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Thomas Aquinas stained glass window.

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I am finding more and more the richness of the Holy Bible, the more I learn the more little nuggets of truth I discover. As I was listening to Catholic Talks on CD’s (yes I know I have been on about these CD’s for days’… but I just keep finding something new in them) I have be re-wakened the the depth of knowledge each little passage contains. It amazes me that one word or phrase can contain a life changing truth.

As the owner and creator* of STATIC Solutions, a Catholic company the produces educational materials for middle school youth, I am always on the look out for new ideas, new bits and pieces of truth that can be used to excite and deepen the faith life of the youth and the adults who are charged with imparting the truth. I find that it’s not hard to find that one passage or phrase the hard part is deciding what one.

I have just started to develop some new material, I am in the beginning stage were I need to play the concept out, I need to define what it is I am looking for (or as the case maybe, what God is trying to get me to do). This process involves the selection of the main theme that is to run through the book, what basic idea or truth is the book to depart. It is a long process, one that sometimes takes months or even years, yes I have a few ideas that have been sitting in my head for years.

It’s interesting, because as I listened to the CDs I discovered that I could write whole books, teach a whole class on just on passage or phrase. The depth of that phrase or passage could fill volumes. I could take the simple phrase “I Thirst” or “You are Peter” and build a course around them. This is my new dilemma…. What phrase or word or passage do I use, how do I use it and what do I do with it.

The concept of STATIC Solutions program is to take the youth deeper in to the faith, to really look at one area, to show them the richness of that phrase or person or book. Each of our classroom books look at a subsection of the over all concepts. For example the one of the books is entirely on the Exodus of the Israelites for Egypt. We spend five sessions doing nothing but recounting the Exodus and it’s meaning to us today and it’s part in Salvation History. We dive in to the mindset of the Israelites and Mosses, we place ourselves into the moment and feel the desert heat on our backs and the aches and pains of the long walk. Our hearts break over the sinfulness of Gods people, yet we can see ourselves in the humanity of them all. It is five sessions that truly take us back in time. Each of our course books deals with a subset such as that, rather than covering the whole Old Testament in five weeks or even fifteen, we choose to create an experience that will envelop the youth, take hold of their imaginations and souls and with God grace, create a conversation moment for them.

Our philosophy is why “dump” thousands of years of Salvation History on them, it is better to give them nuggets of truth that will excite them and enlighten them, than it is to drowned them is Christian history. If it has taken the Catholic Church over two thousand years to come to Her understanding of the faith, why should we expect our youth to do it in eight years? Is it not better to give them the thirst for knowledge and truth than to drowned them in it?

So as you can see my dilemma is how to take the beauty of the book of Job and turn it into a five session gem, or to take the phrase “I Thirst” and keep it to only five sessions. The glory of God and the Catholic Church can never be contained in the mind of man, yet alone in books. Yet this is what I attempt to do, this is the calling I have answered and the challenge I am tasked with.

The CDs are examples of this, year of the speakers could have went on for hours and hours, if not days. Yet they were confined to thirty minute or one hour at most. To take the vastness of Gods glory and condense it into a book or talk… The concept is truly, well its just mind blowing.

This is what I love about my faith, the fact that each day I can learn and grow, that a passage I have heard one hundred times before can suddenly take on a whole new meaning.  That the truth of the faith keeps growing or should I say that my understanding of the truth keeps growing. That the smallest of details sometimes are the greatest of truths.

The challenges given to me to create the programs I create are a life lesson in humility and faith, and yes the CDs I listened to reminded me of this very fact. They have created in me a new desire to research and learn and to create. As the STATIC Solutions tag line reads “Educate ~ Innovate ~ Create… that is me calling and one I am willing to answer.

God Bless

Paul

Reasons to Believe: How to Understand, Explain, and Defend the Catholic Faith
1 Corinthians 15:55-57“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

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Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553): Adam and ...

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I just spent the last few days out of town. I love to travel, but mostly when I travel, I travel out of the country, but this time it was only to a different state. Nothing exciting, just 3 hours away from my home. But this trip seemed at times to be a thousands miles way. Not sure why, but I think it was because I had a lot on my mind, and in a way I was thousands of miles away, not from home but from…. What I am not sure, it was/is just a feeling, and small feeling that seems to rest just on the inside of the door to my soul.

