Archive for October, 2021

Clarification

October 30, 2021

It is funny, I am getting notes congratulating me on my retirement. LOL!  I have not quit working, not doing my ministry. What I meant was that twenty seven years ago I stepped out of the traditional means of working, and have been lucky to do this ministry. Retirement means having the ability to look within one’s self, knowing God and moving out to serve God. This ministry is so fulfilling. I stepped off the road of traditional employment and let God lead me in doing my way, which I pray is his way as well. river+_
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November Newsletter Temenos Catholic Worker, Day of Dead

October 29, 2021

Peniel

Newsletter of Temenos Catholic Worker

November 2021

All Saints and Day of Dead Remembrance

Celebrating the Lives of Homeless Youth and Adults on Polk and Haight Street

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Journal of An Alien Street Priest:

Wisdom 3:1-9

“3 The souls of those who do what is right are in God’s hand. They won’t feel the pain of torment. To those who don’t know any better, it seems as if they have died. Their departure from this life was considered their misfortune. Their leaving us seemed to be their destruction, but in reality they are at peace. It may look to others as if they have been punished, but they have the hope of living forever. They were disciplined a little, but they will be rewarded with abundant good things, because God tested them and found that they deserve to be with him. He tested them like gold in the furnace; he accepted them like an entirely burned offering. Then, when the time comes for judgment, the godly will burst forth and run about like fiery sparks among dry straw. The godly will judge nations and hold power over peoples, even as the Lord will rule over them forever. Those who trust in the Lord will know the truth. Those who are faithful will always be with him in love. Favor and mercy belong to the holy ones. God watches over God’s chosen ones.”

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    Growing up I remember Halloween Parties at church, the costumes I wore, and trick a treating all around town bringing home a lot of candy.

    In the churches I served, we had a Halloween Party, with all sorts of games and refreshments; a number of years ago in Sebastpal my friend Sam and I walked around town, tricker dressed in costumes. Halloween was always fun.

    Ghosts more seriously are our way of dealing with the unknown, and away in which we see them as alive. They exist in a place of mystery for us. And what else exists in all that mystery? Why have we always imagined monsters, angels, and humans, and animals with supernatural powers?     Halloween may not provide any real information about such mysteries, but it tells us a lot about ourselves.

We sense that some connections exist, even past death. There have been several recent deaths on the Haight and the guys have a story about their connection to their friends.

    As a Christian, I share this is not mysterious because we believe in the communion of saints. We believe the soul is eternal and is ultimately in God’s care. We believe they are still present with us, though not in body. All of us–those alive and those dead–are held in the bonds of grace and the power of the Holy Spirit. The communion of saints includes all my friends,  all the kids I have known love, and have died.

      We take evil seriously. As Christians, we believe that there is intelligent evil in the universe, and it seeks to seek to harm all of creation. In each death of violence on the Haight and Polk, I see the worst of evil. I believe all of our horror stories point to our desire to see that evil is conquered and its power eliminated. We want to live, evil wants us to die. We want to forgive and live in harmony, and evil wants war and strife and vengeance. In away our Halloween costumes and cartoons are forms of mocking evil. We believe that Jesus Christ has power over all other power and that the last word will be love. Our awareness of death is a sign of the awareness of life.

We suspect that locations carry something of the people and activities that have existed in themThere is a reason certain places are called holy. Throughout history we have recognized places that invite Divine Presence–and others fight it. We also recognize that where violence and great wrong have been done these places do not feel free and light and hopeful.

    I know of places on Polk, and Haight Street, where people have been murdered, beaten up. There are places where I have been beaten and stabbed.

    We know there are ways to clear the spaces in which we live and work. We bless our homes, we pray over places that need healing.

    On Tuesday, November 2, at noon we will gather on the edge of Golden Gate Park where several stabbings and three shootings have occurred this year, and people have died, and bless the area and cast holy water all around. We display symbols of hope and compassion and share stories of our friends.

    On November 2, I encourage you to allow Halloween to spark some meditation on the communion of saints, the realities of evil and grace, and the atmosphere you create right where you live. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

A Service of Remembering Those Who Have Died in the Year 2021

Noon, Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Golden Gate Park, at Stanyan and Haight

Come, Name, and Remember Your Friends and Loved Ones!

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  Death Club

Death is a topic we do not talk about, we hide from it, and in talking about death, letting it become our friend we can live our lives more fully.

I would like to host a Zoom coffee hour reflecting on death. If you are interested please email me at punkpriest1@gmail.com.

