Archive for June, 2021

Book Review: Seeking the Triune Image of God

June 23, 2021

SEEKING THE TRIUNE IMAGE OF GOD IN YOU

BY

Jeffrey D. Hill

Hill takes the theological concept of the Trinity and applies it to what it means to be made in the image of God, and explains how the Trinitarian viewpoint is an explanation of the salvation story.

Jeffrey Hill teaches this is more than a theological  concept but a reality and one can encounter the true God in seeing all three aspects of his expression and see the wonder in that expression.

The criticism is he does not apply the theology of the Trinity to the disenfranchised, and like so many theologians he stays in his head, and speaks to people his age.

The organized Church is dying because  it has failed to encounter Christ in the homeless, and all who are disenfranchised throughout the world. Good book, but not very deep.

Fr. River Damien Sims

http://www.temenos.org

God’s Will A Book Review

June 21, 2021

A Book Review of

God’s Will

By Matthew John Echan

As I read this book my mind went back to not teenage years, for the book is set near Piedmont, Missouri, on the St. Francis River, where there are memories of canoeing, skinny dipping, swimming, and passing many a summer day; and the memory of having to rescue someone out of the river in the spring, when the water was high and gushing; my first parish in college was near Piedmont, surrounded by oak and cottonwood trees; and yet there is the dark side, about which this book takes us into.

It is set in a Baptist Children’s Home-Mount Zion, where youth who could not be “controlled” was sent for reformation.

One young man describes their tactics when he tells us:

    “No, I don’t think they need drugs. They rule by fear, and they use force and inhumane punishments to brainwash us. You either become one of them, or you suffer the consequences.”

Along with preaching about hell, about the consequences of the sins of sex, drinking, and drugs and their sex is of only one kind–straight and absolutely no oral.

Sam, 14, from Orange County California, is bought to Mt. Zion for two reasons he was stealing, smoking pot, and the greatest sin of all—masturbation–this in 1995.

Sam struggled for nine months, being “saved a number of times,” and finally being kicked out for being caught masturbating a tenth time, and the Director called him a “fag” as he was leaving.

    As he rode to the airport Sam reflected:

“I was angry at Mount Zion for thinking they could get away with branding shame on my face, and cursing my name. Angry at myself for letting them. And angry at God for not shutting the place down. The only real takeaway I could see was I never gonna trust Christians again, and the rage I felt inside to prove I wasn’t a waste of a  bunk felt like an answer to all my prayers. The cure to my weakness. Any other lesson was lost on me.”

It is a gut-wrenching novel about the perils of faith bereft of love.

As I read the novel there was a mixture of emotions, many good, and many very, very bad.

For I was always seen as “a misfit”, in a segregationist community, where I supported everyone; always suspected of being “a fag”, of being “different.”

When beginning the journey to ordination I played the game and played it damned well and was ordained.  But I was always a “misfit” and as depression overcame me, and I finally expressed doubt about my sexuality, and the church’s position I was sent to a similar treatment center, well-known for making adults “straight.” People wonder why I am always suspicious of therapists–this is why.

I played the game and returned to ministry,  and then a young 18-year-old church member shared with me of being gay, and I quoted the church’s position and offered to get him counseling, and he left my office and shot himself. From that moment on I could never keep my mouth shut. I was immediately removed from ministry.

I wound up on the streets of L.A. as a whore, and one among all the “misfits.” The greatest gift I could have received.

    I worked my way back out, but being the misfit I am could not stay in traditional society, and I knew that I was called to work with the misfits,  and so came to San Francisco. The gift given to me by God was an ability to work with the “misfits”, to meet them where they are.

    Through the years there have been so many young men and women who have been in religious and secular programs finding themselves rejected and thrown away. They were “misfits”. So lost, beaten over the head for not fitting in, believing as they are “told” to believe, but could not adjust. I have met them, and received them for their giftedness, and reminded them of that giftedness.

“Social misfits” are defined as people who do not conform to traditional, societal, and cultural views of what is normal or acceptable” (Webster Dictionary). Dr. Seuss defines misfits in another way: “Why fit in when you are born to stand out.” And in this society, it is dangerous not to “play the game.”

I have learned a long time ago that I can “pass” and find ways of promoting, and relating to everyone; but ultimately I have to walk alone, for I am a misfit. I will always speak my truth.

I am at home with the “skaters”, the homeless youth the “druggies”, the “pimps”, “the murderers”, and “thieves”  because there is no fakeness, and God smiles on each one of them offering his love.

And it is with those who are the most condemned, I find my gift of ministry. For I preach a Gospel of the limitless love of God, a God who loves us no matter what we do, a God who will walk with us, and bring us. home. Nothing scares me, and I condemn no one.

