Hope

July 28, 2015

Blessed Rudolf Aquaviva, SJ  “Living Only By Hope” Matthew 13:36-43

Rudolf Aquaviva lived four years in India as a missionary, to be martyred by a mob.  He wrote movingly of patient hope in the face of apparent failure of not converting any one to Christ: “We live only by hope, though that is very uncertain whether it may not turn out rather evil than good. Ours is a very uncertain outlook in regard to conversion. .So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond measure.”

Sunday night as we fed people at the Navigation Center I looked around and I had touched the lives of the seventy five people that were present over the past twenty years–they all knew me by name, and I them. Many were young hustlers when I came to San Francisco,  some twenty years ago full of dreams and now broken, some in wheel chairs, all homeless, using drugs, waiting in hope for the bread crumbs of housing from the City.

People are always asking me about my success rates–well until everyone or at least the majority of people share equally from their pay checks that is not going to happen—and that is an idealized dream we hold.  As long as we live in our little “tribes” of race, creed, economic circumstances–change will not happen. That is reality.  That is the reality I have worked in for the past twenty years.

But for me as I look back I have always lived in the hope and still live in the hope of God, and God in Christ holds the guys like Byran, Ted, Gwen, in his hands.  William Berry S.J. says “Prayer is a matter of relationship. Intimacy is the basic issue, not answers to problems or resolutions “to be better”, Many of life’s problems and challenges have no answers; we can only live with and through them.  Problems and challenges, however can be faced and lived through with more peace and resilience if people know that they are not alone.  A man’s wife will not return from the dead, but the pain is more bearable when he has poured out his sorrow, his anger, and his despair to God and has experienced God’s intimate presence.”

Ultimately all we have is God–and in Christ I invite you to rest your worries, and to trust that all too shall be well!  Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

VegInspiration
When we are drawn toward a plant-based way of eating, it is in no way a limitation on us; rather it is the harmonious fulfillment of our own inner seeing. At first we think it’s an option we can choose, but with time we realize that it’s not a choice at all but the free expression of the truth that we are.

It is not an ethic that we have to police from outside, but our own radiant love spontaneously expressing, both for ourselves and for our world. Caring is born on this earth and lives through us, as us, and it’s not anything for which we can personally take credit. It is nothing to be proud of. Dr. Will Tuttle

Mustard Seed

July 27, 2015

Matt. 13: 31-32 “The Reign of God is Like A Mustard Seed”

“The reign of God is like a mustard seed that someone took and planted in his field.  It is the smallest of all seeds. But when it is grown, it’s the largest of all vegetable plants. It becomes a tree so that the birds in the sky come and nest it it’s branches.” Matt. 13:31.

Yesterday we served a reception at a local church and than a meal at the Navigation Center in the evening. Both were the same–mustard seeds growing in the eyes of God–no difference because of class, money, social status.

It is us in our own sense of entitlement and fear that stigmatize people. We stigmatize them be calling them the “unsaved”, drug users, the mentally ill, rather than meeting each person where they are and providing the basics of health care, housing, food, and care. The young guy who helped yesterday commented, “People do not realize that basically homeless people just need some one to pay them attention instead of trying to tell them how to live.” What he meant is that if we treat people with dignity, and work with them as equals many can find their way, but that requires all of us sharing of what we have. We live in a society where it is the person who gets there first that counts–as long as we places ourselves at the center of the universe– people are hurt. It is about loving people, caring, treating them with dignity, and meeting them as equals. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Numbers

July 25, 2015

July 26  “Numbers” John 6:1-15

In a scripture from I Chronicles  David had a count made of the number of people in his Kingdom–God became angry because he substituted “statistics for trust;” there is a group of people who through the years have said I would not survive more than 1 year doing the work–I am in my 21st. year; Dorothy gave a diamond to a homeless woman because she felt like the one woman needed it more than the catholic worker and people complained how many people she could have helped and she replied, “this lady needs it more than many;”  people always ask me about “numbers” and “success rates” and I do not answer because numbers are deceiving. As long as one person suffers–there is not enough to claim success. An article recently claimed we have less violence than at any other time in history and how we should be proud of that fact –this person lives in Norway–where there is less violence, but regardless as long as one person is hurt numbers do not matter. We leave people behind when we look at our success rates. In our Gospel Jesus told his disciples not to worry about numbers–simply go do feed the people, God will provide.  People are always asking me who helps me cook for so many people–and the answer is no one–I simply do what has to be done with out worrying about numbers, I am often asked how do I know I am going to have enough money to survive–again I do not worry about it–I simply do what has to be done.  Numbers will hold us back. God asks us to put our trust in him and let him do the rest. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Peniel–August Newsletter of Temenos Catholic Worker

