The teachings of Saint Francis are alive and well

There are basically two distinct schools of Christian thought: The Aristotelian-Thomistic school and the Augustinian-Franciscan school. The Aristotelian-Thomistic school teaches that animals are here for our pleasure—they have no independent purpose.  We can eat them; torture them in laboratories – whatever we feel is necessary for our survival. Most modern Christians embrace this form of their religion. And sadly so do most people these days. We live in a very cruel and uncaring world, where animals are routinely slaughtered in the millions every day, with an estimated 150 BILLION being killed annually.  The Augustinian-Franciscan school, however, teaches that all living beings are brothers and sisters under God’s fatherhood. This is similar to the teaching of the great saint Sri Chaitanya, revered as an incarnation of Krishna by the Vaisnava tradition. Like Saint Francis before him, he also spoke to animals and even danced with tigers in the Jarikanda forest of India.  St. Francis felt a deep kinship with all of creation, addressing it as a “brother” or “sister,” firmly believing that everything came from the same creative Source. While Sri Chaitanya taught that all living beings are spiritually equal, but due to karma they appeared in one type of body or another for the time being. “All souls were evolving through different species,” he said. Saint Francis’ great compassion and respect for the animal world also manifest in his expression of hospitality during Christmas (1223): And on Christmas Eve, out of reverence for the Son of God, whom on that night the Virgin Mary placed in a manger between the ox and the ass, anyone having an ox or an ass is to feed it a generous portion of choice fodder.  And, on Christmas Day, the rich are to give the poor the finest food in abundance. Indeed, St. Francis’ respect for […]

40 years of amazing unconditional love


On this day, March 16, 1974, the founder of Food for Life, Srila Prabhupada wrote to his student, Satyajit das: “I am hopeful that if we can widely distribute free foodstuffs to the people of India, by giving it out at our centers as well as by traveling parties to villages, we will win over the whole country and the whole world by this activity on Krishna’s behalf” (Srila Prabhupada to Satyajit das, March 16, 1974). It was Srila Prabhupada’s hope that through the liberal distribution of pure (sanctified plant-based) meals, that the whole world could become peaceful and prosperous. Not long before he wrote that letter to his student he requested that no one within a ten-mile radius of any of his temples should go hungry. These visionary ideals and orders inspired his students all over the world to start what is now known as Food for Life. Food for Life is essentially free prasadam distribution to the public as an expression of the volunteers’ unconditional love for them. The project has taken on many formats over the last 40 years, from humble street distribution from pots to expensive and sophisticated midday meal meals program serving millions of school children across India. The common denominator in all of them is that each Food for Life program distributes prasadam (plant-based meals that have been prepared with love and offered with love to God) before being served to the public. Preparing meals in this way ensures that the recipients get nourishment of their body, mind and soul. When Food for Life started in Mayapur, India the yoga students served kitchri, a dhal and rice curry with vegetables. Today Food for Life projects serve a variety of meals that are typically designed according to local taste, but always plant-based. Although ISKCON has […]