Saturday, July 18, 2015

July 18, 2015


How would I be portrayed -
if a painting of me is hung
in a grand art museum 100
years from now? Would it
be a picture of me at the
check-out counter in a
supermarket or sitting in a
church in the late afternoon
with red vigil lights burning
in my face? Would it be a
picture of me at the opera,
with pearls and beautiful skin
or would it be a picture of me
as an old wrinkled beggar
lady with a shopping cart on
the corner of 6th and Main -
not seeing the world go by?

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015

Friday, July 17, 2015

July 17, 2015


How could I have been so stupid,
so unthinking, so unaware, not to
have said “Yes”? Instead I said
“We’ll see!” - which has always
been for me a definite, “No!” But,
we’ll see if this time will be different.
I guess I'll have to listen to myself
more as I move into our future. I
guess I might have to finally change.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Thursday, July 16, 2015

July 16, 2015


Well, it’s over…. Finally.
The clock did its job.
The sun did its job.
We did our job.
Time's up. Pull in the
tables and the chairs.
Hang up the aprons.
Check the ovens.
Lock the restaurant doors.
Walk the cobbled streets
till one is finally home.

“It’s over!”

Sometimes those are the
most beautiful words one
hears at the end of a long day - 
a long life - that is, 
unless one is a pessimist.

© Andrew Costello, Reflections 2015

Panting on top: Cafe la Nuit, Arles, Van Gogh 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

July 15, 2015


Some claws are obvious,
like those on lobsters
and crabs. The ones you
gotta really watch out for
are the ones that can grab
your soul, heart, and spirt.
You gotta watch out for those
babies. They grab onto you
and they can drain your soul.

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015

Tuesday, July 14, 2015



The title of my homily for this 15th Tuesday in Ordinary Time  is, “Who’s In Your Audience?”

Sub-title: “Who’s Watching to Find Out What Would Happen to You?”


We’re in the Book of Exodus now. Jewish baby boys were to be killed - as a way of stopping the Israelite presence and influence in Egypt. This is before the Exodus. In fact it will be part of the reason for the Exodus.

So this little boy is born. He’s hid for 3 months. His mom puts him in a papyrus basket - made it water proof - and then put it in the water and pushed it towards where the pharaoh’s daughter would bathe. Good story.

Then notice the sentence. The baby’s aunt “stationed herself at a distance to find out what would happen to him.”

That triggered my wondering comment for today’s sermon: “Who has wondered what was going to happen to us?”

I assume that’s the background of Shakespeare’s famous line: “All the world’s a stage.”

I assume we all had someone at our birth and our baptism sitting there like an audience in a theater watching us - up there on the stage of life - and wondering what’s going to happen to this baby - called “me”?

Our parents certainly did. Is it less watching and wondering for the 4th child than for the 1st child?  There’s always the comment: the camera didn’t come out as much for the last child compared to the first child.

Growing up in the 40’s and 50’s - I never saw parents in the stands at Little League games.  I don’t remember my parents being there for the first Mass I served as an altar boy. Yes for my first communion and confirmation and graduation from Grammar School.

Come to think of it - on a contrary note - once I did go with my brother-in-law to see my niece Monica play in a basketball game. She was this high [make gesture] so it had to be around the 4th grade. The score was 0 to 0 at half time.


Using our imagination what would it be like to picture God sending every one of us down the stream towards our parents and they pick us up? What would it be like to picture God cherishing us - marveling at us - amazed at us - like all people - hopefully.

PS! What would it be like to hear, “PSSSSST! God is in the audience?”


While driving along the other day I heard on the radio that a Jazz Musician had died. He had been left on a porch - I think I heard it was Pittsburgh - when he was born and someone picked him up.

Like Moses did anyone watch and wait to see if someone found him?  Did anyone wonder what ever became of her baby?

I tried to find out who it was on Google and couldn’t determine who this musician was?  But I did find the names of about 5 jazz musicians this happened to.  I also found out that someone put a baby with a note on her and left it at Dolly Parton’s doorstep.  So too a priest. So too a lot of people.

