A New Vision of Maturity

September 21, 2020

A New Vision of Maturity

Feast of St. Matthew

John 21:1-8

Matthew 9:9-12

    A quote spoken by Ursula Le Guru summarizes my vision of maturity: 

“I believe that maturity is not an outgrowing, but a growing up: that an adult is not a dead child but a child who survives.”

    That speaks loads to me because I have survived, rejection, abuse, threats, and attempts on my life, a broken shoulder, malaria, and much more. I survived because like a child I  have flexibility, openness, and an ability to have compassion, even when it is painful.

    On this feast of St. Matthew his story reminds us of one who gave up everything for Jesus, and paying back all the money he had taken from others, the characteristic of a child, not caring for the material.

    I remember, another Matthew, my friend, who at 15 would be given a hundred dollars by his mom every time he came into the City to hang with me–he gave it away to the people on the street, and at 30 he still does the same. Matthew is a child, he cares for others.

    The youth we have known and hang with survive day by day because they are children who are flexible. not set in their ways. They can see the good in the worst of circumstances, they adjust and have an open heart. They always have hope.

    Many people have come and gone, and have spoiken words to me,  I listen, and am deaf to their advice, which would help me grow up–growing up in the rigid manner of society, but I  would not have survived if I had not remained a “child”.

    Recently I  spent  four hours snap chatting a nineteen-year-old in an abusive relationship, not with advice but listening, letting him enter into my life, and me in his, I was a child with another child, not an adult who had no time and only “advice.” I felt his pain, cried with him.

    A child has the qualities of openness, listening, caring, not being divisive, and trusting, all characteristics that we all need. A  child plays and is open with everyone, not taking sides. A child sees both sides of an issue. Children do- not judge. Children can be mean and vicious, and I have scars to prove it, but ultimately, they can be reasoned with. We all are mean and vicious at times , none of us are pure.

    Maturity is loving our neighbor as we love ourselves, maturity is being open to others, not divisive, listening, and caring. Maturity is being responsible in our actions.

    St. Ignatius teaches us to be “indifferent”, to not take sides, to not take things so seriously,  to not be pushed to and fro, to care only about the love that comes through Jesus of  Nazareth in caring for our brothers and sisters.  He was a child until the day he died.

    Father Henri Nouwen describes maturity and as the shadows darken \around my life they  ring true in these words:

“I find myself with the same old struggles every time I am in a new and unfamiliar milieu. In particular, the experience of isolation keeps returning, not in a lessening but in an increasing degree. Becoming older makes the experience of isolation much more familiar–may be simply because of sheer repetition–but not less painful.

So maybe the question is not how to cope better, but how to allow my unchanging character to become a way of humility and surrender to God. As I recognize my fears of being left alone and my desire for a sense of belonging, I may gradually give up my attempts to fill my loneliness and be ready to recongize with my heart that God is Immanuel-“God with us”, and that I belong to him before anything or anyone else.

And so a new vision of maturity may emerge: not a vision in which I am more and more able to deal with my own pains, but one in which I am more willing to let my Lord deal with them.  After all, maturation in a spiritual sense is a growing willingness to stretch out my arms, to have a belt put around me, and be led where I would rather not go. (John 21:18″

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


Father River Damien, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



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In Our Flawed Democracy, Voting is a Renewable Resource

September 19, 2020

In Our Flawed Democracy, Voting Is a Renewable Resource

By Adam Russell Taylor

September18, 2020


“With less than 50 days until the last day to vote in this election, we are entering into the final sprint of what feels like the most consequential election certainly in my lifetime. Sojourners has long warned of the danger of narrow, single-issue voting, advocating instead that Christians should vote all of their values across a broad range of issues. But as Rev. Jim Wallis argued so well last week, we believe that racism is the central religious issue in the upcoming election. Of course, even referring to racism as “an issue” feels inappropriate because the pernicious and pervasive impacts of racism collide with every issue at stake in this election. That is why, between now and the final day of voting on Nov. 3, we will examine in greater depth a range of key issues through the lens of race. We hope and pray that this motivates you to vote up and down the ballot — from local school board races to district attorneys to congressional candidates and, of course, president of the United States.

