Wanna Be Happy?…Serve Somebody.

I hope by now you know how happy Fr. John and I are being priests. I’ve told many young men in my job as Vocation Director that were I given the opportunity to choose my life over again, I’d be a priest. I just like it. It fits me.

Perhaps the biggest reason it feels right is that I think God wanted me to be a priest. It was His idea first . . . and then ever respectful of my freedom, God found ways to get me thinking about this way of life. It makes me happy to think God has an opinion about what we should do with the life He’s given us.

He never forced me with fear or guilt. God used natural human things to get my attention . . . comments of people who knew me well, watching some priests who I liked a lot (seeing their happiness and humor), feeling a desire to help people, realizing that we’re only here in this world for a while . . . all contributed to a growing feeling that God was calling me to live my life as a priest.

It isn’t easy to hear God’s voice calling. It requires listening in prayer, a careful examination of your heart and its feelings, and hardest of all, was trying to find “my heart’s desire.” In the end it came down to, “Tim, what do you want to die for?” And the answer – – though it took a while – – was, “I want to die for you, Jesus. I want to give my life to you and do the things that will help people get to heaven.” For me that said, “be a priest.”

That’s my story in three paragraphs! It certainly wasn’t my mother and father’s story. It’s probably not your story either. Most people don’t have that odd appeal toward a celibate life lived for the purpose of spreading Christ’s Kingdom. I mean really, let’s face it, it’s pretty different.

But . . . . your story and my story have that most important aspect in common, “Who will you die for?” Or, to put it in a slightly milder way, what is there in your life that you would be willing to sacrifice it all for? That’s God’s invitation to you. That’s your vocation.

For my father it was a beautiful woman named Rosemary. For mom it was her husband and her children. And they did. They laid it down, for each other and for us children.

And do you know who in the end we all lay it down for? Teacher, parent, spouse, priest, musician, poet, carpenter, farmer, soldier, cop, nurse, bus driver . . . we are all called to lay it down for Christ.

Yes, that’s right. You have a vocation to give your life to Christ, to be at His service each day of your life. In that sense your vocation is the same as the priest or nun.

The only problem is we don’t see him. We don’t see Him, because He’s hiding! He’s hiding in the face of your spouse, your students, customers, friends, enemies, your children, your parents, your neighbor, your check out per-son, and yes, even the cable guy! All human kind is unit-ed to Christ. (The Incarnation-God becomes one of us.)

You get it, right? “Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever looses his life for my sake, (see everyone above), and that of the gospel will save it.” Mk. 8:35. We are the only creature made by God that comes to understand their life by giving it away. That’s all of our vocations — to lay it down in love.

Because Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.

Happy Spring!

Fr. Tim

Thank You Mother.

(I know how special this day is for all of you. I had wanted to send out a fresh message, but time just
didn’t allow. Please accept this “re-run” of a year ago. Mom, we love you!)

Forgive my nostalgia, but for the second time this month, I’m looking back over my memory bank. This time, of course, it has to do with my mother.

I hope you spend some time today with your mom. If you are blessed enough to still have her with you, I’m sure you will try to make her day special. If she has gone from this life, be sure to spend a moment to say a prayer for her — she’s watching, you know!!. Perhaps, put her picture on the table, and spend some time smiling at the woman who brought you into the world.

I thought I’d share a memory of my mother that really captures this fun, interesting and loyal woman. You may remember my earlier description of her as missing that “nurturing gene”. She trusted that her children could figure it out themselves, and then we’d sit and compare notes on “life!”

Anyway, this goes back to 1958. My mother and I had ventured into the world of Cub Scouting . . .

Are or were you a scouter? Many can claim this wonderful activity as a major part of their youth. I cannot. It was too tough for me. I wasn’t disciplined enough. I was a Cub Scout for a short while. The Order of Wolf was as far as I got. I remember liking the cookies and Kool Aid and running around at the end of meetings tackling my fellow cubs.

But the part of the meeting where I had to tie the knots, or do the craft, or master the promises – I just couldn’t do it.

