Saturday, August 27, 2016

August 27, 2016


Early on - someone figured it out -
genetically: it's not good to go it alone.
“It’s not good to be alone.”

They even put those words into
God’s mouth - knowing that God
didn’t want to go it alone either. 

This is before we discovered the
reality of God as Trinity - obviously -
as well as - community - obviously.

Later on - someone also figured it out:
every other thinks differently than I.
If we don’t get that one, then we’ll
find ourselves going it alone again.

Now that is a big discovery. In fact,
it has to be discovered over and over -
again and again - like in every 
relationship - argument - and covenant.

Unfortunately we fall. We do dumb. We
decide to go it alone - so Cain killed Abel -
and the Prodigal heads for pig pens.

But we learn - we rise - we reconsider -
we reach out - we head home - or there
is the other - coming down the road and
they stop to help us and bring us to
the local Inn because they care for us.

Then after too many crucifixions -
too many hidings from God and
from each other - we discover
deep within - each of us has within -
not only ourselves - and others - but
also the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Friday, August 26, 2016

August 26, 2016


Watching the water waves
against my hull - as I cross
across the harbor waters
to the other side of today....
I feel so many pulls 
from so many waves 
washing against me:
to hear a morning, “Hi!”;
to hear a “Hi!” back from you;
to recognize and be recognized;
to love and be loved in return;
to do something worthwhile today;
to taste what I’m eating;
to ask and then to pass the pepper;
to mean what I’m saying;
to have eye contact with some people;
to check the papers and the news;
to say a prayer;
to get home after the day;
to sit back and relax in the evening;
to say, “Good night! I love you.”

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Painting on top:
Blue Water, Smoke and Ferry
by Gretchen Hancock,
one of her Vashon Fauntleroy Ferry

Thursday, August 25, 2016

August 25, 2016


Whether you’re in a good mood or
a bad mood - don’t you realize you
change the atmosphere in the room?

Whenever you come off the elevator,
down the corridor, up the steps into
the house,  don’t you notice everyone?

They are studying you: face, fists, mouth - waiting for the weather report - to see what kind of a mood we’re in for today?

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


[This is called “The People Litany”. Here are  33 things we people do. If you accept - acknowledge - agree to any one of them - and you will try to keep these things going, vote with a voiced “Amen” which means “Yes!” to that reality.]

People meet together. Amen!
People greet each other. Amen!
People cooperate. Amen!
People educate.   Amen!
People keep secrets. Amen!
People build trust in our relationships.  Amen!
People make mistakes.  Amen!
People say, "I'm sorry. I made a mistake." Amen!
People forgive. Amen!
People build and protect families. Amen!.
People eat with each other.   Amen!
People clap for others. Amen!
People acknowledge each other. Amen!
People listen for feelings underneath words. Amen!
People say, “Thank you” a lot. Amen
People change  Amen!

People grow. Amen!
People pray. Amen!
People respect people. Amen!
People create. Amen!
People speak with hands and eyes when ears don't work.  Amen!
People watch and learn from each other. Amen!
People read. Amen!
People do dumb. Amen!
People do smart. Amen!
People sing, dance and make music. Amen!
People celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. Amen!
People hopefully use rocks to build bridges not walls. Amen!
People challenge and ask questions. Amen!
People take time for old people. Amen!
People take time for young people.  Amen!
People make time for each other. Amen!
People improve things for those after them. Amen!
People sacrifice!   Amen! 

© Andy Costello, Prayers 2016

August 24, 2016


Signing a wedding license….
Signing a check….
Signing a gift certificate….
Signing a mortgage on our first house…..
Signing a book in a funeral parlor ….
Signing a Declaration of Independence ….
Signing a voter registration ….
Signing a driver’s license…..
Signing an autograph for a kid….
Signing a birthday card….
Signing a Valentine’s Day card….
Signing that I saw a kid’s report card ….
Signing a referendum that needs 1000 signatures….
Signing a divorce settlement ….
Signing a will….
Please sign:  I was here ________________

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

August 23, 2016


The scent of a dozen roses ….
The scent of an onion….
The scent of an old attic trunk….