July 25, 2015

August Newsletter
Lent, 2007;
Temenos
CATHOLIC WORKER
PENIEL
“Where Jacob Wrestled with God” Father River Damien Sims M.Div., D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656,
San Francisco, CA 94164

Telephone: 415-305-2124

E-Mail:punkpriest1@gmail.com
Website: http://www.temenos.org.

JOURNAL OF AN ALIEN STREET PRIEST

Recently with the developments on marriage equality and the Sr.,Helen Prejean Event coming up I wrote the following book review, and several people have made positive comments and so I felt it appropriate to print it here for this month:
FAR AWAY

By Kevin Kline and Daniel D. Mauer

Far Away is a book about the Reverend Kevin Kline’s year on the street as a sex worker in 1975, with two young hustler friends who died on the streets, and about the “pimp” who brought him there. This is the story of a young man dealing with coming out in an age, a place, St. Louis, Missouri, where it was difficult, if not impossible at the time to find role models. He grew up in a typical suburban family, and being gay was not a part of the equation.
He had a sexual experience with a young friend, who then introduced him to a ‘pimp” as a “friend”, who had sex with him and for whom he had feelings, and then the man took him to Forest Park and basically “pimped” him out. He met two other young men, two street hustlers, with whom he became close friends. He had never been truly open with any of his other friends, they accepted him for who he was, and so that was the lure that kept him coming back to the Park that summer with the “pimp”. He saw the reality of prostitution—lawyers, policemen, politicians, the wealthy—who used young males for their satisfaction. He experienced the brutality of the police, and one policeman brutally beat up one of his young friends, who later committed suicide, and finally his other friend died a violent death as well. He returned to his suburban home, went to school, and was haunted by these experiences, and now they still touch him, and the deaths of his two young friends haunt him. His sexuality has been deeply colored by these experiences. And he suffers from PTSD from that summer, and the experience in a closeted society. They were the best friends he ever had. He is now a successful, openly gay pastor, his scars have healed like the scars on a piece of fine wood, and have made a piece of art out of his life.
For me this book took me back to that year. I was just beginning seminary serving a church fifty miles away. I was deeply in the closet, my former denomination is not even now open to people who are gay. I remember that year a young man coming to me struggling with being gay, and I, being the traditional pastor, gave him the answer of the church—it is a “sin”, and you need to find a therapist, stay celibate, and keep this a secret. He went to another church and they kicked him out because of his sexuality, and he committed suicide, and to this day I am haunted by this young man, haunted by how I let my own fears, lead to basically turning him a way , and I still feel as if I help put the gun to his head.
This took me back to my own coming out, and my years in prostitution. It brought home to me how those three years on the street are so hammered into my DNA that there is no way I can deny them, nor would I want to deny them. I am still a part of the street. I feel more comfortable on the street. The best friends I have ever had were those young guys I worked with—for we had no one else, and we had to be completely honest with one another—and it is still the same. The people I feel the closet to are the street kids, and they respond to me in the same way, for we know that we cannot pretend to be what we are not, and we accept each other for who we are. They know they can call me day or night and I will be there, they know they can stop by and I will feed them, and they know that I will not bring judgment of any kind on them—for that was my experience on the street as a hustler, I was accepted for who I was. A young man, whose name is “Gault” was eating with me in the Haight, and he said, “I have never told you this, but I knew the first time I met you, you were one of us, you hustle like all of us, and you know what it means to have people look down upon you, and try to “fix” you, I knew we were “family” that first day. “ And we are family.
Dorothy Day said that the system was “dirty and rotten,” and it is—it sets itself up to take care of people on its own terms, and that is why so many fall through the cracks. Its one motive is profit, and which leads to tangible results. That is why I live between the “thin” lines—I work with the system where I can, I work it, I use, it, I “hustle” it, and I live with my mentality on the streets. I suffer with those who are victims of the “system”. The Crucified One stands with them outside the gates. Over my desk I have a painting of a person who has a bleeding heart, and over it the words “counselor”, and that is what I do, I bleed with them. We are all called to bleed with each other, it is in the bleeding that we find our humanness. The Velveteen Rabbit is my favorite story, for he does not become real until he is worn out.
People often asked me when I am in my street clothes if I am in my role as a street priest, and the truth is that is no role, I dress for other roles—in a suit, in dress shoes, in my yuppie clothes, when I am raising money, but my street clothes are my clothes, they are who I am—they are no role. I have experienced deep pain, deep scars as a result of homophobia, and of being a sex worker, as well as my years of ministry on the streets. I have PTSD as a result of the closeted environment I was in as a young man, I have PTSD as a result of the years of being on the streets and of working on the streets. I make no bones about it. There are nights I have night mares, I am haunted by fears, and as I have worked through them I see them as a reality that come from living, and also as scars that have healed and are healing in a piece of wood, that becomes a beautiful piece of art. I see life as art, and as art you have scars and in God shaping those scars he creates beauty, a beauty beyond compare. For example people are always asking me if I have ever wanted an intimate relationship, and I give my standard answer of serving God, but the reality is that the homophobia in which I was raised, and what I have gone through broke me in a way I did not want an intimate relationship, but I believe that God has used this to call me to the ministry where I have served thousands. Through the pain, and the healing of the scars I have been privileged to enter into a fuller relationship with Christ. And as I look back this was the calling for which I was born to in my mother’s womb. Through the suffering and pain God has called me to the ministry for which I was called in my mother’s womb. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!
Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015 PHILIP WORKMAN INTERFAITH EVENT with Sister Helen Prejean

