Saturday, May 13, 2017

May 13, 2017



To be unassuming is

we all have them....

Trees bud ….
Bugs bug ….
Spring arrives ….
Birds return ….
Birds eat bugs….
The phone rings….
People bug us ….
They surprise us....
They want us ....

It's Saturday morning 
and we have to get moving
and they have nothing else to do....

At least these are
some of my assumptions
and they are not

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Friday, May 12, 2017


When I was taking the train from London - through the chunnel - under the English Channel - to France and Belgium, I was intrigued that a train station in London was named, “St Pancras Train Station.”

Today, May 12, is the feast of St. Pancras, so how about a few comments about that train station with the name of a saint in it?

With a little research I found out that the station was built right near St. Pancras Church in London.

Next question: how did a Roman teenage boy saint and martyr get recognition in England.

Answer: Pope Gregory the Great - 567 to 633 - sent a  missionary named Augustine [who became Augustine of Cantebury - c. 534-604 - no,  not the famous Saint Augustine of Carthage] - along with relics of the martyr Saint Pancras. Various churches in England were dedicated to Saint Pancras - one of which is the Old Church St. Pancras in London.

That’s the story in about about 60 words. While waiting for the train for Brussels  at St. Pancras station I noticed the big bronze statues - especially of the poet John Betjeman - who wrote poems on the trains coming to and from that station.

That's John Betjeman - with his brief case - probably looking up at the train schedule.

Wrong hand dummy!

Notice also the couple kissing hello or goodbye in the station. If you ever get there, check out the images at the base of that kissing couple as well.



The title of my homily for this final St. Mary’s high school Mass for this school year is, “Oh, Say What You See.”

If you go to a Baltimore Orioles game - and other many games in Maryland, when they sing the Star Spangled Banner - the crowd likes to yell out that “Oh!”

The title of my homily is, “Oh, Say What You See.”

The title of many of our frustrations is, “Oh say can’t  you see what I’m seeing?”

The title of many of our family arguments and relationship problems is, “Oh!  Can’t you see what I see?  Oh! Can’t you see, get, understand, how I see this?”


Life is saying what we see - what we perceive - what we get.

What do we talk about when we talk about life?

We tell each other what we’re seeing.

So and so is dating so and so.

Teacher X is fabulous. Teacher Y is so so. Teacher Z is interesting.

Did you see who’s pregnant? She looks so beautiful. He looks so happy.

I hope to see St. Michael’s this weekend. We’re sailing down there on Saturday morning. I hope the weather will be okay - but nice and windy.

I hope we see some dolphins.

I hope the weather is clear. On a clear day you can see forever.

We spend our whole life  looking. We spend our whole life go figuring - first telling ourselves what we’re seeing - and then we tell others.  It’s called “thinking”.  It’s called “communication”. “It’s called “life.”

The 3 rules for a good marriage are: communication, communication, communication.

The person who came up with that must have saw people not communicating.

The person who came up with that must have people seeing differently that each other - wearing different glasses, contacts, eye balls.


School - education - learning is all about learning how to see.

Schools are vision centers.

When we go to the eye doctor or a vision center they show us these letters through these prisms - which is better, this or that, this or that.

We hesitate - but sometimes that is much clearer.

When we are learning - we are learning is this picture better than that picture - that vision.

Our eyes change as we go through life.

Do all of you see better in May than what you saw last September - and that seeing includes your family, your friends, life, the environment, a sport, chemistry, calculus, society, social studies, God, your neighbors, and money?

Every year St. Mary’s, St. John’s, the Naval Academy, and all the schools of Annapolis, have folks coming back for anniversaries.

We all see differently at our 25th anniversary than we saw when we graduated or got married.

A couple of years ago I went with two classmates to go through Montana for two weeks - a drive through vacation - to see the Lewis and Clark spots on the 200th anniversary.  The 3 of us talked about what we saw in the 3 different spots we served: Clem in Brazil, Tom in the Caribbean, and myself in the United States.

“Oh, say what you see.”

It was a great vacation - and we saw a lot more than Montana.


In today’s gospel from John 14: 1-6 Jesus says, “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.”

That’s talking about the hereafter - which we imagine - but nobody has ever seen.

At the end of today’s gospel Jesus tells his disciples, his followers, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”

If I hear Jesus saying anything, he’s telling us how to get to heaven.

If I hear Jesus saying anything, he’s also telling us how to see better - how to see ways of doing life better - in the here and now.

If I see the purpose of St. Mary’s Schools - it’s that we all see Jesus’ way of doing life.