While applying our faith and biblical principles to political choices can be both messy and challenging, what should unite us as Christians is who we prioritize when we enter the voting booth. From God’s requirement to “act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8), to Jesus’ overriding ethic to care for those in need and to liberate the oppressed (Matthew 25 and Luke 4), the gospel is crystal clear that our first order priority as Christians is to protect and uplift people in the most vulnerable circumstances and most marginal places. This standard applies to how we live and to how we participate in public life, including how we vote. In every election, we must identify and carry with us the modern-day widows, orphans, immigrant people, and the disinherited. We must ask how candidates for every public office will defend and prioritize them while advancing the common good.

The moral responsibility of voting

In a democracy, even in one that is as flawed as our own, voting is an imperative for faithful citizenship and Christian discipleship. It is both a weapon for how we combat injustice and a renewable resource for how we restrain evil and advance the common good. Voting is also about accountability. As civil rights leader Cesar Chavez once said, “The day will come when the politicians do the right thing by our people out of political necessity and not out of charity or idealism.”

Abdicating this civic right and religious responsibility dishonors those who fought so hard for it and jeopardizes our very future. For those of you who are disillusioned with your choices, remember that a non-vote is actually a vote for the status quo. We are always faced with imperfect choices, and the kingdom of God is never squarely on the ballot. But we must use our spiritual discernment and prudential judgment to choose candidates who we believe most share our values, embrace our priorities, and will be best able to implement policies that prioritize those in need.

Faithful voting reflects a combination of our understanding of the candidate’s positions on important issues, your sense of their character, and their history of accomplishments. Voting can’t be reduced to a purely transactional exercise based on self-interest. Integrity and truth-telling, empathy and compassion, courage and conviction — these traits matter. So do experience and accomplishments, either in or out of office, because they provide a window into what a candidate will likely do if elected.

When we say the upcoming election is the most consequential election in our lifetime, it is not hyperbole or political spin, but a reflection of the perilous nature the crises that our communities, our nation, and our world face — the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism, the ongoing crisis of climate change, the deep erosion in public trust and alarming levels of polarization, and staggering levels of inequality and poverty. We must resist an “us versus them” politics and embrace a broader “we,” committing to advance the common good. Groundbreaking polling and research by More in Common finds that a majority of Americans, which they refer to as “the exhausted majority,” are fed up with America’s deep polarization and yearn for politicians who are solutions-oriented, reject incivility and zero-sum politics, and emphasize the ways in which we have more in common than what divides us.

Sojourners’ mission rests on three core pillars: economic and racial justice, life and peace, and environmental stewardship. We hope that these pillars can provide a practical roadmap in the midst of this contentious election. First and foremost, as it relates to faithful citizenship, that means whether all citizens will have the opportunity to vote in a free, fair, and safe election is of central concern. As we’ve written over the years, it is an assault on the imago dei, the image of God in each and every one of us, to attempt to suppress even one person’s vote. In this time of pandemic that has already claimed nearly 200,000 lives in the United States, we should be making it easier to vote safely, not harder.

A racial and economic reckoning

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic hangs over the entire 2020 election like a thick and unrelenting fog. By the time of Election Day, the nation will be approaching a staggering 250,000 deaths from the virus. We need leaders who can provide bold, science-driven direction to combat the virus, care for those in the most vulnerable conditions, and foster an economic recovery that leads to a radically more just and equitable new normal. We need leaders committed to calling forth our sense of communal responsibility to protect ourselves and our neighbors by wearing masks and practicing social distancing for as long as is deemed necessary. We also need leaders who understand our moral responsibilities and practical interdependence with the rest of the world, which requires global leadership in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Alarmingly, due to the pandemic and global recession, the World Bank estimates that 40-60 million additional people will fall into extreme poverty in 2020 and the Gates Foundation estimates that the pandemic has set back global health and the Sustainable Development Goal agenda by 25 years.

