Saturday, November 7, 2015

November 7, 2015


A white tissue was tossed towards a trash basket
in the mall. Missed.  It just lay there as I sat there
on a small mall  bench  - some thirty feet away.

I saw a mall cleaner with rubber gloves walking.
Nope he missed it goo - so the tissue stayed there.
Dozens and dozens of people went by it - till I got
up - picked it up - and slam dunked into the basket.

Sat down again and began thinking about so many
NCIS TV programs. That tissue contained someone’s
DNA - someone’s nose run - someone’s something.

Began wondering where my DNA might still be
clinging. I looked up on internet the question,
“How long does DNA last?” I got two answers:
521 years and if the conditions are right, 6.8
million years. Now that’s a long, long time.

This got me wondering - especially about my parents.
Is my DNA still on their foreheads where I kissed
them or on their hands which I touched before
the casket lid was closed and oops, obviously,
I’m walking around with their DNA all the time.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015
November 6, 2015


God hands us so much,
but all is always so, so different.
Sometimes a rock, sometimes a rose;
sometimes a snail, sometimes a spider;
sometimes water, sometimes a wounded dog;
sometimes a seed, sometimes the soil;
sometimes a field of snow, sometimes a desert.
God hands us so, so much and says,
“Look, learn, love - but don’t get stuck.”

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015

Thursday, November 5, 2015

November 5, 2015


A large map graced the wall
with tiny, tiny red headed pins,
placed here, there, everywhere.

It got me to stop and to look:
Caracas, Venezuela; Durban,
South Africa; Ballynahown,
County Galway, Ireland.

Then I spotted a red pin on the floor.
Where had it been I couldn’t find
an empty hole anywhere on the map.

Oh well, you never know at times
where another person has been
- as well as the why and the whatever.

Then it hit me - why not pin down all the
places I’ve been - and see if I remember
the why, the what and the who of each place.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015
November 4, 2015


It was morning….
As I walked down the street
I noticed an aluminum walker -
leaning against a blue garbage can -
right on the edge of the sidewalk.
Besides the walker, it looked like
a lot of stuff was being tossed.
Did someone die? Did they walk enough?
Did they think they did enough?
Did they see enough as they walked by?
Love enough? Learn enough? Laugh enough?
Did they finish what they wanted to finish?
Will I? Maybe I should take this aluminum 
walker because I want to see a lot more
as I walk by.

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015
November 3, 2015


Gum under church benches, golf pencils,
the spring in a ballpoint pen, the knobs on
stoves, tiny white  rocks in tire threads, but
surprise God not only knows about the
unnoticed things on the floor of our planet,
but God is also aware of the hair in our ears,
nose and the top of our head - and especially
the tear in the eye of a father at the wedding
of his daughter or a lost son - somewhere
out there tonight - who is not even thinking
of coming home yet - but God is aware of
the father’s tears, his hopes and his prayers.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015
November 2, 2015


I'll  be taking my last breath some day ….
I'm picturing my eyes closed ….
I’m picturing myself dead ….

In a bed? In a nursing home? I hope it
will be on the street - like St. John 
Neumann - while doing someone a favor....

Is that the last picture I take?

Or is there another next? A beyond -

beyond all this - beyond my powers  - to rise 
again - out of the ground - a new birth?

I see all these dead November leaves.
I imagine next Spring - new leaves budding -
after a long cold winter - new life showing.

So here we have THE elephant in the room sized question: Is there something that 
happens to me after I die? A now what? 

A next?

I’m not talking about the next being someone calling the undertaker or the church. I’m not talking 
about my funeral 
or who will visit me and stand above 
my grave. I'm talking here about me.

I'm asking:  is there a beyond all this?

I'm asking: is there SOMEONE in control here?

I'm asking: take my index finger and see
what I scratch in my dust or in my blood.  

When it comes to a next, do I answer with
a "Yes" or a "No" or a "Help!" or a nothing? 

For those of us who believe in a God - a God we've been conscious, semi-conscious or very conscious of throughout our life - or in Jesus if we are a Christian - then is the after death posture a total letting go? Is it a waiting to see
if someone will start me up again in a new mode - a new control - a new way of being -
that is totally out of my control? 

As I stand here  - I hear the Risen Lord Jesus
say, "I am the way, the truth, and the life."

This is my hope as I stand here on the cold ground - with all these dead leaves surrounding
me - here at my sister's grave on All Souls Day?

                                                                    © Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Sunday, November 1, 2015


The title of my homily for this feast of All Saints is, "Signed, Sealed and Delivered."

In the first sentence in today's first reading from the Book of Revelation 7:2, I noticed the word "seal" - as in "the seal of the living God." Then at the end of that first section it says, I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal, one hundred and forty-four thousand marked from every tribe of the children of Israel."

How many people down through the centuries wondered and worried, "Am I going to make it? Am I going to be part of the 144,000? O my God, by now all those spots have to have been signed, sealed and you have delivered."

How many people have felt the words in the song, "When the Saints Come Marching In, I want to be in their number / When the Saints come marching in?"

Relax a bit. Today's first reading, then moves away from numbers and says, "After this I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people and tongue."

Phew. Okay God. I want to be part of THAT great multitude. Please God, please. Pretty please.


Here's Christianity using something everyone would know about: a seal.

Food has to get some kind of seal of approval. So too property contracts. So too marriage licenses. So too birth certificates and baptismal certificates.

How many of us have sat on a doctor's waiting room table - with the clean white paper under us - like in a delicatessen - ready for cold cuts - and it

can be cold on our butts - and we wonder - if this doctor is going to know  what she or he is doing? We look up on the wall and there are all those certificates screaming at us, "Not to worry."

