Saturday, February 11, 2017

February 11, 2017


Was there a “Life Lecture” for you -
some time back there in the spring
or even fall of your life? Was there
a talk that you can still hear - because
the speaker spoke inside you - sat
down at your inner kitchen table?  
You connected. You chatted. You
sipped the tea or wine or beer of
wisdom and you went, “Oh, okay,
that’s how life works.” And by the way,
if you were asked to give a  lecture of
your 5 keys to life or 7 secrets of happiness
or the 10 commandments  how to treat
one another, what would it sound like?

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Friday, February 10, 2017

February 10, 2017


There are always sounds in the distance -
drums that distract is - making our heart
beat faster - or a violin that sooths us -
sounds from a distance - a fire truck,
a church bell, a kid in the park yelling,
“Mira! Look at me!” But the ones we
really listen to - are the words that return -
an acid comment that put us down 45 years
ago - when a teacher or a coach said the 
wrong thing - and we let those sandpaper words
still rub us the wrong way - some every day.

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Thursday, February 9, 2017

February 9, 2017


Isn’t it funny, in any given scene,
if there’s seven or more people,
there are two who don’t want to
be noticed and one who definitely
wants to be noticed? The rest, I
don’t know about them and I certainly
don’t want them to notice that I’m
trying to notice what’s really going on.

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017
- Painting: Pierre -August Renoir,
Luncheon of the Boating Party.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

February 8, 2017


You spot them, sometimes
when you least expect them….
Walking through the woods
or going by someone’s yard….
A neckless with a tiny picture
of one’s husband along with
his big solid metal wedding ring….
A statue to Saint Lucy - on a book shelf,
with a pair of glasses and a small candle....
A gravestone - with a plastic flower,
a baseball hat and two bowling shoes….
A wallet with pictures of all one’s
grand kids - along with one’s parents….
A Kyoto garden, raked sand, flowing
water, three big well chiseled rocks....
A church, front bench, right side, in front
of a picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help....

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

February 7. 2017


Worries like worms wiggle
and slide through the soil
of our soul. Sometimes
they come up and out of
the earth when it rains.
What’s wonderful is when
we see them dead and dried
up on an afternoon sidewalk.

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Monday, February 6, 2017



The title of my homily of my reflections for this morning is, “Origins.”

It comes out of today’s first reading for this 5th Monday in Ordinary Time when we start the book of Genesis: 1: 1-19.  Sometimes we go through a whole book of the Bible, but this time we’re going to get Genesis for just two weeks.  As you know Genesis is a long book, so we’ll get sections of it at other times of the year.


Genesis - as we know - means beginnings.

I chose the word “Origins” to get at a few thoughts for a Monday morning.

There is something in us humans that triggers origins questions at times.

How did I get here? Where did I come from?

Countries and companies like to put in writing where they come from.  But it’s usually well after they are established.

So too individuals - so too families.

I noticed about in the past 25 years or so - people seem to be more interested in genealogies than in the past.  I don’t know if that’s true, but that’s my sense as I think about this in a first draft talk about “Origins”.

The latest thing we’re seeing is DNA reporting.

You send in some spit and some money and you get a report on your DNA.

I am tempted to try that, but I hesitate, because  I wonder and worry about follow up mail, etc. etc. etc.


The first 5 books of the Bible - the Pentateuch - gives us origins stuff - but we can say, so too the whole Bible.

Our Jewish Bible begins with a creation account. Better linguists point out that there are two solid creation accounts here in the beginning of Genesis - with other material mixed in.

When we studied Genesis we learned that lots of primitive cultures from around the world have primitive creation accounts.

In fact, I have a collection of Creation Accounts - from different cultures.

People want to know about ancestors.

People want to know about plants, trees, animals, the sun, the moon, and the sky.

Genesis, today’s first reading, will give us the first 4 days of creation.

Genesis also gives us the next 3 days tomorrow.

Genesis gives us names of people and places.


And if one takes the time - and reads enough about Genesis or any creation account - key main messages can be gleaned from the texts.

God is our Creator.

God creates good.

So the next question is: where does bad come from?

Genesis will tackle that one - when it tells us about the good tree and the bad tree - and not to choose to eat from this one tree.

So the message is: God doesn’t create bad.

So a message is, we have a choice.

The good fruit, bad fruit, is a choice story. It’s basic. It’s primitive. It’s also profound.  In this choice story - this good and evil story - the message is that we are the ones who messed up - grew up and choose evil.


