Sunday, January 17, 2010

Happy Birthday Mom!

Hello Everyone!

Take a look at this Beautiful Babe--My MOM!

Seeing that there are technically 4 "Babes," 3 figurative and one literal, in the Photo, I will specify that my Mom is the one in the middle feeding the newly born babe Connor.

And today is her BIRTHDAY! Happy Birthday MOM!

I love you so much. I am happy you are alive. I thank God he thought you up. You are the best! Because of your "Yes" I am alive. Because of you, I am so happy, loved, and care for! You da' domb! You da' Mom! I'd take you to Prom! But not, cause your my Mom!


Well, enough cannot be said about Anna Lee Ingalls. She is incredible. I hope all of you get to meet her one day. You will be better for it.
Moving on from one personal hero to another, here are the pictures of my greeting Pope Benedict XVI last Saturday, Jan. 9, 2010.

It was a real blessing for me and the whole College on that day. To shake hands with the Pope-- The leader of the whole Church. The successor of Peter. The Rock upon which Christ built his Church. Check out Matt 16:15-19:

15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
16 Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."
17 Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
18 And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
19 I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

Pretty unbelievable.

I was just taking to my Dad on Skype about the experience. And ge laughed about last week's post commenting,

"Yea. At the top you had Nick Saban hoisting the Championship Trophy surrounded in confetti, then Connor, then your trip to Spain, and then you were like 'Yea and by the way I shook the Pope's hand! Hahaha. I figured it must just be that you were going chronologically.'"

I had to laugh too, noticing the irony in the way I recounted it all! But my Dad's question did make me think a bit further. Sure, I hadn't posted for a couple weeks, was trying to catch up, and typing late at night. Sure the meeting with the Pope had happened less than 24 hrs before and perhaps hadn't quite sunk in. But still, even as I reflect on the experience seems kind of like the falling action that comes after the climax of a great story.

And then it dawned on me, "O Yea. I served Mass for the same guy back in October at St. Peter's Basilica!" What is my life?!? My thoughts immediately went back to a reflection I share in my first post (Oct 25, 2009):

I took a couple of steps forward into the Pope’s chapel. I came within about five feet of the Holy Father and was met by two of the Master of Ceremonies who were helping to vest the 80 year old Bishop of Rome. Here is what I saw.

The entire time Pope Benedict XVI was facing an altar lit by two candles, with his gaze fixed on a crucifix hanging just above the altar. As the MCs helped him vest each garment, Benedict prayed the ancient “Vesting Prayers” in preparation to celebrate the Mass. There is a special prayer assigned to each garment a priest is to wear, which helps the Priest to meditate on the Mystery at hand and to begin offering his entire Self in union with Christ.

As I watched the Holy Father pray in this way, a part of me--namely my ego--really wanted him to turn, look at me, shake my hand, and say something inspirational. But not once did Benedict’s gaze betray the crucifix before him. I will never forget that image. It spoke volumes to me...about what really mattered...about what that day was all about--not me...not my ego....something else...something so much greater...something deserving of all our attention, all of our praise, all of our love. I found myself praying something like this, deep in my heart, “May the Cross of Christ never leave my gaze, so that I May never forget how greatly I am loved and by what measure the King of Kings gazes back upon me.”

Rereading back over those words put everything back into perspective. Yes it was a great grace to shake the Pope's hand, look into his eyes, tell him "Aguri!" ("Much Happiness!"), and kiss his ring. Yes it is something I will never forget. But, in the hierarchy of my life experiences involving Pope Benedict XVI, it will always be for me one ranking below the great example of Prayer and Devotion to our Lord that He gave me on Oct 11, 2009....without even looking at me.....shaking my hand....or smiling back at me. And I guess that is why Pope Benedict is such a compelling figure for me. Because whenever I have seen him, heard him, and now greeted him---he has always pointed me, not to himself, but to Christ.

I pray that I may follow in his footsteps as well. So that, God willing, I may truly say, "I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me" (Galatians 2:19-20).


One More Thought:

Friday, I spent a long time reading some Church documents related to a class I am taking.

One is called Lumen Gentium and was a very important document written by the Catholic Church at the Second Vatican Council (in the 60s)---this was the last official, universal gathering of the Church to discern God's will for the Church....the world...and to define anew how the Church is to understanding itself the 21st century. In the the Church's history, there have been only 21 such "Ecumenical Councils," as counted by the Catholic Church--the first of which dating back to 325 AD in Nicea. So documents from these Councils are very important to Christians worldwide.

Lumen Gentium (Latin for: "Light unto the Nations/Peoples"---referring to the Church) was written specifically about how to understand "Church." It is an incredible document.

