Saturday, January 3, 2015

January 3, 2015


The cold ice of Winter….
The soft rain of Spring ….
The warm slow of Summer….
The splash color of the leaves of Autumn….

Life – not just one season… or reason ….
Life – birth, youth, middle age, old age….
Life – the mysteries, the storms, the calm, the changes….
Life – I wouldn’t want it any other way ….

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Friday, January 2, 2015

January 2, 2015


Cremains is a word that has evolved.
My Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary
says it slid into the English language in 1947.
As more and more people were cremated
after their death, more and more people
got used to the word as well as the practice
of cremating loved ones and then placing
their ashes in elaborate urns and wooden boxes
that held and housed their sacred ashes. Then
they were buried or put in small vaults in cemeteries or kept at home on bureaus or mantelpieces.

Remains – the English word – goes back to
the 14th or 15th century – according to that same Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate DictionaryAfter someone’s death I prefer remains over cremains: a jacket, a hat, a watch, a letter from the person – who has gone before me. I prefer stories, sayings, moments and memories of  a loved one who has died. And come to think about it I prefer a cemetery  – as well as a drink  in hand to toast a loved one – more than looking  at an urn of their ashes on a mantelpiece.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015


The title of my homily for today, January 2nd,  is, “Who Are You?”

That’s a question that shows up in the Bible at various times.

It shows up in today’s gospel – and that’s where I got the thought for this homily.

It’s a question that shows up in life at various times.

Who are you?


We ask this in our brain about others lots and lots of times – but as I’ve thought about this question – I realized that the first place is to start is with oneself.  Who am I?

It’s a brand new year, what would it be like to make that a 2015 question?

Suggestion.  Buy at any supermarket store – or The Dollar Store or Office Depot – one of these spiral note books – 9 ½ by 6 inches.  I have about 50 of these in my room – and when I die – I’m sure they will be tossed. [SHOW ORANGE PAD]

No problem – but while I live – they are very important to me.  I have tons of interesting notes and this and that’s in these 50 or more note books.

I have about 75 of these bigger spiral note books. They have their use. [SHOW GREEN SPIRAL NOTE BOOK.]

I also have about 50 or more of these little memo pads – 5 by 3 inches. [

I don’t like to sit on the pot without something to read – and so I often grab one of my note or memo pads.

So you know what these look like. Suggestion: buy a bunch of these spiral pads this size. This is the size I prefer. [SHOW THE ORANGE ONE].

In one of these 9 ½ by 6 inch jobs – jot down on page 1 – on the top of the page – in title size: “Who Am I?”

Then this year, 2015, write down in the mid-sized baby – answers to that question: Who Am I?

Even if you use a computer, I’m suggesting writing – writing – writing. “Write it down!”


I once had a job of trying to get people – namely Redemptorist priests and brothers – to talk to each other – to listen to each other – to get to know each other better.

Sorry to say it really didn't work - but like being a teacher, the presenter or teacher learns the most.

Looking back I think that was the best job I ever had – because I learned a lot about others – but mainly myself.

One learning happened as follows.  It was called, "The Listening Exercise." We would ask a group of 20 or so to break up into smaller groups of about 5 in a group. The person with the earliest birthday in the year – or last – it didn’t matter really - went first.

Once more the leader of the whole group ofr 20 or so would say to the whole group, “This is a listening exercise. 

"The person who starts says to the person to their right one answer to the following question: ‘I think people have difficulty in listening because….’

"Then the person to the right listens to what the first speaker says. 

"Then they say what their heard the first person say to them. 

"The first person who spoke then says to the person on their right. 'Good. Thank you. You got what I said.'

Or they say, "No, that's not what I said." 

Then they try it again.

I remember once it took a lady about 10 times to get it right. After she finally got it right, she gave an afterthought. "I guess my husband is right. He says, 'I never listen.'"

Then that person gives to the person on their right, one reason why they think people don't listen...."

It was a wonderful exercise. I learned that one big problem was this: the speaker who gave their comments why they thought people didn't listen well - was because the speaker wasn't too clear in the first place. I saw that when they had to repeat what they said at first. It would change. It would get clearer. It would get more complicated.  

I also learned to say to people ever since, “What do you think I was asking you in the first place?”

If they didn’t get it, in my opinion, then I would repeat what I said in the first place.

Sometimes the listener would say: “That’s not what you said in the first place.”

Sometimes I humbled myself and said, “Oh, sorry, you’re right.”

