Saturday, June 27, 2015

June 27, 2015


I like that word, “perpetual” -
as in being there to help -
always. When scared, notice
little kids automatically turn -
and run to their moms and dads
for perpetual help - even when
their right sandal is falling off.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Friday, June 26, 2015

June 26, 2015


I’ve heard about short lists,
long lists and bucket lists.

Under short lists, I could write,
born, lived and died,
or walked, ran, and needed a cane,
or listened, learned, and spoke,
or what, where and don’t know why,
or thanks, no thanks and thanks,
or liked, loved, and lost,
or found peace finally,
or me, others, and God.

© Andrew Costello, Reflections 2015
June 25, 2015


I doubt it -  when  someone  says 
they have no doubts - or even
stronger: they never had a doubt.
Hey, there’s energy in doubts.
They get us to communicate - to ask -
to hesitate - to pause so as to know
more. They get us to do research.
They get us to realize we’re not God.
And did God doubt that we should
have been created in the first place?  (1)
Doubts can get us to say, “I doubt that!”
Do we sometimes have to move, act on,
risk, take chances - walk in the dark - all
the while - doubting if we shouldn’t wait?

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015

Note: (1) Genesis 6:6

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

June 24, 2015


They tell me I’m full of hot air.
Do they mean - that I tend
to exaggerate - to inflate myself
and my stories - to try to become
bigger than everyone else?
To soar above the crowds?
Ooops! I confess. They’re right.
But notice that I'm laughing, because
what goes up must come down!

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Tuesday, June 23, 2015



The title of my homily for this 12 Tuesday in Ordinary Time is, “Parking Places, Seats in Churches, Hey  I Have the Microphone and There’s Only So Much Space.”

It’s easy to say “I love you.” It’s easy to think we’re a good neighbor. It’s easy to think we’re smooth when it comes to being a Christian.

That is till the tire hits the road …. That is till someone takes our parking place…. That is till we’re trying to get into a crowded elevator or  train or bus or bathroom or our favorite seat in church…. That is till we move from words, thinking, talk or theory to reality…. That is till someone gets to microphone and won’t shut up.


Today’s first reading triggered this thought.  The author of this section of Genesis 13: 2, 5-18 - is telling us that there were quarrels between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and those of Lot’s. There’s only so much grazing land.

What happens when two herdsmen want the same land to graze their flock?

Abram offers a compromise,  “Let’s not fight. If you want to go to the left, I’ll go to the right and vice versa.”

The history of the world is land grab - and the best land at that.

In today’s gospel - Matthew 7: 6, 12-14 - Jesus tells us his way is the narrow way. If you go the other way, it’s wider - but it will lead to destruction.


If we are alert, sharp, we’ll see the reality of thinking of others, every day.

In yesterday’s New York Times, in the Metropolitan Diary section, there is a real story about a volunteer in a Manhattan public school. She had to deal with a little boy and a little girl who were fighting over the same book.  Each claimed that they “Had it first.” Watch this same scene playing out in every playground.

The volunteer said she didn’t know what to do - till she said to the little boy, “How about ladies first?” 


It worked. 

The volunteer writes that she felt good about how she handled the crisis, till, as she wrote, she had a horrible thought: "Had I just sat back the feminist movement for 50 years.”

I think of a little poem story by Carl Sandburg,

"Get off my land! 
- How come, your land? 
My father gave it to me. 
- How did he get it? 
He fought for it. 
- Well, I’ll fight you for it!"


Each day we have the opportunity to be peace makers, space makers, to be like Abram - who becomes Abraham in a different language and different land place. If you want to settle your family at this picnic table, go for it. If you want to settle over there, go for it. So too the beach at Ocean City - that is if the space is open and available.

It’s simply a variation of sayings in the Sermon on the Mount: turn the other cheek or go the extra mile, follow the Golden Rule. Hey, if a person wants to sit in an aisle seat in church, step over them, or move in. They might have a small bladder or are expecting a phone call from their daughter who is expecting a baby any minute in Arkansas.

