foundation, go right here.

Yours in the spirit of Arbor Day, I am,

Brother Ben

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

Our Blessed Hope

I most certainly do want to wish all of you a most happy and blessed Easter today.

I don’t have to tell you that our joyous celebration is taking place this year in a most unusual set of circumstances.

Most of us could not gather with fellow Christians in the usual way to celebrate.

The spectre of a deadly and virulent virus stalking our world and our communities has cast a pall over what is typically the most joy-filled time of the entire Church year.

But even in these troubling times, this we know: the hope and transcendent glory of Christ’s resurrection was a stunning, singular event on that first Easter morning and we can feel and appropriate that glory, that blessed hope today just as surely as Jesus’s followers and grief-wracked mother did nearly two millennia ago.

May that blessed hope be yours today.

Brother Ben

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Some Love on World Health Day

The 7th of April is World Health Day each year. It’s always a good time to show appreciation to our health care professionals, of course. But that seems all the more appropriate now that COVID-19 is ravaging our world.

Nurses have been there for me in a big way the four times I’ve been hospitalized. One of those involved major surgery and — although that was a very big deal — the care I received from nurses, doctors and techs made a tough situation bearable.

I’m thinking that most of the folks who may read this could say something similar.

I know that many of us have been watching more news than usual while we’re in the middle of this crisis. I certainly have.

It’s striking to me that many in the field — nurses especially — are literally laying their lives on the line to care for their patients.

If you know a nurse — or anyone in the health care field — now would be a good time to show your appreciation for all they do.

A good time to tell them of your appreciation.

A good time to possibly bring over a meal, to watch some children while Mom or Dad is putting in insane hours to care for us.

Especially if they’re living apart from family members now in order to lower the risk of inadvertently endangering their loved ones’ health.

There are so many in that work dealing with a lot of really, really big challenges right now.

I’m so grateful today for our health care professionals. And I’m most certainly going to make it a point to speak those words of appreciation whenever I can.

Brother Ben

© 2020 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 will most certainly 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.

This homily was originally published on April 14, 2019

Remember, O Man

Remember, O Man thou art dust and
unto dust thou shalt return

from the Liturgy for Ash Wednesday

Thinking about our mortality, of how fleeting our lives truly are is not something most of us prefer to dwell on.

This tendency we have to avoid thinking about the inevitability of our own death does not serve us well.

On Ash Wednesday, we are invited to take a look at this truth, to wrap our minds around it, as the saying goes.

Our lives have little meaning if we try to make sense of them outside their proper, natural context. That is, while pretending that our deaths are not the consummation of our lives; the final chapter in our lives’ stories.

You don’t need to know exactly how that last chapter of your story will read.

Just know that the story’s entire meaning, its true significance is blunted, perhaps even unknowable if we drift through the autumns of our lives clinging to the fantasy that God’s hand will not soon take up that pen and begin to write.

.

Brother Ben

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

What Kind of a Year?

So it’s the last day of December and we stand together on the threshold of a new year.

And my wish for you is that 2020 will be a splendid year, indeed.

I have to say that 2019 was an awful year in many ways.

I have been–and continue to be–greatly alarmed to see our National nightmare unfolding.

And, yes, I most certainly hope to see a lot of our turmoil and tragedy be resolved in this year which is just around the corner as I write.

For me personally, 2019 was a mixed blessing, you might say.

The first half had some challenges and plenty of ups-and-downs.

It was in first three months of the year that we launched the Fellowship of St Francis. On the 20th of March, to be precise.

For me as an individual, the second half of 2019 went extraordinarily well in almost all ways.

And I’m grateful for that.

I’m thinking that for many of you, 2019 may not have been too different.

After all, life’s experiences are often a strange mixture of good things and things you fervently hope you’ll never have to go through again.

So my wish for our country and for you tonight is a 2020 with more–way more–of those good things.

May it be so!

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis Inc.

God is Among Us

This year I’ve been awash in that kind of wonderful glow that we all associate with Christmas.

The last four or five Christmases haven’t been all that joyful for me, truth be told.

This year has been very good for me and I’m very grateful to be able to say that.

It’s so true that Christmas is like any other celebration, commemoration or event. It’s different for everyone who takes part in it. And it’s different for us each time we celebrate it.

It’s a good thing and a great comfort to know that the joy and promise of Christmas is right “there” for me–for all of us–whether we’re exultant as we contemplate the joy of our existence or going through terrible trials.

The promise that God is among us, indwells and empowers us is a reality we can always count on. One that can, indeed, be an enormous comfort to us when we find ourselves sailing through stormy seas.

May the joy of Christmastime be yours today.

And every day of your life.

Brother Ben

© The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.