Saturday, September 12, 2015

September 12, 2015


There must have been 73 people
in our subway car - all silent - all
alone - as we wiggled and woggled
from one stop to the next - and the
only person who noticed me was
a little kid directly across the aisle
who got out of his father’s lap -
walked over to me - pointed to the
bandaid on my hand and said,
“What happened? Where did you
get that boo boo?” He was the first
person and the only person in my 
entire life who ever asked me about
my hurts and what happened? Wow!

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015
Painting on top - Subway Scene
 by Daniel Celentano, 1935

Friday, September 11, 2015

September 11, 2015


Every date has its own importance.
Today: it’s someone’s birthday
or someone’s deathday or it’s
someone’s anniversary or it’s a
day like today - September 11th,
when 14 years ago those of us
who were alive and adults that day
remember what happened and how
it changed our ways of thinking and being.
Who knew what was to happen that date?
Who knew about December 7th, 1941 -
Pearl Harbor - and how that changed
our way of thinking or August 6th 1945
at Hiroshima or 3 days later, August 9th,
at Nagasaki, days that also changed us?
God give us pause to realize with dread
and awe and “Uh oh!” feelings that each
day and each moment is filled with mystery -
as we crawl along on the spider web of time.

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015
September 10, 2015


It hadn’t rained for a while,
in fact a few weeks now.
So when it finally rained,
rain was very much appreciated.
All those complaints about too
much rain last April had been
forgotten  - but the rain,
it remembered. Complaints
linger. Complaints sink in.
Rain smiled - knowing
absence and holding back
and silence always work.
They bring appreciation
and gratitude every time.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

September 9, 2015


To get Spirituality, one has to climb a
mountain, cross a desert, slowly take
stairs and steps - and sense and realize
what these experiences are like. One
has to see and touch trees, rocks, dirt
and dust. One has to listen to music:
guitars, pianos, orchestras, birds, crickets 
and bees - lots of bees - classical, pop,
rock, country western - as well as Oriental.
When there is lightning to stop and 
look at storms, rumble and stillness.
One has to know about desire and wants.
One has to know about control and will.
One has to plunge into lakes and rivers
and like a deer taste water, salt and
sweet meadows. One has to walk beaches
and slowly jump or dive into the edge
of an ocean and then wade out into the deep.
To catch the Spirit - one was to walk
outside in the cool of evening and feel
the breeze and see leaves and needles
shaking in the wind. One has to carefully look
at veins in leaves - to see them bud and see 
them crumble. One has to taste - really taste
and savor bread and wine - but while eating with each other - and talk about the taste, 
togetherness and communion. One needs 
to know the poets: Levertov, Oliver, Bishop,
Berry, Hopkins, Haviz, Heaney. One has to read the great texts - memoirs - autobiographies, like the Confessions, the Seven Storey Mountain,
the words of Rumi 
and the three Teresa’s - 
and so many others - to know Jesus’ words  - especially  his parables, his sayings and his teachings, as well as one’s own story. Write it
all out chapter and verse. Then let all that be sorted and sifted out slowly in long early dawn walks or in deep prayer and cries and 
sometimes screams to God in the Dark Nights 
of our darkness - and sometimes in bright insights and Ah’s - on the street or on the bus.

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015
September 8, 2015


I climbed up on God’s lap again.
Once more I said, "Say something!"
I don’t think God had spoken since
creation - when God created the sun,
the moon, the stars and separation.
There was light and darkness, along
with the birds, the animals, the trees
and so much more - then the male
and female, God made them all.
And God kept saying the words,
“All was good!” They echoed 6 times
through the whole of creation. So I
pinched God and instead of an “Ouch”
out came only one new Word, “Jesus!”
Finally…. Finally …. Finally …. Finally!

