Sunday, May 23, 2010

Happy Pentecost!

Doves...Fires....Tounges...All That....Bring it on!

Drop the Hammer!

Skin that Smokewagon!

Today we recall the great Gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church on Pentecost!

What Gift could be better---the Love of God himself...coming in its fullness...UPON US!

Giving us the power to love in a God-Like way....being able to Love with the same Love God Loves...which is His very self.

Giving us the ability to be ONE as we were created to be.


That being said...I am going to have to postpone the rest of this post to later on this week.

In the next two weeks I will be writing a paper and taking about 6 exams. So time is of the essence. Please send some prayers my way...and know you have mine.



Sunday, May 16, 2010

Catching Fire

Hey Ya'll!

Happy Sunday.

As I mentioned last week, Chuck graduated from College. Here are some pictures capturing the big day.

P-Diddy Don (aka Dad), Con-Artist, Chuck, Courtney
Chuck & Pop

G-Ma & Chuck

Chuck, Shaq, John Connor

If these beauties have left you wanting for some more, feel free to check out the whole GRADUATION ALBUM. Get excited.


As I mentioned also last week, we won our Quarter-Final match against Sedes Sapientia and are going to the SEMI-FINALS!!!

Here is an ARTICLE recapping the game if you are interested.

Here are some pictures from the game:

Me calmly bringing the ref's attention to an oversight on the field. hhahahaha

MJ learned to stick his tongue out from me....

And my personal favorite....

Carrying "Dr. J" (Jeff Ervin of Portland, OR) after scoring the second goal of the game. I carried him about half the length of the field before the adrenaline wore was an incredible GOOOOOOAAAAAAAAALL!!!!!!


I came across this quote earlier in the week and really liked it...thought I would share:

"Love one another"

'The less we have, the
more we give. Seems absurd,
but it's the logic of love.'...

True love causes pain.
Jesus, in order to give us the proof of his
love, died on the cross.
A mother, in order to give birth to her baby,
has to suffer.
If you really love one another, you will not
be able to avoid making sacrifices.

The poor do not need our condescending
attitude or our pity. They only need our love
and our tenderness.

To me, Jesus is the Life I want to live, the
Light I want to reflect, the Way to the Father,
the Love I want to express, the joy I want to
share, the Peace I want to sow around me.
Jesus is everything to me.

If faith is scarce, it is because there is too
much selfishness in the world, too much
egoism. Faith, in order to be authentic, has to
be generous and giving.
Love and faith go hand in hand...

God has created us so we do small things
with great love. I believe in that great love,
that comes, or should come from our heart,
should start at home: with my family, my
neighbors across the street, those right next
door. And this love should then reach

Her words are timeless. They are simple, yet pierce to the heart...the reality at hand.

A couple thoughts on Mother's thoughts.

When John the Baptist was asked if he was the Messiah, he responded like this---

I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire. (Mt 3:11)

Many have speculated about what exactly this "fire" is that John is talking about. Let's propose for a minute that this "fire" is the "great love" that Mother Theresa mentioned above. That GREAT LOVE that should come from our hearts and spread around the world.

Think about how a fire spreads. It must catch fire to that which is closest and then spread from there. If I am in Montgomery, AL and want to catch New York City on fire.....then I have to find a way for it to spread all the way up the East Coast.

Consider the image of the "Sacred Heart." Christians have had devotion to Christ's "Sacred Heart" since at least the 11th century. More recently (1670's) Christ reinvigorated this devotion to His Heart through several visions to a French nun named Mary Alacoque. Now, images like the ones below, can be found all over the world aiding people in prayer, mediation, and worship:

As you contemplate these images, consider Mother's words again...esp. this part:

God has created us so we do small things
with great love. I believe in that great love,
that comes, or should come from our heart,
should start at home: with my family, my
neighbors across the street, those right next
door. And this love should then reach

The famous Litany to the Sacred Heart concludes like this:
"Jesus, gentle and humble of heart.
(R) Touch our hearts and make them like you own."

Kind of ties it all together doesn't it?

