Saturday, October 1, 2016

October 1, 2016


My life is in little boxes,
in bottom drawers.

OK - the other stuff that
everyone sees is my
car and my house,
my family and my friends,
my hair and my skin,
my clothes and my
theories and my comments.

But the real stuff is in the
little boxes - that I empty out
onto my bed from time to time
and wonder about my moments.

That’s the real stuff.
Wouldn't you like to know?

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Friday, September 30, 2016


The spool of thread fell….

It unraveled as it rolled
across the wooden floor.

My fingers still held the
lead of the thread - that
I was trying to put through
the eye of the needle.

That’s when the spool
slipped out of my hands.

I laughed. Spiders - leaves -
skin - do their repairs
without incident every time.

Me? I’m unraveling and
slipping as I walk across
wooden floors with holes
in my socks from now on.

 © Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Thursday, September 29, 2016

September 29, 2016


Wow moments?
Mistakes I made?
Feel guilty about?
Ashamed of?
If I could do ____ all over again?
Things I’m proud of?
Moments that gave me a life insight?
Turning points in my life?
What others are saying about me?
What I’m saying about myself?
If you only knew the following about me …?
Lies I’ve told?
Exaggerations about something I did?
Moments I felt best about myself?
Someone I can really talk to?
God moments?
Atheistic moments?
Deep gratitude moments?
Moments I felt cherished?
Greatest moment of my life so far?
Moments I felt lied to?
Saved by?

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016
Statue on top: The Thinker by
Auguste Rodin [1840-1917]
At first the statue was entitled,
"The Poet."  It was Dante
looking down into the
circles of hell.

P.S.  If you want to make this a self-test, get a piece of paper or use the computer and put a 3 before every one of these questions.  E.g., “3 moments I felt best about myself?” or “3 God moments?” or “3 biggest regrets”.  If you do that, this will be Self-Test # 26 on my blog.



The title of my homily for this 26th Wednesday in OT  is, “What Holds Us Back?”

Today’s gospel  - [Luke 9: 57-62]  - triggers that thought - that question - especially . But Job also had a lot on his back to weigh him down - and hold him back. [Cf. Job 9: 1-12, 14-16.]

So a few thoughts on the question, “What Holds Us Back?”

I suspect this homily is more for procrastinators like me - compared to those who get a lot done every day.


The next question should be: from what?  Holds us back from what?

Answers: from being a better Christian, wife, husband, grandmother, grandfather, son, daughter, brother, sister, listener, giver, worker.

What’s holding us back from being better?

I sense that’s like a sign above every work desk: “What’s holding you back?”


I don’t know about you, but time and laziness hold me back from doing all that I would like to do in life.

Once I hit 75, I find myself repeating Clint Eastwood’s line from the Dirty Harry movie, Magnum Force, when Harry Callahan says, “A man has to know his limitations.”

So for starters, laziness and limitations hold me back.

So to, too many pulls in too many ways - and then an inner voice says, “Baloney! You’re just too lazy.”

No? Yes?  But at times I have a lot to do. Don’t we all?


So we make our lists.

Sometimes we write them out.

Most of the time the things we are putting off are like a dripping faucet - drip, drip, drip. Get moving. You know what you’re supposed to do, do, do, do.

At other times they are like a bulldog growling at our feet. “You gotta, gotta, gotta….” 

So life has a lot of gotta, gotta, gotta’s. Life has lots of do, do, do, do. You gotta do this.

Listen to self. We’re a broken record. Listen!

“I still haven’t called the doctor. I still haven’t written that Thank You note. I still haven’t paid that bill. I still haven’t cleaned that closet. I still haven’t gotten rid of that stack of magazines. You’ll never read them. I still haven’t given my so and so a call. It’s at least two months now - and the anniversary of her husband’s death has come and gone.”


When I listen to Job in The Book of Job,  I pick up that he realizes God does an awful lot.

That’s different from what I hear many people saying. Too many people are daily complainers about what God does not do? Job sees God keeping this vast universe going.

Let me do back to today’s first reading from the Book of Job.   We hear Job realizing God’s in charge of the sun and the stars. Job writes,

He alone stretches out the heavens
and treads upon the crests of the sea.
He made the Bear and Orion,
the Pleiades and the constellations of the south;
He does great things past finding out,
marvelous things beyond reckoning.

And yet we still scream down deep  to this busy God of ours - especially when things are going wrong in our life. “God, what are you doing? Where are you when I need you?”

We all have our list  of what God should be doing.

