Archive for July, 2022

Peniel, Newsletter of Temenos Catholic Worker, August 2022

July 29, 2022
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Peniel

“Where Jacob Wrestles With God”

Newsletter of Temenos Catholic Workier

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

www. temenos.org

Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, Director

415-305-2124

When We Have Nothing to Lose
“When we feel lonely we have such a need to be liked and loved that we are hypersensitive to the many signals in our environment and easily become hostile toward anyone whom we perceive as rejecting us. But once we have found the center of our life in our own heart and have accepted our aloneness not as a fate but as a vocation, we are able to offer freedom to others. Once we have given up our desire to be fully fulfilled, we can offer emptiness to others. Once we have become poor, we can be a good host. It is indeed the paradox of hospitality that poverty makes a good host. Poverty is the inner disposition that allows us to take away our defenses and convert our enemies into friends. We can only perceive the stranger as an enemy as long as we have something to defend. But when we say, “Please enter—my house is your house, my joy is your joy, my sadness is your sadness, and my life is your life,” we have nothing to defend, since we have nothing to lose but all to give.”  Fr. Henri Nouen
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Journal of An Alien Street Priest:

From the southern culture of my childhood we referred to the “dog days” of August. The weather is so hot, the dogs sleep in the shade during the day.  Other than in the “summer winter” of San Francisco, the temperature in August is sizzling. I will go the LA or Sacramento for three or four days in order to enjoy simply sitting in the heat during the day reading, napping, and when the sun sets go out on the town in the coolness of the night. Fun days!

These are also days of reflection, waiting for the coolness to come. This year in the midst of all of the shootings, and divisions across our country, the phrase of my childhood, used often by Senator Edward Kennedy that of doing all things for the sake of “the common good.”

The “common good” is echoed in the words of Jesus, from the book of John: “This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” He had said previously: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your mind, soul and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.”

We are called to be interdependent on one another, not divisive. And so in our work through Temenos we seek that interdependence. Personally, I seek to meet people in the middle without judgment. When we do that, we can find common ground. None of us can have our way. Personally, I can care less about political beliefs, whether you are vaccinated or not, your color, religious persuasion, etc. What I care about is our common humanity.

We welcome the “Stranger”! “Makayla” is a lady who suffers

from mental illness and has been on the streets for years. She has two dogs that are always with her. To most people she is just the “crazy woman,” she is a stranger; to us our friend. I have received birthday and Christmas gift from her for over twenty years. “Makayla” is really a wonderful lady. To see that we must enter into her world. We must see the “common good” and offer hospitality.

The early Christians believed that the second coming of Christ was imminent: that any moment Christ could and would manifest himself in the guise of the stranger. Christians always set a room aside for the stranger, a person in need of shelter.

From these early Christians, the practice of hospitality developed, where one sees Christ in all, and walks with them, providing for their needs.

  • Through our ministry, we practice hospitality. From “Jim” sleeping in the bus stop across the street on Polk to “Makayla” in the Haight, we give the hospitality of our time, a listening ear, clean socks, food, and harm reduction.

Our mission is simply to practice the “common good” of all. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Book Study: You Are Loved! By Fr. Henri Nouwen

Join us in studying Henri’s book beginning August 1!

We will do a review of each chapter online and on Facebook

and throughout the week write about the theme, inviting others

to join in the discussion; If anyone would like we can have

a zoom discussion once a week as well, contact Fr. River.

Please feel free to call if you need a listening ear! 24/7!

We are beggars!

Checks: Please make payable to Temenos Catholic Worker

And

Pay Pal and you may give on www.temenos.org

. . .

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In Service We Encounter God!

July 27, 2022

IN Service We Encounter God!

“For the grace of God, bringing salvation to all people.(Titus 2:11).

My journey has been one of seeking salvation. I was raised in a conservative environment and taught the only way to heaven was through Jesus, repenting my sins. I experienced baptism as a Baptist, Methodist, Roman Catholic, and Episcopal through this journey.

I was given books to read on the sins of masturbation, having sex outside marriage, drinking alcohol, smoking pot, and cussing, among other things. These were sins keeping one from God. Therefore, since I could not refrain from sinning, my life was overwhelmed by guilt.