My biggest learning from that exercise was this: “Often the problem is not with the listener, but with the speaker.”

So I  learned that some speakers are very clear; some are very unclear, convoluted. They really don’t know how to communicate what they are trying to communicate.

I also learned that the first question should be to self – rather than to others. “What is it that I want to say?”

I before you....

So based on that – I’m stressing in this reflection – talk – sermon – whatever this is – the first question before, “Who Are You?” should be, “Who Am I?”

Based on that I realized that's why I love the shortest poem ever written. It’s an existentialist poem. I mention this all the time. It goes like this and you can memorize it and it rhymes.


And why I wrote the second shortest poem ever written:


And it also rhymes.


So after writing on the top of page 1 of your 9 ½ by 6 inch note pad, white on the top line: “I / Why?”

And start writing.

I am here because of my mom and dad. Thank you mom and dad. I am the youngest of 4 kids – and back then my parents got married later than most. Thank you Mom and Dad for having 4 kids.

Then you can write autobiography – personal experiences of neighborhoods, towns, cities, schools, friends, jobs, joys, sorrows, babies, deaths, loves, and what have you.

You can write about wipe outs – that wiped you out – wipe outs you’d love to wipe out – and learning you can’t, so then you can write down what you learned from that reality.

You can write about best books, favorite songs, movies that moved you.

You can write about surprises that surprised you in life.

You can write about the unexpected – personal earthquakes and tsunami’s as well as lotteries that you didn’t know existed.

I've wondered if women answered these questions different than men do.

Here is a short film about women. What would a short film of men be like?

I read once about the value of writing down 10 answers to the question: I am a _____.

And one writes down 10 answers to that question: I am a male, an American, a friend, a priest, a poet, a Brooklynite, a Catholic, a Christian, a diabetic, a walker, etc. etc. etc.

Then I read somewhere that if you extend that to 25 I am's – you will come up with answers that might surprise and change your life.

Perhaps the best answer is:  “I am me.”

Now who is that “Me”?


That’s your homework, and heart work, for 2015.

I know: New Year's Resolutions never work - never go past January 10th. I know that about myself and others - but sometimes one resolution works.

So if you try this - and persevere at this, then at some point you  can start to listen to others and say to them, “Hey, who are you?”

January 1, 2015


Who said that New Year's Day,
Christmas, Easter, Pentecost,
Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day
and birthdays have to happen
on set days each year?
Why can’t they happen to us
on days we least expect?
Unexpected Lord,
Lord of the Unexpected,
surprise us this year.
Christmas, Easter, Pentecost us
on days we least expect –
days we rise reborn, gifted, set free,
filling us with thanksgiving.

© Andy Costello, Markings  
Prayer for January 1999

Last year  - 2014 - I put a poem
on my blog for each day
of the year. A few people
said, "Ho hum!" or "So so!"

I did it, but I have to admit,
various poems - upon looking 
back at them  had no grab. 

Then someone  suggested that
I give some of my own
poetic reflections, poems and 
prayers - so that will be
 my goal for 2015.

Some will be old pieces,
some new pieces - depending

upon how much time I have.

Thursday, January 1, 2015


Poem  - for December 31, 2014


A blind child
Guided by his mother
Admires the cherry blossoms.

© Kikaku, Haiku,
translated into English
by Kenneth Rexroth
found in One Hundred
Poems from the Japanese,
New Directions, 1964 
December 31, 2014

Tuesday, December 30, 2014



The title of my homily for this Sixth Day in the Octave of Christmas is, “Anna: One of Many.”

When I read today’s gospel – Luke 2: 36-40 – I think of the thousands and thousands of little old ladies I’ve spotted in a thousand churches.

I’ve seen them sitting quietly in the back of a church – behind a pole off to the side in the middle of a church – or kneeling at the communion rail up front.

Praying…. They are praying.

Hoping …. They are hoping.

Begging …. They are begging God for help.


So this gospel story of Anna is one of many stories – of little old ladies – who have found time and place to pray in churches, temples, mosques, shrines, holy places – all through the years.

What a documentary could be made – if documentary makers  - just went into random churches and holy places on the planet – and simply interviewed these women of prayer – finding out what’s going on inside their mind at that moment. What are you doing? Whom are you praying for?

If Anna was asked she would answer that she was praying for the Messiah, the Savior, waiting for the Redeemer, hoping for someone to come and tell us how to live life to the full – how to love one another – how to be a peacemaker – how to know our God.