Jesus' heart is on FIRE with GREAT LOVE for us. Nothing can quench it. Nothing can dissuade it. It desires nothing less than to consume the whole world...refining it like fire-tried gold. Leaving only what is beautiful, costly, wonderful, and pure. Namely, the Purity of our hearts...the fullness of our Joy....the Completeness of our existence!

However, He desires to do this through us. He desires to spread his fire through us. Our hearts.

Are our hearts dry? Are they ready to be burned? Are they filled with oil?

We must really consider these questions before we can really pray,

"(Jesus) Touch our hearts and make them like your own."

Let's reflect upon this image this week...this reality. Let's seek each day, to become more "flammable." To be a vessel for that GREAT LOVE...that FIRE....the burns in Christ's Heart...longing to consume us and the WHOLE WORLD through US!

If we want to Love people in Africa, China, and Spain....we must Love our neighbor...or the Fire will never be able to get there.....

Sacred Heart of Jesus,

Have Mercy on Us!


John 20:19-23

(see how the FIRE of Christ------>PEACE)

On the evening of that first day of the week,

when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,

for fear of the Jews,

Jesus came and stood in their midst

and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.

The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.

As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,

“Receive the Holy Spirit.

Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,

and whose sins you retain are retained.”


Have a great week ya'll.

Let's pray for one another.

Come Jesus,

Touch our hearts and make them like your own....


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother’s Day Everybody!

Special Happy Mother’s Day to all you Mom’s out there.

Ya’ll make the world go round. Ya’ll are a big reason we are all here! Thanks for saying “Yes.” We are enjoying the life we received from you!

A Special Special Happy Mother’s Day to my Mom--Anna Lee! I love you so much.

I am who I am because You are who You are.....

sorry I can’t handle taking all of the blame!!! Hahahahaha

Also, a special Happy Mother’s Day to my Mom’s Mom--Ernestine Ruth Griffin--and my nephew’s Mother-- my sister Courtney Ann Lewis! Love ya’ll both very much and am proud to have your blood coursing through my veins.

Here is a shot of the three generations of Mothers in my life! Does it get anymore beautiful???

Today, reminds me of a question St. Paul asked me either this year, “What do you have that you have not received?” (1 Corinthians 4:7). As we pause today and celebrate our Mothers, we contemplate a mesmerizing reality--Mom never asked me if I wanted to be born???!!!!

Yet here we are?! Our Mothers (in collaboration with our Fathers and God) brought us into this world. They did not have to do this. But they did. And here we are. We did not request our lives...for we did not exist...except for the Mind of God alone. And here we are. They did not have to care for us, raise us, or love us. But they did. And here we are.

More than perhaps any other person in our lives, our Mothers remind us that we are a GIFT. Our lives are a GIFT. Freely given...and freely received. It is easy to forget this...but this is the fundamental character of our lives--we are utterly GIFTS.

I think this is something we can never be reminded of enough. Only by keeping this fact (That we mysteriously entered into existence as a GIFT) can we possibly begin to understand something else St. Paul tells us-- “In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Life is a Gift. This maxim always remains true. However, at times this is easier to live than others. When things seem to go our way, we comfortably assent to this “Theory of the Gift.” But when struggles come...deaths...sicknesses...break is so easy to give up on this Truth.

This is why I think Christ’s life is so compelling. God Himself entered into the drama of human living. He lived life to its fullest--the most intense joys and the deepest sorrows. He suffered greatly and died the most painful death imaginable. But death does not have the last word!

Having conquered the powers of Hell and Death itself, Christ is soon again amongst his disciples saying “Peace be with You!” His words seem to arouse within them their deepest identity---GIFTS. This changes everything. Encountering Christ is always, at once, an encounter with our deepest selves---everything we were made for...everything we long for---SELFLESS LOVE. And the results are clear. Just contemplate the last verses of Luke’s Gospel:

“They did him homage and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy,

and they were continually in the temple praising God.” (24:52-3)

So, let’s really rejoice today for the Gift of our Lives! Let’s really rejoice for the Gift of our Mothers. Let’s take some time today and let the Mystery of our very existence wash over us for awhile. Take some time and consider some of our deepest joys and too our greatest sufferings. In both, may we take on the challenge of finding the GIFT. For as we have reflected....ALL of life is a Gift. Thus, its every small detail must in SOME WAY be painted with this color.