The scent of a brand new car....
The scent of a newly bathed baby….
The scent of one’s spouse….
The scent of a movie theater….
The scent of bacon, bacon, bacon ….
The scent of crayons….
The scent of an afternoon August rain….
The scent of a Christmas tree….
The scent of oranges….
The scent of grandma's vegetable soup....
The scent of perfume when alone in an elevator….
The scent of a dead body while kneeling in prayer at a casket….
The scent of candles in church ….
The scent of ocean spray in October ….
The scent of freshly baked bread ....
The scent of wine - the Blood of Christ….

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016



The title of my homily for the 21st Tuesday in Ordinary time is, “Picky, Picky, Picky.”

It’s the theme that hit me from today’s gospel from Matthew  23: 23-26. Jesus challenges the scribes and Pharisees for being off on tithing for mint, dill and cumin and neglecting the weightier things of the law: judgment and mercy and fidelity.

So a sermon on not being picky, picky, picky.

For the sake of transparency, I am a slob. When it comes to details, I tend to avoid them. I’m not the type who likes picking up after me. Being a bachelor is not all that bad.

I realize this isn’t always the best way to go.  I don’t want hair in my food. I don’t want to pick up too many bugs. And I know details are very important at times - like being careful with Waterford glass and the pin in a hand grenade.


When it comes to religion, picky, picky, picky can become a problem.

I’ve seen this when it comes to indulgences and novenas.  The goal is union and communion with God - not getting every iddy biddy prayer - word perfect - exact number of times - or what have you.

I’ve seen it with this year of the door of mercy. People want to know which door is it - that you have to come through.  I know Matthew talks about getting every letter, every part of the  letter of the Law correct. If I was with Matthew at the Last Supper or any supper, I think I would want to be at the other end of the table from him.

I  like to tell the story about the lady and the altar cloth. She was sitting at the end of her bench in the main aisle - 3rd row. I was sitting off to the side - during the readings - and I could see her face was uptight about something. It was the altar cloth. It was not on straight. Sometimes I’ve see an altar cloth with four tiny red crosses on it - to make the exact 4 corners. We’ll this one was lopsided in front and on the side.  I went over to the lady after Mass and asked if she was going crazy with the altar cloth. She looked at me with a smile and said, “Yes. How did you know?”

I told her that It was written all over her face and I could see how tense and nervous her jaw was.

I didn’t tell her to read the Martha Mary story a few times every other day.

I remember reading about the Russian Revolution - but I’ve never been able to find where I read this.  On one side of town - the Russian Orthodox Church were having a meeting and the agenda was the length of surplices for Mass - and on the other side of town Lenin was taking over the country.


Jesus was about inclusion not exclusion. Jesus was about communion not excommunication. Now there are others who are off on exclusion and excommunication - and you can find texts in the Bible to support these positions,

Jesus was about two commandments - and not the 714 rules and regulations of the Law.

Jesus was off  on loving God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and loving our neighbor as ourselves.

Jesus was off on not straining gnats out of our soup - but instead to spend our energy in serving soup.

Jesus was off on not seeing  specks in our brother eye and missing the camel - carrying wise men - heading for Bethlehem.

Jesus was saying you’ll meet me on the road to Jericho - beaten up - and needing help - or in a stable in Bethlehem - because there was no room in the Inn or the temple.  So you’re more apt to see me in service more than services.

Jesus was about feeding the hungry and giving drink to the thirsty - instead of making sure our food is   kosher.

It’s not what people are wearing at Mass - but that we’re in communion at Mass - in Christ Jesus.  Okay Matthew has Jesus showing up and telling us we better be wearing our wedding garment at the wedding banquet:

When it comes to prayer and worship together, it’s good to be neat and organized - but the New Testament likes to stress - watch out for Phariseeism.


