For All the Saints

The Feast of All Saints or All Saints’ Day falls on the 1st of November each year and is often an Autumn afterthought, truth be told.

Halloween sucks all the oxygen out of the room, so to speak, even though it’s true that its relevance, its meaning can be elusive unless seen in context as the prelude to All Saints’ Day.

The same is true of All Souls’ Day, which is the cherry on the Sundae, so to speak. In many places–in Mexico, in particular–it often goes by Day of the Dead or Dia De Los Meurtos and is quite a celebration.

I hope this day becomes a day for you to reflect on those who’ve gone before.

Those who have been called Saints in a formal or official way. And folks in your blood family or simply folks whose Faith and acts of love, fidelity and compassion have inspired you and informed your own Faith journey.

Blessings to you all on the Feast of All Saints, 2021.



Ben Lawrence Basile

© 2021 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Of Love, Death and Grief–and of Constant Change

Here’s a post about changes. About changes, the passing of a friend in particular, and the way changes and endings come at you as long as your heart is beating.

Pebbles Bundy crossed over the Rainbow Bridge this afternoon. She was a few weeks short of her 12th birthday and had been suffering from a digestive condition for several months.

She was as sweet a cat as you could ever hope to meet. Gentle, sweet with a wonderful, mellow feline disposition. Food in her dish twice a day and some petting and stroking in the evening was all she ever asked of life.

When we went on our two day camping adventures she would watch us pack and go with an unruffled, mellow manner and greet us at the door when we came back home.

I helped Joan get her ready for her final trip to the vet as I was getting ready for work. Joan is a wonderful Cat Mom and it was her sad duty to take her to the good docs and staff at St Charles and be with her as she made that final journey.

I was relieved in a way that I had to get myself in to work while Joan made final arrangements. Being a part of that scenario would have added another layer of deep sadness to what has already been a challenging time for me.

I have been grieving the loss of another cherished relationship: Joan and I had come to a parting about three weeks before Pebble’s time with us came to its own end. I’m moving back to Orlando next week.

As I reflected on the last three or four weeks, and what happened today, it occurred to me that Pebble’s passing was — among other things — the last event where Joan and I would focus together on a matter of great and enduring significance to both of us; The final time we would be fully engaged in something that had the power to move us deeply and to touch a place in our hearts. The final time we would share deeply-felt emotions that no one else shared or could fully understand.

Changes and endings. They’re a huge part of life. They keep coming. It’s not going to stop. In fact, when we get to a certain stage of life, the changes accelerate, they fly by so quickly that we sometimes are hard-pressed to take in fully their true significance.

Some of those changes involve a death. A death of a friend, a family member. The death of a dream, of a cherished relationship.

It’s not going to stop.

Hold on tightly to your friends, your loved ones. The friends who walk on their hind legs and the fur-bearing ones who love you unconditionally, with great ardour and whose love has the power to touch us in the deepest places in our hearts.

Hold tightly to them when the fire of love burns brightest. Love them, return their love and release them to the love, care and wisdom of the Universe when a time of ending comes.

And trust that your love — mingled with theirs — and the memories of shared experiences, of your time together will sustain you.

Sustain you and offer a sweet note of consolation. Especially if you must walk life’s path alone for a time.

Healing Love to all of you. And all whom you love.

A loving, grieving and hopeful man, I am,

Benjamin Basile 

© 2021 Ben Lawrence Basile
Photo credit Joanie Bundy

The Pandemic and Big Changes

The COVID Pandemic and the early lockdowns which were put in place to mitigate its spread led to so many changes in the ways we go about our lives. Zoom meetings and all forms of virtual get-togethers became common, for example.

The changes most certainly have affected the ways the Church goes about its business. Especially when it comes to “gathering” for worship.

It would be hard to overstate how big and thorough-going these changes are and will be for how the Church operates. This article from Religion News Service treats shines a light on this issue and it’s well-worth the next few minutes of your day.

Changes come. We adapt. The Church adapts.

We move forward, hopefully, into our future.

Ben Lawrence Basile

© 2021 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

You Are Not Forgotten

20 Praise be to God,
    who has not rejected my prayer
    or withheld his love from me!

The Psalmist wrote those words nearly three millennia ago in the 66th Psalm and it’s a declaration that still rings true in our souls today.

Your fervent prayers have not been rejected. The Master of the Universe — of all that we know, or can ever know — loves you deeply.

You are not forgotten.

Praise be to God!

Ben Lawrence Basile

© 2021 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

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 the second consecutive Easter taking place while COVID-19 is drastically effecting how we gather together.

