Saturday, March 21, 2015

March 21, 2015


Some people only see in black and white,
while others see all the colors of the rainbow.

Me, I see with my imagination – thanks be to
being born before TV – with only the radio.

I could close my eyes and imagine The Fat Man,
Sargent Preston, The Shadow and The Green Hornet.

I was able to picture Fibber McGee and Molly,
their closet and Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve.

I’ve often wondered if those brought up before
color TV see differently than those born afterwards?

How about those who read and never heard a radio,
a TV, black or white or color, how did they see life?

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015

Friday, March 20, 2015

March 20, 2015


In a lifetime, we’re often asked,
“Where is home?” Where is home?

Is it Thanksgiving evening after the long meal
together with family – with nothing to get
us up to start cleaning the dishes and the 
silverware and put the leftovers for tomorrow
away today? And we're just sitting there talking
and laughing and telling old stories together....

Is it in our mother’s arms as a baby or at
Mom and Dad’s grave if they’re dead?

Where is home? Where is home?

Is it evening when we’re coming home
after a long hard day of work or school?

Is it in a church – coming back after years and 
years of being away – and someone at the church says, “Welcome home!” and there we are, being  together once again at home in church.

Where is home? Where is home?

Is it 500 miles away? Is it a quiet morning and
we’re looking out a train window to see familiar
faces on a platform – who are looking for our face –
and our suitcase – coming down those 3 steps?

Or is that moment after we die – in a far country –
and God our Father says, “Quick! Bring out 
the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on her finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the calf we’ve been fattening, and kill it;we are going to have a feast, a celebration, because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found.”  And they began to celebrate.

Where is home? Where is home?

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Thursday, March 19, 2015

March 19, 2015


Joseph thought she was most beautiful woman in the village of Nazareth. She carried her water jar and she carried herself with so much grace whenever she walked to the village well for water. 

Well, one day Joseph made the comment to his friends: “There is the most beautiful woman in the whole wide world. Look at her. She is full of grace. She could turn water into wine."

Then with a spark in his eyes and a smile on his face he said, “That is the woman whom I’ll marry."

Then he added, "Wait till you see our first son. He’ll be the best carpenter in the world wide world as well.”

And from that day forward Joseph got a new title, “Full of Exaggeration.” 

In the meanwhile, whenever the young men and the young women of Nazareth, saw them walking together, they loved to whisper, “Wait till 'Full or Exaggeration' marries 'Full of Grace.' Guarantee: things will be different around here.”

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

March 18, 2015


The poet said, "No one is an island!"

Unfortunately, he was wrong!

Too many of us are islands and we need to be freed
and join each other on the mainland.

Now that's communion. That's union. Amen.

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

March 17, 2015


Spring and summer are getting
closer and closer and closer.

Pause when they are moving
around in trees and plants,

and you’ll begin to see 500
shades of green and in between.

In buds and birds wings, in
flowers and every kind of plant.

Grass, background, and vegetables
sitting alongside a delicious steak.

Fern, moss, meadows and fields, you’ll
see everywhere the wearing of the green.

And, oops, on St. Patty’s Day, Look! you’ll
spot another 1000 shades of green.

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015


The title of my homily is, “St. Patrick: Sitting on His Shoulders.”

One of the gifts of the saints is that they can help us to see better.

We can stand or sit on their shoulders and see what we can’t see from down below.

We put saints on pedestals.

Paradoxically, they can be pedestals for us to stand on and see above the crowd – to see what we might not be seeing. To see bigger and be better.


Tell me your favorite Saint and you’ll be telling me about your values and your goals – your hopes and your ideals.

St. Peter teaches me that I can put your foot in my mouth and recover. I can make promises and not fulfill them – be forgiven and start again, 70 times seven times.

St. Thomas the Apostle teaches me I can have doubts and beg for an increase of faith. I hope we all say Thomas simple prayer: “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.”

St. Andrew the Apostle teaches me about the importance of bringing people to Jesus.

St. Monica teaches us – even if a kid is messing up – even years of messing up – keep nagging – keep praying – keep giving good example.

St. Augustine teaches us we can make a lot of mistakes and still make it.

St. Therese of Lisieux teaches us keep it simple – or the kiss principle: “Keep it simple stupid.” The Little Way can be a humbling best way.

St. Vincent de Paul teaches us to be concerned for the poor – making sure they have food to eat  and a place to stay.

St. Martin of Tours teaches us to give the coat off our back – especially to the person who is cold.


What does St. Patrick teach us?

See God in all of creation. Irish and Celtic spirituality is very earth and nature center. Irish Blessings and prayers often talk about the ocean, the sea, lakes, the mountains, the land, the trees, the breeze, the smile, bread, beer, the wrinkled skin of a grandmother and the smooth skin of a child.

