Order Out of Chaos

October 21, 2014

October 21, “Out of Chaos–Order” Eph. 2:12-22; Luke 12:35-38 St. Margaret Clitherow

I have heard the comment there is chaos always around me, and yes there is, for life is messy. I met one guy on the street this after noon who is terminally ill with cancer and he was throwing up and crying, and yelling out of fear. We talked and their came peace and order. My own life is has always gone from chaos to order. Over twenty years ago I was removed from on denomination, became a whore, than counselor and returned to ministry-but it was a chaotic time, as has been working on the streets of San Francisco. I have found a keen sense of order in my life through the practice of the Eucharist, and the practice of the Liturgy of the Hours. God centers us, God brings order.

In much the same way each Tuesday and Thursday when I am cooking I bring order out of chaos. I cook the meals alone because frankly when I have had people helping me it seemed like chaos to them at the beginning. For ninety percent of the time I come into fixing the meal not knowing what I am going to make, because I do not know what is at the Food Bank, and I change what I had projected because they do not have the supplies. For example tomorrow and Thursday we are having:

Noodles with Beans and Apples

We soak the beans for 9 hours/ cook them all night on low in crock pots.

In the morning we will mix in cut up apples in and put on warm–about 100 apples

tomorrow afternoon we will cook noodles–15 bags and mix

seasoned with salt/pepper/and onion powder

and then package in containers and serve.

This is creating order from chaos–and this is the way we are called to live our lives-not expecting it to be easy, straightforward but finding God in what ever is available for us. Never easy–but always a hell of a lot of fun! Deo Gratiast! Thanks be to God!

“Shojin is “religious abstention from animal foods” and is based on the core religious teaching of ahimsa, or harmlessness, the practice of refraining from causing harm to other sentient beings. Shojin and samadhi are seen to work together, with shojin purifying the body-mind and allowing, though certainly not guaranteeing, access to the spiritually enriching experience of samadhi. Outer compassion and inner stillness feed each other. Shojin and veganism are essential to our spiritual health because they remove a fundamental hindrance on our path.”. Dr. Will Tuttle

Life Is Not Defined By What You Have

October 20, 2014

October 20, “Life Is Not Defined By What You Have” Luke 12: 12-21
St. Mary Bertilla Boscardin

“Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot.” Luke 12:15

Someone told me a few days ago he was looking forward to the day when he earned enough money so that he could simply throw his clothes away each day and wear a new set; a former Mayor who is 80 years old, is continually earning millions; on the surface this City is possessed by wealth, the need for more, as it always has been–in pursuit of the gold rush. Underneath that drive of people, underneath the glitter there is much poverty and pain, a poverty of need that consumes and ultimately destroys.

St. Francis believed in living in poverty, as did Dorothy Day, for living with what you need liberates you to be open to God and to other people. Many years ago I remember sitting at the University of Northern Iowa where I was working on a second Master’s degree, listening to Fr. Frank Cordova talk about living in the catholic worker movement. Around me were older men and women who were near retirement and they were looking forward to retiring with their pensions and doing the work. And I thought to myself, “Hell, I do not want to get to the end of my life and then give my life in this way to God–what a waste,” and this pushed me into coming to San Francisco. Now I am nearing their age and I thank God each day I followed this call.

For I have found living simply on what I have is liberating, it opens me to the needs of others, and in that process to Jesus in their midst. It is like yesterday I was coming from the post office and a guy asked me for some socks, he had been sick and was completely dirty, and his socks were a mess. All I had was the one’s on me and I took them off and gave them to him. The look on his face was worth a million dollars–if I had been in my former life of working to make money I would have never even seen him.

Our scripture lays it out by saying that “Life is not defined by what we have, even when we have a lot,” it is in the giving, the doing for others that matters, and in that we find the presence of the Divine. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Intuition liberates, connects, illumines—and threatens our herding culture’s underlying paradigm of violent oppression of animals and of the feminine. Intuition sees the shadow clearly, and disarms it by embracing it and not feeding it. It sees the animal hidden in the hot dog, ice cream, and omelette, feels her misery and fear, and embraces her with love. Dr.Will Tuttle

Render Unto Caesar

October 19, 2014

Render Unto Caesar “I Thess. 1:1-5 Matt, 22:15-21

“We know this because our good news didn’t come to you just in speech, but also with power and the Holy Spirit, and with deep conviction.” I. Thess. 1:5

The one’s I most respect are people like Frank Cordova who stands up to the government against the war, against poverty, without blinking an eye, going to jail at times, but always standing up.