In the midst of our nation’s ongoing and long overdue racial reckoning, we should support leaders who understand how centuries of structural racism affect every facet of our economy and society — and who have concrete plans to redress these injustices. The pandemic of racial police violence and systemic racism will require elected officials who are committed to more than simply cosmetic or incremental reforms to policing and criminal justice. We need leaders who are willing and able to ensure equal justice under the law applies to Black lives and who support both bold reforms and real transformation.

To give just one example, it’s important to understand the influence wielded by district attorneys, sheriffs, judges, mayors, and members of town and city councils to control how public safety and policing are conducted in our communities. We should be keenly attentive to the impact candidates and ballot initiatives are likely to have on the protection of Black lives specifically.

Of course, issues of racial equity stretch far beyond policing and criminal justice and into education, employment, health care, and so much more. There is an integral connection between racism and poverty that should inform how we think about economic justice, which in turn should heavily influence how we vote. We should scrutinize policies and policy makers to ensure that the solutions they propose to the immediate economic crisis most benefit those who have the least, rather than exacerbating the existing inequalities that were already getting worse before COVID-19. The 2,000 verses in the Bible proclaiming God’s justice for the poor and the oppressed demand to be taken seriously by Christians when they step into the voting booth. The exercise of this civic duty cannot be divorced from the tangible impacts officeholders and their policies have on the advancement of racial and economic justice or the furthering of injustice and oppression. And we must elect leaders who will end inhumane detention, reverse mass deportations, and are determined to finally pass bold, just, and effective reforms that provide a permanent solution — and do not discriminate against Black, Indigenous, and people of color — for DACAmented people and enabling over 11 million undocumented men, women and children to pursue a path to citizenship.

How we do life together

We believe that Christians are called to support and protect the life and essential dignity of all of God’s children through every stage of life, no exceptions. That means the lives of children separated from their parents at the border, regardless of citizenship, are worth no less than lives in the womb. Abortion is so often used as a political wedge; instead, we can support leaders who are committed to working together to dramatically reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies through common ground solutions, such as increasing access to health care, ensuring access to affordable child care, and enhancing reproductive health. Protecting life means opposing capital punishment and supporting active peacemaking to prevent armed conflict. It means taking weapons of war off of our streets and keeping them away from our schools. It means supporting gender equity and justice and supporting policies that end domestic and sexual violence.

It’s important to note again that people of color are affected by each and every one of these threats to life and peace disproportionately, both in the United States and around the world.

Protecting the future

When we vote, we are making decisions ranging from which member of the town council supports initiatives to ensure clean drinking water for people in low-income housing to which candidate supports international treaties to combat climate change. It also means examining candidates and policies to determine who will protect the land and water rights of Indigenous people from multinational corporations. The stain and sin of racism are very much present in these issues as well, as we see egregious examples of environmental racism from contaminated water in Flint to lead paint in Baltimore. We’re seeing increasingly dire consequences of our changing climate already; science tells us the worst impacts are still ahead of us — and we are running out of time to avoid catastrophe. That’s why we must support politicians who offer bold leadership to combat climate change and advance environmental justice.

Just before the 2016 election, Congressman John Lewis said, “the right to vote is precious, almost sacred. It is the most powerful nonviolent tool or instrument in a democratic society.” We must all not only utilize this powerful tool, we must use it wisely so that together we elect leaders capable of and committed to advancing liberty and justice for all and transforming our nation’s broken politics.”


     One of my favorite stories comes from Hindu Scripture. There are two knights of differing opinions and each day they awake, eat breakfast, and spend the day fighting’s, with all of their strength. When one loses they lay down their swords, sit down, laughing, and fellowship together. They agree to disagree, and are friends.

A friend and I were recently talking about our view on medical marijuana and she told me, “I do not agree with your position, but I love you any way.” I have friends and supporters of all political persuasions, races, creeds, religious and ethnic groups, and what ties us together is our love of one another, and our love of the street youth we serve. We agree to disagree. Win or lose we are always friends. We talk to each other, we fight with each other, but at the end of the day we sit down, eat together, laugh and play together. For all that truly matters are our love of one another. In this world full of storms, all we have is each other.

