Saturday, April 25, 2015

April  25, 2015


Somewhere out there in the deep waters
          is a raft
          called Love,
          called God.

And everybody knows it’s there,
          as we all swim
          around in this ocean
          of words and stuff,
          trying to find the raft
          called Love,
          knowing that Love
          is the answer,
          as all the songs sing it,
          as all the prophets tell us.

And it’s hard work swimming and struggling
          and trying to find that raft
          called Love,
          called God.

And suddenly some of us
          spot the raft
          off there in the distance
          and as we swim closer
          we see it’s almost sinking
          with people.

Then God reaches out with his hands
          and pulls us up
          out of the water
          and onto the wood,
          and just then
          God suddenly laughs
          watching us trying
          to lug our wet possessions
          on board, too.

But then God starts to clap
          and slaps somebody
          on the back,
          who just then saw our stupidity
          and threw his stuff overboard,
          and once more
          there is just enough room,
          just enough space,
          on the raft
          called Love,
          called God. 

(c) Andy Costello

Friday, April 24, 2015

April 24, 2015


The teen-ager couldn’t wait for summer,
couldn’t wait for all those summer mornings
he and his grandfather
went fishing, went talking.

“Grandpa, what’s important?”


“Well, you’ll have to sit back and listen to people
for the answer to that one.

“Or better, you’ll have to watch people.
Watch their hands, their faces,
but especially watch their eyes.
People always tell you
what’s important with their eyes.

“Why I once had a man tell me that his wife
was dead 3 years and 44 days
and he was still counting,
and his eyes were still crying

“Or listen to your grandma next time you take
her shopping. Listen to the things
she brings up -- the things she talks about
when she meets her friends.
I know you always find shopping
with her boring, but watch her
as she takes out her pictures of you
and all her other grandchildren
to show them to her friends.

“Watch people watch their watches.
They’re telling you an awful lot.
And yawns . . . Notice yawns.
They’re always a dead give away.

“Listen to the sounds behind words, behind voices . . .
what people get angry at,
when they get mad.
Then you’ll know when someone is stepping on somebody’s values or somebody’s nerves.
Then you’ll know that someone is going beyond
somebody’s ‘No trespassing. Private property’ sign.

“And don’t worry too much about people’s answers.
Listen to their questions.
Questions always tell you a lot more.”


“By the way, why did you ask that question?” 

(c) Andy Costello

Thursday, April 23, 2015

April 23, 2015


Let’s be honest.
We all know about presence,
whether a person wants to be with us
or whether they feel trapped,
like a prisoner in our presence.

The baby knows.
She knows even when she’s sleeping
whether her parents want her or not.

The old people know.
They know which of their children
are only a phone call
or a visit away.

The team knows whether the cheer leaders
have to cheer or want to cheer.
They know when the crowd
is with them or not.
They know. They can sense it.

The people in the church know
whether the preacher
wants to be in the pulpit or not.

The wife -- the husband -- they both know
whether their marriage
has become a trap -- people living,
people dying in separate prison cells,
or whether their marriage
is an ever expanding universe,
an ever expanding move towards God.

I am.

God is present and we know it.

we know these truths about presence
even when we deny them.

And all is touching.
All the cells of the universe
are touching each other,
present to each other,
cheering each other on.

All is present to all.
All is circular.
Everything is present to everything.
Everyone is present to everyone.
Everyone is present to God.

God is  present to everyone and everything.
The universe is a sign
of the ever expanding presence of God,
like the baby to the parents.

My life is touching your life
Life is touching life.
Life is touching God.

Yet some people feel trapped.
They feel like they are dying,
in a closed prison cell,
unable to open up to the presence of another person,
to the presence of God.

And the truth will set you free.

And all cells will be opened. 

(c) Andy Costello

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

April 22, 2015


The weather, could be better ….
My health, could be better….
My spouse, could be better ….
My life, could be better….
My faith, could be better ….

The weather, could be worse ….

My health, could be worse ….
My spouse, could be worse….
My life, could be worse ….
My faith, could be worse …

Me - you tell me - am I better
or worse than expected....