The small feeling, the one that is just on the inside of my soul most likely has been their for sometime. But the three hour car ride gave me time to reflect, time to open the door to my soul and seeing that small feeling just sitting there, waiting for me to open the door and find it. And I did, I found this small feeling, it was just sitting there, like it had been waiting for  months and years to be found. It wasn’t a new feeling, one that I have never had, rather it was an old feeling, one that I have walked around and stepped over for year and years. The dust and cobwebs that covered it were thick with pride. A pride that I have known for years, a pride that was and is eating away at this small feeling that was just on the inside of the door to my soul.

Pride, one of the seven capitol sins, and in many ways the root of all sin. It was pride that made Eve take that first bite, and pride that made Adam follow her in to sin. The proof of this, after they ate the fruit of the tree, they discovered they were naked. Their pride took over and they were now, for the first time, concerned at how they looked. Adam and Eve are the parents of pride, parents of the first sin.

Pride has kept me from seeing this small feeling just on the inside of the door to my soul, it cover it in a thick dust that hid it from my eyes, but that is what pride does, it hides the truth from you. We see this is our lives all the time, just like pride hid from Adam and Eve the beauty of their creation, pride has hidden from me this small feeling.

But the three hour drive gave me an insight, it gave me time to start to blow the dust and cobwebs off this small feeling, the one that was just on the inside of the door to my soul. I used the total of six hours to listen to some solidly Catholic talks on CD. Just before I left for my trip I selected a few talks on CD for my ride, you see I belong to the CD of the month club offered by Lighthouse media, a Catholic non-for-profit company that produces and distributes Catholic talks, and each month I get a new CD in the mail. Normally I would have listen to them as soon as I got them, but for the longest time I did not have a CD player in my car, and trying to listen to them at home, well lets just say that don’t work out to well. So I have a few un-listened to CD’s sitting around, so I gathered them up and placed them in my car.

A few days before I was to take this trip I decided I would break down and get a new stereo put in my car, one with a CD player. I just couldn’t deal with the drive with out some music or talk radio or something to help keep me company along the way. So with my talks on CD and a few select music CD’s I was ready for my trip. The funning thing is, I listened to only the talks, the the talks, well, they were perfect, I listened to all the talks I had, and when I pulled in the drive way at home, the last CD was played and I was listening to my Liberal CD. The timing was almost perfect, and it would have been if it were not for construction on the expressway.

God is good, He is good indeed!

The fact that the timing was almost perfect was not accident, it was divine.  Not only did the talks last as long as my drive time, but in a way each talk was talking about me, each talk was sending me, personally, a message. The titles of each talk were different, and the presenters were diverse, from priest to converts to new seminarians’.  But each talk was just perfect for what I  needed to hear. Each talk was given to me personally, it was like they wrote the talk just for me and just for this car ride.

God is good, He is good indeed!

The talks all had the same basic theme to them, pride and how pride is evil and how it tears you away from God and the life of perfection, how pride can and is slowly killing you, Non of the talks came out and said this, but this is what i heard. And more importantly it is what I needed to hear.

That small feeling, the one that is just on the inside of the door to my soul. The one I have been steeping over and moving around for years, that small feeling was dying, it was being eaten away by pride and if I didn’t do something soon it would be dead and nothing short of a miracle would bring it back to life. And the talks on the CD’s, well in a way they were the voice of God speaking to me and God was telling me “It is time to dust off the small feeling and to let it see the light of the I AM, to see the light of God”.

What a powerful message, one that will require a powerful conversion on my part. And one that I am not sure I am up to, but I will trust in the Lord and I will start to dust it off and see what lies under all the dust and cobwebs of pride. I will start the process of cleaning out my soul, to open the door up and let the wind of the Holy Spirit refresh and cleans my soul. I will allow the light of God to fill it, to illuminate it and to fill it with the warmth of Gods love. I will clear the way, and make a path for Jesus to enter in to my soul and to dwell there in a welcoming and comfortable environment.

So what is this small feeling, what is covered up with the dust and cobwebs of pride, it is forgiveness.   And how do I clear out the dust and cobwebs, by forgiveing, by placing aside my pride and forgiving. I have to learn to humble myself and forgive thouse who have hurt me and learn to forgive myself. This is going to be a long process, one that I am sure I will fail at several times, but than again there is a lot of dust the clear away ans the cobwebs can tangel me up. But with the grace of God and the prayers of others, I know I can do it.

God is good, He is good indeed!

God Bless

Paul

The Seven Capital Sins
1 Corinthians 1:18“[Christ the Wisdom and Power of God] For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

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Always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys them so much.

Oscar Wilde

Source: http://quotes4all.net/quote_578.html

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Forgiveness is a powerful act. The quote above takes a humorous look at it, but truth be told, forgiveness is powerful. And that is way it is most likely a very hard thing to do, to forgive does not come easy for most.  I know it does not for me.

