Saturday, January 10, 2015

January 10, 2015 
FULLY ALIVE - ALIVE! 


video

Alive and running,
fast horses, fast birds,
gliding, the ocean sliding
steadily wave after wave,
for millions and millions 
of years towards the shore, 
and on that beach
slow seals, sea lions, like
vacationers at the shore - 
beavers munching,
koala bears yawning, 
alive, relaxing, at home,
with each other, like
old folks lounging  on
the beach - each sort of
saying, "I too am alive.
I'm  unique. I'm not as 
fast as horses galloping
along the edge of the sea 
or birds gliding in the wind.
Yet all of us are singing,
"Alive, alive....  We're alive.
Thank you God for gifting 
us with so much life. Amen.



© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Friday, January 9, 2015

January 9, 2015

INCONSISTANT



She prays,
but she doesn’t talk and listen to others.

He goes to communion,
but he refuses communication with his sister.

She has ear buds and iTunes,
but never sings or goes to Church.

He goes to confession,
but he refuses to forgive his father.

She says grace before meals,
but she is not graceful with the gifts around the table.

He’s pro-life – has bumper stickers and he marches -,
but never turns off the TV to be with and listen to his kids.

She’s always texting and talking on her iPhone with other teenagers,
but has been avoiding her parents for years and years and years.

He pauses at the water cooler to eye the new secretary,
but he hasn’t given his wife a look and a compliment in years.


© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015


© Andy Costello Reflections 2015

Thursday, January 8, 2015

January 8, 2015


     

YESTERDAY,  TOMORROW,
BUT NOT TODAY

Too many times I’m not here.
I’m elsewhere. I’m somewhere
else in my distant past or I’m far,
far into my not yet future. Sorry,
I’m not listening. I might even
be looking you right in the eye,
or sending words into your ears, 
but I am on some other day on some
other calendar – singing about
some yesterday or some tomorrow.
Sorry, sorry, sorry, for not being
with you in this present moment.



© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

January 7, 2015




WINDEX

Sometimes we notice when our glasses are dirty -
so too the front windshield in our car  – but we 
don’t notice when our soul is spotty or streaky
and could use some Windex or a good washing.

Then again, maybe we’re lazy and we prefer to stay
in the dark – to avoid the hard work of understanding
and the holiness of clear thinking. Maybe we want
a dark window so we don’t have to see into our soul.



© Andy Costello, 2015 Reflections

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

January 6, 2015

10  LIFETIME  SKILLS 




What are the 10 most basic lifetime skills?

Are they:
·       the ability to smile;
·       the ability to cry;
·       the ability to hear;
·       the ability to point;
·       the ability to crawl;
·       the ability to stand;
·       the ability to walk;
·       the ability to make words;
·       the ability to hug;
·       the ability to laugh?

Which of those skills is the most important?

Are there any skills I'm forgetting?
When does the ability to forgive kick in?
Are anger and tantrums skills?
When does anyone realize, "I just hurt someone"?
How old does someone start to say, “Thank you!”
How old does one mean it when they say, “I love you!”
How old does one know what saying, “Help!” means?
Which comes first: “Help!” “Thanks!” or “Sorry!” 
How old does one have to be to pray?
What about the ability to draw?
About what age does one realize, “I am loved!" 



© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015
A  SECRET  CALLED  EMPTINESS



INTRODUCTION

The title of my homily for this Tuesday after Epiphany  is, “A Secret Called Emptiness.”

To know I have a gauge on the dashboard of my soul – with the letters E and F – Empty or Full –  is to know one of the important secrets about life.

As we keep moving along the road of life –  sometimes we notice our life is running on empty.

What satisfies us? What fills our emptiness? What fills us up?

TODAY’S READINGS

Today’s readings trigger thoughts about emptiness.

In today’s first reading from the First Letter of John we hear that the person who is without love does not know God. They are empty – but they might not know it.

Then First John says that the opposite is also true: the person who loves God in his or her emptiness – knows God – or at least has glimpses of their hunger for God within.

The dying fire is dying for fuel.  The empty stomach is growling for food.

The Gospels teach us that Christianity points us to the cross with the almost naked – the empty nailed down handed Christ – on each  cross.

Each person who comes to church – arrives with an empty hungry heart – for communion with Christ. Each person comes up the aisle – to stop and to be fed with Christ the Bread of life – for Christ who with emptied bellied sounds  - the empty Christ – wanting to be filled with us in return – in communion – filled with love for us.