I am always asked for examples of “success”, my examples of success are young men and women who have found an understanding that God walks with them and loves them no matter what. And whether they feel it or not I will love them, with all of my heart, soul, and strength.

I have baptized hundreds, and when I celebrate the Eucharist I cry when I see those who hate the institutional church receive the Body and Blood of Christ.

There were two Scriptures that Sam held onto throughout his experience:

“Such was his purpose and good pleasure, to the praise of the glory of his grace, his free gift to us of the Beloved, in whom, through his blood, we gain our freedom, the forgiveness of our sins.” Eph. 1:6

None of the trials which have come upon you is more than a human being can stand. You can trust that God will not let you be put to the test beyond your strength, but with any trial will also provide a way out by enabling you to put up with it.. “I Corinthians 19:13. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

———————————-

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

P.O. Box 646256

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

Radical Grace

June 19, 2021

Radical Grace

Justice for the Poor and Marginalized-

Charles Wesley’s View for the Twenty-First Century

    The theology of John and Charles Wesely has shaped my life from my early childhood. My ministry is centered in this theology, I am who I am because of being raised and trained in this theology.

    Kimbrough, Jr.’s book is a refreshing read, bringing the theology of Charles Wesly to life in the twenty-first century.

    Radical grace is expressed through Christ’s followers seeking justice for the poor.

    Wesley grew up in a world of an emerging industrial revolution with rampant unemployment, economic displacement, widespread illnesses and poor medical care, the Poor Tax, and workhouses. The sin of greed or self-accumulated wealth at the expense of others, often a cause of poverty, was readily evident in eighteenth-century English society. He opposed poverty, hunger, and slavery.

    We cannot equate the “new poor” of the twentieth-first century with those of the eighteenth, as Jose Miguez Bonino observes, “The contemporary poor clearly represent a different poverty in a different world from Wesley’. While our poor suffer just as those of eighteenth-century Britain, ours are in a qualitatively different condition in their social prospects, expectations, and attitudes.”     The dissimilarities between the twenty-first and the eighteenth centuries are very great. Not only has economic globalization caused by the displacement of peoples and recession among nations, but there are vast regions of the world today where seemingly endless wars have ravaged the land and the people, resulting in hunger, displaced populations, rampant disease and sickness, and especially the abuse of women and children. Natural disasters–earthquakes, droughts, hurricanes, typhoons, and tsunamis-have devastate and sometimes completely wiped out cities and populations,  leaving only death, hunger, sickness, and poverty in their wake. Many of the populations affected are much larger than anything the Wesley’s confronted in their day. Displaced people rose to 82.4 million in the past year, 1 percent of humanity is displaced.

    So how can Wesley’s approach be relevant for today? Its relevance is that as Jesus said, “the poor are with us always,” and Wesley reminds us that the poor are with us because we fail to live out the Gospel message.

    Wesley’s message rings out loud and clear to our age, and to our failure as the Church:

    1. Charles lived by the reality that there was no privileged class in God’s realm, and he challenges the church to be courageous and step beyond the boundaries of its walls and hierarchies in order to actualize acts of compassion and justice. Fr. Henri Nouwen says: “To die to our neighbors means to stop judging them, to stop evaluating them, and thus to become free to be compassionate. Compassion can never coexist with judgment because judgment creates the distance, the distinction, that prevents us from really being with the other.”

2. Charles calls Christians to develop a lifestyle of commitment to the poor. In everything we do, in the way we live, the welfare of the poor should be at the heart of our concern and activities.

3. Wesley summons us to be friends with the poor. We meet people where they are. One of the biggest criticisms I have received through the years is I am friends with the “poor”, with the youth on the street. I hang out with them, and I treat them as equals. We must be friends, we must not talk down or tell others how to live.

    How do we implement a theology of radical grace that seeks justice for the poor and marginalized? Charles Wesley offers a practical approach motivated by divine love:

`1. Labor for the Poor: Around our neighborhood, the doors of churches are locked, and have security systems; and across our country that is the way it is. We should labor for the poor, we should feed the poor, we should work for justice for the poor, and we should work with them on their level, and befriend the poor.

2. Be a Just Steward: Give priority to the poor in budgetary planning as individuals and as a church.

3. Feel the Care of Others: Charles Wesley speaks of feeling the care of others. This is different from merely caring for others. It means establishing a relationship with the poor, which is impossible without personal contact. We will not feel the care of others if we do not visit them and befriend them.

4. Make Friends With the Poor: It is not easy when one has housing, food, the ability to travel, etc., but one can simply come to understand our own poverty, and the reality the time will come when we will die the same way–without nothing. We can move into friendship in sharing with what we have, and in the moment. It is difficult for me every day to come home to a warm room, food, and the ability to do pretty much whatever I choose. I live simply, but materially have everything I desire. And yet I am the poorest of the poor. And I always put these kids first. We are not as different as we think we are.

