Saturday, October 24, 2015

October 24, 2015


Come on now, we all compare!
To be human is to compare.

Be honest now - mom was
easier than dad or vice versa….

We see a bowl of apples or a
dish of chocolate chip cookies.
Don’t we all pause before we
pick the one that looks the best.

It would be a boring beauty contest
or a baseball season if nobody won
or there wasn’t a most valuable player.

It rained all week while on vacation.
Hey, you’re allowed to complain!

Comparisons challenge - okay they
also cut - especially when parents
or kids use them to get the other
to do what they want the other to do.
So too coaches and teachers and other kids.

Hey, Jesus used them all the time.
Repeat after me: “We all do.”

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015

Friday, October 23, 2015

October 23, 2015


Sins, mistakes, dumb moves ….
Don’t we all? Don’t we all?

Sins, mistakes, dumb moves,
have one big benefit. They can
help us understand each other.

If they don’t, it’s then we throw the
verbal rocks or pull the silent treatment.
Don’t we all? Don’t we all?

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015

Thursday, October 22, 2015

October 22, 2015


Just listen as you picture
all these pictures below


A lone wolf lopes across
a snow covered mountain field ….

A big bear stands in a cold stream laughing 
at how many salmon he’s catching ….

A pink flamingo stands there in pain
not knowing  knee surgery would really help ….

A mosquito hovers above a prom dance
deciding which one of those bare shoulders ….

A young boy skims and slides 77 flat
stones across a still sitting mountain lake ….

A pigeon just loves, loves, potato chips, just dropped there on the playground macadam….

The ocean waves keep coming, wave after
wave, heading towards the tan sandy beach….

A brown dog with hair flowing - front seat -
no seat belt - head out the open window ….

The baby keeps looking over her dad’s
shoulder at everyone else in the church ….

The guy on the motorcycle roars 99 MPH
across the desert road - his face loving it ….

The giraffe at 7 AM going by a basketball
court and a kid practicing wishes, wishes ….

A third grader coming out of a library with
17 books and almost drops the whole load ….

A saxophone player with eyes closed - with
great gladness plays to our God, A Love Supreme ….

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015

Connecting this to our forum tonight
at St. John Neumann - Seelos Hall - 
on Pope Francis's Encyclical Letter,
Laudatio Si' - On Care 
for Our Common Home.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

October 21, 2015


Look the other in the eye….

Watch their face....

Block out the stories and comments
the other person’s comments trigger -
the stuff you want to interrupt with
and tell your stories instead of listening
to the person who is talking ….

Tell the other what you heard them say
and ask, “Is this what you’re saying?”….

If you have time, and if the conversation
was very important,  jot down what you
heard, and then ask yourself about all this ….

When needed, buy a hearing aid.

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015

Tuesday, October 20, 2015



The title of my homily is, “Similiar Saints: St. Paul of the Cross and St. Alphonsus de Liguori.

Yesterday we celebrated the feast of St. Isaac Jogues and his companions, so today we’re celebrating the feast of St. Paul of the Cross who was bumped from yesterday to today - here in North America.

I’m adding  St. Alphonsus into my thoughts - because both saints are similar.

These 2 - along with St. Leonard of Port Maurice - were the 3 great preaching missionaries in the 1700’s in Europe.

I don’t know enough about St. Leonard of Port Maurice, so I’m sticking with the similarities of St. Paul of the Cross and St. Alphonsus de Liguori.

St. Paul of the Cross was born in 1694 and St. Alphonsus was born in 1696.

St. Paul of the Cross was born in Northern Italy - St. Alphonsus was born down there in Naples - in Southern Italy.

St. Paul of the Cross was the second oldest of 16 kids and St. Alphonsus the oldest of 7 kids.

Both came from families of upper middle class - with dads in charge of things. St. Paul of the Cross’ dad was  a struggling cloth merchant - and St. Alphonsus’ dad was a sea captain.

Both founded orders of men - the Passionists and the Redemptorists.

Both are connected with orders of contemplative nuns: the Passionist Sisters and the Redemptoristines.

Both stressed living a spiritual life. As in marriage,  life has its highs and lows, feeling and non-feeling moments, especially hanging in there when one’s life with God is boring or cold, dark, dry and not too lively. St. Paul had great mystical moments with God in his younger years and in his old age, but in between he had 45 years of plain 'hang in there" years with God. Alphonsus had his mystical moments - but he also had dry years - along with terrible scruples at times.

Both wrote a lot. St. Paul wrote some 10,000 letters and St. Alphonsus 101 books.

Both stressed the cross - and in many paintings of these 2 saints you’ll see them holding a crucifix.

Both stress remembering Christ on the cross. Even more - uniting our sufferings - with the sufferings of Christ. Last night, while reading about Paul of the Cross, I spotted a word I never saw before “concrucifixion.” I'm sure you’ve heard the word “concelebration”.

Alphonsus lived long - till 1787. Paul of the cross died 1775.

