Yes, Friends, Love is Kind!

Today is National Love Is Kind Day. It’s a good day to think again about how important, how vital love truly is.

Love is what makes life worthwhile.

When love becomes the very foundation of our lives, we put ourselves on a path where the Divine One can bring others into our lives we can love. Friends whose love we can feel, lay ahold of and share.

Yes, love is kind. And it’s vital for our well-being. And for our very survival.

Here’s what St Paul said about Love in his Epistle to the Church at Corinth:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

I Cor 13:4-8, 13

Keep moving in Love’s direction. Look for Love, seek her out.

Let Love be the motive for all you do.

And share the Love today.

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Even Better Than You Thought!

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:13

There’s no doubt that Philippians 4:13 is one of the most familiar, most loved and most quoted verses from the New Testament.

And I’ve got to put this out there: I’m just as certain that it’s one of the most misunderstood.

We often take St Paul’s meaning to be something along this line: “I can accomplish great exploits through Christ who gives me strength!”

And yet, when we take a step back and read the verse in context, it seems very, very different:

10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:10-13 NIV

If you begin at verse 10 and then read at least to verse 14, the true meaning of Paul’s words becomes clear. He is saying that he’s seen plenty of life’s ups and downs–and has, in fact, known what it’s like to not even have enough to eat–and that he knows he can do all this or endure all this through Christ who gives him strength.

Yes, reading it in context certainly does shed a whole new light on the subject.

Sometimes we might see our faith as a tool to do great things, to help us in our rise to the top or to slay all of our temporal and spiritual enemies.

But that’s not what Paul was saying.

There’s not a doubt in my mind that the real message is much better than the one we may have thought we were reading.

And it’s much better suited to real life. To the life most of us live day after day.

Are you–like St Paul before you–struggling from time to time with all kinds of troubles and hardships?

Such things are simply a part of our everyday lives. Whether we like to acknowledge it or not.

We are no better, no different from St Paul. Or from the Master.

And we most certainly do need spiritual strength to endure all of the things that come our way.

The good stuff. The bad stuff. The highs and the lows.

Believing that Christ gives strength to those who need it–especially to those who need it most–is a good thing indeed.

If you’re up against long odds and it’s time to step up and accomplish some great feat of faith, Paul’s letter may well strengthen you to pull off some great exploit!

And if you’re like most of us–most of us who know and experience troubles, sorrows and plenty of fits and starts–this passage is for you, too.

Especially for you.

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis

Great is Your Love

Much has been written about the unchanging love that God has for his creation.

When we think about this, it’s natural to feel gratitude. The Divine One, the Universe, is imbued with a love ethic, with a bias, if you will, for compassion and ever-steadfast love.

When we feel this in our souls and are thankful for God’s love and favor, we keep faith with a community of women and men through the ages who’ve meditated on this and felt that spontaneous burst of thankfulness, a blossoming in the hearts of those who feel that love and benevolence and respond to it.

The Psalmist captures well that sentiment here in verses 9 and 10 of the 57th Psalm:

I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
    I will sing of you among the peoples.
10 For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
    your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

from Psalm 57

Do you feel the love today?

God loves each one of us. Unconditionally.

It’s natural to feel gratitude as we reflect on this.

And to recommit ourselves to spreading the love as we go about our lives each day.

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.

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

What’s the reading on your Happiness Meter?

Like a whole lot of people, I spent the first 30 or so years of my life acting as though my happiness depended on other people and on life’s circumstances.

I won’t be at all surprised if many–if not most–of you can relate to that.

I’m not quite sure how that began to change for me, but it was a very big deal.

It can be a revolutionary idea to know that each one of us is responsible for our happiness, for our contentment.

I am not saying that we can always keep our equilibrium and a big grin on our faces when difficulty comes around. And we all know that it does from time-to-time.

But regardless of what life brings our way, we can choose to be happy.

Having said that, choosing to ignore pressing issues in our lives, or in the larger world “out there”, is not a good strategy. That’s not what I’m saying, either.

But we can–and we should–choose happiness every time it comes to our awareness.

If we wait for others or for some splendid, wonderful event to “make us” happy, we’ll be waiting in vain.

Be happy today! You deserve it!

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 ❤