April Peniel–Temenos Newsletter



April, 2016


“Where Jacob Wrestled With God”

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



Fr. River Damien Sims, Director/Pastor



To everything
Turn, turn, turn
There is a season
Turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under Heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

To everything
Turn, turn, turn (Pete Seeger)

There is a season for everything, and a time for everything, and as we enter the Easter season the Risen Lord reminds us that this is the season of a new creation, “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; everything has become new.” 2 Corinthians 2:17. During this election year we are so divided by political parties, and divisions over race, class, sexual orientation, culture, and sexism.

Pope Francis in his address to Congress calls us to practice the Golden Rule:

“This Rule points us in a clear direction.  Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves.  Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves.  In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities.”

At a time when some demonize immigrants and Muslims, exploit economic insecurity and sow divisions to score political points, most Americans are looking for leaders to unite people around better visions.

Faith in Public Life has teamed with Interfaith Power and Light to release a non-partisan reflection guide that examines the key moral issues at stake in this election.   The following points are offered as a guide for reflectiion, using it as an examination of our conscience:

1. An economy of inclusion:  St. Augustine said: “Charity is no substitute for justice withheld.”

In order to build an economy of inclusion our political leaders will need to:

(a) Promote policies that honor the dignity of work through fair wages and paid family leave; (b) Protect social safety nets that help the most vulnerable; and (c) Create a just tax system that serves the common good and not the privileged few.

2. Global Warming: A Threat to Creation and to Our Children’s Future:  Pope Francis writes, “Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”

Our political leaders basically ignore, deny, or give only verbal acknowledgement to global warming and the effects of climate change.   We need to push them to:  (a) Transition from dependency on fossil fuels toward a clean energy economy; (b) Honor the emissions-reduction commitments our nation made at the UN Conference on Climate Change in 2015; (c) Take additional actions against global warming; and (d) Assist developing nations in coping with the threats of climate change.

3. Dignity, Welcome, and Citizenship for Immigrants:  All our sacred traditions compel us to protect the stranger, the migrant and the refugee.  As the Evangelical Immigration Table, a coalition of Christian organizations, states:

“Our national immigration laws have created a moral, economic, and political crisis in America.  Initiatives to remedy this crisis have led to polarization and name calling in which opponents have misrepresented each others’ positions as open borders and amnesty versus deportations of millions.  This false choice has led to an unacceptable political stalemate at the federal level at  a tragic human cost.”

We should: (a) Support comprehensive immigration reform that includes an earned path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants;  (b) Address the root causes that drive migration to the United States: economic insecurity, violence, and unjust trade polices; and (c) Increase the number of family visas and reduce family reunification waiting times.

4. Gun Violence:  To reduce gun violence we should: (a) Support laws that require a background check for every gun purchased at a gun show, over the internet, or between private citizens; (b) End the ban on federal research of the gun violence epidemic, which prevents the development of solutions that will save lives; and c) Enact policies that improve the efficacy of background checks to prevent violent criminals and the severely mentally ill from obtaining guns.

5. Restorative and Racial Justice:  Redemption is at the very heart of faith.  Restorative justice begins with deep listening to those who have been left out of the national conversation.  Healing broken relationships means to move from state-sanctioned violence against people of color, mass incarceration, and capital punishment to authentic restorative justice.  All minorities experience oppression, and we should be sensitive to our words and deeds. We invite our candidates for political office and ourselves to commit to the following:

(a) Support sentencing reform policies that reduce sentence length for non-violent crimes and offer alternatives to incarceration; (b) Remove barriers to employment and take steps to reintegrate people returning from prison, such as “ban the box” legislation that removes stigma and opens job opportunities for ex-offenders; (c) End the death penalty; (d) Equip police forces to deescalate  situations without resorting to violence; (e) Address racial profiling at all levels of the criminal justice system; and (f) Invest more in locally based, effective peace-building programs.

6. Protecting Our Nation and Affirming Our Values:  We live in a time of anxiety and fear, and those flames are fanned by our political leaders and candidates. They are fanned out of their own fear and for their own benefit.  We need to have our leaders: (a) Decrease the United States’ role in the global arms trade, which fuels violence and destabilizes governments; (b) Increase peace building and development aid in vulnerable countries and regions in ways that respond to the root causes of conflict, violence, and war; (c) Pursue diplomacy and dialogue as key roots in efforts to build global peace and security; and (d) Create a world free of nuclear weapons.

Finally, we need to look at our sexism, to acknowledge we are sexist, and in so doing to change. That sexism has come out in the presidential race; we need to look within ourselves and deal with that sexism, for we are hurting many people.

“To everything there is a season,” and “In Christ there is a new creation.” We can experience the season of new creation in our lives when we move towards wholeness in our approach to living. New life can come when we “do unto others, as we would have them do unto us.” This is the call of Christ, and in answering that call our lives will find fulfillment. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


I am often asked “What exactly do you do?”, “Give me a day out of your life?” The truth is, every day is different.  I am on the streets each week doing outreach; I visit people in the hospitals; I go to court with people;  I cook and serve one meal on the street one day a week. I celebrate the Eucharist once a week on the street.  But the heart of what I do is in being present and listening to individuals, and that can be for a few minutes or for hours, just simply being with people, and just hanging out. Simply  being  a friend.  For me, being a pastor means loving people, establishing a relationship.  Recently I was introduced by one young guy in the Haight as “my old friend River,” and  through the years I have been pastor, friend, brother, father, and in a few years grandfather, to many.  Structure for my life is basically centered around the Benedictine Daily Prayer Book, in which I pray the daily hours eight times a day, wherever I am.  Other than that, my life is structured by the needs of people. My life is very structured, but internally, for I move with the flow of life around me. It has always been a rewarding and fulfilled life.


We Are Beggars:

We are beggars. We do not accept grants. but live on the graciousness and love of each of you who supports our work and walks with us on the streets.  So please give:

By Mail:

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

or PayPal:

http://www.temenos. org-=pay pal


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