3:00 p.m. Service and Giving out of Pizza at Haight and Stanyan

6:00 p.m. Philip Workman Interfaith Service of Worship “Against the Death Penalty” at
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 1755 Clay Street, San Francisco, CA 94109

7:30 P.M. Reception and Book Signing
$100.00 Suggested Donation at door. It includes book Dead Man Walking, signed by Sr. Helen

Light Hors D ’Oeuvres and non-alcoholic beverages will be served

http://www.philipworkman.org
WE ARE BEGGARS

We asked your help in providing food, harm reduction supplies, pastoral care, and socks to nearly 1500 people each month. We live simply, we beg, and we trust in your God!
You may send a checks to:
Temenos Catholic Worker
P.O. Box 642656
San Francisco, CA 9416

Or make donations through PayPal on http://www.temenos.org

If you would like to donate to the Helen Prejean Event or would like an autographed book than designate on your check.
All gifts are tax deductible.

“Finding God in the Hollow”

July 24, 2015

Finding the Hollow Space Blessed Vasal Hopko Matthew 13:18-23

The only way Christ comes to us is in the flesh–He is not some far off deity–but dwells in the flesh of each human being. There is a lady, whom I call Liz, and she is 80 years old. She lives on her Social Security, which is $950.00, and which she earned working as a waitress for over fifty years; she is always out on the street cleaning and picking up the trash, trying “to give something back to people,” and now she fears eviction.  I sit on the beach late at night and see the waves of the Pacific Ocean crash in, and they  cleanse the beach as they flow out again leaving nothing. Those are the waves that Liz are feeling, and so many others are feeling now. I feel them. People with families working full time jobs are living in their cars. The streets are full of homeless and the City wants to increase the shelter system to get them out of sight.  And I sit here pondering, “What the hell?” All I know to do is simply to continue being a pastor to my small flock until the waves of time pull me out into nothingness.  And in this hollow space one can find God most present! Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Caring

July 23, 2015

St. Bridget of Sweden   Caring   Matt. 13:10-17

We read of of providing shelters all over the City where people can come and go–the hope is to keep people out of sight, give them a place to stay.  The reality is ware housing people, providing “services” will never solve the problem.  The answer comes in each of us caring.

