Saturday, May 14, 2016

May 14, 2016


Come Holy Spirit, come.
Come God, Spirit, Holiness.
Come to me as Wind, Breath, Air….
Come to me simply as a cool breeze -
so silent, here, invisible at the edge entrance
of my mountain cave …. my hiding place.
Or come to me as a loud wind, shaking me,
shaking my windows, pounding my doors,
getting me down to my foundation rocks

Come Holy Spirit, come.
Come God, Spirit, Holiness.
Come to me as Fire, Flame, Spark,
singeing my soul, scorching my selfishness,
reducing me to ashes, so I can rise to new
life, a new start, a new Church, a new next.

Come Holy Spirit, come.
Come God, Spirit, Holiness.
Come to me as Word Seed,
as you came to Mary,
as you jumped off the scrolls
of sacred scripture into so many,
come to me as you hovered
over Christ as a dove.  Let me also hear
your song: “You are my beloved son,
my beloved daughter, in you,
I am well pleased.”

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Friday, May 13, 2016

May 13, 2016  - Friday the 13th


Why do initials carved in trees
and park benches and cement
bother me?  I was a kid once.
Does this mean that I have
become an adult - or a critical
crotchety old crocodile ? Or is more?
I don’t know. I just know I don’t
like anyone to announce to the
world by carving on a tree or a
bench or into new cement, “Jack
loves Jill”  or “Kilroy was here.”
Do it some other way!  Please.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016


Today - May 12 - is the feast of Saint Pancras.

When we took a train from London to Brussels, to get to sight see Bruges, we had to go to the station at Saint Pancras. That was where the train that went through the Channel Tunnel was: the Eurostar.

I began wondering what a train station in London - named after a saint - was all about.

I looked it up. 

Pancras was a 14 year old kid - who was beheaded in Rome for being a Christian. This took place way back around 304.

Pope Gregory the Great sent Augustine - not THE  Saint Augustine - but Augustine who was to become Augustine of Canterbury - to England. He gave him some relics of Pancras to take along with him  - as he went there to bring Christ to England - way back when.  In time various churches named "Saint Pancras" appeared on English soil - if I have this correct.

In London, there was Old Saint Pancras Church. 

I could not find out for absolute surety, if that was where the Saint Pancras Train Station was built. It looks like a church is part of the whole enterprise.

Great train station - worth seeing if you go to London - even if you don't take a train.

It has great statues. It's a great place for people watching. It has great sounds. It's a great place for picture taking.

Check out the enclosed videos.


Thursday, May 12, 2016

May 12, 2016


There’s a certain pause - when we drive
by a cemetery. There’s something
sacred - below those stones. So too -
all our inner gravestones - heavy - here
and there in the deep soil of our souls:
with names, dates, some words - some
memories - that sum up a loved one.

And then - when we die - those memory
gravestones are buried below with us.

And then - our gravestone rises up in the
green, green grass of  Some Cemetery -
as well as the down deep hope we all have - 
that someone from time to time visits our grave
- visits some memories, says a prayer of thanks,
and then drives home not alone but with us
in the down deep graveyard in their soul.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

May 11,  2016


Sitting on a strong wooden bench -
near the pond, I closed my eyes and
listened to the sounds - sounding all
around me. I surrendered to You,
O God of the Mirror  Waters - O God of
the Universe - O God of the Without and
God of the Within. Creation continues.

Insects - a whole symphony orchestra -
were playing in stringed violin harmony
on this crisp, cool evening - before the
dark night arrived. I heard a train whistle
in the distance - and then a glunk sound -
as if a rock or something hit and sunk into
the water of the pond. I knew I was not alone.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

May 10, 2016


The old frog and the new robin stopped to look at each other - for just one tiny, tiny moment. 

Frog: “Oh, to be young again.”

Robin: “Oh my God! You're ugly. I hope that never happens to me.” 

Frog: “That comment really hurt.”

Robin: “Let me tell you something, Mister Frog: my life’s going to be different than yours. I’m going to soar. I’m not going to crawl."

Frog: “Honey you have no idea what you’re in for. Take a good look at your actuaries. My life span is  4 to 15 years of life. Yours, sorry to inform you, is only a year and a half for most. That's just the way it goes.   But don’t forget to enjoy the flight.”

