Archive for December, 2018

Together A Waiting Redemption

December 12, 2018

 

 

Homeless Man Sleeping On StreetTOGETHER–AWAITING REDEMPTION

The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Mary visits Elizabeth

39 Mary got up and hurried to a city in the Judean highlands. 40 She entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 With a loud voice she blurted out, “God has blessed you above all women, and he has blessed the child you carry. 43 Why do I have this honor, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. 45 Happy is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill the promises he made to her.”

Mary praises God

46 Mary said,

“With all my heart I glorify the Lord!
47     In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior.
48 He has looked with favor on the low status of his servant.
    Look! From now on, everyone will consider me highly favored
49         because the mighty one has done great things for me.
Holy is his name.
50     He shows mercy to everyone,
        from one generation to the next,
        who honors him as God.
51 He has shown strength with his arm.
    He has scattered those with arrogant thoughts and proud inclinations.
52     He has pulled the powerful down from their thrones
        and lifted up the lowly.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
    and sent the rich away empty-handed.
54 He has come to the aid of his servant Israel,
        remembering his mercy,
55     just as he promised to our ancestors,
        to Abraham and to Abraham’s descendants forever.”

Oscar Romero writes:

“Mary, appears in the Bible as the expression of poverty, of humility, of one who needs everything from God.

When she comes to America, her intimate, motherly converse is with and Indian, an outcast, a poor man.

Mary’s dialog in America begins with a sign of poverty,

poverty that is hunger for God,

poverty that is joy of independence.

Poverty is freedom.

Poverty in needing others,

needing brothers and sisters,

supporting one another so as to help one another.

This is what Mary means

and what the church means for Latin America (and for all of us).

If at sometime the church betrayed its spirit of poverty then it was unfaithful to the Gospel,

which it meant to be distinct from the powers of the earth,

not depending on money that makes humans happy, but depending upon the power of Christ, on God’s power.

That is its greatness.”

Our Lady of Guadalupe is about the God who breaks through the glass walls of the rich and the powerful, and an institution they call the church, to bring new life to the Church, the body of Christ that moves into the lives of the the poor, the oppressed, and to give them hope and raise them to new life.

Our streets are packed with people sleeping in our door ways, hungry, cold, alone, and Our Lady of Guadalupe calls us to move out of our isolated worlds and feed, clothe, and comfort them.  The government will always fail, but it is the Church that we one by one can make a difference. Talking to someone, giving them a blanket, a pair of socks, food, that carries the Word, the Word of love, and makes a difference, whether we can see it or not.

Sister Alicia Domon who lived in one of the shanty towns of Argentia said:

“I didn’t come here into the shantytown to tell peopled what they had to do but in order that we could help and share life’s joys and sorrow, here we take each other for what we are. I have probably received more than  I have given.”  

One night as she was going home from a meeting, she was picked up by the military police, and disappeared, and in the years to come it was found out she was thrown out of an airplane over the Atlantic.  Her political action was she lived and served the poor.

Our Lady of Guadalupe speaks to those of us who are poor in Spirit, who have all the material things we can want, but who feel lost, alone, and without meaning, and she calls  us into community,to serve, to love, those who are poor, and in so doing we find community.

So on this feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe let us look at how God comes to us, calls us out of our comfort zones, and into service.

Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

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Blocking Asylum Seekers At the Border is Illegal and Immoral

December 10, 2018

BLOCKING ASYLUM SEEKERS AT THE BORDER IS ILLEGAL AND IMMORAL

 

The thousand-strong caravan referred to as the Central American Exodus started small. A dozen from this town, a hundred from that, fleeing danger and desperation. Humanitarian workers explained that it was easier to move in groups: soldiers were turning individuals away at the Honduran border, but not large groups of seniors and people with small children, exhausted after so much walking. Indeed the formed a caravan to protect themselves from the very conditions they are running from: gang violence, sexual assault, and rates of homicide that rival war zones.

 

When I think of the countless families fleeing danger that will be turned away at the border by President Trump’s executive order, I think of a story I heard from a woman who was accompanying members of the caravan. She came across an elderly woman walking with two young children. She said she joined the caravan when her daughter, the mother of the twins, was murdered by gang members because she couldn’t afford to pay them off. The grandmother said she couldn’t afford the extortion fee either, and wouldn’t let the same fate befall her grandchildren. The next day she packed what little she had and began the long, dangerous journey.