What does St. Patrick teach us?

To laugh and to cry. St. Patrick was born in England and think of all the problems the Irish had with the English and vice versa. You have to be able to laugh – to enjoy life. Pray for a sense of humor.

St. Patrick helps me to think big. Irish are everywhere – all around the world.  Why not celebrate that we are part of a history – a big history – that we are Christians – because of all those Christians whose shoulders we stand on.  There can be Christians who will have the gift of faith in the future because we are Christians now. Faith is learned by example. Faith is passed down.  Faith is needed for the journey called, “Life!”  We need faith for the twists and turns on the road of life – enjoying the journey when the wind is at our back – as the Irish Blessing puts it – and stop in to enjoy a pub or a friend’s house when the wind is in our face.


I get these thoughts big time because I think of why I am a Catholic in the first place.

 I have fond memories of being a little kid in a big crowd at the St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York City on many a St. Patrick’s Day parade.  All I could see was legs till my daddy put me up on his shoulders and I could see the whole world – especially the parade going by – especially when I saw men in plaid skirts playing music and screeching strange sounds with their bag pipes and big burly guys banging big base drums with power and panache.     [P.S. That’s not a Gaelic word.]

Looking back St. Patrick helped all those Irish who move from one country to another – all those who were slaves of some sort or other – all those who were poor – all those who were looked down upon as dirty and stupid, poor foreigners, uneducated and outsiders, as humans, persons, someones. 

St. Patrick or anyone standing on his shoulders – anyone who starts from the bottom and rises upwards – on other people’s shoulders – hopefully they when they see all those below them – new immigrants, illegals, when they look down on them – it’s not in snobbish pride – but Christian love – and concern.

My dad gave me a great love of all colors and types of people – because those were the people he worked with at Nabisco in New York City – never making more than 100 a week. I saw how he interacted with everyone well. As well as my mom, - who was also from Ireland I had a great teacher my dad – whose shoulders I stand on.

Monday, March 16, 2015



The title of my homily for this 4th Monday in Lent is, “Life: People Meeting People – Resulting in Gospel or Badspell.”

Gospel as we know from church or the play “Godspell” means,  “Good News”.

“Badspell” – is a word I made up this morning – meaning “Bad News.” We’ve all said sometime in our life, “I’m going through a bad spell.”

So I really didn’t make up a new word.

Spell - without that second l – “spel” - is an old high German word. I saw it dated as before the 12th century. It’s also a Middle English word – both the German and the English meaning is talk or tale.  It also is a word with a strong experience of enchantment and high energy in it.


I like to stress that the key issue and energy in life is people – more than things.

The Catholic Church stresses people before stuff.

To be pro-life is to hold babies are more important than stuff for babies or for self.

To be pro-life is to have care and concern for all people – 8 months to 8 years  to 80 and beyond. You must have smiled about the comment in today’s first reading about making it to 100. Once more the text from Isaiah said, “He dies a mere youth who reaches but a hundred years.”

To be pro-life for life is taking time to give time and presence to each other.

To be pro-life is to have in our hand another person’s hand – more than a TV remote.


Today’s gospel indicates that Jesus had some bad experiences – not just at Calvary – but in Capernaum and other places where people knew him as a small town carpenter.  Many rejected him.

There he was preaching good news – gospel – but he received in return – rejection: “badspell” – badnews.

In the Prologue of John we hear all this loud and clear:  “He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him.  But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God to those who believe in his name.” [John 1: 11-12]

In today’s gospel this royal official – perhaps not a Jew comes to Jesus – to have his son healed – and Jesus gives him “good news” “You may go. Your son will be healed.”


Often in the gospels we see Jesus’ concern for children and young people.

To be pro-life is not only concerned about putting an end to abortion – we get that – having heard it in church over and over again for all these years.

I would stress not aborting life and recognition and attention and love and respect for those we meet each day.

I don’t know about you, but I often don’t look folks in the eye – or I’m not listening – and I avoid difficult people.

Communion, connecting, being with others can be hard work.

And this is not just kids and young people but all people.

Yesterday we celebrated the feast of St. Clement Hofbauer – the second founder of the Redemptorists – and we wouldn’t be in this specific church with these specific priests – if it wasn’t for him.

His goal was to preach the gospel anew.

We can preach the gospel anew every day in every way.

We can preach the gospel anew every day by being aware of the one’s we’re with.

We were brought up as Redemptorists hearing every year on Clement’s feast day – March 15 – that one day he went into a tavern begging for money for his orphans.  Someone in the tavern mocked him – laughed at him – and spit in his face.  Clement said, “That’s for me. Now how about something for our orphans.”

And coins filled his hat.

That’s preaching the gospel anew.


