Saturday, May 30, 2015

May 30, 2015


Weather, words, whatever….
The inside of an apple or a banana….
What’s going to happen today?
Hey, you never know? It’s random.
Yet, we have some powers in us, on
how we react, we respond, to random.
Go for it.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015
May 29, 2015


“Oh, it doesn’t matter!”

There I said it, but I really didn’t mean it.

It mattered and it hurt.

It hurt so much - that I wanted to run -
that I wanted to run away.

So I lied.

So I said, “It doesn’t matter.”

So I wonder - afterwards -
always afterwards - does it matter
if I lie, if I hide, if I bury hurts?

But if I admit it hurts, if I say
“It really hurts!” will what always
happens happen again:  more hurt...."
And I’ll walk away muttering,
“Oh, it doesn’t matter.”

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Friday, May 29, 2015

May 28, 2015



The wake of the cruise ship was
words written, line after line,
words on the waters - in a
language I could not understand.
I stood there and tried and tried
to read what was said there on
the black waters of the Black Sea.
They were disappearing as we
sailed on and on and on. How
I wished these words became flesh
and there was Jesus walking and
talking on the waters once again.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

May 27, 2015


Snap, crackle and pop!
Listen carefully to a bowl
of Rice Krispies

Snap, crackle and pop!
Listen carefully to your
mind - what’s going on.

You’ll hear your sounds,
within, “Oh my God! Not
again. Dumb dumb me.

Listen up! You don’t have to
snap, crackle and pop!
Make smarter moves.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015


The title of my homily for today, the Eight Tuesday in ordinary time, is “Oblation.”

It’s right there in today’s first reading big time.

It’s a word that has made its reappearance in the prayers of the Mass in the latest English from the Latin translation from Advent 2011.

Last night when I started to do my homework about this word “oblation”, I couldn’t get my hands on what’s with it.

There is no study book out as far as I know from the translators about the word on this word.

The translators themselves have some mystery about them. A New Translation was called for after the Second Vatican Council.  A relatively quick English translation came out. I thought it was a breath of fresh air to be saying Mass in English. Others didn’t. Some still think that way. Translations into the native languages of people  was the decision made by World Wide Church and Local Churches. Then the work began and they came up with a whole new translation.

Someone stepped in and put all the work of over 20 years on the shelf - and gave us the translation we have right now in a rather quick period of time.

I heard various things about the translation we’re using now. I heard it was done by a small group who wanted Latin - well when we can’t have that - then we’ll make the English much closer to the Latin than the one we had. I heard others say that Benedict wanted Latin - so get the one we use more Latinesque. I don’t know. I never heard who was behind it - other than a very small group - who never had to appear in public - and didn’t have to defend their translation.

As you might have heard, we priests in general - from polls taken - don’t like the new English translation of the Mass from 3 ½ years  back.  It’s clumsy and complex at times. It gives me feelings of “Ugh”. Priests said it kills the Mass as a prayer.


So I had an interesting reaction to the word “oblation”. What’s with this word? Why did they choose it?

I’m praying along - at Mass and become distracted while reading the Mass prayers.

I began to notice that in Canons and in and around the consecration of the Mass - there’s this word “oblation” showing up.  I didn’t like this word - because it’s a word people don’t use - and I thought that was a guiding principal. I know sacrifice - the word we used - the sacrifice of the Mass - not the oblation of the Mass.  I’ve heard people say, “If you have a family, it will call for many sacrifices  - not oblations.

So here it is in today’s first reading for today from the book of Sirach.

I want to know if it has special meanings that will help my spiritual life.

The only thing I came up with after reading about all this last night is that it was the word used to translate into Latin - sacrifices people put on altars to worship God.  Then when people stopped sacrificing animals - killing them on altars - and burning them - and started worshipping God as Christians - the lifting up of the bread and wine, the body and blood of Christ - that offering up - that lifting up - that putting of a priests hands over the offering - that was called the oblation - and then the word sacrifice took over.


