Saturday, July 16, 2016

July 16, 2016


It's basic.  It's uncomplicated. 
It's a simple silver soup spoon.

It does its job - plain and simple.
It gives its owner no problems.

She can concentrate on her kids.
She can sip soup while reading a novel.

French onion, tomato, pea soup,
it does its job no matter what….

Lord, a baby and a toll collector -
simple. The rest of us - complex.

We’re no silver spoons. Nope,
we’re more like mystery soup.

 © Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Friday, July 15, 2016

July 15, 2016


When it comes down to it, are
there only two kinds of people:
tourist or resident?

Some people walk into a room,
sit down and make themselves
at home. They are comfortable.

Some people stand at the edge,
take their pictures, look at their
watch - and they are out the door.

Painting on top: Young Man at His Window (1875) 
by French Impressionist, Gustave Caillebotte

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Thursday, July 14, 2016

July 14, 2016


Is there a personality test using bugs?

Am I a fly or a mosquito or a bee?

I’ve heard about a guy who got the
nickname, “Moth,” because he only
came out at night. Then there was
“Grasshopper” who showed up
at every party. Then there was,
"Spider". Why did they call her that?

How about "Lady Bug"? She was
always so, so quiet. And what
ever happened to “Praying Mantis”?
She knew every church in town.

I know I would never want to be
called “Slug” or “Termite” - being
lazy or being a home destroyer.

Wait! I wouldn’t mind being called,
“Lightning Bug” - bringing a surprise
of light to folks on a dark night.


© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Note: This is Self Test # 22 on this blog. Can you find the other 21 on my blog?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

July 13, 2016


One third, one half, two thirds….
I don’t like it - that I don’t give it
my all - when it comes to listening,
when it comes to working,
when it comes to caring,
when it comes to paying attention
to what I’m doing. Sorry others.

Yet, as I look at all this, I’m trying 
to be 100 percent honest here. 
Distractions, low energy levels,
wasting too much time at the TV,
aging, oh, I have my excuses.
And when it comes to prayer,
one third, one half …. Sorry God.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

July 12, 2016


Sometimes some stones stand out….
I pick one up and the simplicity of
a stone hits me like David hitting
Goliath in the center of his head.

It’s one piece. It’s not complicated.
It can do all kinds of things. Be part
of a patio or a wall or it can be
skipped on the water for 10 bounces.

God - I can see why they made you
out of stone - but then again - your
lips didn’t move - your heart didn’t feel -
so obviously they looked for more.  

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016





The title of my homily for this 15th Tuesday in Ordinary Time is, “Where Are You From?”

Somewhere along the line,  I heard someone say: “The American First Question is, ‘Where are you from?’”

In other countries,  people often settled down - just 5 minutes from the home they grew up in - if not closer - so what’s their first question? “How are you today?” or “What’s going on?” or “How’s your dad?”

In America people are often from somewhere else.  Not everyone is an Annapolitan or a lifetime Naptown or Eastport resident.


I decided to think about this theme, because both readings feature towns and cities. 

The first reading features Jerusalem.

Damascus, Samaria, and Ramallah are also mentioned.

Isaiah says, “All will be destroyed unless the people of Damascus, Samaria, Ramallah, Jerusalem return to their faith.”

Today’s psalm refrain was: “God upholds his city for ever.”

And today’s gospel challenges the people of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum - to receive Christ - and his life and his message.

Today’s readings are like standing there at a crossroads or an airport - looking at the names of all these places one can go to or be from.

Is the bottom line in every conversation these 2 questions: 1) “Where are you coming from?” and 2) “Where are you headed with this?”


Now let me see if I can come up with at least one interesting or looking under a rock question?

After Annapolis, what do we talk about?

We can be welcoming to strangers who come here to St. Mary’s.  We are a tourist town - in many ways. At Sunday Mass I like to say, “Welcome to any visitors.”  How about you?

