Archive for March, 2021

I Spy

March 31, 2021

I Spy

Matthew 26:14-25 New Living Translation

Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus

14 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the leading priests 15 and asked, “How much will you pay me to betray Jesus to you?” And they gave him thirty pieces of silver. 16 From that time on, Judas began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus.

The Last Supper

17 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to prepare the Passover meal for you?”

18 “As you go into the city,” he told them, “you will see a certain man. Tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My time has come, and I will eat the Passover meal with my disciples at your house.’” 19 So the disciples did as Jesus told them and prepared the Passover meal there.

20 When it was evening, Jesus sat down at the table[a] with the Twelve. 21 While they were eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.”

22 Greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, “Am I the one, Lord?”

23 He replied, “One of you who has just eaten from this bowl with me will betray me. 24 For the Son of Man must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for the one who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if he had never been born!”

25 Judas, the one who would betray him, also asked, “Rabbi, am I the one?”

And Jesus told him, “You have said it.”

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Tradition refers to this day as Spy Wednesday, the day when Judas proceeded to betray Jesus by helping plan his ambush and arrest. And the question it raises for us personally is, surely it is not I Lord?”

We do not choose to see Judas in ourselves, none of us desire to be known as a betrayer of Jesus, the one “damned for all times“as Judas sings before the chief priests in Jesus Christ Superstar. Today I will listen to that music again, for it is so profound it draws us into the perspective of Judas, his tragic struggle, his limited but passionate views, his practical worldliness. I cry when hearing or watching it because I get where he is coming from.

I struggle with being Judas every day. I remember the betrayals I have done, and how at times I want to betray Jesus by walking away from this ministry.

I entered this journey, on the streets, now many years ago, and every day I hear and see the pain of violence, lack of food and housing, extreme loneliness and desolation, and allow those souls into my life. And it hurts like hell. I have found “The streets transform every ordinary day into a series of quick questions and every incorrect answer risks a beat down, shooting, or pregnancy.” (can not find the author’s name, sorry)

Frequently I reflect on how nice it would be to move to Palm Springs, find a small place, and simply live alone, out of all this craziness, and that is Judas talking.

And so before we enter the Triduum, join me in taking a hard, and honest pause with Judas. There is grace, yes grace, in his story if we allow it to reveal to us the parts of ourselves that need conversion. Let us pray:

Anima Christi

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.

Body of Christ, save me.

Blood of Christ inebriated me.

Water from the side of Christ, wash me.

Passion of Christ strengthen me.

O Good Jesus, hear me.

Within your wounds hide me.

Permit me not to be separated from you.

From the wicked foe defend me.

At the hour of my death, call me

and bid me come to you.

That with your saints I may praise you

forever and ever.

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 646256

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

414-305-2124

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Tenderloin Stations of the Cross

April 2, 2021

Meet in front of City Hall

Polk Street side

at Noon–or shall we way around noon.

Come participate, read a part, see the crucifixion all around us.

We will social distance, will have masks available.

Giving pizza out n honor of Philip Workman

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Peniel–Newsletter Temenos Catholic Worker

March 30, 2021

PENIEL

“Where Jacob Walked With God,”

April 2021

Newsletter of Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

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

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Journal of An Alien Street Priest:

The Radical Meaning of Grace

. .that in the ages to come, he might show exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man or woman should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Eph. 2:7=10

    I recently sat with Joel, 40ish, whom I have hung out with for over twenty years listening as he shared of his mom’s death, drug use, AIDS diagnosis, and his sense of failure; later took another to the hospital with a high fever; hanging on the street listening to others, giving a pair of socks, candy bar, and my ear. The phone, snap chat, constantly cries out the needs of people to simply be heard.

    In the cross and confirmed by the crucifixion God has given us the “radical meaning of grace,” we are loved, we do not earn it, simply receive the gift.

    Personally, I have always been wired for competition, cried when I received a “C” in seminary in a course on Romans,  given to me by the professor, “so you can learn failure.” Nothing has ever been enough. I have always craved more recognition, more respect, more and more–nothing is ever enough, and why?

    However, Jesus invites us to be motivated by love alone and that frees us from reliance on our own self-effort. Now we can just follow him down the highway, without any need to compare ourselves with any other person on the planet.