As I was reading through the document, I received an email from one of my best friends who is studying in Medical School--John. He wrote that he felt the Lord was calling him to be "Strong and courageous" (Joshua 1) even in the "monotony of work at the hospital." This really resonated with what I was reading.

I sent him a quote from Lumen Gentium which I thought I would share with all of you today. Whoever you are, this was written by the Church for YOU.

[NOTE: "laity" refers to all those who are not priest or religious sisters or brothers. I am assuming most of you fall into that category]:


34. The supreme and eternal Priest, Christ Jesus, since he wills to continue his witness and service also through the laity, vivifies them in this Spirit and increasingly urges them on to every good and perfect work.

For besides intimately linking them to His life and His mission, He also gives them a sharing in His priestly function of offering spiritual worship for the glory of God and the salvation of men. For this reason the laity, dedicated to Christ and anointed by the Holy Spirit, are marvelously called and wonderfully prepared so that ever more abundant fruits of the Spirit may be produced in them. For all their works, prayers and apostolic endeavors, their ordinary married and family life, their daily occupations, their physical and mental relaxation, if carried out in the Spirit, and even the hardships of life, if patiently borne-all these become "spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ".(199) Together with the offering of the Lord's body, they are most fittingly offered in the celebration of the Eucharist. Thus, as those everywhere who adore in holy activity, the laity consecrate the world itself to God.


Think about that....every little thing you do....if done "in the Spirit" helps to CONSECRATE the world to Christ! Pretty awesome. May that give yall some perspective as yall hammer it out in the "real world" while I am off in "the lab" getting ready to come home and join ya'll.

Remember, Christ calls US to be the Salt of the Earth and the Light unto the world! So let your lights shine! And Shake your salt all over the place! The world is thirsting for true Love....and God desires that you be the one to quench its thirst by carrying them the Living Waters!

Mother Theresa once said, "There are no such things as extraordinary acts. Only ordinary acts done with extraoridinary love."

Speaking of Mother Theresa...I am reading a book right now about her. Earlier today, I read a letter she wrote to a group of her friends encouraging them in their daily lives. I thought I would share it with ya'll to Conclude this week's post:

The Loved Ones of Christ,

Eileen has asked me to write--that you have all voted to have a few words from me for your March meeting. There must have been something wrong with that voting.--All the same, it gives me pleasure to come again near you & I think I can see still that burning desire for holiness I saw on your faces when I was with you. God keep it burning. Daily we pray "let them look up and see only Jesus," but how often we look in and see only Jesus in us? Do we see Him in using our eyes, mind, & heart, as His own? Are we so given to Him--that we find His eyes looking through ours, his tongue speaking, His Hands working, His feet walking, His Heart Loving? Do we really see only Jesus in us?

You have to be in the world and yet not of the world [John 15:19]. The light you give must be so pure, the love you love with must be so burning--the faith you believe with must be so convincing--that in seeing you they really see only Jesus. Your apostolate is so beautiful to give Jesus. You can give Him--only if you have surrendered yourself totally to Him.--Often, very often, I pray for you--that you may be the fruit of Christ's love in the world--that you may grow in holiness--so that in you Christ's joy may be fulfilled. In our Society we often tell Our Lady she is the Cause of our Joy--because she gave us Jesus.--Would that we become the cause of her joy--because we give Jesus to others.

Keep close to Jesus with a smiling face.

May we pray for one another this week. That God may gave us the grace to surrender ourselves more Totally to his Son. So that the world may be set ABLAZE by the JOY Christ brought into the world (ref. Luke 12:49)!

Jonathan is a fraternity brother of my from Conyers, GA. He is now in his Second Year studies at Duke Divinity in Durham, NC. He has some really beautiful photos on his page as photography is his hobby. Please pray for him as he continues his studies.

This is the "full text" for the Church document I quoted from earlier in the post.

This is the blog of the priest that hosted me in China. It is a great site. Thousands of people in China read it every day. Fr. Barrons posts just about every day. Puts me to shame :)

Luke 1:1-4 & 4:14-21

Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events
that have been fulfilled among us,
just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning
and ministers of the word have handed them down to us,
I too have decided,
after investigating everything accurately anew,
to write it down in an orderly sequence for you,
most excellent Theophilus,
so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings
you have received.

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit,
and news of him spread throughout the whole region.
He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all.

He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up,
and went according to his custom
into the synagogue on the sabbath day.
He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah.
He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.
Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down,
and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.
He said to them,

“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”


Alright! Again, Happy Birthday MOM!!!!!! I love you!

Love all of you as well. Pray for you daily. Please pray for me!

May Christ fill us more this week!


Peace and JOY!

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