Archive for September, 2019

Befriending Death

September 17, 2019

Befriending Death

Luke 7:11-17 English Standard Version (ESV)

Jesus Raises a Widow’s Son

11″ Soon afterward[a] he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. 12 As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus[b] gave him to his mother. 16 Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” 17 And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.’

We put off talking about death, we feel uncomfortable talking about death, we shun people who bring up the subject of  death.  But if we listen, we hear of death minute by minute each day:

     In the news people are dying every minute–many as a result of our government’s behavior; life is cheap in most of the world, and life is cheap here in our own City. Young blacks, homeless, and the poor die unacceptable  deaths due to violence, not having housing,  and health care. In the last two weeks we have dealt with three unnecessary deaths, and see death in the form of people in tents, on the street, the doorways, each day.

    We face our slow dying as we age: we are slow to heal, our mind is slower and our pace slows. We die slowly, even though “the new fifty is seventy.” We die!

    Fr. Henri Nouwen calls us to befriend death,to embrace our dying, and see death in the light of the resurrection, and calls us to  be the resurrection as long as we live on this earth in our care for  the homeless, the aged, the sick, and the dying:

Befriending

“Our first task is to befriend death. I like that expression “to befriend.” I first heard it used by Jungian analyst James Hillman when he attended a seminar I taught on Christian Spirituality at Yale Divinity School. He emphasized the importance of “befriending”: befriending your dreams, befriending your shadow, befriending your unconscious. He made it convincingly clear that in order to become full human beings, we have to claim the totality of our experience; we come to maturity by integrating not only the light but also the dark side of our story into our selfhood. That made a lot of sense to me, since I am quite familiar with my own inclination, and that of others, to avoid, deny, or suppress the painful side of life, a tendency that always leads to physical, mental, or spiritual disaster. . . .

I have a deep sense, hard to articulate, that if we could really befriend death we would be free people. So many of our doubts and hesitations, ambivalences and insecurities are bound up with our deep-seated fear of death that our lives would be significantly different if we could relate to death as a familiar guest instead of as a threatening stranger.

But, whatever we think or hope, the way we will die is unpredictable and our worries about it quite fruitless. Still we need to be prepared. Preparing ourselves for our deaths is the most important task of life, at least when we believe that death is not the total dissolution of our identity but the way to its fullest revelation. Death, as Jesus speaks about it, is that moment in which total defeat and total victory are one. The cross on which Jesus died is the sign of this oneness of defeat and victory. Jesus speaks about his death as being “lifted up.” Fr. Henri Nouwen

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

———————————————————————————–

An Invitation to A Homecoming Feast Celebrating the

Twenty Fifth Anniversary of

Temenos Catholic Worker

Father River Damien Sims, Director

Saturday, October 5, 2019

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church

1755 Clay Street

San Francisco, CA

An Evening of Celebration

With A Meal of

Vegetarian Lasagna

Cole Slaw

Dessert

Holy Communion and Sharing of Stories

Guest Speaker: Sara Solis, Daughter of Sue Haines, author of Are You Susan?

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min., D.S.T.               http://www.temenos.org

P.O. Box 642656                                                  415-305-2124

San Francisco, CA 94164

————————————————————————————————–

Five Interlocking Injustices That Create and Sustain Poverty

From Poor People’s Campaign

1. Systematic Racism

2. Poverty

 3. Ecologic al Devastation (Climate Change and Pollution)

4. Distorted Moral Narrative (think  blaming the poor, and race baiting).

5.The War  Economy—Budget and Militarism-Endless War

————————————————————————————-

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

Lost and Found

September 15, 2019

LOST AND FOUND

Luke 15:11-32 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Parable of the Prodigal Son

11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to[a] one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’[b] 22 But the father said to his servants,[c] ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

 
“I have been meditating on the story of the prodigal son. It is a story about returning. I realize the importance of returning over and over again. My life drifts away from God. I have to return. My heart moves away from my first love. I have to return. My mind wanders to strange images. I have to ret24urn. Returning is a lifelong struggle. . . . I am moved by the fact that the father didn’t require any higher motivation. His love was so total and unconditional that he simply welcomed his son home.” Father Henri Nouwen

——————————————–

All through last night  I was assailed by the faces of young men who have died through the years: there is blood on their faces, anguish and immense pain in their eyes, and they cry out, “help me!” Around them circles the Angel of Death, who stares  me straight in the eye, and says, “Remember your time is near.”