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015
September 7, 2015


I climbed up on God’s lap
and reached up for his lips.
I tried to pull them apart.
One finger even hit a tooth.
I wanted to hear some words
from his mouth, but all I got
was a smile from his big face,
as if I was a little child.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

September 6, 2015


If they aren’t noticing you,
smile or sulk or smirk.
Make your face say something.
That will get them thinking.
That will get them wondering
about the world within you   -
that they didn’t know existed.
How about yourself? Have
you ever taken a trip down
your rivers - and got off
and visited your within.
Do that and then they
will really notice you.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015
Painting on top by Mia Bergeron

Sunday, September 6, 2015



The title of my homily for this 23 Sunday in Ordinary Time [B] is, “Heads Up! Eyes, Ears, Tongue.”

We just heard this Sunday’s 3 readings.

3 different people stood here and voiced sounds with their tongues. 

We heard from Isaiah, James and Mark. We heard from ______, ______ and Andrew. We saw them get up out of their seats and walk to this pulpit. Did we hear them - what they said?

Did they trigger any inner speech and thoughts, insights or questions?

If they did, voice those thoughts for yourself.

Next,  talk to each other in the car after this Mass or at the brunch table or restaurant or wherever. Share with each other what you were talking to yourself about when you heard these 3 readings.

We’re talking to ourselves all the time - often while at the same time talking and listening with/to another.

It’s amazing what our brains can do. [TOUCH HEAD]

A funny thing hit me about two years ago.  It was a question: who are all these people walking and talking with their cell phones? I see them everywhere, talking, talking, talking.

Then the obvious hit me: they are talking to all these other people on their cellphones.  It’s that simple.

I make fun of people who are always on their cellphones. I don’t want to interrupted 24/7.

Then it hit me and I said to myself, “Surprise! Way before cellphones people were spending a whole life time talking to themselves - 24/7/365. [POINT TO MY SKULL] There’s a vast command center in here.

We’re doing that right now. How many of us are really here? I’m yada-yada-yada, yak, yak, yaking up here in the pulpit, but you might be talking to yourself about yesterday or this afternoon or tomorrow. Hey it’s Labor Day long weekend.

I laugh at that, because I’m doing the same thing. I can be preaching - while being somewhere else.

Hey this is easier  for me - because I type out my homilies.

While standing up here, I’ve often found myself thinking about those little kids running around in the lobby back there. I’ve often thought during a homily or during the Mass, “Isn’t that neat. And I bet you the architects and designers of this church never ever planned or got the thought how great that baptismal font in the lobby will be for kids to play around - and run around and around and around it.

Keep kids busy.

So we’re all talking and thinking inside our minds about a whole lot of things all the time.

I heard a speaker years and years and years ago say that the tongue is always moving - ever so slightly - and sometimes ever so loud - when sounds come out of our mouth.

That same speaker said there is a Buddhist meditation technique to silence that tongue - to silence those inner thoughts - and just be there - in the quiet of the here and now. He said, “Put your tongue on the bottom of your mouth or against the back of your bottom front teeth.” 

Shush! Become quiet within brain. Shut off all this inner chit chat chatter.

Christian Buddhists would say to be there in the silence of the here and now God - the Deepest Quiet One - Present - and the One who is holding up our existence.  Our God is a very Quiet God - but sometimes we hear God’s roar - God’s powerful groanings.  “Let there be light!”


Today’s first reading is from Isaiah. He has the Lord saying, “If you feel frightened, be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense, he comes to save you.”

Then Isaiah continues, “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing.”

There they are - eyes, ears, tongue - and also legs. I’m just choosing 3 - parts what’s above our neck. That’s why the title of my homily is, “Heads Up! Eyes, Ears, Tongue.”

The second reading from James features our eyes - how we see each other - how we see folks here in this church today. Our church is some 2000 years old - imagine all the inner comments folks have made about how people are dressed and who’s who in this church today?

Do you see what he’s wearing? Do you see what she’s wearing?  Do you see who people are noticing, sneering at, looking up to, and what have you?

You have to have a sense of humor - especially when it comes to Church - especially when it comes to ourselves.

Today’s gospel has the story of a deaf man - who also has a speech impediment. And some wonderful people bring him to Jesus to have Jesus heal him. Great.

And it’s great that Jesus takes him off from the crowd - and puts his finger in the man’s ear - and spitting, touched his tongue and looks up to heaven and groans, “Ephphathata!” That’s Aramaic, Jesus’ tongue, for “Be opened!”