I remember sitting with my mother, who, God bless her, had accepted the charge of being my DEN MOTHER the night before Wolf Badges were to be awarded. My merit badges were unearned at that point, and we frantically searched for a way to accomplish them by tomorrow’s deadline. It was a moment of desperation, which brought a great temptation.

“Well, if you tried to name all the leaves, do you think you’d eventually get them?”, asked my moth-er. “Sure I could,” I said with confidence. “And those knots, if you really tried hard, could you learn to tie them?” “You bet mom!” A checkmark was entered in the box marked “task completed.” Mom took a long puff on her cigarette…

…Suddenly, we both knew that this charade could not go on. “Tim, I don’t think I can recommend you for the badges tomorrow.” “I know mom.” On that honest note my career in scouting ended, and so too, my mother’s title of den mother. It was better for us both.

Oh mother! What fun you were. What freshness you brought to so many. I will see you in the Kingdom. And Dad too. (There are some stories there!!). Yes, I will see you . . . because Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.

Thank you mom. Happy Mother’s Day!
Fr. Tim

Positive Thinking . . . A Gift of Easter

As I’ve mentioned to you, my father was an insurance salesman who overcame many personal qualities (he was very shy and prone to pessimism) to be-come an outgoing, confident, highly knowledgeable insurance agent.

Along the way he found a couple of motivational books that helped him get beyond his personality weaknesses: N. V. Peale’s, How to Win Friends and Influence People, and The Power of Positive Thinking. These were life changers for dad, and he insisted his pouty teenage son read them both.

I hated them. They seemed so ‘50’s, “establishment”, as my generation would caustically remark. “Just think positively and everything will turn out peachy keen,” I mocked. “Tell that to the guys in Viet Nam,” I said with righteous fervor. Get real dad.

That was a long time ago. As in many things, I’ve come to see my dad was right. You become what you believe in. You acquire the qualities of what you take into yourself.

For example, if I spend my time watching dark or violent or lustful images, I begin to have a hunger for these things in real life (ever see one of those cage matches on Ultimate Fighting? I become excited by human blood and pain. Horrible).

If I pride myself in finding something wrong in any given situation, I begin to prefer the negative. I feel validated by it, proclaiming myself a “realist”. Our spirits are shaped by what we take into our minds.

Regard the face of the social worker who has devoted her life to helping the poor, or the face of the old nun who has taught thousands of school children, or the face of the symphony conductor finishing Beethoven’s Pastoral symphony . . . They are beautiful! Look at the face of the mother kissing her new
born . . . so full of love.

Now this is not a psychological trick like some chameleon becoming the color it touches. It’s real. The light is real. Goodness is real. Love is real. And . . . guess what? (This is the Easter part)! This light has overcome the darkness. Love wins!

How do we know this? Because Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. “The Light has shown in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Jn. 1:5

So, what do we do in this Easter season (and all year)? We take in the light, not the darkness — you know the difference; you can feel it. We give forth the light, we walk with those in darkness and negativity helping them to see life’s goodness.

And, all of this “positive thinking” is not just some childish wishful thinking. It’s the rock on which we live our lives – – – Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.

Let’s get to work.

Fr. Tim

Mercy: More than You Deserve

So I say to you, “I’ll give you $20 if you wash and wax my car.” And you say, “Deal”. So you wash and wax my car but, contrary to our agreement, I only give you $10. “Hey, you owe me $10!”, you cry. “I changed my mind”, I say, “and besides, you used my bucket and soap!”

Besides never washing my car again, you’ll continue to remind me that I owe you 10 bucks. Why? Be-cause we made a deal, recognized by law. I was legally obliged to pay you $20 (in a larger case, you’d take me to small claims court).

So, knowing you’d probably tell everyone in Webster that I’d stiffed you, I finally decide to pay you the full amount. Our friendship will still need repair but at least JUSTICE IS SERVED. Justice is giving to another what they deserve or have a “right” to.

So, you get into your shiny clean car and race across the Bay Bridge when suddenly you see those scary red and blue flashing lights in your mirror. “License and registration please,” says the officer. (you were going 68 in a 55 zone). Turns out to be $125 to the town court. Justice served.

