Archive for October, 2015

You Can Not Trick God

October 31, 2015

I learn a lot about the reign of God from my guys on the street. Dwight in the picture above was sent back to the streets with a condition that will kill him; they could not find a place to place him unless he is truly “terminal”. He is sitting in a bus stop playing his guitar,, talking to himself.  He is as sweet as can be, content with life, content with the food, and the socks that I give him, content with the time I spend with him.  Dwight is first in the Kingdom of God.

Halloween allow us to put on masks and costumes–having fun–but in reality hiding from our mortality.  We can not wear them forever–our masks of prestige,and money–they have to come off and we have to stare death in the face.  Jesus invites us to put on humility, and a caring attitude towards others.  Trust that God’s gift of his reign is irrevocable. God wants all of his children there.  No need to seize it, only to accept. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!Dwight

We Are All One

October 30, 2015

“The are the children of Israel. . .and from them according to the flesh, is the Christ.”
In the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist, at its most solemn moment we recite the prayer with the expression, “sacrifice of Able, sacrifice of Abraham, sacrifice of Melchisedek.” In these phrases anti-Semitism ceases, for we are all one. The promise was made to Abraham and his descendants. Through Christ and in Christ we are spiritual descendants of Abraham—if not than this white gentile would not be welcome. We have been adopted in Christ and we are Semites.
Last night I was hanging in the Haight, giving food, socks, talking, and as the young dirty, ragged kids came to me I saw in their eyes a vulnerability, that I feel and see all the time. In their tough demeanor, their loudness, their cursing, they cover it up, but in moments like these they are simply fragile human beings, who are living in the moment. These guys are not welcome in our restaurants, our rest rooms, our homes, our places of worship—they are exiled to the streets, and in each one I see such vulnerability and I experience so much care from them. I feel so vulnerable these days, and I try to cover it up. I say things I should not say, I react to people in ways I should not, and so I stay to myself. These guys understand that vulnerability, they understand that fear. One of the reasons I have stopped taking people out on the streets with me is simply because they do not see beyond the dirt, the feces, the anger—and react from their own fears—and that reaction is often painful, and hurtful, but when you move beyond those fears you see beauty—you see Jesus.
This morning as I lift the Bread, and the Cup I am reminded that we can find contentment in the moment, knowing that we are loved by God—“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker
Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw
P.O. Box 642656
San Francisco, CA 94164

Peniel–Newsletter of Temennos Catholic Worker

October 29, 2015

“Where Jacob Wrestled With God”
November, 2015
P.O. Box 642656
San Francisco, CA 94164
Journal of An Alien Street Priest
Recently in Salt Lake City the Parliament of World Religions had a conference. It was an awesome gathering of almost 10,000 people from 80 different countries and 50 faith traditions. There were Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jews, Hindu, Baha’i, and many other spiritual traditions, all joining together in singing, praying, dancing, eating, and learning from one another. All understanding and respecting our different paths while celebrating our oneness, our wholeness of being. One of the exhibitors was a new organization called, whose mission is to “unite the tribes.” They were handing out buttons that say “Until That Day.” A friend gave me one. People stop me everywhere, at the store, coming out of restaurants, on the street, everywhere I go, and ask, “Until what day?” I smile, thank them for asking, and say: “Until the day that we are connected with all creation and are truly part of the Body of Christ. Until the day that we create heaven on Earth.”
The Feast of All Saints is an awesome feast–the feast of those who already live in God, those whom we have loved and who have obtained happiness and light; it is the feast of eternity.
On October 31, we celebrate Halloween, “All Hallows Eve,” and it allows us to put on masks and costumes. On “All Saints’ Day” we take them off. It reminds us that there are “other masks” we choose to wear before the world on a more permanent basis. Jesus invites us to put on humility, to empty ourselves of our attitudes of selfishness and self-centeredness, and to enter into a life of caring for others. Stripping off our fears, and trusting in the gift that God’s Kingdom is irrevocable. God wants all of his children here. And this Kingdom is now!
The Kingdom of God is not something in the future–it is present in our lives. That presence calls us to move out into thanksgiving for hope in our God, and in moving out in hope to share of what we have, so that others may not want. Our media is full of articles on the homeless crisis in San Francisco and across the country. We can “create heaven on earth” by feeding people at our doorstep, in the corners of our cities, and in rural areas; we can “create heaven on earth” by lobbying our government officials at all levels to refocus our budgets to housing, health care, and providing food; it means calling our government to put the brakes on the markets that are raising housing and rental prices, which makes a place out of reach for the majority of people. If we are to “create heaven on earth,” we are called to look at our own greed, to turn our own lives and our use of money around to focus on the needs of others, placing our trust in God to provide. We must put our neighbor first.
Let us be thankful this month for the message of “All Saints,” which is our promise of life in God and our call to “create heaven on earth.” This Thanksgiving let us go out and “create heaven on earth.” This is the Feast of Eternity! Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