Peace be with you!


Yesterday Chuck graduated from the University of Alabama!

Congratulations Chuck! I am so proud of you. Let’s take a look and see how far she has come through the years.

Chuck on the Left. Me doing the sweet split in the Middle. Courtney humiliating herself on the Right. hahahhahahahahahaha

Chuck is not eating the sandwich

Astounding isn’t it!


Yesterday as well was the first round of the Clericus Cup Playoffs. We played against a College named Sedes Sapientia which is an international seminary boasting players largely from Africa and South America. Our hard work and commitment really payed off as we rolled through our first round game 3-0!!!!


My sister Courtney and her husband Jeremy are getting pretty savvy with YouTube as they try to immortalize the first months of their son Connor’s life. This week they were able to catch a couple of his “Firsts” which I thought ya’ll might like to check out.

[Please excusing the strange noises and attempts at verbal communication that Courtney (and most all Mothers) feels compelled to make on behalf of her still-not-yet-verbal baby]

*Wearing Jeans

*Eating Cereal


Catholics Come Home

Sometime last week a guy named Tom Peterson came and spoke to our Seminary about a ministry he started in the United States which has really taken off over the past several years. Having been raised Catholic, Tom like most Catholics today, stopped really practicing his faith. He had a very successful career in advertising and was plugging right along. Some friends convinced him to go on a retreat and he had a powerful conversion experience. He shortly thereafter felt called to start a ministry reaching out to people like himself using his expertise in advertising.

Whether you are Catholic or not, I think it is really worth your time to check the Ministry’s website. It has some great information about Catholicism. Most notably, this ministry has produced some really moving videos. I think the ones entitled “Epic” and “Movie” are the most compelling. Check them out.

*Catholics Come Home





Ascension Sunday

Luke 24:46-53

Jesus said to his disciples:

“Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer

and rise from the dead on the third day

and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,

would be preached in his name

to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

You are witnesses of these things.

And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you;

but stay in the city

until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Then he led them out as far as Bethany,

raised his hands, and blessed them.

As he blessed them he parted from them

and was taken up to heaven.

They did him homage

and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy,

and they were continually in the temple praising God.

(or depending on your Parish....)

Seventh Sunday in Easter

John 17:20-26

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying:

“Holy Father, I pray not only for them,

but also for those who will believe in me through their word,

so that they may all be one,

as you, Father, are in me and I in you,

that they also may be in us,

that the world may believe that you sent me.

And I have given them the glory you gave me,

so that they may be one, as we are one,

I in them and you in me,

that they may be brought to perfection as one,

that the world may know that you sent me,

and that you loved them even as you loved me.

Father, they are your gift to me.

I wish that where I am they also may be with me,

that they may see my glory that you gave me,

because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

Righteous Father, the world also does not know you,

but I know you, and they know that you sent me.

I made known to them your name and I will make it known,

that the love with which you loved me

may be in them and I in them.”


Peace be with ya'll!

Especially you Moms!

Let's keep praying for one another.

If you ever have a specific prayer request, as always feel free to shoot me an email, facebook message, whatever.

In closing, on this Mother's Day I would like to extend to each one of you on behalf of my Mother (aka Shaq aka Wally aka LouLou aka LeeLee aka AnnaLeeski aka AnnaWee), one big and sincere....


(A salutation patented and popularized by my Mom seamlessly fusing the following common hand gestures: Peace Sign + Waving Hello/Goodbye)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Square One Reflection

Happy Sunday Ya'll,

Let's jump right in.

What is the meaning of life?
What is its goal?
Its purpose?

How do these questions strike you?

On one hand, you may recognize this as the most basic human question. The question we are always confronted with. The question we are always trying to respond to.