There are those who would call this dream, and the pain it causes PTSD, but gradually I have come to see these dreams, in all of their pain and fear,  as God reminding me of my ministry.  They are a way of kicking me in the ass, so I embrace them. I live with them, and I suffer with through them.

The Prodigal Son is a parable of two calls–one of being embraced by the Father/Mother, being embraced in safety, and the other of being the Father/Mother, and embracing the “lost sheep”, everyone.

Reverend William Barber says we have to be “poor” to understand the poor, but  the book of Matthew reminds us that “Blessed are the in are poor in spirit for they shall see God.” When we let our guard and false boundaries down, we see how poor we really are–our fears, etc. are universal, and we can embrace and assist everyone as our brother and sister. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

——————————————————-

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

P.O. Box 642566

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

——————————————————-


An Invitation to A Homecoming Feast Celebrating the

Twenty Fifth Anniversary of

Temenos Catholic Worker

Father River Damien Sims, Director

Saturday, October 5, 2019

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church

1755 Clay Street

San Francisco, CA

An Evening of Celebration

With A Meal of

Vegetarian Lasagna

Cole Slaw

Dessert

Holy Communion and Sharing of Stories

Guest Speaker: Sara Solis, Daughter of Sue Haines, author of Are You Susan?

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min., D.S.T.               http://www.temenos.org

P.O. Box 642656                                                  415-305-2124

San Francisco, CA 94164

 

 

Mercy

September 12, 2019

Luke 6:27-38 English Standard Version (ESV)

Love Your Enemies

27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic[a] either. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

32 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

Judging Others

37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

——————————————————————————

If we look at the daily news, or active on Facebook, we find that mercy is in short supply. We seemed to be living in a world, where if you are at some sort of disadvantage–a migrant, a person of color or different sexual orientation, a person of different religions other  than the dominant one, incarcerated and released prisoners, or simply afraid of the future-help is refused, fear is used. A world where St. Paul’s “kindness, humility, and gentleness, seem increasing rare.

Personally we have received emails and comments on Face book  painting religion negatively and reflecting  the individuals negative experiences, but we look at the Gospel and the experience and witness of others, and what do we see?

Through history Christians have interpreted the Gospel as calling for Jesus to make earthly change, thus many use violence and discrimination. But when one looks at the Gospel Jesus calls us to changing ourselves,and from that change  responding in love to others with the same love. He calls us to “love our neighbor” as we have loved ourselves. To respond without judgment. Through that  experience in relationship with Jesus, we can change the world in love.

We think of countless people who have as individuals for example,  Dorothy Day who have operated out of their  experience with Christ, in love and care; But since lately we have received these emails and Face book comments we would like to comment on our own experience.

From the time I was twelve years old,   experiencing  at camp, a feeling my heart  was strangely warmed, Jesus has been at the heart of my life-=-deaths of family, rejection by a denomination, years of prostitution, and restoration to ministry, rejection by friends, and in the last twenty five years through the ups and downs of life,  depression, attempts on my life, and surgery.  He has been there, when others walk away-Jesus  wraps his arms around me and never leaves.  And in that experience Jesus asked us  to respond in love, which we have tried, with all of our heart to do, serving thousands. And we have found through Jesus what
Fr. Henri Nouwen describes:

“When productivity is our main way of overcoming self-doubt, we are extremely vulnerable to rejection and criticism and prone to inner anxiety and depression. Productivity can never give the deep sense of belonging we crave. The more we produce, the more we realize that successes and results cannot give us the experience of “at homeness.” In fact, our productivity reveals to us that we are driven by fear.”

