Saturday, October 31, 2015

October 31,  2015


Happy Halloween.

Don't be scared
with scary characters
in our midst.
Saints are around us as well.

                                                                 © Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Friday, October 30, 2015

October 30, 2015


I thank You, God,
that I am not You.

I know I try that from
time to time - especially
when I second guess
about what just happened.

I thank You, God
that I am not You.

I know I do that often
when I think I know why others
are doing what they are doing,
and what they should be doing.

I thank You God,
that I am not You.

You’re much more forgiving,
much more understanding than me,
so please God give me Your
ability to laugh at me like You do.

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015

Thursday, October 29, 2015

October 29, 2015


Potatoes - I’m prejudiced about potatoes.
They look so lower class - in the field -
in the store - in the vegetable section of
the supermarket. They are basically ugly -
compared to strawberries, watermelons,
peaches, ice cream - and walnut pie - BUT
but surprise - potatoes can surprise us.
I’ve seen folks laughing - smiling big time
while eating potato chips or French fries -
or roasted potatoes - or even baked potatoes
with white sour cream or cold butter. BUT -
but sorry - I hate boiled potatoes. They look
ugly. I know some folks like them.  Ugh. 
I don’t. In looks, they haven’t moved far 
enough up the food chain for my satisfaction.

"Kind of tough on them, aren't you?"


"Hey, I thought you were Irish?"


© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

October 28, 2015


There are so many things just sitting there -
right before our eyes - making life so interesting.
Take the crawl of a caterpillar: does she know
where she’s headed? How about the stem
of a pumpkin. That’s cut off and tossed, right?
Then there’s the sweet lick of types of yogurt on a cold silver spoon. I also like to see a kid 
stopping and then stepping back to hold the door
for someone 50 years older than they are - especially some guy with a face that looks 
like it hasn’t smiled in 27 years. Come on guy, smile. Thank the kid. Wow! He did it. He thanked him.
Nice going old guy. Nice going young guy.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Tuesday, October 27, 2015



The title of my homily for this 30th Tuesday in Ordinary Time is, “Groaning Prayers.”

Today’s first reading from Romans 8: 18-25 brings up the whole idea of groaning prayers.

They are groaning sounds which we can begin to see as prayers - sounds we make when things are out of your control - as in others, as in weather, as in health, as in the big mysteries of twists and turns in life. They are deeper than screams to our God and at others and at ourselves.

Last night after reading today’s first reading I was trying to figure out just how they would go.

So I experimented with various groans:

·       uuhhhhhhh
·       ooooooooooohhh
·       aaagggh
·       urrrrrrr
·       grrrrr
·       mmmmmmmmh


We’ve all heard people groaning and moaning - oohing and ahing - coming out with non-verbal soundings.

I’ve yet to hear them in church with Father Tizio’s puns - but a good pun is supposed to get a superficial - sort of surfacy - groan or moan. However, I’ve heard people make those pun groaning and moaning sounds in the corridor.

Paul in Romans 8 tells us that the whole of creation is groaning - like a woman screaming and groaning and moaning in giving birth.

Is that a woman’s greatest prayer - the groans in giving birth to a baby - bringing new life into our world?

I’ve never been at a birth - but I’ve been at several deaths - and heard the so called “death rattle” as well as painful other sounds when someone is dying - or feeling great pain - especially when they have to lift or shift their bodies.


I don’t know if anyone did homework on all this. This is a first draft about these sounds.

I assume that there would be two basic sounds - 2 basic groans. - joy and sorry, celebration and destruction. Awe and uh oh!

Paul says all of creation gives off groans.

Wolves howl - dogs growl and also whimper when they are hit by a car. I’ve seen documentaries showing  animals caught in an animal trap. They can  make eerie hurting sounds. I heard whales and dolphins yellings caught on sound recorders from under the sea. Are they mating calls? Are they screams. Everyone get here quickly - I found a whole supermarket of food. Do they have death moanings?

I’ve heard humans blurt - actuate - deep hurting sounds - when they are caught in a trap - stealing - cheating on a spouse - seeing a son or daughter caught in a horrible accident or crime or scandal. 