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016


A Reading from the Gospel of Luke 17: 11-19

In the course of his journey to Jerusalem he was travelling through the borderlands of Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village he was  met by ten men with leprosy. They stood some way off and called out to him, “Jesus, Master, take pity on us.”

When he saw them he said, “Go and show yourselves to the priests”; and while they were on their way, they were made clean. 

One of them, finding himself cured, turned back praising God aloud. He threw himself down at Jesus's feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan.

At this Jesus said: “Were not all ten cleansed? The other nine, where are they? Could none be found to come back and give praise to God except this foreigner?”

And he said to the man, “Stand up and go on your way; your faith has cured you.”


Today we celebrate the feast of Damien of Molokai. His dates were 1840- 1889.

He is famous for his work with folks who have Leprosy or Hansen’s disease. He did that full time from 1873-1889. That’s 16 years. 

He died at the age of 49 - having contracted the disease as well. I  didn’t know he was that young when he died. St. Vincent de Paul was 79 and Mother Teresa was 87 when they died. Well he packed into those 49 years - lots of love - and lots of service for God’s people.

He wasn’t stupid. On the other hand he wasn’t the smartest in his class - but who knows if he had the chance for better educational opportunities? 

He was just one strong Belgian who gave his life for the folks of Hawaii - first putting in regular priestly work around Honolulu - from 1864-1873.

I get the impression from reading a bunch of things about him last night - that he was a gruff - strong - hard working - farmer type priest.

He wasn’t scared to get his hands dirty and do for others.

He ended up becoming world famous - perhaps because of reports about him working with those who had leprosy - were heard by folks who stopped into Hawaii - while sailing around the world.

Then there were complaints that the natives and others with whom he worked with didn’t get enough credit. That seems true - but it wasn’t because he was self-promoting. He and others were doing a job that could be quite difficult. In another sense there is the old saying, “Work goes smoothly if everyone worries about the work and not who gets the credit.”


When I was in the seminary in my second year of college, I got to  direct a 3 act play. It was a great opportunity - but instead of giving me a comedy - the only kinds of plays that I had acted in - in my earlier years - I got this serious play to direct - the life of Father  Damien of Molokai. It was long, serious, and had about 21 scenes.  It wasn’t a flop. Nor was it a big success.  A priest named Frank Browne had the lead - playing Father Damien and Max Pauli - whom many here in St. Mary's remember - he played the part of very “yes sir, no sir” right hand servant for Damien.

What I got out of it, besides the experience of directing a 3 act play, was a growing awareness of the Saint:  Damien of Molokai.


To really make it as a saint, it helps to be the patron saint of some basic issue or theme or need in life.

Like being Patron Saint of Lost Car Keys or what have you. Like being patron saint of those who travel  or the one you pray to with great perseverance for lost kids to come back  to the faith - like praying to St. Monica - who prayed that her son Augustine would come home to Christ.

Damian could be considered the Patron Saint of those who work with the tough cases in life. He could be the Patron Saint of those whose motto could be People with Leprosy Matter.

His life could be a poster with the words: “Don’t reject; do respect.”

People who were working with those who had AIDS did bring Damien into that story.  

Today we could add Transgender Folks. We could pray to him for all folks whom others don’t want to touch or to welcome to the family or church table.

That’s St. Damien of Molokai.

When I see pictures of where he lived and served in Molokai, I see places and scenes that don’t look like those beautiful brochures of the beaches of Hawaii. Amen.

Monday, May 9, 2016



The title of my homily is a sentence in today’s first reading, “We Have Never Even Heard That There Is A Holy Spirit.” [Acts 19: 3]

By now we have all heard that there is a Holy Spirit.  We have been hearing since we were babies, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.”

If we were cradle Catholics,  our moms and dads - probably our moms - brought us into church and had us as little, little, little kids make the sign of the cross at the Holy Water font, “In  the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

And we heard the word “Ghost” be retranslated to “Spirit” along the line - especially 50 years ago or so with the Second Vatican Council.

And some might have gotten involved in the Charismatic Movement - when the Holy Spirit was stressed over and over again big time.

And if we went to Catholic School  - we might have been taught to pray when taking tests or making major decisions to pray, “Come Holy Spirit.”


Where is the Holy Spirit in your life?  Where is the Holy Spirit in your prayer life?

