Saturday, May 16, 2015

May 16, 2015


All families have givers and all
families have those who are takers.

All families have someone
who won’t talk to someone.

All families have closets and bottom
drawers, containing family secrets.

All families have someone who is the
favorite and someone who is the least favorite.

All families have moments that pull us
together and moments that pull us apart.

All families pray - some openly - and some
only when problems knock on the front door.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015 

Friday, May 15, 2015

May 15, 2015


Sometimes I wonder
if this marriage will last ….

Sometimes I wonder
if this yo yo will come back up….

Sometimes I wonder
if I’ll wake up in the morning.

Sometimes I wonder
if there is life after this….

Sometimes I wonder
if anyone is listening….

Sometimes I wonder
if we’ll run out of water….

Sometimes I wonder
if the big shots really know ....

Sometimes I wonder
if I'm supposed to yell, "Wait a minute!"

Sometimes I wonder,

"Where is everybody?"

Sometimes I wonder
if God notices and cares ….

Sometimes I wonder
if I am supposed to be doing this….

Sometimes I wonder
if there is a supposed to ….

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Thursday, May 14, 2015

May 14, 2015


Everyone needs to talk to oneself,
          to walk with oneself,
          when walking the dog,
          when driving the car,
          along the city streets,
          walking the quiet beach,
          or in June and November woods.

Everyone needs to meet with oneself,
          to make plans,
          all by oneself,
          when all are talking,
          at the card party,
          or the coffee break
          or outside the church.

We all need to slip in the side door
          of ourselves,
          or our church,
          and sit in
          the afternoon darkness,
          and hear the Light,
          feel the Light
          that surrounds us.

And even then we all need moments
          to get away
          even from God,
          to hide in the cellar
          and the caves
          of our hearts,
          our secret spots
          of wilderness
          and quiet.

We all need those times
          to cry,
          to die,
          to tie things together.

Yes, we all need time to talk to ourselves,
          to rent a boat,
          to leave the beach,
          to row out beyond this world,
          to find some quiet time,
          to stop the stirring
          of the coffee cup
          and just let it sit still,
          and let the waves,
          and the then the ripple,
          and then the Calm
          surround us.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

May 13, 2015


Everyone of us can find ourselves
          on the pages
          of the New Testament.

It is our photo album,
          our biography,
          the story of our lives.

I am the blind man
          wanting to see,
          needing to cry out,
          “Son of David, have pity on me.”

I am the Prodigal Son
          far away from the Father,
          longing for the pleasures of distant lands,
          yet longing for the comforts of home.

I am the Pharisee, the phony,
          seeing specks in my brother or sister’s eye,
          and blind to the planks in my own.

Oh yes, at times I’m the Good Samaritan,
          helping my brothers and sisters
          lying by the side of the road.
          But so many times I find myself
          as Pontius Pilate washing my hands
          of all responsibility.

I am the lost sheep,
          the lost coin,
          forgetting I’ve been branded,
          been stamped with the sign of the cross.

I must learn to read
          the letters of Paul and John
          as if they were addressed to me,
          put in my mailbox,
          so that I’ll begin to bear
          the other’s burdens,
          and discover that God is Love.
I must discover that the Messiah, the Christ,
          has entered my village,
          and today wants to eat at my house. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

May 12, 2015

All of us live in this enormous house
          high on the hill,
          a house filled
          with room
          after room
          after room.

And some of us eat and sleep
          and love and work
          and wonder
          and listen
          in those rooms.

And some of us walk the corridors
          wondering what’s going on
          inside those rooms.

And some of us get angry
          at the voices
          in the rooms below,
          waking up
          in the night
          with the barking of a dog
          or the flushing of a toilet.

And some of us play there
          with cards
          or Monopoly
          or Scrabble
          with the words of life.

And some of us feel all alone
          as in a womb
          sitting in corners,
          watching the phone,
          looking out windows,
          always waiting
          and waiting
          and waiting.