But I have experienced it, and the power is overwhelming.If this is true, and it is, than why do we find it so hard to forgive?

the answer lies in our makeup, how we are created. We are created to survive. We will fight to save our lives and we will do what is necessary to advance our own personal worlds. Forgiveness flies in to the face of that. To forgive is to open yourself up to become vulnerable, if even for a split second. And all that we are fights against that sometimes till death.

It is easy to say the words “I forgive you” but difficult, at best, to truly mean them and to live them out. Often times we place conditions on forgiveness. We ask for something in return. This is not always wrong to do, but can lead to difficulties. The bible uses conditions when it comes to forgiveness:

Mat 6:12 (TEB) "Forgive us the wrongs that we have done, as we forgive the wrongs others have done us."

Luke 6:37 (NIV) "…Forgive, and you will be forgiven."

Mat 6:14-15 (NIV) "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But, if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."

I need to give forgiveness to receive forgiveness… It is a circle, I want to be forgiven before i forgive but I must forgive to be forgiven… around and around she goes….

Paul

Ilibagiza’s Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust (Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza (Paperback – June 1, 2007))
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Do not worry about your difficulties in Mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater.

Albert Einstein

Source: http://quotes4all.net/quote_941.html

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Any one who has read my blog in the past knows I love Albert, and I love his wisdom. This is yet another great quote from Mr. Einstein.

He is not really talking about math here, but life in general. All to often we get hung up in the little issues of our daily lives, and fail to see the major issues of the people around us. Basically we sweat the small stuff and Albert is telling us not to. Good advice.

All to often we take the simple and make it complex, I think we do that to make ourselves feel better. This way we don’t have just basic issues but major ones. Almost like a status symbol “My issues are bigger than yours, so I must be more important”… How silly we humans can be…

In today’s world we need to simplify not complicated. Simplistic is better. The KISS method is needed, Keep It Simple Stupid…. Words to live by!

I have a habit of over simplifying everything, I break everything down to the simplistic and go from there. To me, if it is a fact at the simple level it’s a fact at the complex level. Lots of people don’t agree with me, but I figure they just like to complicate their lives.

Me, I like to live a simple life.. I’m not totally there yet, but I am working on it. Once again good old Albert has the solution, always consider that your issues are not as complicated, not as bad as someone else’s. As I always like to say “For the Grace of God go I”.

Paul

Dear Professor Einstein: Albert Einstein’s Letters to and from Children
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Good Advice…. 
Go to fullsize imageWe’re often told, “You should sleep on it” before you make an important decision. Why is that? How does “sleeping on it” help your decision-making process?

Conventional wisdom suggests that by “sleeping on it,” we clear our minds and relieve ourselves of the immediacy (and accompanying stress) of making a decision. Sleep also helps organize our memories, process the information of the day, and solve problems. Such wisdom also suggests that conscious deliberation helps decision making in general. But new research (Dijksterhuis et al., 2009) suggests something else might also be at work – our unconscious.

Previous research suggests that sometimes the more consciously we think about a decision, the worse the decision made. Sometimes what’s needed is a period of unconscious thought – equivalent to “sleeping on it” according to the researchers – in order to make better decisions. Here’s how they study this phenomenon:

“[… In a] typical experiment demonstrating this effect, participants choose between a few objects (e.g., apartments), each described by multiple aspects. The objects differ in desirability, and after reading the descriptions, participants are asked to make their choice following an additional period of conscious thought or unconscious thought. In the original experiments, unconscious thinkers made better decisions than conscious thinkers when the decisions were complex.”

The researchers suggest that unconscious thought, contrary to the way many of us think about it, is an active, goal-directed thought process. The primary difference is that in unconscious thought, the usual biases that are a part of our conscious thinking are absent. In unconscious thought, we weigh the importance of the components that make up our decision more equally, leaving our preconceptions at the door of consciousness.

So this is all fine and good, but how you do take laboratory findings and adapt them to a real-world experience to show that unconscious thinkers think better (e.g., with less distortions or biases)? One way to do this is to look at sports, because our weighting of different components is done beforehand and individually – not as an artificial variable manipulated by the researchers.

Each week over a period of 6 weeks, the researchers took 352 undergraduates from the University of Amsterdam and asked them to predict the outcome of four different upcoming soccer matches. Participants expertise about soccer was measured, and then they were asked to predict the result of each of the four upcoming soccer matches.