5. Preach the Gospel to the Poor: St. Francis once said: “Preach the Gospel. .using as few as words as possible.” While actions speak louder than words, Charles took every opportunity to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ.

    Charles believed in universal salvation, but also that knowing Christ brought fulfillment to one’s life.

6. Welcome Everyone to the Lord’s Table:

    The Wesley’s taught everyone should be welcome at the Lord’s Table.

     Holy Communion is the sacrament of love, the communion, and fellowship of the body of Christ, and involves participation in the sacrifice of Christ and sharing the resurrected life. As Petros Vassiliadis says: “It is only  through the eucharist that the church becomes the church in its fullest sense.” It is the determinant of the churches and the Christian’s identity. Thus Holy Communion is an eschatological meal. It always involves a becoming. And it should not be denied to anyone for any reason.

7. Pursue “Gospel-Poverty”:

    This idea is found  in only one of Charles Wesley’s texts; it is a response to Acts 4:36-37: “Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabus (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostle’s feet.”

“See here an apostolic priest,

Commissioned from the sky,

Who dares of all vain self divest,

The needy to supply!

A primitive example rare

Of gospel poverty,

To feed the flock one’s only care,

And like the Lord be” (C. Wesley).

    Wesley calls this “A primitive example of rare of gospel poverty.”

    Gospel poverty refers to complete self-divestment. Gospel poverty is daring to give up all in order to supply the needs of others. He relates Gospel poverty to the pursuit of perfection:

“Wouldst thou require what cannot be?

the thing impossible to me

Is possible with God:

I trust thy truth to make me just,

Th’ omnipotence of love I trust,

The virtue of thy blood.

“Ye shall be perfect” here below

He spoke it, and it must be so;

But first, he said, “Be poor;

Hunger, and thirst, repent and grieve,

In humble, meek obedience live,

And labour, and endure.

Thus, thus may I the prize pursue,

And thu’ appointed paths pass thro’

To perfect poverty:

Thus, let me, Lord, thyself attain,

And give thee up thine own again,

Forever lost in thee.”

    Where do Christians and the church begin with these radical ideas of Charles Wesley? We begin by examining how attached we are to worldly things and by considering of what we may divest ourselves for the sake of serving the poor and the marginalized. This can only be done only if we remember our need for gospel poverty and pray faithfully Wesley’s words:

O may I ever be?

The least in my own eyes,

Retain my poverty,

And labour for the prize!

        We are confronted with the words of Thomas a Kempis on our journey, and where we are we in following Jesus and radical grace:

“Jesus has many lovers of His heavenly kingdom, but few bearers of His cross. He has many seekers of consolation, but few of tribulation. He finds many companions at His feasting, but few at his fasting. All desire to rejoice in Him; Few are willing to endure everything for him. Many follow Jesus as far as the breaking of bread, but few to the drinking the cup of his passion. Many reverence his miracles, but few will follow the shame of His cross. Many love Jesus as long as no adversaries befall them. Many praise and bless him so long as they receive some consolation from Him. But if Jesus hides and leaves them but for a brief time, they begin to complain or become overly despondent in mind.”

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

415-305-2124

A Hard Kind of Prayer

June 18, 2021

A Hard Kind of Prayer

Gospel :

Mark 4:35-41With the coming of evening, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Let us cross over to the other side.’ And leaving the crowd behind they took him, just as he was, in the boat; and there were other boats with him. Then it began to blow a gale and the waves were breaking into the boat so that it was almost swamped. But he was in the stern, his head on the cushion, asleep. They woke him and said to him, ‘Master, do you not care? We are going down!’ And he woke up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Quiet now! Be calm!’ And the wind dropped, and all was calm again. Then he said to them, ‘Why are you so frightened? How is it that you have no faith?’ They were filled with awe and said to one another, ‘Who can this be? Even the wind and the sea obey him.’—————————————-“I love the line,“Lord, don’t you care?”because it is so typical of our reactions.Yes, there is a God, but what is he like?Yes, there is a God, but what is he like?Mark is trying to tell us, and like as not, we can’t hear.The sound of the inner wind is deafening us.
“Lord, don’t you care?”We may have to wait out the prayer,wait out the days or weeks,without coming to the quietudewe feel we ought to be able to have.
“Lord, don’t you care?”And that is all we have to offer.So wait there. Offer itDon’t thrash and gnash your teeth wanting to be other thanthe weak and self-interested little disciple in the boat.
The worst aspect of a nervous upheaval–guilt, anger, despair and whatever else is messing up the deeps of our personalities-is trying to counter desperation with desperation.“I have to be good.I have to be the opposite of what I feel:serene, accepting, and peaceful.I have to trust.”
Maybe the kind of trust the Lord is asking for is precisely my putting up with  the experience of knowing, that I am fiercely pulling at his jacket to wake him upand make him into the God I want to be able to please.
It’s a hard kind of prayer.But it acknowledges surrender to the ministrations of a sea I cannot understand.Sr. Miriam Pollard—————————-

    This week one person I encountered stands out. I will call him, Sam, sitting on the corner of Clay/Haight. Sam is around forty, clean-cut, sitting with his backpack, eating candy. He looked very sad.

