Saturday, August 6, 2016

August 6, 2016


August 6th - up till 1945 was
the Feast of the Transfiguration.
Then that day, August 6, became
the Day of Disfiguration
when  a B-29, the Enola Gay,
dropped an A-Bomb on Hiroshima.
You’d think that would be the end
of that. No! 3 days later down came
#2 on Nagasaki. Let’s hope two
strikes and you’re out of bombs.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Friday, August 5, 2016

August 5, 2016


I read your T-shirt.
I saw the inside of your car.
I noticed how you eat.
I saw some of what I said
that might have triggered
your fingers to do a little
drum roll on the table -
as well as a scratch
with your right hand
on your left hand.
I looked into your eyes
when I asked the big question.
Now, tell me, "Who are you?"

                                                     © Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Thursday, August 4, 2016

August 4, 2016


Just a summer rain -
heavy at times - then moving
on to the next county - rain -
a nice sound on our roof
when I’m not worried about
it ruining or postponing
an outdoor gathering  or game -
just rain - same sweet sound -
like a train in the distance on
a summer night - just sweet
summer rain that makes the
corn grow higher - tomatoes
and potatoes and flowers
keep growing - knowing I
don’t have to water the
garden in the morning.
Thank You God. Thank You.

                                                                                          © Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

August 3, 2016


Someone was here
and it wasn’t me.

Foot prints, finger prints,
someone left the milk out.

We have to learn to be calm
and deal with others as is.

Not easy - but I hope others
put up with a character called me.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Tuesday, August 2, 2016



The title of my homily for this 18th Tuesday in Ordinary Time is, “Healing!”

Today’s first reading from Jeremiah 30 begins with the theme of a running sore  - an incurable wound. 

Today’s gospel from Matthew 14 ends with the message of healing. “”People  brought to him all those who were sick and begged him that they might touch only the tassel of his cloak, and many as touched it were healed.”


All of us with skin have had our cuts - down through the years.

I recently mentioned in a homily about a “boo boo” - that a little grandnephew spotted on my hand across a crowded room.

He saw the band aid. And it wasn’t a kids’ band aid.

I have a cut on my forehead for about two months now - and it’s not healing. The skin doctor took a biopsy of it the other day - and I’ll find out this week what it is. I have Irish skin and my brother died of melanoma - so I’m aware of skin - sunburnt skin as a kid - with the blisters on the shoulders - and skin problems in my old age. The wrapping starts coming off the package at times - or gets ripped in shipping.

I remember hearing that the easiest doctor job was that of being a dermatologist - “If the skin is dry - moisturize it; if the skin is oily, dry it.”

Times have changed - or I was never in a dermatologist office way  back when. Now they have busy schedules - dealing with acne, cancer, basal cell carcinoma - tattoo removal, warts and all.

Then there are folks with diabetes with wounds that won’t heal - and wound centers keep trying to help folks heal.


So folks know physical wounds - everyone of us gets cut - in the kitchen and while sealing an envelope. I hate paper cuts - especially on the tongue. “Oooooooh!”  “Ouch!”

And we all also  know of inner wounds - words that cut us, memories that won’t go away from abuse, from abandonment.

Sometimes forgiveness doesn’t happen when it comes to forgiving self or forgiving others….

Sometimes communication doesn't happen or it doesn't work.

So we all have battle wounds.


Today’s first reading can be helpful and hopefully move us towards healing.

After using the word “incurable” - Jeremiah has the Lord promising healing. First he says that pain and guilt, cries and wounds, can come from our sins - our choices - our actions.

Then he speaks about coming back to the Lord - approaching the Lord.

Happiness and laughter can come back as well.

Tents and cities can be restored.

Healing can happen….  Sometimes slowly…. In God’s good time. First the scab….  Then the skin….  Sometimes the scar….

I would suspect that the skin of the soul has lots of scars - hopefully hard scars - that have occurred where there seemed to be incurable wounds.

Today’s gospel can be heard as dealing with the storms at sea and the storms of life.  

Life is like a trip across the lake.  We’re on  shore. Then it’s time to get into the boat - pull up the anchor - pull in the ropes  - and who knows what might happen till we get to the other side of life?

Life, from birth to death, can be quite a trip. Sometimes we are just cruising along or just fishing or sailing and a storm hits us.

Life can be the shore - SHORE - and sure - SURE. And life on the water can become unsure - UNSURE. Sometimes the water is calm; sometimes it’s classic strong.