Today’s gospel from Mark 6 tells us about all this – when he tells us about a vast crowd of 5000 who are like sheep without a shepherd – who are hungry and empty – and Jesus tells his disciples to feed them.

They ask if Jesus wants them to buy 200 days’ wages worth of food to feed this hungry crowd?

Jesus asks them to find out what they already have.  Then with 5 loaves of bread and the 2 fish that they have, Jesus asks his disciples to break up the crowd into rows of 100 and 50 – and then break up the bread and feed these hungry caught fish. They do and all those empty stomachs are filled – and they have 12 wicker baskets of bread and fish left over.

Blessed are those who hunger – for they shall have their full.

Blessed are those who know they are empty – for they shall discover the need to beg in order to be full.

Blessed are those without love, as the first reading puts it – because then they can open up their empty hands – and become full with the bread of life.

EMPTINESS

The Hollywood screen writer, Ben Hecht, once described love as having “a hole in the heart.”

Blaise Pascal, the French mathematician and Christian spiritual writer said, “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every one which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.”

When was the last time I felt empty?

Walk down any street – walk into any store or any mall  - and you can see that everyone of us is a beggar on the corners of life.

Then there all those  teenagers – and so many others -  with their cellphones filling their ears. The increase of cellphone sound signals for me that many people want  communion – holy communion – daily communion with others.

There are all the hungry people with their plastic bags – walking out of a hundred stores with their fill of stuff to fill their empty hearts.

As someone said: the rich feel so empty – because they want the poor to be filled with envy for them; but the poor know they are empty because they want the so much more – and on and on and on – the world turns.

CONCLUSION

The title of my homily was, “A Secret Called Emptiness.”


Only the person who knows their emptiness or almost emptiness – pulls into the rest area – to be filled.

Monday, January 5, 2015

January 5, 2015

WEATHER  REPORT 


Temperatures will be in the 90’s all week.
Rainy – heavy at times. Bring your umbrella.
There’s a 75 percent chance of snow tonight.
Bundle up tomorrow. Stay indoors if possible….

Sunny disposition, the winter of our discontent….
Cold, hot, chilly, breezy, frozen, wondering….
Nervous, uptight, at ease, comfortable….
“The sun will come up tomorrow…. Tomorrow….”


© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015




THE  SAINTS  ON OUR PEDESTALS



INTRODUCTION

The title of my homily is, “The Saints on Our Pedestals.”

A Catholic who isn’t blind surely has noticed that that there are not as many statues of Saints in our churches as there were in the past.

A parishioner of St. Mary’s Parish who isn’t blind surely has noticed the difference between this church building and St. Mary’s church building.

Today being the feast of St. John Neumann I got to thinking about images of Saints – as a practice in the Catholic faith.

We venerate – honor – appreciate – holy men and women – who have lived the faith in some extraordinary ways.

We name churches after Saints. For example, this second church in our parish is named after St. John Neumann. We have that  bronze statue of him in our courtyard. It’s a short statue because I heard he was short.

QUESTION

The title of homily is, “The Saints on Your Pedestals.”

Let me make that a question: “Who Saints do you have on pedestals?”

THE CATHOLIC IDEA OF SAINTS

We Catholics have favorite Saints.

I assume that those who criticize our Church practice of  Saints, think we think they are Gods – and only God is God.

Apologists for our faith – always like to point out to critics of statues – “Hello! Check it out. Every home has pictures of loved ones on end tables and book shelves. Every park – museum – court house – cemetery -  have statues of famous generals, athletes, donors, important people - what have you. Hello!”

Okay, some people see an Oscar as an image to be worshipped.

Bottom line: the criticism should be the belief that we pray to Saints.

Yes we do. We’re making an act of faith in the resurrection.  We’re expressing our faith – that we can ask the living and the dead to pray for us.

In line with my homily title, what saints are on your pedestals or end tables or bureaus? Name the names.

Flowing from my title, who are your favorite saints? Mary? Joseph? St. Francis of Assisi?

Even if you don’t have an actual statue of a saint on your lawn or in your house, I like to picture people having a picture or a statue of some favorite saint or two or three on sort of pedestal in one’s brain.

