Stability: The Art of the Ordinary

Stability–The Steady Practice of the Ordinary

The Feast of St. Benedict

Isaiah 6:1-8

Isaiah’s Vision of the Lord

6 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train[a] of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”[b]

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

Isaiah’s Commission from the Lord

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”


     Isaiah’s vision of God in the temple was solitary, yet his encounter with the weight of God’s glory called him into a life of service.

    St. Benedict was a contemplative who was constantly called back to service in community life.

    Our own life has been one called in the silence of the night, to be continually pulled back in  service to  community life.

    In our early years in ministry we moved from place to place, from our own ambitions, but more from our fear of failure.

    That is why when people ask us: “How much longer are you going to stay in San Francisco?’ our answer–to the day we die or are forced out. We took a vow of stability (from St. Benedict) when we came to San Francisco. We will practice the ordinary, live in the grime, pain, fear, and yet the glory of the City. We will find God where we are. That practice has blossomed in a number of ways:

    First: Our loyalty to the Church. When people wail, moan, and reject the Church, we look back to our own experience–nurtured as a child, and loved and confirmed in ministry as a young adult, and and than rejected, condemned, slandered, hated, and spit upon. The Church beat us to a pulp. As Dorothy Day once said, “The Church is both a whore and our Holy Mother.”

    But you can not throw out the baby with the bath wash. When we tear through the homophobia, racism, prejudices, and the human layers, we can hear the words of St. Benedict: “As our lives and faith progress, the heart expands and with the sweetness of love we move down the path’s of God’s commandments.”

    At the heart is the face of Jesus who smiles and loves us. When we were ordained it was to be a “Keeper of the Mysteries,” the mystery of the love of God in Christ. A love that rejects no one, and has no judgment.

    Secondly, stability in the practice of personal-ism, We meet people where they are; we walk with young adults on their level, we allow them to enter our lives and we theirs  in such away we are one with them. We walk with them without judgment on their level.

    We never turn walk away  from  people. They may hate us, they may try to harm us, reject us, but we receive them back. We accept them with arms of love. We admit we are the “chief of sinners”, so how can we judge another.

    Thirdly, practice of  Daily Office and Holy Communion. We pray the Liturgy of the Hours/Daily Office six times a day, and celebrate Holy Communion daily. We stay firm in our liturgical commitment of prayer and Sacraments for it binds us to the heart of the One who has called us. We remain solid in the faith. Our faith sustains us when all is falling around us.

    These are the three elements of stability that holds our sanity or craziness (your choice)  together when the world is breaking up all around us.

    Our ministry is to witness to the stability of the Gospel and to encourage others to find stability in their spiritual lives through however they know God. Only God can provide ultimate stability.


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


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