Category Archives: Weekly Column

How to make a person? Start with a mother . . .

Medical studies have revealed so much about our physical make-up, social scientists are discovering the hidden impulses for human behavior. Even human consciousness has been traced in part to a chemical reaction between the receptors in our brain.

For all of that, science has been unable to fully understand what a human being is. Human beings are a mystery. Every other creature can be explained and understood by virtue of its function, namely to live and reproduce. That’s it. “Gee another minnow, there’s another robin. Big deal.” To exist is enough. There is no identity crisis for a toad.

That’s not the way it is with humans. To exist is not enough. We need to have at our core a “reason for living”. Our brain seeks to understand what its thinking is ultimately about. Science can’t give us that. The reason is, part of our existence is spiritual. Science doesn’t have the tools to examine things spiritual.

The spiritual component of us humans is what makes us a “person”. (The classic definition of person is “a creature possessing reason and will”.) The human being has enormous gifts to look out and understand the world all around. He can understand everything but himself!! We are a mystery to ourselves (Who am I? Why am I here?).

And, guess what? We don’t have the answer to who we are because our meaning lies outside ourselves. Humans are the one creature whose meaning and purpose resides in relationship to the Other . . . to God, in whose image we were created.

As if that’s not enough, these thinking humans come in two forms: male and female. Each of them add to the mystery of the human creature. Today, Mothers Day, we honor women in a special way.

What does she bring to the world by virtue of her womanliness? Her motherliness? She and she alone is a “person creator”. Her husband helps start the process of course but, only mother can put our bodies together in such a way that we can live our life here on earth.

Given this, can we not see how a woman inherently holds the preciousness of life? She sees every person as some woman’s child. As she brings a person safely into the world, so now she constantly searches for what will bring that life to full stature and yes, happiness.

This “Nurturer of Life” is in every woman not just biological mothers. Her heart beats for others in a way that makes a life of kindness and gentleness a reality. In my opinion, it is what has conquered the sometimes violent heart of men and civilized the world. Do you remember the women of North and Southern Ireland (their men be-ing mortal enemies) coming together in 1988 to seek peace so their children would have a life free of violence and fear? A mother’s heart has conquered the fierceness of the IRA and brought peace to a country wracked by hatred and prejudice.

Thank you Woman, Mother, Mystery. God bless you always.

Fr. Tim

“Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him.” Luke 24: 31

The Greeks had two different words to refer to what we call “time”. Chronos, which describes the “time of day” or time elapsed (hours/minutes) and Kairos, which means “a time when . . .”, a period of time where something important or life changing happens. These kinds of times are not limited by minutes or seconds. It’s a time when “time stands still.” A friend of mine calls them “moments”.

Every once in a while life serves up an event which breaks through the chronos, the “everydayness” of existence. Familiar happenings: appointments, meetings, sleeping and rising, eating, washing, gassing the car, shopping, telephoning, suddenly give way to…..a moment. Most times it comes very simply, so if you’re not looking you can miss it. But, what happens can be wonderful….these moments punch a hole in the routine of life and for a second, I believe we can see and feel something of the presence of God.

One of these happened to me some years ago. It was Thursday (my day off!). I was hanging around the rectory doing nothing in particular. A call came from Rochester General. A man had been brought to emergency; he was Catholic and the family was requesting a priest to anoint him. I remember driving to the hospital thinking, ‘How long will this take? I’ve got things to do.’

Well, it was serious. A heart attack. He had died. Fr. Endres, the hospital chaplain (a great priest by the way) was there already and had anointed the man. I was shown to the waiting room to be with the family (mother, daughter, son and granddaughter). They were devastated, of course. But, even in this terrible moment, there was a quiet dignity – even the beginnings of thankfulness. “He was a good man.” “He went without suffering.” “Now he is in peace.”

But then, “the moment” I was telling you about, we all went to the trauma room and said a prayer over the deceased. That’s where it happened. The granddaughter (a women in her 20’s I think) stood by the bed, her face a bright red from holding in the tears. After our prayers and as we were about to leave, she put her cheek to her grandfather’s forehead and between sobs of tears she said, “Oh grandpa! I love you!”