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Check out the following video's - on the Question of the Mass as a Meal.



The title of my homily for this 3rd Tuesday after Easter  is, “Understanding the Mass.”

It takes a lifetime - and then some - and then till we’re celebrating the eternal wedding feast - for us to have a better and better understanding of the Mass.

Here’s a few threads about the Mass.  maybe you can sew them together.


As you know, as you realize, Christianity revolves around a table.

As you know, after Vatican II,  50 years ago -  our understanding of the Mass expanded and evolved - as well as returning to its roots.

If you don’t accept evolution and revolution - and change - you’ll miss the meanings of the Mass.

We change. Life changes. Life evolves. Look at a baby’s skin and compare it to an 80 year old person’s skin. Evolution…. So too the mind….

Life happens. Life keeps on revolving. The earth is on a roll. The earth has been revolving while evolving around the sun for 5 to 10 billion or more years now.


Some of us saw the Catholic Church turn the tables.

The priest spoke the language the people spoke. The Mass became a face to face experience. There was supposed to be a move to a more bready bread taste to the bread. We have seen it change colors - from bright white - plastic look alike bread to more and more tan wheat bread color. Some churches have tried bigger pieces of bread - but to feed 500 - with bread left over - and some brought to the sick - heavier and  more bread looking  like bread - crumbles easier.

Have some wine. Have some wine that tastes like Palestine. But wine is more difficult to work with.

This is difficult with crowds. That’s easier with just the bread.

This 6th chapter of John - which we heard part of today - should be read and read, chewed on, chewed on, digested, digested. If there is anything Jesus does, it’s his nourishing us. It’s getting us to think and mull over life.

This memory and memorial of Jesus is a meal. Come and eat. Come and get it. Share. Chew and listen. Do this in memory of me.

At any good meal, we don’t just eat and drink, we talk and listen.

We are in communion with each other.

We become what we eat. We become what we drink. We become what we talk to each other about.


We know meals. We know food. Cook books are up there with the best sellers when it comes to books.

We know eating. We get that from day 1.

Jesus cooked up a great experience with his Mass.

Everyone eats.

Everyone is becoming.

Everyone is passing over.

Everyone has roots.

Everyone is part of a story.

So there are readings of that story at every Mass - just as at every time we sit down to eat we remember our stories - re-membering every member of the family.

It’s not good to skip out - to miss a meal - to drop out of the family - like Judas did - like so many have - by skipping meals - by not being there for the family meal - at least on Sundays.

It’s not good to be alone.

It’s not good to eat alone.

Yet even when eating alone we are remembering our days, our moments, our lives . We’re talking and listening to each other - in our upper room - in our skulls. It’s better to be eating and talking with each other.

Give us this day our daily bread. Give us this day, “How was your day?” “What’s happening?”  Haven’t seen you all day. Haven’t seen you in a while? Is everything okay.

It’s good to talk after Mass.

Of course communion is difficult.

It’s hard to hold and listen to and hold onto -various conversations during a meal. Someone on my right says something interesting. Someone on my left or across the table says something. It’s hard to hold onto two or three conversations at the same time as well as conversations going on in our heads about something that happened yesterday or what we’re going to face today.

Who said we can’t have distractions?

A meal is all about distractions. Jesus who is going to betray you today.

Life has it’s rock throwers - its traitors.  Hey Saul wanted Stephen out of the community.  Life is filled with all kinds of better and worsers.


We have to move on. Finish meals. Move on. And we can continue this life and another meal tomorrow. 

[Painting on Top: Coming out of Mass by Jose Ferrer Miro]
April 21, 2015


Driving up West Street, 4:30 P.M

or so, the traffic was building up.... 
I spotted a red Corvette, waiting
to step out, 
from a side street,

right turn - going in the same 
direction as I was heading.
He spotted my hand gesture to,
"Come on out. Get ahead of me."  
He did. Great smile. How long was 
he stuck there? I'm now behind him. 
On the next street,
and on the next street,
and on the next street,
and on the next street,
he did what I did.
He let 4 people out "Wow!" I thought. 
"Love begets love." Each time he put
a smile on my face. I touched that
smile and could feel it on my skin.
Did he still have his original smile?