All  mothers here – you know the scenario. You have dropped into your church. You’re sitting in your favorite place of prayer  – to pray for one or two or more of your children. You’ve knelt there, you’ve sat there, you’ve made the stations of the cross there – because you’re kids and you were making the way of the cross out there in the streets of your life.

Alcoholism, drugs, dating the wrong person, a shaky marriage, abuse, hurts, people not talking to people, kids out of work, kids in Afghanistan, cancer, strokes, lupus, in jail, what have you.


I worked 14 years of my life  in 2 different retreat houses – 7 years in each.

Every year on this one weekend a big guy – a former pro football player - would sit in the back row of our chapel – in the closest seat to the backdoor on the right aisle.  No matter how many people were in the chapel for a talk or for a mass – he would sit in that same seat – sometimes nobody in any row or bench near him.

Once he said to me, “I’m wondering if you’re wondering why I’m sitting in the back corner?” 

I said, “No.” 

“Well,” he said, “I’ll tell you. I had dropped out of the church for at least 19 years. In our church back home, that’s the spot my mom always half knelt and half sat for all those years praying for me to come back to church.”

“It worked.” He said. “Here I am praying for her and thanking her in heaven for praying for me all through the years.”

If we made a film documentary of little old ladies in dark old churches – we would hear stories like that.


It was my first assignment.  

A good friend of mine – named Tessie – long dead now – used to sit in the third last row of our church – Most Holy Redeemer – Lower East Side – New York City - every afternoon from 3 to 4. You couldn’t see her – she was hiding in front of a big church pillar in the back of the church – not far from our O.L.P.H. shrine – which was in the back.  I noticed her husband Frank came into church in the morning – and said his prayers.

Tessie also used to be the money counter for Bingo every Wednesday night.

Well, one Wednesday just before Bingo started, Tessie said to me, “I got a great story for you.”

“I’m in church this afternoon – in the dark – near the back – and I hear the door open. I hear someone go over to Mary’s shrine – and I hear Father Leo starting to pray out loud. Obviously, he didn’t know I was there – and I laid low. Well, I hear him tell the Blessed Mother the following. ‘Thank you Mary. Thank You God,  I’m  just coming back from the urologist. I can  pee like a little boy again.”

That moment happened in 1968 – I can still remember it.

I’d love it if a moment like that would be captured in a documentary about little old ladies in churches – and what’s going on in their minds and hearts.


I’m sure Luke put this story in his Gospel, because in his travels, he saw lots of ladies like Anna – sitting, standing, kneeling there in prayer.

He gave Anna praise – today let’s praise our moms and all those Little Old Ladies who showed us the importance of praying  for others – especially the children of our world. Amen.

Poem for Today - Tuesday - December 30, 2014


I want to reach you—
in that city where the snow

only shimmers silver
for a few hours. It has taken

seventeen years. This trip, 
these characters patterned

in black ink, curves catching 
on the page like hinges,

this weave of letters fraying 
like the lines on my palm,

all broken paths. Outside, 
no snow. Just the slow pull

of brown on the hills, umber 
dulling to a bruise until the city

is just a memory of stained teeth, 
the burn of white marble

to dusk, cows standing 
on the edges like a dust

cloud gaining weight
after days of no rain. Asleep

in the hot berth, my parents 
sway in a dance, the silence

broken by scrape of tin, hiss 
of tea, and underneath,

the constant clatter of wheels
beating steel tracks over and over:

to the city of white marble, 
to the city of goats, tobacco

fields, city of dead hands,
a mantra of my grandmother's—

her teeth eaten away
by betel leaves—the story

of how Shah Jahan had cut off
all the workers' hands

after they built the Taj, so they 
could never build again. I dreamt

of those hands for weeks before 
the trip, weeks even before I

stepped off the plane, thousands 
of useless dead flowers drying

to sienna, silent in their fall. 
Every night, days before, I dreamt

those hands climbing over the iron 
gate of my grandparents' house, over

grate and spikes, some caught
in the groove between its sharpened

teeth, others biting where 
they pinched my skin.

Vandana Khanna, 
"Train to Agra"
from Train to Agra
Copyright © 2001
by Vandana Khanna. 

Monday, December 29, 2014



The title of my thoughts is, “Saint Thomas Becket.”

Today we celebrate his feast.

His dates are  1118 to 1170.

Instead of spending time for a homily on today’s readings, I decided to revisit the movie, “Becket.”