Or as the heart doctor in California, who teaches about lowering blood pressure puts it. If you see 3 lines in the bank, choose the longest one. Then when you get to the front of that line, go back and get on the longest line again. While doing that, see how many names of your high school graduation class you can remember or memorize a poem. 

June 23, 2015


At Chartres Cathedral I met a gal
who was Cathedral hopping. She
smiled as she said, “Well I used to
be bar hopping - but I’m enjoying
this a lot more. “So far,” she said,
“here in France I’ve done some
of the great Gothic Cathedrals:
Notre Dame in Paris, as well as
the cathedrals in Nantes, Tours,
Amiens, Bourges, and Rheims.
Today and tomorrow: it’s Chartres.
Last summer I was in England
and saw the Gothic Cathedrals
in Lincoln, Salisbury, Ely, and there
was one other. Can’t remember it
now. It’s in my notes here.
And I have the rest of the world
for the future - especially Germany.”
I stood there amazed wondering
about her note pads and her
drawings. Wow - stand at bars
and you’ll meet people. Stand
in the back of cathedrals and
surprise I met someone who
was interested in something I
never would have expected:
Gothic cathedrals reaching
towards God - reaching towards
the infinite - bringing folks
into the cathedral within.

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015

Monday, June 22, 2015



The title of my homily for this Monday in the 12th Week in Ordinary Time is, “Projecting Onto and Judging Others.”

When I read today’s gospel from the Sermon on the Mount - Matthew 7: 1-5 - when Jesus says, “Stop judging” - I thought: “Preach about judging.”

Then Jesus talks about noticing splinters in another’s eye and missing the big wooden beam in our own eye - I thought about how often we project onto others our motivations and our assumptions as a way of avoiding looking in the mirror or looking at oneself.

Needing to think about these issues I entitled my short homily, 

Then I entitled my homily,  “Projecting Onto and Judging Others.”


First a comment about judging.

We judge all the time. It’s normal.

When I took the Myers-Briggs Test about different personality types - I found out that according to Carl Jung - some people are more judgmental than others. Some people are more perceptive than others.

The test uses the letter P to label those who tend to be perceptive and J for  those who tend to be more judgmental at first.

The J walks into a church or a room or a house and says, “This is a beautiful church or this is an ugly house or this is wrong color for this room.

The P says, “Interesting colors.” Or “I wonder about the stained glass windows in this church. They are different. There has to be a back story."

Jung would hold that we don't choose to be one more than the other or what have you.

I was taught that it’s the second instance that counts.

So those who confess being judgers are off the hook on the first count.

It’s the second instance that counts. So if we judge another spontaneously, we need to say, “I don’t know this or that about so and so - and then do what Jesus said, “Stop judging.”


We can do the same with our projections about others.

Everyone knows what a projector is - it’s a machine that projects a light on a wall. If we put a slide or a film in front of that light - it shoots that picture onto the wall or screen.

So we project onto others motives, reasons, why a person is doing what they are doing.

Surprise - we project our films - those inside our mind and experience - onto another.

Key word: “OUR” - as in our motives, our reasons, whereas the other person has their own films, their own intents - not ours.

Us males are doing this all the time. How about the ladies. We’re watching a pretty girl walk down the street and we see a man looking at her as she walks by. If they are like me,  we assume he too is looking at her the way we are looking at her.

That's first instance. However,if we talk to each other, if we are in communion with another person, if we really communicate with each other, we might find out that the other person is looking  - maybe even squinting - at the lady walking down the  street - because he's wondering if it's a girl he once dated in high school.  


In both instances, the stress in this homily is that we do some rethinking, rejudging, saying to ourselves, "I don’t know." It’s in second thoughts, where we can stop judging others and stop throwing stones at others.

June 22, 2015


What are the photographs you have sitting
around your house?  Tell me about them.
They can tell me a lot about you and then
some. Watch people give selfie reports
about who they are with the pictures they
show us on their iPhones or what have you.
Have you ever ripped up a photo of another?
Or with anger, burned? Where are the photo
albums after a divorce? Where do they go?
Do you have any photos in your wallet?
Do you have any cherished  photos that
nobody ever sees? Show and tell me all
about you. Photos are mirrors. Watch!

