Saturday, June 12, 2010


Quote for today - Celebrating the Immaculate Heart of Mary - June 10, 2010

"Eve sought the fruit,
but did not find there
what she wished for.
In her fruit
the Blessed Virgin found
all that Eve had wanted."

St. Thomas Aquinas [1225-1274], in Exposition of the Hail Mary, 13th century.

Painting on top by an unknown artist. It's entitled, "Virgin Mary - Undoer of Knots". It has been in the church of St. Peter in Perlack, Germany since 1700. The literature on this image of Mary says, "It was originally inspired by a meditation of St. Ireneus - based on the comparison between Eve and Mary." An added text based on the words of Ireneus could be: "Eve, by her disobedience tied the knot of disgrace for the human race; Mary, full of Grace, by her obedience, untied it for the human race."

Friday, June 11, 2010


Quote on this Day - Feast of the Sacred Heart - June 11, 2010

"Japanese poetry has as its subject the human heart. It may seem to be of no practical use and just as well left uncomposed, but when one knows poetry well, one understands also without explanation the reasons governing order and disorder in the world."

Kamo Mabuchi [1697-1769] Writings

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Quote of the Day - June 10, 2010

"We are not free. And the sky can still fall on our heads. And the theater has been created to teach us that first of all."

Said by Antonin Artaud [1896-1948] - French playwright, actor, director and poet.

Picture on top from the Internet. For scenes from Arthur Miller's play, Death of A Salesman type into Google: Youtube Death of a Salesman - Dust in the Wind

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Quote of the Day  - June 9, 2010

I have looked everywhere
I can find nothing lowly
in the universe."

A.R. Ammons {1926-2001], Still [1972]

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Quote for the Day - June 8, 2010

"Screaming the night away
With his great white feathers
Swooping the darkness up;
I hear the Eagle bird
Pulling the blanket back
Of from the eastern sky."

Invitation Song [Iroquois], Anonymous

December 2, 2009 - 7:48 Morning sky - St. Mary's Parking Lot - Annapolis, looking out over Carroll Gardens and Spa Creek.

Monday, June 7, 2010


The house is quiet ….
A Saturday night ….
Nobody’s home but me….
Surprise! It hits me that
this might be the first time
in a long time everybody’s out.
Wonderful ….
Yet at other times a moment
like this would trigger my emptiness –
my need for family …
for sound and shuffle,
another in another room.
But not now, not this night….
I’m just sitting here enjoying the all alone
the quiet – with the ALL ALONE.
Lord, have you been waiting for me
in a moment like this as well
or do you too just want to be ALL ALONE ?

© Andy Costello, Prayers, 2010


Quote of the Day - an image in a Marriage - June 7, 2010

"Two by two in the ark of
the ache of it."

Denise Levertov [1923-1997] in The Ache of Marriage [1964]

Photo of Denise Levertov - taken off the Internet

Sunday, June 6, 2010



The title of my homily is, “Body of Christ! Amen!”

This Sunday we celebrate the feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ!

“Corpus Christi” in Latin. Better: “Corpus et Sanguis Christi.”

Quite a feast. Quite a belief. Quite a moment.

Reflect upon this question for a moment of quiet: At Mass when we say “Amen”, when we come up to receive the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, what are we saying “Amen!” to?

[A moment of quiet]

I came up with 5 answers for starters – but we’ll be here forever if I spelled out my 5 reflections – so let me just give 3 – and the third will be the shortest reflection – because I’m aware if the first two each take 5 minutes – when I say # 3, you’ll say, as you look at your watch, “Oh my God.”


First of all, we’re saying “Amen!” to a real mystery – that Christ is present in this small piece of bread and this tiny sip of wine – if we receive from the cup as well – which we do here weekdays – but not Sundays because of the aisle space here – but we do have the cup on Sundays at St. John Neumann’s.

The Catholic Theology is that Christ is present here completely – in the bread and the wine.

This is a mystery – a great mystery of faith. Amen.

Have you ever read something – that didn’t hit you – till long after you read it – and then you can’t find where you read it?

I read somewhere that there are over 400 theological explanations on how Christ is present in the Eucharist.