But most of us are deaf; we don’t realize
          that Jesus is standing there,
          knocking on the door, saying,
          “If anyone hears me calling
          and opens the door, I will enter
          his house and have supper with him,
          and he with me.”



The title of my homily for this 6th Sunday after Easter is, “The Paraclete.”

That’s the word for the Spirit given us in John 16:7 I prefer to stick with that word, “paracletos”,  because the translation of this Greek word into English and other languages - are limiting.

To translate the word “paracletos” from the original Greek into English,  I read words like Advocate, Comforter, Consoler, Helper, Presence, Defense, Encourager, the One Who Speaks for Me, the One who Helps Me Stand on my own two feet, the Inner Voice who challenges me.

Our New American Bible uses “Advocate” - to translate “paracletos”.

I picture someone in a hospital with tubes and pills and in a semi-coma - and they need someone to be there as their patient advocate - patiently - not obnoxiously - watching out for us.

I see someone in trouble with the law or their kid is - and we know a good lawyer who will be there to protect us in our troubles - to be our advocate, our paraclete

So advocate is a good word - comforter is also - because we do feel comfort with a good advocate or counselor or adviser

But Paraclete means so much more.

That’s what the Holy Spirit is - and more. The Holy Spirit is God - this Spirit of Jesus

So in these days leading up to Pentecost, this is what we are praying for: the Paraclete.

We can add, this is what we pray for, every day of our life.

That’s why I like the old prayer, “Come Holy Spirit.”

In moments of worry, that prayer is great - to be praying, consciously - semi-consciously - unconsciously underneath our worries - underneath our problems - underneath the cloud we’re under.

Come Holy Spirit.

I assume that’s the prayer to sing inwardly till it becomes second nature, “Come Holy Spirit.”

Like our breathing, most of the time we’re not conscious of our breathing - or our breath - "ruah" - the Hebrew word for “spirit”.  It’s the wind - the breath -in the air.

Or get the Taize version in Latin, “Veni Creator Spiritus.”

Or type into Google, “Veni Creator Spiritus” Taize and sing along with that chant - and make it our own - and we’ll be praying for our advocate, the Paraclete to be with us always. Amen.

As Jesus is promising in these readings in the gospel of John - especially about the Paraclete, or the advocate, or the Spirit of Jesus breaching and living in us.

Monday, May 11, 2015



The title of my homily is, “Picturing What I’m Reading.”

When you hear the Mass readings - for today, the 6th Monday in Ordinary Time,  can you picture what you’re reading?

If you’re the type of person who pictures what you’re reading, I’m sure you would find today’s first reading - Acts 16:11-15 - a gift of words. It pictures cities and places with fascinating names Samothrace and Neapolis.  It tells about the city gates and the river  where people gathered to pray.  We’d see Lydia - a dealer in purple cloth. Was that what she usually wore?

Do you think in pictures?


It’s been my experience from going to various workshops on communication skills - people usually love personality tests. I assume it’s because we want to know ourselves and others better. We know we are different - and we want understand our differences.

I like the work of Carl Jung - and his so called Jungian types. His first dividing line is: Some people are introverts; some people are extraverts. There are degrees of course. Next comes how we function or how we operate: Some people are dreamers; some people are doers. These are the intuitive creative types compared to the realistic practical types. These are the neat time conscious types  vs. the sloppy types like me who do various things at the same time. Then there are the thinking vs feeling types. Head or heart. Some people think their feelings; some feel their thinkings. All of us are combinations and a bit of this a bit or that.

I also like the Firo Test created by William Schultz to find out who is comfortable with whom if together in a submarine. It gets at how we use 3 factors: wanting control, wanting affection (one to ones) and wanting to feel included in the group or the team. One of these is our main desire. Some express their need; some have a need - but don’t express it.  For example - my number 1 of these 3 is the desire to control, but I don’t let that be known. Sneaky - and I usually deny it.

