Archive for August, 2020

Book Review

August 29, 2020

The Passion of John the Baptist

August 29, 2020

The Faithful Spy

A True Story

Dietrich Bonhoffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler

John Henrrix

Book Review and Reflection

Dietrich felt the Twigs snap

beneath his bare heels as

they punched through the

unusual April frost.

The Lord walked next to him.

He had always been there, but

now Dietrich could almost see him,

as if just on the other side of the veil.

He knelt and prayed aloud

for a final time.

Dietrich closed his eyes.

The Lord drew near.

Even closer.

Even closer.


    “Thou shalt not kill,” says Holy Scripture  but how do you stop Hitler’s campaign of horror. This is a book full of beautiful art  describing  the struggle, in which Dietrich discovers  in the end there are  no black and white answers but only  grey.

    For me I wrote yesterday: “Life is about the unknowable be it health=-one day you are healthy, the next terribly sick; have   friends, one day who  are our bosom buddies, the next walk away; and death, in the words of yesterdays  lectionary: “For you do not know the hour of my return.”Matthew 25:10. Death comes when it wishes.

    Today I listened to a lady with a thriving business in March, and tomorrow she is closing down, mourning the loss of hard work and  seeking to discover how she will make a living. 

    This week listening to people with housing a week ago, and now it is gone;  in the past three months sitting with healthy people one minute, the next, near death’s door. Life is unknowable. All we are certain of is we will die. Our only secure reference point is God.

    Through his forty five years Dietrich journeyed with the unknowable, and in the end was death. He shared this uncertainty, fears, and  doubts in his writings.

    Bonhoeffer at an early age entering  into a living relationship with Jesus, he became obsessed with the notion of a universal Church outside of   race and nation, and he asked himself the question, “What could this universal Church do if it left the comfort of the sanctuary?’

    I have moved through the   journey of life  to the same conclusion, a belief in a universal church, with out walls, receiving  everyone into her  arms, living and breathing with her church, who ministers outside the doors of normalcy.

    Looking around we  see institutional churches locked down when there are people on the street, suffering from hunger, loneliness and lack of health insurance and housing. .

    Today  the Black Lives Movement teaches the inclusion of every one. I go from one area of Marin and San Francisco to a segregated not by law, but by choice  of rich whites, to another of Latinos and Blacks. John the Baptist does not die because of his belief in Jesus, but as a result of speaking the truth.

    I hang out with Latino and Black youth, and their parents, and we see  how differently they are treated from their white neighbors. I see people who are the cream of the earth treated with disrespect, as a result of their color.  Laws can not solve the problem, as Dorothy Day reminds us: “There must be a revolution of the heart.” We have to enter into that revolution, we have to make the effort. We have to work  at the  transformation of our hearts.

    This is not something that any politician is going to fix, it begins with us, entering  into  relationship.

    Bonhoeffer wrote his dissertation in 1927 called “Sanctorum  Communion,” or communion of the saints asking what the church could do if God’s people acted in the world with one voice.

    He concluded that the true church of God would not always agree with the world it inhabits and so it must be revolutionary, it must be different.

    The night before he was hanged Dietrich had a dream,  described the next morning,  a dream that gives him hope and faith, and it is a dream, that we,  Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, atheist, black, white, brown, grey haired, dyed hair, may have as we come to the end of our lives, and look back and see ourselves in the universal church:


he went

except down

became up!

He swam upward

through the salty water

it satiated his lungs.

but the water felt like air.

The sun was dawning over the surface above him as the light hit his face, he felt a weight fall off his body.

Suddenly a strong hand

plunged through the watery roiling veil

and held his arm fast

it jerked, and Dietrich shuddered.

The hand lifted

him straight up-

into the warmth,

into the Light.

“This is the end–

 for me the BEGINNING OF LIFE.”


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Authentic Christianity

August 27, 2020

Authentic Christianity

“Why It Matters For Followers of Jesus”

 Peter E. Watts

A Book Review and Reflection

“This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. . “Jn. 15:12-13s

“When a man hears a complaining word and struggles against himself, and does not himself begin to complain; when a man bears an injury with patience, and does not look for revenge; that is when a man lays down his life for his neighbor.” St. Poemen

    Peter Watts opens his book saying:

“The older I get, the clearer it becomes to me that people are incredibly valuable and important. People (of course) will let you down at times, even friends and family. . That is simply the reality of life in a broken world where self-centeredness is so commonplace.. .Others have something to offer you, and you have something to offer others. You can either work through life’s issues alone or with others. The path you choose will make all the difference in the world.”