I also found out that this story of Moses - they knew his parents - is a story in many literatures of the world - Oedipus for starters.


Last Sunday I preached on that wondering about how we’re doing as a theme to think about in the summer. Once more that same theme - wondering about our lives - in the context of:  Who’s in our audience? Do we see God in our audience?

July 14, 2015


Joy, not an itch, nor a flood, 
not the ocean running towards
the shore - but maybe the sun
rising or slipping into the ocean.
Joy, it’s the key turning in the lock,
the garage door opening - the
knowing another is content in being
home. It’s seeing a daughter on her
graduation day or her wedding or a
child taking her first step or playing his
first varsity game and he made the
key play and the coach congratulates
our son. We won! And the feeling
leaning back into a chair: "It was 
all worth it. It was all worth while."

© Andy Costello Reflections, 2015

Monday, July 13, 2015



The title of my homily for this 15th Monday in Ordinary Time is, “Adjusting.”

One of life’s great skills is the ability to adjust.

If someone asks us a question, “How’s it going?”, what would it be like to answer, “Adjusting.”

Adjusting is the ability to compromise, to settle, to  rectify,  rearrange, reconcile, balance, change, conform, see which way the wind is blowing, adapt, accommodate, sort, plea-bargain, give and take, make concessions, harmonize, weave, patch up, make peace…..

Adjusting….  How good are you in adjusting?

That’s the value of playing cards: to learn how to play different hands.

If you were buying a boat, would you want a power boat to just go directly through the water to your destination? Is that your personality? Or would you prefer a sail boat - that calls for a lot more adjusting - of sails - reading the wind and the waters?  Is that more you?


Today’s first reading triggered the thought to say something about adjusting skills.

Today we move into the book of Exodus - for our first reading.

Many people can identify with the opening words of today’s first reading, “A new king, who knew nothing of Joseph, came to power in Egypt.”

Today we start a new story - a new problem. There is a new king, a new pharaoh, and the Israelites have to adjust - from being liked, welcomed, appreciated, to being persecuted.

Reality therapy….

Mom died. Dad is dating someone. Step kids have to adjust. We have a new governor - a new coach - a new boss - a new next door neighbor - a new principal in the school - a new pastor.

How well do  I do when it calls for adjusting.
It was raining two weeks ago. It’s evening. I’m driving back home and the black rubber windshield wiper on my car - came off - and the metal is scraping the windshield - and the rubber is flapping. I put off to the side and try to fix it. I try to fit it back into the holder. No luck. I find a pair of sunglasses someone gave me and I pull off the sunglass strap and wrap the stretching material onto the wiper and the black rubber and it’s fixed temporarily. I drive another 25 miles and it’s off again. This time I take my shoe lace off one shoe - and that works till I get home.


The Israelites had to adjust 


Last week I saw the 2013 British-Australian movie, “The Railway Man”. Strong movie. One guy told me he saw the beginning of it - but had to walk out. Another guy told me, “You have to see the last 20 minutes.”

Without ruining the movie it’s all about being able to adjust. Could I survive as a prisoner of war - being beaten, being starved. Would I break? Could I adjust?  

Answer: I don’t know.


In today’s gospel we hear about some of the struggles in the early church - where families are split up because a son or a daughter-in-law switches their religion. Oh my God, my son has become a Christian?

Today it might be a son or a daughter not  having their children baptized, or they are getting divorced, or what have you.  Every day calls for new adjustments.


What to do?

Sometimes we can’t do nothing other than to say, “I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to say.” As M. Scott Peck begins his book, The Road Less  Travelled, “Life is difficult.”

Secondly, sometimes all we can do is pray.

Thirdly, we can adjust  - so adjust.

Fourth, sometimes we need to look up to Jesus on the cross and say, “Can I join you?”

Or fifth and last, and this is not gospel, we can sit down and listen to the old Zen story. A man is up high on a cliff and surrounding him - facing him - is the cliff and 3 hungry tigers.