And even though much progress is being made on returning our lives and our spiritual practices back to some semblance of normal, it’s true that for most Christians, the virus is still blunting the Joy of Eastertime and the ways we have always come together to celebrate it.

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.

Ben Basile

© 2021 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Church Membership Continues to Fall

As you most likely know, Church membership in the US has been declining for many years. As the line on the graph continues its steep drop, a milestone has been reached.

Americans who do belong to a church are now in the minority.

The stark truth that so many in positions of leadership in the institutional Church don’t want to admit is simply this: the downward trend will continue — and will actually accelerate — as long as many denominations and congregations continue to treat Christianity as merely a ticket to heavenly bliss and as a club to be used to beat unbelievers, doubters and heretics over their collective head.

Yes, members will keep heading for the exit. Many will number themselves among the millions who choose the “spiritual but not religious” tag. And many will simply turn away and feel an unending sadness and sense of alienation. So many feel as though they are falling into a deep well of anger and bewilderment. For many spiritual orphans, those feelings will persist as long as they draw breath.

It may be true that this was bound to happen regardless of how Church leadership and those engaged in Pastoral Ministry went about their business. There are many, many factors at work here and many of them are beyond anyone’s control.

But the trend has been made much worse by the way so much of the leadership in so many church bodies and congregations have been chasing after the two false gods which have blunted the witness of the Church, alienated millions of believers and created scandal after scandal: a heretical and hyped Prosperity Gospel and the unchecked lust for political power by denominational leadership.

It’s not the Devil. It’s not the liberals. It’s not the godless, evil Apostles of Atheism. It is the Ken Copelands, the Paula Whites and the Jerry Falwells, those who hold the reigns of power, those who are leading God’s flock.

It did not have to be this way.

Ben Basile

© 2021 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

A Christmas Morning Wish for Everyone

 I wish all of you a wonderful Christmas. This piece of mine was originally posted on Christmas Day, 2007 on another site. 

This has been a challenging year for me in a lot of ways, yet I find myself feeling even more than the usual holiday spirit right now as I sit at the keyboard, waiting for Santa to come down my chimney. Wait! I don’t have a chimney! Oh well, I still believe! Well, the part about Santa, who can say? The rest of it, I’m still pretty big on all the good stuff that we think about when the holidays roll around each year. No doubt a lot of you feel the same.

The Christmas story does hold a lot of meaning for me. I’m not quite sure if I still believe all of it, all the nuances and consequences and so on; not quite like one “believes it” when the assembled faithful say the Apostles Creed together at Midnight Mass. Some will be doing exactly that in just a few hours, perhaps some of you.

Yet it doesn’t seem at all “funny” to me that God comes to us whenever it suits his/her purpose. Not entirely sure if “he” did in that particular, historical way. Being raised in a Christian family and having gone part-way through seminary a few years ago, I do lean in that direction. But I’ve come to see some things in a different light now that I’ve spent a little better than a half-century on this planet. This planet where almost a billion people believe that God became incarnate, was born of a young woman who had never “known” her betrothed. And that his coming among us in that way was the beginning of a Divine plan to make it possible for all of his creatures to enjoy unending fellowship with him and with one another! In this life and in the next! Now that’s a story! One we humans have been telling one another for a very long time, and I’m quite sure we’ll be telling it for a long time to come.

I’ve been struggling for so many years now about exactly how much of the story still “works” for me and all of that. But what I’ve never doubted is that God, or the Divine, does come to us and among us all the time. And I’m finally in that phase of life where I’ve learned to look for it, to expect it and to embrace it. And I know that the other really big thing about Christmastime is to get a bit closer to my brothers and sisters who also bear the image of the Divine One in their souls and on their beaming faces. Some of them were raised on the same stories I was; this one about God being born of a virgin, and many others.

Some, of course, have heard and embraced and celebrated different stories. I’m not very inclined to quibble about the particulars at this point in my life. I’m quite sure that God would love to see us move a little closer together at this time of year, and to go on telling those stories; especially that one about God robed in human flesh, living and dying as one of us. And I’m quite sure that the heart of the Divine is pleased when we carry forward “his” mission to strip away that illusion that our sins, imperfections, and much less, our differences, should separate us from one another or from his Divine Heart.

Well, Christmas Eve has progressed, as it will, into Christmas morning as I’m wrapping up this little holiday message. And I’m sitting here, luminous and expectant, like a six year old waiting for Santa to appear. Like Simeon in the temple, waiting to bless the infant Jesus, knowing then that he has seen and embraced, quite literally, the Divine plan to end our sinful and deadly illusions of separateness. I’m expectant, waiting in earnest to see and to embrace the next manifestation of the Divine. In you, in her, in us. Perhaps–and wouldn’t this be a great story–perhaps in and across many countries and cultures, in four billion human hearts at once!

