Saturday, April 2, 2016

April 2, 2016


HAPPY  ANNIVERSARY

At the first moment you unconsciously
expected success. Everybody does.
Otherwise you would not have made the
commitment  - the covenant -  the “I do!”
You wouldn’t have pronounced the vows.

That first day you saw images, scenes,
dreams from other people’s movies
playing on their screen for you. Then
came the day the honeymoon ended.
Then came the real, “We do’s” - life.

Happy Anniversary. Today - with great
joy  - you are looking at your own personal
movie - your life - all the days that lead to
this day - all the better, all the worse -
until death do we part. Thank You!


© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Friday, April 1, 2016

April 1, 2016

APRIL   WISDOM 

One would have to be an April fool
not to see the changes in the scenery
surrounding us each Spring.
Earth erupts with clumps and clods
of dirt that rise and reach - because 
seeds and flowers want the sun and rain.
Wheat, grapes, corn, potatoes, want
resurrection. Plants want to get going
again to feed the earth - and all life on it.
This planet is not stupid. It sees the
barren moon and nothing growing on it,
as well as Mars and beyond. Comparisons
cause - spur -  bring on creations. Planet
earth knows. She shows and knows pregnancies.
She remembers this is how Spring springs.
This round host - Earth - keeps saying,
“This is my body; this is my blood,
I’m giving my life for you …. but  first you
have to sacrifice, to die, to do the work:
the planting,  the growing, the changing, the
rising, the reaching out, over and over again.”
  

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Thursday, March 31, 2016

March 31, 2016

 STILL

“Be still and know that I am God….”

Those words from Psalm 46 are still
around and still sound in our ear -
from time to time - and if we become
quiet enough - sometimes it happens -
down deep we know God is still with us.

“Be still and know that I am God….”

Sometimes we sense that the house
is moving - shifting - ever - ever - so
slightly. We hear a car come up the
street  or we hear  a train or a boat
in the distance signaling, “I am here.”

“Be still and know that I am God….”

Sometimes we hear our heart beat.
We put our thumb on our wrist. We
feel our pulse. Steady. Steady. Steady.
Beat. Beat. Beat.  But heart don’t be still
yet  - because I still don’t know you God.

“Be still and know that I am God….”


 © Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

March 30, 2016

Man in a 
Wheelchair, 
1961, 
Leon Kossoff 
JUST IN

Just was in a nursing home….
Just visiting Charlie ….
Just sitting there in his wheelchair….
Just talking small talk….
Just asking small questions ….
Just feeling the silence ....
Just feeling the isolation ....
Just praying with him a bit ….
Just feeling a bit nervous ….
Just asked him how the food was ….
Just screamed, “Get me out of here….
Just got scared knowing I couldn’t ….
Just got out of there ….
Just driving home ….
Just thought, “That’s me in 10 years….”
Just blurted out, “Who will visit me?”


© Andy Costello
 Reflections  2016 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

March 29, 2016

DEEP-SEATED

Deep-rooted I get, but deep-seated,
I think I get - but I still need more time
to think about that idea or image.

Deep-seated?

Deep?

Okay down deep within us. Got that.

Seat? Whoever originated this word
“deep-seated” for the first time - did
they imagine we have parliamentary
seats or chairs around an inner table,
somewhere down deep within us, where
all our voices have a say in our decisions? 

I guess I have to figure out how many
people have a vote within? Does the vote
have to be a clear 2/3 majority or more 
for a decision to become deep-seated?

Whom am I listening to? Who has a
voice?  Am I still hearing the voices
of my parents or religious leaders
or teachers or pundits or writers?
What songs, what movies moved me?

What was our family table and
living room like when I was a kid?
Did that first TV get the best seat
in the house and have the loudest
voice in the room? Uh oh? Did
anyone notice the changes in our
conversations - if that took over?
Who has given me my opinions
and my takes, my votes on money,
politics, sex, love, God, others?

And what about that inner room that
Jesus talked about in Matthew 6:6?
Am I supposed to picture two seats
or pillows there? Is that what that’s
all about - to have inner chats - in
there with Jesus - and/or Our Father?

And what about the Last Supper?

Oh my God, the Last Supper? I haven’t 
even had my First Supper with Jesus yet.  Mass? Yes, but that meal is only taking 
place in church. It hasn’t taken place
within me yet? Oops.