Looking back on what I’ve seen in life, I’ve seen young people come to the edge, the threshold of many dwelling places - they stand there and look - to see what they see in that room.  Their faces sendoff signals and messages - that I see with my eyes and my face. Smiles or scowls. Votes: Yes or No.

I see them whisper and head out the door.  They didn’t see anything they liked or what the leader liked.

I remember a mother telling me about taking her son to different high schools to see which one he thought would be a good fit. He didn’t like what he saw in the first school they visited.  He said to his mom, “These are not my people.  The next place was perfect.  He saw what he liked - and said,  “Now these are my kind of people.”

What do you see?

You go to different colleges to see what you see.

Sometimes your parents see differently.

Sometimes you have to, you better see, with your wallet or pocket book.

Young couples get jobs around here. Where to life. They see Annapolis - the water, the streets, the bars, the red bricks, the schools.  As priest I hope they see the churches - of whatever religion they belong to.

What do you see.

If you’re in a room you don’t like, if you’re with a leader, you really don’t like, do you have the courage, to get out of there and find a better room.

I’m a priest, I saw priests and I liked what they were doing, so I entered that room - that dwelling place.

If I didn’t choose being a priest, since I like writing, I think I could see myself as a newspaper and magazine writer reporter. Actually I ended up being able to do both.


The title of my homily is, “Oh Say What You See.”

How do you see yourself now - at the end of another school year.

How do you see your summer.

How do you see next year.

How do you see yourself in 25 years.

How do you see yourself entering heaven - and how do you see God seeing you.
May 12, 2017


Coming into the theater for a movie, concert
or play, there are those dark maroon
soft - low chairs. If it’s a movie, people
are talking quietly. If it’s a concert or a play,
the talking is a bit louder - but not big loud.
There’s also more lights and a sloping floor.
If it’s a movie,  the theater  has more stairs
or steps. Anticipation and expectation are 
in the air. These feelings - these thoughts - 
are like the semi-dark rugs on the floor.
We know the d├ęcor. We know the lights
will start to get lower. We know all this
comes with the knowing - that we’re in for
an evening different than most evenings.
And everything is always better because
we’re in this together with each other.
Open the curtains. Start the music. Begin the 
movie. The lion roars. The show must go on.

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Thursday, May 11, 2017


Hail Mary,
full of grace,
since the Lord is with you
teach me how to pray,
teach me how to ponder
God’s inner words to me,
teach me how to say,
“Be it done to me
according to your word,”
teach me how to see others
especially those who are empty
and those who are in need,
teach me how to be present to those 
who feel they are walking
their way of the cross all alone
and to be there for them
now and at the hour
of their death. Amen.

© Andrew Costello
Painting by Moulins


Each day my whole being
proclaims the mysteries of the Lord.

Each day my whole being is a calling:
to bring Jesus into our world,
to bring Jesus to others.

Yes, swords pierce hearts.

Yes, life has its sorrowful mysteries.

Yet, each day is also filled with
life’s joyful and glorious mysteries:
rushing in haste into the hill country of others
to be present with them in their needs;
to find and to help others
when they run out of the wine of life,
when all that is left is
emptiness, blood and water.

Yes, there are agonies 
in the garden of the soul.

Yes, there is the carrying 
of the cross to Calvary.

Yet each day my whole being
proclaims the mystery of Jesus’ presence
in our world: Resurrection, Ascension, Pentecost,
then the Lifting Up and the Crowning
in the Kingdom of Heaven.

© Andrew Costello


May God, the Creator of all life, pour down choicest blessings on the woman who brought us into this world: our own mom. Amen.

May God, the Sustainer of all life, strengthen all mothers: young moms, not so young moms, single moms, grandmas, stay at home moms, out-to-work moms, each and every mom. Amen.

May God, the Protector of all life, direct all those who stand in and serve as moms: teachers, principals, school secretaries, lunch room staff, nurses, guidance counselors, day care workers, baby sitters. Amen.

May God, the Giver of Eternal Life, bring all of us into the Kingdom of Everlasting Life, starting with Mary, the Mother of Life, and all the Saints, and all those who have gone before us, forever and ever. Amen.

And may Almighty God bless us, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

©  Andrew Costello

May 11, 2017


They are everywhere - bridges ….

When I have the time - not all the time -
I love to pause at the edge of the river
and know that both sides have their stories.

They are everywhere - bridges ….

Once upon a time I crossed a bridge -
when I came to it - but it was too soon - too
much - and I knew I had to get back home.

They are everywhere - bridges ….

Then there was that bridge - and the other
side  had all those lights - and I knew I had
to cross it -  and I’d never really go home again.