This year I voted–but I voted for no candidates–only the prepositions–because not one of the candidates ever sees into the darkness of deep poverty. We are a nation that is increasing in poverty and we turn our eye. And yet I would live no where else, for you see there is the ying and the yang and we need to have a balance, and we need to be actively involved in working for that balance. I see no party as right or wrong, but I see them both as extremely self-centered, and in that self centeredness they hurt the poorest of the poor. We need the balance, we need to come together and find a balance. For we are opposites and what we can agree on is that we are human beings in need of love, care, respect.

Jesus calls us to “render unto Caesar”, he calls us to serve the One who calls us to love God, and our neighbor” as our top priority and when we do our government will find its balance. We tend to forget the early Christians conqueror the world with love before they became accepted by the state for the Gospel has great power–and that power is to love our neighbor–and that means everyone–as Jesus loves.

Dr. Will Tuttle writes:

We can see that in general, the more a culture oppresses animals, the greater its inner agitation and numbness, and the more extroverted and dominating it tends to be. This is related to the scarcity of meditation in Western cultures, where people are uncomfortable with sitting still.

Quiet, open contemplation would allow the repressed guilt and violence of the animal cruelty in meals to emerge to be healed and released. Instead, the very activities that would be most beneficial to people of our herding culture are the activities that are the most studiously avoided. We have become a culture that craves noise, distraction, busyness, and entertainment at all costs. This allows our eaten violence to remain buried, blocked, denied, and righteously projected.


October 18, 2014

October 18 Mother Antonia Brenner, Feast of St. Luke 2 Tim. 4:10-17; Luke 10:1-9

In honor of my 20th anniversary a friend offered to buy me a gift, and I chose a new tattoo, it is entitled, “Matthew Shepherd: Murdered” (a picture is on face book following this post). I chose it because it reminds me of the suffering that young man like “Jed” goes through. Last week he called me and told me he had been beaten up because he was gay. He did not think that would happen in San Francisco–the gay mecca and as I look back at my own history and see homophobia raise its ugly head through the years, and still raises it head. We can close our eyes, ignore it, but it never goes away. This tattoo reminds me of the suffering of so many through out the world. It reminds me to never let the privilege of the society that I presently live in hide my face from the pain underneath that society.

Many years ago when I was simply a whore I sat with my friend Rio at a restaurant in L.A. and he made a comment, that has stuck with me through the years, “It still strikes as strange that anyone could have any moral objection to someone else’s sexuality. It is like telling someone else how to clean their house.” And I translate that to having objection about anyone’s race, gender, religion, and nationality as well.

I am often asked why I am a priest, and I think of the definition of “priest”: “A priest is one who offers sacrifice. .sacrifice comes from the Latin word to make whole; to take what is broken and put it together again; to complete that which is only partial.” That is what I believe we are all called to do. This week I underwent some surgery and I have thought about my mortality a lot, and as I look at my life I realize that I get distracted by the voices of people who want me to do what they believe I should be doing and I am simply going to focus on being the priest of this definition–bringing together what is whole, simply through my day to day work of feeding people, clothing people, needle exchange, and walking with them in their pain. In doing so my prayer is that they too will feel called to do the same. For in this political season we are seeking to be “saved” by our candidates when actually –our salvation comes from within us. Will Tuttle writes:

“Authentic spiritual teachings must necessarily teach an ethics of loving-kindness, because this reflects our interconnectedness and the truth that what we give out comes back to us. It leads to the harmony in relationships that is necessary not just for social progress, but also for our individual inner peace and spiritual progress.”