We are called to operate out of the love Jesus shows us, to serve. We are called to love, not have numbers of production.

———————————————————————————–

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

punkpriest1@gmail.com

———————————————————-

There is a big debate over vaping cartridges. The Board of Supervisors has banned them in the City-they did not ban tobacco or alcohol-and through the press we are having different opinions. Below is an article that gives a more positive view.

Our position is simply to place restrictions on the age-only for people over 21–do the research and report the findings. We do not believe in censorship–we are not censoring alcohol and tobacco why? Could it be the money they raise?

Please read and include that in  your opinion as well.

Synergy: Vape Cartridges Are Safe!

Description: https://ci5.googleusercontent.com/proxy/prjVWi9agcvHo6wWwSY0NoWHiaFTUW1GFE88HIUk5LrHN5aeEIX3D6pJtDlEPNI6Dvf_Ou5XHLexQ1ajT_5sVXHMGfcLsqoinYvkNDmXc8HzvBff2Y637Q=s0-d-e1-ft#https://imgssl.constantcontact.com/letters/images/1101116784221/S.gif

Many people have seen the recent news items about vape-related deaths and so we wanted to send out a message to put our customers’ minds at ease:

Nothing is added to our concentrates (vape cartridges and syringes). Concentrates are extracted using the CO2 extraction process (considered to be the cleanest method of extraction). The extracts are made from the cannabis flowers that we provide to our processor directly and nothing else. To be clear, there are no additives, preservatives, colorants, thickening agents nor flavors added (including Vitamin E acetate, propylene glycol and glycerin) – JUST CANNABIS.

In the Watch Fires. ..

September 9, 2019

In the Watch Fires of a Hundred Circling Camps

 Luke 6:6-11 ———————————————

    As I walked through the Tenderloin Saturday night for Resin’s service many people spoke to me from their tents on the side walk. Surrounded by a windy, foggy night, a verse from the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” echoed  through my brain:

“I have seen Him in the watch fires of a hundred circling camps.
They have built Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps;
His day is marching on.”

    And as I read and proclaimed the Word to those at the memorial service I thought of the promise made by Jesus in his healing we read of  today in the lectionary reading,  and the scripture  proclaimed in the Book of Hebrews: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,”, the day of freedom on which we must do good, a festive Day of the Lord, which announces and sacramentally anticipates the endless feast in the fully realized Kingdom.

    Each person who spoke Saturday night shared of the good that came forth from Resin, and the good he brought forth from them, and  each  shared of his negative behavior. They shared of their positive, and their negative behavior as well.  In essence they shared of how we are all a mixture of saints and sinners, and  we fluctuate from one end to the other.

    At the same time I thought of a line in a book given to me by Sr. Helen Prejean: To River–the Jesus man who is on fire!” an  inscription which left me with an uneasy feeling, and yet on Saturday night I came to understand that is the best in me, to aim for, and like Resin, and my brothers and sisters standing in the chill,  we do the best we can–and ultimately we will enter the presence of God, and find ourselves in the day of complete freedom.

    I felt myself touched by an angel as I walked home:

“I have seen Him in the watch fires of a hundred circling camps.
They have built Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps;
His day is marching on.”

————————————————————————————–

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124River On Fire

Are You Susan?

September 9, 2019

Are You Susan? A Memoir by Sue Haines

    Sue Haines in her memoir : Are You Susan? presents the  embodiment of restorative justice, which is a system of criminal justice focusing on the rehabilitation of offenders with victims, and the community at large.

    Sue’s story  in many ways is every person’s story in this 

materialistic society. Success is  seen as having a nice home,  nice clothes, a good education and getting a good job, but underneath there lurks a sense of futility.