I read somewhere that while theologians were arguing in the 1700’s about how Christ was present in the Eucharist, St. Alphonsus de Liguori, who founded us Redemptorists, wrote his little book, “Visits to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament”. He wrote it for people who wanted to just come to church and just be with Jesus – in the mystery of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. And that little, old booklet has been translated into dozens and dozens of languages and has come out in over 2000 editions.

Bottom line: it’s a mystery – how Jesus is present in the Bread and Wine.

Bottom line: it takes faith.

I can’t explain it – but I was taught that Christ is present in the bread since I was a little kid – my mom and dad taking me to church – seeing people kneeling – seeing people receiving communion and coming back to their bench and going into face covering prayer with their hands – sometimes half kneeling and half sitting – people being different than when they were in that same seat before receiving communion. I sensed something special – something mysterious was taking place here.

As a kid I was also an altar boy – and I know the difference between the way bread is treated by people before and after the consecration.

I became a priest – and most of the time I sense the mystery here – but I can’t explain this mystery here. I read Pope Paul VI’s encyclical on the Eucharist, “Mysterium Fidei – which came out in 1965 the year I was ordained – but reading people’s presence and faith here at Mass all these years since has been a more powerful read.

It’s a gift to believe. It’s as simple as that. It’s faith. And part of faith is freedom to believe or not to believe.

Read the 6th Chapter of the Gospel of John any time you have doubts about Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist – and everyone has doubts from time to time. Doubt comes with faith. If you go to our Eucharistic Chapel – here at St. Mary’s – and if you make a Holy Hour – every once and a while make a Holy Hour reading and chewing upon and digesting the 6th Chapter of the Gospel of John.

So number 1, when I’m receiving communion, and when I say, “Amen!” I’m saying “Amen” to a mystery. I’m making an act of faith.


Number 2, when we say, “Amen” we’re saying that “Amen” to a great welcome.

Jesus Christ is welcoming us – bringing us into God – bringing us into a deep well of love – that we become well in this union – this communion with Him.

Part of welcome is food. “Do you want something to eat?” Part of welcome is to have the host say just that when we walk in the door. “Welcome! Are you hungry?”

We come to church because we are hungry.

Welcome! Can I give you something to eat?

Part of welcome is to feel welcomed.

There are a bunch of books out there for parishes – on how to be a welcoming parish. I try to remember to say before my homily the word, “Welcome” and then add, “Welcome to any out of towners – who are visiting with us today.”

“Welcome! Become well here! Become well fed here.”

I hope all of us St. Mary’s parishioners welcome people who are in our bench. Surprise.

Someone was telling me recently about a priest in their parish who gets a groan when he comes down the aisle on Sunday morning, It’s a noticeable “Groan!”. The person telling me this with sadness said, "He has a sandpaper personality. He doesn’t welcome people; people don’t welcome him."

Does he hear those sounds? Does he pick up those looks? Uh oh!

I once heard that 90% of communication is unconscious – and in every gathering – unconscious is speaking to unconscious.

I hope that’s not true.

Yet it gives me another, “Uh oh!” – as well as a tiny bit of relief. Well if it’s unconscious – it might not hurt as much – otherwise we might be wiped out.

So when I hear negative things about priests, I get rumbling “Ugh!” feelings in my tummy. I’m sure you do too?

When I read the gospels I hear Jesus getting those “ugh” feelings tossed at him as well – when he came into synagogues and temple.

What do Catholics who are in a one priest parish and their one priest constantly rubs people the wrong way? “Uh oh!”

What does the bishop do when he gets letters about such a priest? “Uh oh!”

What happens if I’m the “Oh no!” when I walk into a room – or down an aisle and I don’t know everyone is moaning inwardly, “Oh no!”

That’s another “Uh oh!”

And then there are all those feelings and sermons we’ve all heard about pride and humility – and the fear of judging others – of overestimating ourselves. It seems every third Sunday gospel has the Pharisees being knocked for being Pharisaical.

