Saturday, November 14, 2015

November 14, 2015


As priest I have been blessed
to be standing  there - less than
12 inches - a ruler distance away -
when  couples look each other
eye to eye - when they take and make
their vows to each other in marriage.

As priest I have been doubly blessed
to be standing there  - looking at a
couple looking each other in the eye -
at their 25th or 50th wedding anniversary -
renewing their vows to each other in  marriage.

As priest, I have been 100 times blessed
to see couples almost on top of each other
when saying goodbye - looking at each
other eye to eye in a nursing home -
when one has to go home alone for
the night - or one is going home for good.

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015

Friday, November 13, 2015

November 13, 2015 - Friday the l3th.


I’m a skin picker.
How about you?

I won’t let my skin heal.
The scab itches - so I
pick and itch the scab.

I know this has a technical
term: “Dermatillomania.”
I like "scratchatosis" better.

Do you think this is bad?
You should meet people
who keep picking the skin
of their souls for mistakes
they made 30 or 50 years ago.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Thursday, November 12, 2015

November 12, 2015


as in dancing
or in learning to play the piano
or in recovering from an addiction
one step at a time.

to make sure 
I see the step I'm on -
because people sometimes do fall
if they look too far ahead or too far behind.

to be grateful 
for getting to where I am
right now - this far - and to say
"Thank you" to those who helped me
to get to this step in my life. Amen.

(c) Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

November 11, 2015


It's November 11th - Veteran's Day -
and I can picture so many veterans
sitting on the edge of nursing home beds -
all alone - all alone - lonely and moaning
for visitors they can tell their story too....

I sit and listen to their war stories for a while
and then move on - and I wish that guy in 
Room 113A and that other guy in 78B could 
be near the front door watching visitors
coming and going - none with a familiar face....

None with a listening face - none with time for
them. Life in a wheel chair or walking with a walker is tough enough. The November of our life heading heading into the December of 
our life should not be seen and listened 
to away from home and alone. "Oh no!"

                                                                    © Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


Lord, you healed the blind and you healed the deaf - help us to see and to hear all that surrounds us, the scenes, the fall colors, the music and the chatter - and all the talk about what matters.

Lord, you fed the hungry and you reached out to the ignored - help us to be aware of the hungry and the lonely right in front of us and next to us each day.

Lord, you called all to live life to the full and to go beyond themselves - stretch us each day to our limits - and then some more and some more after that.

Lord, you have given us a thousand and one and then some more opportunities to be fully alive and fully aware of the beauty and wonder
of life and all its gifts - help us to welcome these opportunities each day.

Lord, help us see that it takes a family, a school, a church, a temple, a village to round out  a world - with restaurants, stadiums, classrooms, Bingo halls, hospitals, roads, airports, planes, trains, buses, cars, bikes,  skateboards, surfboards, sidewalks and highways to explore, to serve and to make each day to be a good day.

Lord, lastly, thanks for so many opportunities - and tonight we’re celebrating all the opportunities that come from sports - soccer, football, field hockey, cross country - playing, managing, coaching, cheering, driving, teaching kids how to lift weights and lift themselves to greatness, goodness and lots of fun. Amen.



The title of my homily for this 32nd Tuesday in Ordinary Time is, “Envy Kills Us Every Time.”

In the second sentence of today’s first reading I noticed the word “envy”.

Let me read the opening paragraph of today’s first reading again. “God formed us to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made us.  But by the envy of the Devil, death entered the world, and they who are in his possession experience it.” [Wisdom 2:23-24]


People often mix up the meanings of envy and jealousy.

It’s not a big deal, but I think knowing the distinction can help us to be more aware of what’s going on within us at times.

Envy is wanting something I don’t have.  Jealousy is being afraid to lose what I have.

These two evils - sins - can destroy us.

In this short homily I just want to focus on envy - the wanting to have what I don’t have.


What do others have that I don’t have? Skills? Stuff?

Do any of these irk me, make me ugly, cause me stress?

For example, I have no skills in music. I tried the trombone and the piano - and gave up on both. Does that make me envious of those who have great musical gifts. I believe the answer is no.  I don’t like people making fun of me for having a tin ear - or being off key - or what have you.

It would have been nice to have had speed when running. Once more I’m realistic - that I was not a fast runner. Envious - a bit.

At times I wish I could have a good hand when it comes to drawing. My mother, my sister Mary and my nephew Gerard have that gene or skill or whatever it is. I tried it, but nope, no luck in that department.

So once more those two questions: what do I lack and does it kill me that others have certain gifts and I don’t have them.


If you envy, you’ll never be satisfied

Envy is its own torture. It can become an inner itch that irritates the underneath side of my soul.

When you envy, you’re telling yourself, I feel inferior.

Those who have it all - leave a trail of envious people.

The greatest mischief you can do to the envious is to do even better or have even more.

Scratch a bitter person and you’re looking at an envious person.

There is a Tamil quote, “Envy has you when it’s refreshing to hear that there was a fight in a neighbor’s house.”

Here is an envy comment - that has an interesting complexity mixed in: Envy has you if you’re trim - and you get that secret delight in standing next to a fat person.


This morning I’m simply asking to look at the reality of envy. It appears in today’s first reading from Wisdom - where the author of Wisdom says that the envy of the devil is what brought death into our land.

Learn how the ability to laugh about all this makes a lot of sense.

Discover I have gifts and others wish they had mine. You’re kidding.

Reflect about envy and how my lacks can force me to make leaps and come up with new understandings about life. 
November 10, 2015


Every day the newspaper presents the names

of thousands and thousands of people. Obituaries,
married, arrested, honored, dishonored, athletes.

Surprise! There's the name of someone I went to

school with. That must be the daughter of that gal
I worked with. That must be a mistake. Oh no!

