Saturday, March 14, 2015

March 14, 2015


May you be surrounded by rocks,
people who surround you with strength,
stability and security.

May you have beautiful gifts of paper
in your secret bottom drawer: love letters,
a poem that got wows in high school,
and the letter that let you know you were
accepted into the school or job of your dreams.

May you have in the place it always is:
your pair of scissors, which  you can take out
when you have to cut our your picture in a
newspaper because you won a spelling bee,
the state championship, your marriage
announcement – and mom and dad’s
obituary after a long and wonderful life
5 kids, 65 years of marriage
and 45 grand and great-grandkids.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Friday, March 13, 2015

March 13, 2015


Empty trees, empty crucifixes ...
in this cold empty forest....
Where are our dead, O Lord?
Where are our dead?
Where are you O Lord?
Where are you as well?
In the last few years
I have lost too many neighbors,
too many friends, too many family members.

To quote Shakespeare, is this “the winter
of our discontent?” Will March,  march on
and bring us buds and new bursts of life,
ending winter, ending Lent, beginning
Easter, Spring, Resurrection and new life?

Then, when the first bud buds,
when the first blade of grass greens,
please let me hear, “Hmm!” “Hmm!” from you,
so I can say, “O Lord, there you are again.
Be with all of us on this journey 
from winter to spring,
from crib to crucifix, 
from crucifix to empty cross - 
to resurrection and new Life, 
Eternal Life, O, Lord Jesus."

© Andrew Costello, Reflections, 2015

Thursday, March 12, 2015

March 12,2015


We give names to dogs and cats,
so why not give names to wolves -
the wolves at our door. Why not? 
They howl.They are our fears – fears 
with names like: “Gossip,” “Accusation,”
“Bankrupt!”  “Rejected.” “Fired,” "Cut".
Names like, “Cheat, “Caught,” “Cancer.”
“Disliked,” “Dropped,” "Addiction."
Yes, why not give names to the
wolves at our door? Sometimes we hear
their paws making scratching sounds
there on our wooden porch 
just outside our door. "Oh no! Not again."

© Andy Costello, Reflections

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

March 11, 2015


There are moments
and there are moments.

Some seem better than others.

There are struggles 
like when we feel like we're crawling 
along the valley floor,
and then there are moments of exhilaration like coming 
to the top of a mountain - after a long, long climb.

There's the nine months of a tough pregnancy
and then there's the moment 
when we see the face of our new born baby

There's the fixing a flat tire on a busy road
and then there's the moment of finishing 
the job and jumping back into the car and driving away.

There's the tilling the soil, planting the seed,
and then there are moments when we see the harvest.

There's the taking a kid to a thousand practices, and then there's the years later when we see her win 
the bronze, silver or gold medal.

There's paying tuition bill after tuition bill after tuition bill,
and then there's the moment we see our kid 
graduate from college with a 3.87 GPA.

There are moments
And there are moments.

© Andy Costello, Reflections

Tuesday, March 10, 2015



The title of my homily for this Tuesday in the 3rd Week of Lent is, “Just The Facts Ma’am.”

That’s listed by some as one of the 100 best lines on TV.

Joe Friday – on Dragnet - the Los Angeles TV detective  - loved to say those words.

“Just the Facts MA’AM.”


The theme of today’s gospel is forgiveness.

In today’s gospel Peter asks Jesus how many times should he forgive his brother – if his brother sins against him. Then Peter gives a possible number: “As much as 7 times?”

Jesus adds, “I say to you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

Then to reinforce his message Jesus adds a parable about a king who does an audit and discovers someone who owed him a huge amount.

The king is a good king and forgives the guy – then the guy won’t forgive someone who owed him a tiny bit. The king is told this and then takes back his forgiveness – throws him in prison - and makes the guy pay the king what he owed him in full. I always wonder if that was smart – because he could be working to get the money.


Have you figured out why Jesus is so strong on forgiveness?

Is it because it’s to our benefit. If we forgive others – we are throwing away poison that can kill us or holding onto stones that weigh us down.

Harboring hurts and resentments and grudges can wear us out and destroy us. They can weigh too much. They can drain us. They can insane us  - getting us to do dangerous things that backfire and do us damage.


The title of my homily is from Dragnet and Joe Friday, “Just The Facts Ma’am.”

When it comes to forgiveness, we need to say what Jesus said from the cross: “Father, forgive them, because they don’t know what they do.”

We can add to that, “Even if I don’t know why they did what they are did.”

We all know the old Native American proverb, “Never criticize another till you walked a mile in their moccasins.” 