——————————-Fr. River Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.Servant Bishop of the Society of Franciscan Workers, Inc.P.O. Box 642656San Francisco, CA 94164http://www.temenos.org415-305-2124Snap chat: riodamien2

A Long Retirement!

October 29, 2021

A Long Retirement!

This morning I drove to Northridge Mall to meet Matt at BJ’s for lunch; and returned to the Haight, where I talked to people and put posters around for the Day of the Dead Service on Tuesday. I arrived home around 7, and prayed the Liturgy of the Hours, and read for a couple of hours. Received a snap chat from a fourteen-year-old who simply wanted to chat.

    Tomorrow my day is planned to do office work, and spend several hours reading, followed by hanging on Polk. At least that is the plan. I have always allowed my life to be fluid, to be available to people when they call and need someone to be with.

    Connie Zwetzg writes that “being retired is the call to go within one’s self”, in order to know one’s self and to move outward in service.

    On a June evening in 1994, I attended a meeting in which Frank Cordova, a Catholic Worker from Des Moines, Iowa, shared with a group of people the experience of living as a Catholic Worker. Around me were men in their late fifties, all talking about doing service when they retired. I thought to myself, “I am not going to wait another thirty years to do what I want to do.”

    The Holy Spirit used that meeting and the struggle of the days to come, to push me into “retiring” and in October move to San Francisco, and Temenos Catholic Worker began.

    So when individuals ask, “When are you going to retire?” The answer is I  retired 27 years ago, a long retirement, a very meaningful retirement. Working with guys on the street, praying with them, sitting with them in the joys of living and at death, is a joy for in so doing I know God.

    Hanging out with Anthony in the photo, listening, caring, and being with him and others in the lows and up’s of life is fulfilling. Taking time for prayer, and looking within myself, brings a relationship to God, that drives me outward.

    I retired early, in order to “go within myself”, and to know Jesus, and to serve him more fully. Even in the worst of times, I thank God for my retirement. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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A Service of Remembering Those Who Have Died in the Year 2021

Noon, Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Golden Gate Park, at Stanyan and Haight

Come, Name, and Remember Your Friends and Loved Ones!

——————————-Fr. River Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.Servant Bishop of the Society of Franciscan Workers, Inc.P.O. Box 642656San Francisco, CA 94164http://www.temenos.org415-305-2124Snap chat: riodamien2

Judgment Diminishes Our Humanity

October 26, 2021

Judgment Diminishes Our Humanity!

“Jesus said, “What is God’s Kingdom like? What shall we compare it with? It’s like a mustard seed that someone took and placed in his garden. It grew, and became a tree, and the birds of the sky made nests in its branches.” Luke 13:18-19 (The Kingdom New Testament, A Contemporary Translation. N.T.Wright).

    We hear so much anger and judgment today. The internet, the newspaper, and our lives are full of it.

    I hear it from the different groups of people I mix with. I get blasted from all sides for my ministry, and for the way, I live my life. And I want to blast back, and when I do, my humanity is diminished.

    I was called to the hospital one night, a number of years ago, to give the final rites. As I approached the bed it was the man who had murdered my son. And as a priest, there was no exception to what my calling compelled me to do. As I prayed over him and anointed, he looked into my eyes with so much fear, so much pain, and in those moments, forgiveness came, and judgment ceased.

    Recently a good friend told me: “You and your beliefs differ from that of everyone I know.”  In essence, what my friend was saying is that all of us differ. Look at all the Christian denominations.

    So I withhold judgment, it is kept within myself, and I listen and respect their beliefs and opinions, and when I judge, my humanity is diminished. This is my journey, one that I struggle with every moment of the day. And the words of Fr. Henri Nouwen ride with me and each of us on this journey:

The Burden of Judgment

“Imagine having no need at all to judge anybody. Imagine having no desire to decide whether someone is a good or bad person. Imagine being completely free from the feeling that you have to make up your mind about the morality of someone’s behavior. Imagine that you could say: “I am judging no one!”
Imagine — wouldn’t that be true inner freedom? . . . But we can only let go of the heavy burden of judging others when we don’t mind carrying the light burden of being judged!
Can we free ourselves from the need to judge others? Yes, by claiming for ourselves the truth that we are the Beloved Daughters and Sons of God. As long as we continue to live as if we are what we do, what we have, and what other people think about us, we will remain filled with judgments, opinions, evaluations, and condemnations. We will remain addicted to the need to put people and things in their “right” place. To the degree that we embrace the truth that our identity is not rooted in our success, power, or popularity, we can let go of our need to judge. “Do not judge and you will not be judged; because the judgments you give are the judgments you will get” (Matthew 7:1).
Henri J. M. Nouwen

Fr. River Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.Servant Bishop of the Society of Franciscan Workers, Inc.P.O. Box 642656San Francisco, CA 94164http://www.temenos.org415-305-2124Snap chat: riodamien2

A Service of Remembering Those Who Have Died in the Year 2021

Noon, Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Golden Gate Park, at Stanyan and Haight

Come, Name, and Remember Your Friends and Loved Ones!

