The Great Memory of Salvation

St Teresa of Avila

“Let nothing disturb thee;/ Let nothing dismay thee;/All things will pass;/God never changes;/Patience attains/ All that it strives for./ He who has God/Finds he lacks nothing./God alone suffices.”

Romans 1:16-25 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Righteous Shall Live by Faith

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith,[a] as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”[b]


Last week I received phone calls from two people who have had a horrible experience with the institutional church. They would not attend the celebration of my ministry in a church building, and one asked me, “How can you even walk in one of those places, they are evil.” I laughed, and responded, “How true, but so is every human being at one time or another, we are broken vessels.” There is also the best in us as well, and so there is the best in the Church, for we are the Church.

Dorothy Day commented, “The Church is a whore, but she is also our Mother.” And through the years I have come to experience the Church in both of her characteristics.

The “whore” has kicked me out on the streets with out income or a place to live, slandered, and bad mouthed me, stepped all over me, and we have fought like cats and dogs; but the “Mother” has nurtured, cared, and given me my identity, and my vocation. The Church is us, broken human beings, through whom the Divine Mother works.

Through the Church we have been given the “Great Event of Salvation” and it is that memory of Jesus that sustains, gives hope through out life in pain, illness, and eventually death.

It is the memory which sustains, comforts, and gives me hope day after day. Without that memory I would have no reason to live. And it is that Memory, that Great Event of Salvation that is the mystery I am called to hold, to nurture, and to proclaim.

Fr. Henri Nouwen struggled with being gay, he struggled with the Church but in seeing the her as the keeper of the Memory, the Great Event of Salvation,  he wrote these words that describes the essence of the Mother, the Risen Christ, that is the Church:

The Great Event of Salvation

To live a life in the memory of Jesus Christ means first of all that that memory is a healing memory. How does the memory of Jesus Christ heal? The memory of Jesus Christ heals because it lifts up our small life and brings it in connection with a much larger event. As Christians, we are participating in a memory that goes far, far back to that great moment when God himself entered into history and shared the human condition. When our little history can be connected with the great history of salvation a tremendous change starts taking place because our little pains and our little joys are no longer just little pains and little joys but they point beyond themselves . . . to a great event of salvation of which we have become a part. . . . Our lives can be healed by the memory of the incarnation and the story of salvation. Father Henri Nouwen.


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

P.O. Box l642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Scripture is sharper than a sword. Like a scalpel, it cuts through what is diseased and damaged, cuts through lies and confusion, cuts through the stories we tell ourselves, to reveal the truth. The stories of scripture surprise, disturb, confound and, with good intention, cut. We need help and practice to listen, to receive powerful, sharp, healing words of life.

-Br. Luke Ditewig


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