    Social media in all forms is a part of our lives today, and it separates humanity. We put on our best face, let people see our pain very little. There is a screen between us.

    During this time of the Pandemic we have relied on Zoom, and it to puts a screen before us. Both are excellent in many ways, but a screen does not allow us to bond, to be of help to another when we  are sick, hurting, and falling down. Both social media and Zoom separate us from the smelly, flesh and blood of  humanity.

    The author describes two models of relationships: “Self made model” , the “professional” relationship and the “servant model”.

    The “self made model”, “professional” model is pretending to be human, “niceness”, “distance”, which suppresses our connectedness to others and eliminates our fear of rejection.

    My friend Marilyn and former boss was a social worker. Every year she would have a Christmas party and invite her “clients” over to her house and give them gifts; when she met them on the street she would greet them as friends. Marilyn was called “unprofessional” but her “clients” changed, and related to her out of her love. Marilyn accepted herself, her faults, inconsistencies, and was not afraid to be open and thus take a chance on rejection. She suffered with her patients.

    There was another time and my friend Mary Lou had died. I was sitting in the hall way of a church crying, and people walked by, and one person asked me, “Please go in the other room, we do not want people coming in seeing you crying.”  That night one of my street youth stayed with me. Who do you think showed compassion?

    The self made model teaches that with plenty of money we will be happy, but instead our lives are more miserable, and our worries disconnect us from others.

    Few people take time to listen, to simply listen, and in so doing people are driven away into loneliness, we tell them ‘see a therapist”, which sets up a disconnect. We use “professionals” to keep us from the pain of the world.

    Watts gives us a new way of being human–enter Jesus with his  Servant Model

“Contrary to what many people assert about him, Jesus did not enter human history merely to ensure people a great afterlife only to neglect much of life on earth here and now. –Jesus challenged and invited people into a new way of life that involves making a radical shift in how we think about and relate to others-., . .everyone, and that has everything to do with life on earth here and now. In fact Jesus lived  in this new way of being human and it has proved to be the only solution to and replacement for the self-made project. .”

    Jesus’ way of life was that of servant hood to which he calls his followers to live. Servant hood means we choose the path of forgiveness, and  hear the words of Paul, “If it is only possible as far as the you can, live at peace with all.”

    It is as risky, but life is full of risk. Try to cross California or Bush Streets during rush hour, that is risky or go for a ride with one of my eighteen year old friends–talk about risk, you are shaking every inch of the way. What is interesting when you were teaching him how to drive, what a perfect little angel–but the license made him into the devil driving, come with me sometime and take a real risk. We have been told we take risks–no–we live our life to it’s fullest.

    Put sharing with people first: the presence of another, connection, support, comradely, appreciation, affirmation, acceptance, love (Jesus style), being known, knowing others, and sharing your hopes and dreams.

    Life lived in relationship/friendship with others is worth the risk.

    Being a a follower of Jesus is about becoming more concerned with our world and taking that concern about doing something about it. Following Jesus has everything to do with living in a fuller–God intended humanity.

    We are most alive when we are centered in Jesus and his very earth centered mission in this world, and living this new humanity is a process, and is in conflict with the world’s for it will seem less than human in their eyes, but our lives will become more full, more alive, and way more whole. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!.


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Book Review of May She Have A Word With You

August 25, 2020

May She Have A Word With You?

Women as Models of How to Live

in the poems of Charles Wesley

with Commentary

By ST Kimbrough, Jr.

A Book Review and


As The Third Way

    ST Kimbrough, Jr. presents a series of poems about women of his day who lived their lives in the words of Rabbi Abraham Heschel high lighting  the link between our life in this world and our state of preparedness for the next: “Unless one learns how to relish the taste of Sabbath while still in this world, unless one is initiated in the appreciation of eternal life, one will be unable to enjoy the taste of eternity in the world to come. 