    Sitting down with him, I simply listened. Sam shared of his wife overdosing on Fenoyal, and almost dying, and he was arrested for the possession of the drug, he talked of his young baby girl dying in an auto accident, and of trauma going back to his childhood.

    Sam talked of always failing, and believed he was a victim of his parents, the police, and society in general. He let trauma victimize him.

    Leaving I  handed him my business card and told him to call any time. Feeling totally drained and reflecting on our conversation thoughts of my own trauma came to mind.

    There has been trauma throughout my life, from being raised in a segregationist community to recently witnessing a young man kill himself, and at every turn, there has been support to lift me up and walk with me. Jesus has always been there.

    As I continued down the street talking and chatting with so many young women and guys whose lives are full of trauma am reminded of the quote:  “that the street transforms every ordinary day into a series of quick questions and every incorrect answer risks a beat down, shooting or pregnancy.”

    More and more as trauma becomes known affecting every one a quote comes to mind:

“When we become truly ourselves,

we just become a swinging door.

We are purely independent of

and at the same time, dependent upon everything. Shunryu Suzuki

        We are dependent upon each other, and in the words of Aesop, “No act o kindness, no matter, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

    Each of us is called to be compassionate and as Fr. Henri Nouwen describes

“Compassion is Being With”:

“Let us not underestimate how hard it is to be compassionate. Compassion is hard because it requires the inner disposition to go with others to the place where they are weak, vulnerable, lonely, and broken. But this is not our spontaneous response to suffering. What we desire most is to do away with suffering by fleeing from it or finding a quick cure for it. As busy, active, relevant people we want to earn our bread by making real contributions. This means first and foremost doing something to show that our presence makes a difference. And so we ignore our greatest gift, which is our ability to enter into solidarity with those who suffer. …

Those who can sit with their fellow brothers and sisters, not knowing what to say but knowing that they should be there, can bring new life into a dying heart. Those who are not afraid to hold a hand in gratitude, to shed tears of grief, and to let a sigh of distress arise straight from the heart can break through paralyzing boundaries and witness the birth of a new fellowship, the fellowship of the broken.

    The Divine is always present and will assist us in being lifted up, seeing our trauma as a result of circumstances, and assist in transforming our lives.

Whether we live in poverty, on the streets, middle class, or wealthy, we can come to terms with our trauma. We can live out the hard kind of prayer, in being the presence of the Divine in the fellowship of the broken! Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

—————-

Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, DMin.

PO Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

www. temenos.org

415-305-2124

A Hard Kind of Prayer

June 17, 2021

A Hard Kind of Prayer

Gospel :