They are everywhere - bridges ….

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017
Painting on top by Leonid Afremon

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

May 10, 2017


Not a feeling one would like to have ….

To be forgotten - to be neglected,
to not being asked one’s thoughts
on what we ought to do in this
situation…. And then, someone
new - comes waltzing into the room
and they ask her for suggestions
on how to solve the problem. Grrrrr….

Not a feeling one would like to have ….

Without knowing, without remembering,
it was like those days when we were in
the high chair and everyone else was sitting
at the kitchen table - laughing and talking -
so we started banging our spoon - but
nobody turned their head - so this time we
started screaming and that didn’t work either.

Not a feeling one would like to have  ….

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

May 9, 2017


Hitting 77 - now being seen - at times just 
as a shadow on off white - grey white walls - 
looking around - wondering if anyone is ever
really interested in anything I have to say -
in the evening, in the dark night of life.
Well …. God ….

Hitting 77 - waking up the next morning -
noticing that others - are more than shadows -
walking on tile  floors - coffee cups and cell
phones in hand - words - words. Is anyone
listening to what anybody else wants to say?
Well .... God .... 

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Monday, May 8, 2017

May 8, 2017


It takes most people till their
mid-thirties - to find their voice.

It takes most people till their
mid-forties - to find their tone.

Voice: what I have to say....
Tone:  how I say what I have to say ....

Put those two together - voice
and tone - then people can begin.

Next comes figuring out what I
need to figure out from my past.

Next comes figuring out what I
want to bring about in our future.

Put those two together - along with
voice and tone - and begin to listen.

In other words, education comes by
degrees. By 50 - a speaker is born.

By 75 they stop listening .... They
think they know what I have to say.

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Sunday, May 7, 2017


[The title of my reflection for this 4th Sunday after Easter is, “The Sheep Pen.”  It’s not a homily. It’s not a story. It’s more a meditation or a reflection - and those who don’t get poetry,  might not get this. Sorry. But for a change of pace and a way of thinking about a few things outside the pen - last night I spotted in today’s gospel, a couple things I decided to write about.  So a reflection called “The Sheep Pen.”]

On the road from Jerusalem to Jericho there is a sheep pen.

It’s not a classy one. In fact it’s kind of crude and clumsy -  but it does its job. I saw it in January 2000, on my only trip to Israel. 

It’s big enough to hold - say - 300 sheep - for the night - along with a few shepherds - and throw into the mix - travelers going up and down that road - who camp outdoors - on the cheap.

It gets dark on that road from Jerusalem to Jericho.

Shepherds - coming up and down that road - have been using this sheep pen for the past 2000 years at least and maybe a 1000 years  before that.

It’s a good place to rest for the night.

In Palestine the past is always present  - and the present is always present as well -  people doing  - the ordinary stuff - people have done from the beginning of time - like stopping  to rest for the night.

Most of the road from Jerusalem to Jericho is narrow  - one lane each way. Today, two cars can glide by sort of smoothly - without having to slow down - but better be careful.

Buses are different. They can fit through on either side  - but they usually slow down - when passing each other - each from different directions especially on curves. Moreover, the road can have dips - because it’s goes from 2,250 feet above sea level in Jerusalem to 990 feet below sea level in Jericho - which by the way  is the lowest city on earth.

The road rolls along on a ridge for a good bit of the way - going up or down - depending on which part of the 18 mile road one is on - and which direction one is going - up or down.

At times - in a few places - the road is cut out of rock on both sides. This means the journey can be dangerous in those spots. Robbers like to wait for and prey on those traveling on foot or donkey. The bad guys  have been known to jump off the rocks on either side and knock down unsuspecting travelers. They beat them up. They rob them. They leave them half dead.

Now, that’s what happened in the famous story Jesus told about one such lone traveler.  Thank God a Good Samaritan happened to be going down that road around the same time.  Unlike the Levite and the priest who completely ignored the man who was beaten up and robbed - the Good Samaritan stopped to help the wounded man. He cleaned him up - put him on his donkey and brought him to an inn. [Cf. Luke 10: 25-37.]

In fact there have been inns - from time to time - on that road - called, “The Good Samaritan Inn.”

When one comes to the place where the sheep pen is, one notices almost immediately - that it’s a big semi-circle. It’s an inlet of sorts along the road. It might have been a rest stop from time to time - but now in this spot - it’s a sheep pen.

Posts and long poles make up the fence for the pen - but the back wall - furthest from the road is a rock wall. And in the middle front of the pen - some twenty yards or so from the road - is a swinging wooden gate. It too - like the fence -  is made up of haphazard poles and wood slats - with ropes holding the gate poles in place.

