Friday, May 20, 2016

May 20, 2016


Yes, he tripped a bit more than
other kids - he spilled his milk -
dropped his books - and he didn’t
do too well when playing catch 
with his dad in the backyard.

But, if his dad was disappointed,
he didn’t show it, so his son
didn’t know it - that is, till he got
into school - and that’s where he
got the nickname: “Clumsy!”

Yes, he hated it. He hated being
called, “Clumsy!” and it followed
him all through ES, MS and HS.
Bummer. Bummer. Bummer!
Who’d like to be called, “Clumsy”?

So when he graduated - no, he didn’t
trip on his way up to receive his HS
diploma - but yes, he chose a small,
small college, far, far away - with hopes
nobody would know him - as “Clumsy”!  

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Thursday, May 19, 2016

May 19, 2016

Beware! It’s hard not to have some gripes -
the itch of strange behaviors - oddities  -
in others - that annoy us - that bother us.

Beware! They can grab us - they can
grip  us - they can crush us. They can be 
like a vise - squeezing us from both sides.

But, the worst beware - is not to be aware -
of our selfish  stuff - the sandpaper stuff -
that rubs odd grievances and gripes in others.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

May 18, 2016


  • Best moment of my life so far?
  • If I could design my own flag, what would it look like? Draw it….
  • As I get older, do I find myself saying, “I don’t know about that….” a lot more than when I was younger?
  • How do swans keep so white?
  • How do black birds stay so beautifully bluish black - especially in the rain?
  • When they moved from solid rubber tires to ones filled with air, were people nervous?
  • Can people over 55 change?
  • How about 45?
  • Can I change?
  • Tell another - describe to another - with specific details - one change I made in my life?
  • Does it take a cross to get God across to people?
  • Or does cancer and death create atheists?
  • Is there anything on the other side of all this?
  • Why do some ballpoint pens seem to last forever and some don’t?
  • Which is the most important ingredient for a great meal: food, people, place, other _____________?
  • Is the most important moment in life that moment of hesitation before wondering whether to tell a lie or some gossip or to hurt someone with a comment or to cheat?
  • Why does negative political campaigning seem to work better than clear platform planks for the common good of all?
  • Tell another about someone whom I was amazed with?  Because ….
  • Are zoos for people or for the animals - and do animals mind?
  • Treats seem to be the secret in keeping pets happy; how about people?
  • Do we always have to have flaws - things going wrong - some ugly stuff in every heart and every basement - and the possibility of selfishness always waiting in the wings?
  • Has anyone ever really written down their hoped for legacy before they died? Have I?
  • Is prayer more speaking to God or listening in silence to God - that is, if we believe God communicates values?
  • What do toll collectors think about when all alone on bridges, tunnels and toll roads - besides worries about losing their jobs because of  E-ZPass?
  • Does everyone have at least 3 life changing moments?
  • Does everyone have at least 3 wonderings?

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Tuesday, May 17, 2016



The title of my homily for this 7th Tuesday in Ordinary Time is, “I Want What I Want When I Want It.”

Don’t we all?

Well, it all depends.

I read that it’s the addict’s creed.

It’s everyone’s need when someone does something we don’t like or they don’t do what we want them to do. Like, for example,  - pick up their dog remains and we step in it. Or, for example, - they walk down the main aisle in the middle of a sermon and the whole church is watching them - including the preacher.



When I got the idea for this homily from today’s two readings.

James is telling us in the first reading where wars and conflicts come from.

They come from right here [Point to the heart and head]. Right inside this me that I am.  We covet. We envy. We’re jealous.  We want.

We want what we want when we want it.

In today’s  gospel, Mark 9:30-37 -  the disciples are fighting on who is the greatest.

They don’t want to hear that this Jesus enterprise brings on the cross - the dying to self - the rising, the resurrection for others.

The call is not to be served, but to serve.

The gospel tells us about little children. They are all surprise. They are out of our control. They need service. They need attention. They need us. Talk about wanting what they want when they want it. Think of children.

So too dogs.  “I want a treat! Woof. Woof.”


Buddhism is not the only religion that gets at desire.

Jesus challenges us to get in touch with what we want.

Blessed are you when you hunger and thirst….

We could also add, “Feeling angry - when you hunger and thirst.

So once again, it all depends.

What we want is what we want: our will.

My will be done - on earth as it is in heaven.

This is everyday stuff.

I hate it to go to a restaurant or anywhere with another - or be in the other seat in the car - and the other is going crazy - with the line - with the waiting - with the traffic.