On the other hand, in the past, when we try to actually articulate an answer to this question, find ourselves getting tongue-tied, confused, and a bit unsure of ourselves.

It is in this moment, that we warily begin to ask ourselves, "Have I really lived this long and never really dealt with Square One?"

It can be a shocking moment in life, to realize that you still haven't really got a firm grasp of Square One. However, I feel that this is a moment which many of us have experienced in our lives...perhaps are experiencing right now to one degree or another.

Earlier today I was reading a book entitled Union with God which made reference to this phenomena. The author, Fr. David Vincent Meconi, SJ, responded to this "Sqaure One Question" as follows (This is going to be a lengthy quote...but one I think is worth sharing. I have added some bolding myself.):

"The human person has an inescapable desire for perfect happiness. This yearning is common to all, regardless of race, creed, or culture, because it is a 'desire of origin" (Catechism of the Catholic Church {CCC}) directing every human soul to the one true God. This is an essential insight, because before we start out on any endeavor or project, we must first understand the end we wish to achieve. 'Should I fly, take the bus, or ride my bike?' 'Well, that depends," the answer would come, 'Where is it you wish to go?'. Without a fixed goal clearly in mind, it is impossible to weigh intelligently or coherently between choices. Nothing can be understood fully until one understands the purpose for which it exists. WIthout a destination, a right turn is equally as good as a left, and eventually we find ourselves treating life as nothing more than an aimless joyride, having produced a generation chanting 'WHATEVER' as the slogan capturing their forlornness and spiritual torpor.

The great Christian masters have seen otherwise. For example, toward the beginning of his Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius of Loyola [one of the greatest Spiritual Masters in Christian history] (d.1566) combats our fallen tendency to lose our way with this guideline:
The human person is created to praise, reverence and serve God Our Lord, and by doing so to save his or her soul. The other things on the face of the earth are created for human beings in order to help them pursue the end for which they are created. It follows from this that one must use other created things in so far as they help toward one's end, and free oneself form them in so far as they are obstacles to one's end." (Principle and Foundation; Spiritual Exercises P.23)

Notice how Ignatius starts. before entertaining how we should live, he first must establish WHY we are alive, "to praise, reverence and serve God." Our entire life must be directed towards that end, the only real and last goal we have. [...]

Typical here too is the 'world friendliness' of St. Ignatius. He never divides the world into anything automatically good or bad, nor does he ever list what created good or activities will necessarily bring us close to God. For Ignatius, any creature can prove to be either a holy icon inviting greater union with God or a deterrent to the divine, leading us away from the goal for which we should all be striving. Every seemingly mundane task can hence become in the eyes of the saint, an opportunity to be used to grow in divine intimacy. Indeed, the saint is the one able to hear the sounds of the world as the primal symphony singing the glory of God.

OK. It's Victor again. Either now or when you finish reading this post, I would really recommend some time looking at this YouTube line: BEN ZANDER. It features a famous classical musician named Ben Zander who is currently traveling around the world trying to resurrect people's love for Classical Music. This link allows you to watch one of his presentations. The last line of the quotation above reminded me of this. As he teaches you to open your heart to the power of classical music, too ask the Holy Spirit to open your spiritual eyes, ears, and senses to hear all of creation singing praises to God....and to hear God in unison with all of his angels and saints singing love songs to you. It is real. It is magnificent. It is always playing. We must just stop and listen.

OK back to Fr. Meconi's reflections:

As we think about all of the different ways we are pulled in the course of an average day, of all the various attractions and aversions within us, we can better understand why we need one sovereign goal beyond which there is nothing left to strive. We all hunger for permanence and when we are honest, we see how the world cannot offer us the incorruptibility for which we all seek. "Now thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways! You have sown much, but have brought in little; you have eaten, but have not been satisfied; you have drunk, but have not been exhilarated; have clothed yourselves, but not been warmed; And he who earned wages earned them for a bag with holes in it" (Haggai 1:5-6). Unless they are initiated, sustained and completed by the Lord, all earthly pursuits and relations leave us cold and empty, and as long as there is something still wanting, we are not yet at the Christ life. Union with the divine is the only state that can fulfill our deepest desires and give us a sense of purpose and peace. "Our hearts are restless until they rest in you," St. Augustine confesses to God (Confessions 1.1), knowing how deep within the center of the human heart is found a chamber opening up onto Infinity. It is God-sized and only God can fill it and until then, our vastness continues to hunger and ache-deep calling out to Deep. (cf. Ps 42:7)

So, I really enjoyed reading over this and reflecting over it is this past week, so I thought I would share it with all of ya'll.