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015

Sunday, June 21, 2015


[Last week I had 7 homilies - so I needed a change of pace. It's Father's Day - so I decided on writing a story. That's something I like to do. It's Father's day and since my dad had 4 kids, I put on the top of a page, the words, "Father of Four." Then I read today's gospel story for the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year B. I'ts about Jesus and his disciples dealing with a storm on the lake.  Then I went to bed and got up early to finish the story - not knowing what the story would be. I like doing that. While writing I saw that I wanted to write about someone facing a storm in life - and then praying for faith to get through the storm and get to other side of the pain. After I told this story, I realized I have to read it again myself - to see what is going on in my unconscious - the purpose of a story. So once more the title of my story is, "Father of Five" and for some reason in the morning I switched to 5 kids.]

He was the father of five: 2 sons - 3 daughters.

Every Father’s Day - after the tragedy - was a big day for him - as well as Mother’s day - because he was also Mr. Mom.

His wife, Judy, died in an automobile accident a good 12 years now - when their youngest, Timmy, was only 2.

At first Jack was beside himself….

Obviously ….

“Beside” was the right word…. because when Judy was killed - mid-March - 12 years ago - because of black ice - he found himself - outside himself - beside himself - unable at first to get back inside himself.

That morning - Judy had bought a delicious dark chocolate - 7 layer cake -  for Jillian - their second oldest. It was her 13th birthday. At the bakery she assumed she had enough birthday candles for the cake. She had seen birthday cake candles hundreds of times - right there  in the  top drawer next to the sink - in the kitchen - along with scissors, scotch tape, a meat thermometer, a book of matches, and two dozen other things - like ribbons and rubber bands and plastic potato chip bag clips.

When she went into the kitchen after supper, when she took the cake out of the white bakery box, she discovered, there were no candles. Someone must have thrown them out after the last birthday.

No use causing a problem. She quickly  put on her winter coat. She quickly opened the dining room door - and yelled in, “Ooops I forgot something. Hang on. Will be right  back in 5 quick minutes. “

They had no chance for a reply. She yelled in her last comment, “Jack …. Kids, talk to each other.”

She was thinking, “You can’t have a birthday cake without candles. You can’t skip the classic ritual of blowing out the candles.”

There was a Dollar Store just a block away - on the other side of the big double lane street their house was on. She had seen those tiny birthday cake candles there just last week when she stopped in to see if they had any dollar Get Well - as well as Birthday Cards.

As she backed out of their driveway onto their street, she saw a dump truck, moving towards her - faster than she expected.

She stepped on the gas. Black ice. She hadn’t seen the black ice. She spinned - skidded - and the car went sideways. The dump truck plowed right into her.

Jack and the kids didn’t hear a thing.

But they heard the sirens 7 minutes later.

As Jack opened the front door - he could see the flashing lights down the street from their house. Except for Timmy and Jenny their youngest 2 - they stood on their cold front sidewalk wondering - “What happened?”

It hit Jack right then and there, “Oh no,” he screamed and ran towards the dump truck and the car.

It was their car - crushed and crashed into.

It was Judy.

He saw the rescue squad working on Judy in the front seat.

He sensed before the police holding him back could say anything, that Judy - the love of his life was dead.

His head slumped. A policeman had to hold him as tears and pain and stifled screams were being blurted out of his mind and mouth.

“Ooops, the kids! What about the kids?” came his loud scream.”  He had 5 kids he had to get to. He ran back towards their house - with his 3 kids on their front lawn.

He said to Mary his oldest. “It’s mom! Take the kids into the house. Mary hold onto each other there.”

Then he ran back to the crash.

The policeman seeing Jack running back said, “It’s not good. Not good. We got to get her to the hospital fast. But it doesn’t look good.”

Jack said, “Let me tell Mary - to take care the kids - and I’ll be right, right back.”