    In the world, we may still find ourselves competing, wearing ourselves out, but in Christ, we are free from the primary principle of this age, for what is important is when “the Lord commands us.” (2 Corinthians 10:18).

    And as my body aches and the years pass so quickly I am reminded of the words of Henri Nouwen:

“Easter is a reality only as we travel the road of suffering and enter into being broken with the other.

It is the little things that matter.

Christ Is Risen! The Lord Is Risen Indeed!

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Holy Week

Thursday, April 1: Mobile Eucharist: We will give consecrated elements with prayer along the street and in the allys. We are using  “Fellowship Cup” prepackaged elements.

Good Friday: Tenderloin Stations of the Cross: 12 Noon, we will socially distance and are in need of volunteers.

Easter Sunday: We will on Haight Street giving a special treat.

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Reflections on Flow of Ministry

      Cardinal John Henry Newman brilliantly captured the flow of change a long time ago when he said: “to live is to change and to be perfect is to have changed often,”

    We have not reached perfection, yet we change often, as we move with the flow of ministry. We have been asked about when the hot meals will begin again. 

    Due to restrictions from the coronavirus, limitations on us physically, due to a hernia, and the reality we need to spend our time in pastoral, one on one, ministry, we will no longer serve hot meals.

    The money used for the meals will be invested in snacks, socks, and masks. Thank you for your support of the meals through these many years, and as the pandemic subsides there will be other opportunities for volunteering. Again we will be very conservative on the use of volunteers until it is absolutely safe.

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A Gift Has Been Given to Temenos Catholic Worker by Richard J. Melick in loving remembrance of his younger brother Michael Joseph Melick (1969-1994),

May Michael Rest In Peace!

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We Are Beggars, any financial gift you would like to give would be greatly appreciated.

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 64256

San Francisco,  CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org,

Paypal

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“Perhaps the most important thing we can bring to another person is the silence in us, not the sort of silence that is filled with unspoken criticism or hard withdrawal. The sort of silence that is a place of refuge, of rest, of acceptance of someone as they are. We are all hungry for this other silence.” Rachel Naomi Remen

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20th Tenderloin Stations of the Cross

March 29, 2021

Tenderloin Stations of the Cross

Twentieth Anniversary

April 2, 2021

In Memory of

Philip Workman

Philip Workman was executed on May 9, 2007,  in Tennesee. During his imprisonment, he had a religious experience and found  Jesus. He lived a life of service during his remaining time in prison. There is some doubt around his conviction. His final request was to give out his last meal of a vegetarian pizza to homeless people.

California is a death penalty state. The death penalty is still legal and is subject to the control of each administration. Today we pray that the legality of the death penalty is removed from the State of California. As long as it stands, we as citizens, stand as supporters of the death penalty.

“Courage ultimately means to let our hearts be broken.” Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ

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Christ Be My Portion

Christ, be my joy in sorrow.

Christ be my love in loneliness.

Christ be my rock in trembling

Christ be my anchor in the deep.

Christ be my calm in fury.

Christ be my power that crushes fear.

Christ be my peace in waiting.

Christ be my justice in the fight.

Be my portion, Jesus.

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Station 1: Jesus In the Garden of Gethsemene

A homeless man walks by a restaurant. He is barefoot, dirty, and unshaven. As he walks people eating seem uncomfortable, or simply do not see him. Like Jesus he feels totally alone, and in doubt.

Philip Workman, sits on death row, sweating, and looking at the road that has brought him to this point, and prays the road ahead to be blessed by God.

Christ, be my joy in sorrow.

Station 2: Jesus Betrayed by Judas, and Is Arrested

Sean is promised a place to live, food to eat, and given a job at a store by a local agency. He was paid $15.00 an hour. He was also given a place to live for a time, with the promise of helping him find his own place in San Francisco.  After several months Sean was told he would have to leave the area because it would be too high for him to rent a place in the City.  In Judas, Jesus was betrayed by the system, by a friend.

Philip Workman’s best friend testified  Philip had confessed to him the murder, in order to receive a reduced sentence. He lied.

Christ be my love in loneliness.

