Archive for January, 2016

Call Me

January 30, 2016


Mark 4:25-41  “Call Me” Mohandas Gandi

Last night it was raining, and there was a young guy in the door on the Haight. I gave him some food, a blanket, socks, and I could tell he was not feeling well. He told me he was sick, and was going to a friend’s. I handed him my card and told him to “call me”, night or day if he needed help, or needed to go to the hospital. He reached out and hugged me and started crying, and said, “River no one ever tells me to call them if I am sick.”

This is what it means to be human to reach out and be present to people. In the book of Exodus we read after the death of Joseph and a new King came to power: “The Egyptians go so they couldn’t stand the Israelite ‘s and treated them worse than ever,. . . .”  I see that in the way we are treating homeless people. They are being treated worse than ever. And we are as responsible as those who do it when we turn our eyes away.

As Christians, and people of all faith traditions, and as non-believers we are called to look a person in the eye and say “call me”, show them we care. The two times I had to go to the emergency room this past year two friends went out of their way and took me–and that meant more to me than anything in the world,–they cared enough to be with me.  Reach out and say to people, “CALL ME!” Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


“Beware What You Are Planting.”

January 29, 2016

Beware What You Are Planting

Dominique Pire 2 Sam. 11:1-4; 5-10, 13-17; Mark 4: 26-34

I received an email early this morning from someone criticizing me for not attending a reception for along time colleague in Oakland last night, ripping me up one side and down the other.  Frankly the reason I did not go was because with the Super Bowl preparations and shut down of certain areas,   it would have taken me four to five hours to go and come; I will take Louie out for lunch after the Super Bowl and congratulate him on his book. That was all. Another wanting to know “Are you participating in the demonstrations for the  homeless, or are  you going to be a loner and do you own thing?”
And I suppose I am simply going to be a “loner”, “doing my own thing”–I will feed people, hang out with them, and  do the vigils at City Hall and the Federal Building.  What I have discovered is that my energy and time is best spent working with the individuals who are being hurt by all that is going on. One person is angry because we are doing the Tenderloin Stations of the Cross differently–this year we are  using students and homeless people as the participants. I am just doing it differently, nothing more, nothing less. No one has time to talk on the phone or in person–always by email or Facebook.  It is easy to say things when you do not have to look at the pain in the person’s eyes, here the pain in his voice, it is so easy. Email and
Facebook are excellent tools–but they can be destructive and  painful.

Fr. Pire wrote: “There is perhaps no surer road to peace than the one that starts from little islands and oases of genuine kindness, islands  and oases constantly growing in number and being continually joined together until eventually they ring the world.”

Fr. Pire hits the nail on the head of what we are called to do. Like David, we are screw ups, all of us. Each finger we point at another there are four pointing back at us.  But in Christ we can get up off our feet, dust the dust off our knees and give some genuine kindness. Kindness comes in the words we write, it comes in the way we treat people personally, it comes in not putting our own expectations on them, but letting them grow and move on their own. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!


Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

Fr. River Damien Sims


“Moving People Like Furniture”

January 27, 2016
“Moving People Like they Are Furniture.”
There have been several articles on moving the homeless out of the area during the Super Bowl. One Supervisor suggested moving the tents and people off 13th Street, because it is unsightly.
Rather than stand back and look at people from a distance we need to see them as human beings–just like us–with the same feelings, ability to feel pain, and fears that we have. People living in the tents, on the streets are not objects to be moved around, because some of us have the power of money and office. They are fragile human beings who hurt and suffer.
They are people with no place to live–and in all likelihood no hope of finding a place, all across this country this is happening–and not one candidate mentions it. They suffer from trauma, mental illness, and PTSD from the street–and I personally know PTSD is not something one just fixes.
They have no money to buy food and eat. Imagine living in a City with thousands of restaurants, and not being able to eat. Imagine standing outside of restaurant on the Haight or on Polk and smelling the food, and not being able to eat; imagine needing to go to the bath room, and unless you spend two or three dollars can not enter a place. And there are no bath rooms on the street.
I live in a building where I can not cook, but I have a place where I can fix food, and money to go to restaurants. None of the SRO’s allow cooking–and people who have the opportunity to live in one have to pay for their food on 2-300 dollars a month.
We are all responsible. Every last one of us has a responsibility here. We can confront our leaders over and over again. I was told by one of our Congressperson’s that if they received seventy five letters and emails, they start looking at the problem. We need to start writing, and we need to start taking food, socks, and blankets out on the street each and everyone of us, and believe me our leaders will hear, and they will do something. We need to turn our eyes to people and look with eyes of compassion. It is time we stop putting our hope in the government–our leaders basically ignore the problem–and the reality is there is not enough money to solve the problems==we need to be a part of meeting those needs on a personal level.
Fast for a day–stand outside a restaurant–smell the food–and do not eat, fast and pray for those who live this way. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!
Temenos Catholic Worker
P.O. Box 642656
San Francisco, CA 94164

Creating A New House

January 23, 2016

“Creating a New House”

Mark 3: 21-23

“He has gone out of his mind.”