We get the idea sometime that justice is the highest form of human relationship . . . to give everyone what they deserve makes for a happy well ordered society. That may be true for a community wracked with poverty and crime – – – justice is a blessing. But, in the Christian perspective justice is the minimum that is expected of us. It’s no big deal to be “just”.

We are called to a higher level of relationship. We are to be a people of Mercy. The Webster dictionary defines mercy as “kindness in excess of what is deserved or demanded by fairness”.

We see it everywhere in the Gospels. Jesus tells us:

“love your enemies, do good to those who persecute you.” Mt. 5:44

“Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing.” Lk. 23:34

“If someone asks for your coat, give them your shirt as well, to walk a mile, walk with them for two miles.” Lk. 6:27

The father put the gold ring and royal cloak on his wastrel son, because “He was lost, but now he is found.”
The laborers received a full day’s wage for just one hour’s work. Mt. 20:8

And, St. Paul marvels at the mercy of God when he declares, “that while we were still sinners and ene-mies of God, Christ died for us.” Rm. 5:5

So, this second Sunday of Easter is called Divine Mercy Sunday. We are called to acknowledge God’s mercy in our own lives (the countless times I’ve re-ceived more from life and God than I ever deserved). And, in the joy of the Resurrection we have the grace to offer mercy to those who have offended us in some way.

Happy Easter . . . 50 days of it!!

Fr. Tim

He Lives.

There is a scene in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland where Alice eats a mushroom and grows to enormous proportions. She outgrows her bed and bedroom. She must get on her knees so as not to hit her head on the ceil-ing. Her arms get stretched out the window. 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. We live in a world with limited re-sources. There’s only so much water, clean air, oil, land, food, clothes, money and power. Oh, there’s “enough” for all of us to live, but here’s the problem . . . people being people . . . some of us want more than we need. And that’s okay . . . if we all have enough.

Problems arise when my “wanting more” keeps you from “getting enough”. Humanity seems to be hardwired for conflict. Given limited resources, and the tendency in each of us toward selfishness, the freedom to use power to get more and the human right to have enough are bound to conflict. Who wins? The powerful.

This is where Jesus and the Resurrection come in. You see, Jesus came to show us a new way of living not based on power, a way that has as its foundation a selfless love. We’ve never seen a love quite like what is revealed in Jesus Christ. It is a love that lays down its life for the be-loved, a love that seeks not its own but the happiness of the other, a love that discovers itself by giving itself away, a love that will suffer and endure all things for the sake of the truth.

And that’s what these last three days have been about . . . Jesus pouring himself out for the salvation (read: “the rescuing by love”) of the human race. Jesus died for us. His love is poured out for us “while we were yet sinners.”

And now today, Easter Sunday, God reveals something else – – – this love never dies. Jesus is raised from the dead by the power of God the Father, who is love. We are the heirs of this gift of new life (God’s Life), which means my life’s mission becomes one of loving others as Christ has loved me, which means we are all brothers and sisters in this world and yes . . . there is enough for everyone . . . because you can have some of mine.

That brings us to one final precious resource. Time. There’s not enough. We run out of time. We come to our end. Jesus died. We die.

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 and me and poor Alice! Christ wants us to be with him. Why? Because he loves us. Why does He love us? Because that’s how God is.

Please say “yes” to Christ’s love.

Happy Easter.

Fr. Tim

Please Come. Hope for Everyone.

It’s taken me awhile (like 30 years!) to begin to under-stand what happens this coming week . . . Holy Week.

I used to think of Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday as “Church Week” (a lot of time spent in church.) I was an altar serv-er in grade school and high school, so the week was spent practicing the very solemn and detailed liturgies of those days. Sr. Annella would drill them into us.

The Triduum (Thurs./Fri./Sat – Sunday) was filled with washings, processions, cross carrying, incense, darkness and candles, all with a solemn almost mournful dignity. There was something mysterious and profound that you just couldn’t put into words. Each was its own separate “production”, kind of like watching the Passion Play at Oberamagau.

This all remains, but I think I understand it a bit better now. It’s not a play or a movie, it’s a re-presenting. The liturgy “makes present again,” the saving actions of Jesus in Jerusalem that week. We shouldn’t be surprised about this “make present again” because it happens at every Mass. Jesus, in a non-bloody manner, offers his life on the cross for our salvation. We receive his resurrected body in our own hands, and we eat him as the Bread Broken and Given for eternal life.