Do you pray, “Come Holy Spirit!” Do you pray, “Veni Creator Spiritus!”

If you look at your life, were there periods when you focused on God the Father, or Jesus, or the Holy Spirit?

If you look at your life, does the Feast of Pentecost hit you in certain ways that are different than other moments in the Church year?

Have you ever heard a great sermon on the Holy Spirit?

If you had the opportunity to preach on the Holy Spirit, what would you say?

When you made your confirmation in the faith, did the revelations - did the teachings of the Church - on the Holy Spirit - hit you?

Have you ever been asked to be a sponsor for a grandson or granddaughter or a niece or a nephew or someone in an RCIA program, at their confirmation? Did that trigger any Holy Spirit reflections or thoughts or prayers?


Pentecost is next Sunday.  It’s 50 days after Easter - pentekoste - 50 - in Greek. We’re familiar with the Greek word “penta” for 5 - as in the Pentagon - as in pentameter - 5 metrical feet.

We’re familiar with the 3 classical images or metaphors for the Spirit:  wind, fire and the dove.

Which hits us the most?

Have we sat and watched a quiet bird flying - and thought of the images of the Holy Spirit hovering over Jesus - and a voice said, “this is my beloved Son, listen to him.”

Have we watched a fire and said to the Spirit, light a fire in me?

Have we stood there and let the wind push our sails, sweep over our faces, touch our skin and thought, “Spirit! Spirit! Spirit!”  Have we thought of breath, oxygen, air, as metaphors of the Spirit.  Ruah - the Hebrew word for spirit - the wind, the breath of God, breathed into Adam at the human creation.  Have we thought of the word “ghost”  for the Holy Spirit - not as in Caspar the Ghost - but gust - coming from the German word for spirit - geist.

Come Holy Spirit.


Find a quiet place - a good place for prayer.

Use a rosary. Say slowly and reverently, “Come Holy Spirit.”

Or chant, “Veni Creator Spiritus.”

Or chant, “Come Holy Spirit.” 

May 9, 2016


A church heard they were going to get
a new pastor - a new leader - and they
wondered just what this person would 
be like. The committee went out for lunch -
right next to a factory that made Buddha
statues. They spotted it on the way out. 
“Why not?” someone said. So they walked 
into the display area and saw their future 
hope. Spontaneously, all said, “No contest.”

Someone added, "But we don't want a statue!"

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Sunday, May 8, 2016


She sat there at Mass - that Sunday.

They were celebrating both Mother’s Day and Ascension Thursday that Sunday.

She thought to herself,  “Interesting….  Tricky….  A juggling act….”

She remembered a comment she heard a priest say in a sermon many years ago on Mother’s Day.  “No matter what the gospel is, no matter what the readings are, no matter what the feast is, if you don’t make your sermon about Mothers, you’re toast.”

“Hey,” he added. “It’s women. It’s mothers - who fill the benches - but not all the time. It depends on the parish. It depends on the culture.”

She did the opposite. She often did - as she sat there listening to the priest babble on about mothers - including his own mother.

She sat there thinking about her life as an Ascension.

A climb - a sets of stairs - one after the other - some landings - reaching for the skies - heading for the stars.


She was the first in her family to go to college.

She was the first in her family to get married and have a baby - twins in fact.

She was the first - as a result - to make her parents - grandparents - and she didn’t realize how powerful a moment that was - till she began listening to her parents - a moment even more powerful than she having her first baby - she herself - along with her husband.

She wondered, “Is there an official Grandparents Day? I’m sure Hallmark and florists and restaurants would be pushing for that.”

Then she thought, “Oh, that’s what they were needling us about - on our wedding day - and every chance after that!”

“When are you going to have a baby?”

“We want to be grandparents.”

Her mom wanted to show pictures of her granddaughters - the twins were girls - to every friend she met in her book club and in the Giant parking lot and at the soup kitchen where she volunteered.

Ascension. Yes having a baby and having a grandkid - and having twins mind you - these were ascension moments.


Higher and higher.

Upward and outward mobility.

Family - the family tree expanding - branching out - reaching up for the skies.


Her mom - she heard this from her dad - behind her mom’s back - no longer bragged about her daughter’s salary - 6 figures mind you - now that was as ascension - compared to their salaries - but now her mom was bragging about the twins.