I’ve always been on the side of sound -  if a tree falls in a forest - I believe that it makes sounds - even if nobody hears it.

I picture glaciers screaming a squeaking, ice grinding and chunk - plummeting - making growling losing it sounds - when they start to split - losing big sections of their being - ice and snow that might have been part of themselves for 20,000 years.


Why not pray with these groans? See them as groans to God - groans  of pain and sounds of joy - about all the wonders and realities of creation.

Picture the sound of a kid who is living in a horrible home or orphanage and someone wants to adopt her or him. See, hear, their sounds when they realize they are free. Hear their celebration as we celebrate that God adopts us into the Trinity - as Paul tells us happens in today’s first reading.

Get in touch with the deepest sounds we all make in the depths of the ocean of our soul.


Okay the gospel for today, Luke 13: 18-21, also urges us to calmly see and sense the beauties in our backyard: tiny plants like mustard   trees - or sitting there in a morning kitchen looking out and watching birds getting seeds out of the bird feeder - or see the rich greens and colors in the fruit and vegetable section of Giant and let our gentle growls.

Or smile when making bread - at the whole process of moments called “life”. Amen.
October 27, 2015


The apple hung there  - still growing -
glistening in the light of the morning
sunrise - till it was finally ready for teeth -
ready to eat - till it screamed to the
world, “Take and eat. Take and eat.
This is what I was created for.”
But stupid, stupid, a million “me’s”
take and eat forbidden fruit instead.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Monday, October 26, 2015

“UH OH!” 


The title of my homily for this 30th Monday in Ordinary Time is, “'Uh Oh!' The Inner Sound that Sounds Exactly Like What It Sounds Like!”

"Uh oh!"

The Catholic Church just finished up a Synod on the Family in Rome.

It was an “Uh oh!” meeting - with reports and papers, discussions and possible decisions that they were going to deal with lots of issues. For example,  family, marriage, children, divorce, homosexuality, communion....

I'm sure some folks in our church said, "Uh oh! Pope Francis is at it again!"

Yes, he wants the Church to address some tough stuff in the major area of life: the Family.

When I read in a newspaper report that one solution to some questions is going to be:  “Talk to your priest in the privacy of the inner forum of your heart and mind,"  I said, “Uh oh!”

“Uh oh!” 

I uttered that  because that might mean more work, more time, more angst, more anxiety.”

“Uh oh!”


Let’s be honest: life has lots of “Uh oh!” moments.

We say it when we get spaghetti sauce on a white shirt or blouse. However,  those  “Uh oh’s!” can be taken care of with Tide Laundry Detergent.

It’s the “Uh oh’s” that have to do with people that can have the heavy duty stress.

And especially tough are “Uh oh’s” that  have to do with relationships - one’s spouse - one’s kids -  kids dating - family - moments around the dinner table - requests about rule changing in a family - and what have you.

Then there are marriages that don't make it - marriages that fall apart - marriages that crash on the rocks.

Then there is the reality of differences - differences - differences.

People are different. People differ in perception - perception - perception.

Our last two family weddings were weddings without official church blessings and settings - and of course I would be looking at them with my perception as priest - my values - my experience and what have you.

“Uh oh’s!” hopefully lead to listening - and learning how to deal with differences - and what to do when a fresh egg falls on the floor and breaks.


In today’s two readings - Paul’s Letter to the Romans and Luke’s gospel story of the woman who was crippled for 18 years - we’re dealing with law vs. the spirit of the law.  We’re dealing with people vs. principle.

Do we have to leave people stuck - crippled - broken - for 18 years or for a life time?

In the issue of who can come to communion - in the discussions about this - I read the following: “Francis has carefully avoided taking sides in the debate but has appeared to tip his hand, for example, referring to Communion as ‘not a reward for the perfect but a medicine for the sick.’”

We’re church goers.  We know by now that popes are different. Francis is different from Benedict and Benedict is different from John Paul II. 

By now we've figured out things can be complicated - and simple solutions - are not always possible.

By  now we’ve figured out that life is all about figuring out how to deal with each other.

