Archive for June, 2014

Follow Me

June 30, 2014

June 30, 2014 “Blessed Ramon Lull” “Follow Me No Where” Matt, 8:18-22

“Follow Me and the let the dead bury their own dead.”

People often asked me “What are your plans for the future?”  “Do you have plans for retirement?”  And all I know is that I follow One who has no plans, sets no agendas accept to love our neighbor. I followed him at Pride yesterday, being pushed and cussed running the Grandstand area, giving employment to two street kids, who were happy as a lark to make some money; I follow him feeding and hanging out with kids on Polk and Golden Gate Park. The truth is Jesus asks us to follow him without asking where we are going, and the older I get that is enough. 

Secondly following Jesus means what Will Tuttle says quite eloquently:

The bystander offers an example of nonviolence and speaks on behalf of the victims who have no voice (and, on a subtler level, on behalf of the perpetrators who are also victimized by their own actions).

Perpetrators may condemn bystanders for judging them and making them feel bad or guilty, but the bystanders are merely acting as the perpetrators’ conscience, asking them to please become more aware and stop their violence, for everyone’s sake.

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

June 28, 2014

“Get up and cry out at nighttime, at the start of the night shift; pour out your heart before my Lord like water.  Lift your hands up to him for the life of your children–the ones who are fainting from hunger on ever street corner.”

Today is the anniversary of the start of World War 1 where millions were killed over a simple argument; we are sending troops back into Iraq; We use various reasons to justify war–but they are all vain. 

Last night I ran into a nineteen year old who had been in jail for possessing one joint and I took him to eat. He commented that no matter where he would see me, I was always aware of his presence and would feed him. 

Will Tuttle writes, “Cultivating awareness is essential to realizing happiness, peace, and freedom.”  

We need to become aware of the suffering, the pain of each being that is around us.  When we do that we will move beyond our own fighting for our place to loving and caring.  To see a human being hungry and not feed them for me is an abomination.  To justify war in any form is an abomination.  If we take into our selves the heart of Mary, we will look at the eyes with the eyes of love for all creatures. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Listening the Heartbeat of Jesus

June 27, 2014

June 27, Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, “Blessed Madelene and Companions

“Listening to the Heartbeat of Jesus”

This morning my body aches from preparing and lifting food, I feel exhausted, and in that exhaustion I find much joy because I heard the heartbeat of Jesus last night. Nineteen year old Ben talked of his mom’s drug use, his abuse; sixty year old Horace talked of his use of drugs and being homeless for thirty years.   The meals, the food, socks, and needles are all a means to listen to the heart beat of Jesus. In Unmasking the Holy Mary Kay Sauter sums up my theology of ministry, which is “listening to the heartbeat of Jesus’:

“I no longer pray for God to be present, or God to give me guidance. What I pray for is openness to God . . . God is always present. We build the walls that separate us from God. It is our responsibility to tear them down and open ourselves to God.”

(“God is already present.” What attachments to security, pleasure, status, power, etc. prevent you from sensing God’s closeness?)

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

June 26, 2014

June 26, Hans Urs von Balhasar, “Shifting Sands and Immovable Mountains”

I was standing on Ocean Beach one rainy afternoon and the winds shifted, and the waves began to rise, and I noticed the sand under my feet were shifting and I moved away rapidly.

In life having money, building grand buildings is like that.  We have them one minute and then the sands shift and they are gone. Solomon had a great temple and wealth, and we praise him for it–but where is it now? 

For what is immovable and lasting is that which is found in the commandment “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul, and your neighbor as yourself,” ultimately that is what matters. I spent time with a twenty five year old young guy last night who is headed off to work in Lebanon and returning to law school in the Fall. I have known him for seven years, met ;him handing out food in  the Haight. He had been a in a group home, and had behavioral problems in his adolescence. We met, we became friends, and we  have spent time together, and for me that is what is immovable–the relationships that one builds and work with. He commented to me that I “loved him without condition,” and that is what we are called to do.