Much of life takes place in our relationships.

Relationships are where we get cut, burnt, wounded, many a time.

Both readings bring out a key dynamic in any relationship. Sometimes there is clear sailing and sometimes there are storms.

Life can be smooth - sometimes choppy - sometimes stormy.

I love the saying: "In a storm, pray for land - but start rowing."

I always love to use the saying: “Pray for potatoes - but pick up a shovel.”

Pray for healing - but go to the doctor.

Pray for healing - but put Vaseline on the cut.

Pray for healing of memories - but talk to someone about what’s going on.

Pray for healing - but reach out to touch the tassel of Jesus’ cloak.

Pray for safety, but  invite Jesus aboard or start walking and swimming towards him - on the water - even if you start to sink.

Then sink or swim.

Sometimes if we open up our eyes we’ll see God coming across the waters to save us. When we feel our life is one big stormy ride, we might have to get out of our comfort zone, our boat, and walk on the waters towards God.

Sometimes God comes to us - will walk on water to reach us - especially in the storms of life; sometimes we have to take the chance to walk on water to reach out to him.

Healing happens - with time - prayer - and action on our part.


The title of my homily was, “Healing.”

Take the IN away from the IN curable.

August 2, 2016


It takes time to bridge our
differences and distances …
slowly - your side, my side -
then the reaching out - the
work - so, so difficult at times -
but it’s not for us alone - but
for those who will benefit
because we have met half way -
but that will be long forgotten
as others travel across us into
unknown nexts  - slowly building
a future in which they don’t know 
yet what it will take. They too will
have their own work to do - to bridge 
their differences and distances

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Monday, August 1, 2016

August 1, 2016


I stopped here to wonder
why on earth you created
this particular place, O God?
Why these dark shadows?
Why these hard bark trees?
Why the light on these leaves?
Was it like this yesterday morning
at this exact moment? Would you
know the answer to that question
or are you hiding deep in the
dark caves in the undergrowth
wondering about children in China
or an old lady crying with dementia
in a poorly funded county home,
or rocks erupting lava on some
planet in some galaxy that nobody
will know exists till 21,016?

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016



The title of my homily for this 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]  is the first 3 words of today’s first reading from the Wisdom Book Eccclesiastes, “Vanity of Vanities.”

Here are the first 10 words from the author, Qoheleth, his opening words for today’s first reading,  “Vanity of vanities… vanity of vanities, all things are vanity!”

Then this author, called Qoheleth asks us, “What are we after? What are we laboring for?  What do we use our wisdom and education for?”

So it’s obvious -  for starters, the readings for today want us to think about vanity - that we’re not doing what we’re doing for show or in vain.

Today’s second reading from Paul’s Letter to the Colossians says exactly this: “Seek what is above!”  He adds, “Seek the hidden in Christ.”

This message becomes even more obvious when we hear the parable from today’s gospel. It’s the story of the man who has a great harvest - is planning on building bigger and bigger barns - but the pool guy doesn’t know - he’s going to die tonight. [Luke 12:13-21]


We know what the word “vanity” means.

It’s being shallow, empty, superficial. We’re an empty suit. It’s a slick suit or dazzling dress - but the real me is not showing up - so we’re showing off -  wearing a disguise called, “Vanity.”

Is that a fair description of vanity? A lady in the parking lot after the 10:30 Mass said she had a different take on it. So talk to each other on your takes on what vanity is.

I did a little research on use of the word “vanity”. We use it when talking about a purse for cosmetics - a so called “vanity purse.”  There is also the so called, “vanity.” It’s a piece of furniture - a tiny table with not too deep drawers  - usually with some spilled over white powder in them - a table with a mirror to help with the make-up. We’ve heard about special license plates - with the words, “Hot Shot” - or “Go Mets” on them. They are called vanity plates. Then there is self-publishing a book which we get published by a so called,  “Vanity Press”.


Here are two poems that I wrote. The first is from years ago. It’s based on today’s gospel. It’s called, “Death In The Dark.”  It’s from a book of night prayers I wrote - but couldn’t get a publisher.

(Luke 12:16-21)

I can’t pray tonight.
My mind, my fields,
my hands, are all too full.
Dark birds shriek
a death warning across
my cornfield skies
and all I can think of
is building barns:
bigger and bigger barns.