This is profound stuff. We’ll never plumb the depths of God’s love for us in Christ. But we can take a step. Come this week.

It really is one event, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, The Son of God. It takes four days to re-present (Thursday through Sunday). Thursday presents the Wash-ing of Feet (Christ’s commission to humble ourselves in service to our brothers and sisters) and the gift of the Eu-charist and priesthood at the Last Supper.

Good Friday has us walk with Christ the sorrowful jour-ney to his death and a moment to kiss the cross on which he died for love of us.

Holy Saturday is wrapped in silence throughout the day until sunset, when we light the new paschal candle and announce the Resurrection, and each carry our own can-dle, which now shares that same light.
That night our catechumens will be baptized, and all will receive Confirmation and Eucharist. This liturgy begins the celebration of Easter.

Sunday morning is a further joy as we peer into the empty tomb with Mary Magdalene and the apostles.

So, do you have to be “holy” to celebrate Holy Week? Does your Lent have to be full of prayers and sacrifices? Both of these would be nice, but the answer is “No”. It’s a “come as you are” presentation. God loves you as you are.
Please Come!!

One week to go. Let’s use it for prayer, fasting and alms-giving. May God bless you this week, wherever you are on your journey.

Fr. Tim

PS. See the purple refrigerator page in the bulletin for times of liturgies.

“If You Had Been Here….”

I can’t imagine that Martha was anything but heart broken and angry with Jesus when he showed up four days late to save her brother, Lazarus. She and her sister, Mary had sent an urgent message for him to come, ”Lord, your dear friend is sick.”

The two sisters were particularly close to Jesus –
(remember the dinner? Martha fumed away in the kitchen, while Mary sat talking with Jesus.) They were them-selves . . . no pious holy card figures. “Why weren’t you here, Jesus?! Our brother would never have died!”

And what was the reason Jesus gave for his delay? “For your (the disciples) sake I am glad I was not with him so that you will believe,” (That Christ has power over sin and death). Jn, 11:15. What follows, of course, totally amazed everybody; Lazarus comes back to life.

So, what’s the point for you and me? Well, unless you are like Jesus and can raise dead people back to life, you’d better be there. What’s the line from the movie, Annie Hall? Eighty per-cent of life is just showing up. Not being there to win everyone’s attention, not to do anything special, JUST BE THERE.

We don’t believe that about ourselves, do we? That we make a difference. Many times we think, “who am I that people would want me to be there? What will I say? What should I do?” They won’t care if I’m not there.

But, it’s not that way for people who love you. Your presence is a comfort to them. I remember my father’s face buried amongst hundreds of people in the stands as we faced our archrivals in basketball. It was such a comfort to know he was there . . . as we lost the game.

You see, you don’t need to say anything. You don’t need to be witty or profound or anything. Just be you and show up. Love will do the rest.

Be there for:
• Dinner with the family
• Dance recitals/games/birthdays
• Bed time/prayer time for the children
• Parish picnics/movie nights
• A co-worker who’s having a hard time
• Mass (of course!)
• Someone sick/in prison
• Someone shut-in or alone
• A sad and mixed-up teenager
• A spouse who needs your attention

Why show up? Because we’re less when you aren’t there. And you don’t know how many people are missing you.
See you in church. I hope.

Blessings to you. Have you seen the robins?!
Fr. Tim

Fifth Week of Lent

There is so much to contemplate in this Sunday’s Gospel: Martha and Mary’s profound faith in Jesus and his promise of eternal life, his deep understanding of human pain and loss, his power over death made manifest to believers and doubters alike. From those who have seen or heard of Jesus’ miraculous deeds, there is dismay that he has not done something to save his friend. No one, (except perhaps Martha? “Even now, Lord…”) has an inkling of what will happen next.

Then, Jesus calls out and Lazarus comes forth, and many believe. All it takes is his word to give new life to one thought lost. He calls out to us as well, and his word is all it takes to give new life to our faith and commitment to him, if we only respond. If our Lent hasn’t quite gone the way we intended, we don’t need to spend any time be-moaning our failures: we just need to start anew. Jesus is calling!

