Archive for September, 2014

Listening to the Angels

September 29, 2014

September 28, “Listening to the Angels” Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, The Archangels, Dan. 7:9-10, John 1:47-51 Ps. 138: 1-5 “I praise your name for your faithfulness and love”

​The angels of God have walked with me through the years and I have heard God’s call through them. The Rev. Canon William Stroop said:

“One’s theology, whether formally acknowledged as such or not, often provides the basis for what one chooses to do with one’s life, and the meaning one sees in life itself. If God is viewed by someone as a vindictive, abusive patriarch, the chances are good that that core theological belief will be reflected in that person’s day-to-day affairs. Likewise, theology also lies at the base of a moral or ethical perspective, which can profoundly affect social and personal relations.”

Through the years I have been given theological beacons that have opened my eyes to the theology of liberation for all of God’s creatures. From a very young age I have found those beacons that have protected me psychologically from destruction.

Mark Twain said “The two important events of one’s life are to be born, and to find out what you want to do in life,” I have known since I was 12 I was going to be in ministry, that call has focused me, guided me, and driven me, and for me that is listening to the angels of God.

I am surrounded by people who do not believe, who question my beliefs, my actions, and I find my center in Christ– and his angels surround me and comfort me– in those times.

Will Tuttle wrote: “All of us are celebrations of infinite mysterious Spirit, deserving of honor and respect. If our religions don’t emphasize this and include all of us, it’s time to replace them with spiritual teachings and traditions that do ”

Christ’s angels guide us with the beacons that show us respect for all traditions, for all beings, for all of creation–if we but open our eyes and our ears and listen. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Modules

September 28, 2014

September 28, Modules Ezekiel 18:25-28; Ps. 25:4-5, 8-10, 14, Matt. 21:2832

“Regard others as more important than yourselves.” Philippians 2:1-11

We live in a world that urges us to think in “modules”. I am asked all the time, “when do you stay away from those people?,”, “when are you going to retire?”, or “when are you going to get another job?”

That kind of concept sets us up to regard people as “things” to be moved around. To take care of ourselves above everything else. For me I see Jesus and his love as the overriding “module” of life, and in living in that module personally I find much peace, much satisfaction. That module is to love others as ourselves, to treat others equally, to care for those who need caring for, to walk with people in their pain, their depression, and their needs, for me it means listening to the most boring stuff, for that is caring. Painful, hard, frustrating, difficult–yes–but it brings a peace that passes all understanding.

Dr. Will Tuttle is speaking to that in this quote:

VegInspiration
Voltaire wisely said, “If we believe absurdities, we will commit atrocities.” Culture is the product of conversations, and our conversations are still dominated by the ideas and assumptions of the exploitive herding paradigm we were all fed as children.

Let our culture be dominated of the love that Jesus shows in his life– a life of service to all humanity. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

God Is Our Refuge

September 27, 2014

September 27, St. Vincent de Paul “God Our Refuge” Ecc.11:9-12:8; Ps. 90, Luke 9:4-45



“. . .the dust returns to the earth as it was before and the life breath returns to God who gave it.” Ecc. 12:7

We never talk about death, our ads are full of young beautiful people, we have all the young beautiful people featured on face book, and when you talk about the pain of people and their dying–people walk a way. The reality is we all will die, and we return to the earth.

For me as I face what remains of my life all I want to do is to continue to do this ministry–to walk with those in pain–with the young man in the Haight who was physically and sexually abused as a young boy and can not cope with himself or society; with the young woman who is a drug user and her life is that of abuse; that is the way I want to end my life, walking with those guys, and trying inadequately being the presence of Jesus.

Dr. Will Tuttle writes: Jesus’ message was intolerably radical, for it was the revolutionary vegan message of mercy and love for all creatures that strikes directly at the mentality of domination and exclusion that underlies both the herding culture we live in today and the culture of Jesus’ time.