Wendell Berry wrote:

“Care. . .rests upon genuine religion. Care allows creatures to escape our explanations into their actual presence and their essential mystery.  In taking care of our fellow creatures, we acknowledge that they are not ours; we acknowledge that they belong to an order and harmony of which we ourselves are parts.  To answer to the perpetual crisis of our presence in this abounding and dangerous world, we have only the perpetual obligation of care.”

In recent weeks dealing with illness and fear the only “genuine religion” I have experienced is the care of the street kids, the friends, who have walked with me. 

“If you have people who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have people who deal likewise with their fellow human beings. ” – Francis of Assisi
(Caring for the earth and all God’s creatures: what does this mean for you?)

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Book Review

July 23, 2015

BOOK REVIEW:  A Life of Dietrich Bohnoeffer by Charles Marsh

John 20:1-2; 11-8 The Feast of Mary Magdalene

This biography of Dietrich Bohnoeffer presents as man who is every man, a man who is conflicted, a man who grows in this conflicted life. 

He comes from a wealthy family, with great privilege and yet he experienced life in all of it’s rawness.  This book presents a man who wrestles with God through out his life, never really sure of  if he is on the correct path, accept that of following God in Christ. He wrestles with God in a church that betrayed humanity in turning towards Hitler; He wrestles with God in his sexuality–probably gay in a time when gay meant death; he wrestles with God as a man who is a pacifist and yet takes part in plotting to kill Hitler. He was a pastor to the rebels of his day–those who rebelled against Hitler, those on the outside, and on the edge.  In his death he died a very painful death remaining faithful to his God, despite the questions of his life.

Bonhoeffer  lived out every man’s struggle–if we embrace it–a struggle not in the blackness and whiteness of life–but in the greyness of life.

Near his death he wrote: that he had “discovered” and “is still discovering to this very day, that one only learns to have faith by entering into the full worldliness of life.”  His faith was of living in this world, experiencing God in Christ in this world.

He lived the Gospel of joy, a Gospel that promises the presence of God in our lives–in sickness, in health, in weakness, in strength, in suffering, and in the good times.  The Gospel he lived out was not one of having a God who kept you away from the pain of life, but One who walks with you in the pain of life.

On the Feast of Mary Magdalene this books speaks loud and clear. She was not a woman of perfection, but a sinner, who found the grace of Christ.  As we look at life we need to see in the lives of these people what our society runs from–the realness of life, the changing and flowing of life. For example the controversy of Juniper Serra being made a saint–he was a man of his time, but a man who demonstrated the love of Christ as he knew it. We want to remove all that we perceive as evil from our midst and in the process we simply refuse to face the evil that lurks in us–it always comes back in some form or another. We can not hide from the past, we can see God at work in that past and how God has brought growth and healing. Not one of us deserves God’s grace–we are all sinners, justified by that grace, and like Bonhoeffer we fall, we get up, we fall, we get up and God will justify us and forgive us. We are called to do the same to everyone. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Abandon

July 19, 2015

ABANDON BY TIM TIMBERLAKE-A Reflection and Book Review

Ephesians 2: 16-18 “Christ brought us together through his death on the Cross.  The Cross got us to embrace and that was the end of hostility. Christ came and preached peace to you outsiders and peace to us insiders.  He treated us as equals, and so made us equals. “

———————————————————————————————-

Tim Timberlake in Abandon  presents an argument for finding your “divine destiny”, and than focusing on your purpose, through overcoming road blocks and your  hunger for God you will have an abundant life. It is a book about placing your future in God’s hands.

It seems to cater to a life that if blessed is blessed with security and success, and idealistic kind of life. It is also based solely on belief in Christ.

These past five or six weeks have been very difficult weeks for me. I often talk about the “Angel of Death” hovering over me and reminding me of my mortality and several times in these weeks I have felt that Angel of Death, reminding me that my time is near, hovering and than moving away. I was brutally raped six weeks ago, I developed a virus that has drained me, and perplexed the doctors and only now am I getting over it, I had a false positive HIV test which scared the hell out of me. But through these weeks Christ has been my peace.  Through it God has brought “angels” into my life to support and care for me. Four of my street kids have brought me food, slept on my floor as my fever raged, gone with me to the doctor, and nursed me. All four know God in four different ways: one as a Christian, another as a Muslim, another as the goddess, and another as a Buddhist.  In each of them Christ has been my peace. Gerald Manley Hopkins says that Christ “comes in ten thousand faces,” and Jesus came to me  as the Buddha, the goddess, as Mohammed,  for Christ comes in the form of love.