    Her father was a closeted alcoholic, who committed  suicide,  her mom kept the secret of the suicide and his alcoholism hidden for years,  her ex husband was a drug user and dealer, who tried to have her killed by hiring  Dale, a drug user and career criminal paying him  $5000.00. The ex-husband was never convicted and remained in her life through her children, and Dale was convicted of the crime. All of this lead to a dysfunctional life. All were victims in one form or another.

    Through the restorative justice system Sue ceased being a victim, through forgiving, and finding forgiveness with the perpetrators.

    This book is her story and her victory turning her  role as a victim, into a life of forgiveness, and as an   advocate of restorative justice.

    The mentality of our justice system, and of society is that of punishment, and when completed a lack of forgiveness. Most offenders wear a “scarlet letter” reminding people they committed crimes.  Restorative justice seeks to bring “victims” and “offenders” together to bring a healing in those relationships. For our society to truly be free, we too need to experience  healing.

    Sue’s life is a shining example of restorative justice. Her life as a victim was transformed into one of service, and of  healing.  She found wholeness through the forgiveness of her ex-husband who hired the offender to kill her, and  Dale, who made the attempt; Sue  found healing  in forgiving her father and her mother.

    Susan Haines exemplifies the Christ who says to us: “You shall love the Lord your God with all of your soul, mind, and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.”

“Wasn’t I real before,” asked the little Rabbit. “

“You were Real to the Boy,” the Fairy said,

“because he loved you. Now you shall be Real to everyone.” (Margery William, “The Velveteen Rabbit”).

——————————————–

Sue’s book is self-published. You may buy a copy, invite her to speak through:

Cost is $17.95 plus postage

SueSolis7@comcast.net

or call me: 415-305-2124

——————————————–

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

www. temenos.org

415-305-2124

 

Dying Leads to Love

September 7, 2019

Dying Leads to Love

Luke 14:27-30

“Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost and see if there is enough for its completion? Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him and say, “This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish?. . .(Luke 14:28-30. .”Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me can not be my disciple Luke 14:27.”

    Jesus  emphasizes that he saw life as of eternal significance, and that his human life was not his own, his birth came with a mission. In the tenth chapter of Matthew Jesus says: “Whoever finds his/her life will lose it;. .”

    In the Eucharistic Liturgy we are told to “See who you are; become whom you see.”

    The cross that we are called to carry is to let go of our egos”, or in the words of Ram Dass, “To become a nobody.”

    In becoming a “nobody” our egos are replaced with an understanding that we are a part of creation, and we seek to take care of all creation. To live simply, to care for the sick, dying, homeless, imprisoned, animals, and our environment.

    For us to live we have to die to our fears and become “nobodies”, to give up our desire to be a  “god in one way or another, and to trust in the One who created us and loves us.

    Fr. Henri Nouwen reminds us that dying leads to love:

Am I afraid to die? I am every time I let myself be seduced by the noisy voices of my world telling me that my “little life” is all I have and advising me to cling to it with all my might. But when I let these voices move to the background of my life and listen to that small soft voice calling me the Beloved, I know that there is nothing to fear and that dying is the greatest act of love, the act that leads me into the eternal embrace of my God whose love is everlasting ).”

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

———————————

Tonight we remember and celebrate the life of “Resin”, forty years old, outside  the Windsor Hotel, 238 Eddy Street, 7:00 p.m.

Description: https://s3.amazonaws.com/4silo.penzu.com/photos/5681603/big/Resin.png?1567892771

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

P.O. Box 642656
San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

punkpriest1@gmail.com

415-305-2124

 

A Way of Light and Life

September 3, 2019

A WAY OF LIFE AND LIGHT!

Resin Meditation–September 7, 2019

Windsor Hotel

7:00 p.m.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Day of the Lord

“5 Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers,[a] you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children[b] of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.,. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

Habit is powerful–some times healthy and at other times unhealthy. It saves a great deal of energy that would otherwise go into dozens of small decisions. For example I do not have to decide what side of the bed I am going to sleep on if I sleep on the right side every night or shave, if I choose to grow a beard; A habit can build a life of virtue, and give us peace and joy or habits can make us blind to possibilities and limit our growth.