Everything stopped. There it was. The beauty! She was at that moment a picture of the human heart as it was created by God – to be full of love. (How blessed we are to be able to love; forgetting ourselves we are poured out for the beloved.)

Suddenly, all the mundane, mean little experiences of life stood redeemed in this one moment of pure tenderness. She reminded me of Mary Magdalene weeping for love beside the tomb of Jesus.

How beautiful are those who love. Their hearts point to their Creator, the source of love. “When will we see you face to face, Oh Lord?” Her tears sort of washed me clean. I was wakened to love which will last forever . . . because Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.
It was a good day off.

Easter joy.

Fr. Tim

PS. This all happened 12 years ago . . . chronos time. I still feel that moment now in Kairos time.

Are You a Good Shepherd?

The Gospel this Sunday has that iconic image of the Good Shepherd. Kind of piggy backing on this, the US bishops have called this World Day of Prayer for Vocations.

Get it? The shepherd calls the sheep. The sheep hear his voice and they follow. Jesus calls us (vocare), we hear (or feel) his voice, and we follow in his path (vocation).

What can get in the way of this image (shepherd and sheep) is our discomfort with being likened to sheep. Rather than seeing the privilege of belonging to this especially loved and protected group, we might chafe at the thought of being likened to a dumb animal.

Personally, I find comfort in the thought that Jesus knows me and counts me among his flock. But there is more happening here. The image works both ways: yes, we are the sheep of his flock but, we are also called to be Good Shepherds ourselves.

And, what does that look like? “A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Jn. 10:11. Unlike someone for hire, (rent-a-shepherd) the good shepherd faces down the wolf.

He or she stays to protect the flock (their child, their students, friends, etc.) threatened by violence, injustice, ignorance, lies, false rumors, etc., the good shepherd stands as a pillar of safety and goodness.

So, how are you doing? Are you laying your life down for your little flock?

Holy Trinity Seniors

Any thoughts regarding possible activities for seniors here at H.T.? Your Parish Council would like your ideas.

Stop by the Gathering Space after Mass next week and share your ideas/interest in activities that may appeal to our seniors; or call or email Cathy Imes at 315-524-7351 or

He Lives . . . And so now do we.

There is a scene in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland where Alice eats a mushroom and grows to enormous proportions. She out grows her bed, and bedroom. She must get on her knees so as not to hit her head on the ceiling. Her arms get stretched out the windows. She doesn’t fit her world anymore. It’s too small for her.

Silly as it sounds that image keeps coming to me as we think about the great mystery of Christ’s Resurrection. This world is too small to fit our hope.

Here’s what I mean. Prior to Christ being raised up to the life of the Resurrection this world was all we knew. You were born. You grew up and did a bunch of things (it really didn’t matter what you did). And you died. Everything was all part of the giant wheel of life. Spring to summer, summer to fall, fall to winter and then it starts all over again.

We all fit into the ever repeating pattern of nature – – birth to death. Like a giant Etcha A Sketch nature would lift the page and our scribblings would be lost . . . forever. The best we could hope for was a good growing season, a healthy baby, a little comfort in our last years.

The best pre-scientific minds reflected this static, never changing universe. The sky was thought to be a giant dome (think Sky Dome in New Orleans). The stars were stuck into the dome like spot lights. Each day, the biggest light, the sun, followed a path etched in the dome. As the Book of Ecclesiastes tells us “What has been, that will be; what has been done that will be done. There is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:9

That all changed when God sent his son into nature (space and time). Jesus, by virtue of who he is (God in human flesh), removed the dome over the earth and opened the night sky to the infinite reaches of the galaxies. No longer are we humans caught on the mindless, ever turning wheel of life. No longer are we like leaves that bloom in spring and return to the earth each autumn.

We are Children of God. God, who Jesus tells us to call “Father”. We now have reason to hope for a life that unites us to God forever in Jesus Christ. Without this hope were stuck in Alice’s tiny house. “If for this life only we have hoped in Christ . . . we are the most pitiable of people.” 1 Cor. 15:19.

Christ has freed us from the Eternal Return that held us captive and so now “we look forward to the Resurrection of the Dead and the life of the world to come.” The Creed.