The title of my homily is, “Picky, Picky, Picky” and if you’re Neat, Neat, Neat, it probably sounds like I’ve picked on you. Of course I have. I’m Sloppy, Sloppy, Sloppy.

So enough with being fussy, finicky, fastidious,  ultracritical, quibbling, cynical,  hairsplitting, picayune, precise - except when it comes to Zica Mosquitos.

Monday, August 22, 2016

August 22, 2016


Tell me too about your tears.
What’s tearing you apart?
What causes you to cry?
Some tears are tears of joy -
like scenes in certain movies
that trigger tears every time.
They too are truth tellers.
Funerals and weddings -
like salt and sugar - demand
tissues or a rub with the hand.
Then there are lakes within -
where drownings took place:
divorces, disasters, deaths.
Turn them to ink. Write a letter
to yourself or someone and
tell them what happened and
how it's taking lots and lots of
time to accept how it still hurts.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016



The title of my homily is, “Titles for Mary.”

Today we’re celebrating Mary under the title of Queen.

As I was thinking about that, it hit me that some titles of Mary grab me and some don’t.

How about you? What titles of Mary grab you? What titles have no impact?

Mary - hey she’s been around for some 2000 years now  - and she entitled with many titles and she is pictured with many descriptions .


As I thought about titles, I realized - without enough time and reflection and second thoughts - that titles of Mary for  places don’t grab me.

For example, Our Lady of CzÄ™stochowa, Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Medjugorje, Our Lady of Montserrat, Our Lady of Knock - don’t grab me. 

Maybe if I was from one of these places, it might or it was the name of our church, then maybe.

Then when I thought about Pope Francis’ favorite title of Mary, Our Lady of the Knots - now that has some grab - in my opinion.

I get knots. I’ve had knots - like knotted rosary beads, like knotted shoe laces, like knotted appliance cords.

I began wondering: are there 2 kinds of people - those who are patient, calm, and have the ability to slowly unravel knots; and people who go ape with knots and start pulling at them only to make it worse  - as in shoe lace knots?

I get knots as a metaphor - that we people get our lives knotted up and it takes an effort to unravel the knots of life. Then - as with shoes - learning to tie our knots right and tight - we end up with less problems.

It was then that it hit me: find some more titles of Mary that have the energy and specificness as our Lady of the Knots.

Slowly they came:

Our Lady of Sorrows - people have swords that pierce their hearts.

Our Lady of Good Counsel - people need wisdom and good counsel.

Our Lady Help of Christians - of course.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help - why not go for it all? We need all sorts of help - and maybe it has appeal just because of that - or because we are all like kids needing mommy and we run even though we didn’t get a chance to tie our shoe.


I looked at the Litany of Loretto - and most titles didn’t grab me: like Queen of Angels, Queen of Prophets, Queen of Confessors, Queen of Martyrs. How about Mystical Rose, Tower of David, Ark of the Covenant? Nice but nope. Our Lady of Mercy? Virgin most prudent? Virgin most chaste? Yes to those three. Virgin Most Powerful? Yes. Seat of Wisdom? Yes. Refuge of sinners?  Yes. Gate of Heaven? Definitely.

How about some new Litany of Loretto entries like?

Mary, Opener of eyes.    Pray for us.
Mary, Opener of ears.    Pray for us.
Mary, Opener of minds.  Pray for us.
Mary, Opener of hearts. Pray for us.
Mary, Opener of hands.  Pray for us.

How about?

Mary, The One Who Opens Doors.  Pray for us.
Mary, The One Who Removes walls. Pray for us.
Mary, The One Who Is Not Afraid to Ask Questions.  Pray for us.


Conclusion: you have time on your hands, pick a title for Mary - one that grabs you - one that gives you wisdom, perpetual help, and unties your knots. Amen.
August 21, 2016


Show me the trunk of your car….
Show me your garden….
Show me your bottom drawer….