I believe this is the message of Jesus–whether you eat me or you are a vegan –and I fell from grace as a vegan last night as I ate crab at the Y crab feast–to show mercy and love for all creatures. This is the heart of the message. And as I get older, as I look at death squarely in the face ultimately that is what we are called to do–to show love, to show mercy with all of our creatures. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

The Real Reason We Are Bombing Syria

September 27, 2014

The Real Reason We Are Bombing Syria

Posted: 09/23/2014 5:39 pm EDT Updated: 09/24/2014 10:59 am EDT

TOMAHAWK SYRIA

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The administration’s response to the conjunction of this weekend’s People’s Climate March and the International Day of Peace?

1) Bomb Syria the following day, to wrest control of the oil from ISIS which gained its foothold directly in the region through the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Jordan funding and arming ISIS’ predecessors in Syria.

2) Send the president to UN General Assembly, where he will inevitably give a rousing speech about climate and peace, while the destruction of the environment and the shattering of world peace is on full display 5,000 miles away.

Nothing better illustrates the bankruptcy of the Obama administration’s foreign policy than funding groups that turn on the U.S. again and again, a neo-con fueled cycle of profits for war makers and destruction of ever-shifting “enemies.”

The fact can’t be refuted: ISIS was born of Western intervention in Iraq and covert action in Syria.

This Frankenstein-like experiment of arming the alleged freedom-seeking Syrian opposition created the monster that roams the region. ISIS and the U.S. have a curious relationship — mortal enemies that, at the same time, benefit from some of the same events:

a) Ousting former Iraqi President Nouri al Maliki for his refusal to consent to the continued presence of U.S. troops in his country.

b) Regime change in Syria.

c) Arming the Kurds so they can separate from Iraq, a preliminary move to partitioning Iraq.

What a coincidence for war-profiteering neo-cons and the war industry, which has seen its stock rise since last week’s congressional vote to fund the rapid expansion of war. We have met the enemy and he isn’t only ISIS, he is us.

Phase two of the war against Syria is the introduction of 5,000 “moderate” mercenaries (as opposed to immoderate ones), who were trained in Saudi Arabia, the hotbed of Wahhabism, at an initial installment cost of $15 billion. These new “moderates” will replace the old “moderates,” who became ISIS, just in time for Halloween.

The administration, in the belief that you can buy, rent, or lease friends where they otherwise do not exist, labor under the vain assumption that our newfound comrades-in-arms will remain in place during their three-year employment period, ignoring the inevitability that those “friends” you hire today could be firing at you tomorrow.

One wonders if Saudi training of these moderate mercenaries will include methods of beheading which were popularized by the Saudi government long before their ISIS progeny took up the grisly practice.

The U.S. is being played.

Qatar and Saudi Arabia can now overtly join with the U.S. in striking Syria, after they have been covertly attempting for years to take down the last secular state in the region. We are now advancing the agenda of the actual Islamic States — Saudi Arabia and Qatar — to fight the ersatz Islamic State of ISIS.

Now U.S. bombs and missiles might inadvertently “make the world safe” for theocracy rather than democracy. Today we read reports that Israel has shot down a Syrian warplane, indicating the terrible possibility of a wider regional conflict.

What does this have to do with the security of the 50 States United? Nothing!

Last week Congress acted prematurely in funding a war without following the proscriptions of Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. (The day of the vote, I urged Congress to resist this dangerous and misguided legislation.) But even while the funding was given, the explicit authorization to go to war was not. To authorize a war, Congress must vote for war. It has not done that yet.

To sell its case, the administration is borrowing from the fear mongering tactics of the Bush administration. ISIS poses no direct, immediate threat to the United States — The White House even said so yesterday, just hours before bombing commenced – yet we are being sold make-believe about ISIS sleeper cells.

This attack on Syria, under the guise of striking ISIS, is by definition, a war of aggression. It is a violation of international law. It could lead to crimes against humanity and the deaths of untold numbers of innocent civilians. No amount of public relations or smooth talking can change that.

And yes, members of this Democratic administration, including the president who executed this policy, must be held accountable by the International Criminal Court and by the American people, who he serves.

