Saturday, April 30, 2016

April 30, 2016


Bread - sacred bread…. I hear you  saying, 
“Come and get me.” Yet, for some reason,
Christ, I stopped going to church - years
and years ago. By now I’ve forgotten my
excuses. Yet, this Pope Francis guy - I hear
him saying, “Come and get it. Jesus is not
too complicated.” I think I’m getting that.
But Jesus keep on fishing for me. Jesus,
Good Shepherd, keep searching for me. Jesus
keep me hungering and searching for you.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Friday, April 29, 2016

April 29, 2016


The hard, the difficult - is made of rock.
Red brick sidewalk, curbstone, doesn’t give.
Bending grass does, so too red rose petals,
or the soft fabric of a towel on a clothesline.

It’s hard. It’s difficult - since you died - 
and I’m not made of stone or rock. I'm just
a handkerchief that is frayed from taking it
out of my pocket - too many times lately.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Thursday, April 28, 2016

April 28, 2016
The Agnew Clinic, 
by Thomas  Eakins

The stethoscope, the ear, the eye, the X-ray,
the MRI, the CT/Cat Scan, the PET scan -
all tell some of the within - but it isn’t till the
knife of the surgeon - who opens up the fleshy
within - that we know - what’s really going on.

Sometimes - it takes the knife and the cut of
time and pain - surgeons - to really know - 
what was really going on - in one's within.
And sometimes it’s good - not to know - till we
really know - the what of one’s fleshy within.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Portrait of Dr. Samuel D. Gross,
[The Gross Clinic] 1875
by Thomas Eakins

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

April 27, 2016


My mom used to say she grew up
on Galway Bay, Ireland - right on
the water - so close, “You could
put your big toe out the back door
and it would be in the water.”

My dad used to say he grew up
only a rock’s throw away from
my mom - right there near the Bay
in Ballynahown, County Galway,
Ireland - with lots and lots of rocks.

A few years ago we finally got to see
the water and the rocks - the what they
loved to talk about - family, farm, store,
Galway Bay, Ireland - going across
the water to this rock called America.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

April 26, 2016


Buzzzzzz - a low hum vibrating or
a distinctive song - coming out of
your pocket or bag - and even if
you don’t reach for your iPhone,
I know I’m no longer the I you’re
with - in your mind or in your heart.
I can read your face. You're wondering
when you can distance yourself
from me and be with your call. In
the past it was much more difficult
to know who was present and who
was absent - who was making a
long distant call - who was talking with
whom - without any one knowing it.
Now it's Bzzzzz or music, music, music.

 © Andy Costello, Reflections 2016



The title of my homily for this 5th Tuesday after Easter is, “Leaving Us Peace;  Giving Us Peace.”

Today’s gospel,  begins, “Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Peace I leave with you; my piece I give to you.” [John 14:27]

“Leaving Us Peace….” That’s like Jesus leaving the gift of peace at our doorstep or on a table for us to pick up and eat.”

“Giving Us Peace ….” That’s like Jesus standing there and handing us peace - like the peace he gave his disciples in the Upper Room at the time of the Resurrection and a week later to Thomas. “Peace….”


The Greek word used which we translate into “peace” is  “Eirene”. 

That becomes the little used English word “irenic” - meaning “moving towards peace or conciliation.  I thought the word “serene” comes from this as well  - but Webster doesn’t seem to go that way.

However, we know the name Irene - from which this word arises. She was the Greek Goddess of Peace.

The name Irene according to Google means: “one who creates a serious, thoughtful nature and is shrewd, efficient, and business-minded.”

Another Google entry describes the name Irene as meaning, . “A crazy, fun person who doesn't care what people think of her. Usually a pretty girl, who  easily gets her crushes to like her back.”

Is anyone here old enough to remember the song, “Irene, good night Irene, I’ll see you in my dreams.”


The word “peace” has a whole basketful of meanings:  harmony between people and nations; friendliness; freedom from abuse; order - as is the opposite of disorder;  rest; contentment; shalom; wholeness; perfect….”