Show me your soul….
Show me your Sunday…
and I’ll tell you who you are.

Wait a minute.
What about you?
Show and tell too!

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Sunday, August 21, 2016



The title of my homily for this 21st  Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, is, “Doors.”

Reading today’s readings - and obviously today’s gospel - the theme of doors should hit us.

My homily will have 2 parts - here and hereafter - doors here and doors hereafter - especially   THE   DOOR -  or the Pearly Gates.


We spend our lives opening and closing doors - going in and out over thresholds and through door ways.

And we’ve all experienced doors that were locked and we didn’t have a key and nobody opened up for us - when we rang the bell or knocked on the door - or screamed from the sidewalk or front lawn.


In a given lifetime - we’ve entered many different classrooms, homes, churches, stores, states, countries, relationships.

They all have doors, pause, the need for keys, knobs, passports, passwords….

We’ve heard the word, “Welcome!”

We’ve heard the word, “Closed” - sometimes with a “Sorry” before it.

We’ve all been in situations - when we said to ourselves or others, “Let’s get out of here” and we headed for the door.

We’ve all been in situations - hospital beds, meetings, get togethers - when we’re screaming within - as we’re looking at the door,  “When is this going to end.”

We’ve all wanted to make the team, get the job, continue the relationship, and we’ve been shown  the door.

Tears on our face and a torn heart - rejections -  are human experiences.



We know history.

Blacks, Italians, Irish, Latinos, Gay, Handicapped, Catholics, Muslims need not apply.

We’ve seen bullies in the playgrounds of our youth. We’ve had teachers and coaches whom we thought were unfair and played favorites.

We might have been right; we might have been wrong.

Either way -  at the time - it hurt - it pushed our, “It’s not fair!” button.

We all have our stories and our anecdotes and we’ve told them a hundred times.  Some are razor blade experiences; some are popcorn experiences. Whichever, whatever, serious or soft, they hit and hurt us and cut us at the time.

As a kid in Brooklyn I was on the Bay Ridge Robins - a P.A.L. [Police Athletic League] baseball team - and one season, I got in to play -  for only one out.  The coach played his younger brother every game - except that last inning of the last game of the season. I’m still holding onto that one - and mention it from time to time.

At the time it hurt - but the benefit was that I see every kid and every player on the sidelines - ever since - not just the kids on the field - and the court - but the substitutes who never seem to get into the game. I love coaches who shorten the bench - play the subs - and give every kid a chance.

I’ve also learned that I don’t know the score or the whole story and not everyone sees life or the game as I do - or the other does. Different strokes for different coaches - and teachers - shop stewards and bosses.

As sort of as a contradiction, there was a time there - when I ended up being a manager for our baseball team in the seminary.  I remember keeping our pitcher - Bill Tuohy - in for the entire game - till it was - 0 to 0 in the 10th inning. We lost. Maybe Bill ran out of energy. Moreover, Bill ended up hurting his arm - thanks to my mis-management.

That moment also comes back to me when I see Buck Showalter take out a pitcher who is being shelled or the pinch hitter is a leftie and the pitcher on the mound is a righty. I also like it when Buck Showalter in home games keeps a starting pitcher in for one out or one hit in the next inning, so he can go out and remove him and that pitcher can get a home field ovation.

So that’s part one of my thoughts about doors. Acceptance and rejection, open and closed doors, welcome and “Get lost!” are part of life.

I learned that we need to learn about people at the door - and try to be a welcoming person - to look them in the eye - and to step back and let folks in before me.

There are two kinds of people: those who build us up and make us feel part of the game - part of the scene - and we have something to offer and there are those who don’t even notice us - or make us feel so, so small.