Station 3: Jesus Is Condemned by the Sanhedrin

Twenty-one-year-old Jay is given housing in a local shelter and the support of a social worker. The agency receives a report that four years earlier he had been a member of a white supremacist gang. Jay is now considered a racist, and his services are removed. Jay simply hung out with them because he was lonely and was given a place to sleep. Jay is not a white supremist.  He is sent back to the streets.

During his trial, Philip had people testify of minor crimes he had committed as a youth. None violent.

Christ be my rock in trembling.

Station 4: Jesus Is Denied By Peter

Jessie, a minister, working with people who are homeless has a portion of her funding withdrawn by a local church for the reason; “she is putting a bandage on a wound, not fixing it.” Ministry means letting our hearts be broken.

Philip had six friends who simply refused to testify in his support.

Christ be my anchor in the deep.

Station 5: Jesus Is Judged by Pilate:

James receives ten loitering tickets for “panhandling” and a local judge sends him to jail for six months.

Philip Workman is denied appeal when new evidence surfaces that he is innocent.

Christ be my calm in fury.

Station 6: Jesus is Scourged and Crowned With Thorns:

Michael, a young transgender man, is beaten, stripped of male apparel, dressed in women’s garb, and has lipstick smeared across his face.

Philip Workman was beaten and scorned for sharing his experience knowing Jesus.

Christ be my power that crushed fear.

Station 7: Jesus Bears the Cross

Sixteen-year-old Carlos, a non-documented immigrant, walks out from behind some bushes where he and his dad are hiding and tells a border guard he is alone. Carlos is taken in, as his dad remains hiding and makes it across the border.

Facing the death penalty Philip Workman continues to love and refuses to blame others for the results of his actions.

Be my peace in waiting.

Station 8:  Jesus Is Helped By Simon the Cyrene

Greg, 16, who is homeless, burning up with a fever on a late rainy night, walks to the apartment of a minister, who allows him to stay for several nights and provides care. 

Sr. Helen Prejean and others help to carry  Philip emotionally as he walks to his execution.

Christ be my justice in the fight.

Station 9: Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem:

Every evening one sees a white-haired lady walking down Polk Street, passing out day-old pastries she receives from donut shops. She gives them to homeless individuals in the area.

Philip Workman meets with women from churches to talk of the death penalty and his service for Jesus.

Be My Portion Jesus

Station 10: Jesus is Crucified.

Shane, 17, has been told to leave his home by his parents,  because of being gay. He feels rejected and starts talking to a minister on zoom, and suddenly he says: “Goodbye” and puts a gun to his head and pulls the trigger, leaving blood spattered all over his computer screen.

Philip Workman, too, considers suicide, but his faith in Jesus gives him hope.

Christ be my joy in sorrow.

Station 11: Jesus Promises His Kingdom to the Good Thief:

Carter lays dying from being stabbed in a fight, and says: “God loves me and I am going home to be with Jesus,” telling a friend near him, “I will see you soon.”

Philip Workman  promises a guard who has been truly compassionate with him, “We will meet again in the Kingdom!”

Christ be my life in loneliness

Station 12: Jesus Speaks to His Mother and Disciples:

As Sam lays dying on the corner of Polk and Sutter,  a woman sits beside him with her son. He says to her, “All will be well!”

As Philip Workman walks towards his execution, he gives a group of notes to the chaplain to be given to friends who have supported him through the years.

Christ be my rock in trembling.

Station 13: Jesus Dies on the Cross

Zack, 16, dies at the hands of his drug dealer; Philip Workman dies by drug injection at the hands of the State of Tennessee.

Christ be my anchor in the deep.

Station 14: Jesus is Placed in the Tomb:

Zac’s ashes are placed in the Neptune Society Columbarium. He is no longer homeless.

Philip’s body is buried near his dad in the family cemetery.

Courage Means To Let Our Bones Be Broken!

Christ Be My Portion

Christ, be my joy in sorrow.

Christ be my love in loneliness.

Christ be my rock in trembling

Christ be my anchor in the deep.

Christ be my calm in fury.

Christ be my power that crushes fear.

Christ be my peace in waiting.

Christ be my justice in the fight.