Then last night I read that Sirach in talking about the oblation (The English word in our New American Bible for Sirach 35:1 - he’s saying that the priest better have not just a doing the motions - when he offers the oblation - also translated “Sacrifice” - but he’s putting his heart into it - and it’s a moral heart - a clean heart.  So not just lips but one’s life.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

May 26, 2015


Talking with you
is like we’re walking
on eggs or a floor
made of fluorescent tubes
and that is not helpful in
bringing light to our conversations.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Monday, May 25, 2015

May 25, 2015


It seems you know.
Therefore I don’t know
whether you know
that I think that I think
differently from you.
So maybe you’re saying 
and thinking the same thing
about me. So what now?

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

P.S. I think I think these things
because I have read Knots by
R.D. Laing


When we hear the words - when we think about Memorial Day, what hits us?  That is my question for the moment.

It’s a sacred day!

It’s a day of Thanksgiving.

It’s a day to rethink the gift of life.

It’s a day to say some prayers.

It’s a break - some extra time - some extra space. Hope the weather is good for Frisbee or the beach - a cookout - hot dogs and burgers  - beer and watermelon.

It’s a time for flag waving, patriotism, parades, bands, and to remember our dead.

It’s the time to reflect upon the craziness - and sometimes the necessity of war - because sometimes some people are crazy and need to protect one another and stop each other. Sometimes we don’t just say “Hi!” to each other as human beings, sometimes we don’t accept each other as brother or sister - and so we have wars when people kill each other.

I always remember on Memorial Day a tiny little story I spotted in Time Magazine years and years ago. The story talked about a young sculptor, who during World War I. In his spare time in a foxhole he had carved the wood stock of his rifle handle into the figure of another human. I don’t remember who or what the sculpture was of. It might have been of baby or a woman. What I remember all my life - and won’t forget - that this man’s talent, future, possibilities all ended there in his early 20’s in the mud and the machine guns and mustard gas in the middle of a war.

So that’s one reason I began  thinking about all the people who never got a chance to live life - because someone’s life line stopped - with a bullet or a bomb or a blast there in a battle in some woods or battle field or beach.
I think of all the Veteran’s cemeteries I’ve been in or have gone by in my life so far: Gettysburg, Antietam, Arlington, Crownsville, those two veteran’s cemeteries on West Street - and so many more.

I think of dust - earth - the paths we travel, the dust on our blinds - how this is all part of a billion living beings - that once was alive. I don’t believe in re-incarnation. I believe this is me and I get one shot - but I also believe I am part of all kinds of past life containing the life of men and women and children and squirrels, bears and bugs and hippos and deer - and trees and roses  and onions that grew and left their mark on this planet - for millions and millions of years so far.

I think of the urge and the hope in every human being to be remembered - that someone knew I was here - and so people leave letters, words, children, a legacy for someone to read - someone to see - someone to hold.

I’m glad there are cemeteries, obituaries, ship manifestos, baptismal records, marriage licenses, photos and graffiti - that we are not an I but a WE.

Sunday, May 24, 2015



The title of my homily is, “Come Holy Spirit!  Going from the Known to the Unknown.”

Today is the Great Feast of the Holy Spirit. We sing, “Come Holy Spirit:” We sing, “Veni Sanctae Spiritus.”


Today’s readings obviously feature the Holy Spirit - often called, “The Unknown Person of God.” “The Unknown Person of the Trinity.”

We often hear of the Father and the Son - but not enough of the Holy Spirit.

So the title of my homily is, “Come Holy Spirit! Going from the Known to the Unknown.”

I’m simply going to move through 3 images of the Holy Spirit: Wind, Fire and the Dove.


I’m going to stress the action step of seeing and reflecting - using our eyes and our mind - to notice and to consider.


One of first images of God is that God is Spirit - Wind - Air.

Sit with a morning cup of coffee and look out the window or if you have a porch and look around you. Sense. Listen. See. Sit there and watch the leaves shaking like a fan in a hot church - fanning the air - getting us cooler. Watch the grass do a wiggle dance in our yard. Just sit there on most mornings - and sense the air, the wind, the breath of creation. Things are moving.

Remember the stories that begin our genesis in The Book of Genesis.

The Book of Genesis begins: “In the beginning of Creation, when God made heaven and earth, the earth was without form and void, with darkness over the face of the abyss, and a mighty wind that swept  over the surface of the waters. God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light; and God saw that the light was good, and he separated light from darkness. He called the light day, and the darkness night. So evening came, and morning came, the first day.”

Those are just the first 5 verses of the Bible - the book called Genesis - The Beginning.