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Monday, April 20, 2015



The title of my homily for this Monday in the 3rd Week of Easter is, “Seeing Through What We’re Seeing.”

To give credit, where credit belongs, I got the idea for this sermon from a woman named Kathy Coffee, mother of four kids - a speaker and a writer. [1]

In commenting on today’s two readings she talks about Jesus in today’s gospel seeing through the motives of the crowd who are looking for him not because of his signs - but because he gives out food (John 6: 22-29). And in today’s first reading, the crowd will attack Steven - because underneath everything they want to kill anyone who is following Jesus (Acts of the Apostles 6: 8-15).


It’s a common experience to experience someone who puts up a smoke screen or what have you - simply because their bottom line is to get us.

They think they know our underneath and they don’t like it. Meanwhile their underneath is loaded with mixed motives or fake motives.

At times I’ve met people who want to attack someone’s motives - or what they assume to be another’s motives.  Sometimes they do it with clenched teeth or jaw. Sometimes they do it with a smile.

We see this happening all through the scriptures.

We see this happening all through our lives.

The history of the world seems to be war - when life would be so much better - and sweeter -  if we all worked to be instruments of God’s peace.


In her commentary on today’s readings Kathy Coffee quotes something Walt Whitman said. I have never heard or noticed it before. Whitman said, “a mouse is miracle enough”.

People jump when they see a mouse. Whitman stopped and realized what a miracle a mouse is. I had never thought of that. I get it, because I have been amazed while looking at birds and squirrels. They climb and fly so amazingly.

Toy dogs and cats need batteries. Humans and ducks, cats and dogs, move because they have the miracle of life.

Don’t we pause at times and feel our pulse and know our heart is working - pumping blood and life through our systems.

Miracles surround us.

Miracles abound.

Amazement should resound in us.

Doesn’t that get us to see through what we’re seeing and we see God in the unseen.

I love that quote from Walt Whitman about the mouse.

It’s sort of like the quote I used in my homily yesterday from Mary Ann Evans - better known as George Eliot - who in her famous must read book, Middlemarch, said, “If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel's heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence.”


The title of my homily is, “Seeing Through What We’re Seeing.”

As a conclusion here’s a suggestion.

Practice going underneath.

Ask inwardly, “Are you saying what you’re saying or are you saying something else?”

Ask inwardly, “Are you seeing what you’re seeing or are you seeing something else?”

We see this in kids. They want the cookie or the cake or the candy. The rest is staging for the treat.

We see this in adults - but it’s more complex. They are getting back for something we said last week that they didn’t like. They don’t know that’s what they are doing.

Didn’t Jesus say from the cross, “Father forgive them because they don’t know what they are doing”?

We need to practice seeing what’s going on underneath.

To avoid judgment - ask others, “Are you saying what you’re saying or are you saying something else?”

To keep the peace - in a warlike moment - ask, “What are you seeing going on here?”

I see this happening in many interactions in the gospels between Jesus and his adversaries.

I read once about a  little girl who said at the dinner table, “Nobody ever tells me they love me.” 

Her mom said, “Your aunt said she loved you at dinner the other night.”


Then the little girl after thinking said,  says, “No she didn’t.”


Then she said to her mom,  “When did she tell me that she loved me?”

Her mom answered, “When she said, ‘Don’t eat too fast’”

To be open our eyes - to open our mind - we need to go to the other side of silence and hear the roar of love and amazement that’s going on underneath the bread and the wine and the words of our lives.

So that’s the gist of this homily entitled, “Seeing Through What We’re Seeing” or hearing or doing.”  Amen


[1] Page 276, “Unrelenting Graces” by Kathy Coffey, in Give Us This Day, April 2015
April 20, 2015


We see
the other person’s
mannerisms and moodiness.

We see 

the other person's
spots and sins and peculiarities.

We wish
the other person's
behaviors that don't or won't change.

We wish
the other person
would see things the way we see them.

We forget
the other is a mirror
and we're seeing ourselves in them.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Sunday, April 19, 2015



The title of my homily for this 3rd Sunday after Easter is, “Motherhood and Apple Pie.”