Be my portion, Jesus

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Join us at Noon, on April 2, 2021, in front of City Hall, Polk side. I will walk leading those who wish to walk, with the  van being driven by David Alben with the pizza to be handed out and leading cars,

We need participants to read, and we will be socially distant on our journey. If you can not participate in person, follow us slowly at home reading the Stations at noon in prayer.

We invite you to send letters, emails, or Twitter messages to the Governor urging him to work to fully remove the death penalty from the constitution.

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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

We Are One

March 29, 2021

Paschal Grammar

John 12:12-16

Philippians 2:6-11

Through the years there have seen many who have been murdered, over-dosed on drugs; and died of terminal illnesses; we have faced life-threatening illnesses and other threats; Today we sat with a fifty-year-old recovering addict, broken by AIDS.

Two nights ago a friend was talking to a young man on zoom, suffering from emotional pain, and the young man pulled a gun and shot himself in the head, spattering blood all over the face of the computer, leaving my friend desolate, alone, feeling like he failed.

We cling to one non-negotiable conviction: in the paschal mystery lays the deep grammar of the Christian life, found in our reading from Philippian 2:6-11

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. 2:6-11

The real identity of Jesus was only grasped at the foot of the cross by his executioner, “Truly this is the Son of God,” through his suffering, and forgiving love.

The real identity of Jesus is expanded more by mystic, Caryll Houselander as her life was transformed in a vision on the London underground train:

“I was in an underground train, a crowded train in which all sorts of people jostled together, sitting and strap-hanging-workers of every description going home at the end of the day. Quite suddenly I saw with my mind, as vividly as a wonderful picture, Christ in them all. But I saw more than that; not only Christ in every one of them, living in them, dying in them, rejoicing in them, sorrowing in them–but because He was in them, and because they were here, the whole world was here in this underground train…

Christ is everywhere; in Him, every kind of life has a meaning and has an influence on every other kind of life. It is not a foolish sinner like myself, running about the world with reprobates and feeling magnanimous, who comes closest to them and brings them healing; every person has meaning and is God’s”.

The cross was not the final word, for in the deep grammar of our lives, out of suffering and death comes the resurrection.

If the grammar of our lives was to follow the perfection of a computer, to have a guaranteed outcome there would be no need for courage, for as Pedro Arrupe, SJ reminds us: “Courage ultimately means to be willing to let our hearts be broken.” Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

Book Review

March 18, 2021

Book Review: The Galilee Episode

By Ronald W. Goetaz.

This book resulted from the simple question: “Could the two couples in Luke 17 be gay and lesbian?”

He sums up his thesis: yes; and talks of homophobia during those times. He went through all the major resources.

Frankly, like all queer scholars he tends not to see that homophobia, homosexuality was not even thought of in the time of Jesus, that the Hebrews were concerned with population growth, so yes they would be against same-sex relationships, and thirdly the comments of the New Testament were made within the framework of Roman’s using young boys. Scriptures were written 2000 years ago as wel

Like all queer scholars, he spends a majority of his time seeking to defunct the homophobia of the scriptures, rather than looking at the heart of what Jesus taught as central to the gospel”

“Thou shalt love the Lord your God with all your mind, strength and soul, and your neighbor as yourself.”

Jesus is concerned with us loving each other, he mentions nothing of male and female. That is the heart of the Gospel.

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

Book Review

March 17, 2021

A Reflection on the Hidden Gospel of Thomas

By William G. Duffy

I had a dream last night of walking to the basketball court at the Mill Valley School. I was following Anthony, Brandon, Cale, Aaron, and Matthew,  ages 16-21. We sat down in front of the goal, simply resting, and sitting in silence. Through the years they have always given me the most important gift we all need-true silence:

“Perhaps the most important thing we bring to another person is the silence in us, not the sort of silence that is filled with unspoken criticism or hard withdrawal. The sort of silence that is a place of refuge, of rest, of acceptance of someone as they are. We are all hungry for this other silence (Rachel Naomi Remen).

They entered my life over the last five years, being with me through injury, illness, and a lot of fun, never criticizing, never judging, simply being present as friends.  We have never discussed “religion”, they make fun of me when I wear clericals, and I have never felt judged once. Their egos have never gotten in the way of caring.