Mark 4:35-41With the coming of evening, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Let us cross over to the other side.’ And leaving the crowd behind they took him, just as he was, in the boat; and there were other boats with him. Then it began to blow a gale and the waves were breaking into the boat so that it was almost swamped. But he was in the stern, his head on the cushion, asleep. They woke him and said to him, ‘Master, do you not care? We are going down!’ And he woke up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Quiet now! Be calm!’ And the wind dropped, and all was calm again. Then he said to them, ‘Why are you so frightened? How is it that you have no faith?’ They were filled with awe and said to one another, ‘Who can this be? Even the wind and the sea obey him.’—————————————-“I love the line,“Lord, don’t you care?”because it is so typical of our reactions.Yes, there is a God, but what is he like?Yes, there is a God, but what is he like?Mark is trying to tell us, and like as not, we can’t hear.The sound of the inner wind is deafening us.
“Lord, don’t you care?”We may have to wait out the prayer,wait out the days or weeks,without coming to the quietudewe feel we ought to be able to have.
“Lord, don’t you care?”And that is all we have to offer.So wait there. Offer itDon’t thrash and gnash your teeth wanting to be other thanthe weak and self-interested little disciple in the boat.
The worst aspect of a nervous upheaval–guilt, anger, despair and whatever else is messing up the deeps of our personalities-is trying to counter desperation with desperation.“I have to be good.I have to be the opposite of what I feel:serene, accepting, and peaceful.I have to trust.”
Maybe the kind of trust the Lord is asking for is precisely my putting up with  the experience of knowing, that I am fiercely pulling at his jacket to wake him upand make him into the God I want to be able to please.
It’s a hard kind of prayer.But it acknowledges surrender to the ministrations of a sea I cannot understand.Sr. Miriam Pollard—————————-June 17, 2021    This afternoon, my friend Edwin, 19, who lives in the K, the poorest section of Marin, where the majority of people of Mexican descent live, came in for a tattoo. Afterward, he took me out to dinner.    Edwin and I met when he was fifteen and I was recovering from surgery. During the months of recovery, he and his friends always were around, and through them, God healed my spirit. Jesus always pulls you out of the “depths” through those you never expect.    As we sat at dinner, he placed his arm over near mind, and commented: “River, I am as white as you are, no wonder I never thought of you as being one of those “white” people”  LOL. I have never seen him as anything but my friend, my bro, Edwin.Fr. Henri Nouwen says to us:“One of the greatest human spiritual tasks is to embrace all of humanity, allow your heart to be a marketplace of humanity, to allow your interior life to reflect the pains and the joys of people not only from Africa and Ireland and Russia and Cuba but also from people who lived in the fourteenth century and will live many centuries forward. Somehow, if you discover that your little life is a part of the journey of humanity and that you have the privilege to be part of that, your interior life shifts. You lose a lot of fear and something really happens to you. Enormous joy can come into your life. It can give you a strong sense of solidarity with the human race, with the human condition. It is good to be human.”    Today we remember the “Martyrs of “Mother Emanuel”, who in the early evening on June 17, 2015, while in prayer were murdered in Charleston, South Carolina.    I also remember  Dylan Roof the perpetrator, who himself was a victim of trauma, severe trauma of a culture of racism, and of a family, who ingrained him with that prejudice.     Trauma is a part of our lives, we either become its victim or we work to overcome that trauma, to see that by working through the trauma we can find joy.    This is why I do not believe in the death penalty, we must face the consequences of our actions, but those consequences can be of mercy, and in that mercy, we begin to face our demons and work through that trauma into a new life. Justice must come with mercy and compassion. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!————Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.P.O. Box 642656San Francisco, CA 94164http://www.temenos.org415-305-2124

Yearning for Perfection

June 15, 2021

Peniel

“Where Jacob Wrestled With God. “

Newsletter of Temenos Catholic Worker

July 2021

——————————–

Journal of An Alien Street Priest:

Yearning for Perfection

“You have heard it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.

But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; so that they may be children of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on the bad as well as the good, and sends down rain to fall on the upright and wicked alike. For if you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Do not even the tax collectors do as much? And if you save your greetings for your brothers and sisters, are you doing anything exceptional? Do not even the gentiles do as much? YOU MUST THEREFORE BE PERFECT, JUST AS YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER IS PERFECT?” Matthew 5: 43-48

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

    Jesus calls us to be “perfect, just as “your Heavenly Father is perfect,” and elsewhere tells us to aim for perfection, to practice until we reach perfection. Our goal is to “be perfect, and that goal is found in our love of our neighbor-it is a goal that we must practice, and practice each day, we never stop working at perfection, doing so in following the Great Commandment:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all that mind, strength and soul, and love  thy neighbor as thyself.”

    In reading the Gospel we can find three ways in which we can “work our salvation in fear and trembling,(Philippians 2:3):

    First, we can love without judgment. Meeting people where they are, not trying to change them, gives them the possibility of transformation; recognize that all of us suffer, we all have trauma in one form or another.

    Second, learn to listen. We live in a time when listening seems to have faded away–social media–texting, snap chatting, email-have replaced the gift of listening.      Listening, without judgment is a balm of the soul. When we can express our feelings to another without judgment, we encounter the Divine Presence.

    Listening allows us to release our tensions, and in talking we see all sides and find transformation.

    Thirdly:

“Compassion lies at the heart of our prayer for your fellow human beings. When I pray for the world, I become the world; when I pray for the endless needs of the millions, my soul expands and wants to embrace them all and bring them into the presence of God. But in the midst of that experience, I realize that compassion is not mine but God’s gift to me. I cannot embrace the world, but God can. I cannot pray, but God can pray for me. When God became as we are, that is, when God allowed all of us to enter his intimate life, it became possible for us to share in his infinite compassion.” Fr. Henri Nouwen

    God calls us to let our fellow travelers enter into our hearts, and in doing so we encounter the Divine. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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Fourth of July Barbecue in the Haight:

    Beginning at Noon, on the Fourth of July we will begin barbecuing veggie hot dogs, and veggie burgers, with a  side dish of baked beans at Stanyon and Haight. We will begin set up at 11:00 a.m.