I like St. Camillus de Lellis.  I like Blessed Peter Donders. I like St. Philip Neri. I like St. Vincent de Paul. I like Dorothy Day. I like Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I like a whole list of Redemptorist priests and brothers whom influenced me. Yes, I have made them bigger than life – sort of like putting them on some sort of pedestal.

ST JOHN NEUMANN

I see St. John Neumann as the patron saint for travelers. He was great for visiting folks – on foot – by trains – wagons.  I see his great concerns for immigrants and migrants. He was one himself – and he spoke lots of different languages. I  see his great concern for Catholic Schools. I see his great push for love of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.

CONCLUSION   

The title of my homily was, “The Saints on Our Pedestals.”



Take some time today and check them out and see what that says about the practice of our faith. Amen.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

SEEING  THE  INVISIBLE 


INTRODUCTION

The title of my homily is, “Seeing the Invisible.”

At various times I wanted to think about that reality and then to say something about seeing the invisible.

On this the feast of the Epiphany – it might be a good time to think about this theme – this reality of seeing the invisible, sensing the invisible, realizing the invisible.

EPIPHANY

Epiphany is a great word.

It means seeing, grasping, getting, understanding, intuiting, showing, knowing – what I didn’t know before – seeing what’s always around me – and finally not missing the obvious.

It means revelation, manifestation, evidence, indication, bodying forth, incarnation, theophany, Christophany, disclosure, indication, evidence, make plain, make clear, illuminate, highlight, materialize, opening one’s eyes, having an eye opener, appearance, bring to the surface….

It’s sort of like hearing a joke and people are laughing at the joke and I don’t get it. Finally, I have the courage to ask, “What’s the joke? What’s so funny? I don’t get it.” Then someone explains it to me and I go, “Oh! Now I get it. Okay good.”

Today’s feast has a key message about how to get to the invisible: sometimes we have to  travel a long distance to arrive at Christ – who brings us to God – who helps us realize that He is God.  Today’s gospel tells us about the 3 wise men arriving in Jerusalem and asking “Where is the new born king?” For epiphanies, we have to ask questions.

Who would believe God – the invisible God – would become visible in the presence of a baby – the Christ?

Not everyone gets that – accepts that – grasps that – but any of you who have had a baby knows, if anyone can change our life, it’s a baby.

Being male, never having had a baby, I’ve often wondered what thoughts a mother to be must have as a baby is growing, developing, moving, kicking, in her womb.

I love the words in Psalm 139:13 – where the song writer pictures God as a knitter and says,  “It was you who formed me. It was you who knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

How could anyone not be in awe, filled with amazement, wondering, worrying, making acts of faith, praying – as a baby starts to grow, push,  start to say without words, “Hello!” in the womb of her or his mother?

How can anyone expecting a baby – not believe in the invisible?

Is that harder to believe than hearing the Good News that God would appear and be in bread, wine, food – body, blood, divinity?

It’s a gift to see this – to get this epiphany – this revelation to us from God.

It’s a gift.

That gift comes to us by faith – and hope – and love.

TODAY’S FIRST READING

Today’s First Reading from Isaiah 60 is all about Epiphany.

It’s all about being in the dark – and then seeing the light.

It’s all about being surrounded by clouds – and finally there is a break through.

Today’s First Reading is all about hitting the lottery – with gifts – caravans of camels arriving in our mind – in our stable -  with gifts of gold and frankincense – and faith. Joy to our world, the Lord has come.

Today’s First reading is all about radiance – light.

I remember a baptism here at St. Mary’s one Sunday afternoon. The sunlight found a spot to shoot through the stained glass windows – and  light appeared on the baby’s face – in her carrying case.  Suddenly her face was bathed in light – she smiled -  and her whole family saw the moment – all at once with the camera of their eyes – and all said “Ooooh!” OOOO H – “Ooooh.”

I remembering visiting a family and their only son was climbing up on the metal radiator – along one of the sides of the room – and I could hear his shoes hitting the metal – but his parents didn’t even notice it. And he was holding onto the window sill with one hand and with the other hand he was grasping at something and I asked, “What’s Little Sal doing?”

His mom looked over – studied the moment and said, “Oh, he does that all the time. He’s trying to grab the light.”

I thought for a moment and said, “Don’t we all? Don’t we all?”

Aren’t we all trying to make the invisible visible?