I also like the Enneagram - which is a 9 personality type way of looking at people. It gets at our sinfulness more than our strengths. Interesting. It has the 7 capital sins - plus 2 more. Each of us has one sin that predominates. Mine is the sin of pride - which I didn’t like to hear about. It’s a theory and a map that gets us to look at ourselves so we can know ourselves and grow ourselves.


All that so far is a preamble to get at a thought for the day on how we hear the words of the readings for Mass.

We hear them differently.

Someone came up with another way of looking at stuff.

There are three types: Audio, Visual, Kinesthetic

Audio types like to talk, to listen, to hear words and sounds and music to get in touch with what’s going on. They learn the best by questions and words.

Visual types learn best by pictures, writing, graphs, charts.

Kinesthetic types learn best by their senses - feelings, tasting, smelling, texture, colors. They want to see the big picture - as opposed to seeing the tiny details. They want to know where’s all this this going. What’s going on here?


I’m saying all this to lead to one main point: we learn, we experience, we know, differently.

So we’re sitting here in church.  The readings are read - not everyone hears the same way. Some people want to have a Missalette in hand. Some want to close their eyes and hear the words.  Some people need to get a feeling about what’s going on in the gospel or the first reading to figure out the message.  Standing here in the pulpit I see all kinds of faces and I know from experience, I don’t know what’s going on here.

I’ve had lots of people say to me: I had no idea what you’re talking about. No clue.

Well, I keep cool about that - because 3 people later walking out of church - might say to me, “Thank you. You really hit home today.”

Same message - different people.

So today’s 2 readings. Some people will love today’s first reading:  telling us about sails, wind, names of cities, travel, scenes of people being baptized in water. Some people will hear the gospel and scratch their head - or sounds go in one ear and comes out the other ear.


Close your eyes.  Look at the red candles flickering. Close your eyes till the consecration or communion. Smell the roses this afternoon. Taste the bread. Savor the wind. Really pray the Our Father. Laugh. Pray, “Come Holy Spirit.”
May 11, 2015


Everyone is skin that
          gets touched,
          gets cut,
          gets neglected,
          gets burned,
          gets loved.

Everyone is skin that
          needs Vaseline,
          needs bandages,
          needs caring,
          needs the loving touch.

Everyone is skin that
          packages a
          and contains
          and holds
          a vast organization
          of memories,
          or nerves,
          of thoughts,
          of feelings,
          of wonderings.

Everyone is skin that
          and pains,
          and vibrates
          with joy,
          when one
          is accepted,
          and loved,
          and welcomed
          into the group,
          the family.

Everyone is skin that
          and wrinkles,
          and gets old,
          and finally
          dies and
          is boxed away
          deep into
          the earth
          from which
          it was formed
          by God.

Sunday, May 10, 2015



The title of my homily is, “Mom - Ents.”

It’s from the word “MOMENTS” - with a dash after the first three letters MOM - then the ents.

My overarching theme is that on Mother’s Day - WE  - including our moms - think about moms in general and OUR own mom in particular - or our mom - herself - thinking about her life as a mom.


I want to point out in this homily that there are two types of time according to the ancient Greeks. We learned this when we studied the New Testament.

They are indicated by two Greek words for time: Chronos and Kairos.

We might know “chronos” from Chronos - a brand name for a watch - or the word “chronology”.

Our St. Mary’s High School kids can make a retreat at the end of their Junior year or during their senior year called the Kairos Retreat.

Chronos means ordinary time and Kairos means special time - moments different from the everyday.

Not all days are the same. All have 24 hours - but all days are not the same. Mother’s Day is different from the Wednesday in the week after Thanksgiving or the third Thursday after Father’s Day.

Kairos moments are moments when time sort of stopped - moments where we had a choice to make key decisions where we have the opportunity to change or we experience a surprise that changes our lives.