Where’s the waiter!  I want what I want when I want it.

I love the cartoon that says, “You want it when?”

Xerox that one. E-mail it to yourself. Hang it on your mirror. Magnet it to your refrigerator door.

On the NBC evening news  with Lester Holt they have been featuring the long lines at airports to get screened. In Chicago the line and the wait can be 3 to 4 hours and many are missing their flights.

Talk about terroism.  This started big time with 9 - 11 and we have been dealing with the after shocks ever since.

I don’t know about you. I am waiting for the tipping point and figure out new ways of dealing with all the  craziness of the human heart.  You want that? When?

When I drive through those wide overhead E-ZPass go throughs  - that can register 3 cars at once - I wonder if  airports will come up with a massive bomb sniffing xRay machine - that a crowd can walk through all at once.


Listen to what James says again - but this time in the first chapter of James, “Let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.  If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God.” James 1:4-5

Anwar Sadat said,  “Most people seek after what do not possess and are thus enslaved by the very things they want to acquire.” 

Logan Pearsall Smith wrote, “There are two things to aim at in life: first to get what you want; and after that to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second.”

I would add a third:  The really wise learn how to deal well with not getting what one wants.

I remember hearing the Jesuit psychiatrist and priest, James Gill telling about a heart [or was it a stress specialist?]  in California who urges Type A people to do the following spiritual practice of how to deal the stress of long lines. 

I have done this ever since.

It’s a simple trick. When you see 3 lines in a bank or supermarket, always pick the longest line. Then when you get up to the front, jump off the line and once more pick the longest line. I’ve been doing this in Giant - Office Depot - wherever - ever since - even toll booths.

I'm not a Type A person - but if one is - an added practice is to try to recall your high school classmates by name while standing or waiting on long lines - or the capitals of all the states in the U.S. or whatever.


The thought for the day is patience.

Key game plan would be patience;

Key ways of being patient: the ability to laugh - the ability to wait - the ability to get there very early and close your eyes as you move up on the line - and if you really want to confuse others - go back and start again - on the longest line.
May 17, 2016


At every wedding,
every woman present
is seeing her life walking
down the aisle; 
at every wedding 
every man - well
at least 53.6 % of the all
the men who are present -

are still wondering
what it’s all about.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Monday, May 16, 2016

May 16, 2016


Sometimes in the night
the wind chimes are all music -
as I slip into a deep, deep sleep;
but sometimes they are
fingernails scratching on
the dark blackboard called,
“Can't sleep... Awake all night.”
Why is that? Why?

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016



The title of my homily is, “Cultivate Peace.”

We’re back to Ordinary Time - the 7th Monday - and we have some great readings for today.

So some thoughts about cultivating peace….

The last sentence in today’s first reading from James 3:13-18 has James writing, “And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace.”


I don’t know if any of you are farmers. However, I’m sure we all have grown something - whether it’s a garden with gardinias or zucinni.

I remember as a little boy spotting those fingernail size black pits in a red watermelon and planting them - not knowing the difference between pits and seeds or what have you.  Surprise in time I saw green blades of new life.

Did I do any cultivation? Well, I watered and watched.

That was the extent of my cultivating watermelons. I don’t remember ever getting a watermelon in a clay dark orange brown flower pot as a result.

Cultivating - watering - raking - caring for - keeping rabbits away from the tomotato plants or what have you.


The title of this homily is, “Cultivating Peace.”

So I typed into google, “Cultivating Peace” and found lots of suggestions.

One blog gave 40 suggestions.

One blog gave 5 suggestions.

Another gave 7 suggestions or practices.

I have seen on various banners the words of Pope Paul VI, “If you want peace, work for justice.”

So if we want to cultivate peace, there are lots of practical steps we can follow.

For starters, Pope Paul the VI’s words from 1972 - on a world day for peace is a good place to start.

In his letter for that day, he urges respect for every person.

In his letter he stresses the vision to see every person and to help every person to see themselves as just that: a person - who is sacred - unique - to be recognized - to be seen and heard - and that they realize they are also responsible for this. When someone puts themselves down, we can challenge them and say, “Oh no, you can’t escape that easily. You have thoughts, feelings, experiences, learnings, observations, skills and you have to use them all.”

In his letter he stresses that every person has the right to express themselves.

We can cultivate those goals at every doorway find ourselves at - with other people  - in every conversation - in every setting we find ourselves in - with the people we’re with.

“Rita, you haven’t said anything yet. What’s your take on this?”