But as we know, war is a powerful and cynical PR tactic. I expect the bombing of Syria will momentarily boost the White House’s popularity with self-serving heroic accounts of damage inflicted upon ISIS (and the U.S. equipment they use). Stuffing the November ballot box with bombs and missiles may even help the Democratic Party retain the Senate.

But after the election the voters will discover that the president played into the hands of extremists, hurt civilians, and embroiled our country deep into another conflict in the Middle East.

There were alternatives. The U.S. and the international community could have contained and shrunk ISIS by cutting off its funds and its revenue from sale of oil on the black market. We could have looked to strike a deal with Syria and Iran.

In foreign policy, the administration has failed. Congress has failed. Both the Democratic and Republican Parties have passed the national checkbook to their patrons in the war contracting business. And passed the bill to future generations.

The American people, who in 2008 searched for something redemptive after years of George W. Bush’s war, realize in 2014 that hope and change was but a clever slogan. It was used to gain power and to keep it through promoting fear, war, the growth of the National Security state, and an autumnal bonfire of countless billions of tax dollars which fall like leaves from money trees on the banks of the Potomac.

Praying

September 26, 2014

Friday, September 26, “Praying” Ecclesiastes 1:2-11, Luke 9:7-9

During the day wherever I am I go off by myself in the morning, mid day, noon, mid afternoon, evening, and finally when I go to bed and say the Daily Office. I celebrate the Eucharist every day. People joke, “We are married, have real jobs, don’t have time” when they see me or hear talk of my prayer time. The reality for me is that through the years I have learned that if I do not take that time I lose connection with God and with the work I am doing. I stay centered and grounded. In season and out of season those times keep me focused. So for me that time is as essential as my daily meals–for it feeds my inner being. In the past when I was “too busy” to pray–I burned out, became depressed, lonely–now I have times of depression and of feeling alone, but I am never alone, and the depression leaves after a while.

Secondly reading Ecclesiastes this week reminds me of how we go through our lives wondering if what we are doing is worth it, but by keeping faith in God and continuing our journey, in our faithfulness, we will find meaning. Like Mother Teresa in her years of depression the call is not often times for results but simply for faithfulness.

Last night I sat with a man whose treatment for hep c is not working. He has been given six months to live. He is homeless, and is afraid. We sat and I listened, and then we just stayed still. He asked me to anoint him, to pray, and to celebrate the Eucharist with him. This for me is what life is about, the sum total of ministry–sitting with people in their pain, and having the privilege of being the representative of Jesus. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Peniel

September 25, 2014

PENIEL

“Where Jacob wrestled with God, and survived.”

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

415-305-2124

Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw,

temenos@gmail.com

http://www.temenos.org

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Journal of an Alien Street Priest:

For twenty years, I have hung out on these streets, and people have tried to place labels on what I am doing, have tried to get me do it a certain way—and I hang out in the “messiness” of the lives of the people who live on the streets—in particular Haight and Polk. Recently I had a volunteer walk away because he simply did not “understand” what I was doing—I could feed more people, instead I simply talked to people and took my time; and that has been the way with volunteers through the years: they come and go, and for the most part feel frustrated. In thinking about it, I blamed myself, but it has dawned on me that the reality is that I am simply being a pastor, hanging out in the “mess,” a pastor without goals for people, without expectations, but one who lives in the messiness of their lives, bringing the grace of God when I can.

For fifteen years before Polk Street, I was the ambitious pastor—setting and meeting goals, developing beautiful services, and, ultimately, it was death-dealing, because the calling of pastor is to live in the messiness of life, as a witness to Christ.

When I came to San Francisco, I came with one ambition—simply to be a pastor. That is where I find joy, that is where I find fulfillment, and that is what I have done the past twenty years in the ups and downs, in the dark alleys, and in the sunlight: I have been a pastor, and that is the way I will finish up this life—being a pastor. That is why I have never sought to create a physical “Catholic Worker” community—our ministry is a pastoral ministry, it is one that walks with individuals in their messiness. And, frankly, it is a ministry that I developed so that I could continue as a pastor at a time when the world was saying “no” because of my sexual orientation. And so we continue to walk in the “messiness of life,” we continue as a pastor.