He has no way out in front of him. He turns and looks down off the cliff and it looks like is 300 miles to the bottom.

Surprise! Looking down the cliff he spots a branch shooting out from the rocks - not that far from the top. He gets down on his knees and lowers himself to that branch.

He looks down again - and sees the bottom of that mountain cliff is 300 miles below. He’s hanging from that branch and he looks up and sees the three hungry tigers salivating - drooling and flaying at him.

Just then he spots 3 berries on that same branch and he takes one carefully and puts it in his mouth. Then the second berry. Then the third.

And with a smile on his face, he thinks to himself, “These are the most delicious berries he ever had in his whole life.”
July 13, 2015


Every once and a while we hear/see/read about
a voyager, a space ship,  that has gone out and
out and out into outer space - sending back
to earth pictures and sometimes radio sounds?

Is there a wall, an end, at the edge of the whole of the universe and we can't go further? 

How about going the other direction - inwards - deeper and deeper and deeper into matter?
Will we ever come to the inner edge of going
further and further into the inner more? 

How about the human person? Do we ever think we’ve gotten to the bottom of ourselves - to our very core - only to realize a month later in an elevator or a plane or on a porch on a dark night by ourselves that we are still more than what we thought we were? There’s more - and then still more to find out about ourselves. 

God can You squeeze into the smallest, smallest, smallest part of us or fit into 
this vast, vast, universe we’re in - or
will we always know there is more and then
some more and then some more after that?

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015
Tomorrow, July 14 a Voyager will
be taking pictures of Pluto.

Sunday, July 12, 2015



The title of my homily for this 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time [B] is, “What Do You See, When You Look Out the Window?”

There are over 7 billion people on this planet.

What do they see when they are looking out the window of their eyes?

What do they think and feel when they are looking out the window of their souls - that is, when they are soul searching.

What do I see when I’m walking through a Mall and I see an old man sitting on a Mall bench watching the world go by?

I walk by and wonder what he’s seeing, who he is, what he’s thinking, where he’s at. At times I’ve sat down with folks just sitting there and asked, “How’s it going?” I love one on one’s in buses, planes, and outside of churches.

How's it going in there?

I get that thought all the time - looking over at a person in the next car on Route 97 - or Route 50 or in Church Circle. Who are you? Where are you headed? What’s with the face? What’s with the smile?


Today’s readings triggered these questions and thoughts.

I look out my eyes while sitting there in the cushy fat cat chair during the readings of the Mass and wonder where you are  - where anyone in church is - in these hard benches in this church.

Are you a front window - front windshield person - or a rear view mirror person?

Are you in the past, the future or in the now?

Are you an optimist or a pessimist?

Do you see the restaurant is half full or half empty? Do you say, “Great we’ll get a seat!” or “The food must stink”?

The optimist invented the airplane; the pessimist the parachute?

Two men looked out prison bars. One saw mud and the other saw stars.

How do you see? What do you see? 

Do you see the smile on the person eating spaghetti or the red sauce on the person’s shirt or blouse?

In today’s first reading from Amos we hear about a shepherd - a man who also took care of sycamore trees. God spots him and calls him to leave all and prophesy - preach - to my people Israel.

In this first reading, Amos is in Bethel. He's at a shrine there. A priest, Amaziah, tells him to get lost. Go. Disappear. Get out of here.

Prophets get killed or dissed or are told to disappear.

If we met Amos in the Mall just sitting there, would he have a sad face, mud on his sandals and an ugly taste in his mouth - because he was eating the pits? Or would he have a dream in his eyes wondering where to go next - where to prophesy more - even if there will be more rejections?

Hey! Bibles might be on bookshelves - or in hotel rooms - but most people ignore them. Who wants soul and spirit challenges?

Read the book of Amos to get the rest of his story and some answers to questions about prophets - and what their challenges are.

In today’s second reading from Paul to the people of Ephesus, he tells us some powerful optimistic things about ourselves.

