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.

The Legacy of St Francis

Note: Because tomorrow is the Feast Day of St Francis, this is a very fitting time to feature this post again. It originally appeared on March 20th.

Yes, it is St Francis of Assisi who was chosen to be front-and-center for this new ministry.

Yes, that St Francis.

There are two great urgencies that are at the heart of what the FSF is about.

The first is to make compassion the foundation for all that we do, for all our interactions with our fellows.

And the second is use to treat the Earth, our common home, with wisdom and that same compassion. And to extend this compassion to all of Earth’s inhabitants, not just to the Human species.

With these two urgent priorities in mind, Saint Francis was a most suitable choice as the icon and a wise, compassionate patron for the Fellowship.

Francis was an unfailingly wise, loving and compassionate figure in his time. His love for animals and for the Earth were noted by his contemporaries and by the leadership of the Church in the 13th Century and are the reasons that he is considered to be a special patron for animals and for the environment.

So it is very fitting to have this well-loved and venerated figure to lead the way, so to speak, for our fledgling Fellowship.

 

Brother Ben

The Fellowship of St Francis is a new and completely independent ministry and is not affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church.

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

The Feast of St Lawrence

If you’ve taken more than a cursory look at our site, you’ve no doubt noticed that we claim St Francis as an icon and a patron for our nascent spiritual movement.

The Saint I venerate most after St Francis is St Lawrence. And today, August 10th, is the day we commemorate St Lawrence each year.

As is so often the case, there is not too much we know about his life that is backed up with solid evidence. Nevertheless, the pious legend that surrounds Lawrence is quite remarkable.

I claim him as a patron and guide and see his life–and, of course, his death–as a reminder to keep the emphasis on people and not on material things.

I also desire to emulate his fearlessness in the face of hatred and opposition to spiritual values. In his day, the struggle was against a completely corrupt and wealth-worshiping culture personified by the Roman Emperor Valerian.

It’s certainly true that both St Francis and St Lawrence are exemplary role models for people of Faith and all people of good will who desire to live life in a compassionate way and to reject the contemporary trend of throwing away our time-honored values to chase wealth, power and fame instead.

St Lawrence, whom we remember today, is a fine and suitable icon for those who will not bow down to the Idols of Wealth and Power.

His life and his unwavering commitment to put people above things–the least of these among us, especially–is a reminder to those who desire to live lives of compassion and engage in the work of ministry to keep the emphasis where it belongs.

On serving God’s people and embracing all of God’s creation in a compassionate, heart-felt and sacrificial way.

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.

Let All Creatures

If you’ve taken a look around here on our site, you’ve no doubt noticed that one of the things we’re all about here at The FSF is advocating for animals. All animals. Any animals. 

We are connected to all life on this planet. It’s simply not tenable to imagine that our species is at the top of some imagined hierarchy and all other animals are here for our pleasure, our amusement or–worst of all–so we can eat or otherwise exploit them.

To have St. Francis as an icon, a model and a patron for our Fellowship is a good thing. His love for animals and for all God’s creation is very well known.

But adoring the Creation certainly did not begin with this holy and humble man.

Roughly 2,000 years before Francis came along, the Psalmist painted a vivid and engaging picture of how all manner of creatures “speak” their gratitude heavenward and join a chorus of voices which include people of faith:

Praise the Lord from the Earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps

Fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word!

Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars

Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds!

from Psalm 148

So when we’re feeling a bond with some other-than-human friends who are a part of the created order, it’s nothing new. We are merely engaging in a very human and very constructive behavior–expressing a fervent hope that all of God’s creatures praise him!

And as we do this, may we also root out the pernicious idea that our thoughts, our actions and our voices belong in this chorus but that others’ voices do not.

Brother Ben

Everything has a beginning

First Day of Spring, 2019

On this day that the FSF becomes fully real–according to the law and regulations of the State of Florida, I mean–it’s a good thing to explain a bit more of the “back story” about the origins of our Fellowship.

To begin this new work has been my vision for the last ten years. But it never seemed like the right time, or that the right elements were in place for it to succeed.

Like Moses in the story found in the third chapter of Exodus, I could think of a hundred reasons why trying to launch a new ministry–especially one that is not in the mold of your typical Church or Fellowship–was a foolish idea. One most certainly doomed to failure.

By the way, I’m not at all trying to say I’m a Moses-like leader; I’m merely saying that the task seemed impossible to me and that my behavior for quite a few years was governed by that reluctance.

And then, around Valentine’s Day, something happened that–although extremely traumatic to me at the time–helped me to see clearly that it was time for me to re-prioritize, let fall away things that were clearly not essential, and really address that meaning-and-purpose stuff that many of us often go to great lengths to avoid.

Well, I certainly had gone to extreme lengths to avoid doing something about beginning a new ministry or Fellowship, even though I had known for years that it was a huge, unfinished task for me.

Not unfinished. Never-begun would be a better way to say that.

And so I ended the foot-dragging. Twelve days ago I completed the necessary docs on-line to make it official and real, coughed up the required fees and got this Fellowship started.

My two fellow-directors and I agreed that today–being the first day of spring–was a very suitable effective date for our enterprise.

Without making too big a deal out of my personal feelings and reactions to getting the FSF started, let me just say that I’ve slept more soundly in the last 12 days than I have in many, many years.

Dragging one’s feet on those meaning-and-purpose issues is never a good thing.

The Fellowship of St Francis is real. And that fills me with joy!

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.