I often wonder if our tower has any impact - especially in the area of faith and hope. With the scaffolding up there now, has anyone noticed us more? Has anyone heard God’s voice when he said to Francis of Assisi, “Go rebuild my church. And he thought it was the building at first.

We have a beautiful garden. Does anyone just stand there and watch folks sit with Seelos? I’ve heard our priests say when they see someone sitting there, say,  “He still hears confessions.” Does anyone see people reading the many stones in the garden with writing on them? Do you have a favorite one? What are people thinking who sit there outside the Blessed Sacrament Chapel - seeing people going in and coming out?

When walking about town and I spot tourists checking out that tourist multifold map of Annapolis, I often say, “Welcome to Annapolis.” Then add. “If you’re looking for a nice spot to check out,  see St. Mary’s on Duke of Gloucester. It’s the most visible church from a distance. It’s a great old church with history. Then there’s the Carroll House  behind it.

When talking with folks, I hope we’re not smug - bragging about where we come from and putting down where others come from.

Okay,  unless it’s a calm, quiet - pick on - type of  fun comment.

I lived in the Midwest for 81/2 years before I came here to Annapolis - as well as Wisconsin for a year. We preached parish missions in a couple of hundred small towns. They were neat places to visit or work in. Frank Lloyd Wright said, “I doubt if there is anything in the world  uglier than a Midwestern city.”

I disagree with his comments -  oops there is a place between Lima and Paulding Ohio that was pretty ugly when I lived out there.

I ended up describing Midwest towns having 3 regular values: faith, family and sports.

I’d say that because that was my evaluation - hoping others would think about their take on towns and cities they have been in - and their place in town.


Welcome to Annapolis. Welcome to  St. Mary’s today.  Where are you coming from?  Does this place impact you or make you better? 

Monday, July 11, 2016



The title of my homily for the feast of St. Benedict is, “Listen.”

The first word in his Rule is, “Listen….”

If there is anything this world needs now - but also yesterday and also tomorrow is that we listen.

I’ll use a Preface for  this Mass today that calls for us to meet with each other. 

I would hope that when we meet with each other, we will do double with the listening and half with the speaking.

That might make for a great meeting.

We have 2 ears and 1 mouth. How many times have we heard that one?

So the title of my homily for this the feast of St. Benedict is the first word in his rule, “Listen….”


We have all heard the 4 step process of prayer in the Benedictine Tradition which comes from the Christian Desert period in the Church.

The first step is the Lectio Divina - the Divine Reading.

Step One: Read the instructions - before acting - before jumping in.

Before the journey read the map - type into your GPS where you’re going.

Stop before you start.

Look before you leap.

Listen before you speak.

We know the second step is to think about what we just read. It’s called “Meditatio” - Meditation - Thinking -  Reflecting - Wondering about - Questioning.

The third step is Oratio - praying. That’s the movement to the mouth - to speak with the mouth. Ora is the Latin word for mouths - to orate, give an oration - and when speaking to God - it’s prayer - an oration.

The fourth step is Contemplation. There is the shutting up again - and letting what we have experienced sink in.


But let me get back to the first step: the Divine Reading.

This would include the whole day - the whole of creation - all that surrounds us - the light of a new day awakening us - or our body awakening us……

Listen. Open up our ears to hear creation - birds singing - people moving - life for today.

Listen. To open up our mind to what are the calls of this day.

Listening - so it’s not just reading a book - but reading everything.

It’s standing on top of the mountain of morning - and looking down - ahead - into the valley of today.


On this day we are called to listen to the life of St. Benedict….

His dates are around 480 to 550.

As a young man he decided to escape from it all - and ended up in a quiet cave in Subiaco - now part of Italy.

Why do people step back?

Read people who do that?

Why do coaches call, “Time out!”

Benedict stepped back into God and began reading all that God had created.

He was becoming Saint Benedict.

People realized it would be a good move to listen to this man called Benedict.

Benedict founded monasteries.

Benedictine monasteries preserved great books.

Benedictine monasteries dotted and saved Europe.