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WE ARE BEGGARS:

   We provide pastoral care, food, socks, and other necessities on Polk Street, and the Haight and we come to you as beggars, please give as you feel lead:

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

The Tenderness of the Love of Jesus–His Sacred Heart!

June 14, 2021

The Tenderness of the Love of Jesus–His Sacred Heart

Hosea 11:1, 3-4, 8 c-9; John 19:31-37

“O Heart of Jesus, treasure of tenderness,

You Yourself are my happiness, my only hope.

You who knew how to charm my tender youth,

Stay near me till the last night.

Lord, to you alone I’ve given my life,

And all  my desires are well-known to you.

It’s in your ever-infinite goodness

That I want to lose myself, O Heart of Jesus!

Ah! I know well, all our righteousness

Is worthless in your sight.

To give value to my sacrifices,

I want to cast them into your Divine Heart.

You did not find your angels without blemish.

In the midst of lighting; you gave your law!.  .

I hide myself in your Sacred Heart, Jesus.

I do not fear, my virtue is You!. .

To be able to gaze on your glory,

I know we have to pass through fire.

So I, for my purgatory,

Choose your burning love, O heart of my God!

On leaving this life, my exiled soul

Would like to make an act of pure love,

And then, flying away to Heaven, it’s Homeland

Enter Straightaway into your Heart.”

(Therese of Lisieux)

———————————————-     Recently I had a rose tattooed on my neck, to remind me that Jesus, loves me, that he shed his blood for all of  our redemption, calling us to move out into new life, taking care of one another, bringing the Kingdom of God into being.

    As we move back into full function in society, all will seem on the surface as business as usual. Restaurants in full swing, the Opera and all the play houses coming back to function etc.

    The reality is that many, and I mean many are psychologically suffering, their lives for over a year have been under threat of an illness that is possibly fatal, secondly  they have basically been locked in their housing; there are more homeless, people who had jobs and housing a year ago,and no more; and there are few mental health services for the majority.

    Many, many, of us live on the “Borderlands”, walking in a wilderness of unknowing. When one sees death, and so much suffering, we find ourselves, on that  thin line–between life and death, that is the “borderland,s” that is where I find myself.

    I am not sure I am saying the right thing most of the time,  I cry a lot, I listen and listen with full intent, and wonder, is this helpful?And this I hear from so many people, they simply do not know what world they are in.

     A young  homeless 19 year old  guy, asked me late last night, “Does God really care?” “Does he care if I might be gay!” “Does he care I am homeless?”

    Hard questions to answer for someone suffering so. And they are hard to answer when religion is used as a weapon so much these days.

    And I answered yes, an absolute yes. I told him I trusted Jesus when I was on the streets; when two weeks ago I was taken to the hospital in Sacramento, delirious with fever, I trust him when people hate me, ignore me, say hateful things about me, and that that trust does not always get us what we always want, but ultimately God cares. I told him, “God cares in that I am listening, giving you food, a place to shower, some food, and a place to sleep for the night.” It is always “little by little.”

    The Sacred Heart of Jesus reminds us of God’s love for us  so much that Jesus suffered on the cross, spilling his blood, and continues to suffer, and will bring us to wholeness, God will never give up. His Sacred Heart call us  to care, to love, and to provide for others. 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

415-305-2124

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Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

Mahatma Gandhi

When the Rough Winds Blow God is the Windbreaker

June 13, 2021

When the Rough Winds Blow God is the Windbreaker!

“26. He also said, ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the land. 27. Night and day, while he sleeps, when he is awake, the seed is sprouting and growing; how, he does not know. 28. Of its own accord the land produces first the shoot, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29. And when the crop is ready, at once he starts to reap because the harvest has come.’ 30. He also said, ‘What can we say that the kingdom is like? What parable can we find for it? 31. It is like a mustard seed which, at the time of its sowing, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth. 32. Yet once it is sown it grows into the biggest shrub of them all and puts out big branches so that the birds of the air can shelter in its shade.’ 33. Using many parables like these, he spoke the word to them, so far as they were capable of understanding it. 34. He would not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything to his disciples when they were by themselves.”
Mark, 4 – Bíblia Católica Online
    Monday June 7, 2021

Mustard branches are gangly, and no bird of any size could make its nest in one. The nest would slide off, or the branch would break. Few would find much shade under the cover of a mustard branch. So either Jesus was an ignorant townie or else he was gently, lovingly teasing. The dream of Israel, Ezekiel tells us, was to become like a magnificent, towering Lebanon cedar, the greatest tree in the Middle East. But Jesus says that God’s promise of home was to be fulfilled in this tough weed, and was without any pretentions or glory.       Once it has been sown, the mustard bush is hard to get rid of. Barbara Reed remarks, “So too is the tenacious faith of those who seem to be of no account.”  Despite all efforts of opposition to get rid of it, the bush hangs on, as it will untill the Lord comes again and humanity finds its home in God.