     We are all children of one God, let us agree to disagree, and care for each other, be there for each other, and bring healing and peace to our nation and world. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


(Sorry for three blogs but we felt the timing of each was important.)


Rosh Hasanah

September 18, 2020

Rosh Hasahanah—A Time for All to Pray for Peace and Justice

This morning we were reminded that our Jewish brothers and sisters have begun their holiday of :

Rosh Hashanah commemorates the creation of the world and marks the beginning of the Days of Awe, a 10-day period of introspection and repentance that culminates in the Yom Kippur holiday, also known as the Day of Atonement. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the two “High Holy Days” in the Jewish religion.”

            And on this day we are reminded of the Sabra and Satila  massacre, the killing of between 460 and 3500 civilians, mostly Palestinians and Lebanese Shites, by a militia close to the Kataeb Party, a predominantly Christian Lebanese right wing-party, in the Sabra neighborhood and the adjacent Shatila refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon. It was carried out in plain sight of the Israelite Defense Forces.

            Dr. Karen Melander-Magoon sent us this poem which is one not of hatred or revenge, but one of inspiration asking for remedies to violence and injustice.

            Dorothy Day reminds us that true revolution begins with a revolution of our hearts, one of a change to love, compassion, and non-violence.  So as we view  this poem, read it slowly and  out loud, let the words penetrate the  heart:

Another Eulogy to Ariel Sharon

The ghosts of Sabra and Shatila dance

Three thousand bodies dig

Dig holes to Hell

For a brutal man who died

Who left his coma of eight years

Who walked through burning dreams

Into his final resting place

The ghosts of Lebanon

Have laid their snakes and burning embers

Upon his final bed

That he may never sleep

The young boys savagely aroused

From innocent slumber

To be murdered

As Ariel Sharon

Stood by and smiled

Stood by and planned

Made blueprints in his head

For savage slaughter

Of more Palestinians

Laughing as he raped the land

Laughing as he slipped out of ignominy

Farcical, forgotten international censure

To lead the people Israel

To destroy with vengeance

All whose ancestry claimed title

To a Chosen People’s apostate land

Arik, the ghosts hear you praised

For disbanding settlements in Gaza

Only to return to murder

All those who contaminate your Jewish state

Your 101 squads left lakes of Palestinian blood

Yet that was not enough

Massacres of thousands in Beirut

Were not enough

Thousands killed in Gaza

Were not enough

Arik, your anguish was the resurrection

of intrepid villagers

Rebuilding Caterpillar’s ruined villages

Rebuilding over Rachel’s ghost

Rebuilding bulldozed villages

For the ghosts of children

Whose small bodies

Dared not bleed in vain

Your anguish and scorn

Was for the people’s

Never-ending courage

Even in your coma

You inspired more death

As the USA continued to look on

And do nothing

But share your guilt

Add to your arsenal of weapons

And share your guilt

Add to your arsenal of weapons and wealth

To continue to fulfill your blueprint

Even engineered while you slept

To bring a Promised Land to Israel

Built on deceit and cunning

Built on the blood and bodies

Of a slaughtered people

Who will arise again

From their own blood

To embrace the ghosts of Sabra and Shatila

And dance with them

On their ancestral land

On their Arab Semitic land

To dance with them

With open arms

Embracing all

Jew, Muslim, Christian

Embracing all

In showers of reconciliation

That wash away the blood

That sublimate the horror

That transform genocide

That transform your sins, Ariel Sharon

Into a truly promised land

Into a democratic Palestine

Into a people’s Promised Land

For all

And built on love

          So we join our Jewish brothers and sisters during this celebration in praying for peace on all sides, in walking the way of non-violence, where swords will be turned into plow shares. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

www. Temenos.org


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Facing Our Mortality

September 18, 2020

Facing Our Mortality

But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.” I Corinthians 15:20

   The summer my brother died I was transferred  to a small town in Southeast Missouri. One of the first people I met was a lady, Carla, 38, mother of  two teenage daughters whose  forty-year-old husband had recently died of a heart attack, they were in deep grief seeking answers to the question of death.

