Archive for the ‘religion’ Category

Taking Up the Cross

September 16, 2018

Taking up the Cross

“You have faith and I have action.” But how can you see your faith apart from your actions? Instead, I’ll show you my faith by putting it into practice in faithful action.” James 2:18-19

“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” Mark 8:27-35

James “Guadalupe”Carney, was a priest who worked in Honduras. His life was transformed from that of a middle class priest, to a person who embraced the life of the Hondurans, and as a chaplain to the revolutionaries died, being thrown out of an air  plane. He said: “To be a Christian is to be a revolutionary.” That is what Jesus tells us, to follow him we have to take up his cross and follow him. We have to take up his cross and put ourselves second. We have to become revolutionaries.

Fr. Carney gave his life in a radical way, but there are ways we can be just as radical in our society:

1: Saying “I am sorry.” To acknowledge that we make mistakes, even when we are not sure. We have been told it is the “new generation” that is not aware of others, but we have found this goes across all the boundaries. We have few people who  ever apologize to us, from the rich to the homeless, because people can not get outside of themselves to realize that others might be right. We are so afraid to admitting an error;

2: To live simply. It means living simply, consuming as little as possible, sharing what you have with others, and accepting their sharing with you, and thereby being freed from the constant struggle to accumulate things;

3: To move out of our tribes, to recognize each other as simply a human being on the journey.

4. To let go of our fears of losing everything to embracing giving to others. To buy a homeless person food, without questioning if he or she deserves it; to give a homeless person some clothes, to treat them as an equal; to hang out with youth, as one of them, let them be themselves, and walk with them; to sit in a nursing home with someone and simply not be in charge, but be one of them listening, and laughing.

To take up the cross means we trust in God, let go of ourselves, and be one with creation, and know that death is no more to us, for the Cross frees us from death, knowing we are in the hands of Christ. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P. O.Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



The Cross

September 15, 2018

The Cross

The Exaltation of the Cross

John 3:13-17

Today as I walked the streets I observed Jeremy picking up bottles, and then Nathan approached me for some food, both I have known for many years. Neither one has ever had a place to stay indoors, accept a motel here and then as they prostituted, and now as they have gotten older, they have the streets; I pass two older gentleman who for as long as I can remember have been on the street begging for money, and always drunk, never once have I seen them sober. Passing the shelter I saw Michael, whom I have known since I have been here, now in a wheel chair. On Haight Street I run into thirty five year old Eddie, whom I have known since he was fifteen, still hustling, still selling drugs; I talk to two families who are among the sixteen thousand people who are employed and can not afford housing, living in their cars,   tents, sleeping bags and makeshift camps are every where. It is as if we are living in the days of The Grapes of Wrath, in a City of great wealth.

People walk by, as if they are in a daze, not seeing people, talking, and laughing. Many of us live in fear that we may be next, that we too may be living on the streets, and so we walk by. We seek relationships on social media that leave us void, and feel so sanitized.

The cross stands before us as a sign of that our meaning can only come from embracing the way of suffering and acknowledge that there are always questions and that we find our purpose in struggling with those questions, and there are no black and white answers. 

Moving away from hoarding, to sharing,moving away from being afraid of our own futures, and living in the present, we find life

There is a Mayan Bodhisattva which calls us to live
The way of joyful participation in the way of the world.” That is the call of the Cross.

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



Message of the Day
It is only inasmuch as you see someone else as he or she really is here and now, and not as they are in your memory or desire or in your imagination or projection, that you can truly love them.
– Anthony de Mello

(Try to see people and things as they are, not as you are.)

Peniel–September Newsletter of Temenos Catholic Worker

September 7, 2018


As we move into September we will soon see the leaves of trees begin to turn to beautiful colors (at least in some parts of the country), and the weather will be getting chillier (at least in some parts of the country), Autumn will arrive. We are moving towards winter, and in that movement we celebrate, and we have joy with our friends and loved ones. And than Winter arrives, all is dead around us.

That is the way our lives are as we move through the seasons of change, from infancy, to old age. This is the way people who are homeless and have very little to live, they move through their lives invisible, and become even more so as they get older.  And this time of  year is a good time to think about the Autumn of our lives, our hopes, and our fears.  This time of year is a good time to reflect upon our actions that we give people as they age, and to those who are invisible as we pass them on the street, the homeless.

Polk Street is filled late at night by young people. They are partying, having fun, the only older people around individuals who are homeless, whose lives are broken, and have been beaten down with years on the street. Some of them are young, but already old. They are gaunt, many with out teeth, dirty, and keep their eyes down to the street, and are ignored. They are invisible as are people who are over thirty five.

