‘We Stole Our Gifts’

A random musing inspired by this afternoon’s lunch conversation with a good friend…

There was a moment, before we were born, when we were left alone in a candy shop.

Innocently, we looked around and saw plenty of attractive things, and we took some of them.  And then we walked out of the store without paying.  We didn’t know any better.

God let us keep those gifts.  He graciously blessed them and he let us think they were things that we rightly owned.  Then he wiped our memory clean of our childish theft.

The gifts that we have in our life – our wisdom, strength, joy, goodness – our generosity, self-control, our families, and even our very lives – are not our own.  Like a good-natured thief, we took them one day, and now we can’t even remember our own petty theft. Continue reading

‘Praying Over Cars’

I helped out at the Youth Group car wash fundraiser Saturday morning – and saw some amazing things.

First off, twenty kids (give or take) just working like crazy to wash cars.  No slacking, no whining, no excuses – just working hard – constantly – with nothing but smiles.  Between 9am and 11am we had a non-stop barrage of cars – and no complaints from anyone.  Just wash, wash, wash – dry, dry, dry – and vacuum…well, you get the point.  These kids had the cars looking great.

In the back of my mind, throughout the entire event, was the fact that this was all being done to raise money to help some of the high-school kids afford to go to the faith-building Steubenville event in Orlando.  But there were lots of middle school kids there – working hard.  And a few high-school kids were there that might not be attending – but still working hard.  All of them graciously working hard to send their fellow Youth Group friends to a conference designed to strengthen their faith.  The kids of our parish were not there to receive, but to give.  Amazing. Continue reading

Father John: How to Thrive

Yesterday evening, at Bible Study, I played an 11-minute long homily by Father John Riccardo.  It was well received, so I am passing it along to everyone.

The homily has no official name, but could easily have been titled ‘How to Thrive’.  It is useful for all of us, but it was specifically geared towards high school graduates that will have their faith ‘challenged’ as they go on to college or enter into ‘life’.  (Father John’s parish includes a school, and this homily was delivered on the weekend of graduation.)

Play: Father John’s ‘How to Thrive’

It is far from being a somber list of ‘what not to do’ in college.  Instead, Father John offers an absolutely inspiring guide to how to thrive in life.

If your kids are the right age – and you can get them to sit still for 11 straight minutes – this might be a particularly great moment to spend with your kids, sharing some beautifully spoken help as they begin their final steps toward adulthood.


‘Why Are We Here?’

Oh, great idea, Greg.  Try to tackle this one in a few sentences…

I had this question posed recently, and it got me thinking.  It’s the ‘great question’, and it’s been pondered by philosophers and theologians, musicians and poets, optimists and pessimists, believers and non-believers.  Each with their own ‘take’ on the issue.  So I asked myself – what’s my take on it?

If you had asked me a year ago, I would have looked at my life and asked back, ‘Well, why not be here?’  After all, I’ve certainly had my share of serious struggles, but I’ve lived quite the charmed life.  I’ve been astonishingly lucky at love, somehow managing to talk an absolute angel into marrying me, someone who continues to take my breath away after over 30 years.  I’ve invented clever things, I’ve helped deserving people, I’ve been recognized for my accomplishments, I’ve seen beautiful parts of this world – and I have a gorgeous dog.

But then everything changed about nine months ago.  At 30,000 feet over the Atlantic, and after 48 years of searching, I finally came to believe in God.

I had always assumed that if this crucial search ever bore fruit, that I would be ‘relieved’ – that I could finally ‘rest’.  Far from it. Continue reading

The Surprise Dove

I was gathering images for my talk next week and an image of a dove appeared in the search results.  This was unexpected, as I was researching cathedrals, and the search words really shouldn’t have lead to this picture of a flying dove – an unmistakable image of the Holy Spirit.  (I added the words and the fancy lens flare – but the dove itself came from the search.) Continue reading

A Peek at our Glorified Lives

GregMerryGoRoundI just finished Pope Benedict’s book on Holy Week last night (early this morning actually), and his insights continue to amaze me.  Given that it’s Easter, I won’t relate the interesting points that relate to the time at the Cross, but instead I’ll leave you with another subtle thought about the Resurrection.

We know of Lazarus and others who were raised by Jesus (or the Apostles), and we tend to ‘lump together’ their resurrection with Christ’s Resurrection.  But this is not correct.  They were ‘risen’ in the same way a paramedic may restart someone’s heart today.  (Admittedly, however, Lazarus needed a ‘bit more’ than a defibrillator after spending days in the tomb.)  The point, though, is that they were brought back to a normal earthly life.  They spent some more time here on earth, and then died again naturally from some other cause.

Jesus, on the other hand, gives us a small glimpse as to our new life. Continue reading

On Pilate and Forgiveness

While the person and acts of Pontius Pilate are fresh in everyone’s minds, let me pass along an interesting observation from Pope Benedict.  John’s Gospel makes abundantly clear that Pilate did not see guilt in Jesus (at least at the Roman level) – but he did make one fatal flaw, which ultimately forced him to crucify Jesus against his will.  (This is subtle.)  In an attempt to release Jesus, he offered him up to the crowd (alongside Barabbas), assuming the crowd would opt to release Jesus.  But in doing so, he (essentially) declared Jesus guilty.  You can only offer amnesty to someone who is guilty, right?  Once the vocal crowd of Barabbas supporters chose their violent leader — leaving Jesus behind — Pilate was left to deal with his own subtle and unspoken ‘guilty’ verdict. Continue reading

The Washing of the Feet

We’re a few days into Holy Week, which is the week that Lucy and I decided to read Pope Benedict’s second book on Jesus of Nazareth, which focuses exclusively on Holy Week.  (Clever, eh?)

Last night I read one particular section – and simply had to pass on my imperfect ‘summary’ of the Pope’s message regarding the washing of the feet on Holy Thursday, plus a few points added by me as setup… Continue reading

John 14:27

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you.”

If you think the promise of peace means that things will get better in the outside world, you’re missing the promise.  The peace comes from the inside, not as a result of things from the outside.  It comes from God, and it is placed directly into your heart.  He doesn’t say he’ll give you peace by stopping all the conflict and chaos in your life – in fact he promises that you will have conflict and chaos in your life – but what he promises is peace in the midst of all that chaos.

See the video Are You at Peace? for more.


Greg, a bit younger, with a pelican on my shirt

Just my thoughts about various subjects, as well as some talks on video by myself and others.  (Note: All talks were recorded when I was a bit older than the picture to the left.)

If you watch only one talk, please make it Father John Riccardo’s ‘The Valley Talk’.  It’s incredible, and perhaps my favorite talk of all time.

Or, just have fun seeing what you might like to read.  Enjoy!