Does God have a list for us - on what we’re supposed to be doing?


Today’s gospel has Jesus calling people but they have excuses: “I gotta bury my father.”   “I have to go back home and do some things there first.”

Jesus says, put your hand to the plow and stop looking back.

Put your hands to the plow and stop looking sideways.


Let me close with what I think is the biggest thing that holds us back.

It’s comparing ourselves to others.

It’s when we spend too much inner time - inner complaining we do about others not doing their part.

I don’t but I want to say to complainers. Let me walk around inside you for 20 minutes and I’ll tell you to stop your complaining about others - and do what you are being called to do.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

September 28, 2016


Admiring a wooden floor, a baseball
bat, a wooden table, a wooden statue -
touching the grain - the cut of wood -
mahogany, maple - oak - realizing this
was in the forest - in the rain - in the
sun - in the dark quiet,  unnoticed -
sacred - one of many - seeing the
forest and not the trees - but now -
this floor, this chair, this table, this
wood - has found a home - a place
to shine, wax eloquent - but do we
wonder if it misses - feels bad - has
survival syndrome - because all that
other wood it was neighbor to has
been burnt, rotted, or ended up as a
pallate in a factory or a cross on a hill.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

September 27, 2016


Who was the first painter to put
their name on the bottom corner
of their painting? “I did this!”

Up till that moment, did an artist
feel a tinge of scream wanting to
let everyone know: “This is my work!”?

In every house, if we look around,
we’d find pillows, couch blankets,
knickknacks, crafted without a name.

What have I done? What have I made
that screams out to all, “I made this.
I did this. I was here. I have a name.”?

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016
Painting: Pablo Picasso,
Bullfight III, Feb. 25, 1960

Monday, September 26, 2016

September 26, 2016


We start out with such a tiny circumference:
egg and sperm - becoming one. Then we
slowly grow within our mom’s inner circle -
then birth - the baby screaming and squinting
and squirming for the new - reaching for the
round sun in the day and slivers of the round
moon in the night - enjoying the round earth
for life. We are aware of  our 3 clear circles:
sun, moon, and earth. Crawling, standing,
walking on the circumference of the earth -
on floors, rugs, playgrounds, sidewalks,
classrooms, the green of fields - roads.
Around and around on the merry-go-round -
the circle of life, reaching for the shiny ring -
marriage, babies, rolling on and on and on -
till the ball stops rolling -  the earth slows
down for us - and we shuffle and crawl -
as we age - but all is well - if way back when -
we chose to let the circumference of God
and the circumference of others dissolve -
and we discover the Boundlessness of God - 
Others - Eternity - All - without circumference.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Sunday, September 25, 2016



The title of my homily for this 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time [C] is, “The Waiting Room.”

These past two weeks  or so I was in a few  waiting rooms of eye doctors - taking Father Joe Krastel for his cataract preparation and operation and follow up meetings. He needed a driver. I was also at the dentist for a cleaning and then a tooth pull and then Friday to get the stitches out. And recently I was at the skin doctor to take care of precancerous stuff on my forehead and face.

Was that why I began thinking of waiting rooms - when I read the Bible  readings for today?

When we’re in a doctor or dentist’s waiting room, we think of our teeth and our health - and what will they find. They take our blood and we wait for the results. 

Waiting rooms trigger health and reality stuff.


The title of my homily is, “The Waiting Room”.

When I read today’s readings I remembered a poem by Thomas Merton - the writer and Trappist monk. It's a poem he wrote when Ernest Hemingway shot and killed himself.

So did I get the idea of “The Waiting Room” - for this homily from a poem by Thomas Merton which he wrote about Ernest Hemingway  - who had killed himself? I went and found it last night - while working on this homily.

Merton pictures Hemingway moving along in the dark with all those who died that night - moving forwards - like in a crowd of prisoners for what’s next. Here’s the poem.

An Elegy For Ernest Hemingway

by Thomas Merton

Now for the first time on the night of your death
your name is mentioned in convents, ne cadas in
. [cadas - "to fall" as into obscurity]

Now with a true bell your story becomes final. Now
men in monasteries, men of requiems, familiar with
the dead, include you in their offices.

You stand anonymous among thousands, waiting in
the dark at great stations on the edge of countries
known to prayer alone, where fires are not merciless,
we hope, and not without end.

You pass briefly through our midst. Your books and
writing have not been consulted. Our prayers are
pro defuncto N.

