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.

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.

Today is All Saints’ Day

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 that this day becomes one for you to reflect on those who’ve gone before.

People of Faith. Folks in your blood family or 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, 2019.

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Do not fret

In the 37th Psalm, David wrote this:

Do not fret because of those who are evil
    or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
    like green plants they will soon die away.

Trust in the Lord and do good;
    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:1-4

When we see people doing things which are clearly wrong, even evil, we are inclined to wonder if they’ll ever be called to account for their misdeeds.

They may even be people who hold a lot of power and have a lot of support for their actions. They may hold sway over many followers and hangers-on who share their warped values.

Here the words of the Psalmist remind us that their day of reckoning will come.

This doesn’t mean that we are to be passive in the face of evil.

Quite the contrary.

But in human society–and especially in God’s Kingdom–there is an unfailing principle that when those who inflict misery on others whose well-being has been entrusted to them, the poor and disenfranchised, people on the margins of society, it doesn’t end well for them.

Not only can we trust that leaders and powerful people who inflict misery on those who cannot defend themselves will not carry the day, we know that living well, living by the values we have learned, will–in the end–mean that we will receive “the desires of our heart.”

That’s powerful encouragement when we see others who live selfishly, who live as though their own welfare and happiness matter above all else, seem to be winning at their selfish and cynical game.

Be encouraged today, know that living for others, living as Jesus plainly instructed his followers to live, will be rewarded.

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.