 

I remember a young man, 16, named Juan, whom I met on Polk Street one night. He was “working”, being a sex worker. We became friends and through the two years I knew him he told me his story. He came from a country in Central America where there were gangs, and extreme poverty. The money  he made supported his family. He was undocumented and one night he was picked up by the police and eventually deported. Juan was an innocent, sweet kid, who did the best he could, and how does our country treat him as “an illegal alien.” Shame!

 

I also remember the righteous outrage that swept across faith communities in our nation the last time President Trump tried to do something so outrageous as ban a whole class of people from our country. We are once again faced with a time to act.

 

 

My own faith tradition states that…”I was hungry and you gave me food to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I WAS A STRANGER AND YOU WELCOMED ME, I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear. I waks sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me. Matthew 25: 34-36”

 

Instead of giving people in the migrant caravan the opportunity to follow the legal process to seek safety and welcome in the United States, the administration mobilized soldiers to meet them at the border. Instead of giving each arrival the ability to share their story of credible fear, President Trump has passed an executive order blocking every member of the migrant caravan from applying for asylum. People seeking safety at our southern border is not a political crisis, it is a test of our humanity.

 

The U.S. asylum system was created in the wake of World War II, to provide refugee to those fleeing violence and persecution who arrive at our doorstep. It allows refugees, like many families in this caravan to apply for protection in the United States.

 

While many of these families will seek refuge in Mexico, it is not a safe option for many others. The Mexican asylum system is rife with corruption and fails to protect many of the most vulnerable. According to research organization WOLA, women and children migrants in Mexico are often targeted by gangs for kidnapping and human trafficking, while LGBT migrants face severe violence. Failing to allow these families and individuals to seek safety in the United States would violate the Refugee Convention.

 

Blocking asylum at the border is not only illegal, but will lead to more detentions and more children being separated from their loved ones – a deep moral outrage in itself. We are still discovering and reuniting children who were separated from their parents during this spring’s family separation crisis, which had its roots in our hostile response to asylum seekers. The United States should be building a fair and generous asylum system that treats all people with dignity and recognizes their legal right to seek asylum. The asylum system is instead being destroyed by dehumanizing lies and rebuilt in a form that is irresponsible and based on fear.

 

We blame President Trump and the Republicans, and the most recent events are their responsibility, but our immigration system has been broken for a long time, and both parties have done little to repair it. This is everyone’s responsibility, rather than point the finger of blame, we should look within ourselves and see our responsibility and move out and push change.

 

The answer is clear. The U.S. must comply with its own laws and international obligations to protect the asylum system that has been put in place, and work to change the present system till it is more just and fair. We are all immigrants accept for our Native American brothers and sisters, we all deserve a place where we can be safe, and productive.

 

Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.

P.O Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

Surrounded By Ghosts!

December 10, 2018

Surrounded  by Ghosts!

“Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”  Luke 3:5-6

We are surrounded by ghosts, the shadows of pain, fear, worry, and dread. The paper is full of pain today–the majority of the residents of Paradise, CA are facing the reality that there way of life will be no more, soon they will be in our memory, as they continue to suffer in homelessness, and not knowing what there future holds; one resident says she now understands how many become homeless, the lack of resources; poverty and homelessness on the street are getting worse with little real hope, and our politicians pass by not really seeing the total reality. We reach out, and find ourselves facing the ghosts of our fears and hopelessness.

In the last year I have wrestled with my own ghosts–of doubt, fear of he future, aging, and failing.  From this I have learned that  all of us are human beings, and that we find our hope in the God who tells us that “every valley shall be filled.”

God calls us to walk together,  and that, only in community, can we find hope, support, and the ability to conquer the ghosts in the shadows.  We are called to walk in community, seeing our oneness in the Creator. Our salvation comes not in the “American First” theme, but in “Creation First”, where all creation and its welfare is placed above the individual and we see that life is communal, about sharing, loving, and giving. The ghosts evaporate.

Today is the Feast of Juan Diego, who submitted to God and proclaimed the vision of our Lady of Guadalupe, who holds a special place in her heart for the poor and the oppressed–she is a symbol of the church of the future, a church that celebrates diversity, empowers the poor, and speaks with the voice of compassion–and where such a church lives roses bloom in the desert.

