Saturday, May 23, 2015

May 23, 2015


Some can’t see, hear, or
understand only by metaphor.
It’s all Chinese to them: pictographs.

Some take everything literally and
can’t picture themselves taking 
a bull by the horns.

Some see life as a journey, others a dance, still others a picnic, some a zoo or a battle and some just don’t seem to see life at all.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015
May 22, 2015


Which ones are the real one:
the reality or the metaphors?

(c) Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Friday, May 22, 2015

May 21,  2015


I am a refrigerator.   Yes ____  No ____  

I am a watch.   Yes ____  No ____  

I am a cell phone.   Yes ____  No ____  

I am a rolodex.   Yes ____  No ____ 

I am a kitchen table.   Yes ____  No ____  

I am a welcome mat.   Yes ____  No ____  

I am a “CLOSED” sign.   Yes ____  No ____  

I am an “OPEN” sign.  Yes ____  No ____

I am a bridge.   Yes ____  No ____  

I am a path.   Yes ____  No ____  

I am a computer.   Yes ____  No ____  

I am a crutch.   Yes ____  No ____  

I am an “I O U”.   Yes ____  No ____  

I am a gift.   Yes ____  No ____  

I am a needle and thread.   Yes ____  No ____  

I am a brake.   Yes ____  No ____

I am a loaf of  bread.   Yes ____  No ____  

I am a bottle of wine.   Yes ____  No ____

I am a bell. Yes ____  No ____  

I am a flower.   Yes ____  No ____  

I am a candle.   Yes ____  No ____  

I am a door        Yes ____  No ____  

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Thursday, May 21, 2015



The  title  of my homily for this Graduation Mass for the St. Mary’s High School Class of 2015 is, “Awesome.”

Ginny sent me an e-mail with the readings to reflect upon for this Mass. She added that the theme for this Graduation Mass is the ongoing theme: “You are never alone - I have awesome plans for you.”

Let me repeat that. Hear God saying right now, “You are never alone - I have awesome plans for you.”

The first reading from Jeremiah 29:11-14 begins with the message that God has plans for us. The second reading from a  Letter of St. Paul to the Philippians 4:13-19 has Paul  saying, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” And when we do with our lives God’s plans we are salt and light to those who experience us - as today's gospel reading puts it -Matthew 5:13-16.


I thought about this and decided to think out loud about the feeling called, “Awe.”

We’ve all experienced some awe in our lives.  


Awe: it contains amazement, some fear, some tremble. It contains wonder and surprise - beauty and the spectacular.

It’s a roller coaster of a word. It’s a roller coaster of a feeling.

How many times have we heard some little kid say, “Awesome”?

How many people in Annapolis said yesterday as they looked up into the sky and saw the Blue Angels, “Awesome”?

Billy Chrystal in his movie Cowboy Slickers talks about the first time a little kid goes to a Major League baseball game. His was Yankee Stadium with his dad. Mine would be with my dad, Ebbet’s Field, 1947. Jackie Robinson had just been brought up to the Major Leagues. In his experience Billy Chrystal said he was all eyes - all ears - going into the stadium. He handed his ticket to the collector. He and his dad walk and walk inside in the belly of the stadium. They finally come to the moment they are going up a ramp. They start to see the light of day - the crowds - the players practicing. Then this little kid sees the green, green grass and rich brown dirt infield of Yankee Stadium.  

For some of you it was Camden Yards.


It’s could also be the same feeling at one’s firsts Ravens or Redskin game.


It could be the same at a birthday party or going into Disneyworld or 6 Flags or the first time one goes on a plane and we look out the side window and start to feel sky. It could be the first time getting on a horse or a roller coaster. It could be getting on a mule and heading down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

The short 3 letter word “awe” is an automatic mouth opener. It's also an eye opener - as well as an amazement opener.


Graduation … going to college … the next step … falling in love … getting married … having a baby … seeing one’s kid reading, writing, saying his or her’s first word … first prayer before going to bed - before meals -  going to school …. making his or her First Communion - graduating from K-school, Elementary school - high school - graduation - going off to college - and on and on and on. All are awesome moments -- and on and on and on.

School - life - education - great teachers - a great book - a great trip - a great concert - a great game - all hopefully are eye openers - mind openers - mouth openers.

Awesome! Could everyone here say “Awesome!”

Could you say “Awesome” again - but this time feel what your mouth is doing and how it ends up.

Open up your mouth as the doctor or the dentist tell us and say, “Ah!”

Then open up your mouth and say, “Awe” and again sense and feel where and what your mouth is doing.