Benedict and his monasteries preserved Western civilizations - just as Buddhists and Buddhist and Confucian and other religious centers persevered culture.

Lots of religious groups read and used Benedict’s rule to come up with their rules.

Lots of prayer systems - used the Benedictine 4 step method - which goes back into earlies times.

The Jesuit Exercises come out of the Benedictine Method which came out of the Early Christian Desert movements.



I’m listening to the clock. Enough with the talking - more with the listening.

Today practice listening.

Today lookup on line - on the Internet - Benedict - and Monte Cassino and
go from there.

Doing that I got in touch with some fond memories of taking a taxi from a village down below Monte Cassino and I went up to the top - and I began reading history from the first inch of the trip. 
July 11, 2016


 I was looking for a corner
in a vicious circle - but I
couldn’t find one - so I
decided to face my demon - 
face to face  - eye to eye.
But I couldn’t, because it
hid in a corner and I
couldn’t find it. Damn it!
Vicious circles are like that.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Sunday, July 10, 2016



The title of my homily for this 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year C -  is, “Justify Oneself.”

I don’t know if I ever noticed before - the word “justify” in today’s gospel. [Cf. Luke 10:25-37]

I suspect the parable of the Good Samaritan is so loud, so clear, so challenging, that one would miss the comment - that the scholar of the law wished to justify himself.

I noticed it last night as I read out loud today’s readings. Then I began thinking about it. It hit me as a theme for a homily - probably because I wanted to get my mind onto it and into it.


Today’s first reading from the Book of Deuteronomy was saying quiet clearly: KISS. When giving a tall - remember the KISS principle:  Keep It Simple Stupid. 

Moses was saying that God’s commandments and statues and laws are not from another planet. You don’t have to cross the seas to find them. They are already very near to you - already in your mouth and in your heart and you just have to carry them out. [Cf. Deuteronomy 30: 10-14]

So I asked myself: is the command to justify oneself simple, clear and close enough for everyone - that everyone would get that message?


First - I looked up some stuff on the meaning of the word “justify” - in the English text - and “dikaioun” - in the Greek text. 

For starters, it’s connected with the big theological theme of justification,

That was the big theme Jesus  was constantly hearing from the Pharisees. “You’re wrong. We’re right.”

They saw how he was doing life. They knew how they were doing life. They heard what he was saying. They knew what they were thinking. We’re different here.  Comparisons and contrasts are powerful cats scratching away in the cage called our mind.

“Uh oh! Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Uh oh! Crucify him. Kill him. He’s different.”

What justifies us - was the big theme in the Protestant Reformation.  Who or what saves us? This is heaven or hell stuff. It’s bottom line stuff. When I die, was I right or was I wrong?  Will I be saved or lost  - forever?

That’s a heavy duty question. Is it too hot to handle on a hot summer day?

Am I right or am I wrong, in taking all this out of that one comment in today’s gospel - or should I simply stress being a Good Samaritan?

Right or wrong? It’s the big theme in many an argument.  I’m right. You’re wrong.

It goes to the very bottom of who we are - how we see - what we have figured out about the meaning of life so far - from our experiences - and from what we’ve learned. Should we leave the butter in or out of the refrigerator? Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Toilet paper? Which way?

Can we say the following: there are two kinds of people - those who put law first and those who put the other first.  Whom am I concerned about: the person in my shoes - my skin - my mind - being right all the time - or should I be concentrating on the person in the other person’s shoes?

One leads to speaking - arguing; the other leads to listening - to trying to figure out where the other person is coming from.

One leads to stopping at our nose and not noticing someone right next to us who might be hurting - like a member of our own family - or someone in our car pool - or sitting next to us at the pool - or the stranger on the street.

The other challenges us to be Good Samaritans.

Monologue or dialogue?


We need a ballpoint pen. We tried three - one in a coffee cup on a kitchen counter, one in a top desk drawer - and one in a suit jacket in a closet -  and  all three have come up empty. Conspiracy…. Each seems like they have a brake in them - as in a car with its brake on. No ink is coming out. Ugh and we want to write something out - but no ballpoint pen is working.