If that is what peace is, I pray, 
          “Lord Jesus 
           leave peace at our door 
           and on our table. 
           Lord, Jesus, 
           give us - grant us - peace. 
           Lord Jesus, 
           then make us 
           instruments of your peace.”


I once heard someone tell the following story.

There was this regular group therapy session for 6 men. They would meet once a week.

It was action - noise - energy - yelling - what have you - except for one man. He was always quiet, peaceful, and never said a word. When asked if everything was okay, he would say with a smile, “Okay!”

In the 6th time together someone mentioned his father.

At that, this guy - who was always perfectly calm - flicked a tiny piece of lint or dandruff off his jacket sleeve - near his wrist.

The counselor who was running the group spotted this and said, “Wait a minute. John did you just push a piece of dandruff off your sleeve?”

“What?” said John.

“When Harry mentioned his father, you went, FLIP with your fingers and knocked something off your sleeve.”


Then the counselor asked John, “What about YOUR father?”  - and out came a tirade of anger.

Up to that moment in their 6th time together as a group, John was peace and quiet. At that moment out came bursts of anger about his dad.


I’ve thought about that story from time to time - wondering if everyone has a stream or flow of angry feelings flowing in some pipe or underground stream below their surface.

Then someone goes over that manhole cover and “Boom!” - out comes a burst of anger - and the need for inner peace.


It’s a beautiful day today.

It’s spring time.

It’s resurrection time.

It’s new life time.

Take a nice walk on the calm side of yourself - and let Jesus walk with you and consider where you need peace.

Maybe you’re always thinking and saying to yourself,  “All is okay” - but underneath you have flowing an underground angry memory with God - or you’re still angry with another - your parents - a boss - a neighbor - a priest - a counselor - or angry at yourself - for something you did that was stupid or sinful or dumb years and years ago.

Let Jesus touch your side - your sleeve - and hear him say, “Peace I leave with you; my piece I give you.”

Monday, April 25, 2016



The title of my homily on this feast of St. Mark is a question: “Who Were Your Teachers?”

To come up with a short homily  for today - for this feast of Mark - I looked at my bookshelf - for something on Mark or the Gospel of Mark. Surprise! At first instance I saw mostly books on John - a few on Luke and a few on Matthew but almost nothing on Mark.

Then I spotted a green book entitled, “The Journeying Self: The Gospel of Mark Through a Jungian Perspective” by Diarmuid McGann. He was an Irish priest from the diocese of Rockville Center in Long Island, New York.



He begins by telling his readers who his teachers were. I found that interesting.

He talked about his mom and dad first - then his three brothers and his one sister. Next came a scripture professor in Ireland - Father P.J. Brophy - who loved scripture - and that was the teaching and that was the learning he received. It was nothing very specific or particular about the Bible - just his love of scripture.  Next came the Jesuit Father Teilhard de Chardin and lastly were his professors at Iona College in New York.

Just reading that much - not even getting back into a book I read years and years ago - I asked myself - what did I learn from my mom and dad - brother and two sisters?

When couples are preparing for marriage that is a key question: family  of origin.

How has our family of origin effected/ affected us?

Diarmuid’s dad was the extravert - and he learned what it’s like to live in the shadow of an extravert - a bigger than life person. My dad was just the opposite. My mother was also more the introvert.  My brother was the extravert.  Diarmuid’s mother was more the introvert and she learned from suffering. She broke her neck in a car crash as a young woman.  She stayed with her oldest son in his difficult days and as well as his sister who has hospitalized for a few years.  Mom knew and learned from suffering - like her blindness coming on her in her old age.


Who have been my teachers?

One of the teachers who influenced me was also a scripture professor -
Eugene McAlee.  When it came to the four gospels,  he didn’t like Matthew. He didn’t give us that much on Luke - only Mary’s stuff - in the beginning there. He gave us some stuff on John - but Mark was his gospel.