I remembered seeing the movie - but I wondered if I could get in touch with my thoughts and feelings when I saw that movie way back in the 60's.

So I went on line and did a tiny bit of research on the movie as well as Becket's life.  All I remember from the movie was the pageantry and the costumes - as well as the stone walls in castles and cathedrals - and lots of dark shadowy scenes. I remember that the acting was excellent: especially Richard Burton as Thomas and Peter O’Toole as King Henry II.


The 1964 movie received 1 Academy Award and 11 nominations for an Academy Award.

It made good money.

It makes several big mistakes historically - but the story as told on screen and stage make for good historical fiction - as well as being well written.

The movie presented the basic dynamic of two good friends – 2 drinking partners – 2 fooling around friends – who end up in deep conflict with one another.

Besides alcohol and women, King Henry II had his problems with the church – for starters with the Archbishop of Canterbury.  Henry II wants money from the church – especially by taxing it – to finance his wars. The Archbishop said, "No!"

He appoints his buddy Thomas to become Lord Chancellor. Then when  the Archbishop of Canterbury – his enemy and thorn in his side dies – Henry names Thomas Archbishop – with the idea he will now be able to tax and control the church.

Surprise – good story – good plot – Thomas as Archbishop – takes his job seriously – so seriously – that King Henry can’t control him.

Once in a drunken rage King Henry says out loud: “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?”

His soldiers hear this and murder Thomas in the Canterbury Cathedral.

News spreads through Europe of this killing – this assassination – of an archbishop because it's the wish of a  king.

And King Henry repents – at least out loud – perhaps for public consumption – and he is flogged and beaten as a penance for his crime and involvement in the murder.

The original movie, two  plays, a redoing of the movie in the 1990’s,  were all quiet successful.


We are governed by both church and state – the state obviously having more physical power.

We all need to consider both realities – including  those in public office. A Catholic is called to vote with his conscience - and to form his conscience with Gospel values and Christian teaching.

So each person needs to do his or her job – as public official – archbishop - parent – teacher – business person - soldier - judge with God's will and the Common Good in mind.

There is a scene in the movie when the king is demanding loyalty and follow up from Thomas  - that he does Henry's will. The king says: "You're Chancellor of England; you're mine! And Becket says: "I am also the Archbishop, and you have introduced me to deeper obligations." 

Isn’t that all of us?

We have lots of obligations to various people – but we also have obligations to God – and when Jesus tells the Rich Young Man what he must do to gain eternal life - it's to keep the 2 Great Commandments - to love our God with our whole heart, mind, soul and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves.


After a bit of reading about St. Thomas Becket on line, I couldn't get in touch with what I was thinking the first time I saw the movie, "Becket."

I assume Thomas is a martyr to the principal: God’s will is service, love, and working for the common good.   May we all work towards these goals.  Amen.


Poem - Monday - December 29, 2014


O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: "My God, how great Thou art!"

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

© Carl Gustav Boberg (1859-1940) Sweden
© English Translation, Stuart K. Hine – 
who added the last 2 verses.

Sunday, December 28, 2014



The title of my homily is, “Family: Looking Backwards, Looking Forwards.”

The Church got this one right – putting this feast of the Holy Family – around Christmas time – when we are filled with memories – nostalgia – the past - when parents know how much Christmas meant to them as kids – so too the desire to do likewise for this new generation.

So that’s looking backwards. 

Next, looking forwards – they put this feast of the Holy Family - at the time we are about to begin a new year – the time we look forward with hope for a Happy New Year.

So a few words today on “Family: Looking Backwards, Looking Forwards.


We humans have the ability to remember. Dementia is a bummer. We can look backwards and see what happened. We can recall. We can remember.

History is not just a class in a classroom.

Family History is perhaps the most important course we need Home Schooling in and about.  

It’s important to know – to check out - how we got to where we got to.

It’s important to find out where the other has been. 

Talk to grandparents – “What happened?” Where did you come from?

For starters – check out three things: the stories, the pictures, and the letters.

What are the family stories? I’ve noticed there are moments and there are moments. I’m talking here about those moments when a kid gets inquisitive – and starts asking how their grandparents met, where they came from, then mom and dad – if they don’t know.

I love the story about how a Jewish family ended up in Alabama. While doing some family research on that question, someone found out the reason was: way back in the 1800’s while traveling west,  that’s where the horse died.