I like to reword that a bit and say, “Don’t hold back forgiveness till you’ve walked a mile in another’s sins.” Sound familiar? That’s basically what Jesus said: “Let the one without sin cast the first stone.”

I love saying reading and reflecting upon the  following words from Graham Green’s novel, The Heart of the Matter. Here’s the quote: “Scobie said sharply, ‘Don’t talk nonsense, dear. We’d forgive most things if we knew the facts.’”

I also think that he person who can’t forgive – can be forgiven – more – even if he or she refused to go dragnetting for the facts.

Forgiveness is complicated. It’s the heart of the matter – and the one person who knows about sin and its intricacies – and the long list of facts involved in sin – is us – and we expect God knows – what lurks in the hearts of man – even if God is only a shadow to us. Now that’s another detective story as well.


We don’t know all the facts.  Non-forgiveness makes for the messy funeral.
March 10, 2015


If you listen,
you might hear a cry behind the smile.

If you listen,
you might hear the cause behind the effect.

If you listen,
you might hear the love behind the hate.

If you listen,
you might hear the story behind the hurt.

If you listen,
you might hear the fire behind the desire.

If you listen,
you might hear the want behind the whine.

If you listen,
you might hear the meaning behind the supposed stupidity.

If you listen
you might hear the hope behind the curse.

If you really listen,
you might hear someone hearing you.

© Andy Costello Reflections, 2015

Monday, March 9, 2015



The title of my homily is, “In 500 Words or Less.”


Today is the feast of St. Francis of Rome. 

I looked up the Life of St. Francis of Rome in the Catholic Encyclopedia and a few books that give short lives of saints.
Descriptions of her life are roughly the same.
What struck me was the story of her life or any saint’s life could be summed in 500 words or so.

Then it hit me: Why not try to sum up everyone’s life in 500 words or less?

Born – died – and what happened in between.

Place of birth – place of death.

People in one’s life.

Key events in one’s life.


Born in Rome – died in Rome.

Dates: 1384 to 1440

Died this day – March 9, 1440.

Wife, mother, founder of a religious community of Oblates – who lived in common without religious vows.

She had an arranged marriage. She was only 12 years old when they married. He was older – rich – a soldier.

She had 3 sons. 2 died early.

I loved one line about her that is in one of these 500 words or less type biography. “Although the marriage had been arranged, it was a happy one, lasting for forty years, partly because Lorenzo admired his wife, and partly because he was frequently away at war.”

Like many saints she was very caring for the poor, the sick and the stuck.

Wouldn’t be a great sentence to hear in someone’s obituary or at their funeral?

Her life as a saint has the typical legends and miraculous material.

She’s listened to her guardian angel and is reported to have a wonderful connection with that guardian angel.


In reading another’s life, we become aware of our own life.

In making it short and to the point, we are apt or able to pick out the key ingredients in another’s life – and hopefully our own.


Just do it.
March 9, 2015


He was the most powerful king in all the world. 
He controlled everything – everything but one thing. 
He controlled the money, the meetings, the agenda.
He controlled everything – everything - except being able 
to get his own baby or any baby to look him in the eye - 
when he wanted them to. This drove him crazy. 
His baby daughter – even when he was wearing his best crown, best robe, best beard had a mind of her own. She would be following the man on the lawn mower going back and forth on their front lawn just outside their big window – or the cat or the dog sitting there on the other side of the big room. He slowly learned: even the biggest, 
the brightest and the best can’t control everything –
and one time there he got the thought: “Is that why Christ came as a baby? Is that why Christ died on the cross."

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Sunday, March 8, 2015



The title of my homily for this 3rd Sunday in Lent - Year B - is, “The Sacred Temple.”

Most religions have sacred places and sacred centers.

They are the places that hold us together.

They are the places of prayer and silence and wow.


For Catholics, it could be Rome, Lourdes, Fatima, our local church, a favorite church we went to as a kid or where they  have an a adoration chapel.

For Mormons, it could be Salt Lake City.

For Moslems,  it could be a hajj or pilgrimaGe to a sacred place like Mecca, Madinah, Jerusalem. 

For Jews it could be Jerusalem.

For Japanese Buddhists it could be Kyoto.

If you were asked to tell of your most sacred place,  what would be your answer? On the way home or at a meal today, announce to each other your most sacred place – or places - built by people or formed by nature.