He ran back and told Mary, “Call grandma. Call Holy Family Church and tell them we need Father Max at the hospital for mom. And I’ll call you right back - as soon as we get to the hospital.”

Jack ran back and got into the ambulance - just in time. The police man was planning on taking Jack - if the ambulance had taken off for the hospital without him.

Jack knew when he held Judy’s hand in the speeding ambulance - that it was too late - but he didn’t say it. He was praying, praying, praying big time.

He didn’t hear the screaming sirens in the rush.

The hospital was only 7 minutes away.

They rushed her into an emergency room.

Jack knew it was too late.

Father Max got there in 10 minutes.

In the meanwhile the doctor came out and told Jack, “It was too late. She didn’t make it. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry.”

Father Max went in with Jack and anointed Mary and both prayed over her big time.

He asked Jack about who’s home and for their number.

Father Max called Mary and told her that mom had passed away.

She told him that Grandma and mom’s sister were there on their way.

“Good,” said Father Max. “Sorry Mary. Be strong for your brothers and sisters and you dad will be back as soon as possible - within the hour I hope.

Father Max didn’t know how long the next would take. He knew that there would be papers to fill out - phone calls to make - and what have you.

Then Father Max made an executive decision.

He handed his car keys to Jack and said, “You have to get home. You have to be with your kids.”

He lead Jack out to the parking lot,  and said, “Get home - quick - and watch the ice.”

Jack got back - and got into the house.

Everyone clung to each other and cried with each other.

There was no dark chocolate birthday cake that night.

There were no candles of light in their hearts and minds either.

It was one of the biggest funerals at Holy Family Church in years.

Father Max picked for the gospel, Mark 4: 35-41.

It was the story of the violent storm on lake and Jesus said, “Let us cross to the other side.”

Father Max told Jack and his kids and everyone there - that he didn’t want to preach - that he didn’t want this funeral - that nobody wants to be here - but here we are.

In his homily, Father Max continued, “We’ve got to get to the other side of this - the other shore - to the other side of this storm - this tragedy. We have all these screams and shrieks within and we have to hear Jesus say, ‘Quiet! Be still.”

“It’s going to take time - lots of time - losing your wonderful mom and wife and sister, and friend Judy - but Jesus is telling us, ‘Yes, we’re terrified - but we have to have faith.’ Jesus is telling the winds and crashing sea within us, to calm down.”

Father Max concluded, “We’re all in this boat together - and sometimes - many times - it will seem that if Jesus is with us - it seems that he’s asleep. Wake him up when you need to!”

It took time - lots of time - for Jack and his five kids to move on - to reach the other shore.

Jack told friends - but not that first Father’s Day - that after that horrible March - that he thought he knew about what a father was after having their first daughter Mary - or after their fifth kid Timmy.

He told them, that it was long after Judy’s death - long afterwards when they felt healing - scars hardening - peace flowing through their blood.

If asked, Jack - and the kids - as they were growing up would say, “Little things helped. Little moments helped. Going to church together…. Going to the cemetery alone or with each other…. We know that a death like mom’s could cause us to lose our faith. Laughter slowly returned to our home. home - slowly.

Jack added, “Moving helped. We had to get off that street - it reminded us too much of that bad night.”

“And yes”, Jack said, “Dark chocolate cake - 7 layer chocolate cake - with one candle - we have one every celebration in memory of mom - as well as today, Father’s Day.”

[Picture on top by Ludolph Backhuysen]
June 21, 2015


The aisles have it. Walk the aisles.
Some people like to find just what
they want without asking. Some like
to consult the aisle labels hanging
up there. Some ask. Some don’t know
what they want. At 10 it’s different
than 20 to 30. From 30 to 40 it’s different
than 50 to 60. After 70 we don’t really
know what we want till we realize
we’re not buying what we really want.
Sometimes we use what we bought,
because we can’t put it back. Sometimes
we go to another supermarket - or
some small store someone told
somebody about - who told us.
Wait a minute. What do I really want?

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015