    The banquet is served, the table overladen. But how can we enjoy the feast on the other side if we’ve never tasted it on this side?

    Jesus asks us today to taste the great feast,  to have the courage to love, one encounter at a time, and so be granted a foretaste of heaven.

    These women proclaim a “kerygmatic” role in proclaiming the  gospel,  hoping to lead others to Christ, through a role of presence, the majority of the time not involving words.

    Wesley gives them the roles of the priestly office in a time when their were no women priests.

    The witness of these women portrayed by Wesley are examples of THE THIRD WAY.

    The Third Way can best be illustrated in a story of two knights who get up each morning, eat breakfast and battle all day. One will win, one will lose or they simply come to a draw, but at the end of the day they sit down, eat a meal together, and fellowship together. They get up the next morning and fight another battle.

    We need to meet in the middle, letting go of our divisions, our cultural  views and stand on the Great Commandment of Jesus: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, soul, and mind, and thy neighbor as thy self,” and “Love your neighbor.”

    We put aside our cultural and political views, and meet in an attitude of care and love.

    Our country and society is a great melting pot of people, and all of us have different views. To call someone evil, or wrong from our view is  judging,and when we meet in a  non-judgement stance we let God judge and are free to communicate and care.

    W receive letters and social media all the time calling us evil, self-righteous, and a saint, where the majority do not care. People come through different cultural views, and our way of ministry is different to them, so they react.

    We meet our  youth, friends, people in general, and  donors where they are.  We make no judgments and have friends and supporters from all walks of life and every expression in this great melting pot.  

    We are called to love our neighbors, and like the ladies of Charles Wesley’s book  fight our battles, and then join together in a feast at the end remembering and living  the words of Jesus  (Matthew 25:34-36, New Living Translation):

Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you fed me. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick and you cared for me. I was in prison and you visited me. .”


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Call Up Samuel!

August 23, 2020

Call Up Samuel

. . finally the woman said, whose spirit do you want me to call up? “Call up Samuel,” he replied. I Samuel 28:11

We  were awaken  sweating, and yelling  Thursday  night–from a dream of   a ghost shaking our bed. We were  terrified, sweating, unable to sleep, and laying in bed we remembered our  very first sermon, entitled “Call Up Samuel”, at Grace United Methodist Church, Cape Girardeau, Missouri. It’s memory so vivid. My first experience after  being in  speech therapy for stuttering for several years; We had been told we would  never preach, and here we were doing it, and the following June received our first church appointment.  One ghost cast aside in the line of many to come.

    This story of Samuel being called up from the dead by the witch of Endor was challenging, intriguing, and a reminder of all the “ghosts’ both then and now that often times surround us.

    Saul was afraid to go into battle, he was seeking help, and so he turned to Samuel, who was dead and buried, and he had the medium of Endor call him up.

   There are ghosts all around us–in the fires raging throughout California, seeing people having to leave their houses, sleep in cars, and shelters;  in those  people who are  homeless sleeping on our street, worrying about where their next meal will come from and if they will become ill from the virus; ghosts are surrounding those worrying about how to pay rent; We are surrounded by ghosts.

    And as the bed shakes, and the voice of the ghost screams  in our  nightmares we will enter solitude first of all to meet Jesus and be with him alone. Our primary task in life is to enter into solitude, not paying undue attention to the many “ghosts” that assail us, but to keep our eyes and mind on the heart of Jesus  who saves us by his grace.

    We will remember in the words of Bene Brown that:

Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all intricately connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion. Practicing spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning and purpose to our lives.”

and hear the words of  Benigno  Ninoy Aquino :

“The message of Jesus, as I understand it, is that we must be ready to sacrifice for our fellow men  and women at all times, and if need be, even to offer our lives for them.”

    Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Remembering Loving Frienships

August 20, 2020


    We are often asked if we are lonely, or as we age afraid of being alone? Heck yea! to both.

    A friend said this morning: “You piss people off because you see the good in the one’s that scare them, and you call them your friends.”

    We remember last night having a birthday dinner with a friend who turned 21. Through the eight years we have known each other we have fought, pushed each other away, and at times frankly  have hated each other, the opposite of love, and through all of this there has developed a bond as deep as any brothers can have. And so it has been with so many through the years. My solitary life has enabled a love for so many, and for so many in return.