Some of my friends act  uncomfortable with me when I talk about being vegan and do not waver on eating a vegan diet or fixing vegan food to serve.  They make jokes. The reality for me is that only when we respect animals as our equals do we start respecting life. We see that in the way we have used nature through the years–we are in control, the mighty humans–and we have destroyed nature, and are destroying our climate. Our land is being eaten up by developers all because of our own need for control and profit. Dr. Will Tuttle says it like it is:

“Though we are born into a culture that emphasizes our differences from other animals, our actual experience tells us differently. Those of us with companion animals, for example, know without doubt that they have distinct personalities and preferences, emotions and drives, and that they feel and avoid psychological and physical pain.”

The shifting sands are our lack of respect of all of creation, and our greed, and the immovable mountains are our respect for all of creation.  Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!”

June 25, 2014

June 25, “To Be Rather Than to Seem” St. Febronia Matt. 14-20

My senior class in seminary took “To be rather than to seem,” as it’s class motto.  And at the time it was just a theme, but through the years it has grown in significance.  Last night I baptized, “Jason”, in Golden Gate Park, and he commented, “I have waited to have the gutter punk priest do this for me.”:  “Gutter punks”, are the “punk” kids who live in the murky, grey areas of life, and it is fitting to give me that label, for that is where I live, and where my call is.  I see things in the grey, and work with people in the grey areas of their lives with out difficulty for that reason.  For me the heart of my life is Christ.  “To be rather, than to seem” invites all of us to take on the mind and heart of Jesus, so that our daily lives can produce the fruits of love, care–that for me is what it means to follow Jesus–to love without judgment and to see him in the darkest of the dark. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


Recently I came across a new term-“Veg Con” Vegetarian Conscious, reflecting the need to make conscious choices about what we can eat  and how we live. Some foods are 100 percent vegan, most have animal products, and this term calls us to cut the use of animal based resources. It is a term that allows us to work towards being a vegan as best we can. For example I eat vegan, but I have belongings that have been gifts or that I have bought through the years, and to me it would be wasteful and dishonorable to throw them away. So I am not pure vegan, but I am not pure anything anyway–to be completely pure frankly is scary, and not much fun.

To meditate for world peace, to pray for a better world, and to work for social justice and environmental protection while continuing to purchase the flesh, milk, and eggs of horribly abused animals exposes a disconnect that is so fundamental that it renders our efforts absurd, hypocritical, and doomed to certain failure. Dr. Will Tuttle

Outside the Gate

June 24, 2014

June 24, “Outside the Gate” St. Alban Luke 1:57-80

I was recently asked “Why don’t you go back to a mainline denomination now that they are accepting gays?”  It is not that simple. For what I have discovered about myself these years is that I am like John the Baptist outside the gates calling the Church to witness with the poor, the sex workers, the minorities, and regardless of the sexual orientation issue, I can not go back. As a friend told me fifteen years ago the time would come when it “will be too late,”, the truth it has always been too late, for God used the institutional  Church to educate me, to train me very well and then to kick me out in order that I might follow him outside the Gate. I was there for a reason, and then when that reason was completed, I was to leave, and because of my tendency to want security God forced me out.

I can work with systems, but never with  in a system, and every time I try it is fatal for me, and not good for the system.  My call is :”outside the gate”, and yes it is lonely at times, but never do I feel alone. So when a pastor friend jokes about my teva’s, shorts, tee shirts, punk patches, I laugh now, for I am following my calling–out side the gate. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Are we ready for a spiritual revolution? If we refuse, the strife, stress, and destruction will almost certainly intensify due to our ascending numbers and exploitive technology. When is a caterpillar ready to transform? The most obvious sign is the passing of its voracious appetite because an inner urge turns its attention to new directions.Dr. Will Tuttle


June 23, 2014

June 23, St. Etheldreda, “Surrendering”  Matt. 7:6: “Don’t give holy things to dogs and don’t throw your pearls in front of pigs. They will stomp on pearls, then turn around and attack you.:”

On Father’s Day this year a friend struggled to understand how you have “thrown away your life”, rather then marrying and having kids, for “you will die alone.”  My answer is that of St. Bede in relation to St. Etheldreda, “And this virgin began to be the mother of many, both by her example and her heavenly admonitions.”  And I am a parent to thousands, and each Father’s Day one of the guys I have known for twenty years always gives me a gift.  So rather then looking at life black and white we should look in the grey areas.