People who live on the street, who have nothing, are symbolic of all of us,  as we get older, and become invisible.  We become unseen.  We have heard it said many a time by young college men, “You are too old to be out here once you hit thirty,” and in many ways that is true. We witness young men who live a life of partying, having fun, and than as they move into their thirties their lives seem to be over with.  This is especially true of young gay men. 

The same is true of all of us as we move into our older years, we become invisible.  Our street youth in the Haight experience that invisibility in their teens, because they are homeless.  People become invisible when they do not fit into the expectations and the usefulness of society. People rarely look back at homeless individuals, as they rarely look back at older people.

In South Africa, the people greet one another on the road by saying, “Sawubona.” It means “I see you.” The answer in reply is “Here I am.” In other words, you are not invisible. You are someone. You are God’s beloved child, whatever race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation you may be.

We need to look at others and also ourselves in this way. We must not be passively invisible.  We need to help each other know what this invisibility means as we age, and as we move among people who are homeless, and are different from us by race, creed, and sexual orientation. We need to have faith that each of us has a purpose, everyday, until God calls us into his Kingdom at last. Teilhard de Chardin calls this Kingdom “communion,” and he prays that it is truly a great holy communion:

“You are the  irresistible and vivifying force, O Lord, and because yours is the energy, because, of the two of us,  you are infinitely the stronger, it is on you that falls the part of consuming me in the union that weld us together. Vouchsafe, therefore, something more precious still than the grace for which all the faithful pray. It is not enough that I should die while communicating. Teach me to treat death as an act of communion.”

Last month I was called to the hospital when nineteen year old Jason overdosed, and he had died by the time I arrived.  Standing over his body, the thought that went through my mind, was that “Jason you are finally at rest.” I reached out for his hand, barely cool. Poured some water  from a drinking glass on my hand and blessed him on his forehead, with the sign of the cross. I rested in the silence of him entering into the invisible world, the great communion.

As we enter into our Fall routines let us remember the “invisible” people around us, let us remember the aged, the homeless, the disable, the people of color and other religions, and let us recognize them by saying in our own way, “Sawubona”, (“I see you.”) and in so doing recognize them as God’s beloved children, and remember that homelessness, will not end until each of us does our part. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


Weekly Meals:

We continue to have at least one meal a week through the help of our interns, Cale and Aaron. The days very because of their schedule. The meal involves packing it in “Chinese Take Home Boxes”, and than serving them to the Haight. It is heavy work, and takes at least four hours, because  of the preparation and spending time with people. If interested please give us a call. People asked if they can fix a meal, pack it, and meet us in the Haight. We are certified by the City to cook meals, and it has to be done in a kitchen that is certified as well.


We Are Beggars:

Our finances are very low. We are in need of socks, we are in need of money for food, and so we beg, for your support. We continue to minister to 500 plus young people a month through our pastoral care, socks, food, and needle exchange. And so as you reflect during these  days we pray you will remember us. Please give:

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Pay Pal at

Our web site has been changed to a new server it is much easier to go directly to Pay Pal and give directly through your Pay Pal account. We have discovered that you can also give through Pay Pal by using your phone.  You have to go into the website of Pay Pal and set it up.


Death Penalty Protest:

Each Wednesday at Noon we gather at McAllister and Polk in from of the Earl Warren Office Building to protest the death penalty. We remember those who are victims, and those who committed the crimes, and pray that our State will no longer live in a culture of death. We have not heard one word mentioned during the political campaigns about the death penalty and so let us write our candidates, and our elected officials and urge them to over turn the death penalty.

There is a story told of two warriors who would have a battle, and when the battle was over would put down their weapons, greet each other with a kiss, and say, “Till tomorrow,” so let us remember to do the same with our differences, give a good fight, but end in peace and reconciliation. 

How Quickly Things Change!

September 4, 2018


lUKE 4:16-30


I studied Liberation Theology in seminary which has shaped my life. I learned that we should live simply, give our abundance away, and live one day at a time; in my denomination I was taught about pensions, and salaries, etc, and basically letting others fend for themselves. From the streets I learned that we can either fight for ourselves or we can share and help others. From Dorothy Day I learned to live simply, live with the marginalized, and trust in God to take care of the rest. We must look at our money, we must look at how Jesus calls us to live.  And that brings me to thinking of what has been on mind for along time, “How Quickly Things Change!”