A wish, a dream, a fervent hope… Perhaps that’s all it is. But a hope to hold close to one’s heart on Christmas morning. God bless each of you today and throughout the year to come. May you be blessed to see the image of the Divine, of the Christ-child in yourself–and in one another.

Ben Lawrence Basile
Christmas morning, 2020

© 2007 Benjamin Lawrence Basile

The Leader’s Dark Picture

As the 2020 Elections get closer, we can see conflicts raging in a few of our country’s communities.

In most of our cities, there are no protests marked by violence or any unrest causing serious disturbances.

In a few of our communities–a very few, truth be told–there are serious problems and it’s not certain when the unrest may abate or what a successful strategy for a resolution might look like.

The President is using fear in an attempt to frighten voters into giving him another term to quell the violence that has happened on his watch, the violence which has been worsened by his failure to address long-ignored issues of social justice and of equal treatment for all citizens.

The dark picture of America that he’s trying to paint for his supporters does not reflect the true reality.

The irony is that if he is re-elected, the dark hues we can see around the picture’s edges will intensify, spread and despoil the fragile image.

We must not allow anyone to wield fear as a weapon and convince the American people that the entire nation is wracked by explosive, uncontrolled mob violence from Portland all the way to D.C.. It’s simply not true.

Furthermore, we must reject the proposition that the protests and unrest–in the few communities where there has been actual violence–calls for Federal shock troops outfitted with military-grade weaponry cracking the skulls of citizens who are looking to their elected officials to respond to their grievances.

The unrest will be eased and moved toward better outcomes when all communities believe that our elected leaders and those in law enforcement, in particular, are serious about reform.

Unless and until that happens, there will be tension, unrest and, it must be said, actual violence.

Two things that will never ease, much less resolve, the problem of violence in our streets: first, ignoring the urgent calls to address long-ignored issues of social justice.

And secondly, trying to quell the unrest at the point of a gun.

Brother Ben


© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Mr Falwell is out at Liberty

August has been a really tough month for Jerry Falwell Jr. That’s putting it mildly.

And things got worse in the last 24 hours. Much worse.

He just resigned as the President of Liberty University, the Virginia school founded by his Father.

As you know if you’ve looking around here on this blog lately, I have been following this matter. My time in seminary was at a well-known University which was also led by a charismatic leader who garnered headlines on a daily basis.

Sadly, we often discover that ministers, evangelists and University Presidents in powerful positions lead lives that are not consistent with what they preach.

When that’s the case, they’re rarely successful at keeping the secrets secret.

I don’t wish Mr Falwell ill. But it’s a good thing that the charade is over.

Rev. Falwell has a myriad of tasks ahead of him. It will be a difficult, arduous process. A lot of sorrow, some humiliation, no doubt, and–most of all–a lot of work. That’s true for the University community as well.

I’m hopeful that it will make possible some measure of healing for everyone whose lives are touched by all of this.

I wish him, his family and the University well.

Brother Ben

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

What will happen next in the Falwell scandal?

By now you may have seen the photo of Jerry Falwell Jr that has been widely circulated on social media.

It’s certainly not my place to chastise Rev Falwell. I’ll merely say that I fully expect others associated with the University and the ministry on which it was built to give him a pass here.

It brings to mind the scandal that engulfed Evangelist Jimmy Swaggart back in 1991.

Some are leaping to Falwell’s defense. Others–as you might well imagine–believe this is a very big deal and that he should be held to account.

For me, there’s an irony at play here that is a bigger deal than what actually happened.

For many people–and I am one of them–Falwell is now most closely associated with Donald Trump. It’s impossible not to think of how he’s embraced Trump from day one in spite of Trump’s seemingly endless deplorable and cruel actions.

He has failed to call out trump for anything; anything at all.

He said nothing about trump’s outright cruel treatment of brown children whose “crime” was being brought to our southern border by their desperate parents fleeing danger in their homeland.

Falwell stood idly by while Mr Trump sullied his office in a myriad of ways. Sullied it over and over and over again for the last three years and nine months.

Here, I’m sad to say, is where I think this situation stands: unless the University and the ministry possess more discernment and integrity than I think they do, they will enable Falwell and give him the same unmerited kid-glove treatment that their leader has been giving our president.

That’s where I think this is heading. I certainly hope I’m proven wrong.

Brother Ben

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.