    Fr. Henri Nouwen commented –” Maybe someone will say to you, “you have to forgive yourself.” But that isn’t possible.What is possible is to open your hands without fear, so that the One who loves you can blow your sins away. Then the coins you considered indispensable for your life prove little more than light dust that a soft breeze  will whirl away, leaving only a grin or a chuckle behind. Then you feel a bit of new freedom and praying becomes a joy, a spontaneous reaction to the world a chuckle behind. Then you feel a bit of new freedom and praying becomes a joy, a spontaneous reaction to the world and the people around you. Praying then becomes effortless, inspired, and lively, or peaceful and quiet. When you recognize the festive and the still moments as moments of prayer, then you gradually realize that to pray is to live.”

    And in that prayer comes the voice of Jesus to Peter in John 21:18-19: “I tell you the truth, when you were young you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go. . . .Then Jesus told him,”Follow me.”

    And those words remind us life is difficult, painful, but full of joy, and that we are never alone. Our ministry is to lead others to see they never walk alone. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



A special thanks to Larry Purcell for the donation of socks this morning and for being a faithful friend in and out of season. Also to Susan Crane and the Redwood City Catholic Worker for their thoughtfulness in that gift.

Invitation to An Ignatian Retreat

August 19, 2020

An  Retreat of St. Ignatius

An Invitation

Inner Peace In Divine Love


Text: 415-305-2124

Snap chat: riodamien2

Beginning Any time

No Cost

22 sessions/25 minutes or as long as you desire

I learned love with out expectation of anything in return  through  my mother, who from the moment I was born,  sacrificed everything for my well being, her last act before dying was expressing her love towards me.

    Through out my pilgrimage people have expressed their love to me in their actions at the times needed.

    In meditating this morning one night nearly two and a half years ago came clearly in my mind, taking place  on Miller Creek Road in Marin, my friend Matt,  another friend and I were walking late. I was recovering from surgery. I tripped, fell, and Matthew with tears in his eyes lifted me up, helped me home. Matt expected nothing in return, as he has for nearly seven years now. In those moments, everything negative moves away, and the love of Christ is experienced. In those moments I have never felt more love.

    Jesus, in the Gospel of John 6:12, tells his disciples after the feeding of the five thousand, “Now gather the leftovers so that nothing is wasted.

    We find in those “leftovers” the inner piece of Divine Love. And we find in giving ourselves away, and trusting in God the truth of the words of Father Henri Nouwen:

“Poverty is the quality of the heart that makes us relate to life, not as a property to be defended but as a gift to be shared. Poverty is the constant willingness to say good-bye to yesterday and move forward to new, unknown experiences. Poverty is the inner understanding that the hours, days, weeks, and years do not belong to us but are the gentle reminders of our call to give, not only love and work, but life itself, to those who follow us and will take our place. He or she who cares is invited to be poor, to strip himself or herself from the illusions of ownership, and to create some room for the person looking for a place to rest. The paradox of care is that poverty makes a good host. When our hands, heads, and hearts are filled with worries, concerns, and preoccupations, there can hardly be any place left for the stranger to feel at home.”

    So I invite you to join me on an Ignatian retreat, shaped to fit your image of God, during this pandemic,  a pilgrimage  of finding yourself to be loved throughout your life and in so doing to move out and give your love away.

    I will work with you whenever you choose to start your retreat. Just contact me.  Deo Gratias!Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Book Review and Reflection On Persecution Complex

August 16, 2020

Journal of An Alien Street Priest:

Persecution Complex

Why American Christians Need to Stop Playing the Victim

by Jason Wiedel

Reflections and Book Review

“Wisdom has built her house

she has carved its seven columns,

mixed the wines and set the table.

She has sent her servants to invite everyone to come.

She calls out from the heights overlooking the city.

Come. eat my food,

and drink the wine I have mixed.

Leave your simple ways behind, and begin to live;

learn to use good judgment.”

Proverbs 9:1-3, 5-6.