The title of my homily is, “Origins.”

We were created by our parents - and all is good.

When did we first realize evil?

I don’t know the answer to that - but my earliest memory of evil might have been a moment when I was walking along 4th avenue in Brooklyn. I was a tiny kid at the time. I began hearing two men in a gas station yelling at each other. Then one threw a tire iron - that metal plus sign - a cross - at the other guy. I can still hear that metal sound clinking on the ground ever since - plus the cursing and the anger.

I also remember seeing the police tracking down a pocket book thief - at a park as a kid.

Those two moments are still in my memory. I don’t remember kids being mean to other kids.

All was good - but I didn’t write my Genesis - so I haven’t written it.

I talk to my sister from time to time to get origins stories.

I assume I have to do more listening to our oral history and more writing and reading my Genesis.


Enough already….

Did I trigger any thoughts in you about your origins?

What are your origins questions?

What has been your experience of “The Good”.

What has been your experience of “The Bad” or “Evil”.

I remember reading something Jacques Maritain saying, “Okay you bring up the Problem of Evil, but please bring up the Problem of Good as well.”  

Then he added, “Why is there so much good in the world?”
February 6, 2017


If I had to give you a nickname
it would be, “The Mouse.” Why?
Well, you’re quiet. You sneak
along the wall - when nobody’s
around. You don't seem to be
interested in anything I'm 
interested in. It seems you can't
be caught. Now I don't want 
to be catty - so I'm quiet too.
Besides all this, I have no clue as 
to what kind of cheese you want.
What are you after in all these
scamperings all over the place?

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Sunday, February 5, 2017



The title of my homily for this 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time [A] is, “Faith Switch.”      

What’s a “Faith Switch.”

Well, it’s like a light switch. In fact it looks like a light switch - with the possibility of an up or down movement. [Gesture up and down.] And it has two words on it: “On” and “Off”.

Some older people - like grandparents know that everyone has a faith switch on the wall of their soul - or as Jesus calls it, “One’s inner room.”

Some older people - sorry to say - don’t know about that faith switch. Maybe it was turned off in their soul a long time ago - unfortunately - and they are now in the dark when it comes to God and faith - and life. They are unable to show - or bring up faith ideas and issues and images - to themselves or their kids or grandkids. Their faith switch has been in the “OFF” position for years now - so how can they tell others about faith?

When that happens, well -  that’s an, “Uh oh! A Bummer!”

Now, this is tricky stuff - and it can get us into judging others - and that can get us a bit nervous. We’ve all heard the Native American saying about, “Unless you’ve walked in another’s moccasins - you don’t know where another has walked or what they have gone through.”

And we know Jesus’ thoughts about this same issue, “Unless you’ve walked in another’s sins, don’t throw stones.”

So not having been in another’s inner room or soul, some folks think the best wait - when it comes to that inner faith switch - is to let another be the one to one to discover some of this stuff.

As priest, I’ve heard many people ask about this stuff - especially folks over 70 - who have sons and daughters and grandkids - who have dropped out of church and faith. The same kind of wonderings come up about someone who is drinking too much - or messing up too much.

Is the best move to let others - especially those younger than us - to find out about that faith switch for themselves.

Does one have to be in the dark, and bump into enough suitcases - and trip and fall enough times - hit bottom,  before they start searching - before they feel the need for more understandings about what life is all about.

In other words, I don’t want to make things worse - hear, “Mind your own business!” or what have you.

So in this homily - I’m taking a chance - to say out loud that we all have a faith switch on the wall of our soul - and maybe it’s not the best move to hit another’s button.

I remember being stationed and every morning, early morning, we sat there eating breakfast with very few lights on. It was easier on the eyes.  Well, this guy would come in every time, turn all the lights on full blast, and say, “Let’s put a little light on the subject.”

And everyone with coffee cup in hand or Cheerios on the spoon - would moan, “Oh no!”

And Larry never got it.

People like to eat breakfast the way they like to eat breakfast - with just enough lights on.

For the sake of transparency, I like breakfast with natural light - with the light switches on “Off”.

The title of my homily is, “Faith Switch.”

Pause during this mass - and feel for that switch. Like a little kid discovering a light switch, turn it on and off - on and off - on and off - up and down - up and down a few times.


The faith switch in Judith and Jim got turned off when they lost their first and only baby. They found out it was going to be a boy and they named it Justin - while he was still within his mom. He came out early and still born.

