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Eat to Live.

Can you remember what you had for dinner last Thurs- day? If I sat for a minute to look at my calendar and what I did that day, I might come close (though no guarantees) to remembering what it was I ate.

This doesn’t disturb me in the least. What I do know is that “I ate”. And it must have been quite sufficient be- cause I don’t remember any headache or weakness that happens when I don’t.

All this points to the fact that food serves a purpose . . . it keeps life strong. Remember that saying? “We eat to live. We don’t live to eat.” It’s enough to know we did eat and it did what food is supposed to do.

Now, if we are quite content to eat and later to forget what or where we ate, it seems we have more important things to be about, right? Like life.

So when we think of the meal we had at Mass last Sun- day, what do we remember? Not much I bet. Certainly not the food we ate. The bread is flat and tasteless. (I can’t remember a single host I ever ate at Mass!) The cup of wine is no special vintage. Maybe we remember a thought or a prayer we prayed at the time, but probably not. Life has moved on and, as always, there are new issues or concerns that linger.


Why should we expect Mass to be any different than any other meal we eat and forget? Life has moved on and, as always, there are new issues or concerns that have our attention.

Is that okay? I mean this is no ordinary food we’re eating! It’s the Body and Blood of the Lord. Shouldn’t we remember each and every time we receive our Lord in Holy Communion? The simple answer is NO.

Why? Because the purpose of the Eucharist is to strengthen our union with Christ so that we GO FORTH into the world to bring his good news to others. And we deliver the news of Christ’s life by BEING that life for others, by laying our lives down as God asks each of us in our particular circumstances.

What if Jesus, after having eaten The Last Supper with his apostles, invited the boys to the drawing room for brandy and cigars?! “What a great meal Jesus. The lamb was just right. I’m stuffed!”

No. Rather . . . “They went forth . . .” Jesus changed the history of the world the next day by laying down his life in obedience to his Father’s will. (“Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” MT. 4:4)

Think if Jesus and the boys had stayed in the upper room that night. Let’s say they skipped the Crucifixion. What good would that meal have been? Just another forgettable Passover.

That meal, the first Eucharist, became the source of grace for all Christian life to follow. That is what the Eucharist needs to be for us at Holy Trinity. It is a strengthening of our union and life with Christ first and foremost . . . but then . . . we must “go forth to love and serve.”

Without our going into the world in the name of Christ, we are not doing what the Eucharist was meant to do in us.

One last thought. Just like that meal you had last week did what food is supposed to do in you, so the Mass and its spiritual food will accomplish its purpose in us. It’s a sure thing.

If we let it.

Fr. Tim


Wonder.

I keep coming back to a human experience that I think holds the key to understanding who we are as a human species. It is the experience of “wonder”.

Think of it – scientific knowledge, as wonderful as it is, is in the end “about things”. Science tells me an apple is a red, yellow or green sphere of cellulose, permeated with sugar and water; or ice cream, “a food consisting of cream, butter fat, sweetener and frozen”.

Does this Webster Dictionary description tell us what vanilla ice cream really is? Of course not. Human knowledge, to be more than stored computer facts, is experiential. You have to taste vanilla to understand it.

And here’s where the “wonder” part comes in. The most important human experiences elude scientific description; we say things like, “you have to see it for yourself”. Some things, (the Milky Way in the night sky, a new born baby, the death of a lifelong friend, or my own mortality) present a moment that is beyond our ability to fully under- stand and leaves us in a state of shock and “wonder”.

The Psalms are full of this mysterious sense. “Oh Lord, how awesome is your name through all the earth!/ You have set your majesty above the heavens!/ When I see the heavens, the work of your hands/ the moon and stars that you set in place/. . . how awesome is your name through all the earth!” Psalm 8

Psalm 139 echoes this same moment of wonder and awe . . . “Such knowledge is beyond me, too lofty for me to reach . . . How precious are your designs O God; how vast the sum of them. / Were I to count them, to finish I would need eternity.”

Fear and reverence accompany such experiences. We meet face to face a truth that is real but beyond our ability to fully comprehend. It overwhelms us with its mysterious presence.