It’s opening.

The bore - the kid - the old person - not open to new life - has a closed mind and a closed mouth and a closed “awe”.


The person who is salt and light to every situation - is the person who is still in the school of life.

When I was a kid in Brooklyn we went on a class trip to the Hayden Planetarium in New York. We sat there in this round theater. We looked at this gigantic machine - in the shape of a 3 dimensional 8 - with holes - metal acne on its skin, with lights shining out of every one of those openings - light that  put stars, planets, galaxies on the ceiling. Then we heard a voice and an arrow telling us what they were. It was an awesome moment - much more exciting than any moment in any classroom.


Then there was a moment when I was older in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado - in the night - in a clear dark night - 4 of us lay there on the ground in sleeping bags looking up at a star studded sky - awesome - much more than what we saw in Hayden’s Planetarium in New York. 

There is nothing like the real thing.

If you only get to page 1 - in the Bible - if you only read the first chapter of the first book, Genesis, meaning “Beginnings” - if you only memorize one verse from the Bible - remember, say, mean, these 7 words, “And God saw that it was good.”

See everything. Appreciate everything. See that all that God makes is good. It’s awesome. And when we make things - and when we walk around - see that all is awesome. A chocolate milkshake at Chick and Ruth’s - a Reuben sandwich on Houston Street in New York City, a concert by the Philadelphia Philharmonic Orchestra, the Amazon river in Brazil, a little kids first step and all clap, the subway in Stockholm, Sweden, etc. etc. etc.

When you’re sitting in some quiet moment - with a computer or laptop or iPhone type into Google, Sainte-Chapel Paris.

It opened up again yesterday - May 20 -  after 7 to 10 years of repair and restoration.  Instead of those lead lines - between the thousands and thousands of pieces of stained glass - is a transparent new glue. It helps make the light and the colors even more awesome. This chapel in the heart of Paris was built way back around 1250 - and contained the most important relics from Christ’s Death in the world. The Crown of Thorns was #1.  Whether they are the real relics is not the issue. People thought they were. And this was all seen in a spectacular setting.

What would it be like to be in that chapel in Paris this Sunday - Pentecost Sunday - for Mass and for a concert? Awesome.

What is awesome is the place. Check it out on Google. Like me seeing the stars in Hayden’s Planetarium in New York and then seeing the stars in the mountains in Colorado, see it yourself  before you die.

Or go into this church or any church - and realize you’re in an awesome place.  We believe we’re in the presence of Christ.  Awesome.

Also take a good look at the crucifix - on the wall here - facing us. Life has its crosses as well. Sometimes life is also awful. So this church is telling us that Christ is also with us when we’re on the cross - as well as in our daily bread.

The title of my homily is, Awesome.

If there is one word I hope someone will say about me and about you at your funeral it’s this: He saw the world as good. Better: awesome.

And when we get into heaven - you heard it here: It will be awesome.

If you haven’t started yet: start now - graduate to awesomeness.

We are all called to an awesome future.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

May 20, 2015



Sort of get love ….

Sort of understand your complaint ….

Sort of realize what you’re feeling ….

Sort of taste salt ….

Sort of like cold - as in ice cream or cold water in the summer ….

Sort of like you ….

Sort of sense you’re hurting ….

Sort of see into your eyes ….

Sort of hear your reasons for the nail biting ….
Sort of sound crazy ….

Sort of lucked out ….

Sort of pinch myself because I’m still alive ….

Sort of know there is life after death ….

Sort of get Jesus ….

Sort of lost my way a bit back there ….

Sort of found my way ….

Sort of know God ….

Sort of don’t know you, O God ….

Sort of silent ….

Sort of crying ….

Sort of sneaky like silent soft night snow ....

Sort of laughing ….

Sort of like the feel of rain ….

Sort of praying ….

Sort of listening ….

Sort of hear you ….

Sort of dying ….

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015


I am going to write a great novel_____.
I am going to be a great parent______.
I am going to break a world record in a major sport______.
I am going to start a soup kitchen in my how town______.
I am going to be reporter - or a columnist of a major newspaper or magazine______.
I am going to be a CEO of a major corporation ______.
I am going to come back as a  teacher at St. Mary’s - elementary or high school______.
I am going to be a church goer for the rest of my life______.
I am going to invent a fuel saver and efficient means of transportation that is not around yet - but will reduce traffic, carbon emissions, by at least 66 %______.
I am going to be a peacemaker______.
I am going to make the United Nations work ______.
I am going to be a nun, priest, bishop or pope ______.
I am going to invent a substance that will be the pot hole repair material that lasts at least 25 years______.