        The predominant narrative among many Christians in the United States today is one of persecution. A Church in Los Angles has sued the government and won, to be able to open up for in door services; Several Roman Catholic Churches in San Francisco are simply acting like junior high’s in disregarding the pandemic lock down–“we are being ‘persecuted.'” This false narrative of persecution is damaging our witness, and  our ministry of sharing the love of Christ with the world. It is placing needless lives in danger. I was once asked if I did not believe that God “protected me”, and my response was that God gave me a good mind, and that mind informs me of the danger of the virus, we are to protect ourselves. Wear your masks, maintain social distance, wash your hands!

    As we enter the season of political conventions there will be a lot of attention placed on Christianity (our candidates will all carry Bibles in their brief cases), and we will see that the threat of religious persecution “lite” is one of the most powerful ways of motivating people to action.  And we are stirred up to believe the false narrative that our survival is at hand. And this particular  political persuasion is THE ANSWER.

    There are six damaging reasons of the persecution narrative: 1. We feel and act superior to others; We justify antagonism; We dehumanize others; We eliminate conversation and debate; We become immune to criticism; and We ignore the real problems of human suffering.

    When we  come to believe that our own problems, and the needs of America, are the most desperate, we lose sight of the needs of the world, and we fall into the persecution complex and than we persecute others.  We not only overlook the  real suffering of so many other people in the world but also  those literally under our feet, and we also become blinded to the kinds of suffering we create through our self-centered addiction to fear, which especially now is a real reality.

    In Matthew 25 we are given by Jesus a parable about the judgment of humanity. It has a surprise ending because Jesus explains that it is not lots of religious activity or adherence to particular doctrines, or  beliefs that pleases God–it is  feeding the poor, clothing the needy, and caring for the sick. Justice–spelled out.

    Jesus calls us to love our enemies, and to lay down our lives, “No one has greater love than this, but to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  He is not meaning “white”, “black”, “red”, “brown”, “green” “purple” or Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, atheist, rich or poor, friends,  but that  all people are our friends– like it or not.

    Jesus’ example is that of non-violent self-sacrifice. His way of giving until his last breath ultimately exposes his enemies, who would oppose him with strength and violence, as impotent. When the soldier at the cross said, “Surely, this man was the son of God,” he was seeing that the might of Rome, which crushed Jesus and ended his life, was actually empty. Jesus’ way of peace and humility is what truly held power.

    Laying down our lives means  that we give ourselves wholly to the needs of those around us. We do not demand that they cater to us, be grateful, or subservient, we love them, we serve them. Let us asked not what our fellow humans can do for us, but ask what we can do for our neighbor.

    Each person be they  Democrat, Republican, Green, Independent or Polka Dot,  are equal in the eyes of God. We can disagree, we can not like each other’s candidates, but when the arguments are cleared we stand holding the bag in our hands, and our responsibility is to work in love and respect  with one another. Easy, no!  Necessary yes!

    For you see each day I see people on respirators, sick, and terrified; each night I see young adults on the streets, who are hungry, ill, lonely, dirty, depressed, and in walking with them the political fighting falls away, “the persecution complex” is nil, and whatever you call yourself does not matter–what matters is do you feed, clothe, comfort, house and care and in so doing we hear the words of Paul:

Philippians 2:1-11

Have the Attitude of Christ

2 Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

Though he was God,[a]
    he did not think of equality with God
    as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges[b];
    he took the humble position of a slave[c]
    and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,[d]
    he humbled himself in obedience to God
    and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
    and gave him the name above all other names,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


Donations Needed:

    We are in desperate need of socks, food, masks, and so your gifts would be appreciated. But regardless, what we have learned through the years it is not that  the food,  clothing, socks  or masks that are remembered, but our presence, simply spending time, listening, and caring for each person individually. That we do in season and out of season. We do money or no money. We do virus or no violence. Thank you for your prayers, your gifts, your kind emails, and your snail mail.

    This book we have reviewed and commented upon  I encourage you to  read, especially during this season of political division and need.  You do not have to agree with it, but listen, meditate, and let its message speak to your heart. You certainly do not agree with me all the time, and I know I do not agree with you either, but what I do know  and I shout this from the roof tops  is that I care for you, and have your best interests at heart in and out of season, even if you support the Polka Dot Party. Ultimately all that matters is that we are children of the One God.!