On Palm Sunday Jesus was praised, and on Good Friday crucified. In his home town he was vilified.

A year ago I had the world by the tail, plenty of money, praise, and adoration, my new doctorate, but than came the fevers, and the accident, and the opposition; Now I have little money, on the verge of bankruptcy personally, no volunteers, few friends.  I am told I am “difficult”, “immature”, and now that the priest controversy has started again,  other names are being hurled at me on the street, by email, and by face book, simply because I am a priest and one who works with youth.

And what I see is that this is the precarious nature of the mission of Christ–it is precarious, there are no guarantees for from the beginning he lived with the threat of death. I learned along time ago that feeding the hungry, being a pastor to murderers and youth on the streets leads others to rage, real rage. And that rage leads to violence.

The Gospel of Christ should make us uncomfortable–disrupting the complacency of our lives, shattering old ideas, disquieting our stubborn points of view. It should not drive us to a hillside rage, but should lead us to place where we want to change. It should stir a desire for on going conversion and to stand before God not in defiance but in humility and hope, yearning to remake our lives.

And as for me I hear the words of Paul:”I believe the present suffering is nothing compared to the coming glory that is going to be revealed to us. . .We know that God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called to his purpose”………………………………….

and give thanks for the life I have been given, the people I walk with, the friends I have, and infinitely thankful for my call and ordination as a priest–as one who is “a keeper of the mysteries.”

I remember in my first student parish and older Disciples of Christ pastor in a nursing home in a wheel chair, who told me, “I am always a pastor, I pastor these old codgers here,” he passed away holding a communion wafer, as he was giving it to someone,  he made me uncomfortable because I saw in him myself, and now I know whatever comes, I am always a pastor and priest, in season and out of season.

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Peniel August

August 22, 2018

Cale and Anthony


“Where Jacob Wrestled With God”
Newsletter of Temenos Catholic Worker
P.O. Box 642656
San Francisco, CA 94164
Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min., D.S.T.
Journal of An Alien Street Street
Jesus told his disciples that he was the bread of life, and that in order to be one with him they must eat this bread, and in doing so their lives would be transformed and they would become as he is: “The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life”(John 6:63).
The people who first heard  them spoken  were not concerned with an encounter with God, they were hoping for  more of the bread that Jesus had served them the day before when they were hungry.
When Jesus spoke these words he was teaching them to “gnaw” their way through his example to the same divine Spirit that gave him life, to take it and make it their own.
We who follow Jesus are   called to conform our lives to Christ. Like those first crowds it is easy to pursue Jesus for reasons that have nothing to do with divine love–power, greed, status, knowledge, and a sense of righteousness. None of these are true bread. Instead we are called to be like the one who places himself each day as a simple piece of bread into the hands of countless others.
There is a quote by Marian Wright Edelman, where she reminds us that”So often we think we have got to make a difference and be a big dog. Let us just try to be little flees biting. Enough flees biting strategically can make a big dog very uncomfortable.” That is what it means to be a piece of bread in the Spirit of Jesus, to be one of the “little flees” which makes the dog of injustice uncomfortable.
Cale and Anthony in our photo above are “little flees” who are feeding individuals in Golden Gate Park, who struggle each day for food. They are giving them physical food, but also the spiritual food of their presence and care. The encounter between them is God’s Spirit showing love and care.
We are the “little flees” who each day give out food, socks, clean needles, and condoms. but we are also the “little flees” who are providing a listening ear, prayer, and the Sacraments.
Each of us can be “little flees”, we can write letters to our government officials, we can protest, and call our government officials to open their eyes to the needs of people who have no housing or food; we can each day feed a person we meet on the street, and spend time talking to them, we can volunteer for agencies that work with undocumented immigrants, we can join vigils against the death penalty, to name one of the many ways we can be “little flees”, who are conforming their lives to Jesus.
Let each of us each day become a simple piece of bread which feeds countless others who come our way. Dio Gratius, Thanks be to God!
Vigil Against the Death Penalty
On Wednesday, September 5, at Noon, we will begin our weekly Vigil Against the Death Penalty on the street outside of the Earl Warren Supreme Court Building.
Pope Francis tells us that “Capitol punishment is cruel, inhumane, and an offense to the dignity of life. There is no crime in the world that deserves the death penalty.” In a world where life is cheap, money is king, to oppose and eliminate the death penalty sends a message that we value life, and that each life is worth saving, and each person is worth being given a chance to find redemption and forgiveness. Come join us in our witness for life!
We Are Beggars!
Our injury, and the subsequent long recovery period have been difficult. Our finances are very low, and we need money for socks, food, and the costs of running a program. Two percent of our budget goes to overhead costs, the other 98% go for direct service to people on the streets.
So please open your hearts as we beg, and we are begging, please reach into your pockets and become a “little flee”:
Write a check and send to:
Temenos Catholic Worker
P.O. Box 642656
San Francisco, CA 94164
 or to pay pal on


Love Your Neighbor

August 21, 2018

Most of us are most drawn to people most like us. But the Scriptures give us quite a different and higher vision.