Yet some look up, as though among a crowd of prisoners
or displaced persons, they recognized a friend
once known in a far country. For these the sun also
rose after a forgotten war upon an idiom you made
great. They have not forgotten you. In their silence
you are still famous, no ritual shade.

How slowly this bell tolls in a monastery tower for a
whole age, and for the quick death of an unready
dynasty, and for that brave illusion: the adventurous

For with one shot the whole hunt is ended!


Before I came here to Annapolis I was working out of our parish in Lima, Ohio - preaching parish missions - mainly in small towns all over Ohio. I did that for 8 ½ years. Myself and another priest would give a series of sermons - morning and night - for a week and then move on.

What I liked about giving those sermons was that we could keep on improving them as we gave them week after week for a year - hopefully making them better.

One year I gave this sermon - and now I wonder if I got the idea from Merton’s poem or something C.S. Lewis wrote about the afterlife. In the sermon I had someone dying and waking up walking on this big long line moving towards God with thousands and thousands of people who had recently died as well.

And as I walked - and as I began talking with those I was walking with - we began wondering what it would be like when we get to God.

It was a long and a big waiting room.

The title of my homily for today is, “The Waiting Room.”


The church, this church is a waiting room.

We come in here and we wait for an hour….

And like a doctor’s waiting room or when we’re on a line, we look around to see who’s with us.

Yesterday I was at 3 weddings here at St. Mary’s - and at every wedding I wonder what all these people sitting here are wondering about.

I welcome them.

I figure most are from far and wide - other states - other churches - or other states of mind.

I pray that God waits on them and gives them a big welcome and a challenge.

I say the prayers - and it seems that most don’t know the answer to “The Lord be with you.”

I hope and pray the married folks present will look at their marriage - their vows - their lives since they were married.

I listen to the grandparents after the wedding. They remember the bride or bridegroom when they were tiny little kids - just yesterday.

The church is a waiting room - and like any waiting room - it’s a place where people do a lot of thinking - whether they are at a wedding or a funeral - a baptism or a regular Mass.


In the doctor’s waiting room after looking around we pick up a magazine and we start reading.

We read something - that gets us thinking.

In this waiting room we read the scriptures - we hear the scriptures - we think the scriptures.

Last Sunday we heard in the gospel about this slick guy who got caught cheating on the job and used his skills to plan for his future for when he lost his job. And Jesus said - Jesus actually said this - to be slick, to be smart, to plan for your future - to sort of steal heaven.

The week before that we heard about a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son and we might have thought about times when we were lost - or how hard it is to forgive family members who mess up.

Today sitting in this waiting room, we might have thought about Amos in our first reading. He was an ordinary farm worker - who worked on sycamore trees when there was work and worked with sheep at other times. And he started to get up on his soap box yelling to people who didn’t care at all about the poor - just themselves - fat catting it - couch potatoing their life away.

Today sitting in this waiting room we might have read or heard from Paul in his second reading for today. We might have heard the call “to pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gratitude".

Today standing and hearing today’s gospel, we might have felt a big time, “Uh oh! Oh no!”

And we might be sitting here scared about the condition of the health of our soul.

We might be saying, “Oh my God, I’m like the rich man in today’s gospel, who didn’t realize he was not seeing the poor man - who has a name - Lazarus - at my door step.”

And both die.

And there is this big chasm that the rich man built between himself and the poor man.

And it’s hell and it’s forever.

And sitting here we pray  that we get out of the hells we have found ourselves in.

And leaving here, this week hopefully we'll notice people in our own homes - our own streets - our work place - where there is a great chasm between us - and we sit here in this waiting room - realizing the times we’ve been in hell - and we say, “Sartre was right. Hell is other people.”

That became perhaps the most remembered story line that Jean Paul Sartre, the French Existential writer,  ever wrote.

And we also say, “Sartre was wrong. Heaven is other people - when we are in communion - holy communion with each other.”


The title of my homily is, “The Waiting Room.”

And we come to this church, this waiting room to be with  Jesus the healer.  We come here to receive Jesus the doctor’s prescription on how to live a healthier life. Amen.


Painting on top: The Waiting Room by George Tooker, 1959
September 25, 2016


Pick three of these words
to describe you: cool, hot,
young, old, innovative,
picky, pushy, polite,
cautious, cunning, crafty,
shy, savvy, suspicious,
worker, non-stop, quick,
slow, deliberate, exact,
sloppy, lazy, behind,
holy, saintly, servant.

Note: this is self-test # 25 on my blog. Can you find the other 24? This is best done with 1 or more other people. You do yourself and you do the other person or persons and share the results.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016