In his book, Duffy takes us through The Hidden Gospel of Thomas: Commentaries on the Non-Dual Sayings of Jesus. These were found in December 1945, a “lost gospel” buried in an earthen jar in Upper Egypt.

The central focus of this gospel is “oneness”, letting go of our ego, away from our dual concept of life, into one of embracing others in non-judgmental love. 

The sole function of the ego is to deny humanity’s home with God. It leads to our destructiveness, selfishness, and hatred of one another. To leave the ego behind leads us to see all as our brothers and sisters.

In Thomas, all choices consistently come down to a commitment to either wholeness and spiritual freedom or separation and spiritual poverty.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin had this in mind when he wrote these words:

“The day will come when after harnessing the ether (space), the winds, the tides, gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.”

Discovering fire again simply means we will have a new beginning as we did the first time, which will cast light and warmth on a world rich in material progress, but poor in the awareness of the Kingdom. It will bring the fire of unconditional love that blesses everything and asks nothing in return. For those who identify with their egos love is a threat. We are called to live in the present moment, let go of our egos, and love one another. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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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

Unlock the Stations of the Cross Examen Style

March 16, 2021

UNLOCK THE STATIONS OF THE CROSS EXAMEN

The First Station:

Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane

Matthew 26:36-41

The Second Station:

Jesus, Betrayed by Judas, Is Arrested

Mark 14:43-46

The Third Station:

Jesus is Condemned by the Sanhedrin

Luke 22:66-71

The Fourth Station: Jesus Is Denied by Peter

Matthew 26:69-75

The Fifth Station:

Jesus Is Judged by Pilate

Mark 15:1-5, 15

The Sixth Station:

Jesus Is Scourged and Crowned with Thorns

John 19:1-3

The Seventh Station:

Jesus Bears the Cross

John 19: 6, 15-17

The Eighth Station:

Jesus Is Helped by Simon the Cyrenian to Carry the Cross.

Mark 15:21

The Ninth Station:

Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem

Luke 23:27-31

The Tenth Station:

Jesus is Crucified

Luke 23:33-34

The Eleventh Station:

Jesus Promises His Kingdom to the Good Thief

Luke 23:39-43

The Twelfth Station:

Jesus Speaks to His Mother and the Disciple

The Thirteenth Station:

Jesus Dies on the Cross

The Fourteenth Station:

Jesus is Placed in the Tomb

Matthew 27:57-60

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People often asked me about my “Daily Work Schedule” and I babble something off, for it is difficult to understand that most days my schedule varies

For example last week one day I drove to San Jose to see a young man in Juvenile Hall; then to Marin to hang out with some of my young friends; then home to Haight Street for outreach. The next day our schedule took us to three hospitals in two different counties to visit Cornovirus patients; back to outreach on the street; and so it goes.

Over time I have come to see each Station tells a story in each place visited.  In visiting jails, I am reminded of Jesus the prisoner, and visiting on death row, Jesus the Crucified; the Stations of the Cross is an age-old devotion that reminds me to slow down to pay attention to a very particular and tumultuous time in the life of Jesus.

Each Station tells us to wait, and hear the story of that place where we are in light of Jesus, for each Station ultimately tells a story, and our story is within it.

For example consider the Station of Veronica wiping the face of Jesus, leaving us with his face before us. It is a story that asks us if we have been compassionate toward others we encounter, those of different colors, religious beliefs, and of different ages. Have we seen the face of Jesus in our actions toward others?

Several years ago I did the full version of the Ignatian Exercises. It forced in me a hunger to get to know Jesus, to truly embrace him and so taking the examen–a reflective devotional exercise described in St. Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises –to the Stations of the Cross, adding the resurrection as a fifteenth exercise helped me to come to know Jesus more fully, more intimately.

Each day for fifteen days as I work, at home, on the street, or in hospitals, I meditate on one segment of the Stations of the Cross. It helps me to decompress, and engage in my relationship with Jesus in new ways. You can set an alarm on your phone or watch to remind you.