Fr. River Damien Sims


Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164 (pay pal is located here)

Walking in the Shadows

August 15, 2020

A Reflection upon Quest of the Sapphire


A.E. Smith

Walking in the Shadows

Luke 1:39-56

The Assumption of the Virgin Mary

    Today I learned of the death of my last District Superintendent before I began my walk in the shadows, the Reverend William Cotton. He was 87, lived a very full life,and was gathered in with his fathers. He was compassionate to me in the final days in my former denomination, assuring me that “You are a minister, and as you move through this dark period, you will walk in the shadows, but shine brightly for the Gospel.”He was an advocate for people of color, and LGBTQ people working within a system which is sick and dying.

    As I came to review the book, Quest of the Sapphire, by A.E. Smith we are presented with a depiction of the early Christian Church as elitist, wealthy, and of conquering country–completely opposite of the characteristics of   early believers.     Its premise is of two teen twin brothers, Marco and Aquila and their journey of growing up. There father Centurion Adan crucified Jesus, and was forgiven and chases after them. The teens were interesting, and typical teens, the rest of the characters were artificial.

    Throughout the story the Romans were elite, everyone else, mostly people of color were subservient.

    The book illustrates how predominant white superiority bleeds through our culture .  There were no shadows here, all very black and white.

    Our ministry is one of walking in the shadows. We walk late at night a lot, but at all times with people who are never noticed, judged, do not fit into the stereotypical homeless population. for whom there is little offered by homeless services. They are suspect, people are afraid of them. Social services has difficulty having “success”, that is measurable  success so they do not want to work with this population. They are shadows of our  society.

    I walk in the shadows, and all kind assumptions are made of me but my goal is to live out the Gospel as summed up  in the Great Commandment “Thou shalt love the Lord your God,with all your soul, mind, and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.”  Ministry is being with people as Jesus, without judgment, loving them.

    I remember Bill with fondness, and tonight on the Assumption of the Virgin Mary  the Magnificat

spoken by this woman who lived in the shadows rings out:

“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.
47     How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
48 For he took notice of his lowly servant girl,
    and from now on all generations will call me blessed.
49 For the Mighty One is holy,
    and he has done great things for me.
50 He shows mercy from generation to generation
    to all who fear him.
51 His mighty arm has done tremendous things!
    He has scattered the proud and haughty ones.
52 He has brought down princes from their thrones
    and exalted the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
    and sent the rich away with empty hands.
54 He has helped his servant Israel
    and remembered to be merciful.
55 For he made this promise to our ancestors,
    to Abraham and his children forever.” Luke 1:39-56


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

A Revolution of Hope

August 13, 2020

(William Blake “Satan Rousing His Angels)

A Revolution of the Heart

William Blake and St. Maximus the Confessor

“Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked to find him talking to a woman.” John 4:27


    William Blake, poet and visionary, obsessed with the figure of Christ believed churches had emptied Christianity of it’s revolutionary content. Thomas Merton said of Blake’s rebellion, “his rebellion  was the rebelling of the lover of the living God.”

    Blake wrote:

“To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand

And Eternity in an hour.”

    Today was my first day out after being on quarantine for the past week and a half, I have just had a cold; Spent the day training to be a census taker, needing money for dental insurance, and eye exam, and for socks, and I have found how much I hate bureaucracy’s. I cried today when I failed a test,  to find out later they gave me the wrong phone. I am so mixed up. I am doubtful if I will be able to do this, but I need the money and am going to try. Bureaucracies with in the Church, and social agencies kill the spirit.

    I have been accepted in a certificate program on Cannabis Marijuana at Pacific Health and Science College in San Diego.  And I have mentioned it, and people raise their eyes.

    And a nurse fussed because of the chances that I take.

    My greatest gift is to let people enter into my heart, and me in theirs. The people who enter are those who can see the world in “a grain of salt, and a heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour.”

    That is what I see, and what I invite others to see–for in having that observation one enters into the broken lives of Christ in people, and behold his face.