We ask 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

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Witnessing Against the Death Penalty


Join Us on Wednesdays at Noon

Earl Warren Court House
McAllister and Polk (350 McAllister)



Prayer Vigil

Join Us on Thursdays at Noon

For a Prayer Vigil

On the Polk Side of
City Hall

Reminding Our Leaders that



Thanksgiving we will serve three meals:

5:00 p.m. Interfaith Shelter at St. Boniface Church

7:00 p.m. Hemlock Alley between Post and Sutter

9:00 p.m. Haight Street

Called For A Purpose

October 28, 2015


Eph. 2:19-22; Luke 6:12-16

. . .”in whom you are built into a dwelling place of God.” Eph. 2:22
“Religion might well be thought of as matter-of-factness, since it deals with the supreme Fact. But to see it so we need to be aware that God is not only ‘in heaven,’ but within us and all about us. Our sense of God in His height needs as its complement a feeling for God in His fullness, a recognition that ‘the world is charged with the grandeur of God’; and not only with His grandeur, but with His lowliness. For we are often nearer to reality when we stoop than when we aspire to the heights.”
– Dom Aelred Graham, Zen Catholicism
It was once said to me that “You sand in the middle of a set of rail road tracks with many trains coming at you.” And the past four weeks I have been worn down by many trains: malaria, PTSD, criticism right and left, judgement right and left. Like all pastors, counselors I become a container that holds the “shit” of people so they can work it out, but frankly I am worn down, totally worn down. I am ill some days, and on the edge of depression because of feeling so isolated by people’s “shit”, but I am still confident in my call and purpose in life.
On this Feast of Jude and Simon I am reminded that the reason I do this is because it is my call, pure and simple, like so many others who are alive and have gone before me, and will come after me, my call to proclaim the Gospel of Christ in ways has been shaped in my life by the environment in which I live.
The Affirmation of Faith that guides my life is found in I Corinthians 15:1-7:
“Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which you also stand, through which you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you–unless you have come to believe in vain. For I handed down to as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures and the he was buried, and the he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, than to the twelve. The he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. hen he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all he appeared to me. ”
Dorothy Day once said the church could be both a whore and the Mother of God. That is our humanity, pure and simple. On my wall now hangs a photo copy of a photograph entitled “The Piss Christ”, a photo of a crucifix sitting in urine. For me what that photo means is that Christ died hanging on the cross covered in his bodily wastes, symbolizing for me how we must follow him into the filthiness of life, to proclaim his love, his care, his hope.
Yesterday I visited a person in the hospital who has been on the street for 35 years, he is dying of liver failure. We celebrated the Eucharist; I spent time with a sixteen year old last night who is struggling with being gay. He is using drugs, prostituting, and he is a Christian. He does not understand why his church says he needs to change. We talked about sex, sexuality, and I pointed to the cuts on my arm where I tried to kill myself, told him of my time on the street, and how I came to see Christ as caring not for our sexuality, but for love of him and for seeking to love our neighbor. He said to me, “My pastor told me those scientific studies were bullshit,” and I laughed and replied, “”Chris, a million dollars was spent on me in various therapies–gay aversion was one of them–to make me straight, I tried to commit suicide and that did not work, and than one day I had this experience in which I could hear distinctly a voice telling me that “I made you in your mother’s womb, I called you, and I know who you are.” That voice was the Spirit. . You are
God’s child. All I know is he calls us to “love the the Lord our God with all of our strength, mind and soul, and our neighbor as our self.” Chris is going to go through hell before he comes to terms, if ever he comes to terms with his sexuality. I really do not blame any one for the pain that we go through for we are human beings struggling to find ourselves and we hurt each other so much in the process. We all need God’s grace.
This faith in Christ is what sustains me, because essentially I am alone, I trust few people. I am friend to many, but have few friends, but Christ sustains, and holds out the hope. When you work with street kids, and people who are homeless and mentally ill, you see the reality of all of our lives–for we can cover up our pain, our doubts, our needs with money–but when you are out in the open without anything–it all comes out. That is why I do not have volunteers with me any longer–the work we do is at the very core of people’s being, and the rawness of life–and it can be self destructive, and destructive to others if you can not hold it within yourself and look at yourself and move out in love with it. Frankly I simply do not have the time to contain everyone’s shit, it is too painful. I am not being self- centered about my work, and for god’s sake thinking I even know what I am doing–for I am the biggest fuck up- of all, but simply I have to keep some of my surroundings safe for me. This work is not fun, but for me it fulfills me to witness for Christ, be it in words or simply in feeding people, comforting them, sitting with them in life and death.
Someone commented I will die alone and forgotten–and the answer is NO! A LOUD AND CLEAR NO! For I am never alone, and I am never forgotten-=-the last time I was lying in the h0spital after being stabbed, I knew I was not alone Christ walked with me, Deo Gratias! Thanks
be to God!
Temenos Catholic Worker
P.O.Box 642656
San Francisco, CA 94164