The Hebrew Bible in one verse commands, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” but in no fewer than 36 places commands us to “love the stranger.”, last Friday night a car with three young men of Mexican back ground were stopped at a Jack in the Box, for appearing to be “different”. Those boys were searched, check out, and heard racial comments.  This is not an isolated event, across the Bay area this happens countless times every day. Each day homeless people of color find themselves put in second place at meals, and always the first one’s on the street to be questioned.Racism is heavily present. We all need to look at ourselves and see our own racism, for it is there, it is ever present.

Jesus makes loving our neighbor the supreme goal of  following him. Loving our neighbor does not mean liking a person, but of seeing each person as a human being who must be cared for..Dorothy Day said that “love is a harsh and dreadful thing,” for loving others means to move out of our own tribes and seeing people not with labels, of homeless, black, red, white, but as simply as a human being on the journey and to walk with them on an equal basis sharing of what we have.

Change comes from our own individual acts.  Let us follow the One who called us to love one another, to give up for one another, so that all may know love and care. Deo Gratius! Thanks be to God!

Dr. River Damien Sims, sfw

Cooking with the Forgotten Ones

August 19, 2018

Cooking With the Fallen One’s

“Wisdom built her house;

she has slaughtered her animals,

mixed her wine,

and set her table.

She sends out her female servants;

she issues an invitation

from the top of the city heights:

“Whoever is naive turn aside here,

she says to those who lack sense.

“Come eat my food,

and drink the wine I have mixed.

Abandon your simplistic ways and live;

walk in the way of understanding.” Proverbs 9:1-6

“Jesus said to the crowds: I am the living bread that came down from heaven; who ever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I give is my flesh for the life of the world.”


There was a movie about a young boy who was deformed in a way that he learned to walk upside down.  He found the world to be unique, fun, and its creatures wonderful beyond compare. Finally his physicians were able to fix his handicap and he walked as every one else. The world became dirty, people became mean, and filled with people doing what was expected of them.

Our Scriptures today call  us to see the world from an upside down position and to live a life of being upside down,  lives of radical simplicity, love, and appreciation for life.

Our  dissertation  written last year, Cooking With the Forgotten One’s, presents our view seeing  ministry  as not a “job”, but as way of life, lived twenty four hours a day, on the same level of all people. This comes from our experience on the street, but it began with the ministers and priests who have shaped our life. We are hearing a lot about the “rotten apples” in the ministry these days, but we hear so little about the majority who are hard working men and women, who give and have given  their lives to the service of God.

We now  remember a few of those ministers who have turned our life “upside down” , who have shaped our ministry into one that is “Cooking with the Forgotten One’s,” and who through their witness have taught us that life is a journey, one that is tough, but one that is fun. 

Our three childhood and adolescent ministers, Rev. David Richardson, Rev. Claude Stone, Rev. Bill Shamberger, all three from different theological perspectives, but  were the same in being a pastor, walking with us as an equal, sharing our pain, and working with us in moving toward ministry; we have  the Fathers’ Philip and Daniel Berrigan,  Fr. Louie Vitalie, Bishop Oscar Romero, Presbyterian Rev. Ed Loring,  whose lives reflect “living outside the box” in their ministries of social justice; Rev. Frank Tucker, Dr. John Doggett, and Rev. Jack Montgomery, Jr. our three District Superintendents,  who saw us as a “rebel” and worked with us through our ordination process; Rev. Dana Corsello, the priest who believed in our ministry and supported us in working out of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, and has been  our pastor these past eight by years, and who wrote in her parting gift of a Bible to us a summation of ministry and life:

“Life is short.

We do not have too much time to gladden the hearts

of those who travel the way with us.

So be swift to love.

Make haste to be kind.

And the peace of God–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit–will bless you and be with you always. Amen.”