So that afternoon we’re standing there in CVS or Office Depot and wondering which ballpoint pen to buy?

Without being conscious about it, we’re deciding which pen will justify itself. Which pen will deliver?  We know we’ve had good luck with a Bic pen in the past, so we buy a package of them.  Two dollars and 19 cents. They are reliable. We can lose them. When someone borrows one from us and doesn’t  return it, we won’t go bankrupt or berserk. Whatever. But they are a good buy. Right or wrong?

Just for kicks we look up on Google - “Best ballpoint pen?” and we find out Bic can give us up to 2 miles of writing or 78,000 words.

Is that right?  Who did the research?

Still good move. Our Bic Pen buy justifies itself by good service - a good life. Is the proof in the pudding? Is the proof in the reliability - in the service - in the black ink - in the working?

We pause. Does God ever wonder about what God is getting out of us?

Does a spouse ever wonder what he or she is getting out of their life choice - from the one they married? Hey they met in a   CVS that one day when he asked her, “Hey do you know where the ballpoint pens are?”

Does a boss - a supervisor - ever wonder about his or her workers?

Justify yourself!

Are you the right person for the job - or are you the wrong person?

Uh oh!  Big question - this question of justifying ourselves.


The scholar in the gospel is asking Jesus that kind of question.

He asks Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

That’s the bottom line question - like at the doctor’s office - when life hands us a ball point pen and says, “Sign your name right here?”

Am I justifying myself - or am I just taking up space?

It’s my life. What am I doing with it?

Jesus asks the guy who came up to him, “Well what’s written in the law?”

Written - the word!  There’s a ballpoint pen connection - but of course Moses didn’t use a Bic Pen. Yet it would make a good TV ad, wouldn’t it?

What’s written down? What’s right? What’s wrong?

The scholar replies what’s in the law: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind,  and your neighbor as yourself?”

Jesus says, “You have answered correctly. Do this and you will live.”

He must have felt an inner “Uh oh” - all of a sudden because he wished to justify himself.

It’s a blessing to the rest of us - that he asked that question.

Feeling the need to justify himself, he got out of himself for a moment and asked, “And who is my neighbor?”

And Jesus gave us the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

And Luke wrote it down - and it’s down there on paper - for us to look at for life.


There it is the meaning of life.

There it is the secret of life.

Others - God and others - to notice them, to love them, to stop to be with them - just like we hope others would do for us - is that the meaning of life?

Down deep, isn’t it neat, when we’re following another heading for a door - and suddenly at the door, they stop - open it up - and let us in ahead of them.

Isn’t that a great simple wonderful moment of life?

Every day we meet people who are stuck.  Every day we meet people who have run out of ink. Every day we meet people who are beaten up.

Jesus said everyday people bypass everyday people who need our love - our attention - our time.

Many people think it’s all right to pass  people by who could use our love.

They justify in their mind - they have something more important to do - like the priest and the Levite in today’s gospel - who slide right by the man who was beaten, stripped, robbed on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho.

And Jesus - the story teller - tells us how to live a storied life. Jesus goes to the extreme and says the stranger - the Samaritan - stopped - helped - gave the wounded his medical care - lifted him onto his animal - and brought the wounded man to an Inn and cared for him

If Jesus was telling that story today - the Samaritan would be the outsider, the Muslim - the street person - who stopped to help.

Want to feel right about life? - everyday - want to justify ourselves? - the call is to stop and help our brother and sister in need till we run out of ink - till we run out of think.
July 10, 2016


Clear clarity is often blurred.
It’s an ideal to be desired as
they say…. But to see through
motives - to see your essence -
- difficult - difficult - very difficult.
Why are you here? Honestly….
What are you trying to say?
Who are you trying to be? Me?
I too have too many fingerprint
smudges from others on the
lenses of my eyes to see you -
to hear you - to know you clearly.
So let’s be quiet and just enjoy
the swans on the pond before us.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016