This Exercise helps you in the words of Fr. Henri Nouwen to find your own path to God:

“Every time you make free time for God, you clear up a bit of the descending path, and you see where you can plant your feet on the way to love. Nothing spectacular or sensational! It may be simply a matter of what you say, what you read, to whom you speak when you go on a free afternoon, or how you regard yourself and other people. What’s fascinating is that the first step invariably makes the second one easier. You begin to discover that love begets love, and step by step you move further forward on the way to God.
Gradually, you shed your misgivings about the way of love; you see that “in love, there is no room for fear,” and you feel drawn to descend deeper and deeper on

the way that Jesus walked before you.”

And as we journey may we come to see our daily habits as a way of  “Fasting for All Time”, as described by Pope Francis:

“Do you want to fast?

Fast from hurting words and say kind words.

Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.

Fast from anger and be filled with patience.

Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope.

Fast from worries and have trust in God.

Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity.

Fast from pressures and be playful.

Fast from bitterness and fill your heart with joy.

Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others.

Fast from grudges and be reconciled.

Fast from words and be silent so you can listen.

Fast from judging the lifestyle of others.

Fast from judging the way others worship God”.

(The last two are my additions)

I invite you to join me in the Stations for the next fifteen days or so. Here are five simple steps derived from the Examen, to help us unlock  the Stations of the Cross in a practical, contemplative, and reflective manner:

1. Choose a Station:  Let’s say we are focusing on Jesus taking up his Cross. You can read a passage from the Bible that correlates to that scene or simply picture an image in your mind. Take a few deep breaths and ask God to quiet your mind and open your heart. Don’t worry about the mental chatter or the waves of emotions and feelings inside. Allow yourself to find an openness that is true to you.

Step 2:  Remind yourself that God is all around you. God is inside you and outside you.  And God’s heartbeats in yours. Try to feel that reality as best you can. Then take the picture of Jesus carrying his cross, and imagine placing the image inside you. Let it take root in you.

3. Ask the Holy Spirit to rise up inside you and give you the wisdom to acknowledge God in your life. Ask the Spirit to help you meditate on the scene inside you. How do you think Jesus felt when this was happening? What was he thinking? What is your cross to bear? How heavy is it? How does it affect your relationship with God, with others?

Step 4: Review Your Day. Where did your cross feel the heaviest today? Where did you encounter the cross on the shoulders of others at work, on the news, or in the streets? Where is God in these encounters? Ask God to make you more aware and compassionate of others and yourself.

5. Give thanks to God for the opportunity to know Jesus better, and ask God to help you to become more aware of the crosses that everyone carries in life. Let us move into loving all, without judgment! Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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This will be the last time I will write until Palm Sunday, take this time to do the Stations of the Cross. If you have questions or need someone to listen please text, call,  snap chat, or email.

We also need volunteers for our Stations of the Cross through the Tenderloin.

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

www. temenos.org

snap chat: riodamien2

415-305-2124

temenos@gmail.com

Faith in the Face of Criticism and Doubt

March 15, 2021

Faith in the Face of Cynicism and Doubt

John 4:43-54

Blessed Artemide Zati

    What an odd exchange in today’s Gospel. First, the man asks for his son’s healing. Then Jesus seems to reprimand him:“You people won’t believe unless you see signs.” The man appears to disregard the words of Jesus and says, “Sir come home with me before my child dies.” Jesus replies: “Go home–it is done.”

Last week I invited to lunch an individual starting a new ministry. I was really looking forward to getting to know him. We had barely sat down when I received a barrage of questions about what I believe and then this person simply got up and said something to the effect, “All you do is good, that is not the Gospel” I was stunned, felt really degraded, and disrespected. It has sent me into an episode of depression.

In the cynical world, where people spread rumors, threaten, and sometimes try to hurt you, the voice of faith can sound small. The voice of a witness of care, non-judment, and the belief that all are children of God can sound insignificant. Thousands of voices on social media sound alarms, and doubt. They tell us the world is ending, that we are victims of vast conspiricies, we can trust no one, (accept a certain leader or a movement) and spread lies and rumors on a whim. Our declaration that God’s goodness continues to work throughout creation can get lost in the hysterics.

While segments of society grow ever more fearful, vengeful, violent, self-focused, our openness, compassion, creative love feel like foolish acts of vulnerability. Are we willing to speak faith in a God who loves with out expectation of anything in return? Are we willing to speak faith into the whirlwind of panic and antagonism? Will we persist in bringing our needs to Jesus, believing that his enduring love surpasses and heals all?