We all fall somewhere in between, and move from one side to another. Resin was like all of us–in his life he found the force of habit to sometimes made him blind to the possibilities of  a better way of living, they often dug a deep ditch for his life.  He was often set in the grooves of those habits. The voice of habit is really strong.

But Resin with deep intention often focused his mind, heart, and will, and desire on the good that we seek–reinforced by conversation, companionship, and prayer, and in so doing he reflected care, concern, and love for his friends, and for others on the street. Resin was a mixture, like all of us, embraced the grace of God.

The mystic Meister Eckhart wrote: “God laughs and plays,” and as he ventured out of the grooves and ditches of his life, Resin laughed and played with all he came into contact with.

Today we are saddened by Resin’s death, but let us rejoice that he has ventured out of the grooves and ditches under the guidance of the Spirit into a complete “new morning.” 

Let us pray:

For this day now ending, we thank you God of life. Filled with hope we ask that your All-powerful Word would free from death Resin, and free all of us from the fear of death, and shed on us forever the light of your glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord! Amen.

===============================================

This past week as we have had a service for one, and now prepare for Resin’s service; and  listened to another who participated in a violent act, we are reminded:

“Life is short,

We do not have much time to gladden the hearts

of those who travel the way with us.

So be swift to love.

Make haste to be kind.

And the peace of God–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit–will bless you and be with you always.”

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

http://www.temenos.com

punkpriest1@gmail.com

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

415-305-2124

A Letter from the Pope On Climate Change

September 2, 2019

MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS
POPE FRANCIS
FOR THE
WORLD DAY OF PRAYER FOR THE CARE OF CREATION

1 SEPTEMBER 2019

 

“And God saw that it was good” (Gen 1:25). God’s gaze, at the beginning of the Bible, rests lovingly on his creation. From habitable land to life-giving waters, from fruit-bearing trees to animals that share our common home, everything is dear in the eyes of God, who offers creation to men and women as a precious gift to be preserved.

Tragically, the human response to this gift has been marked by sin, selfishness and a greedy desire to possess and exploit. Egoism and self-interest have turned creation, a place of encounter and sharing, into an arena of competition and conflict. In this way, the environment itself is endangered: something good in God’s eyes has become something to be exploited in human hands. Deterioration has increased in recent decades: constant pollution, the continued use of fossil fuels, intensive agricultural exploitation and deforestation are causing global temperatures to rise above safe levels. The increase in the intensity and frequency of extreme weather phenomena and the desertification of the soil are causing immense hardship for the most vulnerable among us. Melting of glaciers, scarcity of water, neglect of water basins and the considerable presence of plastic and microplastics in the oceans are equally troubling, and testify to the urgent need for interventions that can no longer be postponed. We have caused a climate emergency that gravely threatens nature and life itself, including our own.

In effect, we have forgotten who we are: creatures made in the image of God (cf. Gen 1:27) and called to dwell as brothers and sisters in a common home. We were created not to be tyrants, but to be at the heart of a network of life made up of millions of species lovingly joined together for us by our Creator. Now is the time to rediscover our vocation as children of God, brothers and sisters, and stewards of creation. Now is the time to repent, to be converted and to return to our roots. We are beloved creatures of God, who in his goodness calls us to love life and live it in communion with the rest of creation.

For this reason, I strongly encourage the faithful to pray in these days that, as the result of a timely ecumenical initiative, are being celebrated as a Season of Creation. This season of increased prayer and effort on behalf of our common home begins today, 1 September, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, and ends on 4 October, the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi. It is an opportunity to draw closer to our brothers and sisters of the various Christian confessions. I think in particular of the Orthodox faithful, who have celebrated this Day for thirty years. In this ecological crisis affecting everyone, we should also feel close to all other men and women of good will, called to promote stewardship of the network of life of which we are part.