I have learned that the real art of living is to overcome our wounds, embrace our limitations, and make the best of our gifts. My gift is to bring my wounds and limitations to simply sitting with people, listening to them, letting them be themselves, and witnessing to a way of life that offers hope in whatever way is at hand.

This is very personal to me, so forgive all the “I”s, but as we go through this twentieth year, so much is coming up within me, and in sharing my hope that you will see your own journey, as we continue this journey together, and these struggles together.

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

MEALS

We continue our meals on Tuesday and Thursday night. We begin preparation at 2:00 p.m. and if you would like to help please call us at 415-305-2124.

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CALIFORNIA PEOPLE OF FAITH WORKING AGAINST THE DEATH PENALTY

October 10, 2014—Interfaith Service of Fasting and Silence—People of All Faiths

Earl Warren Supreme Court Building, 350 McAllister Street, San Francisco, CA

Noon-2:00 p.m.

Geoff Carr, Vietnam War Veteran, Speaking

For more information: 415-305-2124 or californiapeopleoffaith@gmail.com
In Partnership with Death Penalty Focus, Temenos Catholic Worker and the Society of Franciscan Workers

We Are Beggars:

Through the years, people have always been surprised, and sometimes bewildered, when they have been told that we do not take grants, but that we work and take what is given to us. For twenty years, we have never wanted. We have always had enough to provide for the care of our people—socks, pastoral care, food, clothing, and harm-reduction supplies—and, frankly, that is enough. So we asked that you remember us in your giving: give what you can, knowing that some 2000 people each month are touched by your love and care.

You may give by check at:

P.O. Box 642656, San Francisco, CA 94164]
or through PayPal on our website at http://www.temenos.org
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THANK YOU!

This is our 20th Anniversary newsletter. Twenty years ago I moved on to Polk Street and began Temenos Catholic Worker. I began with just buying pizza, one slice at a time, and the years have brought thousands into my life with much sorrow, and much, much joy. And I am forever grateful to you that have supported me these years. Each sand which I hand out, each serving of hot food I serve, every piece of harm reduction supplies given , every pair of socks given, each person whose hand I hold, for whom I celebrate weddings and funerals, every person I anoint, and visit in the hospital, and every one for whom the Sacraments are celebrated you walk with me, you support me, and you have loved me in your own way. You are very much present with me in each step I take.

I am often asked how I support myself, and people seem shocked when they learn that I am supported through sending out a newsletter and sharing the work with people, with you. For you see in each of you, whatever you believe, God works and each of you have a heart for people on the streets, for people who have so little, and you are willing to share–to share and support this crazy priest. So for that I am and will always be eternally thankful.

Thank you for your monetary support, but more importantly thank you for your support of faith with me in and out of season. May the Lord bless you and keep you, may the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious unto you and may the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. Amen.

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Give of What You Have

September 24, 2014

September 24, “Give me the Food I Need” Proverbs 30-5-9; Lk. 9:1-6 Blessed Robert of Knearesborough

In Proverbs we read, “Don’t give me wealth nor poverty; give me just the food that I need.”

There is an 80 year old lady who lives on social security and lives in Senior Citizen Housing and gets a round in a wheel chair near the Haight. Each week she brings food and feeds a hundred people. She tells me “I have too much food, I have to share it.”