    Throughout the year Carla would say to me: “Why don’t you , “preach  the Word of what  happens when we die, you seem like you don’t believe. I need to have some real faith and hope.” I was numb with grief myself, and my sermons were  frankly taken out of a book. I was also finishing up my last year of seminary two hundred miles away. Numbness, insensitivity, doubt, and fear were very visible. I gave no hope, no faith, because I too had none.

    I stayed for one year, I moved in order to run away from her questions, and from the impending death of a nineteen year old dying of cancer.  I feared death.

    Through the years I ran away from death in many forms, my sexual orientation, my fear of being a failure, for death comes in many forms, and we are preparing for our final death in how we deal with those forms.

    Carla’s words and her journey has been a haunting of the Spirit that has pushed me into facing death, in my failure with her, I found  new life. She made me face death head-on.

    Protestant martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer saw in World War II, a grace that comes cheap, grace that keeps us comfortable, which  will never redeem this sin-scared earth. Only costly grace can do that; only men and women who can find the grace that can be found in the Eucharist: “This is my body. .given for you.” Given for Christ, given for the crucified images of Christ.

    Through the Eucharist, we can embrace the crucified Christ, in the giving of our lives in caring for one another–fighting all the “ism’s” and loving those who hate us. Through the Eucharist, we are called to live in this world knowing that in giving our lives away we are facing our own mortality. We come alive in facing our little deaths.

    Carla taught me by her words and actions the words of Henri Nouwen:

To befriend death, we must claim that we are children of God, sisters, and brothers of all people, and parents of generations yet to come. In so doing, we liberate our death from its absurdity and make it a gateway to a new life.

In our society, in which childhood is something to grow away from, in which wars, political and ethnic conflicts constantly mock brotherhood and sisterhood among people, and in which  the greatest emphasis is on succeeding in the few years we have, it hardly seems possible that death could be a gateway to anythng.

Still, Jesus has opened this way for us. When we choose his way to live and die, we can face our death with the mocking question of the Apostle Paul: “Death where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?”(I Corinthias 15:55). This is a choice, but a hard choice. The powers of darkness that surround us are strong and easily tempt us to let our fear of death rule our thoughts, words, and actions.

But can we choose to befriend our death as Jesus did? We can choose to live as God’s beloved children in solidarity with all people, trusting our ultimate fruitfulness. And in so doing, we can also become people who care for others. As men and women, boys and girls who have faced our mortality, we can help our brothers and sisters to dispel the darkness of death and guide them toward the light of God’s grace. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



Prepare for Disaster!

September 15, 2020

“We are leveraging the power of people while ensuring preparedness support and information is not only limited to those who have been privileged enough to access, understand and afford it.”

– Governor Gavin Newsom


Society of  Franciscan Workers/Temenos Catholic Worker



Text LISTOSCA to 72345

AND use the Zipcode 94164

You can earn money for your organization while learning more about disaster

preparedness in this 7 day course.

Listos California is an initiative of the Governor’s Office to help vulnerable

Californians be better prepared for disasters such as earthquakes, wildfires, and

floods. See listoscalifornia.org for more information and to download your

Disaster Ready Guide.

The listos text program is free. Data or text

Then They Will Come For You!

September 11, 2020

When They Come for You!

First, they came for the communists, and I did not speak out because I was not a communist.
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the labor leaders, but I did not speak out because I was not a unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
As one day became another and others disappeared, gypsies, mentally retarded, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, criminals, anti-social, and emigrants, I remained silent because I was not one of them.
Then it was they came for me, but no one spoke for me because by then there was no one left to speak.
Martin Niemoller,1945.

    Last night going into Walgreen’s Sean, sat outside the door. He looks ancient, and he has always been a pest, always in my face begging for one thing or another. He looked so broken, no teeth, dirty, unshaven, hair long.