Yesterday I took a youth to watch “Borgman”, a dark comedy about evil creeping in and destroying a family.  And I view this all the time, slowly, ever so slowly, we let the good become evil.  One example is how we let money, and the promise of money creep in, always holding up the good we will do, but ultimately it is destructive. The same is true about religion–whenever someone has all the “right” answers I turn around and run, for we are all seeing through a glass darkly and the only judgment I have is to see how we treat people. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

In violent crimes committed publicly, there are three roles acted out: that of the perpetrator, that of the victim, and that of the bystander. It is well known that perpetrators hope bystanders will be silent and look the other way so they can successfully continue their hurtful actions, and that victims hope the bystanders will speak up, act, get involved, and do something to stop or discourage perpetrators from their harmful actions.

With regard to eating animal foods, there are many perpetrators and victims and just a few bystanders. The perpetrators always encourage each other and regard the bystanders with suspicion and hostility, and the victims’ voices cannot be heard.Dr. Will Tuttle

The Eucharist

June 22, 2014

June 22, The Sacred Banquet  I Cor. 10:16-17, Jn. 6:51-58  The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

The Eucharist is the center of our ministry and of my life. Each day we celebrate.  For me it’s meaning  is found in the rich tradition as summarized by St. Thomas Aquinas in his prayer:

“O sacred banquet in which Christ is received as food,

the memory of his Passion is renewed, the soul is filled with grace and

a pledge of life to come is given to us.”

It is a memory of the past, a present grace, and hope for eternal life. When we affirm our faith in the Eucharist we are also committing ourselves to serving the poor, showing compassion to the suffering, forgiving those who have injured us, and expressing our gratitude for God’s gifts.

The Eucharist is the visible presence of Jesus which empowers me to see him in each person I meet, feed, and care for.  Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

“Don’t Worry”

June 21, 2014

June 21 St. Thomas More “Don’t Worry” Matt. 6:24-34

Last night I  was standing at Haight and Stanyan talking and gving out sandwiches sixteen year old “Skitters” said to “You know God is good, I got my food for today.”  So many of us expect to have more then we need, but “Skitters” was satisfied with a couple of vegan sandwiches.

Through the years I have worried about everything, and it always come’s out the way it is supposed to be.  This ministry would never have come to my mind when I first started ministry, but this is where I am supposed to be, and where I find purpose and meaning.

Like “Skitters” I have learned to accept what is given as a gift of God, and in so doing one can enjoy life, the wild flowers, the birds of the air.  Thomas More said it well, “Little as I meddle in the conscience of others, I am certain that my conscience belongs to me alone. It is the last thing that a man can do for his salvation: be at one with himself.”

Be at one with your self–live in the moment, enjoy the moment–Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

We all have unique gifts we can bring to the most urgent task we face at this point in our human evolution: transforming our inherited dominator mentality by liberating those we have enslaved for food. The crucial elements are adopting a vegan lifestyle, educating ourselves, cultivating our spiritual potential, and plugging in to help educate others. Dr. Will Tuttle

June 20, 2014

“Storing Up ‘Treasures” Lord John Acton  Sirach 29:9-12Mt. 6:19-23

Pick up the paper, sitting in the café hearing people talk, all one reads and hears is how much money people are making. One man said yesterday as I was having some tea to another on the phone, “We are going to make a lot of money on this, to hell with everyone else.”  Non-profits are the same way–the more money they have, the more their executives make the more detached from those they serve.

I was once offered a lot of money to turn Temenos into an agency, and I turned it down because I know myself, and money is corrupting for me.  It destroys me.  It destroys all of us.  Money brings power, and power corrupts. 

Last night I celebrated the Memorial Service for Tom and he had nothing, but he had everything, there were people from the neighborhood present, who remembered him as a generous and caring person;  I remember four years ago when Mary Lou died and I found out  on  the Haight,  one of the kids came home with me and slept on the floor, to be with me, he simply felt I should not be alone. .  I got plenty of text’s and email’s, but the one who spent time with me  had nothing.

“True human goodness, in all its purity and freedom, can come to the fore only when its recipient has no power. Humanity’s true moral test, its fundamental test, consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals.

And in this respect humankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it.”
~ Milan Kundera, author, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Money brings power and power brings destruction.  It is when we are all equal that goodness can bear fruit. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!