I wanted to go to 7 places: Israel (preferably the Lake of Galilee), Chartres Cathedral near Paris, St. Peter’s in Rome, Scala, Italy (just above the Amalfi Coast) – where the Redemptorists began in 1732, the birthplaces of my mom and dad in Galway Ireland, and  the Grand Canyon. Got to all of them in like a 5 year window.


It could be places where we went to school, places where we went to church.

It could be places where we met and fell in love, got engaged, got married, went on a honeymoon. It could be a cemetery – or Ocean City – or where have you.

It could be a Hall of Fame or a Hall of Shame.

It could be places of horror or holocaust - places like Auswitz, Hiroshima, Pearl Harbor, the New World Trade Center built after 9-11.

They are places of pause and awe.

Those places are inside our minds  - as well as our heart – as well as on this planet.

In general, they are actual physical places, but they also have to be in our mind and heart, in our skull, in our being, in our memory, in our inner temple. Otherwise, we would be more like an animal.


In today’s gospel from John, we have the scene of the cleansing of the temple. It’s one of the few scenes that are in all 4 gospels.

As I was reading about this scene from the gospels – I couldn’t help but think about the Isis group that is destroying sacred places in Iraq etc. I’ve been reading articles that they want to destroy a lot more Jewish and Christian places – as well as ancient holy places of worship.

I want to read some articles about the destruction recently of statues and very ancient cultural and religious images and statues by Isis. I winced and felt anger – just as what I felt when the Taliban destroyed those ancient Buddhas in Afghanistan. One was 165 feet high and the other 114 feet high – both wonders of the ancient world and sacred – both pilgrimage places – for people from China and Japan and elsewhere.

I need to compare Jesus' angry dissent the day he cleansed the temple - to the anger these folks who destroy shrines and holy images - and much worse - kill people.

Is that what folks felt that day in the temple when Jesus overturned the money changers tables and with a whip drove out the animals in the temple.

Is one a purging; is the other a destructive outburst?

I remember a mother telling me that at least 3 times she went into an uproar with her kids for the mess they were making of their home and ruining the family. She would open up a dining room cabinet with her best plates and start tossing them and breaking them all.  Each time she got their attention – for a while.

I want to read some articles about what goes on peoples’ minds and hearts when these things happen in their lives.  

What about when people violate the sacredness of their marriage and their marriage bed?

What about the horror of child abuse – by priests, teachers, family members.

Haven’t we all heard the comment: Is anything sacred anymore?


In today’s gospel from John, we hear Jesus talk about the sacred temple that is invisible - the one inside our person, inside our being.

In the gospel of Matthew, we hear Jesus talk about the inner room – the sacred inner room inside each of us.

What does that look like? Is it vacant? Is it dirty? Is it a disaster?

Some people don’t get that.  Some people had no clue what Jesus was talking about when he talked about the temple in Jerusalem taking 46 years to build – and the temple that he was – would be destroyed - but will be rebuilt n 3 days.  

Christianity talks about the inner temple in a human being – that it is a sacred place – and asks the question: “Do we enter that sacred place every day.”


Lent is a good time to spend time in our inner being.

The first step is the cleansing – the so called Purgative Way.

Lent is a good time to go into churches, adoration chapels, but above all – to go into our very desert, inner room, and get in touch with our very being.

Today’s gospel ends with mention that Jesus knew the human heart.

Lent is a good time to go daily into our inner temple – check it out – cleanse it out and be in communion with Christ within.

I like quiet back benches in dark afternoon churches – with nobody there but Christ and myself.

I like a comfortable chair in my room – in a corner – a chair I call my prayer chair.

I think time spend in inner rooms – helps my time in outer rooms – outer chairs and benches – like Sunday Mass in a temple like this.


March 8, 2015


after all
is said and done,
why should
I accept
your comment
that there isn’t
a heaven
and a hell?
Who the hell
do you think
you are, God?

© Andy Costello, Reflections
March 7, 2015


Sometimes silence is louder than words

Sometimes words solve the silence.

Sometimes silence heals the situation

Sometimes words build the bridge.

Sometimes silence is just what we need.

Sometimes words are the only solution.

Sometimes silence says a thousand words.

Sometimes a thousand words say nothing.

Sometimes silence breaks the tension.

Sometimes a word breaks the silence of a year.

Sometimes silence is too loud.

Sometimes silence is the right move.

Sometimes silence is wrong.

Sometimes silence is empty loneliness

Sometimes silence makes it worse.

Sometimes silence is passive aggression.

Sometimes words reactivate aggression

Sometimes silence is the best response.

Sometimes silence is the way to go.

Sometimes silence is lonely.

Sometimes silence is only silence.

© Andy Costello, Reflections