From Pope Francis’ general audience June 9, 2013: “Let’s think about this, it’s beautiful: God’s mercy gives life to man, it raises him from the dead.” Join Mary Haas in the Gathering Space after the 9:00 am. Mass on Wednesday, April 9, for our second discussion on The Simple Wisdom of Pope Francis.”

“All I know is that I was blind . . . . and now I see”

These were the words of that wonderful little man in the gospel this Sunday. He had been born blind, and from his earliest days lived a life as a beggar. (I remember in my home town a man sitting on a busy corner, a hat and sun-glasses covering his face, selling “Blind Man Pencils”.) Everyone in town knew him.

You would think it was cause for great joy that this poor man was given sight for the first time in his life. But not for the keepers of religious propriety, “Whoever healed you is not of God, for this was done on the Sabbath. . . this man is a sinner.”

What’s happening here? The man is being bullied. He’s being pushed into a theological debate that he is sure to lose. He’s dealing with the experts in the law, and they’re mounting a powerful case against Jesus using the most forceful argument of all . . . it’s against the law to heal on the Sabbath!

So what does he do? He refuses to be drawn into their academic game and instead, he witnesses to what he knows is the truth. “I don’t know if he is a sinner or not. All I know is, I was blind and now I see.”
Ever have that kind of bullying? You know, the “professors” in the lunch room/locker room – “Oh come on, you don’t have to go to Mass to talk to God. Besides, they’re all hypocrites anyway.” Or, “You Catholics are such prudes, you love to feel guilty.” Or, “Those people just don’t want to work. It’s in their blood. Why should I have to help them?”

What do you do? I like the little guy’s lead in. “All I know is . . .” In other words, he doesn’t get tangled up in someone else’s conclusions. He doesn’t debate them on their carefully prepared arguments. No, he simply states what he knows to be true. He stands to witness for some-thing that is unpopular to the experts, the majority, the current opinion.

It’s not easy, is it? The man is thrown out of the synagogue for telling the unpopular truth. People shun the messenger of inconvenient facts. Deitrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran theologian who died in the Belsen Prison Camp, describes this as “the cost of discipleship”. It’s part of the program that goes with following Christ. People won’t understand you, will try to shout you down.

So . . . what is it that you know? We don’t have to look too far. Life delivers lessons everyday.
For example I know:
• God helps when we call out to Him.
• Kindness is it’s own reward.
• Spreading hope is what we’re about, not pointing out failure.
• Everyone, everyone, is a Child of God.
• Somehow it’s going to all work out (because God has saved us).
So go witness to, “all I know is . . .”

Bless you always.
Fr. Tim

Fourth Week of Lent

“One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.” For the man born blind, knowledge of this clear and sim-ple truth fortifies him against the ridicule of his detrac-tors, emboldens his replies, and leads to his solemn decla-ration, “I do believe, Lord.” Despite the miraculous evi-dence and his compelling response to their arguments however, there are still those who refuse to accept it, be-cause the event doesn’t fit within the bounds of their ex-pectations or traditions.

We may sometimes find it difficult to see beyond the familiar, but St. Paul says, we too have been brought from darkness into light, which produces goodness and truth.

Lent is a time for sweeping away what keeps us from the truth, for learning to see more as God sees. Can you recall a moment when you suddenly realized –in an encounter with another person, in the resolution to a problem, or in an unexpected outcome –that God was present and lend-ing you His insight?

Share the memory with family or friends, hold fast to it, and let it sustain you in times of confusion or doubt.


Have you seen Holy Trinity’s new website? We’re making a big deal about it this weekend.

As you know the traditional way of sharing information and upcoming events has been to publish a parish bulletin. (It’s what you’re reading right now!) In it you find the mass schedule, the weekly calendar of events, upcoming meetings, classes, volunteer opportunities, and the Pastor’s Ramblings.

Well it’s a new age. So the same information and more is available on our website. What is the MORE about Holy Trinity on the web?
+ You can hear the readings for the Sunday mass and the homily as they were given that very Sunday.

