Saturday, June 3, 2017



The title of my homily for this Vigil of Pentecost is, “Communication and Confusion: Why Are There So Many Languages?”

Did you know there are about 7000 distinct languages in our world? 

Did you know that there are about 230 languages spoken in Europe, 2000 languages in Asia.

Did you know Papua-New Guinea, with a population of about 4 million, has 832 different languages.

Why are there so many different languages?


That’s a theme that comes out of today’s first reading - different tonight from tomorrow. 

Check out Genesis 11: 1-9!

Of course, I could skip tonight’s vigil Mass - and just use tomorrow’s readings for this feast of Pentecost.  

No. I’ll come up with another homily for tomorrow's readings.  But this first reading has the question I think it’s worth thinking about. 

It tells us what people were thinking thousands of years ago - in answer to the question: Why do people speak different languages?

Answer: It’s God’s fault. God did it.

Today’s first reading begins by saying exactly that: “The whole world spoke the same language, using the same words.”

Then it says everyone is migrating till they settle in a valley in the land of Shinar.  They learn to make bricks - hard bricks - and decide to build a city and a tower to the sky and make a name for themselves - otherwise we’ll be scattered all over the place.

God sees all this and says, “Who knows what they are going to do next, so we better put a stop to them now - because they’ll think they can do it all.”

So God stops their building their big city and their big tower to the skies. God confuses their speech. So instead of building they start to babble.  Then they end up scattered all over the world - speaking all kind of languages.

What are your thoughts and reactions to that explanation for so many languages?

It's certainly an interesting take on languages.  If you Google that question about why so many languages, you’ll come up with some interesting theories.  Pick your best - the one that makes the most sense to you.


In The Acts of the Apostles 2: 1-11 - that will tomorrow's first reading - the Holy Spirit comes - and people who speak all kinds of different languages understand each other - and instead of building a big building they build a big church.

As we hear in today’s first reading from Romans we can move from groanings to understanding each other’s intentions.


The feast of Pentecost - in the Old Testament - is a Harvest Festival. It takes place 50 days after the planting. It's also the birthday of the Jewish people. It happens 50 days after passing over from Egypt and they are heading for the Promised Land.  It happens 50 days after escaping from slavery. It’s their birth into freedom. It’s the day they become  free people - a united people - the People of God. It's a celebration when Moses gives them the new law.

So too the feast of Pentecost for Christians - in the New Testament. It’s the birthday of the Christian people  50 days after the death of Christ on the Cross and his rising from the dead. They are becoming the People of God as well. 

It's the feast of the human race moving from babbling to understanding each other - no matter what language one speaks.


The title of my homily is, “Communication and Confusion: Why Are There So Many Different Languages?”

I remember hearing - when talking about Marriage Preparation - someone saying there are three secrets for a good marriage: communication, communication, communication.

Communication means using mouth and ear - speaking and listening. 

It takes in prayer and play.

It takes in work and leisure.

It takes in planting, harvesting, and eating together.

The family that eats together, stays together.

Father Patrick Peyton used to say, “The Family that prays together stays together.”  Then he pushed the Family Rosary.

I used to hate the family rosary as a kid. During the summer we’d be out on the street playing stick ball and my sister would stand on the stoop and cry, “Rosary”. And five minutes later  four of us kids and my mom and dad would be kneeling around a bed - leaning into the mattress saying Hail Mary’s. It felt like it took 4 hours. It was only 15 minutes - but then my mother started to add the extras as time moved on. Years later as adults my brother and I were at home and my mom said, “Let’s say the rosary.”  By then it had become 25 minutes of prayer and my brother says when it’s over, “Mom are you going to put vestments on now and say Mass for us?”

We stayed together. We prayed together.

But I would add things like: The family that plays together, stays together. And we did that as well - especially cards.  I would add that the family that talked and listened and ate together - listened to The Shadow and The Lone Ranger on the radio and then years later watched Milton Berle and Ed Sullivan on TV together stayed together.

I would think that the family that has family gatherings - whenever possible - like Thanksgiving - stays together. 

I would hope that the iPhone and cell phone helps families grow better.

I would hope that that couples and families and neighbors who are willing to communicate and clarify confusions are better off than not.

So that’s my first point for this Pentecost homily: communication, communication, communication, means less confusion, confusion, confusion.