Still we live in time. There’s not enough it seems. We run out of it. We come to our end. Jesus died, so do we. This fact has not changed.

But . . . as the women at the tomb tell us today, HE IS RISEN! God is not defeated by death. He lives in Eternal Life. And He’s coming to get you. Christ wants us to be with him. Why? Because he love us. Why does He love us? Because that’s how God is.
Oh Lord, increase my faith. Please say “yes” to Christ’s love.

Once again, happy Easter.

Fr. Tim

Easter. Things to Do!

Typical Americans, we try to cram every possible self indulgence into one day’s time frame. We do this at Christmas, St. Paddy’s Day, Valentine’s Day, etc. Egging us on for these days of celebration are the greeting card, chocolate and beer companies.

The Church has a much better idea as to how to celebrate important events . . . Take your time. Savor it. So Lent lasts for 40 days, and in that time we fast and sacrifice. Okay. So now Easter is 10 days longer, and we are encouraged to do wonderful things to remind us of the goodness of life as it comes in light of the Resurrection. Joyful things done in His honor; actions done to show our appreciation of life as God has given it to us.

In that spirit may I suggest a few Easter Events you might consider for you and/or your family? (Remember, I am very corny so these may not be your cup of tea. My purpose is to get you to take seriously your own celebration of the Easter Season.)

This Easter Season why not say “thank you” to God by doing some fun, joyful activities like:

See that good movie you’ve been wanting to catch.

  • Take a long walk in the springtime.
  • Visit some special place on a day trip.
  • Listen to a piece of beautiful music (listen like you were in church).
  • Food. Make a special meal for you and loved ones.
  • Visit some person you know can’t get out to see people. Think up some excuse to tell them why you’re coming by – – – in the area, need some advice, etc.
  • Find a way to tell your co-workers what a wonderful Easter you had and how blessed you feel by God to be alive.
  • Visit the graves of the one’s you’ve loved and lost. Ask them to pray for you. You pray for them.
  • Buy a goldfish. God made that.
  • Really sing out at Mass.
  • Read a book where good triumphs over evil.
  • Do something with and for a child. Something fun, something silly.
  • Dedicate a day to speaking only positive words about others.
  • Spend 5 minutes looking out a window at a tree or a bush or people . . . thank God for making you with eyes that can see.
  • Dedicate a day to listening, really listening to people. Hear their joy, sadness, hope, frustration, excitement, disappointment. Take them into your heart.
  • Start your day with God. Throw the covers off in the morning, but before your feet touch the floor tell God, “Lord, I give this day to you. All that I say and all that I do, let it be for you.” Then put your foot on the floor to start the day.

Finally, we do all these things in joy and thanksgiving . . . because we are going to live with God forever in the Mystical Body of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ.

Easter Joy, Fr. Tim

Easter 2015

Take a big nose full of air today. A long breath into your nostrils. Notice anything? The air is still dead. It’s fresh and clear but it’s dead. The hard winter has kept the spring from coming to Western New York. The snow is still melting in our parking lot. The only sure signs of spring have been the geese returning overhead and the crocuses in their crazy purple and yellow. There is no life in the air.

But that is all about to change. An absolute revelation is about to happen. The earth is about to come to life. Green will cover the ground everywhere. Trees will bud, flowers of all kinds will be every-where. And, filling the air will be this brand new smell (I’ve forgotten just how it smells – – – it’s been almost five months). Life.

Imagine, if we had to pay our town government for Spring 2015 . . . “Let’s see now. . . it’ll be $5 mill for the air conditioning, $19 mill for the flowers, and $27 mill for the grass and trees.” It’s all free!! You see God has designed it to happen that way- – -so you could have a garden and greet your neighbor and work on your putting or just let your mind wonder at the beauty of it all. New life.

I wonder if there is a tree or bush anywhere that says “no” to this new life. “No, leave me alone, it’s to hard here.”

“Waking up again to all that happens—drought, wind storms, insects, losing leaves, winter, ice storms. . . I just don’t want anymore.” It’s hard coming to life again. It’s easier to stay dead sometimes.