Mercy Bone Deep!

October 26, 2021

Mercy Bone Tired!

Luke 13:10-17

        Tonight as I settled down, with candles burning, and looking at the painting of the gang member above I saw myself as the crippled woman in the passage above. I was bent over not from a physical ailment but from choosing to hear God’s voice or the voices around me.

    In the past four months, I was physically bent over from an assault, and both examples run together. They run in the same stream.

    As the scene materialize in my prayer, I glanced up during my attempts to stand erect on my own, and when I did, I caught Jesus looking at me. His loving, kind, compassionate eyes so familiar to me at this point on my faith journey noticed me–and saw me fully. As our eyes locked, he said to me, “River you are  set free from your infirmity.” Hearing those words, something in me shifted.

    As has happened time after time through the years I realized the healing power of Jesus. And I felt the mercy of God in a bone-deep, sort of way.

    I see as clear as day that mercy is living without labels, we are simply human beings on the same journey; mercy is forgiveness, and forgiveness must come within ourselves; and mercy calls us to feed the hungry, house the homeless, visit people in prison, bury the dead, and clothe the naked.

    My continued prayer is that mercy fills my bones more and more every day. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God.!

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Fr. River Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.Servant Bishop of the Society of Franciscan Workers, Inc.P.O. Box 642656San Francisco, CA 94164http://www.temenos.org415-305-2124Snap chat: riodamien2

A Service of Remembering Those Who Have Died in the Year 2021

Noon, Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Golden Gate Park, at Stanyan and Haight

Come, Name, and Remember Your Friends and Loved Ones!

Giving in Friendship

October 25, 2021
Giving in Friendship

    Last night sitting outside an  Italian restaurant down the street, it was getting ready to rain, and  I watched the cars pass,  reminding me of Puerto Vallario when Matt and I went visiting a couple of years ago, and the cars drove continually up and down the street, and I remember the poorest of the poor out begging there, and now  around me tonight people were begging, more and more all the time; one, Jim, whom I haven’t seen in a while walked over smiling, we talked, he was going to buy some food from money earned selling the  “Street Sheet,” he patted me on the shoulder and moved on.

    Today,  Jamie, approached me at my door, telling me of his recent life events–in and out of jail, being hit by a car, and now he is planning to get his life together, and making money, honestly–the same story he has been telling for twenty years.     Through individuals like these guys the one lesson learned is that we can fix part of a person, but not all will be fixed. The same in myself, and in all of us. There is always good to be found.

    Last night eating dinner outside, a person at a near table, observed the vaccination card around my neck; he came over and tried to start an argument about vaccination, he is “anti-vax” proudly labeling himself. And as I always do I said, “Yes, I respect your position” and I thought to myself  with an “and, ” I feel the vaccination is necessary for me.” There are no judgments made.

    “When we can no longer change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” Viktor Frankl.

    Finally, I was giving food and socks to people later,  and an individual started screaming because I did not have what she needed. I listened, and she calmed down.     Someone asked me “How can you tolerate being screamed at.” We are all created with a full range of emotions, there is nothing to fear. We need to allow people to express their emotions.

    Learning to find joy in the ordinary is a key to having a satisfying life. And one of the keys to joy is finding we are friends with everyone, whether they are friends to us. Fr. Henri Nouwen summarizes friendship:
“When we truly love God and share in his glory, our relationships lose their compulsive character. We reach out to people not just to receive their affirmations but also to allow them to participate in the love we have come to know through Jesus. Thus true friendship becomes an expression of a greater love.
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Fr. River Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.
P.O. Box 642656
San Francisco, CA 94164
http://www.temenos.org
415-305-2124
Snap chat: riodamien2

A Service of Remembering Those Who Have Died in the Year 2021

Noon, Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Golden Gate Park, at Stanyan and Haight

Come, Name, and Remember Your Friends and Loved Ones!

Inside and Out

October 24, 2021

Inside and Out!

“So the then,” they  said, “who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”

Jesus  called a child and stood her in the middle of them.’