I have two Bibles that I use. One has the signatures of over a hundred people who have walk beside me these years; the other is signed by a group of now young adults, who have also walked with me.  These Bibles remind me that God says “Yes” to our ministry, yes to life.  All have fought with me, disagreed with me, and yet they continue to say “Yes”. In each one is seen the face of “Jesus” whether they are Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or non-believers. Each one in his or her own way through the years have been the face of Jesus to the homeless through their support.

Their actions, and what I try to live out is summarized in the Great Commandment that Jesus gave us:

“Thou shalt love the Lord your God with all your mind, heart, and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.”

Let us “Act justly, love mercy walk humbly” Micah 6:8

Let us pray:

How You can love me, loving Father, Mother–

You who are the storehouse of all good-

how you can love me, a stack of flaws and failings,

I struggle to know.

Yet in all my days, You have run to hug me

everytime I turn away from my selfishness.

Patient Father, Mother, I beg that my sin be like dirt on my skin, to wash away with clean repentence.

Never let sin poison the marrow of my heart,

which I hold out to You in the bright hope

that You have loved it from the start and all along. Amen.

—————————–

Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.ST.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

Safety In the Shadow of God’s Wings

March 13, 2021

Safety in the Shadow of God’s Wings!
Luke 18:9-14


New Living Translation

Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector

Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: 10 “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer[a]: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! 12 I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’

13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ 14 I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

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     We tend to believe that being good Christians we can make suffering go away. We do not even like to use the term suffering. 

     We imagine that to be blessed by God means that pain goes away. Jesus made suffering a normal part of the Christian life. He promised his disciple’s multiple blessings but tacked on at the end of the good things  the expectation of suffering: “There is no one who has left house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children or land for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times as much, houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and land–and persecutions too–now in this present time and, in the world to come eternal life.” (Mark 10:29-31). Suffering is a guarantee.

       Suffering is a reality, but so is the love of God is walking with us in that suffering.

     Jesus not only promised to suffer; he also made bearing personal crosses a daily requirement for all of his followers (Luke (:23). Making the sign of the cross proclaims yes to this condition of discipleship. When we sign ourselves we are taking up our cross and accepting whatever suffering comes our way.

    The way I understand suffering is we are have been given freedom of choice, the ability to choose the way we live, and the ability to choose to walk in a relationship with God and others. We have brought death on ourselves by these choices.

    In the person of Jesus God made himself vulnerable, and he suffered greatly. That’s the message of the cross, and signing ourselves opens to us hearing its chords. In making the sign of the cross we join with Jesus in his suffering, acknowledging that suffering is a reality of life, and we take refuge beneath the shelter of God’s wings.

    Fr. Henri Nouwen presents us with an image of “The Descending Way of Jesus”, through suffering:

“Jesus presents to us the great mystery of the descending way. It is the way of suffering, but also the way of healing. It is the way of humiliation, but also the way of resurrection. It is the way of tears, but of tears that turn into tears of joy. It is the way of hiddenness, but also the way that leads to the light that will shine for all people. It is the way of persecution, oppression, martyrdom, and death, but also the way to the full disclosure of God’s love. In the Gospel of John, Jesus says: “As Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so must the Son of man be lifted up” (John 3:14-15). You see in these words how the descending way of Jesus becomes the ascending way. The “lifting up” that Jesus speaks of refers both to his being raised up on the cross in total humiliation and to his being raised up from the dead in total glorification.

Each one of us has to seek out his or her own descending way of love. That calls for much prayer, much patience, and much guidance. It has nothing at all to do with spiritual heroics, dramatically throwing everything overboard to “follow” Jesus. The descending way is a way that is concealed in each person’s heart. But because it is so seldom walked on, it’s often overgrown with weeds. Slowly but surely we have to clear the weeds, open the way, and set out on it unafraid.”

    And in this journey, the words of St. Dulce Pontes, founder of Workers Union of St. Francis ring out: “There is nothing better that you can do in this world than to totally give yourself to God in the person of the poor and our needy brother”.