Life Is A Sacred Journey

October 25, 2015

Mark 10:46-52  “Life Is A Sacred Journey”

Mother Jane Erskine wrote: “Your life is a sacred journey.  It is about change, growth, discovery, movement and transformation. . . .It is continuously expanding your vision of what is possible,stretching your soul, teaching you to see clearly and deeply, helping you to listen to your intuition.”

It is easy for us to get caught  up into blaming and judging–because it means we do not have to think, struggle, and encounter new ideas and people. We can stay in our little “tribes” of race, creed, color, religion, gender, and sexual orientation and find some safety or so we believe.

The past few months I have found myself trying to please people–telling myself that being open to their judgment, criticism, and condemnation is the “third way”, rather than following my intuition. 

  A pastor in my youth told me “There is no valor in compromise,” and I have compromised my integrity in seeking to please people. It has pushed me into severe depression, and really disliking myself. In this depression there has been this still small voice reminding me to look at Christ, and as I look at Christ I see not one who judges, but one who heals, and calls us to the sacred journey of life where we are transformed in our openness.

Br. Jim Woodrum says: “God is calling us into a relationship of love that is beyond warm sentimentality. This love is a self-sacrificing love, a tough love that spares no cost as Jesus eventually demonstrated through his passion and death, which led to his resurrection.  This love is not cheap, and Jesus tells us to consider the cost”.

My intuition reminds me that God is present in every one–regardless of creed, sexual orientation, culture, race, gender, and religious belief–and that at the heart of that presence he calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves. 

For me my life has been transformed in seeing Christ in the brokenness of life, in having no fear in death, and in simply meeting the needs of everyone as my brothers and sisters. Preaching the Word is about doing the Word–and in doing the Word one finds Christ in all.  That is the third way where we can meet–where God’s love over reaches our own doubts, fears, and questions–and we meet in love. The third way is finding in our diversity a kaleidoscope of many colors.    Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Fr. River Damien Sims

The Cup

October 18, 2015

“Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism I will be baptized with.”  Mark 10: 35-43

A friend said to me to me last week, “You know River many people view you as a threat because you have an incarantional ministry.”

Threatening in the sense that I follow what i believe is my call. And I let nothing nor any one stand in my way. The Biblical concept of “cup” is destiny and this is my destiny.

It was never so clear to me as yesterday evening when i was looking for shells on the beach in Fort Lauderdale and I heard someone call my name. It was one of my traveling seventeen year old’s from the Haight.  I joined him and three friends and we surfed all night, talked and fell asleep on the beach.  This morning I bought them breakfast. As we were walking up the beach Mateo commented “I asked you to baptize me and I left town.” I took him down to the water and as he came up out of the water, I knew no matter how much I seem like a child sometimes, or how different I appear to be, how I am not understood, how difficult it is to raise money–this is my destiny, to walk with these guys as one of them.

I am not a service provider, I am just a priest, whose ministry is one seamless thread–no separating it from any aspect of my life.

I carry with me a bookmark I wrote many years ago as I moved off the streets, one that summarizes my life:

“The best summary for my mission in life can be found in the statement, “obedience to Christ does not consist in engaging in propaganda, nor even in stirring people up, but in being a living mystery. It means to live in such away that one’s life would not make sense if God did not exist.”.. . .To be a living mystery is to practice the works of mercy, and like Dorothy Day commented: “To love to the point of folly.”