Oh my God that’s what Revelation
3:20 means, “Look I am standing
at the door, knocking. If one of you
hears me calling and opens the door,
I will come in and share his meal,
side by side with him.”

Oh okay, this is some deep-seated
stuff - some starting ideas about what
deep-seated might be getting at.
How close am I to the original intent?




© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016
THE EARTH 
IS FULL OF 
THE GOODNESS OF THE LORD


INTRODUCTION

The title of my homily for this Tuesday after Easter  is, “The Earth Is Full of the Goodness of the Lord.”

That’s the Psalm Response for today - from Psalm 33.

Most of the time I preach on something from the Gospel and sometimes the first reading, but it hit me last night to reflect upon the Psalm Response for today: “The Earth is Full of the Goodness of the Lord.”

We said that 4 times - so it hit me: Try to come up with 4 examples where we see the goodness of the Lord.

FOUR EXAMPLES

The first example would be this earth itself which we live on. It has water, air, food. It has temperatures in which we can live - or move to and move away from. We have our seasons. The average temperature on earth is 61 degrees Fahrenheit.  That doesn’t mean it’s not hot in a desert in Libya or Death Valley in California which has registered the hottest temperature on earth - 134 Fahrenheit in the air and land that registered 159.3 Fahrenheit. The coldest spots would be Antarctica which register minus 128 Fahrenheit. Mars is tempting with 70 degrees Fahrenheit in summer at its equator, but it can jump to 100 below that same night. Talk about cold. It can be minus 400 on Pluto.  So for starters, we have a wonderful home to live in and on - with variety and something to talk about besides sports and each other.

The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.

The next example would be people who are full of goodness: family, friends, volunteers, especially  people who give their lives and time and energy and study in service to others - doctors, nurses, teachers, researchers, fire fighters, police, EMT folks, etc. etc., etc.

The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord

Third would be places and scenes of natural beauty all around the world: mountains, oceans, beaches, lakes, the Mississippi, the Grand Canyon, national parks, city parks, ski slopes, glaciers in Alaska. There are whales, sea lions, eagles, robins, roses,  magnolia trees, pugs and puddles, black and white cats - that sometimes look like the ying-yang black and white spiral circle. 

There are wonderful surprise twists and paradoxes: ugly gnarled trees sometimes end up as beautiful furniture. In churches like ours we see the cross flowering.  THEN…. Then there are unique surprisingly beautiful interesting like the brown yellow glisten of the sunset on the back of a brownish hippo in a mud hole in Africa.


I add mention of a hippo because of a favorite quote from Albert Schweitzer, “Late on the third day, at the very moment when, at sunset, we were making our way through a herd of hippopotamuses, there flashed upon my mind, unforeseen and unsought, the phrase, ‘Reverence for Life.’” [1] Out of My Life and Thought (1949)

The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.

And fourth and last we could list our creations. We’re all made in the image and likeness of God. So check out our creations:  paintings by Van Gogh,  statues by Michelangelo, crayon drawings by grandkids, buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright or Frank Geary, monuments like the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. designed by Maya Lin, cities like Paris or gardens like those in Kyoto, Japan.

The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord

CONCLUSION

Ooops! Better bring in Christ and Mary, and Mary Magdalene and St. Peter whom we hear about in today’s two readings  and all those who have given us, passed down to us the gift of faith - and hope - and love.



Ooops! Better say:  Isn’t it our daily call: to do nice, to be neat, to be caring so others at the end of the day will say spontaneously, “The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord. Amen. 

Monday, March 28, 2016



FEAR IS A  PIANO 

[This is a reflection for Monday after Easter - coming out of one sentence in today's gospel,
Matthew 28: 8-15 - the sentence being, "Do not be afraid."]

We walk into someone’s house and there is a black piano.

Most of the time it’s a stand up piano - against a wall.

Most of the time it’s closed - but not always. When open, we see the black and white keys.

Some homes - have a baby grand or an adult grand piano.

But as I have heard reported on TV - people are buying pianos less and less. Sales are down.

Some people have key boards. They take a lot less space.

And sometimes people walk up to a piano and hit a key or two and the sound resounds through the air - through the house.

And sometimes we’re walking down the street and we hear a piano  - like when I take a walk from St. Mary’s - out the door - up the street - down Green Street - walking through Ego Alley - heading for the Naval Academy - and I hear a piano playing in a house on Green Street - just across from the public school.

Piano sounds trigger thoughts…. Piano sounds triggers memories….