    Through the years, one question  which has been asked of me,  “how much longer are you going to stay in San Francisco?” And the answer is when I came here, I took a vow to God, of “stability,” and I have been praised, condemned, and ignored through these years, but I stay. There are times I want to walk away, but I stay, and in staying like the mustard seed become tough, thorny, and unable to be sit on or walked on.

    I see that toughness in the one’s on the street.

    Haight Street is a street of wealth and tourism, but at the very bottom or the street kids. Each day one encounters the toughness of the mustard tree. One afternoon there  Sue who was drawing, and another individual spit and hit her, a cop standing nearby, told Sue to leave, she “was causing trouble,” an older man screamed at me and threw  his food in my face saying, “that’s not what I want,” I sat with one twenty two year old for several hours,  as he babbled about suicide, finally he he moved on to another suject, and than there was another trying to sell me his wisdom tooth.

June 8, 2021

    Today most of the day was spent in zoom meetings, and as I began the last one on Pride, my mind went to my young friend , throwing the term of pan-sexual around in his Texas town, and the response resulted in his suicide; and as I was walking into Walgreens, James, asked me for some canned beef stew. He is 50ish, on the street for as long as I have been here, dirty, haggard looking; his face went ino the a smile that shines  like the stars when I handed him three cans of beef stew.  All are mustard trees, who will stand strong  for eternity, and will hear the words of the Apostle Paul: “As surely as God is trustworthy, what we say to you is not both Yes and No. The Son of God Jesus Christ, who was proclaimed to you by us. .was never Yes and No; his nature is always Yes. For in him is found the Yes to all God’s promises and therefore it is through him that we answer Amen to give praise to God. It is God who gives us . .a sure place in Christ. (2:18-20).

The Rough Winds Blow But God Always is the Wind Breaker

June 9, 2021

     Today will be spent mostly in solitude, for in the words of Henri Nouwen: “in solitude, we come to know the Spirit who has already been given to us. The pains and struggles we encounter in our solitude thus become the way to hope, because our hope is not based on something that will happen after our sufferings are over, but on the real presence of God’s healing Spirit in the midst of these sufferings. The discipline of solitude allows us gradually to come in touch with the hopeful presence of God in our lives, and allows us to taste even now the beginnings of the joy and peace that belong to the new heaven and the new earth.”

    Each time I walk out of my door there is pain in the doorways surrounding me, physical and psychological pain; there is pain in my on life, but what I have found to ease my pain, and that of others is found in the prayer  of Caesar Chavez:

“Grant me the courage to serve others; for in service there is true life.”

    The Rough Winds Blow But God Always is the Wind Breaker

June 10

    “. .Now this Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us with our unveiled faces, like mirrors reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the image that we reflect in brighter and brighter glory; this is the working of the Lord who is Spirit.. 2 Corinthians 3:16-17

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    This past year of wearing masks and staying a has kept us isolated, very much alone, and out touch with others. In the hospital when I stood by someone breathing their lasts I always took my mask off, so they could see my face, and my expression of being present. Working on the street I very seldom wore a mask, but keeping separation six feet a part because wearing the mask prevented them seeing my reflection, my humor, sorrow, happiness, and seeing my face made people feel comfortable.

    Unmasking we can also show our anger and hate. This morning walking home from  the post office, wearing a “Black Lives Matter” teeshirt, a young guy carrying flowers in front of me began screaming “Take, that damn shirt off,” not wearing a mask I could  see his hate, and  anger, his eyes bristled, as I moved rapidly across the street. He moved on shouting racist remarks.

    In reflecting on my lack of fear, smiling with compassion, and moving away without saying a word, the words of Henri Nouwen came to mind:

In true solidude  three is an unlimited space for others because we are empty. In this poverty nobody stands over and against us, because our enemy is only our enemy as long as we have something to defend. But when we have nothing to hold on to or protect, when we have nothing we consider exclusively ours, than no body will threaten us.

Rather, in the center of our solitude we meet all men and women as brothers and sisters. In true solitude, we stand so naked and so vulnerable before God, and we become so totally aware of our dependency on God’s love –that not only our friend’s but also those who kill, lie, torture, rape, and wage wars become a part of our flesh and blood.

Yes, in true solidtude we are so totally empty and poor that we find our solidarity with brothers and sisters everywhere. Our hearts, full of God and empty of fear and anger, become a welcoming home for God and for our whole human family on earth.

    For once I hit a home run. Fr. Henri teaches us well, let us unveil our faces and find true freedom.

    Nouwen sums up the teaching of the mustard seed, we unveil our faces, and stand in poverty, and nothing will hurt us.