“I am a free lance, a tramp, a vagabond for Christ. I must go where Christ’s work is done.  I go like the wind.” Kawaga

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



Letting Go

October 13, 2015

Letting Go

October 13, 2015

“Love Abundantly”

October 11, 2015

Love Abundantly

Mark 10:17-31

17As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’” 20He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” 21Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

23Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 26They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” 27Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”

28Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” 29Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, 30who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”



-Br. Mark Brown

Martin Luther King once said, I am free, free at last,” This morning I woke up to having that feeling. It was great having Sr. Helen present. All in all between Golden Gate Park, St. Luke’s and St. Mary’s she has probably touched the lives of a thousand people–if you count numbers as success. I count as success the love she shared. But I am free to go back to my guys, where I am free. They yell at me, cuss me, hate me, throw things at me, and I shout back, but we love each other because we are all lost boys. But more importantly we know what is important–loving each other without the boundaries of the Church that limits, that impinges on caring.

This morning I woke up to an email from a person with whom I had had several “logical” discussions about homosexuality being an “intrinsic evil.” His email basically told me that because I do not believe that, and even though I am celibate–I still am “intrinsically evil,”  Well–I answered it with three words: “Go fuck yourself.”

I was raised, ordained in a church that still believes that homosexuality is  intrinsically evil.  I sat with a Roman priest last week who was crying because he had to uphold that doctrine with queer individuals  in his church. I hear people in the churches that live with that phrase suffer in pain.  That phrase continues to haunt me, it is a part of my psyche. At times it comes back to me with a vengeance.

  I celebrate  the Eucharist with my kids two times a week, I celebrate every morning, mostly alone. I feel uncomfortable in mainline churches. Here in San Francisco churches are accepting, but the reality is straight clergy have no idea, how much psychological damage has and is being done by the church. You can remove your restrictions and your doctrine but it takes years, and I mean years for the psychological damage to heal–that is a reality. Just to wipe the slate clean, does not make it clean. When people say to me “you seemed to have over come it,” the reality is I sometimes wonder  why I am still a priest, who works with churches–accept that I am a stubborn sob who when he is told he can not do something- finds a way around it. And the reality  is that my relationship with Christ  sustains me, that keeps me going–it is in that relationship that what I see in the Scripture this morning is Christ calling us to remove our blinders, open our eyes, and reach out in love with out limits accept that limit of “Love the Lord your God with all your mind, soul and strength and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus saved me from the Church and brought me back to the Church, though outside the gate. Dorothy Day once said that the Church is a prostitute, and at the same time  our holy mother–and she is, and I love the Church with all of my heart.

We can choose:

We always have a choice. The Lord Jesus is “courteous”, as Julian of Norwich put it. Christ abides within us, but does not force himself or his attributes upon us: we choose whether he may transform our lives. We choose whether to embody his attributes–or not.

We always have a choice-Love abundantly, with freedom–for ultimately that is all that we have–that is all that gives life meaning.

-Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Kindling the Fire

October 11, 2015

“Kindling the Fire”

I had a group visiting a few years ago,  and one of the leaders, commented, that “the light in your eyes scares me–because it is a light that is on fire, a fire that will burn your life a way.” The past few days I have realized the meaning of that, I am burning my life away. That is the calling that to which I have been called. I took someone to the hospital last night at 3, and than was up at 6 and am still working.  I give my money for these guys, without question.  I work with few volunteers–simply because they have no fire. For Jesus is full of fire, and that fire he seeks to kindle, and have it burn.

One of the guys refers to the kids in the Haight as the “the Lost Boys” because they are lost from society , and he commented, that “you are the lost priest”, and I am, and I know that, and that is why I can open my heart without fear to these guys. I wore a nice suit tonight, I will be wearing a tux next month for an event. But that is the fake me, it is the mean who dresses to raise money, to try to fool people that I am a great guy, who deserves their support, but down deep I know I do not belong in their world–I belong with the lost boys.

I screw up a lot, and but I get up and dust the dirt off my pants and keep going.   And  want to kindle the fire in my lift to I am burned away for Christ. This quote describes what I mean;

Life is not meant to be taken; life is given and it’s meant to be given away. Water not drawn from a well will become bracken, and eventually its water source will dry up.

-Br. Curtis Almquist