     I began to feel two strong emotions, and started crying: love, for at that moment I loved him and knew he could hound me all he wanted, for he did not deserve to be sitting out in the cold, in the air clouded by ash and smoke; and there were remorse and anger.

    Remorse, my own survivor’s guilt,  as I left the store, gave him some food, and went home to my nice warm place, with fresh flowers in the window, and anger as people walked by and did not even see him.

    I imagine that his life many years ago was similar to most of ours, he had parents, a home, and lived a good life, but then things turned sour, for the worse, similar to a pandemic. He lost his job, and then his place to live, and finally found himself living on the street. His friends turned their faces, for he was “homeless”, and now just a number, and a reminder of their possible future.

     We should never judge a person living on the street, for we never know how they arrived. Some may use drugs, but those drugs are very comforting when you live in a doorway, without a blanket, food, and so cold you shiver, and I mean shiver all night. In the same way, they comfort people who live in mansions, in their suffering.

    Jesus says in our Gospel today: “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying ‘Friend”, let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? “Hypocrite! First, get rid of the long in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” How can we judge another when we have a “log” in our own eye?

Then it was they came for me, but no one spoke for me because by then there was no one left to speak.

    Speak to someone on the street today! Hand them some food! Six feet apart!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



Love Your Enemies!

September 10, 2020

ve Your Enemies!

“Love your enemies!” Luke 6:35

“My light will shine for you just a little longer. Walk in the light while you can, so the darkness will not overtake you. Those who walk in the darkness cannot see where they are are going. Put your trust in the light while there is still time; then you will become children of the light.”

    Yesterday I awoke to darkness at 10 a.m., and the orange that colored the sky reminded me of a dystopian time when our environment and life have been transformed by the actions of humanity. Life as we know it will know more.

    In all of the media it talked of the wildfires, etc, and off-hand mentioned climate change, yet there was very little mention of the pain, and the loss of homes and life that is occurring; in San Francisco, we hear of the City’s efforts with homelessness; yet we do not hear of a young man sleeping on the street without a blanket; another diagnosed with the virus, and again, a place can not be found for him, and he has no clothes or blanket; we do not hear of the young mother who has not had food in two days; or of the hundreds, if not thousands who go without food each day-in the wealthiest city in the country.

    We do not see the vast gap between our way of living–we move from one part of San Mateo County where there are large houses, well-groomed yards,  where predominantly white people live,  whose servants are brown, then not too far away are the brown and black neighborhoods where many have little food, and sometimes no plumbing; we go across the bridge to Marin, and we move through Marin City, to “The K”, where the Hispanic population is crowded three or four families in an apartment, the virus has tripled, and go a little further down the road were, for the most part, the predominately wealthy, whites live, without one thought or knowledge of their presence. There has been a huge fuss over our Congresswoman breaking the boundary of social class to have her hair done–yet we hear nothing of her driving through the Tenderloin where the poor live,

    The great divide of Lazarus and Dives is very present.

    Dorothy Day commented that the government is a “dirty rotten system,” and she did not vote. It is “dirty and rotten” because we choose to ignore the pain and the suffering around us, and let it continue to pander to the needs of those who vote and have money, hence that divide is ever-widening.

    We continue to let our political leaders pander to each one of us rather than breaking down our barriers of race, creed, and poverty. For example, there is talk of giving a minimum allowance of $12000.00 a year to people–who in the hell is that going to support–pandering is all this is, vote-buying, pure and simple.  It begins with each of us sharing, giving, and suffering together.

    Loving our enemies is loving those who are different from us, those who have little, those without social standing, those who do not believe as we do; loving our enemies means giving up our wealth until all are fed, clothed, housed, and have hospital insurance.

    Jesus calls us to:

Put your trust in the light while there is still time; then you will become children of the light.”


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



How Can We be Great

September 8, 2020

How Can We Be Great?

Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Blessed Frederic Ozanam

Acts 14:11:

When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come to us in human form.”

    Today are the feasts of two great people: the birth of Mary and Frederick Ozanam. When we talk about them we treat them as “gods” because of all the good they have done. In doing so we lose sight of the reality they were human beings who simply served the poorest of the poor, one step at a time.