And instead of taking Mark from the beginning - he taught us method. He taught us that we have the rest of our lives to learn the gospels.

He taught us the Greek side of reading the Gospels.

He taught us that Mark was precise. Mark was not poetic. Mark was details - lots of details - specific.

Mark was Joe Friday - “Just the facts mam.”

So Mark would be one of my teachers.

Mark starts off with Jesus as an adult. He challenges us right off the bat - to be face to face with Jesus the Son of God. He’s present in our midst.  Do I have an adult to adult relationship with Jesus?  Mark talks about the kingdom. It’s in our midst. Do we sense that every day - that I’m in the Kingdom and what a way to live every day?

Matthew - Mark - Luke and John? I like John first - because he was the poet and I like a poetic approach to life.  I like Luke next - because he was the story teller - and I like story tellers.  I too like Matthew least - because he can be too strict at times - especially compared to Luke - who was big or mercy and forgiveness - the message of Pope Francis - big time.  


The title of my homily is, “Who Were Your Teachers?”

Name some names - and what did you learn? What does that say about you?

What’s your favorite gospel? What does that say about you?

What do you know about the gospel of Mark?  He has many of the same stories about Jesus but tells them in his unique way. What does that tell you about Mark?
April 25, 2016


Some folks seem to slid out back doors -
and disappear into the night - out of our
sight - sometimes for weeks at a time - and
some past people - for a lifetime. Oh…. Where
did all those folks in all those yearbooks go?

Me - I seem to slide away - in plain sight -
going down a side alley - into a pub within - or
a back porch - in the back of my mind - or I
like to take a long walk alone. Relax I’m talking
to you at times - but where have you been?

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016
April 24, 2016


When traveling alone, we travel, with
so many different voices: our fears,
concerns, worries, doubts, regrets,
what if’s, oh no’s, and I told you so’s.

When traveling with others, we travel
with so many different voices: laughter,
story telling, sharing, witnesses, and
who cares if we missed a turn or a stop?

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Sunday, April 24, 2016



The title of my homily for this 5th Sunday after Easter [C] is, “A Sense of Awe at the Earth.”

Last Friday - April 22nd - was Earth Day. It's something that has been  going on since 1970.

At our last staff meeting we were asked to say something for the good of the earth this Sunday - so here goes.


I read today's 3 readings with the hopes that something in the readings would be a good lead in for this theme of “Earth Day.”

Sure enough today’s second reading from the Book of Revelation is perfect. It begins, “Then I, John, saw a new heaven and a new earth.”  It ends, "Behold, I make all things new."


The reading talks about the heavens, the sea, the earth, the city, dwellings and the human race. [Cf. Revelation 21: 1-5a]


Let’s work - let’s complain - let’s do our part to make everyone and everything better.

Next the reading uses the metaphor of a wedding.

We had two weddings at St. Mary’s yesterday. Seeing a bride on her wedding day: what better image of newness and new life. 

Now at a wedding nobody notices the bridegroom - except for two moments. The bride is it. He’s chopped liver. 

I've noticed that the first moment is when the bridegroom is all alone at the top of the sanctuary steps. Then the music starts: "Here comes the bride..." or what have you. All stand and turn to see the bride coming down the aisle. At that moment all the bridesmaids in the seats turn to see the bridegroom's face as his face sees his bride come down the aisle in all her beauty. 

Tears and tissues. It's an awesome moment.

The other bridegroom moment is at the reception when he is called out on the dance floor to dance with his mom.


Life is the moments.


The title of my homily is, “A Sense of Awe at the Earth.”

Not all moments are the same - obviously.

Some are same old,  same old,  same old. These are the moments we are on automatic pilot and we don’t notice anything awesome.  These are mac and cheese moments.

But then there are moments that are awesome - moments that overwhelm us.

These are Lobster Thermidor or Baked Maryland Lump  Crab Cake moments - or great burritos moments - depending on your taste buds.