Such a moment came to me at age 19. I had tickets to an outdoor summer concert by the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra. Its world renowned concert director, George Szell, had just died. There at mid-stage was placed the empty Maestro’s chair.

Before some 8,000 rapt concert goers, with the sun setting on a soft summer night, the orchestra (without conductor) played the soulful strains of Bach’s Air on a G String in his honor. Something happened to me and I think to many in the crowd that night.

All I can say is, I was overwhelmed by “beauty”. And I mean beauty on a thousand different levels: The music transcendent, the new grass all around, the man (now gone) who created this magnificent orchestra, but still present as his musicians played, the thousands of people, silent and in rapped attention . . . and me, feeling 19, and ready to change the world.

It was a moment. We were all plugged into something that I can only describe as JOY. Something bigger and sweeter and more powerful than any one of us. We were together but each of us still ourselves. And we all “looked and saw how good it was”. Can we say Heaven was there for a moment? I can; at least a hint of heaven.


So what’s the point to all this “wonder” stuff? Quite simply these moments are the foothills of God. Children waken to these hills every day. Everything is fresh and full of wonder. They hold that key to who we are . . . the creature that can know and love the Lord.

What’s happened to us? Somehow we’ve lost the eyes to see and the ears to hear. We fill our senses with far lesser beauty. Our cell phones and computers, as wonderful inventions as they are, “reality TV” replaces real life with its wondrous joys and sorrows.

Is there a remedy? Of course there is. Prayer.

Every day. “Lord I want to see your face, your presence.” He knows your need. Ask Him.

Fr. Tim


The Butterfly That Never Flew

“A Butterfly’s Lesson”

One day, a small opening appeared in a cocoon. A man sat and watched for the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole.

Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It ap- peared as if it had gotten as far as it could and could not go any farther.

So the man decided to help the but- terfly;he took a pair of scissors and opened the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a withered body; it was tiny and shriveled.

The man continued to watch because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would open, enlarge and expand to be able to support the butterfly’s body and become firm.

Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a withered body and shriveled wings. It was never able to fly.

What the man, in his kindness and goodwill did not understand, was the restricting cocoon and the strug- gle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny openings, were nature’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.

Sometimes, struggles are sometimes exactly what we need in our life. If we were allowed to go through our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as we could have been. Never been able to fly.

I asked for Strength…and I was given difficulties to make me strong.

I asked for Wisdom…and I was given problems to solve.

I asked for Posterity…and I was given a brain and brawn to work.

I asked for Courage….and I was given obstacles to overcome.

I asked for Love…and I was given troubled people to help.

I asked for Favors… and I was given opportunities. “I received nothing I wanted…But I received everything I needed.

Live life without fear, confront all obstacles and know that you can overcome them. Share this message with your friends and show them how much you care. Share this with anybody that you consider a FRIEND, even if this means to share it with the same person that conveyed it to you. You can be sure that your circle of friendship is made out of true friends.


521-0017

The number you see above is Fr. Tim’s emergency pager number. I am giving it to you because I want you to be able to get a hold of me in case of an emergency or some DRAMATIC need. Let me tell you a bit about the pager and how we’re going to use it.

Some years ago I was visiting some friends I’d known from a previous parish. It was a free evening and I had no pressing duties. The phone rang at their house and someone was asking for Me! It turned out to be a tragic happening that I needed to be present to. (The staff person called several numbers just guessing as to where I might be.) God’s grace got us connected that night.

So I’ve thought a lot about that and in the future I think God could use a little help getting you in touch with me at those crucial moments. So, like so many of you, I now can be paged. I want to be a phone call away from anyone in serious need.

What is “serious need”? It could be a number of things . . . accident, health crisis, tragic news, an immediate and pressing need . . . anything that you think a priest might assist you with at a moment when life feels overwhelming and help is needed right now. Please call 521-0017.

What’s NOT a serious need? Oh let’s say . . . you’re feeling a little blue, you’re a little strapped for cash, your dog caught a splinter, the Yankees just lost three in a row and you need to talk to someone . . . for these I’d ask that you wait awhile before calling. I bet you could work these out for yourself.

If you DO call you will be asked either to leave a return number or a voice mail message describing the situation. Anyway, I think you’ll understand when I tell you I hope I NEVER hear from any of you on this number. If I never get one call on my pager that will make me happy!!