In October, because this is the year we’re hearing Luke’s gospel, we’ll hear the story that Jesus told about the Pharisee and the Sinner – or Tax Collector, who went to the synagogue. The Pharisee up front says, thinking he’s praying, “Thank God I’m not like the rest of people. I do this, this and this and don’t do that, that and that – and I’m not like the tax collector back there.” And the Sinner in the back wouldn’t even lift his eyes, but simply prayed, “O God be merciful to me a sinner.” And Jesus tells us the sinner walked out of the temple more in the welcome embrace of God than the other. [Cf. Luke 18:9-14]

I sense the early church, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, put those stories in there as a warning to us priests. All those who are up front and center have to worry about that one.

I’ve also heard that envy is the # 1 sin of priests. I’m sure others would say, “What about?”

We all fear the judgment, “Who do you think you are?”

We’re all aware of the words, “But for the grace of God” when someone not present is being kicked around.

So hopefully we feel welcome here in church – by God and each other.

And I hope people feel welcomed here in church in the presence of the Body and Blood of Christ.

I know Catholics who have dropped out of our church – and what they miss is communion – with Christ and others – and this is what they want.

I know Catholics who have dropped out of our church – and they have lost faith in the real presence of Jesus in the Mass.

They come to weddings or funerals in a Catholic Church and a tiny bit of that past belief hits them – sometimes. Sometimes they get up out of their bench and come forward and receive. Sometimes they don’t – because they can’t. They know that they have to get reconnected, reconciled, before they can receive the body and blood of Christ – and they are not willing to make that weekly commitment – or act of return and reconciliation – and new beginning with Christ and Church.

Some priests at a funeral make a preamble comment before communion: “Only Catholics can come up for Communion.” Or they say, “You can’t come up for communion unless you’re a Catholic and you’re going to Mass on a regular basis and if you’ve dropped out, you have to go to confession first.”

Someone recently told me they went to a First Communion and the priest made the announcement, “If you haven’t gone to confession in over a year, don’t even think of coming up to communion!” and they wanted to walk out of the church at that moment – because it felt so unwelcoming – and this person is an everyday church goer.

We’ve all moaned and groaned when some priest knocked Ash Wednesday Catholics. I know I have said, “Ouch!” and wanted to scream, "Be happy they are here right now!"

There are ways of saying things and there are ways of saying things.

I want church to be very welcoming. I’m a dreamer. My hope is that all the drop outs, who come to First Communions or Easter or Christmas or Graduation Masses or Weddings or Funeral Masses – are doing some deep soul searching – when they are here and they feel a welcome and a hunger that they need to get in touch with.

And I’ve had people come back to church – as a result of a good Mass or a church experience. They felt welcomed.


Third and last reason what we’re saying “Amen!” to is that Jesus is really present here – and we want to be present to him.

So real mystery, real welcome and real presence.

As I said this 3rd reason will be real short.

Every day of the week we meet dozens and dozens of people.

To be honest, being human, it’s impossible to be really present to every person we meet. We’re not God.

So I don’t know about you, but I fake it.

When someone says, “How are you?” most of the time they are just saying, “Hello”

But hopefully once a day or once a week, we really connect with at least one person.

We become really present to someone at a coffee break – or with one of our kids or when we’re talking with someone on the phone or we’re with a walking friend – and we’re really present to the other person.

I would think the more we are that way with each other, the more we can be that way with Christ in our moments of communion with him at Mass – and vice versa.


I’m sure you say, “Amen” to a conclusion. I also hope you say, “Amen” to one of three reasons to say “Amen” – real mystery, real welcome, real presence, but better, that you say a real good, “Amen” when you receive the Body and Blood of Christ in communion at this Mass today.

Painting on top: Albert Herbert, "Jesus Feeds Five Thousand," [1996-98]

I am aware of the 1996 "Guidelines for the Reception of Communion" that are in various Catholic Missalettes. I am very aware that this issue can be divisive.

I have a whole book on the Mass - still looking for a publisher. It's been rejected by 3 publishers so far. I revise it from time to time. At present it's 328 pages. Wooo! Is there a publisher out there who's interested in a best seller?


Quote for this day - D-Day - June 6, 2010

"You will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world. Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped, and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely....The free men of the world are marching together to victory. I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory. Good luck, and let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking."

General Dwight D. Eisenhower giving the D-Day order on June 6, 1944.