William Barclay commenting on todays’ gospel – John 4:43-45 says, “Here we have one of the great truths of the Christian life. The only real argument for Christianity is a Christian experience…. Effective Christian evangelism really begins when we can say: ‘I know what Christ has done for me’ and go on to say, ‘Try him, and see what he can do for you.’”

Try service. Try taking care of people. Try raising kids and raising old parents. Try communion.

Isn’t what why we’re Christians? Amen. 
March 16, 2015


“If you got a hole in the back of your pants,
lean against the wall or sit down, stupid.”

“If you put on 15 pounds in the last month,
don’t bring up the subject of food, especially
in front of critical thin people.”

“If you are with a fat person, please, please,
please, don’t bring up the subject of them
being overweight or diets.  They are having
that conversation with themselves every
day of the week.”

“If you’re lonely or moaning, don’t hang out
with lonely or moaning type people.”

“If you are trying to find a place to park your car,
avoid parking near a nail factory, hardware store,
carpenter shop, or a house going up.”

“If you are an alcoholic, learn to love root beer floats.”

“If you are going to cheat in a test by looking
over the shoulder of the person in front of you,
make sure they can spell and they are an A student.”

“If you are going to go to church once every 5 years,
make sure you don’t sit in the first row.”

“If you eat fast and you are going to have meatballs
and spaghetti, don’t wear anything white.”

“If you want to dress well, shop in a Goodwill Store
near a rich neighborhood.”

“If you want to feel better, quick, do something
for someone else quickly, but don’t tell anyone.”

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015

Sunday, March 15, 2015



The title of my homily for this 4th Sunday in Lent is, “Exposition.”

In a way, “exposition” is a religious word.

In a way it’s not a word that is used that often.

“Position,” yes.  “Exposition” – to knock out of position – “ex” “out of” and put in an “out side” position, yes.

In writing courses a student would learn about exposition or expository writing which means writing that explains something.

In music – it’s the first part of the piece, exposing a theme in the piece that the composer wants the listener to hear and pick up – up front.

So that’s why I like to tell up front a title of something what I’m going to try to talk about.

I like to come up with a catchy title to get people’s attention.

A title is like a shiny fish hook to catch people, etc. – to be fishers of people as Jesus put it.

So today – my goal would be for each of us – to catch ourselves – to expose – to disclose ourselves to ourselves - to hook ourselves – to lift ourselves up out of the dark or deep waters – we swim in -  like a person holding a fish on a hook – taken out of our hiding places – to be exposed – to see ourselves as we really are.


Today’s Gospel from John says, “We like to hide in the darkness!”  We don’t like the light.

In this gospel we see Nicodemus coming to Jesus in the dark, in the night, on the sneak – with his questions.

In this gospel we also have Jesus exposed on the cross – and John tells us what the cross is all about: salvation – Jesus – Eternal Life.

It too is like a fish hook – trying to catch you – pull you out of the deep.


I love a learning I caught from Father Benedict Groeschel of EWTN fame – a priest and a character to say the least – who said, “Ask people to tell you their favorite Bible Text and they will be telling you a lot about themselves.” They will be exposing how they think and see.

I heard that on a Monday in a course I was taking with him. The following weekend I was with a group of men on a retreat. This guy was driving me nuts with his questions and challenges – so with a guess in the dark – I asked him his favorite Bible text. He said without a moment’s hesitation. “Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

He didn’t notice – what I noticed – as he spoke the gestured with his index finger – pointed right at me.

To me he seemed ultra-rigid and too literal. I don’t think he would get poetry – and I often have problems with folks who don’t get what I’m saying – because I’m too poetic or what have you. My imagination is stronger than my intellect.

With this guy, I was tempted on the spot to counter with the words of Jesus in the gospel of John, “Is it I, Lord.” 

I didn’t but I think of that quote often when Judas asks that question.

It was right after Jesus says, “One of you is about to betray me.” [John 13:21]

“Is it I Lord?”

I’m sorry, I don’t want to betray you today.

After 40 or 50 years of age – we often know we are betraying ourselves – exposing ourselves – when we express ourselves.


You know a lot more about me or anyone who goes into the pulpit – than the person in the pulpit.  Of course there is the worry about not judging others.

Life…. Exposure …. Exposition….

I’m always saying inwardly – well not always – but many times, “Are you saying what you’re saying, or are you saying something else?”


I was watching the 2,000 movie, Remember the Titans, this past Friday night. I noticed the very different personalities of the two coaches. Denzel Washington played the part of Herman Boon and Will Patton played the part of Bill Yoast – in this 1971 story about a high school football teams struggles when intergration was taking place in Alexandria, Virginia.

It was remarkable for exposing motives, for exposing what was going on.

In a way the two coaches were like 1 person – showing us in the story - in the movie – that each person has choices. We talk to ourselves. We question ourselves. Our brain asks us: “Why are you doing this? Is it for ego, self, others, the team, recognition, fame. why, why, why?”