This week - starting with today - is Earth Week and includes Earth Day as well.

Question: does naming a day or a week or a month or a year - for some special cause or occupation -  have any impact?

Translation: does it work?

How about Secretary’s Day or Week,  also labeled “Administrative Professional’s Day or Week?” That day or week takes place in April every year  in the United States. It’s this week - by the way. Are bosses better to their secretaries that day or week? Does that improve life in the office?

Answer: each of us has to know - look - and ask ourselves: “Does a special day or week have any impact on us? Do we treat others - mom, dad, secretary, whoever -  whenever  a special day, week or month is declared for them to be noticed - appreciated - and thanked?”


At least 30 or 40 years ago I was watching TV and Buckminster Fuller was being interviewed. I knew he was an architect and an engineer - but I didn’t know about his way of thinking. I didn’t know his attitude towards earth and our universe. He’s the guy who called our earth, “Spaceship Earth.”

During the interview he began talking about public bathrooms and how messy and ugly they can be. He said that he tries to leave a bathroom cleaner and neater - than when he walked into one.

I heard that message loud and clear and I have tried to do that ever since. With just that simple message, he preached a better sermon than I could for Earth Day or Earth Week. 

Does that challenge or impact you? 

I’m sure in our lifetime we’ve seen many messy bathrooms along the highways of life - especially in gas stations. “Hey, I had to go.”

What’s a bathroom in a spaceship like? Type into Google that question and you’ll see a picture of a $50,000 dollar toilet that’s on exhibit in the National Air and Space Museum.

If one is messy, there would be very few to blame on an space station.

How about the next person who uses a bathroom in a 757 airplane after we just finished?  They are small and hard to go in - while flying in the friendly skies.

How well am I taking care of Spaceship Earth - while I’m on earth or in the skies above it?

Will all the stuff spoken and written about earth today and this week have an impact on this earth - Mother Earth.


Once more the title of my homily is, “Motherhood and Apple Pie.”

I’m reading and hearing that our Pope Francis - is coming out with a key letter on the earth - and ecology -  in a month or two or three.

I’ve heard people po po all this earth stuff - as nonsense - as political stuff. I’ve heard people make fun of tree huggers - and all that.

The Catholic Church is stereotyped as off on abortion - and we’re mocked for that at times. I’m happy to see in the last bunch of years - prolife issues including all of life issue - from A to Z, from abortion to zoology,  from the ecology to the environment to capital punishment to war to the air and the oceans - health - cancer - etc. etc. etc. - all of life.

Awareness can lead to action - and hopefully more and more people will take action to make our air - our waters - our bodies - our spirits - our inlook and our outlook - healthy and heavenly.

What’s your take on all this? Does it sound like “motherhood and apple pie?”

Translation: it's a cliche. It's soft. It's blabber.


I did a baptism yesterday - Saturday -  at 1 PM - another at 6 PM  - and had another this afternoon at 3 PM - and I had a wedding yesterday at 3 PM. These are life moments, sacred moments  - babies and brides and bridegrooms - motherhood and fatherhood - moments. We hope the best for all.

In the baptismal ceremony the deacon or priest baptizing the baby - puts oil on her or his forehead - and rubs it in. While doing this this new born person is being called - anointed - to become prophets, priests and kings.  If the baby is a girl, I add prophetess, priestess and queen.

During these baptisms I think about all that’s going on here: with skin, life, oil, water, words, gestures - symbols - etc. etc. etc. All are used.

Take prophets: we are all called to be prophets. It means to call out - speak out - against unfairness. When I see someone drop a soda can or a wrapper,  I sometimes yell out - “Hey - [whistle] - you dropped something.” I have the can or wrapper in hand and I try to hand it back to the person who dropped stuff on our living room floor - the sidewalks of our world. I’ve only done that while wearing a t-shirt or jeans.  Most people reject my prophecy - but sometimes I surprise them and they take their garbage back.

I like to see kids having fun with skateboards, but I hate to see skate boarders damaging property. For example I’ve seen them trying to jump with their skate boards onto the head of the Alex Haley statue in downtown Annapolis. 