We have to learn how to deal with how kids are, how parents are, how our spouse is today, how friends, co-workers, priests, bishops, popes are - without going crazy with our "Uh oh's!"


One basic principle I have learned is this: laws, rules, regulations, are easier to deal with that to deal with people.

It's as simple as that.

In fact, laws, rules, regulations are made to make life easier for each other.

In fact, ordinarily it's practical and helpful to put things down on paper.

For example: here at St. Mary's we have weddings most Saturdays at 11 AM, 1, and 3 PM and at St. John Neumann's at 10, 12, and 2 PM.

Those 6 time slots were figured out to work well - because of musicians, priests, deacons, wedding coordinators - as well as funerals on Saturday mornings - and confessions and then Masses on Saturday afternoon. 

However, on a regular basis folks want different times - because it would work better for their wedding receptions and family situations.

It's here that I have discovered that "the law" becomes a problem.  

If one makes an exception, someone else wants the same deal or someone else gets inconvenienced. It's then that planning things becomes more difficult.

So I have had to learn the practical value of a set system - and how to say, "No!"

But .... 

We always have to butt in with a "but".

But to be personal, accomodating, flexible, able to adjust, willing to change for others is nice, but it's far more difficult than rules and regulations - set schedules.

Rules and regulations make life more easy for all involved.


However, it's right there when the "Uh oh's!" happen. 

In this homily I simply want to state that life is very much about "uh oh's!".

Christ walked into that synagogue that day and healed a woman who was bent over, crippled by a spirit, couldn't stand up straight for 18 years and Jesus healed her on the sabbath.

"Uh oh!"

Then the "Uh oh's!" start to flow like spaghetti sauce onto the table cloth.

Jesus if you did that for that lady on the sabbath, what about my daughter who has cancer or my son who has MS right now?

"Uh oh!"

October 26, 2015


Who said old age doesn’t
have its chronic hurting?
Yet, we can certainly smile.
We can certainly be sweet.
We can spend our last days
in beauty - instead of walking
around griping growls about
our arthritis and slowness of
step - our loses - especially
when we start losing our
leaves, when we become
more and more separated
from our family tree - as we
sit near doors in that must
scent of nursing homes,
waiting, waiting, waiting,
hopefully becoming like 
so many beautiful autumn
leaves who will be falling to
the ground - one by one -
one of these days. 

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Sunday, October 25, 2015



The title of my homily for this 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time [B] is, “Open or Closed?”

There is a question mark after that word “closed”,  so I’m asking a question this morning, “Open or Closed?”

In many stores they have a turnaround sign on the door.  On one side of the sign it says, “Open” and on the other side, it says, “Closed”. It's easy to flip from one to the other.

I remember reading an article once - an article which was actually a big long questionnaire - asking if the reader was an open or closed minded person.

I would think we want to claim that we’re open minded - especially when pushed - as in pushing a door to see if it's open or locked.


So we walk down the street - or we come to the door of a store. The sign is turned toward the street. If  it says, “Open,” we say “Good.” If it says, “Closed,” we say, “Ugh” or “Bad.”

I think we do the same thing when we look at people’s faces. There’s a message there. Sometimes a face says, “Closed” and we say, “What’s new?” Then we go to someone whom we think is more open.

Kids want those car keys or to stay up later or to go out with so and so.

Kids know which parent to ask.

People know which priest to ask.

People know the best time to approach another.

On vacation with my brother and his girls, he would say, “Always get on the line that has the big girl serving.” And they would say, “Dad!” but that’s the line they would get on too.

I’m reading about the Synod in Rome that just closed. On first appearances,  it looks like priests are going to get a lot more calls - because that was one of the solutions about remarriages, communion and all that. See your priest.

When someone from some parish somewhere calls and asks about a question they have, if it needs a face to face meeting, I tell them to go to Sunday Mass - get a good look at the priest and ask yourself, “Is this person approachable.”

I remember working with a priest in a retreat house. He  was a good guy - quiet - but a good guy. He's dead now, so I can tell this story. One day he blurted out to me, “Oh my God, I just realized how lazy I am. I walk around with a book in my hand so people will say, ‘He’s too busy. I better ask someone else.’”