Venerable Satoko Kitahara

“The Mary of Ant Town”

“I feel my path to Heaven will be a long and painful one.  I do not intend to work just for my own salvation, closing my eyes to the people around me.”

Ursula Le Guin tells us  that “Love doesn’t just sit there like a stone, it has to be made, like bread: remade all the time, made new.”

  Several days ago this quote ran through my mind as I encountered four homeless people on the corner of Haight and Masonic.  Judy was having difficulty breathing, she has been in and out of the hospital with a damaged heart the last few months. There were several well dressed people around telling the group to get off the street, they did not belong there. I called an ambulance, and was told she was having a heart attack.

What went through my mind was seeing people standing around simply jeering, making fun, while someone was suffering. Where is our humanity? Our humanity is about loving one another, that is what makes us human.

We have stopped remaking love, we have become about looking out for ourselves.  Thirteenth Street is filled with tents, Golden Gate Park is filled with people sleeping; at night in the alleys are filled. This is the way it is across our nation. The Governor very seldom if ever mentions homelessness.  I have not heard our presidential candidates utter a word.

The family of Jesus thought he was out of his mind because he dared to seek to live out a new creation. It is this “mad” Jesus who calls us to not sit where we are like a stone, but to remake the bread of love, and to continue remaking that bread until all are cared for. We need to knead that bread, become bruised by it, and make it into live giving bread.

Yesterday one of my young guys showed me some of his new graffiti work. He had painted over a restaurant advertisement the words: “If I come in,  you will eat me.”     There are forty or so restaurants on Polk, and just as many on the Haight. I see people standing outside all the time their mouths watering from hunger, they dare not go in the door, to even use the rest room. The challenge I am issuing any one who will listen now and through Lent is to fast one day a week, and stand outside a restaurant for an hour, smelling the food, wanting something to eat.  Think about what it means not having the opportunity, and being hungry around all that food.

So let us remember, “Love doesn’t just sit there, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.” Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


A Rebellious Trust

January 21, 2016

Venerable Mary Angeline McCrory “In God, I Am Not Afraid! A Rebellious Trust”Psalm 56

“In God I trust, I shall not be Afraid!”

There is a company that sells motor cross clothing that has a sticker that says “No Fear.”  The reality is that most of us are spectators rather than rebels–and they tap in and get our money.

I  have had lunch in the last couple of weeks with several people fearful of losing their jobs, losing their places to live, they are grasping at any one who will protect them. One person asked me, “How do you have so much trust in God, that you want lose everything?” The fact is that I  do not trust that I  will not lose everything, but I do  trust that all will be well in God’s hands.

The past few days our Old Testament readings have been about David. They have been very bloody readings and people often point out how can one serve a God who allows this. The reality is God is in the middle of working with the Hebrews, trying to lead them into a way of love. The Scriptures are written by men who justify everything as God’s will, and God’s message of love still  come through. The beauty of God’s love  is that God works through our imperfections.  Much as people do today. How many people justify everything in the name of God that hurt others in this country as well as a cross the world?  David never was allowed to build a temple because of the blood on his hands, and the Psalms come from his pleading to God over his wrong doings. David was faithful in his brokenness, and that is what we are called to do–to be faithful and trust God, and “to work out our salvation.”

Trust requires nothing. Trust is rebellious, bubbling up despite gloomy  economics or discouraging news. Trust can not be labeled because it resides in the deep love of a God who shows himself in uncanny ways.  “I sought the Lord, and he answered me, delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:5. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

“Living On the Edge”

January 19, 2016

Living on the Edge

Venerable Frederic Baraga Mark 2:23-28

In his book The Time of the Assassins Henry Miller writes:

“And for the rebel above all men it is necessary to know love, to give it even more than to receive it, and to be it even more than to give it.”

Jesus of Nazareth, St. Francis, Dorothy Day, Damien of Molokai Mother Teresa were all rebels, who gave more than they received, and who were the essence of love. They lived on the edge, giving no thought to their own personal welfare, but to that of those they served.

These are the people who have been our heroes, the one’s who have been our examples all of our life. The greatest lesson we have learned from them is that we have to put our own welfare second to service of God, and to live on the edge trusting in God. It has been a lesson that has freed us to live, to enjoy life, and to serve. It is a painful, very painful lesson to learn.

In Deuteronomy 24:19 we are told that the forgotten edges of every field’s harvest are to be left for the hungry poor. Our Gospel today is a reminder that Jesus walked on the those edges, and fed the hungry poor through those edges.

As we grow older our prayer is that we will walk those edges until we enter into the reign of God, being the rebel, who trusts in God, so completely that nothing is frightening, knowing we are walking with Jesus on the forgotten edges. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker​
P.O. Box 642656
San Francisco, CA 94164

“Be A Little Kinder”

January 17, 2016

January 17, 2016   “Be A Little Kinder John 2:1-11

Towards the end of his life Aldous Huxley said: “It is a bit embarrassing to have been concerned with the human problem all of one’s life and then in the end find that one has no more advice to offer than: “Try to be kinder.”