Mother Antonia Brenner was a wealthy woman who raised her kids in L.A. and at 50 turned her back on society and moved into a prison in Mexico. She was too old to be accepted into an order so she made her own habit, took private vows and lived with the prisoners in this prison for the rest of her life. She said: “Happiness does not depend on where you are. I live in a prison. And I have not had a day of depression in 25 years. I have been upset, angry. I have been sad. But never depressed. I have a reason for being.” Our reason for being comes from with in–not from with out. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


October 14, 2014

October 14, Jules Monchanin Evolution

Gal. 5:1-10 “What matters most is far more interior faith expressed in love.”

I believe in evolution. I believe that unless we evolve than we remain insensitive, uncaring, inhumane. Dr. Will Tuttle writes: “Evolution implies not only change but transformation. In world mythology, when heroes refuse the call to leave home to take the evolutionary journey, they become sick. For us as a culture it is the same.” In my own journey I see that, only until i sought to change, evolve, leave home did I start healing. When I sought to stay in my stagnant world where all was well I became sick, and when I seek to stay in a world where there is no change, and hold back the change I become sick. Evolution is a part of life–and it is a healing process.

I read the political comments from each political party on Face Book and I see a theme that looks like hate. The reality is that we are all citizens striving for the same goal of freedom and human rights, we just differ in our approach and I believe the best always comes out when we meet in the middle. We have been in war for 13 years, in fact for centuries because we want to “protect” ourselves, and in the process we make the situation worse. We become sick when we refuse to evolve in love, and care for our fellow creatures. We become sick when we think we have all the answers.

Paul has it right until our interior faith is expressed in love we are not free. We are slaves to our fears, our desires. Love frees us to live with the all the opposites in life and evolve into a way of living in love, acceptance and tolerance. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Against All Odds

October 13, 2014

AGAINST ALL ODDS is the story of Joe Tarasuk’s journey that included time in a mental hospital, being a major drug dealer, and involvement in a cult trying to change the world with music. Despite many challenges Joe through his commitment to Christ is now working to open a residential recovery program.

While Joe’s journey is his experience with conservative Christianity, it is a journey with Jesus, and points out how we need to lean on a High Power to work through our addictions. The limitation of the book is that solely places help in the Christian conservative context. There are many avenues to become clean and sober and the heart is admitting your on ability to overcome the problem and then accepting responsibility in your own life for your problems.

This is a good book.

Being Set Free

October 13, 2014

October 13 “Set Free” Elizabeth Fry

Gal. 5:1 “Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.”

I feel like I am spinning in a circle. People often do not under stand where I come from because they try to put me into a category. It was interesting at the World Veg Festival the past two days I was told that they discouraged “street kids” from coming because things would be stolen, and yet with the “rif raf” not present–people were still having their belongings stolen; one group who prepares vegan meals once served meals in the Haight and they moved because of the “rif raf”–it seems it was the rif raf that this priest brought in for meals and paid for; a reporter who was looking at doing a story I became angry with because of his insensitivity to understanding homelessness; there have been people who were complaining I do not work as a team and so on, and I remember a professor in grad school for whom I researched and wrote his lectures on sexuality once said to me, “River you will walk a lonely road, because you are not afraid to tell the truth.” And I do walk a lonely road.

Eugene Petersen said:

The ban on inventing new Jesus stories and sayings was not, as some have suggested, repressive. Its effect was to release the imagination for doing what is proper to it, namely, like Mary the mother of Jesus, to ponder Jesus in our hearts (Luke 2:19, 51), meditating our way into the presence of Jesus as presented by the Gospel writers, meditating so that Jesus is met and either crucified again or believed in again by me. And we have been doing it ever since in sermons and Bible studies, in stories and poems, in hymns and prayers, in acts of obedience and service in Jesus’ name.
– Why Spirituality Needs Jesus, by Eugene Peterson

(Who is Jesus for you? How do you ponder his life in your heart and life?)

Jesus through my own journey has entered my very being and I follow him in the way he had lead–and that way is to see people, simply as people, loving them where they are.
Breaking away from the social boundaries of class. I see no difference in “Jared” on Polk Street in his ragged pants and shirt than I do in my friends In Marin County, we are all children of God. I believe that we are all opposites and that our commonality can be found in love, and I believe that for the issues of hunger and homelessness to be even nearly solved is for each of us to share equally. And I suppose this is scary. It was like I was mediating in the Park early this morning and using a tape I got yesterday from an Eastern teacher, and a man went off on me for being a “Muslim,” an “anti-American”, and the practice is from m India. We need to start seeing our own humanity, that is where Christ enters our lives– and when we become in touch with our humanity of others Christ truly enters our lives.