I have been told you have to pray a certain way, like using the Lord’s Prayer in a Eucharist Service or believing in certain ways to be a part of a community.

Through the years of facing death, and horrors on the street, my faith and journey are  summed up in the following quotes: Mark 12:28-34:

“. . .Hear Lord O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. And you shall love the Lord thy God with all your heart, mind and strength and your neighbor as yourself. .”

and in the words of Fr. Henri Nouwen:

Radical servanthood does not make sense unless we introduce a new level of understanding and see it as the way to encounter God. To be humble and persecuted cannot be desired unless we can find God in humility and persecution. When we begin to see God, the source of all our comfort and consolation, in the center of servanthood, compassion becomes much more than doing good for unfortunate people. Radical servanthood, as the encounter with the compassionate God, takes us beyond the distinctions between wealth and poverty, success and failure, fortune and bad luck. Radical servanthood is not an enterprise in which we try to surround ourselves with as much misery as possible, but a joyful way of life in which our eyes are opened to the vision of the true God who chose to be revealed in servanthood.
The poor are called blessed not because poverty is good, but because theirs is the kingdom of heaven; the mourners are called blessed not because mourning is good, but because they shall be comforted.

Here we are touching on the profound spiritual truth that service is an expression of the search for God and not just of the desire to bring about individual or social change.”

This has been my journey!

John Milton once said, “They also serve who only stand and wait.” This past year I have done a lot of standing and waiting, and have found God in prayer, and talking to people.

We all can serve in our own way!

———-

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

God Stays With Us!

July 23, 2022

God Stays With Us!

Luke 11:1-13

The Message

Ask for What You Need

11 One day he was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said, “Master, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.”

2-4 So he said, “When you pray, say,

Father,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.”

5-6 Then he said, “Imagine what would happen if you went to a friend in the middle of the night and said, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread. An old friend traveling through just showed up, and I don’t have a thing on hand.’

“The friend answers from his bed, ‘Don’t bother me. The door’s locked; my children are all down for the night; I can’t get up to give you anything.’

“But let me tell you, even if he won’t get up because he’s a friend, if you stand your ground, knocking and waking all the neighbors, he’ll finally get up and get you whatever you need.

“Here’s what I’m saying:

Ask and you’ll get;
Seek and you’ll find;
Knock and the door will open.

10-13 “Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This is not a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your little boy asks for a serving of fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? If your little girl asks for an egg, do you trick her with a spider? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing—you’re at least decent to your own children. And don’t you think the Father who conceived you in love will give the Holy Spirit when you ask him?

Yesterday afternoon on Haight I ran into Reddick, who is 11,  (not his real name) and was in a group of homeless people. And as I handed out different items, he asked:  “None of this has been dosed has it?” (LOL), meaning injected with LSD, mushrooms, or another drug. I smiled and said, “No,” and I shared the time I was “dosed” and had to go to the hospital.

His mom, whom I have known for several years, asked me to take him for something to eat since he had not eaten all day. We crossed the street to have pizza and shared our “war stories”. He had had many, and in looking back to when I was eleven, thought “you are old,” for my childhood was playing games. Reddick’s mom was born, raised, and prefers to live on the streets. “Flower Girl,” sees herself as a “gypsy”, moving from place to place, living outside.

Continuing down the street, sitting alone, was an older man, as I handed him a pair of socks and food, he rose up and pushed me against a car, hitting me in the chest several times. I simply pushed him back and in the words of Jesus, “shaking the dust off my feet”.

It has been suggested by friends it is time for me to remove myself from “A violent environment with violent people.” And the question I raise, is “Where might that be?”  My shoulder was broken by a wealthy person in Marin. He always carries a huge stick for his “protection”, saying it was an accident. I have been threatened by more people who are housed, than unhoused.  There is violence in all areas of the City. No one is safe from violence. I have more true friends who are the poorest of the poor than otherwise.

There is a quote from the series Bluebloods” that carries meaning for me “Down these mean streets a man must go who himself is not mean, tarnished or afraid.”