“Wait a second, it doesn’t seem fair - when we ________ “ [You fill in the blank.]

I remember hearing a good talk about peace. The speaker drew a pie and then cut it up saying that everyone is allowed to speak their piece, that everyone gets a piece of the pie and everyone a piece of the action - otherwise we won’t have peace.

I noticed on these blog pieces about peace the value of breathing, pausing, walking, plants, music, communication, listening, the outdoors, sunlight, exercise, etc. etc. etc.

Working with and on a few of them are ways of cultivating peace.


Here in today’s gospel, Jesus takes the time to be with this boy who has serious problems.

Presence - what’s that Woody Allen quote about just showing up? “Eighty percent of success is showing up

Jesus asks questions.  That’s another great way of cultivating peace.

I love the question from Jesus: “How long has this been happening to him.”

I can picture any of us saying that about strange behavior.

Jesus says with his action the need to be with each other.

Jesus says with his words, the need for faith and prayer.

Jesus did his part to help this kid.


Want peace, work for it.

Want peace, say the Peace Prayer attributed to Saint Francis, every day. Then put into practice all those ways the prayer states for being an instrument of the Lord’s peace.

Want peace, do the do of fairness - or what you see as the best way to cultivate peace. Just do it.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

May 15, 2016


Holy Spirit,
You call us
to be prophets -
that is people 
not scared to speak up.
You light a fire in us  -
to get us to ask,
to seek,
to knock
and then to listen -
then to do whatever it takes -
to get us to talk to each other -
especially when we don’t know
why the other is avoiding us -
or refusing to tell us
what’s burning them about us.

Send those tongues of fire
to both of us because 
it seems that the fire
called "love" has gone out -
and we feel like a burnt out case -
someone the other 
does not want to deal with.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016




The title of my homily is, “Short Prayers! Subtitle: Come Holy Spirit.”

“Short Prayers! Subtitle: Come Holy Spirit.”

Today is the feast of Pentecost.  Meaning: “Fifty” - meaning for us Christians, “Fifty Days  After Easter.”

Today - and in this time of the Church Year - we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit - on the Early Church.


The disciples, the followers of Jesus,  were down. They were locked in on themselves. They had lost Jesus their leader. And if you read the Gospels  -  like the gospel reading for today - you hear how Jesus the Risen One appeared to them - and spoke words of peace to them. “Peace be with you.”

Then Jesus breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Then Jesus said, “I send you.”

Jesus is sending us - after saying these short, short sentences:
·       “Peace be with you.”
·       “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
·       “I send you.”

But, then Jesus says something very deep. He gives a deep, deep revelation. “Whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven. Whose sins you retain, they are retained.” 

Instead of the word “retain”,  I’d rather translate the Greek word “KRATEO” into: “hold onto” and translate this sentence as follows, “Whose sins you let go of, they are gone; whose sins you hold onto, they are held onto.”


If there is one thing I learned as a priest and a human being, it’s right there.

We all know that one.

When we human beings make mistakes or are mistaked on - blamed - or hurt by another, we can forgive them or ourselves at some point - hopefully - and experience “peace” in the upper room of our mind - or we can hold onto hurts or sins that can weigh us down for life.

Confession - forgiveness - doesn’t just happen in those confession boxes we have in Catholic Churches. But yet, yes, I’ve heard from the other side of the curtain at various times: “Phew!" [Make the sound of pushing out air] - It's the sound of letting out of bad air and bad memories and mistakes and sins and then I’ve heard the [Make gesture of sucking in]  the sound of sucking In of New Air. It's time for a new beginning.

That scene in confession boxes - and in counseling rooms - and in relationships and marriages and family - when forgiveness takes place - when letting go takes place - triggers the dawn of a new human creation.

It triggers the moments - in human evolution - when we humans evolved far enough to stop clubbing each other with angry grunts and stone sledge hammers - and sensed God - our God who bent down and breathed into the clay of earth from which we come - and we came to live and breathe in the Holy Spirit. Come Holy Spirit.

The word used in the first book of the Bible, Genesis, The Beginning, is RUAH - the Hebrew word for Spirit, Breath, Life, Air, Wind, Breeze.

RUAH - you can hear the sound of Air, Breath, Spirit, Life in that word, that sound.

Come RUAH of God. Rush into us.

And if we read the Acts of the Apostles - as we heard in today’s first reading - the Spirit, the Wind, rushed on that hide out - that locked upper room - and shook up that building, those disciples - and they felt this strong driving wind - and they experienced “tongues” - “as of fire”  -  as the reading puts it - and these tongues of fire filled them with the Holy Spirit and they began to speak in different tongues - as the Spirit enable them to proclaim.