My colleague Dr. Will Tuttle sums it up:

Our love, to actually be love, must be acted upon and lived. Developing our capacity for love is not only the means of evolution; it is the end as well, and when we fully embody love, we will know the truth of our oneness with all life. This makes us free.

Some one wrote me an email telling me just exactly how good a Christina I am—and I am being sarcastic-and not in a very polite way, and my response is always I lift my bow and aim for the bulls eye of the target of the reign of God every moment of every day and I miss the center most of the time, but then there are times I hit it–that is what counts. For you see “Christ has set us free! Take your stand!”

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

PS: And yes there is much pain in this as write it–it goes with the territory.

Being Woke Up

October 9, 2014

October 9, “Being Woke Up”

Lk. 11:5-13

Every night at some time or another, the door bell rings and someone wants some socks, to talk, some needles. I am often resting, and I get irritated, but then I realize they have needs and like the friend in the parable we need to be available to each other. For over twenty years in season and out of season we have opened the door at 1618 Polk at all hours of the day and night. We have been called “co dependent and so on”, and the reality is I am simply following Jesus. That is why I go away once a month with no one, and with the phone off; that is why I go out of town on my days off with the phone off–for I find strength and nourishment in silence:

Silence, as someone has said, is the mother of prayer and the nurse of holy thoughts. Silence cuts down on our sins, doesn’t it? We can’t be sinning in so many different ways if we are being quiet before God. Silence nourishes patience, charity, discretion.
– Elsabeth Elliot

This way of life is for few people, but I have found in it a blessing and fulfillment that can be found no other way. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Made in the USA: The Sex Trafficking of Children by Alisa Jordheim

October 8, 2014


This book gives a good description of the problem, but it only goes so far. It says nothing about males. I work with a lot of youth and have found a lot of trafficking of males. We have males disappear in San Francisco and I know many are involved in the sex trafficking market. I work with three young men who were in sex trafficking. I have worked with male prostitution for twenty years, and it is always put on the back burner.

We need to look at our homophobia, and our idea of male dominance and see how males are trafficked just like the girls are. Many males are suffering, and dying in this market.

The Angel of Death and the Reign of God

October 8, 2014

October 8, Luke 11:1-4 Penny Lernoux “The Angel of Death and the Reign of God”

On a summer night many years ago, visiting a prospective seminary, I was in a inner city neighborhood in Kansas City, and this black minister was having a tent revival. I walked up to the entrance to look in and he looked at me from the pulpit and started saying: “Young preach boy! (I had never met the man–how did he know I was in ministry.) “You are destined for a great ministry and you will know the Angel of Death intimately.” At the time I thought he was crazy–but then–then–I grew up.

The Angel of Death and I have become close friends. My parents died and then the deaths that would follow in my parishes; and then San Francisco, where I feel this Angel around me all the time. Through the years I would go into depression when I felt that presence, but with Zack’s death, and I began to see this Angel as my friend, a dark, looming presence. Last night I was soaking a sweatshirt where there was blood I picked up when holding a young man stabbed last week, waiting for an ambulance and I broke down and yet I felt content and not afraid. For I feel the Angel of Death around me, there is often times a darkness comes over me, and yet there comes the resurrection, the presence of the Risen Christ. Penny Lenernous commented as she experienced the poverty and brutality of Latin America and then slowly died of cancer: “You can look a slum or peasant village, but it is only by entering into that world–by living in it–that you begin to understand what is like to be powerless, to be like Christ.” And for me living in this world, walking closely with the brutality, and the pain of life has helped me understand what it is like to be powerless, and to trust in Jesus as the Angel of Death hovers around me. Not with fear do I face this Angel, but with the hope in the resurrection and that brings hope and life to the struggle in bringing the reign of God in our midst. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

“If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, then you have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.”
~ St. Francis of Assisi


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