Pianos do that. Fears do that.

Pianos hit notes. Pianos hits memories. Lessons. Songs.  And the sounds resound through our souls.

Pianos….

Fear is a piano.

Phobias - the Greek word for fear - abound  - resound - rebound in our inner being and our inner attic or basement.

A piano has many keys - and each has a distinctive note.

Phobias have different keys. Each have distinctive notes. There are fears of elevators and  fears of escalators - fear of planes and fear of submarines - fear of bridges - fear of cracks in the sidewalks.

I have a classmate who can’t eat chicken - because as a kid he was visiting a relative on a farm and the farmer cut a chicken’s head off - and the chicken ran across the yard without a head on.

Ooooh.

Fears can get us to run around without our head on.

And many fears evoke the “Oooh!” or “Eeeck!” sound. They can be like a sound from a plunked piano key going down and sending a high note rising up and going through a room.

The little child fears the dark - so too the tourist who won’t go into the cave - in which the whole group of tourists goes into - but this person says, “I’ll see you when you come out.”

Fears cripple, paralyze, scare - and get people to call for a priest - or say to another, “Hold my hand.”

In today’s gospel Jesus says, “Do not be afraid!”

“Fear not!” - “Don’t be afraid!”  - those words - that message appear over 450 times in the scriptures.

Easter is a time of hope. Remember that T-shirt message from a few years back, “Fear not!”  - well it’s the Easter Message -

How not to fear:  realize the Risen Lord walks with us. Amen.

Fear is a piano - it has many notes.

Jesus is the music - the Alleluia to hear and to play and pray when fears abound and sound warnings at the entrance of our cave. Amen.

Pianoaphobia - Fearaphobia - Pantophobia are around.

How to learn to play the piano?  “Practice. Practice. Practice.” “Take lessons from a teacher - from a Rabbi.”



How to deal with fears? “Practice. Practice. Practice.” “Take lessons from a teacher - a Rabbi - named Jesus.” 
March 28, 2016

DRIED  TEARS

Sometimes the salt in tears
sear the skin just around
the eyes or is it from the
rubbing with the side of
our  hand - nature’s tissue?

The phone rings. We hear
in our ear and then our tears
that she died from the overdose.

Or we hear in our ear that a
daughter’s marriage is breaking up
and “What about the kids? Yeah!
What about the kids? Is either
of them thinking about them?”

And what about the consequences
that cause  more pain and more
tears - many of which never dry up?”

Or does resurrection happen any more?

Sunday, March 27, 2016

March 27, 2016



EASTER IN THE 
SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE 

How do they do Easter in the
Southern Hemisphere? How
do they do Christmas for that
matter as well?  Do all the
images and metaphors come
across as strange? Easter is
Spring and budding trees and
flowers - and the return of the
birds on the wings. Winter is
over - so how do they do Easter
in the Southern Hemisphere?
How does resurrection from
the dead look when trees are
losing their leaves? How does 
God show up as a baby in the
summer time? Does everyone 
down there look up at the night 
sky stars and wonder and 
ponder the Southern Cross?




© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016
Picture taken today
 by John Yackus
at 36,000 feet just
north of Anandyr,
Far Eastern Siberia,
Easter Sunday morning
March 27, 2016
EASTER
DAWNING ON US


INTRODUCTION

The title of my homily is, “Easter: Dawning on Us.”

East - obviously - the direction of the sun rising.

East - where we first see the dawn - the morning light.

East? When was the last time we took the time to attend the liturgy of the rising sun? At the beach? Out our bathroom window? When?

Easter? What has dawned on us about the meaning of this faith belief?

CENTERPIECE

Easter:  the central feast of Christianity.

As St. Paul put it in First Corinthians 15:  if Christ did rise from the dead, our preaching is useless. What are we doing here in church this morning? Let’s head for the doors. If Christ did not rise from the dead, we’re liars. We’re committing perjury. We’re saying something - that is, that there is life after death - and it didn’t happen for Christ. If Christ did not rise from the dead, we’re still stuck in our sins. “And what is more serious, all who have died in Christ, have perished.”

In other words, if Christ did not rise from the dead, we won’t either.

It’s like one of my favorite sayings - from Groucho Marx, “If our parents didn’t have any kids, chances are, we won’t either.”

The human world anthem will be Peggy Lee’s song: “Is that all there is … and if that is all there is, my friend, then let’s keep dancing.”