    Personally in this descending way of love, there is found much joy and the beholding of the face of Jesus.

—————–

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

Station 6: Jesus is Scourged

March 11, 2021
Station 6: Jesus is Scourged and Crowned with ThornsThen Pilate had  Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip. The soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they put a purple robe on him. “Hail, King of the Jews” they mocked, as they slapped him across the face.” John 19:1-3.——WE SHAKE WITH JOY“We shake with joy, we shake with grief.What a time they have, these twohoused as they are in the same body.”     We hear the cries of those who are homeless, sexually and physically abused; we hear the cries of the “dispossessed”, and their words penetrate our hearts: “The pain is so intense I do not want to live.”     Let us pray:     We sit smug in our apartments and homes, we have plenty to eat, clothes to wear, and we fail to see Jesus being scourged before our very eyes in the person in our doorways; we fail to listen to young men and women who cry out in their pain of hunger, loneliness, and pain of abuse; we flog you each time we fail to listen.      O flogged and mocked Jesus let us acknowledge both the pain and the joy in our bodies, and work to bring joy for others out of that pain so that others may live. Amen.


Patience
The mother of expectation is patience. The French author Simone Weil writes in her notebooks: “Waiting patiently in expectation is the foundation of the spiritual life.” Without patience our expectation degenerates into wishful thinking. Patience comes from the word patior, which means “to suffer.” The first thing that Jesus promises is suffering: “I tell you . . . you will be weeping and wailing . . . and you will be sorrowful.” But he calls these birth pains. And so, what seems a hindrance becomes a way; what seems an obstacle becomes a door; what seems a misfit becomes a cornerstone. Jesus changes our history from a random series of sad incidents and accidents into a constant opportunity for a change of heart. To wait patiently, therefore, means to allow our weeping and wailing to become the purifying preparation by which we are made ready to receive the joy that is promised to us. Fr. Henri Nouwen——————————–    We hear of the things people fast from in Lent–from food to sex, we make a big deal of how much we give up. We are so proud of ourselves.    How about fasting from “impatience” and learn to be patient.  I have always been in a hurry, always trying to “accomplish success”, such a fake way of living.     We all want to be remembered, and that is fake as well, and so we push, shove, and not remember what our true journey is. We fail to remember that God loves us for who we are.    When we are patent on our journey we learn to look at the sky, the ocean, the eyes of people, hear their voices, and walk with them in their pain. When we are patient we learn to live with our own pain and let God bring support.    Elizbeth Gilbert reminds us that: “You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures.”     Patience allows us to walk the path of love for all of creation and see our true worth in God and service to our neighbor, to all creatures, and to our environment.The WordOne of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”—Mark 12:28-31ReflectHonest self-examination will not go on long without love—love of God and of one’s self. And love flourishes only in truth, truth not about ourselves only, but about ourselves and others. Here’s a scary question: how interested am I in those persons God gives me? How much care do I show for them? Interest and care bind others to us and us to them, as God wishes. They are the runway to love.1. Give Thanks. I thank God for this day, for my life, for all I am and have, and for His Word.2. Pray for Light. I ask the Father to let me see my day as the Holy Spirit sees it, and to show me what I need to see.3. Find God. I look at my day in the light of the Spirit.Had I good things to achieve, and did I get to them?Am I deliberately breaking a law? Must I feel guilt at something done or left out?Where do I see my spirit—trusting the Holy Spirit or anxiously focused on self?4. Anything Wrong? I acknowledge boldly what I have done, repenting any failures.I wonder whether I refuse to look directly at something I feel may be wrong.I feel the sorrow of any wounded relationship.I repent of any even partial infraction of a commandment.5. What Now?I look forward in hope.What am I to do now? What do I have to avoid?PrayerI watch how You forgive, Lord Jesus,
asking the Father to forgive
and telling Him the reason to forgive:
“They do not know what they are doing.”
Was that as hard for You to say
as it has at times been hard for me?
I need Your compassion, Lord,
when I try to figure out
how they could have hurt me
so hard and callous,
a nail driven into my life.
O Lord, was it just as hard for You?
Amen.——–Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw., DMin., D.S.T.P.O. Box 642656San Francisco, CA 94164www.temenos.org