The streets have given me three gifts: learning to live in the moment, and secondly, seeing success in caring for each person I come in contact with.

I really do not know if our earth, let alone our civilization will survive this century. Considering the ignoring of climate change, the divisions of people, and the continuing growth of poverty there is reason to wonder.  But what is important to me is not if our world will survive or not but if we can continue to live with hope, and trust in the promise of God to stay with us at all times. He is the God of the living.  Jesus has overcome evil and death and his love and compassion are stronger than any form of death or destruction. That is why I feel that we should continually avoid the temptation of fear, and despair and deepen our awareness that God is present in the midst of the chaos that surrounds us and that presence allows us to live in joy. How do I know: Simply because that trust has saved my ass, many times, and is my ultimate hope and joy!

—-

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

punkpriest1@gmail.com

Looking Death In the Eye!

July 21, 2022

“Looking Death in the Eye!”

“Death has been swallowed up in victory.

Where. O death is now thy sting?..

But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”( I Corinthians 15:57-58).

For the past three years, I have looked death in the face often, but no more so than when sitting at Club Trinidad in Palm Springs, on my birthday in 2021, talking on snap chat to a fifteen-year-old in Texas.

Skip (not his name) blew his head off. I see the blood spattering all over the computer screen in my dreams from time to time.

I have realized that accepting death is not making a mountain out of a molehill. Death is real, it will come, calling us to walk with others, helping them to find hope in the midst of the chaos around us. Life is preparation for death, fear of death keeps us from living.

Paradise is not a place, but participation in our inheritance of the resurrection, it is here and now, and we are to make every moment count.

Through the past year and two months, I have learned that choosing joy in the midst of chaos gives us hope. I have learned the meaning of life is to  rejoice in the words of Jesus when he tells us: “I am the resurrection of life.” Let us rejoice in the resurrection.

Choosing joy in all things leads to a tenderness which leads to a transformation. Tenderness leads to loving with more vulnerability.

In trying each day, and it is hard as hell, to keep my mind where my body is, I can find joy at the moment, and be more tender.

It seems the closer I come to death, the closer I come to the poor and broken people on the street, and see that same brokenness in everyone. I find it my desire to be present to people, and the less I feel impelled to deal with the burning issues of our day.

My new tattoo, the butterfly, above is symbolic of the resurrection, and of a renewed commitment to keeping my eyes on the prize until the day death brings me into the presence of Jesus and I hear the words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant”. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

————————

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

415-305-2124

temenos.org

—————————

“God wants you to see things differently. He wants you to see all that you are capable of doing, being, and becoming. With this new sense of yourself, he wants you to live differently” (Matthew Kelley).

Walking Into Joy and Tenderness!

July 18, 2022

Walking Into Joy and Tenderness!

in the new light of

each day’s questions,

I am never prepared.

Today again I have nothing,

to offer but a handful

of old prayers worn down

by the relentless abrasion

of doubt, and a fragment

of dream that plays on in my head

only half-remembered. Still,

the doves coo and circle

through the pines

as they do when I pass

each morning. Their sorrow

is so nearly human, it rings

sweet with regret. By dusk,

the trees will bow down, and I too, will

make my appeal, will find

again your mercy,

your solace.

(Elizabeth Drescher)

A student participated in outreach with me Thursday night and talked of studies he had read on how to end homelessness. Looking around to see tents, and people on the street now for nearly twenty-seven years, I listened, and we walked on.

in the new light of

each day’s questions,

I am never prepared.

Today again I have nothing,

to offer but a handful

of old prayers worn down

by the relentless abrasion

of doubt, and a fragment

of dream that plays on in my head

only half-remembered. Still,

the doves coo and circle

through the pines

as they do when I pass

each morning. Their sorrow

is so nearly human, it rings

sweet with regret. By dusk,

the trees will bow down, and I too, will

make my appeal, will find

again your mercy,

your solace.

(Elizabeth Drescher)

Friday afternoon in the Haight there was a stabbing, and as I held the young man in my arms while waiting for an ambulance, my arms and clothes were bloodied. A nurse walked out of the examining room and guided me to a shower,  gave me some scrubs, and told me to shower, handing me disinfectant soap, for the young man had monkeypox.

in the new light of

each day’s questions,

I am never prepared.