    By putting Edison’s face on the light bulb, we erase the inventors who had early, non-commercially successful prototypes, and the tireless assistants who worked under Edison.

    I wonder what else we miss when we look for greatness in the person rather than seek to understand the work that makes them and their achievements possible. The question is are we looking for I AM OR  Apollos?

    I can think of two great people just off my head. My friend David after every meal when we eat out buys a double portion of food, in order to give to a homeless person, as we walk down the street.

    Mary called mother by the homeless, picks up second-day pastries, and hands out to the homeless on Polk.

    This is the greatness, they share, they care and love. Greatness comes in loving our neighbor with out judgment.

    Twenty-six years ago when I arrived my plans were to build a great agency, where I would be remembered by a sign on the wall, or have a building or street named at me.

    I was an egotistical fool! Sean, a homeless young man, once said to me: “You must be trying to work off your sins dealing with us.” I was looking for “cheap grace”, instead of moving into the arms of the loving God who embraces all of us.

    He was right, I try to work out my sins of the past, but as the years have passed I simply want to serve, to love, and to live simply.

    Robert Karris recently wrote that Jesus calls us to a “love ethic”, radical compassion caring for each other, providing for everyone.

    I believe every last person on my email list is a great person because of all the good you do. You are great!

    In living out the “love ethic” we can enter death as the final gift of life.


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

415-305-2124 or 415-622-8012


pay pal is on the website

Peniel–September Newsletter of Temenos Catholic Worker

September 6, 2020

Peneil “Where Jacob wrestled with God.”

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

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


Love That Goes Deeper and Wider

“Owe nothing to anyone accept for your obligation to love one another.” Romans 13:8 NLT

     We are coming into the fall of the year, we can feel it  in the air and see in  the colors of sunlight a different hue , and our bones feel the changes.

    We hear the condemnation of religion as a rule of laws and see the violence towards others who are different than ourselves–but the reality is religion is not about law keeping. It is about unselfish, loving relationships–with God,our human brothers and sisters, and all of creation. 

    Keeping the letter of the law will not satisfy the hunger that plagues our world due to climate change and unjust economic systems. Keeping the letter of the law will not prevent a billion tons of food from being lost or wasted each year, while at the same time millions suffer from hunger and starvation. Only love that goes deeper than the law will transform our world to be a place in which satisfying the hunger of all is a priority.

    Our ministry for nearly twenty six years has been centered on practicing the words of Paul: “Owe nothing to anyone accept for your obligation to love one another.” Kathleen Norris further expands our work:

“We are, all of us, engaged in priestly work, the work of

Transformation. But it may be work that is deemed useless

by the standards of the world.” Kathleen Norris

    Our work is not measurable in goals we can see, it is messy, painful, lives and breathes in the gray areas of life.

    Today it is difficult to tell someone you “love” them–it is always seen as having to do with sex, as it is portrayed in the media. We can hardly hug anyone for fear of being misread.

    We have many people who love us, who provide money for our ministry, and support us in so many ways. Two of our best friends, Dr. Cindy Gepphart and Dr. Karen Cardon have paid our health insurance the past four years, which has truly saved our life, and provided ministry to many, and the list goes on and on.

    Several nights ago our friend Matt phoned and wanted to have dinner at North gate Mall, personally we did not want to go, we were exhausted, our lungs scorched from working up north in the fires, in pain, but as always we met Matt at B.J’s.

    This friendship with Matthew goes back seven years, when he volunteered  serving a meal, and at twenty one is still here. Matthew never went away, even when he was pushed. He gave us a necklace and a ring symbolizing ‘courage” that we wear as a reminder of being loved without judgment.

    Fred “Mister” Rogers sums up our journey together, and our  journey on the street: “Love isn’t a state of perfect caring,” he said. “Love is an active noun like “struggle”. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.”

   Nearly three years ago, we had shoulder surgery, the bureaucracy of Kaiser screwed up on getting us a home care  nurse, and we found ourselves the first three weeks after surgery terrified, scared to death, and we are very seldom afraid. We were totally alone, unable to take care of our-self.