PRAYER - Lord in the year 2040, that’s only 25 years from now, I hope and pray that two of these predictions will be true of at least one kid - Class of St. Mary’s High School, Annapolis, Maryland______.

© Andy Costello, Reflections by the Bay 2015 -
 written for the May 19, 2015 Award Ceremony 
at   St. Mary's High School

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

May 19, 2015


The big mirror - the one just near
the door - the door from the big dressing room - that leads to the stage in 
Radio City Music Hall -  has enjoyed 
the compliments, the comments,
the smiles, the sneak peeks at the           Rockettes by stage hands  -
looking at all these beauties
in the mirror - down through the years.

The big mirror - always thought people
were praising her and not the girls, 
when people caught sight in the
mirror of young skin, slim thin waists, 
tall, tall legs, great measurements.

The big mirror stood there doing
its job for a good 50 years now.
Then  - no the mirror didn’t break -
but it was replaced. The old one
was given to a nursing home
up on the Upper East Side. 
Now it’s all  wrinkles, wrinkles,
wrinkles. Still give God the Glory.
Give God a wink. Give the mirror
a taste of its old glory. Amen.

                                                                     © Andy Costello, Reflections 2015



The title of my homily for this 7th Tuesday after Easter is, “Give God the Glory.”

That word “glory” appears 455 times in the New American Bible and there it is 5 times in today’s gospel [John 17: 1-11a].

In the Bible we hear over and over in many different ways, “Give God the Glory.”

If we watch sports on TV, we often see an athlete make a great play or a great catch or a great hit and he or she stops to give God the glory. They raise their index finger and point to the skies - giving God the glory - not themselves.

After winning a game or a season or a championship athletes often pause and praise their moms or coaches or teammates - everyone. They praise everyone - they give others the glory. Hopefully athletes who are faith drop outs - or what have you - at least thank their parents for good DNA and coaches for great tips and skill practices.


Obviously, it’s good to do this - because this is the reality.

Giving God the glory is a great prayer and a great play.

When I see this on TV or at a game - I often wonder who was the first to announce it publically - to honor God.  

I also think of Lou Gehrig's famous luckiest man on the face of the earth speech? Who started this custom? Praise God. 

Success can harm us - give us a big head - smother us in self-glorification.

Thanking God and others is an act of true humility.


In the sacristy here at St. Mary’s behind this altar there is a mirror which I spot before and after Mass when I walk into the sacristy. When I see that mirror, I  smile as I think of this poem by Thomas Hardly.

Better explain two words in the poem: “vestry” and “glass”. Vestry is the sacristy - where one vests. “Glass” is the mirror.

It’s a story poem about a preacher - a priest - a minister. The title of the poem is, “In Church.”

It goes like this.


“And now to God the Father,” he ends
And his voice thrills up to the topmost tiles
Each listener pervades the crowded aisles.
Then the preacher glides to the vestry-door,
And shuts it, and thinks he is seen no more.

The door swings softly ajar meanwhile,
And a pupil of his in the Bible class,
Who adores him as one without gloss or guile,
Sees her idol stand with a satisfied smile
And re-enact at the vestry-glass
Each pulpit gesture in deft dumb-show
That had moved the congregation so.
Thomas Hardy

Give God the Glory!


Last night, I wrote a short poem for my blog for today on this same theme - a poem that bounces off the Thomas Hardy poem.

Let me see how this feels and sounds in public. It’s only a first draft and I’ll continue to work on it.  To me writing is re-writing.


The big mirror - the one just near
the door - the door from the big dressing   room - that leads to the stage in 
Radio City Music Hall -  has enjoyed 
the compliments, the comments,
the smiles, the sneak peeks at the             Rockettes by stage hands  -
looking at all these beauties
in the mirror - down through the years.

The big mirror - always thought people
were praising her and not the girls, 
when people caught sight in the
mirror of young skin, slim thin waists, tall, 
tall legs, great measurements.

The big mirror stood there doing
its job for a good 50 years now.
Then  - no the mirror didn’t break -
but it was replaced. The old one
was given to a nursing home
up on the Upper East Side. 
Now it’s all  wrinkles, wrinkles,
wrinkles. Still give God the Glory.
Give God a wink. Give the mirror
a taste of its old glory. Amen.