“I’m telling you the truth.  ” he said, “Unless you turn inside and out and become like children, you will never, ever, get into the Kingdom of heaven. So if any of you make yourselves humble like this child, you will be great in the kingdom of heaven. And if anyone welcomes one such child in my name, they welcome me.” Matthew 18:1-5 (The Kingdom New Testament: A Contemporary Translation” N.T. Wright).

    There was a time a colleague threw in my face the comment, “You are just a child,” angrily. It hurt because I did not meet this person’s expectations.

    And as that comment has come back repeatedly to me in pain, it has evolved into a compliment of the highest form, bringing feelings of joy, after joy.

    Jesus tells us to become like children, and Dr. Jerome Berryman gives an excellent summary of our journey of faith when he says:

 “Becoming Real: A Theology of Childhood,” summarizes the task of becoming human, saying “We are summoned from another realm to become like children playing in the flow of God’s creative power, flowing in the River of God.”

    When we become like children, we see everyone as our brother and sister.  I remember growing up I never noticed any differences in my black friends until it was thrown in my face, they were “Lesser than white,” and someone who was gay was “going to hell.” Adulthood is destructive.

    Becoming like a child we enter into the “flow of God’s creative power, flowing into the infinite River of God.” Our lives are changed into the words of Paul in I Corinthians 13:4:

     Love’s great-hearted; love is kind,

Knows no jealously, makes no fuss,

Doesn’t force its rightful claim,

Doesn’t rage like a bear or grudge,…

    We can be an adult and stop being vulnerable or we can remember the words of Reverend Eugene Peterson, and become like a child and see “Every Act of Love as a Risk of Self,” may we take that risk and change the world around us. We are turned from the inside to our outward caring side. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

Servant Bishop of the Society of Franciscan Workers, Inc.
P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

Snapchat: riodamien2

A Service of Remembrance of the Souls Who Have Died in 2021

All Soul’s Day

November 2, 2021

Haight And Stanyon

Edge of Golden Gate Park

12 Noon

(Please contact me if you are coming)

Measuring Our Lives by Productivity

October 21, 2021

Measuring Our Lives By Productivity Is A Killer!

    Around 3:AM on Tuesday night, my phone rang, and Jimmy was at the door requesting some socks and food.

   In reality, he simply wanted someone to listen to him. And so for the next hour, I listened. Jimmy is 50 and has lived on the streets, in and out of jail for thirty-one years.

    Alan Watts tells us to, “Stop measuring your days by degrees of productivity and start experiencing them by degrees of presence.”

    Listening, being present in the moment, without judgment, is the greatest gift we can give each other.

    To place our expectations on others is a “killer”, we find ourselves failing every time, but to listen is life-giving, for the person finds acceptance and love, and we find reciprocation in care as well.

    Each of our lives is a journey, we each have to find our way. We make choices that can not be fixed easily or not at all, and we become tired, want to give up, but when we can sit for an hour with a listener, who can simply be present, it revives us, keeps us going in the face of difficult circumstances.

    Mother Janet Erskine Stuart once commented:

“Your life is a sacred journey. It is about change, growth, discovery, movement, and transformation. It is continuously expanding your vision of what is possible, stretching your soul, teaching you to see clearly and deeply, helping you to listen to your intuition.”

    In listening, we allow others to follow their path, and we journey with them for a moment our shared path. 

    Change and transformation can not often be measured, and so in listening, we are planting seeds of care, and compassion– those seeds will blossom, and we may not know it, but they blossom and come to flower in the lives of those we listen to.     People who have listened to me, former pastors and teachers, had no idea where I would be going, but they listened, and hopefully, I am coming into full blossom.

    Productivity leads to our own sense of failure, when others do not meet our expectations, and leads to the failure of others when they can not meet our goals for them. Productivity is a killer.

    It is not so much what we say or do that makes changes in others, but who we are.

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

Servant Bishop of the Society of Franciscan Workers, Inc.
P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

Snapchat: riodamien2

A Service of Remembrance of the Souls Who Have Died in 2021

All Soul’s Day

November 2, 2021

Haight And Stanyon

Edge of Golden Gate Park

12 Noon

(Please contact me if you are coming)

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Hanging on the Haight!

October 17, 2021

nging on the Haight!