Then we spot the sad headlines: plane crashes, boat

sinks, and our heart sinks because we know the 
horror of it all. Kids left behind. Impact for life.

Then for some reason someone writes a song about

a horror and the song helps the rest of us for years
to come - like The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015
Today, November 10, 2015
is the 40th Anniversary of the sinking
of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Monday, November 9, 2015

November 9, 2015


Once, I heard 
an old black woman say, 
G O D! Don’t let me say 
what’s on my mind!” 
And I said,  
"Now that's a prayer!"

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Sunday, November 8, 2015


[It was from today’s gospel - Mark 12: 41-44 - that we have the saying, “Putting your two cents in!” so let me tell you a story.]

She started when she was 22 years old. 

There was this big empty 55 gallon drum in the back of their basement - all through her growing up years.

It was clean. It was empty. She never found out what was in it - in the first place. She once asked her dad about the big metal 55 gallon drum.  He said, “I don’t know the story about where it came from. It was back there - in the back of our basement - when we bought this house.”

She said, “Can I have it?”

He said, “Good. It’s yours. Whatever.”

That’s when she started to put her two cents in.

She took it with her when she got married when she was 25 years old.

She and her husband had bought an old house with a big basement.

By the time it was moved to their new old house, the barrel was loaded with pennies - getting heavier and heavier.

She put in pennies - 2 cents at a time - in imitation of this lady in today’s gospel. At some Sunday Mass she had heard the story about the poor widow - who put her 2 cents in.

Jesus said, “She put in more than all the rest.”

There was Jesus sitting there - in the temple watching everything. It was just opposite the treasury.

He noticed people came in and made a big show  and big splash when they put their coins into the big treasury box - money that was used to help the poor and the upkeep of the temple and what have you.

[Notice: even back then they had a repair and maintenance fund.]

Well, while Jesus just sitting there - in came a quiet poor widow - who without much show - put in two small coins - worth hardly anything.

Jesus called his disciples and asked, “Did you see that poor widow who just went by?”

Nobody noticed her - really. Nobody noticed her.

“Well,” said Jesus, “she just put in more than all the rest who put money in the temple treasury today. They gave from their extra money in their wallets or what have you; she gave from her poverty.”

Judas didn’t like hearing that.

Back to the lady with the 55 gallon drum. When she had filled that first 55 gallon drum,  she sealed it. It was filled to the top with pennies.

Then she got another barrel. Her husband never really paid attention to this quirk - this hobby - this whatever she was going to do with all these pennies.

She liked pennies - finding them on the street - or on the floor of a mall - or wherever.

Well as you can guess, it became an obsession with her.

The years rolled on.

The barrels kept multiplying.

The funny thing about it, at times people would be down in their basement, but nobody ever asked about what was in the barrels or what have you.

The years went by - as years go by - sometimes fast - sometimes slow.

It was just pennies -  so temptations to use the money - when things got tight - or when their kids needed money - didn’t happen. In fact, everything went pretty smooth when it came to money, with jobs, and school, and college tuitions and bills. The barrels filled with pennies was just - well just extra money. Hey 2 cents is only 2 cents.

And she never put just one penny in at a time. It always had to be two cents in memory of the woman in the gospel who put her 2 coins in.

10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 years of life went by.

10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 years of pennies went into those 55 gallon barrels - and in fact she went over 55 barrels years ago.

In time the kids moved away.

Her husband died. She stayed in that same house all these years.

With all these barrels filling up her basement - thank God it was a big basement - she knew she couldn’t move.

Then she died and in her will there was money to be shared equally amongst their  5 kids and their kids - along with the house.

But what about the barrels of pennies?

In her will all the pennies were to be given to the poor - through her church’s St. Vincent de Paul Society. They have been helping the poor all through the years. People put money in the poor box in the church and gave donations when asked.

Her oldest daughter was taking care of the will so she called up the church and got in touch with the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

St. Vincent de Paul was that French saint who loved to help the poor.

They came to the house - went down to the basement - and saw that it was filled with all these sealed 55 gallon drums.

At first the St. Vincent de Paul Society figured it would be a pain taking care of such a request. They really didn’t know the treasure in their midst.

Then it really hit them! Woo. There has to be a lot of money here.

“We’ll need penny wrappers - lots and lots and lots of them. We’ll need coin machines. We’ll need volunteers,” said the members of the St. Vincent de Paul Society.”

Fine  but how to get them out of her cellar? Woo! That was going to be tricky. Well, they asked for suggestions and solutions. Two brothers in the parish had a construction business with lots of big trucks and they would help. They came and looked over the basement and all those barrels.

No problem. They came with dollies - those two wheeled gadgets - built a ramp out of the basement and brought all the barrels to a big building they had. It was not being used that much at the moment.

Next they had to get about 100 volunteers from the parish - along with folding tables - and chairs - and all the penny wrappers they could buy.

They did it. It took 3 weekends to count of those pennies.

The story made the local papers and a contest was started on “How many pennies were in that basement?”

Nobody came close. Nobody guessed the answer. It was 632 thousand dollars and 36 cents.

Someone said, “That old lady certainly put her two cents in.”

Someone said, “We’re going to have to share our pennies with lots and lots of people.”

And surprise - surprise - lots of other people started buying 55 gallon drums - and filling them up with pennies for the poor - putting their 2 cents in - 2 pennies at a time.

November 8, 2015


“Mom, what are you doing?”

“Putting 2 pennies in the poor box!”

“What for?”

“For the poor.”

“Wow! Can I do that?”



“Mom, why do you do that?”

“Because I saw my mom do that.”

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015
Picture on top of the poor box
in St. Michael's Cathedral in Toronto