May 18, 2015


I am a hand.  Yes _____  No ______ Sometimes ______

I am an ear  Yes _____  No ______ Sometimes ______

I am a nose.  Yes _____  No ______ Sometimes ______

I am an eye.  Yes _____  No ______ Sometimes ______

I am a smile.  Yes _____  No ______ Sometimes ______

I am a scream.  Yes _____  No ______ Sometimes ______

I am a laugh.  Yes _____  No ______ Sometimes ______

I am a scowl.  Yes _____  No ______ Sometimes ______

I am a wrinkle.  Yes _____  No ______ Sometimes ______

I am a word made flesh. Yes ____  No ____ Sometimes ___

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Monday, May 18, 2015

SERMON # 123


The title of my homily for this 7th Monday after Easter is, “Trinity: Sermon #123.”

It could be just  as easy to entitle this homily, “Trinity: Sermon #321.”

Translation: This is just one more homily on The Trinity - one of many - down through the years. How many? I have no idea.

St. Patrick in talking about the Trinity - said, “It’s like a shamrock: three leaves, one shamrock.”

That’s simplicity - an image like a triangle: three corners - one triangle.

I’m willing to guess that we’ve all heard at least a dozen times the legend about St. Augustine and the little boy at the beach. Augustine was working on a document - on the Trinity for 30 years.  He’s down at the seashore walking along on the beach - at the edge of the water - thinking about how to put into words who and how the Trinity is. He spots a little kid bringing water in a seashell from the sea and then pouring the water into a hole.

Augustine asks the kid, “What are you doing?”

He answers, “Putting the whole ocean in this hole.”

Augustine says, “You’ll never finish. It’s impossible.”

Boy answers, “It would be easier for me to do this than for you to explain the Trinity.”

And Augustine closes his eyes to think about what this little kid just said. Then when he opens his eyes the little boy has disappeared.

It’s a legend - but a good one.


The Christian theology of God as Trinity - is based on the arrival of Christ - coming into our lives - into our time-  and it says that God is One - but God is also  Three Persons. We call them Father - Son and Holy Spirit.

After that we really don’t know.

Will we grasp how God is God in eternity - or will it take an eternity to grasp and understand God?

Is that heaven - entering into God - becoming God?

We have to die to find out.

Is prayer - entering into God - becoming God in God?

Is that prayer  - here and hereafter?


Today’s readings provoke this Sermon # 123.

The first reading  brings us to the Holy Spirit question.

Many people basically are saying what people in today’s first reading are saying, “We have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

Many people make the sign of the cross: “In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” - when they walk into church - when they attend a baptism - when they enter into prayer - yet still don’t think of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Many people don’t know Jesus Christ beyond his humanness - as we hear in today’s gospel.

In fact, the gospel of John is the gospel that talks about the Trinity the most.  We hear Jesus telling us he is simply re-telling what the Father has taught him.

Many people say all religions are the same. There are lots of similarities - the Golden Rule etc. - but we are very different - those who believe in God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and those who don’t.


We’re about to get to Pentecost and the Feast of the Holy Trinity.
Keep your mind open to ponder on these things. Start by making the sign of the Cross - slowly - slowly praying to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit - to God as Trinity.

Listen to the connection between Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Walk the beach with these images and thoughts. Let the Ocean of God fill all the empty holes within your spirit.

Sunday, May 17, 2015



The title of my homily is, “Ascension.”

In the 1990’s the Catholic Church - as well as other Christian Churches moved Ascension Thursday to this 7th Sunday after Easter. Some Catholic dioceses did just that; some dioceses didn’t.

I really don’t know the WHY of all this.  

I assume it was to make things easier. I assume that people were missing out on the feast - so some pushed to have it moved to this Sunday - so people would reflect upon the Ascension of Christ into heaven.

Somewhere along the line I found myself saying that I don’t like the word, “obligation” - as in “Sunday Obligation” - as well as, “Holy Day of Obligation”  and somewhere along the line I discovered nobody really cares what I think.

Yet when I heard my sister Mary say: “I wish the Catholic Church would change their wording to “Holy Day of Opportunity,” I said to myself, ‘I like that!’”

So I cared what someone else said in the halls of public theology.  I also cared when I’ve heard various people say, “I wouldn’t want to be at something that you had to come to by obligation or else you’re in trouble. I’d rather be at something I’d want  to be at.”

Yet those who skip celebrations or obligations or what have you - sometimes get looked down upon.

Guilt gets results - obligation works. At Mass, and family get togethers, there are people there with  an unhappy face on. They are there because they feel a have to - as opposed to a want to.


I once heard a wonderful - and funny - story.