Friends, today we celebrate the hope of what we call Eternal Life. It is a life that nature cannot produce and for which this springtime is only a glimmer. Eternal Life can come only from He who is eternal.

And, so God like a good farmer, has sent His Son into nature. And like a seed Jesus entered the earth to die (“Unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies it remains just a grain of wheat”).

Having died and been buried in the earth, Jesus is today raised from the dead!! God has begun the New Creation.

Now the question remains, —- do you want this new springtime? Do you want to risk the uncertainties of life for the sake of the prize—Life on high with Jesus Christ? I do!

A Blessed Easter.

With Love, Fr. Tim

Join us for Holy Week

(Below you will find a description of the Triduum)


With this Mass, begins the Easter Triduum. The Church recalls the Last Supper, when Jesus on the night He was betrayed, displays His love for His disciples (and us) by giving them His Body and Blood, under the species of bread and wine. He commands the apostles to perpetuate this offering, the Eucharist. In this liturgy, through the signs and sacraments of this Mass, we remember that Christ accomplished three major objectives: He instituted the Eucharist; he instituted the priesthood; and He commanded us all to love our brothers and sisters. The Eucharist is celebrated.


This is a day of strict fast and abstinence. Its liturgy begins and ends in silence. Decorations in the church are sparse. The church is meditating on the Passion of the Lord. Celebration takes place in the afternoon. When the priest and ministers enter, they do so in silence without any singing. A significant part of this liturgy is veneration of the cross, when each person is invited to move up to a cross of wood, displayed or held up for this purpose, and either kiss it, bow or touch it reverently. Usually the cross that is adored is not a crucifix, (with a body on it) be-cause the church is not looking at just a moment in history, and because the acclamation is, “Behold the wood of the Cross.” Holy Communion, which had been consecrated on Holy Thursday is distributed. When post-Communion prayers are completed, the people and ministers leave in silence, with no dismissal or formal ending. The cross itself is left in the church for meditation on the Paschal mystery (Christ’s cross and resurrection).

EASTER VIGIL: 8:00 pm.

For many people, this is the favorite liturgy of the year. It commemorates the Holy Night when Jesus rose from the dead. This symbol-packed liturgy, which does not take place until nightfall, is full of excitement. The church awaits the Resurrection. The sacrament of initiation (of entrance into the church) is distributed to the catechumens who have been studying and preparing for months for this joyful acceptance by the church. People assemble in church in darkness. At the appointed time they hear the Easter proclamation. Then they participate in the service of the light. A fire is started, preferably outside, but sometimes in a grill within the church, and the paschal candle, representing Christ, is blessed and lighted.

A procession into the church is led by the light of the paschal candle. From this candle the small candles held by the people in the pews are also lit, one by one, until the church is a beautiful picture of candles brightening the darkness. During the procession, the “Light of God” is proclaimed and the people respond with, “Thanks be to God.” The implied message is: just as the children of Israel were guided at night by the pillar of fire, similarly Christians follow the risen Christ.

The people hear seven readings from the Old Testament and two from the New Testament, all telling of the wonderful works of God. When the “Gloria” is sung, candles on or near the altar are lit, lights are turned on, and church bells are rung to ring out to the world the good news. A homily follows the joyful reading of the Gospel. Excitement intensifies for those who have been waiting to be initiated into the church.

Water is blessed by the celebrant by plunging the paschal candle into the water once or three times. The assembly recites the profession of faith, and catechumens are baptized. Standing, the assembly renews its baptismal vows, and is sprinkled with water. The celebration of Eucharist follows. As people leave this uplifting liturgy, they greet each other with “Happy Easter” and smiles of joy.


As we celebrate the 5th Sunday of Lent this weekend, I’m imagining a couple things may have happened to you in these last weeks.

Some of us have entered vigorously into this season of penance. On Ash Wednesday, with the dirt on your forehead, you were resolved to really make this a season of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. By now you have begun to feel the spiritual effects of such efforts— a felt desire for God in your life, an eagerness to do good things for the Lord, perhaps a happiness or peace in the midst of day to day difficulties. If so. . . . thank God. This is a great grace you have received.