"Not to worry."

But down deep, there is that worry. The clock is ticking. Wrinkles are appearing. Birthdays have come and gone, over and over and over again.

We've passed our death day on the calendar over and over again as well: the reality being - we don't know the day nor the hour.

Seals go way back before signatures - before many could write.

That tells me this stuff about seals, signatures and signs of approval are very down deep basic and important to all of us.

If you've ever been to a museum that has those deck of cards sized ancient stones - inside glass cases - stones from way back B.C. - you read the little inscriptions below them to know what they are. Some of them are sealing stones - certificate stones - with drawings etched into them. It could be a beetle or a lion or what have you.

Stones last - as in cemetery head stones or diamonds - so too seal stones. There is a knock on the door. There's a UPS guy from the year 500 B.C. He shows his stone. He's delivering a message. It's telling the recipient of a letter or package delivered - this is from the king or some leader - or some important person or relative. The seal guarantees what you're getting is what you're getting.

To be human is to want approval - certification - signification - sealed.

It could be a driver's license, a passport. Here look at my papers.

Besides genocide, to me one of the worst crimes committed during the 1992 -1995 Bosnia-Herzegovina wars was the burning down of buildings that contained birth certificates etc. etc. etc.

All those people migrating and emigrating out of Syria and a host of other Middle East and African countries bring money and precious papers.

I like to say to couples getting married or getting a baby baptized, I hope you have a fire proof box of safe - to keep safe your precious papers.


Hallowed means "holy" as in Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name...."

Yesterday, today and tomorrow - October 31st, November 1st, and November 2nd  are special days: Halloween which means “All Hallows Eve’, All Saints Day today and All Souls day - tomorrow -  we're looking at big time stuff.

We all have our demons, our possible self-destructive tendencies, our ghouls and our goblins, as well as our inner calls to be good - to be saints.

And then November 2nd, All Souls Day tells us, there are time limits.

It's fascinating how big Halloween has become - up there contesting to be a top holiday - along with Thanksgiving, Christmas and Valentine's Day.

Holiday - there's another old word - that has our faith in it - faith that can be lost....


Great marketing.... Great moneymaker ....

Even before Halloween and its costumes and its parties I always thought Christian religious speakers and preachers were nuts to poo poo Halloween. Hey it came from Christianity. It means the night before All Saints Day.

With a smile on our faces - it's simply acknowledging that we are devils at times. It's also advertising and preaching - we're called to be hallowed - not hollow - saints not sinners.


Then as those Halloween costumes of skeletons yell to us - death is coming folks.

Don't forget the grave. Don't forget into dust we shall return -and all that will be left is our skeletons.

I'm assuming cremation - becoming practical, cheaper, smarter - is going to take away some of the sting a skeleton announces. All that is left with cremation are those ashes in a cheaper than a casket urn.

The Church continues to try to enter into the play of these life realities. They ask that we do all this with faith and deep respect of the human body - and a person's life.

The Church - better Christ - announces - that there is life after death. That's the great act of faith, folks.

That's the great act of hope, folks.

That's the great act of charity, folks.

Christ said the Father is a Father of Unconditional Love and Forgiveness.

But let's be honest, we all go through life not really believing that - including us priests and our preaching - because we too are in the human mix -obviously.

We think we'll have a better chance to make it into eternal life - heaven - if we lead a good life - if we've been a saint with a small s - and like one of the Saints with a capital S.


As I thought about the image of the Seal - on our forehead - it struck me that’s where we start the sign of the cross - especially with holy water as we come into Church - reminding us of our baptism - and also the sealing with oil on our forehead in baptism and confirmation.

And as I thought about the image of the Seal - or being sealed - on the forehead -  it hit me loud and clear about something I do all the time as priest.

We priests are called to seal the forehead and the hands of a dying person - the sacrament has been opened up for people about to be operated on -or who are facing serious sickness - and hopefully the words help the sick person as the prayer of the Sacrament of Anointing actually puts it.

It hit me that's exactly what's going on here. Someone is receiving a sign, a seal, and they go into death or an operation with the hope of a safe delivery here - the ultimate - like a baby coming out of the dark womb - into the light of life - or a sick person going into dark death - and the tomb - hopefully to have a safe delivery and they wake up in the eternal light -because they have been signed and sealed - approved by Jesus for a new birth to eternal life.

November 1, 2015

[Self Test # 19]

Tell me who your favorite Saint is
and it will tell you who you are.

St. Thomas the Apostle - I have doubts.
St. Peter - I put my foot in my mouth and experience forgiveness.
St. Andrew - I bring people to Christ.
St. Martha - Just do it. Quit complaining.
St. Mary - Keep listening. People need listeners.
St. Camillus de Lellis - I'm clumsy.
St. Maria Goretti - I forgive - it works.
St. Francis of Assisi - I want to keep it simple.
St. Francis de Sales - I want to keep calm.
St. Paul - I run and proclaim Christ with passion.
St. Therese - I want to do small things well.
St. Therese of Avila - Let’s start again.
St. Philip Neri - Smile! It works every time.
St. Augustine - Chastity - but I need time.
St. Monica - I keep praying - he’ll come around.
St. Thomas Aquinas - Write it down then burn it.
St. Anthony of  Padua - I keep losing things.
St. Alphonsus de Liguori - I'm trying to put into practice loving Jesus Christ.
St. John of the Cross - I find God in the dark.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015   
Painting on top: Fra Angelico
I'll keep working on this test. It's fluid.