We can think in grand schemes of our government feeding and housing people, and as I look around I see multi million dollar houses for two people, expensive apartments, and people walking by those who are on the streets without blinking their eyes and I think of the lady in the wheel chair. For the reality is that all we have to do is share of what we have, each one of us. Sounds simple, but the reality is it is hard to let go, to give of ourselves, and people are not pretty to deal with, but the eternal rewards we receive within ourselves when we let go is so much more. For when we give totally of ourselves, giving what we have we know we have done our best, and we sleep really well when we do our best. So let’s heed the words of Proverbs: “Don’t give me wealth nor poverty; give me just the food that I need.” Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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VegInspiration
Rather than relying on science to validate veganism and our basic herbivore physiology, we may do better by calling attention to universal truths: animals are undeniably capable of suffering; our physical bodies are strongly affected by thoughts, feelings, and aspirations; and we cannot reap happiness for ourselves by sowing seeds of misery for others.

Nor may we be free while unnaturally enslaving others. We are all connected. These are knowings of the heart and veganism is, ultimately, a choice to listen to the wisdom in our heart as it opens to understanding the interconnectedness and essential unity of all life.

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The Gravity of Worrying

September 23, 2014

September 23 Padre Pio of Pietrelcina “The Gravity of Worrying” Proverbs 21:1-6, 10-13 Lk. 8:19-21

Padre Pio said: “Pray, hope, and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and I will here your prayer.”

Tonight as I began preparing the meal for tomorrow,. I received a phone call from a friend who was concerned because I turned down a speaking engagement. I turn down a lot of speaking engagements, simply because they take me away from guys like “Rabbit” who was pan handling for food tonight–I fed him and spent time with him. This ministry was created to work with individuals like “Rabbit”, and that is simply what I do, I am here in in their midst. I am simply a pastor, and frankly that is all I have ever wanted to be. The Word is made flesh in the “Rabbits” I see every day. And so like Padre Pio I “pray, hope, and don’t worry.” Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

The Cunning of Selfishness

September 22, 2014

September 24, Daria Donnelly, The Cunning of Selfishness, Proverbs 3:27-34, Luke 8:16-18

Simone Weil wrote: in Waiting for God: “The different kinds of vice, the use of drugs, in the literal or metaphorical sense of the word, all such things constitute the search for a state where the beauty of the world will be tangible. The mistake lies precisely in the search for a special state. False mysticism is another form of this error.”

We look for the perfect world where we have everything, and where there is no pain, rather then live in the here and now. Daria Donnelly, a lay woman, who died of a terminal illness in 2004 wrote: “My getting sick increased my attention to the everyday heroism of refugees, the depressed, the arthritic, the mourning, the lonely, all those who know how good it is simply to get through a day.” She looked at reality and found the reign of God in her midst.

Our Scripture this morning from the Book of Proverbs calls us away from the cunning of our selfishness–that which eats us up–and to love each person we come into contact with. I sit with a 27 year old last night who struggles each day with simply to survive, and as we sat he found a moment of peace, and for that is what matters, the moment. Both Weil and Donnelly saw the reality of the present moment, and in that moment we move away from the cunning of our selfishness. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

The Last Hour

September 21, 2014

September 21 “The Last Hour” Matt. 20:1-16

Night before last I had a young guy help me with the meal. I told him to be at the church at 3 p.m. and instead he showed up in the alley at 7:00 p.m. because he was “busy” with other things. I paid him what I had promised to pay him for six hours work, for the two. He asked me why and I simply said, “It is my money, and as far as I am concerned you showed up and so you earned the money.” For me it was not the work that counts, it is his effort, and in his brokenness over the death of his mom, the struggles with his dad, he was shown love without judgment. It is the same for me–I do the best I can, and it is never enough–yet God is generous and rewarding. That is the we all should be to each other. If we were generous and rewarding to all of our neighbors–there would be no more hunger, housing problems, health problems, immigration problems, and war. Am I being too naïve? We will only know when we try. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

When we look deeply we see that understanding brings and awakens love, and that love brings and awakens understanding. If our so-called understanding of animals does not ignite within us a loving urge to allow them to fulfill their lives and purposes, to honor, respect and appreciate them, then it is not true understanding.

Our science is in many ways incapable of this authentic understanding, and, because it is also often a vehicle of corporate power, it is best not to rely on it too heavily in our quest for wisdom or healing. Dr. Will Tuttle