On a Kairos Retreat the hope is that these 4 days - will be a decisive time in a kid’s life. I always remember a comment a guy made in a eulogy about a friend of his who died in his mid-forties of a sudden heart attack. The friend was standing here in this pulpit and said that Tim’s life changed wonderfully for the better because of a Kairos Retreat when they were in high school.


It could be the moment when our mom heard she was going to be a mom for the first time. It could be the moment we were born and she saw for the first time who it was who was kicking her.  It could be a moment when our mom thought about her life - and she was overwhelmed with the blessing she was feeling at the moment.

Our mom could sit down at a computer or with a pad and jot down the 10 most important moments of her life - so called Kairos Moments - so called moments when she changed. She could put them on a time line.  She could rate the importance of each date - 1 being the highest moment.


When Albert Einstein was talking about the relativity of time he could be quite complex - and lots of people didn’t get it. But when he said when you’re with your boyfriend or girlfriend time can fly - but when you’re in a boring class in school  - time can drag like a snail on its tail.

My favorite saying about the relativity of time is, “How long a minute takes depends on which side of the bathroom door you’re on.”

One I made up this morning would go like this: “The relativity of time: depends upon which relative we’re with.”


So on Mother’s Day moms see this day different than others.

I assume the number one sentence mom’s appreciate today is a sentence of just two words: “Thank you!”

I assume the number one hope from all mothers has just three words, “Make me proud.”

I assume the 4 main places that love Mother’s Day are card shops, florists, restaurants, and gas stations. What am I missing?


We were told if you hear something in a sermon or a talk or you read something in a book, use it immediately - otherwise you might forget it.

So I heard a wonderful exercise at a workshop I recently went to. A poet in Washington D.C. talked about the Elevator Exercise. You take your present age - and draw a building with that many floors.  Put an elevator in it.

Next get into the elevator - and push the button for any floor.

You might be 39 or 75, but you can get off on the 16th floor.

Get off and walk around. Look around. Where were you?  See everyone. See everything.  Jot down the surprises.

Grace Cavalieri - the poet - I think she said she was in her 80’s - said it was a great way to come up with ideas for poems.

This morning I was thinking, “What would it be like to sit down with your mom and take a lot of elevator rides with her.”

Let her walk around the 18th floor - when she was 18 or 28 with you.

Have a spiral note book or a recorder and get the details.

I did this with my dad before he died - yellow legal pad.

I did this with my mom before she died - this time with a small tape recorder.

She took me to many stops on her elevator - and this was before I had heard the elevator metaphor. I got her life on precious tape - at the age of 82. She was still working at the time. I’ve mentioned this a few times - but two weeks later she was killed in a hit and run accident on her way to church - and I have her precious voice - with laughter and tears - her life and her stories - on tape. I haven’t cried yet - which surprises me - but I have cried at other deaths.


As a closing comment or suggestion, from experience I know sitting with a mom or dad - Father’s Day is next month - get their story on all its floors.

Record it. Jot it down - watch them smile. Watch they cry.

Simply take some elevator rides with mom or dad and ask them to tell you the 10 top mom - ents or mom - events of their life.



"Climbing Mother" by Brian Kershishik

May 10, 2015


I didn’t know whom they were talking about
when I heard someone call you “Maura” or
was it “Maura Donn." In Gaelic that’s
“Mary the Brown Haired One” in contrast
with your best friend “Maura Rua” - whom we
knew as “Mary Red”? - the one with the
red hair. I did hear some calling you “Maina”
now and then. Come to think about all this,
I didn’t know what daddy called you. I think 
it was “Mary” and she called you “Mike.” 
To us, growing up, you were always “Mom”…. Wonderfully pronounced, “Mom.” You were always there “Mom.” Thanks, I’ve seen  them, yet, sorry mom, I was never tempted to get 
a “Mom” tattoo of you - the ones with the heart
and the arrow right through the middle of the heart. But what happened to that cup I saved up 10 cents to buy - the one with the mom on it - the one you used for tea all through the years?

© Andy Costello  Reflections 2015