Being Family to One Another

Being Family to One Another!


“While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. But he replied to the man who told him, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Matthew 12:46-48


        Yesterday Larry Purcell, Catholic Worker from Redwood City,  and I had lunch. Larry’s ministry is amazing-feeding hundreds, providing money for housing, and in essence serving thousands. Larry reflected that after 40 years plus in ministry if he had really accomplished anything.

    And he reflected my feelings, as well.

    I felt God’s call to ministry at the age of  twelve.The “strange warmness of the heart” I remember so well, and the spark it put into my life has flamed. From that time forward my life has been driven. A supervising pastor once told me: “When it becomes a job, your life will be easier, and you will simply be more normal in your work.” Well I have never been “normal” in my work or anything else.

    One aspect of this call that became clear early on  was that marriage, and being tied to one relationship was not in the picture, but a single life giving myself to the many.  Many people do not understand, and when questioned frankly I have not handled it appropriately. And I grieve over people I have hurt in those answers. How do you explain to some one that you feel God has called you to living a single life?

    On this journey my biological family has died or have been alienated by my faith experience, my sexual identity journey, or my way of ministry. And that has been a blessing in that it has forced us to find family outside of blood lines.

    Andre Maurois wrote: “Without a family, man, alone in the world, trembles with the cold.”

    In my journey we have found “my brothers and sisters” to be with the homeless, youth, and others of all ages, and racial, economic, and sexual orientation backgrounds.

    In the Benedictine Liturgy of the Hours there is one line in a prayer that speaks to the needs of so many: “For those whose martyrdom is the slow death of loneliness and despair; may they rest secure in your love.”

    Millions journey that “slow death of loneliness and despair.” Larry’s ministry, our ministry has been to bring people comfort in the   “slow death of loneliness and despair,” bringing them into the family of all.

    Life is messy. Beautiful prayers and peaceful words are often not a part of the mess. It means living in the reality that life is messy, and it’s messier together. But it’s also better together.

    The Velveteen Rabbit in our picture above describes the results of living in he messiness of life:

“He said; ” You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. “Generally by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joins and very shabby. But these things’ don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly except to people who don’t understand.

    I have a painting of myself at 20,  and  boy I was hellar good looking–but now I am tattered, “my haired loved off”, and “loose in the joints and very shabby,”  as Larry told me in so many words the other day when he said, “you look  old”, and he too needs to look in the mirror as well, for we are becoming Real, and we invite all to join us on this journey for in becoming tattered, the world becomes a better place for others and we “work out our salvation.”   Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God! Amen! Amen!ff


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



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