Judith and Jim, had tried everything to have a baby - but nothing worked - till finally - sure enough - Judith was pregnant. She took it slow, nice and easy, but two months before  the baby was due - Justin was born - dead.

They became silent with God. They became angry with God. They became silent to each other - with God mentioning’s.

Their faith switch was turned off.


Of course abuse and abortion are deadly and wrong - horrible - hitting faith buttons - so when they became a combo  - in a parish - a bunch of people had their faith switch turned off. Father So and So was off on abortion - every sermon - every Sunday - seeming to be without sympathy for people sitting there who had been through that horror - and healing and forgiveness can be slow - for some lifetime slow.  So when Father So and got caught doing the wrong thing, abuse, it hit the papers. It hit the hearts and minds of a bunch of people - and their faith switch went off. Sorry.


For Sarah it was a bunch of little things that got her to push that faith switch upwards - and the light went on.

First it was McDonalds. She was sitting there. She liked to go there every once and a while. Hey - a dollar day - not bad - but she also loved to get their creamy ice cream - as well.

As she was sitting there one Saturday around 2 PM - in came a family - and they got their orders and sat down - just across from her table. They sat there - heads down for a  moment - held hands - made the sign of the cross - and said, “Grace”. It was in a mumble from a moment - but Sarah’s hearing was going.

But Sarah saw a faith moment. It became a Normal Rockwell type picture in her brain - and at supper that night - by herself - she made a sign of the cross for her food - but especially, she thanked God for that family she saw in McDonalds.

Next she was watching TV - in her Lazy Girl chair -  but she fell asleep. It was late, really late, and some sports announcers were on the screen and they woke up her up with their chatter. They were talking about the Super Bowl - which Sarah knew nothing about - or when it was played. They talked about an Irish Quarterback who did very well. Someone asked someone why some players point skywards after a great catch - and the other announcer. “They are giving God the glory” not themselves. “Nice” said the questioner.  I wish my team got into the Super Bowl and I wish they made some great plays and gave God and my team some glory.

Next it was going by a church - and the light was red and Sarah saw three ladies in the cold in running shorts - running down the street and going by a church and making the sign of the cross as they did.

That brought back memories of her mother - making the sign of the cross on her and her brothers and sisters when they were kids - when they went by a church - and sure enough Sarah went back to church - making the sign of the cross as she entered - just like she saw that family in McDonalds - giving God the glory.

And the light switch - her faith switch went on.


For Tom it was going home to Arkansas for the funeral of his wife’s brother. He had a sudden heart attack. The funeral was in a small rural Catholic Church - and he found out - all that his brother-in-law did for people. The priest described him as the salt of the earth and the light of the town - the bread winner for so many hungry people. Tom had never heard those words of Jesus before.

And Tom and his wife went back to church when they back home.

Their faith switch was turned on - in Arkansas.


The title of my homily is “Faith Switch.”

Like a little kid at a light switch- turn your faith switch on and off, on and off, up and down during this mass.

What does it look like? What does it feel like? 
February 5, 2017


The curtain opened - a lone man stood
in the middle of the stage and held up a
big dictionary. He then opened it up. He
tapped the big book. Out fell dozens and
dozens of words. Out fell dozens and
dozens of people dressed as words and
shaped as what they were: pizza, mouse,
hammer, clarinet, knife, fork, spoon,
frog, fish, alligator, bear, poodle, a yoyo,
and they spilled off the stage and into the
audience. The slice of pizza yelled loudly
from halfway up the main aisle, “Love me!”
A six foot mouse - ran across the stage
and up the side aisle - then stopped to rub
against the hammer and the spoon.
Well, for that audience that night - a
dictionary was never the same again.

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017
February 4, 2017


A red ribbon got caught
in the empty branches
of a winter naked tree -
and remained there high
above everything in
ice and snow, wind and
shivering shake - all winter.

Ribbons tossed with
Christmas wrappings
in garbage cans were
envious - so too ribbons
in girls' hairs. Little did
they know that the caught
ribbon wished she was them.

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017
February 3, 2017


Mozart and the Mass and so many
beginning words when we meet each
other are a Kyrie. We know inadequacy,
we know sin, we know we fail each
other too, too often - so for starters,
we know the Mass.  Now let’s move
on to Glory. Let’s move on to promises
to give our body and blood to each
other - in Holy Communion - then 
we can move into the night, to service,
to what's next. Amen.

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017