This is the season for letting our prayer be inspired anew by closeness to nature, which spontaneously leads us to give thanks to God the Creator. Saint Bonaventure, that eloquent witness to Franciscan wisdom, said that creation is the first “book” that God opens before our eyes, so that, marvelling at its order, its variety and its beauty, we can come to love and praise its Creator (cf. Breviloquium, II, 5, 11). In this book, every creature becomes for us “a word of God” (cf. Commentarius in Librum Ecclesiastes, I, 2). In the silence of prayer, we can hear the symphony of creation calling us to abandon our self-centredness in order to feel embraced by the tender love of the Father and to share with joy the gifts we have received. We can even say that creation, as a network of life, a place of encounter with the Lord and one another, is “God’s own ‘social network’” (Audience for the Guides and Scouts of Europe, 3 August 2019). Nature inspires us to raise a song of cosmic praise to the Creator in the words of Scripture: “Bless the Lord, all things that grow on the earth, sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever” (Dan 3:76 Vg).

It is also a season to reflect on our lifestyles, and how our daily decisions about food, consumption, transportation, use of water, energy and many other material goods, can often be thoughtless and harmful. Too many of us act like tyrants with regard to creation. Let us make an effort to change and to adopt more simple and respectful lifestyles! Now is the time to abandon our dependence on fossil fuels and move, quickly and decisively, towards forms of clean energy and a sustainable and circular economy. Let us also learn to listen to indigenous peoples, whose age-old wisdom can teach us how to live in a better relationship with the environment.

This too is a season for undertaking prophetic actions. Many young people all over the world are making their voices heard and calling for courageous decisions. They feel let down by too many unfulfilled promises, by commitments made and then ignored for selfish interests or out of expediency. The young remind us that the earth is not a possession to be squandered, but an inheritance to be handed down. They remind us that hope for tomorrow is not a noble sentiment, but a task calling for concrete actions here and now. We owe them real answers, not empty words, actions not illusions.

Our prayers and appeals are directed first at raising the awareness of political and civil leaders. I think in particular of those governments that will meet in coming months to renew commitments decisive for directing the planet towards life, not death. The words that Moses proclaimed to the people as a kind of spiritual testament at the threshold of the Promised Land come to mind: “Therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live” (Dt 3:19). We can apply those prophetic words to ourselves and to the situation of our earth. Let us choose life! Let us say “no” to consumerist greed and to the illusion of omnipotence, for these are the ways of death. Let us inaugurate farsighted processes involving responsible sacrifices today for the sake of sure prospects for life tomorrow. Let us not give in to the perverse logic of quick profit, but look instead to our common future!

In this regard, the forthcoming United Nations Climate Action Summit is of particular importance. There, governments will have the responsibility of showing the political will to take drastic measures to achieve as quickly as possible zero net greenhouse gas emissions and to limit the average increase in global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius with respect to pre-industrial levels, in accordance with the Paris Agreement goals. Next month, in October, the Amazon region, whose integrity is gravely threatened, will be the subject of a Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. Let us take up these opportunities to respond to the cry of the poor and of our earth!

Each Christian man and woman, every member of the human family, can act as a thin yet unique and indispensable thread in weaving a network of life that embraces everyone. May we feel challenged to assume, with prayer and commitment, our responsibility for the care of creation. May God, “the lover of life” (Wis 11:26), grant us the courage to do good without waiting for someone else to begin, or until it is too late.

From the Vatican, 1 September 2019

FRANCIS

 

A Rainbow of Colors

September 2, 2019

A Rainbow of Colors

English Standard Version (ESV), Luke 4:16-30

Jesus Rejected at Nazareth

16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down.

Several years ago I was giving a presentation to a youth group. The adults repeatedly pushed me to talk about sexual orientation, until I turned my attention and looking them straight in their eyes said:

“The Bible describes in Genesis 1 the creation as a glorious rainbow of diversity in human beings and animals. A rainbow of being black, white, brown, yellow, mixtures, small, large, big boned, large boned, gay, straight, bi, transgender, non-binary, lesbian, and all of our unique differences.  Sexuality is who we are, but what I will discuss is the way we treat people, whether or not we follow the command of Jesus, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, mind and strength.” The Spirit of the Lord called Jesus to teach loving our neighbor and liberating the oppressed.