October 20, 2015


Oh yes, a word can hurt,
if spit at us - with contempt,
with anger. Oh yes. Oh yes.
What’s worse, sometimes
it can pierce our ear drum
and remain - like a barking,
biting Rottweiler in our mind,
in our memory, in our soul,
for years and years and years
and only telling another
of the hurt and hearing a
a calming or understanding
word from them can there
be healing. Oh yes. Oh yes.

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015

Monday, October 19, 2015



The title of my homily for this 29th Monday in Ordinary Time is, “This Is My Body, Which Will Be Given Up For You.”

These words are from the Canon of the Holy Mass - when the priest takes the bread and says,  “Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my body, which will be given up for you.”

I could also use the words, “Take this, all of you, and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be pour out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.”


High Altar - St. Peter's Rome

It’s a sacred moment when a priest stands there at an altar and lifts the bread and lifts the wine and says those words.

Five - six - seven years ago - maybe more - I started to end the baptismal ceremony in a new way. I say out loud, “This is the official end of this baptism - but I’m looking for a way to connect the Sacrament of Baptism with the Mass. So I’ve been asking parents - just the mom and dad - to place their new baby on the altar - and repeat after me, ‘This is my body, this is my blood, we’re giving our life for you.’”

So on this altar here - there have been a lot of babies - just sitting there or laying there - while their parents say those words. Most prefer St. Mary’s Church - so I’ve done this much more at St. Mary’s - downtown Annapolis.

Pictures. Pictures. Pictures.  That moment got tons and tons of pictures.

I noticed it’s a moving moment. I don’t know if it gets parents to come to Mass more. I don’t know if there is an impact on the wider family and friends of the baby or babies. But that’s what I do.

At first I got the thought, especially with the photographic evidence, that someone from the Diocesan office would call and say that I can’t do this.

Once someone said that some priest in some other state did the same thing for their kid - I think without the words I use. Then they showed me a picture of their baby at some altar.

Two weeks ago I did a baptism of a baby with India Indian roots and they asked if they could put their baby on the floor at St. Mary’s between the portable altar and the old altar. They said that was a custom from back home. I asked them to repeat after me, “This is my body, this is my blood, where giving our life for you.”


Isn’t this what life is all about - giving our lives for others?

Isn’t life all about sacrifice?

Isn’t life all about handing over our lives for the good of others?

Handing over is a key New Testament word - and there it is near the end of today’s first reading. [Cf. Hebrews 4:20-25]

The true treasure in life is being generous with our gifts and our life for others as today’s gospel puts it. [Cf. Luke 12: 13-21]


Saint Isaac Jogues, S.J.

Today we celebrate the feast day of St. Isaac Jogues and Saint John de Brebeuf and their companions.

They gave their lives for bringing our faith and Jesus Christ to Native Americans.

I remember reading in an article a long time ago a comment that went like this.  Down through the ages lots and lots and lots of young men and women  gave their lives by letting go of all they had and went on the foreign missions. 

I heard that because I became a Redemptorist for that very reason - to go to  Brazil. Never got there or my dream.

That article then said, “Never to be heard of again. But looking back now they are the ones who build schools and hospitals and churches and clinics that served all kinds of people - and they brought Jesus Christ and faith to so many.


Where does that message take you?

What does that message get you to do what you’re doing today - whether it’s volunteer work, or picking up the grandkids, or raising the kids, or parenting - trying to give your kids or grandkids a good education, the faith, family values and what have you.

Pinch yourself when the priest says. “This is my body, this is my blood, we’re giving it for you.”

Then go in peace and do all this in memory of Jesus.

October 19, 2015


He said he didn’t believe in communion
or excommunication for that matter and
so many other things. He added, “I used
to be a Catholic, but I got over all that
stuff a long, long, long time ago.”

At all this I remained silent - knowing
that someday his roots would reappear
and he’d realize we’re all under the tree
of the cross and we’re all called to the
same table to be in communion with all.

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015

Sunday, October 18, 2015



The title of my homily and thoughts for this 29th  Sunday in Ordinary Time [B] is: “Power.”

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, want power.

Question: are they everyone?  Is that you? Is that me? Do I want power?

Answer: “Well, ah, ah, ah, yes, of course! But it all depends about what?”


There was a time there that I was interested in studying about American Indians. Today they are called, Native Americans or the First Nation People or we name them by tribes, Mohawk, Sioux, Algonquin, Coyote people, etc., etc., etc.

I’m in Washington D.C. and I decide to go down to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. I go up to the front desk and ask a woman there, “I’m doing some studies about American Indians, is there anybody I can talk to with some of my questions.”

It must have been a slow day because she gets on  the phone - says a few things - and then hands me a piece of paper with what room to go to and what person to see.

The guy was the top guy or next to the top guy and he brings me into his inner office and I start asking questions about Native American rituals, symbols,  dances, religions, etc.,  etc., etc.

I was asking him the why of what I was reading - the “What’s going on?” with these folks.

And he says to me, “Power! It’s all about power. People want power over nature, over life, over what’s happening.”  “Men want power over other men.” “Men want power over women.” “Hunters want power over animals.”