Others of us have not been so diligent in our observance of the discipline of Lent. Maybe like New Years resolutions, we just got started and then dropped the whole project. Or, perhaps we tried to sacrifice or do something extra in prayer, but saw our efforts slowly go down hill. Maybe you are just now considering this holy season and thinking, “What the heck, it’s more than half over- – – I’ll just wait for Easter and do it up right.

May I offer a suggestion? First off, perhaps the failure to follow through on our Lenten efforts is part of God’s plan for you. In the opening prayer for the 3rd Sunday of Lent (half-way) the Church prays, “Lord, when we are discouraged by our weakness, give us confidence in your love.” Maybe God wanted you to learn how weak you are! Maybe now you know how much you need God to help you do even the slightest sacrifice. Perhaps in our failures we are beginning to learn the mysterious lessons of humility.

Whatever this Lent has been for you so far really doesn’t matter—– it’s today that should concern us. Why not let this Monday be a new beginning? Let’s call it Ash Monday.

Ask God for the grace that would give you a plan for these next two weeks leading up to Easter Sunday. Such a plan might include:

  • going to confession.
  • attending Mass one other time during the week.
  • sitting everyday for three minutes (or more, if God so moves you) to consider how you might better spend the fleeting days of your life.
  • journey with the people of Holy Trinity by being a part of the Holy Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil/Easter Sunday).
  • acts of kindness for those with whom you live and work.
  • some special act of selflessness offered for peace in the Middle East.

So, come along now. Up we go!! We are companions on this journey.

Bless you, Fr. Tim

One By One. An Update.

Last week we held the second of three One By One events. Since we’ve asked everyone in the parish to be on the lookout for one person they know who has become distant from the practice of the Catholic Faith, I thought you should hear about what’s been happening.

The first evening was called “Let’s Play”. Twenty-three invitees joined their Holy Trinity friends for an evening of food (pizza) and fun competition at Trivial Pursuit. There was a brief talk by a HT parishioner who told us about his journey away from the church, and after a few years, why he returned. One comment that cracked us up was, “Nothing smells like a Catholic Church.”

The next event was called “Let’s Talk“. This evening was a bit more serious as we began to tackle some of the issues that caused people to step back from their Catholic practice.

The guests grew in number (26), and after some delicious rigatoni and meatballs, we broke up into discussion groups asking each table to share their thoughts about:

  • In your opinion, what is the most common reason for people to stop practicing their Catholic Faith?
  • Would you care to share what caused you to step back from the Catholic practice?
  • What keeps you away from coming back to the Catholic Church?

Then, Jim from the Cathedral Community, told his story of Catholicism to atheism in his 20’s, and his return to the Catholic Faith with the birth of his first child. It was a fascinating example of how God uses the things right in front of us (family, friends) to touch our hearts and bring us to HIM.

We ended the evening with a Q and A with Fr. John and me. Any question was fair game (and boy we got some good ones). One person asked if women would ever become priests in the RC Church. (Fr. John thinks “Yes, but not right now” – Fr. Tim thinks “No”). Another wanted to know if gay couples could come to mass as a “couple”; (Of course they can. All are welcomed here).

But, the one that stopped me was, “About our religion . . . belief in Christ (as opposed to other faiths) . . . how do we know we’re right?” There’s a lot of things to say here, but for me, in the end, there is a “grace” from God that brings a quiet confidence that Christ is the answer. It’s not a feeling of superiority. It’s a quiet trust, like a child hearing her parents voice.

So . . . . it’s been wonderful so far! There is one more evening on March 21 called “Let’s Pray”. After a dish to pass, we’ll spend time in church with Fr. John and me walking and talking through what is called a “Dry Mass”. People are encouraged to ask questions or stop the lesson at any point for clarification.

There is still time to invite someone to this most enjoyable evening. It will be a great help to those who have been away and would like to start again. What a better time since Holy Week begins the next Sunday!

Lastly, I want to thank you for making your invitation to someone. Even if they chose not to come, you’ll never know what your words may mean to them over time. Thanks also, to the great committee that worked so hard to make the One By One Mission possible. You know who you are. Thank you so much.

Blessings to you this Fourth Week of Lent. Hang in there.