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min., D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

www. temenos.org

415-305-2124

Wide Eyed Amazement

December 7, 2018

Wide Eyed Amazement

“As Jesus departed, two blind men followed him, crying out, “Show us mercy, Son of David.” When he came into the house, the blind men approached him. Jesus said to them, “Do you believe I can do this?’ “Yes Lord,” they replied.  Then Jesus touched their eyes and said, ‘It will happen for you just as you have believed.” Their eyes were opened. Then Jesus sternly warned them, “Make sure nobody knows about this.” But they went out and spread the word about him throughout the whole region.”

Advent is a time of sharpening our vision, and as we do our eyes are opened to the great mystery of the  incarnational vision so as to better see, as the psalmist writes: “the loveliness of God” all around me.

We can move each day and see the ugliness of the world in everything. We expect perfection where there is no perfection. In the past three days we have read on Face Book  the negatives about George Bush. The truth is he was a man of his times, and he did grow in his vision as he progressed in life. My parents were basically segregationists, raised in the South, but the most compassionate people I have ever known. When my dad died I threw away thousands of dollars worth of grocery credit tickets where he had given people of all races food on credit knowing they did not have the money to pay for it. I remember him for his religious faith, and his compassion to anyone with whom he came into contact with. The words of LGBTQ was not even in their verbal lexicon.

I have never gone back to a high school reunion because of  homophobia. I do not hold it against my class mates, they have for the most part lived in the southern small town atmosphere, where there is little growth, and have not  been exposed to the broader areas of life.  People often do not mean to hurt others, they just do not know any better. Only time allows each of us to grow, allows our humanity to grow.

As I have grown my whole outlook on life is completely different, I do not fit into their way of thinking, I have grown with the times. I am not the same person that I was when I came here twenty five years ago. For example I saw needle exchange as wrong, etc, and now, I am Mr. Harm Reduction, I have grown. This past year has been a difficult year, but I have no regrets for I have grown in being more opened to others, more understanding, and with the knowledge that we are all imperfect, and that we move at our own pace.

Mother Teresa once commented when criticized for not going to an anti war demonstration: “I want go to an anti-war demonstration, but I will go to a pro-peace demonstration,” meaning that she will stand where there is peace in all areas of life, where people work together in love. 

When we come together in love, acknowledging our own humanity, our faults, and reaching our  hands towards one another that is where we grow and change.

The story of Christ is the evolution of God from a God that we see in the Bible of war, and violence, to a God of love, and that evolution is continuing  to embrace all of us in the love of a God, who is like the father of the Prodigal Son, embraces each and every one of us as we return to him. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr.  River Damien Sims, D.Min.,D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

PLEASE GIVE!

December 6, 2018

Dear Friends,

We are in the season of Advent and as I walk the streets I am aware of one of the names in the Sufi Tradition of God: al-Haqq—The Reality of God underlies everything. Wherever I walk in the Haight, Polk and Golden Gate Park I encounter the faces of but a small fraction of young and old who live in tents and on our streets. Homelessness is Reality incarnated, and in hanging with each person I become aware of my own sense of homelessness, and detachment from God-Reality  because I do not allow myself to fully encounter God-Reality in the pain and suffering of each person that is met, and so I journey forward seeking to open myself up to knowing the Divine-Reality more fully through my encounters with each person I meet giving them pastoral care, food, socks, and other items that are needed.

And so we invite each one of you to join with Temenos Catholic Worker in our encounter with Reality.  Our finances are well below what we usually have. And so you are invited to participate in buying 20,000 pairs of socks, meals and food that are too numerous to count, pastoral care, spiritual direction, literature for all faith expressions, and resources for numerous other needs. We only use 5% of the money for administrative needs, and all donations are tax deductible. Let us meet Reality-God  together.

In Jesus, Street Person and Rebel,

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min., D.S.T,

Temenos Catholic Worker, P.O. Box 642656, San Francisco, CA 94164, www.temenos.org, 415-305-2124

 

An Advent of Kindness

December 6, 2018

An Advent of Kindness

Matthew 15:29-37

“.. .he took seven loaves of the fish; and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all of them ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full.”