The Rough Winds Blow But God Always is the Wind Breaker

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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

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Book Review=Circling the Elephant

June 9, 2021

Circling the Elephant

A Comparative Theology of Religious Diversity

By

John Thatamanil

          Anantanand Rambachan, of St. Olaf University writes:

Circling the Elephant is a compelling case for Interreligous learning in our times, grounded in a convincing critique of religious traditions as impermeable historical fortresses. Theological openness to the wisdom of our neighbors’ traditions richly illustrated by stories of the creativity and transformation that flow from such deep human encounters. Thatamanil’s work is a new and valuable resource for comparative theology of all religious diversity, and constructive theology across traditions.”

          Religion has been used as a weapon through the centuries, and in the twentieth and twenty first centuries we have seen it used in the most destructive of ways.

          This book presents “religion” as a search for the Divine, and that all faith persuasion are ways of the expressions of that search.

          The criticism of this book is that it is written for professionals in the field of theology. Faith is found in the lives of people, and in their struggles, and this book simply is very academic, and frankly boring.

In the Upper Room

June 6, 2021

At Home in the Upper Room

Mark 12:38-44. In his teaching he said, ‘Beware of the scribes who like to walk about in long robes, to be greeted respectfully in the market squares, 39. to take the front seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets; 40. these are the men who devour the property of widows and for show offer long prayers. The more severe will be the sentence they receive.’ 41. He sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the treasury, and many of the rich put in a great deal. 42. A poor widow came and put in two small coins, the equivalent of a penny. 43. Then he called his disciples and said to them, ‘In truth I tell you, this poor widow has put more in than all who have contributed to the treasury; 44. for they have all put in money they could spare, but she in her poverty has put in everything she possessed, all she had to live on.’

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Mark, 14 :12-16, 22-26

On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was sacrificed, his disciples said to him, ‘Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?’ 13.So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the city and you will meet a man carrying a pitcher of water. Follow him, 14.and say to the owner of the house which he enters, “The Master says: Where is the room for me to eat the Passover with my disciples?” 15.He will show you a large upper room furnished with couches, all prepared. Make the preparations for us there.’ 16.The disciples set out and went to the city and found everything as he had told them, and prepared the Passover. / 22.And as they were eating he took bread, and when he had said the blessing he broke it and gave it to them. ‘Take it,’ he said, ‘this is my body.’ 23.Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he handed it to them, and all drank from it, 24.and he said to them, ‘This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, poured out for many. 25.In truth I tell you, I shall never drink wine anymore until the day I drink the new wine in the kingdom of God.’ 26.After the psalms had been sung they left for the Mount of Olives.

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    Schwenckfield was a man who expressed one of many fractions of the Reformation. He was friends with Martin Luther who turned on him.

      Our times are not much different than the times of Luther and the reformers. We fight brutally for what we believe, but we have social media to use and hide behind.

    One of the key themes of Casper,  by which he lived and was the heart of his faith was the element of love. Throughout his struggle, he lived out the Gospel of love.

    Casper did not believe in the Eucharist, because it was assumed you were taking
Christ into yourself, when in reality we should let the Spirit enter into our lives.

“I have left the shadows and externals of religion and found the true substance; Jesus
Christ Himself! Christ, the bread and wine. Christ, our supper. Christ, our high priest. Christ our baptism. Christ, the living Word of God. Christ’s suffering is our suffering, His death, our death; His burial our burial. His resurrection our resurrection. . . He is our life, our joy, our hope, and our future. He is everything.”

    In many ways not much changes, for example, the Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church are discussing the forbidding of the President from taking Holy Communion–over his position on abortion; Our churches continue to make their buildings museums, by not using them to be out on the streets. In the past year, homeless people surround us. Our church doors remain closed, while they sleep on the street.

    The “rose tattoo” above is one I recently received, it symbolizes the Christ crucified, Christ shedding his blood for our sins, and calling us back to serve those among us, as he would, with the same willingness to die. This is the essence of Casper’s teaching, living out our faith in love.

    We close with a prayer by Casper:

O, Lord, gracious Father, I do not desire what is yours, but You, Yourself, I crave and seek. You are not dearer to me when You give me much and when all is well with me, and not less dear when You give me little and when not all is well with me. It is right and just that you should give me as much as You will. You have the right and authority. You are the Lord;  I am but your poor worthless servant. You have the right and the power over me, but not I over you. Therefore I will ever be conscious of you and calm my heart in your goodness. I will neither be,  neither live nor die, know not, nor not know, have nor lack, only what you will, as much as you give me, for that will I wait daily, will adapt and prepare myself thereto, and I will love you equally well. Your will be done, O my God,  Father through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

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