Dana’s words are a reflection of those of  Dr. E.W. Bartley , our first District Superintendent, written last year on his hundredth birthday, a few days before his passing:

“Life is not to be neat, tidy, well put together,

but an adventure to be lived wildly,

so that when  we slide into home base we are 

saying, “What a ride, what a ride!

Dorthy Day once said that “Institutions are dirty and rotten,” and the institutional Church, (all of its denominations and varieties) are  “dirty and rotten”, because they are made up of  broken human creatures,  but through her comes those who show the light, the love, and the care of the living God. There are far many more of these  than we acknowledge and give credit for. Let us walk upside down, and see more of the positive in life than the negative.

Let us live our lives in such away that when we slide  into the  home base of the  Great Communion of Saints,  we can say “What a ride, what a ride!” Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



August 13, 2018

I have hanging  a beautiful piece of art painted by a lady who admires our work. It is of a painting of a bleeding heart, with the words “counselor” and the phrase, “Love endures,” written across.

I am reminded it now, as many of us weather a season of loss, life transitions, and letting go. This season is difficult, painful, and one in which we wonder if there is any hope and if we can make it. Life is changing, and it is scary. The print reminds me of the communion of saints, in which we all share the timeless mystery of God’s love for each of us.

These are times which call us to go deeply into that communion of energy in prayer, loving servce, and a contemplation.

St. Tikhon of Zadonsk in the seventeenth century said:

“No longer should our brothers and sisters be seen wandering the roads and in the squares, starving and trembling with the cold, under the icy north wind, naked members of the Body of Christ. .There ought to be beggars and destitute persons no longer. All should be equal.”

Change and care come from a one on one approach to personally caring for others, and moves out like ripples in water to a larger ocean. We are joined together in the Mystery of Love and Life.

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



August 11, 2018

As the sun leaves, rippling layers of fog

along the ridge, begin to join us, will come
right down to the blanket’s edge, there
throughout the night, watching us breathe.
Settled, then suggests no need
to authenticate by reference to anything
other than itself—the poem, its words.
Summer leaves
carry present
Take note of the pause
holding the courtyard, and the chill
that drafts the window, rounds bared feet
and ankles, draws attention to bamboo leaves’
gentle affirmation.


Meditations from the slow lane

Stereotyping and Bullying

August 4, 2018


Stereotypes and Bullying

“F-E-A-R has two meanings:

Forget everything And Run


Face Everything and Rise

The choice is yours”

There is a story of a man in Northern Missouri who bullied people in a small town for many years. He could be charming, and when a person would not give him what he wanted he would use stereotypes such as calling him “old” “lazy”,  “faggot”,  “nigra”, and so on, and run the person down until he gave in, and than walk away ashamed, he shamed him through stereotypes and used stereotypes as a means of separating himself from the person and not see the person   as a human being.

He would hit people or threaten them.He would cut them off  half-way in a conversation when the person disagreed with him and ultimately reject the person.

One  day in broad daylight, in the middle of the street, he was murdered, and to this day no one has ever been arrested.

One young United Methodist minister, new to the town was the only clergy who would have his funeral and  minister to the family, the rest were afraid. From that experience that young minister learned two things.

First to withhold judgment, to treat every one equally, for it is God’s place to judge, and to serve the living;

Secondly to never tolerate bullies.

“F-E-A-R has two meanings:

Forget everything And Run


Face Everything and Rise

The choice is yours”

Bullying comes in many forms. Withdrawing support when one  does not get one’s way; being unwilling to listen, simply to shut the person down, unless one gets one’s  way;  negative gossip; stereotyping: labeling a person old, a faggot, a nigra, a dim wit, a dumb ass, and so on. It comes in always  having to have  the last word, regardless of whether we are right or wrong, in controlling relationships, and the living habits of people, it come in not letting people be who they are.

We  deal with that person, and the bullying  by facing our own fears, our  own need for their approval, our own loneliness and neediness, and rising and simply saying “No”, and then walk away saying good bye. If a person continues to come than we fight, and we fight hard,win or lose.  If they threaten to walk away–we say “goodbye”. We never tolerate being put down, or threatened again. Loneliness ends when we learn to love ourselves, and loving one’s self starts by standing up for one’s self, and than move into loving others.

We can love the person with all of our heart,but when they hurt us, knowing they hurt us, it is time to let go, and say good bye,  and when through the grace of Jesus Christ they change, we can talk and enter into a new relationship, but we also must know that the chances are few and far between for those changes to occur , so we move on, kicking the dust off our feet, into a new life.

Dr. River Damien Sims

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164