But please know I want to be there for you in those times that sooner or later happen to most of us . . . times of real sorrow and need.

God bless you and keep you well. What a great summer!

Hope you are enjoying it.

God bless you.

Fr. Tim

Fr. John is my “Wing Man”. He’s my backup should I be far away at the time of your call.


Dear Jesus. Please find my children

I’ve been told there is a gizmo (a perfect term for tech challenged people!) that, with a push of a button, traces lost articles to their source. Sort of a GPS for misplaced keys or calendars. A perfect Christmas gift.

These weren’t available to shepherds at the time of Jesus either. Remember the gospel story about the lone sheep who leaves the 99 to wander about. Jesus says a good shepherd will leave the 99 in search of the lost one. The story gets ruined to think Jesus could just clip a little chip on each sheep and know its position on his shepherd radar screen?

So things get lost. Keys, pens, cars, you, me. Have you ever been lost? It can be scary. I remember my father in his early 80’s arriving home two hours late for dinner. Mom was sick with worry. Dad arrived white as a ghost, almost trembling.

“WHERE have you been?!” “I was lost.” Dad said. He’d had a mild stroke while driving the car. A city that he knew like the back of his hand suddenly lost all recognition. “Where am I?” Nothing looked familiar. He could have been in Buenos Aires for all he knew.

Slowly the confusion passed. Buildings and street signs started to communicate where he was and finally he’d found his way home!


Isn’t this the way it is in life for so many people? Over time, and letting go of the things we learned about our faith, we get lost to the things of God. We can’t feel Him or see signs of Him in our lived experience. It gets to the point where even to say the name “Jesus” or mention the slightest thing about “God” feels strange. Church on Sun- day feels like Buenos Aires (“where am I?”).

So what’s the point? The gospel is full of stories where Jesus meets up with people who had lost their way, wandered off. The scribes and Pharisees insisted that these people be shunned until they found their way back. Jesus says “No. These are the ones I’ve come for.” He searches the highways and byways for us.

What does this say about our children and grandchildren who have seemingly walked away from the faith? Will He find my lost child? Yes. But probably not the way you would imagine.

Something new has to happen. Something that on the surface has nothing to do with “Church”, or priests, or going to mass and confession. What does this search look like? Dinner. Conversation. Wine. Laughter. Stories. Friendship. Not church. Not yet.

Sometimes we have to meet Christ on the street or in the pub, or a movie, or a conversation with your closest friends. Something beautiful needs to happen. Something that reminds us of a “home” we have always longed for, a moment that touches us with its beauty, power and humanity.

It’s a moment (a grace) where a person feels invited to a deeper life. It’s called love. But, it’s not the romantic kind. This love comes from Christ. It comes as a surprise. It’s light and bright and chases the dark away. It whispers “this is for you child. It’s free and . . . it’s me, your old pal Jesus”.

Parents. Grandparents. You have this love in you. Be confident of it. Give it to your young ones lavishly, humorously, gently. Remember, as we said last week, you are Ambassadors of Christ, “God appealing to them through you”.

He’s the Good Shepherd. He’s out on the street looking for his sheep.

God loves you more than you know.

Fr. Tim


“As if God Were Appealing Through Us . . .”

These are the remarkable words St. Paul speaks in the first letter to the Corinthians. He calls us “Ambassadors for Christ”. Picture yourself sitting in that large circle of chairs at the United Nations. To your left is the Ambassador from Russia and on your right are the Ambassadors to Nigeria and Poland. You are there as Ambassador for the Kingdom of God. Really.

Your words, your deeds, are meant to introduce these people to your country. You represent a nation that experiences the love of God living and active amongst its citizens because of their faith in Jesus Christ. The people of this nation love one another because they have first been loved by Christ.

St. Paul does not call us preachers. We are Ambassadors; living, breathing citizens of a nation that God has invited all humankind to claim as their home. And that’s what ambassadors do . . . they represent in their very selves the country they come from. We don’t spout slogans – we ARE our message.