The Gospel promises us not security, financial success, good health, but it gives us the words of Christ in the book of John, “I have come to give you life, life in all of its fullness.” And that fullness is found in love of God and of our neighbor. It is in that fullness that we truly find abundant life. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Listening

July 18, 2015

St. Elizabeth Fedorona “Listening” Matthew 12:14-21

Brian McDermott writes in “What Is Apostolic Spirituality?”: “The God we are seeking to cooperate with is a God who is involved in every nook and cranny of the world, in its hell-holes and its min-paradises. Where do I choose to give my time and my attention and my energy. and from what do I choose to withdraw them? In Ignatian terms, an apostolically oriented spirituality demands that I learn how to live and act as a discerner of spirits and as a seeker of God’s desire for me.”

The Gospel today tells of Jesus choosing to do his ministry, without fan fare.

Last year I met a young pastor when I was in class in Florida, judgmental of my theology from day one. On the third day of class he received a phone call saying his wife had run away, left him, taking his children. I spent hours with him, simply listening–and suddenly his judgment of my theology evaporated; I spent two hours texting with a young guy last night, mainly about nothing, but he had my attention. That meant the world to him.

If we pay attention and listen to people, one by one change will take place, maybe we do not see it, but change takes place. Jesus died on the cross a failure–but he is certainly still present. There was a quote I heard on “Criminal Minds” that sticks with me: “Idealogy separates us, dreams and anguish brings us together.” Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

This quote from Dr. Will Tuttle sums up why we need to look at our use of animals:

VegInspiration
Freeing animals, we humans will be able to rejoin the celebration and contribute to it with our love and creativity. Competition and exploitation of other people can melt away as we regain our natural sensitivity. Our earth will naturally heal when we stop killing fish and sea life and polluting and wasting water in such unsustainable ways.

Forests and wildlife will return because we’ll need far less farmland to feed everyone a plant-based diet, and the whole earth will be relieved of the unbearable pressure exerted by omnivorous humans. We will be released from the paralysis that prevents us from creatively addressing the looming depletion of fossil fuels and the other challenges we face. Dr. Will Tuttle

“A Flexible Heart”

July 16, 2015

July 17, “A Flexible Heart”  Matthew 12:1-9 Blessed Paul Peter-Gojdic

“There is more at stake here than religion. If you had any idea what the Scripture means–“I prefer a flexible heart to an inflexible ritual.” (12:9).

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Bishop Paul Peter Gojdic–imprisoned by the communists, dying a painful death of cancer in 1960 said: “I am certain that at the end truth will triumph over lies, and love will overcome hatred.”

And that is what the Gospel proclaims, and I think of that often. I thought of it today as I read of Caitlan  Jenner receiving the “Courage Award,” and of the transgenders I see every night deserve that award: they walk the streets to make money to pay for their hormones, many are senior citizens, all are poor, and have no chance of having surgery, and yet they witness to who they are; all those in the transgender community who have been abused and forgotten by their families. I think of “J” who is 19, beaten up by his dad, thrown on the street, now using drugs to cope. They are the one’s who deserve the “Courage Award,” and in saying that I am not saying that Caitlan does not.

Today in the paper there was an article on the homeless population and the latest stats. Basically the same as twenty years ago. Last night I was at a meeting and there was pizza and at the end I suggested that each person take it out and give to the people sleeping on the street, and they did. It is in the power of one that revolution will come.

Solutions? I have no answer for that, but what I do suggest is that if each person shows there care for one other person by providing simply food==-that will start a revolution of the heart.

What I do believe is that if each of us followed the Jesus who calls us to love one another–for all the Scriptures are translated through the words of Jesus, and says “Love one another, feed the hungry. .”without regard  to any thing else–there will be a revolution of the heart. Jesus calls us to flexibility, to having a heart that is flexible and giving without judgment–and that is the revolution that will change the world. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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