Uh oh! I’ve heard many people say to me, “I know you’re busy.”  When I hear that I wonder if my face has a “Don’t bother me - can't you see I'm very busy” sign on it. Uh oh!


Today’s first reading from Jeremiah has God described as a deliverer. God will lead. God will bring back the blind and the lame, mothers with child, people crying - an immense throng of people.  God will console them. God will guide them. God will lead them to brooks of water. God will put them on a level road. No one will stumble. It closes with God saying, “I am a father to Israel. Ephraim is my first born.”

Today’s second reading from Hebrews continues telling us what Jesus as high priest is like. Jesus represents us to the Father. Jesus deals patiently with those who are ignorant or make mistakes.  Jesus knows weakness. Jesus takes on his back our sins. Isn’t Jesus the kind of parent, spouse, brother, sister, friend, priest, that we’re all looking for.

Today’s gospel has Jesus walking by and the blind man of Jericho, Bartimaeus, calls out to Jesus walking by, “Son of David, have pity on me.”

The crowd screams at him to be silent. They are basically saying, “Shut up!”  They are telling him to be closed mouthed..

Jesus’ ears are open. Jesus stops. Jesus says, “Call him over.”

The surprised crowd change and say, “Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.”

The blind man throws “aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus.”

Jesus says to Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?”

Jesus says to us at every Mass, “What do you want me to do for you?”

He replies, “Master, I want to see.”

There it is in 5 words the reason why we come to church, “Master, Rabbi, I want to see.”


Behind our backs there are all kinds of people who describe us as follows:

·       “He’s blind.”
·       “She doesn’t have a clue.”
·       “He doesn’t get it.”
·       “She just doesn’t understand - what I’m screaming within.”

Inside our minds we’re screaming:

·       “I don’t know. I just don’t know.”
·       “I don’t get it - what’s going on in my family.”

·       “Help! I need someone.” [Beatles Song]
·       “I need to figure this out.”
·       “Where do I go for answers?”

Then sometimes we get an insight - an eye opener. The sign on a door in our mind reverses from “closed” to “open”.


This week - for homework - jot down the key, pivotal, turning points in one's life.

What were the factors - who were the players involved? Describe those moments to yourself.

It could be the birth of a baby. It could be falling in love. It could be a spouse saying, “We need to go for counseling. I’m not happy with what has happened to our marriage.”

It could be losing a job or losing our balance - and someone says, “Is something wrong? Do you realize how much you’re drinking?"

Life is filled with Annunciation moments. They didn’t just happen to Mary. Angels can sit next to us at work or on a train or a plane or on a bus or in a car pool - or at a bar or a barbecue - or all alone driving or when the last kid has gone to college. Now what?

Sometimes we have to learn how to say, "No" - and sometime we have to stop saying, "No" all the time.

Someone said, "The secret of happiness is learning how to say 3 words: Yes, No and Wow."

Sometimes we have to say, "No" - in order to really be open. Sometimes if we say, "Yes" all the time - the whole barn or zoo called me can be filled with too many animals.

The person who said the above added: and the secret of unhappiness is always saying, "If only" and "Maybe."

I want to see.

I want clues.

I want plans.


Today’s gospel ends with these words, “Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.”

Sometimes grace - insight - comes immediately - sometimes discovery as in a court case or a synod or a life - takes 30 days or 3 years.

The trick is to always pray - like every morning or every night, “Master, I want to see.”

October 25, 2015


What pokes us?
What gets us thinking, moving, probing?
What challenges us?

Weddings, wakes and funerals….
Coming around an aisle in the supermarket and a little baby 
in a shopping cart looks us
right in the eye and laughs 
and smiles at us….
A near accident while driving ….
Driving by a hospital, a cemetery, or bakery....

What pokes us?

A compliment, a dig, a criticism?
A horrible sermon or a good sermon?
A good novel or essay or short story?
A good NCIS show?
A great movie - even though the 
cost of pop corn is way too high....
Someone is not talking to someone….

What pokes us?
What gets us thinking, moving, probing?
What challenges us?
What has been the game changer for us?

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015