As priest I have heard horror stories - so I ask the question: “As priest am I responsible for the whole Catholic Church?” My answer at one time there was “Yes” - now it’s “No.”  But now the question is: “As a human being, am I responsible for the whole human race?” Answer: “Yes. To make each person welcome - noticed - respected - acknowledged - and treated with dignity.”


Those are everyday doors.

The door we worry and wonder about is the door to eternal life.

But both are interconnected - the here is also about the hereafter.

Did you notice and hear the words from today’s first reading from Isaiah 66: 18-21?

Once more here it is - the whole first reading:

Thus says the LORD:
I know their works and their thoughts,
and I come to gather nations of every language;
they shall come and see my glory.
I will set a sign among them;
from them I will send fugitives to the nations:

to Tarshish, Put and Lud,
Mosoch, Tubal and Javan,
to the distant coastlands
that have never heard of my fame, 
or seen my glory;
and they shall proclaim my glory 

among the nations.
They shall bring all your brothers and sisters from all the nations
as an offering to the LORD,
on horses and in chariots, in carts, 

upon mules and dromedaries,
to Jerusalem, my holy mountain, 

says the LORD,
just as the Israelites bring their offering
to the house of the LORD in clean vessels.
Some of these I will take as priests and Levites, says the LORD.

The Word of the Lord.

Then we sang the Psalm Refrain “Go out to all the world and tell the good news.

As the New Orleans song and Negro Spiritual goes, “When the saints come marching in, I want to be in their number.”

Jesus often talks about coming to the door - the entrance into eternity.  

For instance today’s gospel.

In today’s gospel from Luke Jesus tells us to enter through the narrow gate.

Who wants to be standing outside and the door is locked?

I sense that we don’t worry about hell like we used to worry about hell - but we still worry.

Salvation - redemption - making it - is a big time human worry for every person.

There are enough horror stories around about going to hell.

Dante’s Inferno is still on the book shelves.

There are enough imaginary stories and jokes about people getting to heaven only to discover they are last and all kinds of other persons are first or ahead of them.

I won’t mind being last. It will mean I made it.

There is the image of the Pearly Gate. There is the image of St. Peter testing us with questions at that front door and gate.

We’re dealing here with Salvation, Redemption, Heaven, Making it.

We don’t want to die and stand outside and be like the person Jesus talks about in today’s gospel. We don’t want to be screaming, “Lord, open the door for us.” 

We don’t want to hear Jesus say, “I do not know where you are from.”

Woo.  We don’t want to standing there wailing and grinding our teeth and seeing all these others getting into heaven - and we’re on the outside.


Pope Francis has been talking about all this since he’s become pope.

He told the Church to open up our doors - especially to those who have felt it shut in their face - or they don’t like what’s happened inside its doors - abuse, phonyism, put downs, what have you, and who have you?

Last Christmas I asked a relative, “How was Mass this morning?” and he said he doesn’t go any more.

“Ooops,” I said, “What happened?”

He said, “I was sick and tired of Sunday after Sunday - sermon after sermons - of hearing gays being bashed and blasted.” 

 I wonder if his church was designated as one of the 10,000 churches that are “Doors of Mercy”.

I wonder if they sing in his church, “All are welcome. All are welcome in this place.”

I don’t know about you, but I want to hear that song when I’m heading for the doors of heaven. That’s what I hear Jesus singing and saying. That’s what I hear - especially in the Gospel of Luke - especially Luke 15.

I was praying once and got to thinking about dying and going to heaven. And a voice - a voice of God said,  “What happens if you don’t make it? What happens if you have too merciful image of God - that I’m not like what you think I’m like.”

I paused and then said, “Well, God -  then, the hell with you. I’ll go find the God your Son Jesus told me about in Luke 15.”

I put my hand to my mouth and went, “Ooops!”

Then I took my hand away from my mouth and said, “ No, I’ll find the God I’ve met in your Son Jesus, O Lord.” 


Picture on top by Ray  K. Metzker, Venice, 1960