So I don’t dislike skateboarding because a kid might break their head or leg. I should. I worry about their possible defacing  the bronze skin of Alex Haley and the bronze kids listening to him at the edge of the water where slaves came into Annapolis.

Speaking up is the call to be a prophet. We’re also called to be priests - all of us - to treat all as sacred - to thank God for all the good around us.

Years ago I was reading the works and words of the French Jesuit priest, Teilhard de Chardin. Some theologians in Rome and around the world wanted his theology condemned. It wasn’t. Some wanted him silenced. He kept writing. 

He died on Easter Sunday - 1955 in New York City. 

His grave is in Poughkeepsie NY - right on the grounds of the Culinary Institute of America. I stood at this grave at least 1 dozen times and thanked him for his insights and impressions and challenges about our world. I noticed that Pope Benedict praised him in various words - and that helped change people’s take on him.

When I say Mass and I lift up the host at the consecration I often think of a moment in Teilhard de Chardan’s life when he was in a desert in China and he had no bread - so at one sunrise he stood there and grabbed the rising sun and held it up and offered all the planet - all the earth back to God who created it all. You can find this in his book: The Mass of All the World.

Listen to these words from that book, “Since once again, Lord — though this time not in the forests of the Aisne but in the steppes of Asia — I have neither bread, nor wine, nor altar, I will raise myself beyond these symbols, up to the pure majesty of the real itself; I, your priest, will make the whole earth my altar and on it will offer you all the labors and sufferings of the world.

Over there, on the horizon, the sun has just touched with light the outermost fringe of the eastern sky. Once again, beneath this moving sheet of fire, the living surface of the earth wakes and trembles, and once again begins its fearful travail. I will place on my paten, O God, the harvest to be won by this renewal of labour. Into my chalice I shall pour all the sap which is to be pressed out this day from the earth’s fruits.

My paten and my chalice are the depths of a soul laid widely open to all the forces which in a moment will rise up from every corner of the earth and converge upon the Spirit. Grant me the remembrance and the mystic presence of all those whom the light is now awakening to the new day.

So we’re called to prophets and priests - prophetesses and priestesses

We’re called from our baptism to also be queens and kings of all the earth.

Kings and Queens - this kingdom - this earth is ours - and all of us are called to be the type of kings and queens of this kingdom that Jesus called us to be - servants. Give us this bread on earth our daily bread  as it is in heaven.


The poets get this and April is Poetry Month.

I love the prayer and the poem, God’s World by Edna St. Vincent Millay. Listen to how she begins her poem.


By Edna St. 
Vincent Millay

O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!
   Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
   Thy mists, that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour!   That gaunt crag
To crush!   To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!

I also love a line in the poem Ulysses by Alfred Lord Tennyson:

I am a part of all that I have met”

We are part of all that we have met.

Our mom ate the fruits and vegetables, meat and potatoes, apple pie and peanut butter of the earth while forming us.

I am part of all that I have met.

Stand next to a person who is downwind and is smoking.

Go by a house whose front yard is spring perfect - or it's a junkyard. Get in touch with how the good, the bad and the ugly impact us.

I am part of all that I breathe, see, hear, taste, and touch.


Carl Sagan - scientist - who could be rather poetic, wrote the following words in Cosmos: “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”

If you get that, you get, you see the connection - the communion - of all with all.

A motorcycle at 2 AM    wakes us up and connects us with the driver, the noise, the whole of life.

A piece of apple pie can do the same - connecting us with the maker - Maker with a big M - meaning God - and maker with a  small  “m” - its maker and baker.

An apple pie can put a smile on our face - can get us to ask for a second piece. It can put a smile on our mother’s face - seeing our face -  and God’s face as well - and  we sit there at table enjoying communion with each other - not rushing away from the table and into the night like people rushing out of church - missing a chance to connect with folks here in closing prayers and some words as we head for our cars.


The title of my homily is, “Motherhood and Apple Pie.”

This week is earth week. Look around.

Become silent and listen and let me close with these words of George Eliot from her novel, Middlemarch.

“If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel's heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence.”