So what’s the point? The point is: YOU are the instrument God uses to help people know Him. Think about how you experienced God’s love in your life. Wasn’t it through PEOPLE? Your parents, friends, teachers, priest. Weren’t they ambassadors for Christ for you? Christ appealing to you through them? Parents, I don’t think you see yourself having so important a role. Jesus expects you to introduce Him to your children, your siblings and co-workers.

Wait a minute. I’m no saint! How can I give Christ to others? Just be your best self. Be the person who cares what happens. Be the person who looks out for others. Be a sign of hope when everyone else is quit- ting. Be the one who finds the light rather than cursing the darkness. Be the person who’s not afraid or embarrassed to admit their Catholic faith means something to them.

So how about this? . . . Sometime this summer, at a picnic or a reunion, tell a story about what happened to you when you came to mass one Sunday. It could be funny or meaningful or anything in between. The point is it’s YOUR story. (God will remind you what story to tell). Then . . . say something like . . . “Ron, if you’re looking for a church where you can give your cares to God, come and see how it feels.” Or simply, “Sunday mass has made a nice difference for the week that follows.”

Remember, you were appointed Ambassador. You didn’t run for election. So let’s do our job. Ask away. You’re doing this for Christ the Good Shepherd and we are his sheep dogs . . . uh, I mean ambassadors!!

God bless you.

Fr. Tim


Do You Rent or Own?

Back in the early 1950’s we lived on Bloomfield, a pretty city street in Akron, Ohio. Dad took the bus to work downtown and mom cooked, cleaned, and fed the three Horan children. I remember a big staircase we were forbidden to slide down and a bedroom I had all to myself.

We rented the house for five years. Then one day, to surprise his wife, dad put $2,000 down on a little Cape Cod north of the city. Mom was furious in that she hadn’t been consulted; but with feelings repaired, the Horan’s moved into their first and only home. Dad was pretty proud. The American dream was coming true. (Mom had still to say goodbye to the dream of moving to Columbus to be near her large family.)

So we owned a home. That’s where I learned to ride a bike and Jimmy Farrell and I would explore the woods behind our street. Patty and Maureen did all the things girls do to grow up. Fifty-two years mom and dad had that house.

I knew the day would come, but it totally shocked me to see the “For Sale” sign in our front yard when I drove back home to see mom (dad had been dead 3 years). “I have no home now”, was the feeling.


I’m sure many of you have a story to tell just like this. The point to be made is, something we all discover sooner or later, we have no lasting home. St. Paul tells us that all things in this world are passing away (1Cor. 7:31) “Time is running out. From now on let those . . . who buy or own act as though they were not owning, those using the world as not using it fully.”

Why? Because we are renting this body, this space, this time, this home, this family, this parish . . . It’s all passing away. Nothing material is made to last forever. That means we’re here temporarily. We’re renting. We’re pilgrims on a journey.

St. Paul even calls Christians “strangers and aliens on earth.” (Hebrews 11:13) “Those who speak thus show they are seeking a homeland . . . a better home- land, a heavenly one.” vs. 16 This in no way lessens the beauty and wonder of the world and our responsibility to work for a better world here and now. “God so loved the world . . . ” (Jn. 3:16) So do we.

Our “passing through” has huge implications for how we use the things of the earth. Not being “owners” we are “stewards” instead. St. Thomas Aquinas tells us, “We possess external things not as our own, but as common, so that we are ready to give to others in their need.” Pope Francis in his encyclical Laudato Si reminds us that the goods of the earth (our water, air, forests, farmland) are given to each generation to be properly cared for so they might be passed on to the generations that follow.

When you think of it everything we have has been given to us: our home (Mother Earth), our very lives, our family, our country, our skills to carve out our life’s story. And then . . . . . . there will come a time when we have to leave it all behind. We will pass from this earth to enter (once again by God’s gift) Eternal Life.

No more renting; we’ll be home. In the meantime let’s use this time to make this a better world for those who will follow.

Bless your Summer days.

Fr. Tim


Who Cares?

Back in high school our senior class (250 boys) was known as lazy, shiftless, and uncooperative. We were proud of that reputation and tried mightily to resist any temptation to render a “positive influence on the school”.