There was an article in the paper today about new findings on sexual orientation, and it ended  with the scientific conclusion: “We will never know scientifically, accept we know  that all of the animal creation is a mixture of sexual orientations.”

Christianity has been so obsessed with sex since St. Augustine that it has marginalized many, and basically under cut the Church’s witness to the Jesus, who proclaimed loud and clear he came to bring new way of non-violent, inclusive love for humanity. We crucified him, and we still crucify him.

Frankly I no longer identify by denomination, sexual orientation, or race, I see myself as a follower of Jesus, a priest, never the less, whose call us to  love, without judgment, no matter who–anyone.

Fr. Henri Nouwen brings us words of wisdom during this divisive time:

“If it is true that solitude diverts us from our fear and anger and makes us empty for a relationship with God, then it is also true that our emptiness provides a very large and sacred space where we can welcome all the people of the world. There is a powerful connection between our emptiness and our ability to welcome. When we give up what sets us apart from others— not just property but also opinions, prejudices, judgments, and mental preoccupations—then we have room within to welcome friends as well as enemies.” Henri Nouwen. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

———————————————————————————————-

Bay Area Youth Led Climate Strike

Start: Friday, September 20, 2019•10:00 AM

Location:San Francisco Federal Building •90 7th Street, San Francisco , CA 94103

Host Contact Info:

dulce.ceballos.a@gmail.com

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

http://www.temenos.org

Divine Foolishness

September 1, 2019

Divine Foolishness

Luke 14:1, 7-14

Last night I was thinking of my high school reunion that was in progress, with some sadness, reflecting on how much fun it would be to attend.

And suddenly my twenty year old friend Matthew, interrupts my thoughts when he  shows up. He was tired from foot ball practice, needed to study for a test, and simply wanted to hang. For three hours I lay on the floor as he read his biology text out loud. We ordered Chinese, and simply hung out like the old friends we are. It was a bright spot in the midst of people dying, and killing each other this week.

Around the time Matthew left, I received a snap chat from 19 year old Eric asking me to go to a Rave with him and two others. I enjoyed the night, coming in at 5 a.m. It dawned on me that in all likelihood I will still be going to Raves when I am 80 and the past is the past. I am their priest, and this is where for now I belong.

My life appears to be foolishness to many people because I spend  my time “not acting my age,” and doing ‘immature things” with young adults as I am reminded repeatedly. To me it is Divine Foolishness.

But the truth is I have a vision of a new place, the city of God. It is there that the losers–, the handicapped, the homeless, my kids, and all rejected by society will be honored at last.  Jesus, the mediator between this world and the next will welcome them, love them, into the fullness of the new covenant.

Each night as the day is ended with the praying of the Office I remember the words of Sr. Dorothy Stany who in her late 70’s was murdered for trying to improve the lives of people in the Amazon.

“I light a candle and I look at Jesus on the cross and ask for the strength to carry the suffering of the people. Don’t worry about my safety, worry about the people.”

And in trying to live that out the prayer I pray this prayer, by Fr. Henri Nouwen:

Dear Lord,

Today I thought of the words of Vincent van Gogh: “It is true there is an ebb and flow, but the sea remains the sea.” You are the sea. Although I experience many ups and downs in my emotions and often feel great shifts and changes in my inner life, you remain the same. Your sameness is not the sameness of a rock, but the sameness of a faithful lover. Out of your love I came to life, by your love I am sustained, and to your love I am always called back. There are days of sadness and days of joy; there are feelings of guilt and feelings of gratitude; there are moments of failure and moments of success; but all of them are embraced by your unwavering love. . . . O Lord, sea of love and goodness, let me not fear too much the storms and winds of my daily life, and let me know there is ebb and flow but the sea remains the sea.

Amen.”

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org