The guy was an anthropologist - had an American Indian background and lineage - and had lived and served and worked in South Dakota on a reservation.  Since I was a priest he said the Jesuits did fabulous work. He said, “Too bad they got bounced out of some places where they were working.”

I walked out wondering about power.

Is that the main issue in life - in the church - in a parish - in a family?

Is the main prayer in life, “My will be done on earth as it is in heaven”?


In today’s gospel they ask Jesus directly, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you?”

How’s that for a major life question?

Hey, other person, “Do what I want you to do.” “Be the way I want you to be.”

Jesus replies, “What do you wish me to do for you?”

They reply, “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.”

Interesting request!

This is the gospel of Mark - written earlier than Matthew. In Matthew 20: 20 it’s the  mother of James and John who comes up to Jesus and makes that request. Did James and John slip Matthew a silver coin to blame their mother for their embarrassing question - especially when Jesus gives his answer - that it’s all about service, serving and not being served?


Is this the history of the Church or the clergy - this desire for top seats and top billing?

Is this the history of the world - the desire to Lord it over others?

Is this where comedians laugh and celebrate, because here is the spot for lots of humor.

“You want it when?”

Be careful of slipping on that banana skin.

I love the story a bishop from Brazil told us.  There was this really pompous bishop - in charge of everything - so at a major bishop’s meeting they put a whoopee cushion under his cushion and all  waited till he sat. He didn’t laugh.

I used to love reading a Catholic magazine called, Critic, because it had great cartoons about churchy stuff. I hope the priests and bishops were able to laugh at themselves in the cartoons - with pot bellies and bishops with big pointed hats.

I’ve always thought that political cartoons in the papers was a very important part of Freedom of the Press. The Church certainly needs cartoons as well.

If you’ve been listening to the stuff about Pope Francis. He’s basically saying to bishops and priests, it’s about service guys. It’s all about service not selfies. It’s not about titles and garb and great seats.

In his recent visit to the United States, being in the Fiat flanked by big SUV’s was not by accident. I’m sure the cartoonists loved the material Pope Francis’ mannerisms and style. It’s easy to draw the  pope mobile.

It’s about service - so enough with the robes and the glitter and the glamor.

And this pope - like any pope - has to be ever aware of Lord Acton’s quote, “All power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

I’ve noticed he calls himself the Bishop of Rome - not supreme pontiff - and this does not go unnoticed by the Greek Orthodox Church - as well as the Russian Orthodox church - and maybe the Anglicans as well.

Vatican II moved us away from the pyramid model - a top down management style - to a circle model - that is a round table approach. I’ve been hearing church commentators saying in the last 40 years there was movement back to the top down pyramid model.

I’m hearing that Pope Francis is pushing for decentralization once again. Right now I’m reading his encyclical on the environment and ecology and I’m  noticing him saying, ”The bishops of Mexico or Japan or the United States or Germany or Paraguay say ….” We have the synod of the family going on in Rome right now - and we’ll see what that brings. It has some new voices - different voices - and different powers that be.

I remember hearing a story about Cardinal Cook of New York. He was at a big banquet and some lady had him button hooked and the monsignori who were to sit at the head table with him were quite frustrated - because they didn’t know where to sit on a round table - when the top guy hasn’t sat down yet. He finally sat down and the boys quickly jumped into their proper seats.


I sense Jesus would say, “Laugh. Smile. Sit down and enjoy the chicken.”

Better grab the waiters and waitresses and you feed them - or at least see them as the key folks in the room. Wash their feet. Know their names. Ask about their moms.

I love a story I heard Benedict Groeschel telling us in a course he was giving that I was taking. Benedict died a while back - he could be quite conservative - especially in his later years - but he was real and real funny - and could poke good fun at everyone.

He was doing some work at a mental hospital - and he was sitting at a round table with some of the psychologists and psychiatrists in the place. Benedict asked them, “I’m sure you know who’s the most important person here in this psychiatric hospital?”


And Benedict points to this black woman behind the counter serving food to all on her line and laughing and commenting to everyone. Benedict then said he said, “Come on now, you all go to her for suggestions and advice, to vent and to complain.”

And all were silent.


In the meanwhile we use our tricks to prove to the world, “We’re great.” 

But underneath we feel our weaknesses - our lack of control - over each other and the weather and conversations and being understood. Hey we heard in today's second reading Jesus can sympathize with our weaknesses in all things but sin. [Cf. Hebrews 4:14-16]

Laugh at every time another cuts us off in the middle of a story we’re telling because we triggered a similiar story in them. Or we’re cut off by a dog entering the scene or someone just ups and leaves us because they have to go to the bathroom and we never seem to be able to finish our stories.

Enjoy having to work with each other as we get sweaty in the arm pits or have spinach or that gunky white stuff stuck in our teeth.
October 18, 2015


If you’re happy, as they say,
tell your face.

If you want to stop the gossip,
tell your mouth.

If you want to listen,
tell your ears.

If you want to serve,
tell your feet.

If you want to be generous,
tell your wallet.

If you want to make peace,
tell your hands to 
put down the rocks and 
pick up your phone.

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015