Today again I have nothing,

to offer but a handful

of old prayers worn down

by the relentless abrasion

of doubt, and a fragment

of dream that plays on in my head

only half-remembered. Still,

the doves coo and circle

through the pines

as they do when I pass

each morning. Their sorrow

is so nearly human, it rings

sweet with regret. By dusk,

the trees will bow down, and I too, will

make my appeal, will find

again your mercy,

your solace.

(Elizabeth Drescher)

In the last four years, as I have struggled through the injury of a shoulder, my hip, a stabbing, and the coronavirus, I have learned to let go, and find joy in all situations.  To begin to enter the mystery of life.

Entering the mystery we are no longer afraid of pain, but embrace it, and in doing so become tender with others. Tenderness is revealed in the understanding of presence within the midst of annoyance, and to see every person as simply our brothers and sisters.

Tenderness is letting people enter into our hearts, being vulnerable, knowing full well we will be broken, but like the Velveteen Rabbit was told, “Now you shall be Real to everyone.” Tenderness is enduring love that sustains anything, offering no judgment, simply care. Tenderness is letting go of the false god of success and finding joy in serving others.

Tenderness is knowing Paradise is not a particular place, but a participation in the here and now for Jesus is the Resurrection in our midst.  Tenderness is not about saving people but redefining lives into one another. Simply loving people.

Choosing joy leads us into a life of transformation, into a life of service in tenderness. Letting go of the fear of death, and living in the moment, allows us to choose joy.

Find joy in the here and now, find joy in being tender to others! What a gift!

in the new light of

each day’s questions,

I am never prepared.

Today again I have nothing,

to offer but a handful

of old prayers worn down

by the relentless abrasion

of doubt, and a fragment

of dream that plays on in my head

only half-remembered. Still,

the doves coo and circle

through the pines

as they do when I pass

each morning. Their sorrow

is so nearly human, it rings

sweet with regret. By dusk,

the trees will bow down, and I too, will

make my appeal, will find

again your mercy,

your solace.

(Elizabeth Drescher)

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

Review Of Monastic Disciplines

July 14, 2022

.

A Review and Reflection on Monastic Disciplines

by

Sam Hamstra, Jr. and Samuel Cocar

Hamstra and Cocar in 145-pages review the disciplines of the desert fathers and hammer on the reality of the failure of the institutional Church. The institutional Church has become a shell, steeped in secularism.

They present the basics of the desert fathers as found in the early Church, which kept their faith blazing.

The Little Office: Giving, Prayer, and Fasting, the core Triad of Practice:  summarizing Matthew 6:1-16, introduced by Jesus as a regular role of the Christian life.,

+”So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men and women.”

The first practice is giving. We should give as much as we can, and live simply. The authors suggest tithing, giving 10 percent of our income to the poor, and the disenfranchised: “it functions as an act of faith in God’s promise of provision; a tutor for personal, planned, and proportionate giving (I Corinthians 16:2); and a weapon for victory over materialism.”

Henri Nouwen describes in more depth our journey of giving:

“We who want to bring about change have first of all to learn to be changed by those whom we want to help. This, of course, is exceptionally difficult for those who are undergoing their first exposure to an area of distress. They see poor houses, hungry people, and dirty streets; they hear people cry in pain without medical care, they smell unwashed bodies, and in general, are overwhelmed by the misery that is all around them. But none of us will be able to really give if he has not discovered that what he gives is only a small thing compared to what we have received. When Jesus says: “Happy the poor, the hungry, and the weeping” (Luke 6:21), we have to be able to see that happiness. When Jesus says: “What you did to the least of my brothers, you did to me” (Matthew 25:40), he is addressing to us a direct invitation not only to help but also to discover the beauty of God in those who are to be helped. As long as we see only distasteful poverty, we are not really entitled to give. When, however, we find people who have truly devoted themselves to work in the slums and the ghettos and who feel that their vocation is to be of service there, we find that they have discovered that in the smiles of the children, the hospitality of the people; the expressions they use, the stories they tell, the wisdom they show, the goods they share; there is hidden so much richness and beauty, so much affection and human warmth, that the work they are doing is only a small return for what they have already received.”