I heard a cute family story at Christmas dinner at my niece Patty’s house in Reisterstown, Maryland. The dinner took at least 2 hours and nobody was moving from the table. I heard some old stories and I heard some new ones.

Someone mentioned a moment about Sophie when she was in the first grade or so.  The teacher asked the kids a question: “Does anyone have a parent that speaks a foreign language?” Sophie raised her hand like every little kid upon hearing a question? She said her, “Teacher! Teacher.”

Upon being called upon, Sophie told her teacher and her class - that her dad spoke 4 languages.

I had heard the story that he didn’t speak till he was 4 years old – but when he began speaking, out came full sentences in French, Spanish, Italian and English. He's from Milan, Italy. His father taught Spanish. His nanny spoke French and his mother went to work in Italy – from England.

The teacher then asked, “Wow, your dad spoke 4 languages. How about your mom?”

Sophie said that her mom spoke 2 languages: English and Pig Latin.

Meals are not just for  the sharing of food. They are for the sharing of stories - stories that feed us - stories that become us. Meals are for the sharing of self.

The Last Supper – especially in the Gospel of John – gives us a lot of words – and it’s up to us, to put some flesh onto them.

So looking backwards, what are your family stories?

I also love it when families show and tell me a lot of family stories – by bringing me over to the Christmas tree. They stand there and touch an ornament and they touch an experience. I'm at the Liturgy of the Word: hearing family homilies about persons and places, moments and memories - that are - embodied, transubstantiated in a personal and unique Christmas tree ornaments.

That’s stories. 

Next, while still looking backwards, what and where are the family pictures?

Do we realize the importance of family  pictures – on walls, on tops of bureaus, end tables, shelves? Has anyone secured photo albums - so they won't be tossed or lost? Has anyone made sure they are kept in a safe way - along with notations of who's who and where's where?

Question: what’s going to happen to all the pictures AD – After Digital? 

Just as it’s important to sit down on a couch and read with one’s kids – so too sitting with kids and pointing out who’s who in the pictures.

At Thanksgiving I sat there with over 30 people and we watched a slide show of my nieces when they were little kids. Their  kids were there as well. There were great “Ooh’s!” and “Ah!s’. The room was filled with laughter and  people yelled out comments about hair and clothes and “Remember….”

Thirdly, still, looking backwards, has any one gathered any letters – in one’s family museum – boxes of old letters – with the pictures in boxes under beds or in the closets? When my mom died,  I was given a packet of old letters my mom had saved. They were letters I sent to my mom and dad from when I was away in the seminary. They all sound the same – but they all are precious.

My sister Mary and I were just up to Scranton, PA – when we went to my sister Peggy’s grave for the first time. We also went to Marywood University, where one of the nuns whom Peggy had lived with gave my sister Mary two big bags of Peggy’s personal stuff – knickknacks, etc.  My sister Mary just told me before Christmas that there were some letters in those bags that I had sent Peggy way back. What did she save? What’s in them? What was I saying way back when?

Hopefully, we all have archives and museums of all sorts with our stuff – in closets and cellars in our homes.

Another question: preserving one’s family history – will we gain with technology and scanning or will we lose with e-mail etc., etc, etc.?


That’s looking backwards.

With a New Year about to happen on our calendars – wouldn’t it be interesting for grand kids to discover in an attic or basement 50 old kitchen scheduling calendars from the past 50 years.

For some reason, someone thought they would be a neat thing to save. Priceless

What would it be like for some grand kid - upon discovering those calendars – that he or she began to notice that in the little Sunday boxes – the word “church – 9 AM”  was written - but then see it stopped some 19 years ago?

So the kid says to her mom, “What religion were grandma and grandpa when you were a kid?”


Then the answer with an embarrassed hesitation: “Catholic.”

Looking forwards – what are our church plans for 2015? What are our God plans? 

I’m sure some people have started thinking – perhaps making plans in their minds – and then they put in their calendars plans to see the pope in Philadelphia?

Looking forwards what are our family plans for 2015?

I heard of one family wrapping up a Christmas present for each of their 2 kids. Inside the son discovered a  Mickey Mouse Calendar and the girl a Minnie Mouse calendar – as well as Magic Markers. Next the parents told  them to turn to April – and put a circle around 5 dates and then write in: “Disney World.”


I’m sure we all heard some football player who is a leader or some coach say there is no “I” in the word “team”.

Some of you might remember Willie Stargell and the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates singing, “We are Family” as they beat the Baltimore Orioles in the 7th and Final World Series game in Baltimore.