This morning as we looked in the back of The Datebook  in The Chronicle at the past events section going back to 1916 we saw the same themes as of our present day, only the names and dates have changed. Until we change–nothing else will change.

Thursday and Friday  of this past  week we prepared and served a hot meal to a hundred guys in the Interfaith Shelter. Over ninety percent were minorities, the average age was forty five; the majority have been homeless for twenty years or more; their chances of not being homeless are slim. They have been  beaten down by the years of hopelessness, and failure.  And all we could do was simply be kind to them.  Simply be kind, speak a kind word, prepare an excellent meal, and just be kind.

Jesus was kind to people.  When people tell us we  are “nice”, that is not the word we are-we are simply “kind”.  For we have found that the only way to find meaning in life, to look into the darkness of pain, hopelessness, and the  endless suffering of both the  homeless and people with money is simply to be kind.  Kindness changes lives, it creates hope, relationships, and a reason for living. 

Simply be kind without the boundaries of race, religion, and sexual orientation, for each of us are   on the same journey of life.  Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

“Only by going beyond “it’s no big deal” and “it’s just a problem like our other problems” will we be able to step outside our conditioning and see the full import of our relentless abuse of animals, recognizing it as the motivating, hidden fury behind our global crisis.”Dr. Will Tuttle

Temenos Catholic Worker

Fr. River Damien Sims

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Called to Be Saints

January 14, 2016

January 14   “Called to Be Saints” Mark 1:40-45 Blessed Juana Maria Lluch

We think of saints as people who are ‘near perfection’, who are beyond our own spirituality. In reality  saints are just ordinary people who go beyond themselves to meet Christ in others. Juana Maria Lluch  came from a wealthy family and she saw a need in the latter half of the 19th and early part of the 20th century to have a ministry to factory workers.

Christ calls us to be saints. Paul says to the Romans: “To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints.” We are “called to be saints.”  Just look out our  doors, and on our streets, and  see Christ in the form of the homeless calling  us to be saints.  Kneel down with someone and give them your time, a candy bar, and listen, simple as that.

 We are called to be saints in what we eat.  Dr. Will Tuttle tells us that: ” Grain that is now fed to the livestock of the world’s wealthy could feed the starving poor.”  Cut back on our meat to one meal a day or even one meal a week and we provide food for the starving.

The saints we read about are far from perfect–they simply go beyond themselves, let us be saints, let us step outside of ourselves. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

And He Went Throughout Galilee

January 13, 2016

Mark 1:29-39  “And He Went Throughout Galiless”

 Mascrina Wiederkehc writes:”I’ve never been very good at feasting on the daily newspaper. It turns bitter in my mouth. And yet, this is my world. This face of suffering I must embrace as a part of my responsibility. Part of the feast is becoming aware of the world that is mine. Part of the feast is owning this broken world as my own brokenness.

Each day I read the Chronicle, each day I leave the table angry, and each day I own the broken world as my own brokenness and in so doing I find the grace of God in working with one person at a time.

Hundreds of tents are lining Divisidero, more are sleeping in our Parks; our streets are full of people who are suffering.  It is not easy to face the reality of the suffering in our midst, and our part in that suffering through our economic and government policies that cater to our greed.  Our politicians say little if anything about the homeless, but much about the middle class and those who are trying to make money.

A favorite quote is that of David Rico: “I both reconcile myself to the fact of evil and commit myself to the work of goodness.”  Rather than shout for others to do the work each of us can feed someone, provide a blanket, provide  socks, provide a word of love and grace.  Out of the 800,000 or so people in San Francisco imagine what would happen if 10,000 people took a meal, socks and blankets out each day and spent time with those without housing,  and imagine the message it would send to the politicians. 

It all begins with one step, and those steps are painful, but I have found that life is painful and in the pain we find much joy and life.  In our Gospel Jesus went “throughout Galilee,” preaching and teaching and providing for needs of people. He was simply a man without a place to lay his head and he changed the world.  That is our call to simply help one person at a time.  We need to “own this broken world as our own brokenness.”

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

Meeting on the Fluke

January 10, 2016

Meeting on the Fluke

“The Baptism of Jesus”  Acts 10:34-38; Luke 3:15=16; 21=22

Recently an acquaintance told me that it was on the “fluke” that we met. I was giving out food on the Haight one Christmas and he ran into me.  He wants to meet people the “normal” way he continued.  I have another acquaintance who always asks people, “How did you meet River?”  Because the people around me are always so “different.”

“Being normal” becomes a problem  when  we set up perimeters which includes our expectations and prejudices around the people we meet.  And in being “normal” we become a tyranny with people who are “different.”  I am reading a book which describes Christianity as a “queer spirituality”, for Christianity came into being “outside the boundaries” of society.  It is outside those boundaries where we meet God and truly become human.

-Br. David Vryhof tells us that:

“Jesus ignores the boundaries imposed by acceptable religious and social practice, and openly disregards man-made laws and regulations in order to show compassion. He consistently lets sinners and outcasts know that they are wanted and loved by God, even if they are despised by everyone else.”

Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

Fr. River Damien Sims]