The second poem is entitled, “Balloon Drop.” I wrote this yesterday for my blog. Talk about vanity.


The conventions were over
in both Cleveland and Philadelphia….
The balloons filled with air 
came floating down….
The halls were emptying out.
While watching this on TV
I spotted a cleaning woman
with a broom like handle
with some kind of a metal nail
or needle at its point -
sticking it to the balloons -
bursting them - letting the hot air out.
I couldn’t  see her face. Was
she laughing at the metaphor
or was she inwardly complaining about
how little she was getting paid
to sweep all this stuff up - the now
deflated balloons, the signs,
the cleaning up and getting ready
for the next…. Off to the side
the TV people were still interviewing 
the folks with the names. 
Nobody noticed her.


I want to quote from two novels - both of which I never finished.

I want to add that - because I don’t want to be vain - or try to impress you - with what I have read. After all this is a homily on vanity.

The first novel is the 1987 novel Bonfire of Vanities by Tom Wolfe.


Tom Wolfe got his title from today’s first reading as well as from the Dominican priest Girolamo Savonarola’s reformation and burning of stuff in big public bonfires in Florence, Italy back in 1497. He condemned vanity. Take it off. Dump it. Burn it. He called for reform in church, clerics, pope, and city. Then he himself ended up being excommunicated, condemned, tortured, hung and burnt to death.

Tom Wolfe’s novel features New York City  in the 1980’s - Wall Street, filled with greed, corruption, racism, demonstrations, riots, what have you.

A quote from the novel about Sherman McCoy, the main character of the novel, “Sherman made the terrible discovery that men make about their fathers sooner or later that the man before him was not an aging father but a boy, a boy much like himself, a boy who grew up and had a child of his own and, as best he could, out of a sense of duty and, perhaps love, adopted a role called 'Being a Father' so that his child would have something mythical and infinitely important: a Protector, who would keep a lid on all the chaotic and catastrophic possibilities of life.”

Is that true? Does that fit? I know I don’t want to forget the child in me - yet I guess the adult me better show up from time to time.

Or this quote, Yes see, Sherman, who started with so much, lost everything. But he gained his soul. Whereas I, you see, who started with so little, gained everything. ‘What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but loses...’ Ah well. There are compensations.”

The second novel is Madam Bovary - by Gustave Flaubert - a classic novel that also gets into the issue of vanity big time in France in the 1800’s.

Two quotes:

“There was an air of indifference about them [the male guests], a calm produced by the gratification of every passion … that special brutality which comes from the habit of breaking down half-hearted resistances that keep one fit and tickle one’s vanity - the handling of blooded horses, the pursuit of loose women.” Madam Bovary [1857], pt. 1, chapter 8, Gustave Flaubert [1821- 1880]

“It never occurred to her that if the drainpipes of a house are clogged, the rain collect in pools on the roof; and she suspected no danger until suddenly she discovered a crack in the wall.” Madam Bovary [1857], ib. II, 5, Gustave Flaubert [1821- 1880]

Cracks in the wall - wrinkles - leaks - sin -  cancer - sickness - problems with our family and our marriages - all assault our vanity - and get us in touch with the deeper things - sometimes - sometimes slowly - sometimes never - hopefully God from time to time.

So too a sudden death - of someone our own age - or someone like the man in today’s gospel.


I think that’s enough.

Vanity of vanities - quoting Tom Wolfe and Gustave Flaubert - that should be impressive -  but humbling because I don’t do well pronouncing French names.

The title of my homily is, “Vanity of Vanities.”

It’s a theme we would do well to think and pray about.

There’s a 1972 song by Carly Simon called, “You’re So Vain.” 

It has the line, “You probably think this song is about you, you’re so vain. You’re so vain.” Don’t you? Don’t you.

A bad homily is when people say to the preacher, “I wish my mother-in-law or my brother was here to hear your sermon today.

A good sermon is when someone doesn’t say anything - but they realize the sermon is about them.

Hopefully we all thought this homily is about us. It is.
July 31, 2016


Well water - deep well water -
sometimes has that cold solid taste -
that fills the mouth with the feeling
of iron - liquid heaviness - and it
doesn’t even have to turn to wine
to taste sacred. It brings pause.
It brings the lifting of one’s cup
to the skies - with the comment,
“Now this is water - water that
I don’t taste from the tap or
at the restaurant table.” Now
what else am I missing from
the depths of the earth?

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016