On Holy Family Sunday – of course the stress is on “We” over “I”.

Three years ago on First Sunday of Advent – the church got it wrong in my opinion – when they switched the Creed at Sunday Mass from “We believe…” back to “I believe….”

By Vatican II – the Second Vatican Council – the Church had moved from the “I” to  “We” – at least in the creed at Mass.

We are a community – we are a we – more than we are a bunch of I’s.

Some of us have seen the Mass and the Church change to a “we” attitude.

Parish councils were in. Meetings were in. Some said, “Ugh” and “Oh no!” as well as "Good" or "Great" to that.

Altar railings were opened up or came down.

Altars were turned around.

People would come to church and talk and listen to each other in church before and after Mass.

And some still say, "Shhhhhhush!"

In architecture we sometimes hear the discussion about “form” and “function”. Does form follow function or vice versa? Compare this church building to St. John Neumann. Compare old churches with new church buildings. When people want to greet someone after Mass – it’s easier at St. John Neumann – because of the big lobby.

Back to backwards.... The following are a few more moments of my babbling about some of my personal theories about the issue of individualism and community – I and We.

Our world has come a long way baby from being a planet with a bunch of nobodies – having zero or almost no value  - to becoming a human community of folks who have value and personal worth.

Way back when - people saw the  somebodies – the kings – the have’s – those with titles and land and servants and slaves.

A great story would be a story of a no one who became a someone.

In human evolution – it’s an important moment – when someone discovers their voice and their value – and even more importantly – when they respect another who speaks up and says: 

“I have rights.”
“I have a voice.”
“I have a vote.”
“I have a mind of my own.”
“I have feelings.”

When people start to grow, to evolve, they move from being a have not – to someone who has.

History takes time – and sometimes some remain blind.

Men got a vote – then an equal vote.

Women finally got the vote – in some places.

Our church is slowly getting the message.

Church and society are called to give everyone a chance for upward mobility – individual rights and value and a chance for success.

The United States stressed the individual. The I.

The goal was to make it to the top of the social ladder.

The goal – as I see it – is to move towards the “We”.
We are called by God to be community – to receive communion with and of each other –and to have respect and recognition for all.

We should feel blessed  if we have the gift of faith - that we see that God is a “We” – a Trinity – a Father, Son and the Holy Spirit of love amongst each other – and we are made in that image and likeness.

Of course the “I” is important –  every “I” on the planet – is important.

The becoming an “I” is just a step in human evolution - much more significant than that first step on the moon.

It takes time for caste and class to be erased in bits and pieces in various parts of the world – a movement that started centuries before in some cultures and countries – but obviously not all.

In society and family, women got the vote and more value in some places and in some families - not all.

Education – education – education helped.

The French did it with the French revolution – with the overthrow of the divine rights of the king – as well as “Upper Clergy” with a little help from mobs and marching and the guillotine.

Not always – not everywhere….

So in our church at the Second Vatican – the “We” arrived - publicly.

Then – in my opinion - some 50 years later - the stress on class and caste – in our church – has slipped back in – in both world and church.

This is all my opinion of course – my “I” – how I see stuff.

I hear Pope Francis – trying to move us back into the Spirit of Vatican II and then go forwards. Lately he called the big boys to stop pursuing some self-serving stuff – to move from me, me, me stuff to we, we. we stuff.  This is  the so called “Francis Effect”.

I’m aware of those who love him and those who are “frustrated with him”.

I noticed in the paper the other day – someone saying he’s a Communist.”

Obviously, the best side of communism was a stress on the “we” – that we’re all in this together – but in practice – to bring about that goal – there was a massive amount of self-serving by the few – using absolute power which Lord Acton said corrupts absolutely.

Surprise – communism crumbled – because there was a lot of self-serving in the Soviet Union and China – for starters.

I read somewhere that Joe Stalin had some 20 million people killed directly and indirectly. I also read that he said, “One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic."

I also read that Mao Zedong was responsible for the deaths of 49 to 78 million people.

And notice the breakdown of the communist states – the “we” has become “I’s” – with some very rich Russians in place – and the “we's in many places never got a chance to be either an I or a we.

Of course, in every we, the “I’s” have to be recognized – in order for the best church, parish, organization, to become an authentic, “We”.

Of course our church and our world has a long way to go into the future.


I’m assuming the family is the model for world – and church.  I assume that the church and world is women and men – males and females – all working and “we-ing” together for the good of the whole human family. Amen.