And the man immediately hears with his newly opened ears - and speaks with his speech impediment gone.

It’s a great story.

Hopefully it can become our story.


Take a moment right now and take one of your hands and touch your head.

Heads up!

Thank You God for my brain - my thought center - Thank You God for my being alive - being able right now to know I’m me.

Take a moment right now and take a finger and touch your eyes.

Thank God for your sight - and all the wonderful sights around me.

Take a moment right now and take a finger and touch your ears.

Thank God for your ability to hear. Laugh if you’ve lost some of your hearing. Then touch your hearing aid - if it’s in your ears or home on your dresser.

Take  a moment right now and touch your tongue and thank God for the great gift of speech.

Thank God for all the wonderful words you have spoken and heard others say to you in your lifetime.

The title of my homily is, “Heads Up! Eyes, Ears and Tongue.”


First our eyes: This week see those around you. This week see what’s around you. This week use your eyes well.

Next our ears:  This week listen to those around you. Really listen to those around you.

If you’re married, when was the last time you really listened to your beloved.

If they are dead recall your best conversation.

Write down the best thing the person you married ever said to you.

This week have the other say something to you about how they see the state of your union - where you are at - how it’s going - where it needs improvement - or what have you and then repeat back to the other, “Let me see if I have this correct. You’re saying …..”

And watch their eyes and their face if you got it right - to their satisfaction.

If you didn’t get what they were saying, let them tell you that and try again to hear what they are saying.  Sometimes the speaker is not that clear in what they are saying. Hey listen to preachers…..

Lastly, one’s tongue: This week touch your tongue and say, “Tongue thanks for all you’ve done for me in my life. Tongue I’m sorry I used you at times to say things I regret.  Thank you for all the times I said good things, all the I love you’s - all the thank you’s - all the I’m sorry’s.


Speaking about speaking and listening, let me move towards a conclusion  with an example of an Irish priest named Michael McCarthy. I had never heard of him. I read about him in a magazine article in the British Catholic magazine, The Tablet. [1]

Father Michael is just coming out with his 3rd book of poems, The Healing Station. It’s poems about people he met while being 3 months with them the Adelaid and Meath Hospital in Dublin. He was working with people with acute strokes and dementia.

Each poem gives voice to a different person he met.

Each poem is like stopping at a different station of the cross - like those around our church.

Wouldn’t that be great?

Wouldn’t that be great if all of us gave a voice to the voiceless - like that 2 year old little boy on the beach in Turkey who drowned along with his 4 year old brother and his mother - and all those refugees - and escapees from violence and war and horror and poverty around the world.

My parents came to America from poverty - so I don’t want to hear the voices of anyone who wants to block anyone from wanting a better life.

I heard an Australian on the radio last night say, “Let  Australia. We have plenty of land.”

In this article about Michael McCarthy when he was a tiny little kid his dad who loved stories said, “Let Michael tell it.”  He had noticed that Michael could tell a story and tell it well. Wouldn’t it be great if every father figured out what each of his kids did well and affirmed that gift and skill in front of others?”

The article continued that Father Michael McCarthy slowly started bringing poetry into his sermons - and then adds that it wasn’t till he went to Chicago for a year-long exploration of Ignatian Spirituality that his gift found its voice. He writes, “I was changed both as a man and as a priest.”

The article continues, He attributes the transformation to a personal healing experience through Ignatian imaginative and practical Spiritual Exercise.  In meditation, he discovered that he had  never been able to get over a tragic event from his childhood farm. “I was five years old, and the mare was taking milk to the creamery,” he recalls. “She took fright and turned over the cart, killing my brother James.”

In Chicago - on that Sabbatical - he got in touch with this inner horror story - told it - and it came out in poetry.


Every one of us here is the man in today’s gospel and every one of us here is Michael McCarthy. There are things inside our head that we need to voice and we need someone to hear us.


[1] Tablet Interview, Michael McCarthy, Healing Spirit, The Table, , pp. 8-9, August 29, 2015