I saw the following in someone’s house recently. It was handwriting on the wall: “Life Is Not Measured By the Number of Breaths We Take, But By the Moments That Take Our Breath Away.”

Of course.

It’s good to sit down at the end of each day and look at the moments of that day.

You saw a little kid put a dollar in the hat of a street violinist. She creeped up carefully - looking back at her parents twice - her parents who signaled her to go on. She looked up at the musician - and put some green in his hat - looked up at his face again - and then ran back to her parents with great delight and a great smile on her face.

You stopped to smell the roses or the lilacs on a neighbor’s lawn.

You bought yourself an ice cream cone. Hey it’s good to treat oneself besides the kids to ice cream and your got yourself two scoops - rum raisin and pistachio with chocolate chips. Nobody was looking. Uuum good. Uum. Great lickings. And you even toasted yourself with the cone.

You saw an old couple holding hands as they were headed for an afternoon matinee movie.

You stopped to watch a flock of birds flying north.

It’s good to pause to look at what you saw that day on the planet - and hopefully you had some awesome moments.

I hold that if a person does this every evening - as a night prayer - you’ll  see a lot more the next day - because you have to do homework every night. I discovered this from vacations - keeping a journal - and making a report of my journey that night - on what I saw that day.

But there are also some moments that are awful - and we spot them each day as well.  


We saw a fight. We saw someone yelling at a kid. We saw someone dump their garbage or wrappings or coffee cup on the street.

I notice in putting this homily together the close connection between awe and awful  and awesome.

Life can be the good, the bad and the ugly.

Life can be the awe - the awful - and the awesome.


I also began thinking about action - the action step - in life.

By declaring a day as Earth Day - the hope is to get action.

It works. 

Mother’s Day helps florists and card shops - and moms get a lot more “Thank you’s” that day compared to other days.

So too Father’s Day.

So too Qingming Day. I never heard of this till I was looking up stuff for Earth Day.

Every April 4  to April 6, in China, it’s Qingming Day - a time everyone heads for the cemetery where their parents or grandparents are buried and they sweep and clean up the graves. Neat.

They also bring flowers and burn paper money and incense at their graves.

Neat - for the flowers. I wonder about the smoke - and the stuff left on the cemetery grounds.

So too because of Earth Day - schools and churches and organizations and cities do stuff to sweep up the mess. They plant trees. They challenge us to not dump on Mother Earth. Let’s clean up the air and clean up the water.

I noticed in a story in the New York Times the other day about a parish in Brooklyn. They marched to the Gowanus Canal and prayed over the water and poured holy water onto it. It’s still a mess. It was close to the last stop on the subway before we got to Coney Island as a kid. We’d go over a small bridge and we kids would hold our noses as we did and yell out, “Perfume Bay.”  I guess it’s still a mess.  Some day - someday. The first step is awareness and then action.

This year’s theme for Earth Day is not to waste food - not to dump food - and awareness of the amount of food that is just dumped into landfills - has gone down.


The title of my homily is, “A Sense of Awe at the Earth.”

I talked about the reality that there are moments when we see things happening on our earth that take our breath away.

I remember my first trip into Mexico - going over the border in a car in Nogales Arizona into Nogales Mexico - and as we went down the highway I began to realize in 5 minutes the value of emissions control here in the United States. Cough. Cough. Cough.

We have seen smoking going down in our lifetime. Cough. Cough. Cough.

For the sake of transparency my dad died of emphysema - not because of smoking however  - but from what they called “White lung”.  He worked with flour at Nabisco in New York and New Jersey.

Awareness hopefully leads to action

So where can make the earth more beautiful today  - this week - in this life.

Last Sunday I suggested picking up at least one piece of trash - paper - what have you - each day.

And be awesome for each other - each day - and when another is awesome - give them an awesome “Atta girl” or “Atta boy” or “Atta earth.”

And “Ooops!”  it’s Spring - and awesome beauty surrounds us - so make sure you see all around and give God at least one good, "Atta God" each day. Now that's a great Atta Prayer.