We had a class motto that was short but conveyed our message. . . “Who Cares?”. It was all a put on of course. We cared a lot. We worried a lot (Viet Nam was calling many of us). We wanted our lives to be different than our parents but we didn’t know what or how.

So what’s a teenager do when he or she is scared, lost, or clueless? You get cynical. “Who Cares?” Don’t let ’em see you caring.


So this little piece is about “caring”, caring for others. (There doesn’t seem to be any lack of our caring for ourselves, as I’ll explain). Our concern is to examine what makes people care about anything other than themselves.

First off I’d say, outside immediate family and friends, nobody cares. The natural repose of the human heart is to stay at home, make oneself comfortable and shut out the world and its need. Philosophers and Psychiatrists tell us that humans are hard wired to care about others only to the degree that it will serve their own interests. This is not evil or immoral; it’s just the way we are. I think it’s one of many effects of the “survival instinct” and Original Sin. Or as we’ve said before, the “What’s in it for Me? Factor”.

There are thousands of examples of this. Here’s one.

The phone rings and it’s your brother-in-law. He’s had another bad job interview. There’ll be no second interview. As usual, he wants to talk about how he just can’t catch a break and how unfair things are.

“I’m sorry.” you say. But you’re not really. You say a few generalities (“hang in there” or “You’ll do better next time.”) to avoid saying what you really think. To do that would only cause you problems down the line.

Think about it, why are we nice (a version of “caring”)? Most times it’s because it serves our own interest.

There’s less hassles from others when you’re nice. People will like you more when you’re nice to them. You can get people to do what you want them to when they think you care.

Even our most altruistic caring hides a benefit to our- selves and is our real motivation. You see human love wants to “possess”, “To have and to hold” as the wedding vows say. God loves differently. God’s love is total giving.


Jesus came to show us God’s way of loving. Here are some of his instructions.

++ If someone asks for your shirt, give them your coat as well. Mt. 5:40

++ When you give money to someone, don’t do it in a way that people will find out and praise you. Do it cheerfully and secretly. Mt. 6:1.

++ Want to really care? Sit down and think what you would want someone to do for you in that situation. Then do it for them. Mt. 7:12

++ Want to really care? No greater love exists than when a man or woman lays down their life for their friend. Jn. 15:13 “Not my will Father, but thine be done.” Mt. 26:42

++ Try this for caring . . . “when someone strikes you on the right check, turn the other one to them as well.” Mt. 5:39

So where do we get the motivation (what’s in it for me?) to care in these selfless ways? It comes from having been loved in this way ourselves. And who has loved us this way? Hopefully our parents (but only imperfectly) and oh yeah . . . God has loved us in this way. His only motivation is what God is. And what is God? Infinite Love. . . as revealed in Jesus Christ.

Once you’ve been touched by this love, you want to give back. And suddenly you’ve entered the mystery of real love.

It takes a lifetime . . . I’m just starting to get it. God is a patient lover.

Fr. Tim


Have You Eaten?

Do you ever get going in a busy day and forget to eat at the proper time? Maybe it’s 3 pm and suddenly you feel the bottom drop out. No energy, listless, irritable, maybe even a little depressed. It feels like life turns grey and impossible.

So . . . get something to eat!! That’s right – most problems in life can be dealt with if we’ve had sufficient food. The world is a brighter place when good food is in your system.

Angels don’t have this problem of finding food for strength. They have no bodies. Being pure spirit means you don’t have to stop your angelic praising to sit for a meal. (It also means they don’t have the sloppy pleasure of a cheeseburger and fries! Poor angels.)

God has made us humans in such a way that we must pause two or three times a day to take nourishment for our bodies. What a launching pad for God to visit us!


Jesus chose this critical human experience of taking food to be the way he would come to us down through history. In the context of the ancient Jewish Passover (the meal of roasted lamb, commemorating the night God freed the Jews from slavery in Egypt), Jesus saw himself to be the “New Lamb” whose body and blood would bring life to those who receive it.

He began to teach his disciples this insight about who he was and what he must do for those who believe in him. “I am the living bread come down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate (the manna in the desert), whoever eats this bread (my body) will live forever.” John 6:58

Like the lamb that was slain at Passover, this new meal would require the death of Jesus, “the Lamb of God”. So the night before his death, gathered with the apostles, “he took the bread, said the blessing”, and says, “This is my body” and over the cup, “this is . . . my blood poured out for you.”