I’ve heard various theories and ideas about “speaking in tongues” and instead of bringing folks together, sometimes it brings division - so I’ve decided on holding that a great understanding is that Love - Peace - God appears and can be understood in all languages - all tongues.

And that’s what we hear in the second part of today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles - that the Gospel of Christ - moved out of that upper room, out of Jerusalem,  and out into the Greek speaking and then into the whole Mediterranean basin, and world and all these tribes and people there.

And as our second reading from Paul to the Corinthians puts it: when brothers and sisters work together with Jesus as Lord, then all our spiritual gifts can be used in the service of all. We are one body - and when we are baptized into the one Spirit of Christ - all the different parts of that Body can bring - can breathe - that Spirit into our world.


Ooops!  A nice short word….  Ooops.

The title of my homily is, “Short Prayers! Subtitle: Come Holy Spirit.”

Let me try to be practical and get this done in a page and a half.

My goal is 10 minute homilies - which means about 4 ½ pages - 14 pica - 8 ½ by 11 inch paper.

I have a theory that every human being prays short prayers - atheists included - non church or temple going people as well.

Listen to people. Listen to their sounds. Listen to their screams.

“Oh my God, noooooooooooooooooooo!”

“Holy _________” You know part two - but notice “Holy” in part one.

“Jesus Christ!”

“OOOOOhhh No!” I hold that’s a prayer to the Power beyond our powers - when things happen that are out of our control. “Ooooooh NO!”

In Hinduism and Buddhism there is the basic sound: OM - spelled OM  or AUM - a sacred sound that has inner heart connection - connecting the prayer or the meditator with the FORCE - the Creator - holding this world together.

When I go into a funeral parlor - and the body is there - and there is a rosary in the hand of the deceased - I reach for one bead - and say a Hail Mary - with and for that person.  And if a loved one kneels next to me - I suggest to the spouse or child of the person who died, “Let’s pray a Hail Mary together.”

And I have been saying for years, “Rosaries aren’t just for Hail Mary’s - they are great worry beads.”

Where is your rosary?  Will they find it in your pocket when you die.

If you’ve lost your rosary, find your rosary when you get home today and this week use it for prayers.

I suggest short prayers. Notice that’s the title of this homily.

Subtitle: “Come Holy Spirit.”

This week every day, say on the 59 beads, “Come Holy Spirit.”

That takes less than 2 minutes.

Or finger the beads and say, “Oh my God.”

Or, “Jesus Christ.”

Or “OM” or “Home”

Or, “Peace.”  Or if there is someone who won’t forgive you, say on each bead thinking of the other, “Peace be with you.”  Or, “I forgive you.”

Or breathe 59 times.

Or someone said the 2 most basic prayers are, “Help” and “Thanks”.

In the cloud of unknowing - that medieval English book - it says if you’re in a burning building - and you open the window - you’ll scream one word, “Help!”

Someone said, the secret of happiness is 3 short words, “Yes” “No” and “Wow”

Take your beads and say, pray, to God and a Good Life, “Yes” - that will take you a minute or “no” 59 times - or “Wow”

And watch what happens.


Or “Amen” on each bead.


The title of my homily on this feast of Pentecost was, “Short Prayers! Subtitle: Come Holy Spirit.”



Come Holy Spirit.
Come Spirit of God.
Wind, Fire, Praise,
pour into us
surprise into us,
create into us new life today.

Come Holy Spirit.
Come Spirit of God.
Breathe into us your gifts,
especially the ability of seeing your gifts,
shining in every person that we meet today.

Come Holy Spirit.
Come Spirit of God.
Give old people young visions,
give young people old wisdom,
and give both the fire and the desire
to make their dreams come true.

Come Holy Spirit.
Come Spirit of God.
Send a strong rushing wind
into the upper rooms of our minds,
replacing stale, paralyzing fear
with fresh, ongoing peace.

Come Holy Spirit.
Come Spirit of God.
 Help us to stop talking 
long enough to hear,
that we’re really not listening 
to each other,
but we're speaking in the language
of babbling that divides us.

Come Holy Spirit.
Come Spirit of God.
Give us the gift of tongues,
give us the ability of speaking
in the language of love that unites us

Come Holy Spirit.
Come Spirit of God.
Help us to all work together
to build the City of God,
with Jesus as the Tower
and the Ladder that touches the sky
and takes us into the Kingdom.

© Andy Costello Markings