LOST AND FOUND

It hit me once when someone lost their wedding ring – that they could buy a new wedding ring.  Ooops – obviously – I didn’t put my foot in my mouth. A new wedding ring would not be the same as the one they lost.

Of course.

Of course there is a difference between a wedding ring in a jewelry story window or locked glass case and the wedding rings on the ring fingers of the persons on the street going by the jewelry store.

You can’t see the difference – but there is a vast difference.

Wedding rings scream to me – the invisible can become visible – in time.

I do a lot of weddings and I know by now the significance of words as in vows and the significance of rings – as in wedding rings.

My mother was walking down the street in Brooklyn once and a guy came running down the street – behind her – grabbed her pocket book and she fought him over her pocket book. He got it and ran into the cloud of unknowing. I told her that I was taught when I was working BINGO at a church in Manhattan, “If anyone tries to rob you of the money, don’t fight them. Let them steal it from you. It ain’t worth it - compared to being hurt.”

And my mom said, “I know. I know. But I couldn’t let go. And it was just an old pocketbook – with nothing worthwhile in it.”

Then she said, “Till I realized a rosary Jack Laffey gave me was in my pocketbook.”

This parish has made over a million ranger rosaries – but I bet there is a rosary out there that some Marine will hold onto for life – because he felt it helped him through 3 tours of duty in Iraq and then 2 more in Afghanistan.

You can’t see what’s in a rosary – but there can be a lot in one – for those who see the invisible.

AT THE GRAVESIDE

One last example and then a short conclusion.

A woman somewhere along the line asked me if I thought she was crazy – because she liked to take a beach chair to the cemetery and set it up on the grass above her husband’s dead body. She would face the head stone and talk to him and pray with him to our God.

Wow! I could picture that. Afterwards, I realized I was hearing the best Creed I ever heard.  She was making an act of faith in Christ – in his Resurrection from the dead. She was making an act of faith that life is everlasting life – that when I die – and my loved ones die, there is life for on and on and on.

Life is invisible – yet we know the difference between a person who is walking down the street and a person in a coffin in a funeral parlor.

CONCLUSION

The title of my homily was, “Seeing the Invisible?”

If we think about it, there are millions of memories and stories embodied in this church – in these benches – in these sacred places. I can see it in the faces of people who visit this church from time to time and say – pointing to the front of this church: “I was married here 45 years ago.”

I can also sense it in homes – hospitals  – bars – beaches  – parks – lakes and rivers – places where we walked and talked.

Memories cling to stone and space – streets and schools.

If we think about it, a flag is cloth and a dish rag is a rag – but what a difference even if both have red, white and blue in them – even stripes – but what a difference.

If we think about it, all those dates on a calendar, are somewhat the same – but then - some have great significance – our birthday, the death day of our mom or dad, or a day like September 11.

To be human is to know these things. To have faith is to know God is here and watching us and after us – and into the beyond – into the forever.

To pause to get that – at least glimpses of this - is an epiphany. Thank you God.


oooooooooo

Concerning the picture on top of this blog piece. I found this wood engraving on line. Below it was the following comment: “The Flammarion engraving is a wood engraving by an unknown artist that first appeared in Camille Flammarion's L'atmosphère: météorologie populaire (1888). The image depicts a man crawling under the edge of the sky, depicted as if it were a solid hemisphere, to look at the mysterious Empyrean beyond. The caption underneath the engraving (not shown here) translates to "A medieval missionary tells that he has found the point where heaven and Earth meet..."
January 4, 2015


EPIPHANY

There’s more to life than what meets the eye.
Light shines on lures – and like fish we bite.
We’re hooked, caught, reeled in. We die.
We are mesmerized by the diamond necklass
and the latest outfit or whatever is alluring.
We're at a coffee break or a party and we overhear

or pick up comments – like hors d’ oeuvres –
and suck the meat out of every word – hoping
that we might be in on what's really happening.
We are star struck – wishing we could catch their
fame or their secrets of success and we pray if only 
we could dance with the stars. We’re mesmerized
when driving past the mansion of the glitterati.
Sometimes we gasp and grasp at straw and
discover we have grabbed the Christ. Epiphany!
We forget the Christmas story that the kings
were searching for the baby who could become
the real king of our lives – born in a stinky stable –
between ox and ass – a baby who can crawl into 
our lives – and into his and we can become 
one with him in our center - and both us grow
in wisdom, age and grace. Amen.


© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015.