+ You will find pictures of the parish staff, parish council, and recent events with parishioners. (Parishioner Jackson Thomas is a regular contributor of photos of life here at Holy Trinity.)

+ The website is interactive. If you have an event that you feel Holy Trinity should know about you can send the information along to events@holytrinityweb.com. Our web master Phil Marr will take your information and get it on our website.

+ Easy sign up for parish events like suppers and other gatherings that require advance notice can be accomplished on the web. (In fact stay tuned to this sign-up option as we will be asking you to participate in family portrait sessions for our new parish directory.) Visit ‘www.holytrinityweb.com/news’ to sign up.

+ The email addresses you have given to the parish will make special announcements and requests for prayers easily accessable to you just by going to the web. By the way, if you would care to share your email address with us we can send you timely announcements and reminders of events during the week.

So try it out Holytrinityweb.com. Let me know what you think. Any ideas you’d like to suggest? Blessings for the Third Week of Lent.

Fr. Tim

Third Week of Lent

Sunday’s readings focus on water, so essential to life. The Israelites whine for it, and God provides, even as they display their lack of trust in Him. The Samaritan woman at first misunderstands Jesus’ claim to be “living water” and asks for what she thinks will make her life easier. But, with Jesus’ patient instruction, she comes to realize much more of what He is offer-ing.

Suggestions: This week, serve water instead of other drinks at meals, and let this lead to a discussion of the importance of water in our natural lives, and the parallel ways the Living Water flows in our spir-itual lives.

Reflect: The wonder of this gift, as St. Paul points out, is that it’s given to people who don’t deserve it. How do we show our gratitude, and how do we, like the Samaritan woman, bring this good news to our friends and neighbors? Join Mary Haas after the 9:00 am. Mass on Wednesday for a discussion on the meaning of Christian Community, based on The Simple Wisdom of Pope Francis – The Joy of Evangelization. The selected teaching from one of his general audiences begins, “How beautiful it is to love one another as true brothers and sisters. How beautiful! Let’s do something today.”

Save the Dates For Our Parish Lenten Retreat

Who Do You Say That I Am? – A Family Mission – For all ages!
Presented by Michael Theisen

Sunday, March 30 Noon – 1:00 pm. Soup/Salad Lunch – at St. Rita Church 1:00 – 3:00 pm.

Monday, March 31 5:00 – 6:00 pm. Pizza Dinner – at St. Paul Church 6:00 – 8:00 pm.

“Who Do You Say I am?” is the ultimate question of faith asked to each of us by Jesus. It’s also a critical question of identity that must be answered within each family and between each couple as we try to pass on our shared faith.

This Lent let’s gather together for a two-part retreat as a “church family” to break open the meaning of this question and to share our answers with other family members.

Our Sunday Session will be interactive, involving all ages in an engaging event that will leave you laughing, talking and thinking more deeply about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ in the world today. Families can join in a soup and salad lunch from 12:00 -1:00 pm. in St. Rita’s Parish Center.

Our Monday Session, “Bringing Home the Faith,” will be directed to parents, grandparents and other interest-ed adults, because the research on children, teens and faith is clear: YOU matter—a LOT to the children in your family. We will explore how best to bring the “Good News” to life around our family tables. There will be age-appropriate activities for youth and children. An added plus: there’s no need to cook! RSVP to (Jodie Hickey 671-2100 x60) or (Kim Sbarra 671-2100 x28) to sign up.

We are pleased that Michael Theisen, Director of Membership Services for the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry in Washington, DC, will be our main presenter. Michael was instrumental in developing the national program, “Strong Catholic Families: Strong Catholic Youth.” He is a dynamic and well-known national speaker who makes his home in the Rochester area.

So, mark your calendars today and plan on joining us!!
This retreat is co-sponsored by Holy Spirit, Holy Trinity, St. Paul’s and St. Rita Churches

This Monday Night at Holy Trinity

We continue our Monday night conversations at 7:00 pm. in the Gathering Space. This week Fr. Tim will lead the discussion, “Ten Things you need to know about starting to pray (again!)”. Come listen and participate in the conversation as we look for ways to pray better. The presentation is for all of us beginners!