I like to pick up any book and read the first 5 or so sentences - especially a novel or a short story.

“Mom and dad had me! Wow what a story so far. Wanna hear it?”

Read on.

Wind, air, breath are essential for life. Catch your breath.

Then God forms us out of the clay - the mud of the earth - like a sculptor - and breathes life into that clay and the statue called me becomes flesh like Adam and Eve - we walk with God especially in the cool of the evening.

Then God the Birth Mother and Father slaps us - gives us breath -  not artificial resuscitation - fresh breath, fresh air and we’re moving - living - breathing on our own.

That word for breath in Hebrew is “Ruah” - wind, air, breath - and the Rush of God is in us.  Life!

Primitive people figured this out. We are from God - we depend upon God - because when we stop breathing - we’re dead.

So the beginners knew God - absolute fear and trembling - mysterious God - especially when they stopped to have their cup of coffee each morning and see - feel - the breath of God.

So the primitive spiritual leaders told people to be aware of their breath, the wind, the air, “Breathe!”

“Come Holy Spirit.”


In the Bible - the Holy Spirit is also pictured as Sparks of Fire - coming down on people.

As we know - fire needs air - oxygen. It’s all connected.

People - us primitive people also know the power of fire - volcano, the sun, the fire place, the stove, the blast off fuel of rocket ships going to the stars.

So too fuel - coal, oil, gas, wood, - get a light - ignite it - go deeper and discover atomic or hydrogen power - and who knows what’s next - in the next thousand years - where we’re headed.

Fire, power, fuel, sit looking into a fire place in the dead dark of winter or scouts while camping - or young people on the beach with a big beach party - stir sparks of light. There is something basic burning here in these moments - and we’re moved into deeper mystery - and we know more than we know - we go into the deep unknown - and get hints of God - so too in the absence of God and heat - we know we can freeze to death - and die.

Come Holy Spirit.


And lastly we see a bird - a dove gliding on the invisible air - singing - sometimes with a sprig from a branch in its mouth. It might be building a nest - for the next generation.

Like Noah - after 40 days sailing in his boat on an empty looking sea - we see the message from the bird with the branch in its mouth and know there’s land near. 

So too Columbus -  as the myth and the legends and the stories go - they saw a bird with an branch and they too knew land was close by.

So from early, early times, the bird, whether it’s a raven or a dove, an eagle or a hoot from an owl, there is a message here for us to hear, to see, to notice and to learn from.


The title of my homily today is, “Come Holy Spirit! Going from the Known to the Unknown.”

I talked about wind, fire and the dove.

The action step is to see and reflect - notice and consider.

I love to see people on sail boats - looking and smiling - feeling and embracing a breeze off the water - filling a sail - or just  the skin on their face - and with eyes closed - their minds are filled with God and the beauty of life.

I love to see people on the New York or Toronto subway or metro - smiling to each other - people of all colors and shades - but their faces speaking the same language - and I get Pentecost - there is a language we all speak and signal - a sign language that says we are all brothers and sisters.

So too scenes around the fireplace - or a barn or beach fire. When we’re all one without words.

I love to watch the birds of the air. Wow can they fly.

I loved watching the birds of the air last Tuesday and Wednesday here in Annapolis, with the Blue Angels doing some of things real birds can do. Amazing.

All of the above tells me the Spirit of God is still involved in Creation.

Come Holy Spirit - you’re here. Thanks.
May  24, 2015


I guess I don’t/won’t get it, till I’m all shook up. [1]

I guess I don’t/won’t get it, till I’m burned - till
I have a fire lit under me - or over me. [2]

I guess don’t/won’t get it till I try to be in peace
and to be in holy communion with every person -
no matter what the language - or the culture. [3]

I guess I don’t/won’t get God till I sense his presence not just in storm - when I scream in terror, “Oh my God!” but in God’s still soft whispering voice. [4]

I guess I don’t/won’t get it, till I keep praying,
“Come Holy Spirit! and God’s Holy Spirit
Comes and dwells within me and I in God. Amen.[5]


[1] Acts of the Apostles 2: 1-2

[2] Acts of the Apostles 2:3

[3] Acts of the Apostles 2:8; Galatians 5:22

[4] 1 Kings 19:12]

[5] Romans 8:11; Ephesians 2:22

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015