“[Then] participants were divided into three experimental conditions. In the immediate condition, participants saw the four matches on the computer screen and were asked to provide their answers in 20 s[econds].

“In both the conscious-thought and the unconscious-thought conditions, participants saw the four matches on the computer screen for 20 s[econds] and were told they would have to predict the outcomes later on.

“Conscious-thought participants were told they had an additional 2 min to think about the matches. Unconscious-thought participants were told they would do something else for 2 min and performed a two-back task designed to occupy conscious processing.”

A second experiment was conducted on another group of undergraduates to replicate the findings and understand more about the underlying process.

What did they find?

“These experiments demonstrate that among experts, unconscious thought leads to better predictions of soccer results than either conscious thought or quick, immediate guesses.

“Experiment 2 sheds light on why this may be so: Unconscious thinkers seem to be better at using the appropriate information to arrive at their estimates. Unconscious thinkers who had more accurate knowledge about the single best prediction criterion (world ranking) made better predictions. This was not true for conscious thinkers or for immediate decision makers.”

Just to emphasize this finding – if you’re an expert and you had extra time to think about your decision in the area of your expertise (conscious thinker) or had to make a quick decision, you made worse decisions than those who were unconscious thinkers. The researcher hypothesize that conscious thought can lead to poor weighting in decision-making – the more you think about something, the more your biases interfere with good decision-making.

Unconscious thinkers in this experiment appear to weight the relative importance of diagnostic information more accurately than conscious thinkers did.

As always, these results must be taken with a grain of salt. The experiment was conducted only on undergraduates and may not generalize to other age groups or people with different educational backgrounds. Furthermore, other research has not found a significant performance difference between unconscious thinkers and conscious thinkers, and unconscious thought is not always the mode to rely on when faced with a complex decision (e.g., you can’t use this for gambling and certain kinds of information).

But for certain kinds of decisions – those that are complex and where you have some expertise – “sleeping on it” may be more helpful than spending minutes or hours of conscious thought on it. The brain makes good unconscious decisions, when we let it.

Dr. John Grohol is the CEO and founder of Psych Central. He has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues, and the intersection of technology and psychology since 1992. This article was provided by PsychCentral.com.

LiveScience.com chronicles the daily advances and innovations made in science and technology. We take on the misconceptions that often pop up around scientific discoveries and deliver short, provocative explanations with a certain wit and style. Check out our science videos, Trivia & Quizzes and Top 10s. Join our community to debate hot-button issues like stem cells, climate change and evolution. You can also sign up for free newsletters, register for RSS feeds and get cool gadgets at the LiveScience Store.

John M. Grohol, PSYD
PsychCentral.com
LiveScience.com John M. Grohol, Psyd
psychcentral.com
livescience.com
Mon Oct 26, 11:27 pm ET

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Often times it is hard to start this blog, I am not sure what to talk about and sometimes I am not sure if it really matters all that much. But as I have stated several times in the past, this blog is more a benefit to me than to others. This blog allows me the opportunity to workout what I think and feel about issues. Often times I use it to spew my Conservative political convictions or my Catholic faith. I use it as my own little sounding board, and over all I think that is a very good thing.

I have blogged about the importance of writing in a journal, well this blog is that, this is my journal, this is my space…

As of late you will notice that I have been very sporadic in my blogging, days and days go by with no words of wisdom from me, yet the world seems to still go on, and that is a very good feeling, to know that I am not that important to the workings of this world. I would hate the feeling of responsibility to this blog, to know that someone actually depends on this blog and my musings. In a way I think it would detract from the writing of this blog, I would feel the pressure to always at the top of my game, and truth be told, I never what that feeling. I like the feeling of just being average, nothing special.

I am told that I am extremely smart and have an IQ that is in the genus level, yet I strive for nothing more than average. In fact I find it difficult to deal with people who are perfectionist or who feel they must achieve the top score or be labeled the best.

If any one has watched the movie “Amadeus” one of my favorite lines from it

 

 

 

 

Salieri: I will speak for you, Father. I speak for all mediocrities in the world. I am their champion. I am their patron saint.

 

I love that line, along with hundreds of others in the movie… But that one line, I speak for all mediocrities in the world… What a great line and that is how I feel, that is what I think. I truly feel no need to always be the best, to always be on top, sometimes (well most of the time) average will do.