    That is a revolution of the heart. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

The Martyrdom of Love

August 12, 2020

The Martyrdom of Love

Feast of St. Jane Francis De Chantel

I am a Pastor First and Foremost

John 4:1-26

“One day Saint Jane spoke the following eloquent words, which listeners took down exactly as spoken:

“My dear daughters, many of our holy fathers in the faith, men who were pillars of the Church, did not die martyrs. Why do you think this was?” Each one present offered an answer; then their mother continued. “Well, I myself think it was because there is another martyrdom: the martyrdom of love. Here God keeps His servants and handmaids in this present life so that they may labor for Him, and He makes of them both martyrs and confessors. I know,” she added, “that the Daughters of the Visitation are meant to be martyrs of this kind and that, by the favor of God, some of them, more fortunate than others in that their desire has been granted, will actually suffer such a martyrdom.”

One sister asked what form this martyrdom took. The saint answered: “Yield yourself fully to God, and you will find out! Divine love takes its sword to the hidden recesses of our inmost soul and divides us from ourselves. I know one person whom love cut off from all that was dearest to her, just as completely and effectively as if a tyrant’s blade had severed spirit from body.”

We realized that she was speaking of herself. When another sister asked how long the martyrdom would continue, the saint replied: “From the moment when we commit ourselves unreservedly to God, until our last breath. I am speaking, of course, of great-souled individuals who keep nothing back for themselves, but instead are faithful in love. Our Lord does not intend this martyrdom for those who are weak in love and perseverance. Such people He lets continue on their mediocre way, so that they will not be lost to Him; He never does violence to our free will.”

Finally, the saint was asked whether this martyrdom of love could be put on the same level as martyrdom of the body. She answered: “We should not worry about equality. I do think, however, that their martyrdom of love cannot be relegated to a second place, for love is as strong as death. For the martyrs of love suffer infinitely more in remaining in this life so as to serve God, than if they died a thousand times over in testimony to their faith and love and fidelity.”

—Saint Jane Frances de Chantal, religious

    Dorothy Day talked of the “long loneliness”, which basically talked of the polarization of people in her day. It is a lonely walk when you choose not to take sides, to live in a “tribe.”

    My friend Aaron, turned eighteen last December, and last Spring he said, “Can I ask you a question about a candidate without you getting pissed?” And I “lol”-laughed out loud,  because he has always talked to me about anything. We have no secrets.        My friend Matt’s mother is from Montana and she commented one day after his graduation party with her parents, “I have never figured you out, because after hearing my brother and mother talk, and listening to me for years, you never say anything one way or the other, and I know you disagree with us.”  I care for each them, I do not care about their political beliefs. And Matt and his mom have cared for me. They have loved me despite myself.

    My Doctor of Ministry is from a seminary in the reformed Presbyterian tradition, Knox Theological Seminary, of all my degrees it is the one of which I am most proud. I have a class ring, worn proudly, the only one of all my four degrees.

    It is conservative, yes, that is why I attended to get a new perspective, and the professors continue to be my best colleagues.

    They check in, when I am sick, they are always there.They offer to come if I need help. To me they are an example of a friend, and example of Jesus.     One of the school’s early presidents, supposedly known to be homophobic, walked with me when I was on the streets without judgment and gave money to our ministry later. He pastored me. My memory is only the love given, the love of Jesus,nothing else.

    My ultimate goal, in shooting the arrow at perfection is to practice “the martyrdom of love,” which means I am first of all a pastor, meaning I love and serve people period. I am a shepherd, I take care of my flock. I do not judge, nor take sides, but walk along beside them.

    People “assume” a lot of things about our ministry. Some think I am Democrat, others Republican, others Green; there are those who think we are the devil (they are probably closer than anyone in that judgement), others a saint, and the majority do not give a damn.

    What I do stand for, what I will die for, is in the words of Jesus: “Thou shalt love the Lord our God with all our  heart, mind, and strength and our neighbor as yourself.” This is worth laying your life down for.

    So in this year of polarizing politics let us lay aside how tendency to believe “I am right, you are wrong,” and enter into loving each other, taking care of each other, being present to each other. For ultimately in entering into relationships and meeting in the middle, we find love.

    As for me personally I will continue to shoot for simply being a pastor, who walks with his flock. That is all I am and care to be, nothing else matters! To walk the walk of the “long loneliness”!

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164