Come Holy Spirit


I don’t know about you, but I disliked the phrase, “Make America Great Again.”

I liked what the President of France, Emmanuel Macron just said, “Make our planet great again.”

I hope the word “Catholic” means what it says, “Kata Holos” - with all - with the whole people.

That our church is a catalogue of all people who speak all kinds of languages - who are working together to make this a better world  and a better planet.

I would hope we learn to communicate with each other in spite of our different languages, our different religions, our different cultures, our different ways of doing life.

I would hope we learn to communicate with each other - even though we have the same language - but we know people mean a lot of different things with the same words.

If we don’t understand each other’s groans, we have confusion.

If we don’t communicate, we have confusion.

If we don’t ask others calmly, what another means by different words, we have confusion.

If we don’t sit down and be in communion with each other, we won’t understand what Jesus came to do - make words become flesh - so we can be in Holy Communion with each other.


But if we learn to listen, if we are calm with each other, if we communicate with each other, then we can build a better planet that is part of the whole universe we live in. Amen. 



Come Holy Spirit,
send out from heaven 
the rays of your light.

Come, Father of the poor.
Come, giver of gifts.
Come, light of hearts.

Encourage our best.
Be our spirit’s guest.

When things become heated,
be our sweet coolness.
When we are working,
be our rest.
When we are in sorrow,
be our inner peace.

Light most bright,
enlighten the hearts 
of your faithful.

Without your power,
we can do nothing,
and nothing is right.

Wash what is sordid.
Water what is arid.
Cure what is sick.
Bend what is rigid.
Warm what is chilling.
Correct what is devious.

Give to the faithful,
to those who trust in you,
your seven holy gifts. 
Give them salvation at their end.
Give them never ending joy. Amen.

© Translation of the 
Veni Sanctae Spiritus 
by Andrew Costello, CSSR

June 3, 2017


Night, heading home in the dark ....
Dark, heading home into the night.
Not noticing bats and street lights….
Not noticing the lights of the oncoming
cars…. It was a long, long day.
It was a long, long meeting - dealing 
with Church - budget -  business. 
All I want to do is to get home,
to receive communion, holy communion,
in the hug of my wife - and the joy
of my kids - and a hot cup of tea -
and I hope pecan pie - that is, if….
if that last slice is still there.
It was there before I left, but when
coming home, you never know. It’s
always the surprise and the unexpected.

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Friday, June 2, 2017

June 2, 2017


Somewhere along the line I found out 
that some people seem to use an 
electronic fence to shock others from
crossing over into their boundaries. 

This far and no further dare you go. 

They plant red flags as a warning.

You can't bring up certain topics, 
names and who and what have you. 

Well, when my batteries run out -

when you no longer have me by 
the collar - when you can no longer
jolt me with electronic juice - I'm going 
to run for far distant fields of freedom?

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Thursday, June 1, 2017

June 1, 2917


This ongoing search 
to be able to fly, to rise,
make that me, O Lord.

This ongoing search
for the light, more light,
make that me, O Lord.

This ongoing search,
for the fire, to be on fire, 
make that me, O Lord.

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017
May 31, 2017


When  someone claims they have
had a vision of Mary - in some far
off place - people start running for
the airport - to hear her words of
wisdom, “Let it be …. Let it be.”

But as the Beatles sang it, “When
I find myself in times of trouble ….”
“And in my hour of darkness
She is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom Let it be.”

Mother Mary - we just have to close
our eyes and you visit us - you come
to visit us with words of wisdom - and
those words can become flesh and dwell
within us - pregnancy meeting pregnancy.

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Sculptures by 
Kathleen M. Aucoin, SC
Seton Arts Studio
6301 Riverdale Avenue
Bronx, NY 10471

May 30, 2017


Semi-circular scoops of cold dessert: 
sherbet. Colors: soft orange, yellow
lime, pale green pistachio, purple
raspberry, blueberry. Frozen  fruit juices - 
mixed with 1 to 3 % milkfat - more would 
make it ice cream.  Sherbet. Spoon it. Sip it. 
Slide it into one’s mouth and all is made
right. Perfect for a kid who just skinned 
her knee or is missing her dad off on military 
duty. Sherbet: something that soothes the mouth
and the soul when there is a hurt or a missing.

                                                                                                   © Andy Costello, Reflections  2017