Easter. It’s the central belief in Christianity.

LOTS OF ROCKS

I read somewhere that one of the key moments in human development was when pre-historic migrants moving across the hills somewhere stopped to bury their dead. Before that the body would be tossed off a path and folks kept moving on. Moving on. But for some person who died, the person was buried  under some rocks and a marker marked the spot - so that it could be spotted when that family group came along that path in the future.

I am reading right now an interesting book,  A History of Religion in 5 ½  Objects - by S. Brent Plate.   One of the 5 ½ objects is stones.

He gives example after example of the significance of stones when it comes to spirituality. The little girl goes camping with her family for the first time and has a great time. She picks up a stone that last day and brings it home with her and keeps it on her bureau as a reminder of a great time. Then she keeps it in her significant life stuff box as a memory. Millions and millions of people have done that before and after. Gift shops at the shore and T-Shirt stores with crab magnets  in Annapolis have made their living on that human quirk and quest. We want solid reminders of where we’ve been. Memories. Stones - the solid - lasts.

Israel has its mountains and its Wailing Wall of hundreds of huge stones - with the dome of the rock of Islam just above it. Islam has its square stone quadrant in Mecca.

I have a piece of the Berlin Wall on a shelf in my room.

Christianity has its stone marble altars - but it also had its stone that locked in the dead body of Christ - in his borrowed tomb and in today’s gospel we hear the words that the stone has been rolled away and Christ is not there.

Our graves are everywhere. Christ’s grave is nowhere.

Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again and again and again - but he’s not locked in some stone tomb.

The stone has been rolled away.

Christ is in the bread and the wine. Christ is in his followers. Christ is in his words. Christ is with Our Father and all those who have gone before us in Christ. Christ is everywhere. Christ is all time: the alpha and the omega.

Take and eat,  this is my body. Take and drink, this is my blood. Listen and hear my words. Close your eyes and  feel my Spirit.

The Spirit of God is in the wind and in the fire. The risen Christ is everywhere.

Easter us, O Lord. Dawn upon us. Let your light shine upon us and we shall be saved.

ST. ALPHONSUS

The priests in this parish are members of a religious order called the Redemptorists. We’re around 6,000 members - all around the world. We’re getting older here in our Baltimore Province. We are much younger and growing in India and Vietnam, Poland and Brazil, Paraguay and Africa. 

Our founder, St. Alphonsus de Liguori, 1696-1787, wrote over 100 books - but he didn’t write a book on the Resurrection.

He wrote big time about the Suffering Jesus Christ being the meaning of our faith - our hope - and our charity.

The other day I was talking to Father Mickey Martinez - from Paraguay - a member of our Community here in Annapolis. He  does much of the Latino, the Spanish, ministry here in St. Mary’s. He mentioned that Good Friday has much more meaning for Latinos than Easter Sunday. He added, “Just look around….” Then he added, “They have a lot more struggle in their lives.”

That hit me.

St. Alphonsus wrote over and over again about the cross and the struggles and the sufferings of Jesus Christ. He has a whole book on the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ. He wrote a small booklet, The Stations of the Cross, which is still used almost everywhere - especially during Lent.

Up till 1950 in the Catholic Church,  Good Friday was the big moment in Lent. Easter Sunday was celebrated. People dressed up. Flowers were central - but in theology it was still the Suffering Christ of Good Friday.

In 1950 out came a book by a Redemptorist F.X. Durwell. It was entitled, “Resurrection”. The horror of World War II was over.

The Catholic Church made a leap in its theology and the meaning of Easter around that time.  The Easter Vigil became prominent . The RCIA became prominent - when thousands and thousands of people on Holy Saturday evening became Catholic.

CONCLUSION

Becoming Catholic ….

The title of my homily is, “Easter Dawning on Us.”

Becoming Catholic….

We’re all still becoming Catholic. We’ll renew our baptismal vows today - in a moment.

What has dawned on us - so far - about what it means to be a Catholic?

If we are still having babies and raising them, Christ, Christmas, still means a lot to us.

If we are having struggles, sickness, family problems, Christ on the Cross, means a lot to us.

If - if - if  - what __________ fill in the blank what it takes to be  going through, for Easter, for the Risen Christ to mean a lot more to us.

Is the meaning of Easter - dawning on us - in a new way?

Has that stone been rolled back and the dead Christ risen in a new way in our life?

Hopefully our answer is, “Oh yeah. Oh yeah!”