So that’s it gang. A new food for humanity – – – Jesus’ body and blood. The first hearers of this message were totally grossed out. “How can he say he will give us his flesh to eat?'” And “because of this many followers turned back and would not go with him anymore.” Jn. 6:67.

So what about you? Can you see God’s plan to get inside us with His Son? Does the image of the innocent lamb speak to you? Aren’t you aware that it takes years of eating to build a body – – – so too a Christian. Does the change from bread to “my flesh” bother you? Don’t you think that if God could come up with the idea of your little daughter and give her your smile – – – he could change bread into anything he wants?

None of us knows “how” the bread becomes Jesus’ body (we say of course “by the Holy Spirit”, which is bible talk for “He will do it.”) He said so.

What we do know is God created each of us. (We didn’t). And we experience a restless hunger to live in a state of being that is truth, love and joy (eternal life). What we know is that no one has ever gone so deeply into the human condition . . . “like us in all things but sin”. He shows us what causes us to be far from God (sin and selfishness). And he lays his life down in such a way that he be- comes our food to bring us to God who won’t rest till we are all one in the Body of Christ.

Perhaps a little prayer here……….”Dear God and Father, help me trust your divine word which came to us in Christ Jesus. And trusting that he would not trick us, let me receive his body and blood in humble faith. Let this heavenly food transform me into a person worthy to be called Christian.

Summers almost here!!

Fr. Tim


Homer (not Simpson!) and the Sirens

There’s this scene in Homer’s Odyssey where the boat of our adventurer Ulysses comes near to the island of the Sirens. He tells his men to tie him fast to the mast of the ship so that hearing the Sirens’ seductive song he will be unable to fling himself into the sea toward them.

Dangerous rocks lay all about the island and to come too near meant certain shipwreck. It’s a great story (written 3000 yrs. ago). We call it “Greek Mythology”. Did it hap- pen in actual history? No. It’s a myth.

But is it true? Of course it’s true. Is there a “song” that if you listen to it you’ll be tempted to abandon your ship? You bet. Just ask the alcoholic whose friends invite him to a bar for “a couple of cold ones”. Ask the teenager (hormones raging) who knows of a website where “you can see it all”. Imagine the hoarder who hears about “buy one, get one free”.

We all hear the Sirens’ call. They know just the song to sing to each of us to have us sail toward that rocky shore.


So what do we do? (We’re talking about temptation of course.)

The first thing to do is be aware of the power of temptation. It has the uncanny ability to get under or around our desire to do the right thing. It needs to be respected for what it can talk us into. Be smart. Know how strong temptation can be.

Next thing. Be prepared. Know where you want to go. Know where you don’t want to go. Before the Sirens start “your song” be like Ulysses; take measures that will help you resist. You don’t have to tie yourself to a mast (!) but do something to help you resist.

  • Let your friends know in advance that “you can’t go there”.
  • Use your computer in the living room where others gather.
  • Let a trusted friend know what your temptation is and ask their help (if only to listen to you and encourage you to keep up the good fight.) Ulysses asked his crew to tie him up!
  • Pray daily for help to resist the Sirens’ song. God will come to your aid. St. Paul says if all else fails, your resolve is gone, “God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength: but with the trial he will also provide a way out.” 1 Cor. 10:13 (the Spirit gives you a good idea to do in that moment).
  • Lastly . . . . RUN AWAY!!! Fleeing is a great way to defeat the Siren’s song. It’s not weakness to run. It’s wisdom. Someone yells “Fire!!” It’s not cowardice to flee!

Actually Ulysses was pretty lucky. He could have messed up big time. You see he had his men put wax in their ears so they wouldn’t even hear the Sirens.

He however had heard how entrancing their song was and he wanted to hear it for himself. So no wax for him! “I want to hear them sing.” (It’s called the “near occasion of sin”. Don’t go there.)

Lucky the mast held him back and he returned to tell his amazing story.

We humans . . . . . . how patient God is with us.

Springtime blessings.

Fr. Tim