That’s it. That’s the sheep pen on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho.

Now Jesus stopped at that spot a few times on his  trips to Jerusalem  - working his way south from Jericho.

Judas held the purse strings - and he complained at times - “Why don’t we stay at an inn?  He didn’t always think of the poor.

Jesus joking would say, “I don’t do inns, Judas. Didn’t you hear what happened the night I was born in Bethlehem?  There was no room in the Inn - at least not for us.”

Judas would also complain that they should have stayed in the north. The ground up there was soften and greener - compared to hard rock roads on the desert like road from Jerusalem to Jericho.

Yet, the sheep pen was a doable place to rest for the night.

Rest areas often are.

Jesus and his disciples picked a good spot along the perimeter of the fence  -  with hundreds of sheep in “Baah!” surround sound mode.

And Jesus sat down - and began to look around and began to listen.

It was late afternoon - but the sun still had a few hours - before it too - fell asleep.

Now as we know, Jesus saw differently. Prophets do that.

He saw all kinds of sheep - and sometimes goats  - in these sheep pens all around Israel. He had nowhere to lay his head - once he had started his journeys - preaching Good News - to the people of Israel - whom he called, “The Lost Sheep of Israel” at times.

This evening - besides the sheep and goats - there  were 3 shepherds with their flocks boarded in for the night. No problem with who’s sheep was who’s sheep. Sheep know their shepherd’s voice - when they yelled - and when they praised.

He saw some sheep were loners. He saw some sheep limped. Hills had holes and sheep were forever injuring their ankles. He saw sheep who had  wounded backs and  bramble cuts. He saw them at times like people he had met - wounded or limping along in  the story of their lives.

Then Jesus spotted this one sheep - who seemed as happy as happy could be - the sheep with the greatest smile in the pen. There’s always one in every crowd.  He asked the 3 shepherds sitting there - playing a game of dice, “What’s the story with that sheep - the one right over there - the one with the great smile?”

“Which one?”  they asked - looking up from their game.

“The one there,” Jesus pointed, “The one with that nasty cut on its left side.”

“Oh,” said one of the shepherds. “I have a hundred sheep. It’s easier when you know exactly how many are in your flock. Well that’s “Mountain”. That’s my name for her. She often looks up to the mountains - so I knew where to find her about two weeks ago - when she escaped and went lost.  I left my 99 and went searching for my lost sheep, Mountain. I kept yelling, “Mountain, Mountain, till I finally heard her ‘Baaing!’

“She had got caught in the some brambles - up in the hills -  and got herself pretty cut up. I got her free and took her up on my shoulders and carried her home. The 99 all let out loud baaing when they saw the Prodigal Sheep coming up the road on my shoulders. It’s moments like that - when life is worthwhile - when I realize I have a great life calling - being a shepherd.”

Jesus said, “Great story. I’ll use that some day.”

Judas couldn’t sleep that night. What that shepherd said about his life calling to be a good shepherd - that it was a great life calling - triggered Judas to realize he wasn’t happy following Jesus. He was making a wrong choice. He held the  money - and he helped himself to the purse - when no one was watching - but it still wasn’t enough money - and enough of a life for him. 

The thought about slipping away into the night - like that sheep named Mountain - hit Judas. And he smiled, saying to himself, “If I know Jesus, he’ll come looking for me - till he finds me.

John couldn’t sleep that night either.

He was a poet, and sometimes poets get caught up in the bramble of words - from people like Jesus.

He realized what Jesus meant when he said to his disciples, “I am the gate for the sheep.”

He realized Jesus didn’t come to rob and steal the life, the energy, the graces, the gifts in people. He came as he told us his disciples, “I have come so that you might and life and have it  to the full.”

John jotted that down on the scroll of his brain that night - and would remember those words of Jesus - and so many others - for the rest of his life.

Those words of Jesus - and Jesus himself - were becoming flesh for John - giving him life - and he celebrated before he went to sleep - that Jesus called him that morning on the beach - to abandon his nets -and become a fisherman.

Then he laughed and mumbled, “And what am I doing here in a sheep pen - on the road to nowhere?”

And Jesus a few feet away from him mumbled in his sleep, “John what did you just say about a Sheep Pen?

May 7, 2017


Every group, every company, every church, every country, every situation,
every scene, needs everyone to think about what’s being said, what’s being
done, what’s being asked for.

Wait, wonder about, ask, read the fine
print,  raise one’s hand - not in blind salutes, but in honest question marks,
“Who said we have to do this, this way?
Why do we have to just listen?”

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017