And a chance to baby sit - and wheel those kids around the block - now that it stopped raining - now that Spring had finally sprung.


And as she sat there in that church that Ascension Feast as the priest continued to  babble on about mothers - she thought about her three brothers - and all their life struggles. One had gambling problems. One had a drinking problem. The other had women problems.

Being a mother - being a parent - can be tough. It never  stops.

Yet in time - all three boys - her brothers - recovered.

Now that was ascension.

Now that was resurrection.

Now that was Spring.

Now -  that got everyone in the family past many Bad Fridays - and Saturdays and the rest of the week as well.

And all three got back to church - much to their parent’s surprise.

That ended her mom’s constant prayer at church for her sons. That ended her mom’s constant comment to her friends about her kids dropping out of Church. “I don’t know what we did wrong.  We took them to church. We made sure they got good religious education. They didn’t have a Catholic school in our area - but our parish had a good Religious Education system.”

She never did mention her daughter - who went to church - in all this.

“Aaah,” her daughter thought - sitting there in church -  “Optimist - Pessimist - Positive - Negative - Glass half-full, glass half-empty - her mom.”

“Ah, let mom have them to brag about for a while….”


And as she sat there in church that Mother’s Day - that Ascension Thursday on a Sunday - she pinched herself. Her twins were long gone. They were the only kids they had - but they had tried for more.  She looked at her marriage - wonderful - oh it had its ups and downs - ins and outs - but it was  a great marriage - even though her husband died in the First Gulf War - because of an I.E.D - messy, messy, messy, difficult, difficult, difficult. Lots of tears and lots of tissues.

No ascension there - but in time yes - because he was a great guy - a Lutheran from Minnesota - with a Norwegian background - and went to church with her and the twins all through their growing up - in army bases and when he was not away on duty.

In fact, she was saying slowly but clearly - to herself -  a year or two after his funeral, how lucky they were to have the gift of faith. Thank you Jesus. Faith certainly is a light in the darkness - sunshine in winter - Easter Sunday after a tough Good Friday.

Ascension Thursday weeks and days after Easter …. Hey life happens in degrees.

She loved her post-mom  job: a radio announcer of country western music. Her degrees - both bachelor’s and Master’s  in Communications from Northwestern,  certainly helped in her early years and now that their twin girls were married - and she had gone back to work. They were having kids on their own. They had made her a grandmother - and folks only heard her voice on the radio. It was still a young voice and she knew and loved her music.

All these moments she realized were ascension moments as well.

Yes, life is taking those steps - putting one foot in front of the other - better climbing those stairs - one step at a time - one landing at a time.


Ooops the priest just finished his sermon.

What was he talking about anyway?

She smiled because on that Mother’s Day, she knew what she was talking about to herself  - and it made sense - good sense - great sense to her - even though she wasn’t preaching to herself about Mother’s Day - but Ascension Days.
May 8, 2016 - Mother's Day


More  On  Mom….

What more can I say?

Mainly: a big “Thank you.”

Not just on Mother’s Day….

But every day….

Feelings of gratitude for
the sacrifices moms make
for us your sons and daughters -
and dads as well - every day.

“Thank you!”

Wasn’t that a main value and
a main lesson our moms taught us?

Say ‘Thank you!’ to the waitress
or the library lady at the check-out
desk or grandpa for buying all of us
ice cream or our teachers as we moved
on to our next classroom in life as well.

“Thank you, mom.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016


May God, the Creator of all life, pour down choicest blessings on the woman who brought us into this world: our own mom. Amen.

May God, the Sustainer of all life, strengthen all mothers: young moms, not so young moms, single moms, grandma’s stay at home moms, out-to-work moms, each and every mom. Amen.

May God, the Protector of all life, direct all those who stand in and serve as moms: teachers, principals, school secretaries, lunch room staff, nurses, guidance counselors, day care workers, baby sitters. Amen.

May God, the Giver of Eternal Life, bring all of us into the Kingdom of Everlasting Life, starting with Mary, the Mother of Life, and all the Saints, and all those who have gone before us, forever and ever. Amen.

And may Almighty God bless us, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

© Andy Costello, Markings, 

Painting on top,
Mother and Child, 1902
by Pablo Picasso