The scene in this story is that of five thousand people coming to hear Jesus, and as it became late, Jesus saw they were hungry with little food. I see it as a picture of the man in the door way next to my apartment building, the woman in the door down the street, and in all of those on the street.

The story of the five thousand is the sign of what happens when we let God enter our lives. We experience an Advent of Kindness. our self-centeredness  is transformed into seeing  people around us with empathy.  Jesus felt pain at the hunger of the people around him, he saw the suffering in their eyes, and his heart was moved with compassion, with empathy. And through his eyes and actions he opened the hearts of all around him who shared of what they head and all were filled.

On Thanksgiving Day I was sitting in a Doughnut Shop drinking some tea. A gentleman came in the door and with a big smile bought every one donuts saying, “This is the day to be kind to everyone. This makes me feel really good.” The thought that ran through my mind was what if every day was Thanksgiving Day  and we shared a meal with everyone around us. There would be very little hunger if that would happen in a City where 1 out of 4 people  go hungry each day.

Today as I watched President Bushes funeral there were people with many political differences, many hate each other, but in those moments they were united in paying respect to the former President.

In those moments there was real empathy which is the ability to comprehend with accuracy the precise thoughts and motivations of another in a way that we would say, “that is exactly where I am coming from.”

The story of the feeding of the five thousand is a story of empathy. When we have empathy we can identify with the needs of those around us, despite our differences and provide for one another with kindness.

Let us turn our Advent Kindness into a Year of Kindness! Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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BOOK REVIEW:  The Lotus and the Rose By Matthew Fox and Lama Tsomo

In this book Matthew Fox and Lama Tsomo explore the inter-connections between  Tibetan Buddhism and Mystical Christianity.  These connections are basically the one’s of all major religions–of compassion, care for humanity and animals, and of our environment. God is of no gender, and is all embracing. This book shows the many faces of God. It gives exercises of how to develop empathy, and an awareness of the presence of God.

This is not a criticism, but an observation, the book is written for people who are educated, and more into there spiritual journey. One can sense a distance in entering into the nitty gritty of life. In essence it is a good book for a certain group of people.

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min., D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

An Advent of Kindness

December 2, 2018

 

AN ADVENT OF KINDNESS

ADVENT CALENDAR SUGGESTIONS FOR FIRST WEEK:

1. Give someone a hug or compliment

2.  Let someone in front of you in the line

3.  Buy a someone coffee-friend, colleague, homeless person

4.  Hold the door open for someone

5.  Give someone your attention

6.  Donate a Christmas gift to a charity

“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth.” Luke 21: 34-35

This week a friend invited me to go with her to Sequoia National Park, to see it she said, “before it is gone.” Her comment shook me, because as a young boy my parents and I went hiking in the Park, as a teen I took long hikes with friends, and in the last few years I have returned a number of times. It is a sad reality that what Megan says may be true.  Climate change is really changing life as we know it.

Our Scripture reminds us that the day may “catch us by surprise like a trap.” Climate Change is telling us that the earth is rebelling against our destructiveness, and selfish using of the environment.

Brazil’s new president is talking of destroying the remaining rain forest for farming, which will change our weather patterns, and bring changes in our way of life. Our own leaders are destroying areas of our country for profit. The recent fires point to how  climate change is affecting our lives. 

Advent is a dark season, a time of repentance, of waiting for the Light to come into our world. It calls us to reflect upon our lives, and where we have failed, and to repent and make plans.

All of us are responsible for climate change, and each of us in our own little ways can seek to change our behavior and make changes, and to push our leaders to take action. 

Around us we see our streets full of people homeless and destitute, and in need of care. Climate Change has made many more homeless and destitute through out the world, and most recently in Paradise, CA

 Advent is a call for us to turn our eyes upon Christ, and to be a light in the world. 

What can we do?  All I know is what I try to do, we each have to find our own way. I seek to live simply, using only what I need, to give away my excess;  a vegetarian, write, email, and call our leaders, and provide food, socks and pastoral care to people on the street, and off the street.

The judgment of climate exchange and poverty is brought about by our actions–not God’s, Christ  calls us to step up, change our ways, and move into the Light.

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min., D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

415-305-2124

http://www.temenos.org