I found that this "Square-One Reflection" was very helpful to me. To remember that every, little detail of our lives has meaning. Every little detail is drawing us closer to God...the source of all our happiness and fulfillment...or further away.

I think at times we are looking for great, magnificent, INSPIRING moments in our lives...that we can claim as "valuable" and "meaningful." Sure there are "defining" moments in our lives, but we must not miss out on what is going on right NOW. Every moment we are alive is Real. Every moment we are alive is a Gift. May God give us the Grace to always see the Gift in the NOW. To Receive it. To live it.

Consider again the quote of St. Ignatius above. What a beautiful way to treat Square One. How simply he puts it. We are made to praise God. In every instance, in every "NOW" of our lives, we may use this as a Guideline...a touchstone...a Square One. We may ask ourselves in every situation, "Will this help me to Praise God or not?" And then act accordingly.

Can you identify with the "restlessness" that St. Augustine speaks of? Do you desire to be perfectly happy? Do you find yourself always longing for more?

If you answer "Yes" to any of these...have no are, INDEED, a human being.

This is the great Hope in Jesus Christ. That there IS, in fact, an ADEQUATE medicine...response to our heart's deepest longing to be perfectly love and be loved. And this is God....who is Love itself.....who has a human form = Jesus Christ.

I offer all of this to you for you reflection, prayer, and living. I pray you may experience more and more how Real is God's Love for you. How it is REAL food for your life. It is the Real Goal...the Real Purpose behind your life...and all things.

As you strive to live, love, and welcome God into your life this week, I leave you one last thought of Fr. Meconi:

"Those around you are the means through whom God has chosen to love you and the way he invites you to love him."


Good Priests?!: Despite all of the bad media priests have been getting lately, here is an article that reflects upon the recent "scandals" in the Church and then takes time to do something most reporters are not interested in---reflecting on the many heroic and saintly priests who are serving us today.

ROLL TIDE: It never gets old....always inspiring.....always refreshing.....

A couple weeks ago, our College hosted its annual "Rector's Dinner." It is the biggest fundraiser of the year here at our College in Rome. Guests are invited from all over the United States and Italy to join us for a formal dinner. The seminarians organize, set up, and serve the whole thing. Each year, some kind of entertainment is provided. This year they decided to do a medley of accapella songs that many of our more "wizened" guests would appreciate. They are really impressive. Check it out. One of the guys singing is from Mobile--Steven Vrazel. You will recognize him by his handlebar mustache.

RESPONSE TO ABUSE: Here is Cardinal Leveda's response to the many allegations of abuse in the Church. I find it to be very balanced and helpful. He acknowledges the greigous errors of priests in the Church but also puts think in proper prospective and addressed the media's approach to the whole ordeal.


Yesterday, my Granddad turned 83!!! Congrats Toad! Love you! Keep Rocking it!


John 14:23-29

Jesus said to his disciples:

“Whoever loves me will keep my word,

and my Father will love him,

and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.

Whoever does not love me does not keep my words;

yet the word you hear is not mine

but that of the Father who sent me.

“I have told you this while I am with you.

The Advocate, the Holy Spirit,

whom the Father will send in my name,

will teach you everything

and remind you of all that I told you.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.

Not as the world gives do I give it to you.

Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.

You heard me tell you,

‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’

If you loved me,

you would rejoice that I am going to the Father;

for the Father is greater than I.

And now I have told you this before it happens,

so that when it happens you may believe.


Peace Ya'll.

Let's keep praying for one another.