To what end is it to always be the best, to always be on top of the game? I see none, now I do think people need to work hard to strive for the goal, but I also feel that sometimes the goal is not important. Take Salieri, he wanted to always be on top, to always be the best, yet he never could, Mozart was, yet Mozart’s average was still better than Salieri’s best. So why concern yourself to death with it? Mediocrity is not a bad word…

But in this global economy and the world competing for everything we all to often push ourselves and sadly our children in to a frenzy to be perfect to always be on top of their game to always be the best. But reality is, not everyone can be the best, not everyone can win…. So why are we teaching ourselves and our youth that winning is everything? Why do we keep pushing them to be more than they are? What ever happen to “Just do your best, that’s all I ask” that phrase seems to have vanished from our vocabulary, now its I only expect the best from you, I only expect all A’s, or a perfect game or what every it is you expect.

With great expectations come great failures… Please understand I am not say we do not need to push ourselves or our youth, but we also need to be realistic and expect and accept that no all are Mozart’s that some of us are Salieri’s, and that too is OK…

I speak for all mediocrities in the world. I am their champion. I am their patron saint. ~Salieri

 

Paul

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One of my favorite people to look to or to quote is Albert Einstein. I think is because we both are so much a like…. (I’ll let that one sink in a bit before I move on…….)

Truthfully I do see a lot of similarities between us, no I am not as smart as him, no were near, but we both share a thinking pattern. For anyone who reads my blogs or knows me personally will know that I am a person with an imagination and a positive attitude. Albert also has this trait, and I have quoted him several times, in fact I have a small postcard of his hanging in my office and I have read biographies on him. I find him to be a very interesting person. I have no ability to understand his math or his logic (most of the time), but I can understand his outlook and his way of dealing with the world. Today as I was thinking I should blog about something, but I didn’t know what. I didn’t want to blog about politics again, not because I don’t have anything to say, because I do, but because both of my blogs are not primary political they are primarily spiritual. So my latest rant concerning Obama will have to wait…. So what than do I blog about. As I often do when I don’t have a solid idea I will look up quotes on the internet (God’s gift for writers block). What I found was this quote from Mr. Einstein:

The important thing is not to stop questioning. -Albert Einstein

I like that, in fact I teach that… I have from the start, I have always valued questions. To me if you are not questioning that you are dead, dead to the topic at hand, dead to the presenter, dead to the faith, dead to what ever it is you are not questioning.

To an insecure presenter or teacher the questions may come across as attacks, good question by e-magic.as if the questioner is challenging there domain. And they very well may be doing just that, and that’s ok. Hell if it was good enough for old Albert, than it’s good enough for me!

My overriding passion is my faith and teaching my faith to youth. In fact this will be the first time since 1990 that I will not be actively involved in a teaching ministry, but back to my point… My passion is my faith and the passing on of my faith (teaching). Part of this passion is also learning more about my faith on my own and taking formal classes. It is the process of questioning my teachers and my students that grow and learn more. It is the process of questioning that allows my mind to explore other areas it normally would not travel. It allows me the freedom to play the “devils” advocate in the name of knowing.

Questions are what makes America a land of the free, if were are not allowed to question of government, than we are no better than and no different than present day Cuba. Our ability to place our public officials under the microscope of public questioning is our key to freedom. My ability to question my faith is what makes my faith mine is my ability to question her teachings and to question my understanding.

Albert got it right, The important thing is not to stop questioning.

Think about a toddler and there constant why? why? why?, it is their ability to ask why that allows them to grow, why should that be any different for a pre-teen or teen, a parent of grandparent. Our ability to grow never ceases, just our own limitations placed on ourselves do. We have that same power as the curious 3 year old, the power of WHY… That power to change the course of events is not limited to the mind of a 3 year old, it is innate in all of us, it is our nature to question. God created us to question and he celebrates us when we do so.

A single question has changed the course of history, a single question can place common scene on it’s ear and turn right to wrong and evil to good. The power of a question should never be over looked nor should it be played down or belittled.

The question was asked of Jesus, “Are you the Messiah, the King of the Jews?” and all of history was changed for ever. The question was asked, “What is the price of liberty” and a new nation was born.

The ability to question is our basic right as part of humanity, to stop questioning is to stop participating in humanity. Teacher and politicians and parents that stifle the questions of those they are charged with not only stifle that individual but also all of humanity.

Just imagine if:

  • Edison never question electricity
  • Ford never question the assembly line
  • Jefferson never questioned Liberty

It is the questions that have created the humanity we know today. With each stifled question our next Ford, Edison, Einstein or Jefferson might never be able to ask that all important, life changing question.

If we do not allow questions, than who will question poverty, hunger, global war’s and the outer limits of space or the inner limits of the mind? Sniffle one is the same as stifling all.

 

 

Just something to question….

Paul

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