+”When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men and women.”(v. 2.)

Prayer, the second triad, is broadly considered communication with God-communication understood “as meaningful, interactive self-disclosure.” We talk to God daily, we pour out our hearts.

Prayer is more than just asking God for our needs. I spend my life having people ask me everything. It gets absolutely tiring to the point of taking three days off a month, and two weeks a year totally alone, with the phone off. God created us to praise, and simply be in his/her presence. (Psalm 63).

Prayer is at the center of Christian spirituality, whatever strand of Christian tradition one enters. Evagrius, spokesperson of the Orthodox tradition: If you are a theologian, you will pray truly. And if you pray truly you are a theologian.”

We all struggle with the practice of prayer. Prayer is a powerful force. But pray, until the sweat from your brow pours out the presence of God.

The final practice of the core triad is fasting:

+”Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloom face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men and women when they are fasting.” (v. 16)

Richard Foster argues the most important text in the Bible for establishing the importance of fasting is Matthew 9:14-15:

“Then the disciples of John came to him saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast but your disciples do not fast.. And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.” signifying that when Jesus is gone his disciples will fast.

Fasting is an exclamation point at the end of the sentence: “We miss you! We want you! We can’t wait until you come back!” When we fast we are witnessing the exclaiming, “Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!”

We can fast in various ways: sitting down with someone on the street and giving of our time; working in an agency; fasting a day a week, and giving our money to a homeless person. There are many ways.

This is a revolutionary vision, for as the Gospels show, Jesus did not closely identify with people from the elaborate metropolitan centers that housed the political, military, economic, and religious elite. He more closely identified with the working poor who built and sustained those centers and the often destitute people from backwater villages.

Starvation, indebtedness, imprisonment,

exploitation and violence were crushing realities that marked life for those who lived under Roman occupation in first-century Palestine (Sound familiar).

It was in these boundaries that the revolutionary vision of Jesus, God’s Reigh found its gravitational center.

Today Jesus continues to understand the dehumanization of people through homelessness, lack of health care and struggles simply for daily living. He understands the yearning for water, bread, shelter, land, safety, and justice. It moved and moves him deeply because liberation from the yoke of oppression is always to be at the center of God’s Reign.

The “Little Office”, brings us into line with Jesus so that we may become his hands, feet, and mouth!

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

——–

Fr. C. 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 All Weird!

July 9, 2022

We Are All Weird!

“I will not let the flames consume you!  Hosea 11:9”

Yesterday afternoon sitting in a restaurant on Van Ness, an unhoused gentleman was lying on the corner, halfway out into the street, and I thought he might be ill. He was lying there and angry when told I would call 911 feeling he was in danger. As he moved on a lady passing by yelled, “You are weird to help someone like that.”

Boise Herrington wrote:

Many of us have tried to tone down our weirdness for friends, partners, and business associates only to later learn that we were suppressing the best things about ourselves. There’s no joy like the joy of being your strange self and finding that there are people who love you for it.”

All my life I have sought to fit in, to be the “homie”, the straight-arrow pastor, and in failing, to be depressed. Coming out in my  “weirdness” has been a liberating experience. And in being who I am, Brendon Brown’s definition of grace has become real:

“Grace means that all of your mistakes now serve a purpose instead of being afraid and ashamed.”

Three fellow monks came seeking instruction from St. Sistoes, a desert monk. One said: “Father, what shall I do to avoid hell fire. . .Sistoes answered: “I confess that these are  subjects of which I never think about, and as I know that God is merciful, I trust He will  have compassion on me.”

We are all flawed, we are all weird. In our day, nothing has changed from day one of creation: we are loved, we are chosen, and in this wild freedom of divine mercy lies the mystery of our healing.

In the wildness of God, as illustrated in the Wild Goose, we find the commonality of her love and meeting each other in the middle, we find a way to agree and disagree in peace. 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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