    This week our daily readings will be from the book of Luke, and as I walked down the Haight yesterday evening his stories of the Prodigal Son, and many others, emphasizing the care for the homeless, and the disadvantage became a living reality.
    Come with me on a brief journey of the Haight, the Haight of the streets.     We first encounter two guys panhandling, and in chatting they were sharing of heading to Florida for the winter, and now they simply needed something to eat, had not eaten all day, so we gave them a couple of sandwiches, water, socks, and some underwear we happen to be carrying; Next, we encounter, Sophia(not her real name) on the side of Haight and Clay, with a couple of male friends. Sophia is skinny as a rail, her face full of wrinkles, aged before her time, being on the street twenty years plus. She wanted socks, candy, clean needles, and some of my time to talk.
    We progressed further down the street, talking to one after another, until we came to Jamie (not his real name) in our photo, on the corner of Haight and Masonic. He had all of his belongings scattered around, sitting silently making necklaces and bracelets. The material is colored rocks he found in the Sierra Mountains, and aluminum wire. We talked and I gave him $20.00 to make a necklace for a gift, food, socks, and we sat for an hour talking as he made the necklace.
    The one thing learned in these years is to care, one must offer one’s own vulnerable self to others, as a source of healing.    Only when we live in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are homeless, and all people and speak out of common experiences can we help others to discover the freedom of our humanity, through or common provision of each one’s needs.
    Father Henri Nouwen sums up the story of Luke, and of the Gospel, and our call:
“The poor we see every day, the stories about deportation, torture, and murder we hear every day, and the undernourished children we touch every day, reveal to us the suffering Christ has hidden within us. When we allow this image of the suffering Christ within us to grow to its full maturity, then ministry to the poor and oppressed becomes a real possibility; because then we can indeed hear, see, and touch him within us as well as among us. . . . Once we have seen the suffering Christ within us, we will see him wherever we see people in pain. Once we have seen the suffering Christ among us, we will recognize him in our innermost self. Thus we come to experience that the first commandment, to love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, resembles indeed the second: “You must love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39–40).”

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

Servant Bishop of the Society of Franciscan Workers, Inc.
P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

Snapchat: riodamien2

A Service of Remembrance of the Souls Who Have Died in 2021

All Soul’s Day

November 2, 2021

Haight And Stanyon

Edge of Golden Gate Park

12 Noon

(Please contact me if you are coming)

The Call of the Child

October 16, 2021

A Reflection on A Call of the Child

Cultivating Peace in a Climate of Conflict

by Bruce McKibben

Romans 4:1-8; Luke.12:1-7

St. Teresa of Avila

    This book is a jewel. At first glance, we see the language of a conservative, and as we read we see a diamond reflecting in the sun.

    The heart of this book is not arriving as a peacemaker, but to return to our childlike qualities to be wrapped in the love, coming from the heart of God our Father/our Mother, and become peacemakers. It is a revelation that reaches deep into our own hearts and changes us to be more like our loving God.

    Indeed, the conflicts in our personal lives, as well as the conflicts on regional, national, or world scales, are our conflicts, and only by claiming responsibility for them can we move beyond them–choosing a life of forgiveness, peace, and love. This is the Call of the Child.

    Yesterday afternoon as I wandered the Haight, one young guy commented, “We are fewer now because this is the Great Shift, many are going to the East Coast, and others are coming West.” 

    These guys are not interested in social services, or even a roof over their heads, they are “nomads,” traveling the country. They are round holes that do not fit the square pegs of our social service system.

    As I wandered the street it hit me if was asked to summarize my ministry, it is simple: “To LISTEN, and I mean listen, to give food, socks and whatever I can, and to love, each one, as a brother or sister, even when it is painful.”

    Recently on a church sign, a message was printed, “Worship Times 10:00 a.m, 11:15 a.m. Be Vaccinated, and BE SAFE,”   (L0L), it is not our call to be safe, but to be out in the messiness of the world, and giving our lives away.

    The words of St. Teresa of Avila, thrown from her horse while crossing a river, soaked to her skin, “If this is how you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few of them, tells us to feel Jesus saying to each one of us:

“Be unafraid to know yourself  Be fearless in your inward search. God’s care for you never wavers. No threat can silence God’s whispered call to you. No shadowy valley you walk through can extinguish the light that leads you to salvation. Hypocrites cannot damn you because God has deemed you precious. You count. So take courage.  Come clean. Tell God who never changes, everything you know about yourself, and more will be revealed. : You will be countered among my disciples, one of my beloved friends.”

    St. Teresa calls us to be a child of God, and in that childhood we are peacemakers, and in that peace, the hungry are fed, the naked are clothed, the homeless are housed, healthcare provided to all, and peace reigns. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

Servant Bishop of the Society of Franciscan Workers, Inc.
P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

Snapchat: riodamien2

A Service of Remembrance of the Souls Who Have Died in 2021

All Soul’s Day

November 2, 2021

Haight And Stanyon

Edge of Golden Gate Park

12 Noon

(Please contact me if you are coming)