God has given us - blessed us in Christ - every spiritual blessing in the heavens.

At lunch yesterday Father Harrison said to Father Krastel across the table, “I was cleaning out my room this morning and I found behind my desk a Christmas gift with your name on it. It’s still wrapped. I have no idea how it got there.”

Is that us - there are gifts to us - and we haven’t picked them up yet?

In today’s second reading Paul tells us that we are adopted by God, chosen by God, we are the hope of God, we have been given the promises of the Holy Spirit, which is the first installment of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s possession.

Amazing vision - amazing gifts - amazing promises - that could hit us like those people we see in TV ads - that Publishers Clearing House people are at their door knocking - screaming - you’re about to get a million dollars - for life. And these are much more real….

Sitting on a mall bench or in a car driving along and that hit us - what would our face look like? What would our mind be doing? Would our mouths have a wow shape?

And in today’s gospel, the 12 are sent two by two to go into our world and proclaim good news and scream out of people unclean spirits.

And they are told to travel lightly.  Have just a walking stick, no food, no sack or back pack, no money - wear sandals - preach repentance - and if rejected - shake the dust of that house or place off your feet and move on to a new place.

What would it be like to do that with one’s life?

For 8 ½ years before I came to Annapolis,  I worked out of St. Gerard’s Parish in Lima, Ohio with another priest, Tom Barrett. Every week we were in a different small town - mostly small parishes - and we did just that. But we had a lot more clothes etc. no walking stick - and we went by car - and Tom knew where every Ihop in Ohio was.

And one of the best parts of those 8 ½ years were the conversations we had driving from place to place - telling each other about what we had just experienced in places like Elyria, Kalida, Leipsic, Napoleon, Defiance, Hicksville, Holgate, Hamler, Paulding, Payne, Ohio. Payne was very interesting - because we heard people in Paulding saying things like, “I was in Payne last week.”  Or my cousin in Payne just bought a new truck.”


I spotted on my bookshelf while working on this homily, the old book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.  It’s a complicated book but it gets one thinking from a complicated man. Robert Pirsig tells the reader some of his thoughts while driving on a motorcycle from Minnesota thru Montana  - to California - first with a couple - and the guy is very different from him - along with his teen age son hanging on behind him.

The other guy doesn’t care what’s going on in a motorcycle engine - there are always mechanics - but Robert Pirsig like to known how to maintain a motorcycle engine - as well as people - especially himself.

Wow - it’s a chance to read what someone - different from us - was thinking when he was looking out the window of his eyes - with the wind of the highway in his face - going 70 miles an hour. 

He put his thoughts into a book - that had a record 121 rejects. Imagine that.


What’s behind your eyes? What have you seen? Where has the wind of God blown on you and in you and stirred things up? What have been your rejections?

Tell them all to yourself.  Sit on the beach or the porch or in a mall or when driving along or sailing along  - tell your life to yourself. What happened? What’s it been like to be you?

Better, talk to each other. Write it out. Show it to another - and if you’re not listened to - that’s just 1 rejection.

Summer - summer is the time for some deep soul searching. Close your eyes and look thru the eyes of your mind to see what’s going on in there. Don’t forget your third eye - the inner eye. Peek into your soul this summer. 

What's going on in your inner life - in your inner room?

When was the last time you were in that inner church - inner sanctuary?
July 12, 2015


Sometimes in explaining myself, it’s
been cut and paste. Sometimes in doing
that, it's a lie. It’s a forgery. And yet
sometimes... sometimes it's the only way 
to survive around here. At least that's my excuse - my way of rationalizing. The reality is laziness and not enough time to get to the things I'm asked to do. So I have to dance with partial truths and partial lies. But the lie will only bind me -  - while truth will set me free. As they say, sometimes the surgery was a success, 
but the patient died. So when I lie, I die -
because the real me whom  you see standing here before you, is not the person I really am. You're looking at a lie and I know only by voicing the truth I will be set free, but first it hurts.

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015