Fr. Tim

An audio recording from Saturday’s ‘Let’s Talk’ gathering is now available online.
To assist us with planning for the One by One Events, (food, etc.) we ask that you to register in one of the following ways:

Not sure if you can come to all three events at this time– no problem! You can register for one event at a time and come back to register for the other events, or you can register for all events at once.

One By One Logo

ONE by ONE lineup:

Saturday, March 21, 6:15 pm. “Let’s Pray”

  • Pot Luck Supper (bring a dish to pass) and welcome.
  • Move to church for an informal conversation and walk through of the Catholic Mass.
  • Brief description of upcoming Palm Sunday and Holy Week.
  • Invitation to join us for Holy Week and Easter Sunday.

Friendship With Jesus

I remember a long time ago, part of my seminary preparation sent me to a summer chaplain school in a county hospital in Dallas, Texas. There were thirteen in our chaplain class, twelve Southern Baptists/Assembly of God and one Catholic (me).

We would meet daily for intensive meetings about the patients we were working with, and then we’d break for lunch. It was during our lunches that we’d learn more about each other and what our personal faith traditions taught. You can imagine the attention the Catholic guy got!

Comments like: “You Catholics like statues!” Or, “You worship Mary.” Or, “the Pope is as important as Jesus.” Or, “Just go to mass and you go straight to heaven, right?” But, the one question that we spent most of our time on was, “Do Catholics accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior?” “Did you accept him, Tim?”

It really made me step out of my Catholic world to see what these Baptist classmates knew in their bones as little children . . . “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” A real, living, present person . . . my friend, Jesus. “Yes”, I said, but they made me dig deep inside to realize this friendship.

Many Catholics are a little slow to answer, “have I accepted Jesus into my life”? “Do you mean, do I love God? Of course I do. I go to mass. I say my prayers. I try to live right. Does that mean I have a personal relationship with Jesus?”

I would say, “yes”. You’ve got the basics covered there. . loving and serving a God we cannot see. However, I think the question goes a bit further than that, asking in a sense, is this relationship with Christ PERSONAL?

Does it bear the signs of a relationship? Is there a familiarity with Jesus that one would have in a dear friendship? Is there, at times, an emotional level to your speaking with God? (For example: “Lord, you know I can’t stand the thought of losing my friend, ( neighbor, associate, job, etc.) Please help me!!!” That’s a personal relationship.)

What if I don’t recognize these feelings in my relationship with Christ? Have I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior? Don’t be too hard on yourself. Remember, you HAVE a relationship with Christ GIVEN to you in baptism. You are a child of God, and you are invited to call God your Father. It’s a gift. Accept it.

The other personal feeling stuff comes naturally to any-one who loves God and tries to do what is good. If my chaplain friends had asked me, “do you always FEEL Christ’s friendship?” I would have to answer, “no”. Feelings come and go. There are times when we are filled with affections toward those we love. At other times, things feel dry and everyday. There is nothing wrong with that. It’s just how life is.

But, there is one infallible way to determine whether we have a personal relationship with Jesus – – – – how do we treat our neighbor in need? Why is this the measure (and not some spiritual feeling)? Because Jesus said so.

“As often as you (fed, clothed, visited, comforted) these little ones, you did it for me.” MT. 25:31ff. And, “whoever has not loved a brother/sister whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” 1 John 4:20. In other words, Christ takes it PERSONALLY when we care for our neighbor. Kindness to them is kindness TO ME, says the Lord.

Loving our neighbor is essential to having a personal relationship with Jesus as Lord and Savior.
God bless you and meet you on your Lenten journey.

Fr. Tim

To assist us with planning for the One by One Events, (food, etc.) we ask that you to register in one of the following ways:

Not sure if you can come to all three events at this time– no problem! You can register for one event at a time and come back to register for the other events, or you can register for all events at once.

One By One Logo

ONE by ONE lineup:

Saturday, March 21, 6:15 pm. “Let’s Pray”

  • Pot Luck Supper (bring a dish to pass) and welcome.
  • Move to church for an informal conversation and walk through of the Catholic Mass.
  • Brief description of upcoming Palm Sunday and Holy Week.
  • Invitation to join us for Holy Week and Easter Sunday.