Coach Herman Boone is often asked these questions by his assistant coach, Bill Yoast. The questions finally got to him – so he asks his wife, her take on him. He finally being exposed. He was trying to look at an exposition of his motives.

Why are we here in church this morning?  Why do we go to Mass? What are we looking for? Why do we do what we do every day.


Friday in the March 16th 2015 Issue of America Magazine came in – along with the week before’s Issue. I always get something out of that Jesuit weekly magazine. They have a sermon on inside of the back cover. They are usually better than anything we get off – but taste is taste. Father Joe Krastel loves the Letters – finds them the best part of the magazine. I usually find an article in it worth the subscription.

This latest issue has a life story about David Carr – who died February 12, this year. It’s by his brother John Carr who is the director of the Invitation on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

David and John were two of three brothers and three sisters from Minneapolis, Minnesota.

I’ve seen David Carr on TV talk shows and I’ve read some of his stuff in the New York Times.  In the article in America, John exposes a lot of stuff about his brother David. He had drinking and drug problems – especially cocaine. David became a very open person.  David often let folks know his stuff – his mistakes and his good stuff – and his mistakes were great teachers. 

David Carr could be brutally blunt. He  didn’t hesitate to use language to let a speaker as well as any listeners know what he was thinking when that person spoke.

His first marriage ended in divorce. He had twins in a relationship with a girlfriend. He had his third daughter with his next wife.

I like one interpretation of the scene of Moses nailing the snakes on the tree in today’s first reading – as Moses exposing to the Israelites – pointing to the snakes: “This is what’s killing you.”

David Carr announced to any readers his snakes that were killing him.  He publically said it was cocaine and alcohol.  He got into AA – which bluntly gets people to be blunt about themselves. Denial does not have to run one’s life.

Announcing “I am an alcoholic” can be the birth cry of an alcoholic. Only this truth will set you free.

In a piece called, “Family Comes First”, David said his twin daughters saved his life and gave him a purpose. The article in America says, “He brought his infant twins to the local parish seeking baptism, saying this could be a bad son, employee, friend, but not a bad father. The pastor simply said, ‘welcome home.’”  John Carr in the America Magazine article said, “Our parents and family never gave up on David, which made his recovery and achievements sources of enormous relief and gratitude.”

On religion, in something he wrote David Carr wrote the following about religion.  What’s your take on the following? Listen carefully – a man is giving a good exposition of his life:

"I'm a churchgoing Catholic, and I do that as a matter of, it's good to stand with my family. It's good that I didn't have to come up with my own creation myth for my children. It's a wonderful community. It's not really where I find God. The accommodation I've reached is a very jury-rigged one, which is: All along the way, in [substance abuse] recovery, I've been helped ... by all of these strangers who get in a room and do a form of group-talk therapy and live by certain rules in their life — and one of the rules is that you help everyone who needs help. And I think to myself: Well, that seems remarkable. Not only is that not a general human impulse, but it's not an impulse of mine. And yet, I found myself doing that over and over again. Am I, underneath all things, just a really wonderful, giving person? Or is there a force greater than myself that is leading me to act in ways that are altruistic and not self-interested and lead to the greater good? That's sort of as far as I've gotten."


The title of my homily is, “Exposition.”

Lent is a time to be like Nicodemus and go to Jesus in the night.

Ask Jesus questions. Let him ask you questions. Stand under the cross and listen in your dark – till the morning light.

Visit the adoration chapel. Sit in front of Jesus – in exposition of the Blessed Sacrament – and face what’s killing you – and see what’s giving you life. Amen.
March 15, 2015


You know you’re old when
you use your plastic pill box
to tell you what day of the week it is.

You know you’re old when
you have to get up three times every night.

You know you’re old when
your trifocals are full of dust and dirt and dandruff
and fingerprints and you think it’s a hazy day.

You know you’re old
when you don’t know what color your
hair really is and you don’t want to know.

You know you’re old when
you look down at the barber shop floor
and all the hair on the floor is gray
and it’s all yours – what little is there.

You know you’re old when
you’re wondering if the wrinkle on your arm
is a stray strand of spaghetti.

You know you’re old when
others finish your stories.

You know you’re old when
they tap you to tell you you’re hearing aid is whistling.

You know you’re old when
friends and family are scared to call you past 8 P.M.  

You know you’re old when
you don’t know whom you’re daughter-in-law’s
mother-in-laws husband is.

You know you’re old when
you don’t know your zipper is unzipped.

You know you’re old when
you keep saying, “I don’t know where I put it.”

You know you’re old when
you don’t care what others think and you’re not afraid to say so.

You know you’re old when
the whine in your mouth is spelled “whine” not “wine”.

You know you’re old when
you don’t know how old you are.

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015