In a parish in some city in the Midwest there was this neat young man with Down Syndrome.  Every Sunday he went with his parents to Sunday Mass - and in time his dream was to be an usher.

Finally, he got his wish. The rest of the ushers said, “Why not? It’s tough getting ushers at times - especially during the summer.”

So this young man was made an usher and he loved it - and everyone in the parish got to love him.

Surprise! The collection went up - and it was noticeable.

He would push the basket into the benches he served….  This was before “Faith Direct.” If someone didn’t put some money into his basket -  he would hold it - there - right in front of a person - and gesture with the basket, “How about some green?” He would also say at times, “Uh, Uh, Uh” with the basket at the person. It was usually a visitor or a “once and a whiler” this happened to. The regulars loved it - and would joke about it outside of church after Mass. And they too added to the collection.

Shame, shake downs, guilt, works. 

Obviously wanting to be generous - to support the church - to help others - or what have you is a much better attitude and motive and outlook.

I was at some banquet or fund raiser once and people  were going around selling 50-50’s - those tickets with the numbers on them. One ticket stays with the seller for a later on drawing. The other ticket with the same number on it goes into the buyer’s pocket. Felling guilty or I better make a contribution to the cause,  I said, “Give me ten.” The seller said, “They are 100 dollars apiece, Father.” “Ooops,” I said, “Give me one.” I thought they were a dollar each.

Obligation works…. In public view works….


In his book, The Ascent of Man, Jacob Bronowski in talking about evolution, said, “Among the multitude of animals which scamper, fly, burrow, and swim around us, man is the only one who is not locked into his environment.”  Bronowski continues, “His imagination, his reason, his emotional subtlety and toughness make it possible for  him not to accept the environment but to change it. And that series of inventions by which man from age to age has remade his environment is a different kind of evolution - not biological, but cultural evolution. I call that brilliant sequence of cultural peaks The Ascent of Man.”


There is a key Christian Life text in Paul’s Letter to the Philippians.

As you know some of Paul’s letters were with us before the gospels.

Philippians is one of them - dated back to the 50’s.

Philippians 2: 5b-11 gives us an early Christian hymn  - which means it’s even earlier - which says Christ was God - and he emptied himself of his being God and became one of us - and he descended even lower and became a slave for us - and then even lower - he was killed  - on a cross - for us - because of us - us at our lowest - and because of this obedience - this choice by Christ to lift us from our lowest - God exalted him - raised him up - Ascension - so that everyone will see him as our savior - redeemer - our God. That’s the kind of God we have.

And that’s not the way we people are at times. At times we step on others. We stand on others. We put others down - so we can look higher - bigger - better than the other guy or gal.

Just look around! We brag. We boast. We want to look bigger and better than others: with house, with car, with cash, with Botox, with clothes, with kids with better marks, smarts, looks than your kids.

Life is according to Paul and Christ - is lowering ourselves so others can rise.

I find myself hearing another tell a story - and I got to top them - ascend higher than them.

Decension, listening to others, letting them shine in a conversation is what Christ is about. Hey he didn’t start till he was almost 30 and his mother dragged him into his start - at a wedding in Cana of Galilee.

Isn’t that what Jesus kept saying, “Lessen that ego - empty that self - wash feet - put out the garbage - empty the dishwasher - empty yourself of self-importance -  help your neighbor - hold doors - deflate yourself - let your hot air out - and you’ll sail through the air better like a Tom Brady football - and you’ll win the Super Bowl of Life.


So why come to church? Why pray?

Answer: Become quiet and to learn this evolution.

Or as Octavio Paz - the Mexican poet -  put it, “Solitude lies at the lowest depth of the human condition.  Man is the only being who feels himself to be alone and the only one who is searching for the Other.”

And Paz capitalizes that word “Other.”  

The Other is God - and life is all about our ascension - our ascent to God the Father - as Christ showed us with his life.
May 17, 2015


Are there steps out of me? I don't know.
Was there an open window? I don't know. 
Jesus did you simply slip out of me -
going through the walls of my upper room 
ascending into the darkest night?  
Jesus, it seems you've disappeared. 
That image hits me the hardest. 
Did I bore you? Did I disappoint you? Jesus you were there in me in the darkest corner of my inner darkness? I remember our dark nights - when we met each other in that divine darkness  - and I discovered that you Jesus were the Light of the world. Jesus, if you've 
ascended into heaven - allow me to ascend to you right now in this dark night or prepare me to be ready for you to introduce me to your Holy Spirit. Amen! Come Holy Spirit. Come!

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015