    And along comes eighteen year old Matthew who for three weeks, bathed, changed bandages, and fed us. He skipped work, school, and had his friends, who are now our friends as well, help him. The next three months in recovery we hung at his house.

    The other night he looked in our eyes with intense and so much sincerity and  spoke:

“This summer every time I have seen you, you are worn out, visibly tired, and now you look like hell. Your job is dangerous, and you give your life away to others, and I worry that if your donors stop giving or if you really get hurt or sick you will have no where else to go. I want to be clear you always can live with me or my mom you always have a place.”

    Remembering that moment brings  tears, for very seldom does non-judgmental love come our way. Matthew has demonstrated to us the quote:

“On the storm tossed sea of life all we have is our fierce loyalty to one another.

    Life is never easy, as we see now–death, loss, and fear, is all around, very visible. We can not escape the reality of loss, suffering, and death.

    Matthew has  shown and reminded us what love is all about, in him we see Christ who continues our call of loving with our expectation, of not judging.

    I believe this is the love Jesus calls us to, and has demonstrated by his ministry and resurrection, a love of non-judgment nor expectations of one another.

    The word of Father Henri Nouwen speak so clearly in these moments:

‘Am I afraid to die? I am every time I let myself be seduced by the noisy voices of my world telling me that my “little life” is all I have and advising me to cling to it with all my might. But when I let these voices move to the background of my life and listen to that small soft voice calling me the Beloved, I know that there is nothing to fear and that dying is the greatest act of love, the act that leads to the eternal embrace of my God whose love is everlasting.”

    Let us die to ourselves, and in being embraced by the Beloved, embrace all of our sisters and brothers without judgment or expectation.


Meals on the Street

    We continue to give packaged food on the street, but on Thanksgiving Day will serve our traditional Thanksgiving meal of Turkey and Dressing. After that we will serve a hot meal every two weeks.


    We are not using volunteers, for safety reasons. This virus is dangerous. So we ask for prayers and financial support.

We Are Beggars

    We are in need of money for socks which you may order  from Eroswholesale.com and have them  sent to:

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church

%Temenos Catholic Worker

1755 Clay Street

San Francisco, CA 94109

or you give money at:

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

or Pay pal found on http://www.temenos.org.

Thank you to all who have been faithful in these months.


“Faith is rarely where your head is at. Nor is it where your heart is at. Faith is where your ass is at!” Daniel Berrigan

Journey on the Edge

September 3, 2020

A Journey on the Edge: Crafting A Piece of Art

St. Gregory the Great

    A cousin asked me “when are you going to retire,” a colleague  said to me, “You piss people off,” and an email from a stranger listed my sins, some of them rather funny, and the one’s she imagined would be a lot of fun, the truth is I am rather boring.

    On day in the ancient days my District Superintendent commissioned a lay preacher in a ceremony, at my church,  and he said, “Your ministry is far different than River’s, you are a lay minister, but River works his craft, in shaping the wood of his ministry, it is his life, that is embraced by his call.”

    That has stuck with me, and reminds me that each day, I am carving  ministry into a piece of art. It is rough at times  in my mistakes, but in carving, sanding beauty comes forth. I have shaped and sanded it through seminary, two doctorates, and in my daily life.

    One of the most beautiful parts of this piece of wood, is learning human beings are sacred in God’s eyes, “Do you not know that your are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?.. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. (I Corinthians 3:16-17”.

    Each person has God dwelling in them, they may not know it, and their actions may not show it, but God dwells in them.

    And in walking, letting people enter my life I become tattered. I make no judgments but offer them the way of loving others.

    To many I am a “leper” to many because of the way I enter into the darkness, letting people in my life. They assume so much, when there is nothing to assume. But I see Christ’s face, summoning to Galilee, and I walk forward, no matter how tattered.

    G.E.Chesterton gives a good summary of ministry:

“Nothing taken for granted; Everything received with gratitude; Everything passed on with grace.”


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, California 94164