Thursday, December 15, 2011

Conception to Birth Visualized

Check out this video...

What did you think of the language he used to describe the process?

What other thoughts came to mind?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Inside Tim Tebow's Head: How to develop the mindset of a champion in everything you do

"They said I couldn't be a high school quarterback. They said I couldn't get a D-1 scholarship. That you can't make it. That you're not good enough. That you're not skilled enough. They said I couldn't win a Heisman. They said I couldn't win a national championship. They said I wouldn't be a first round draft pick. They said I couldn't play in the league. 'Preciate that."
- Tim Tebow in a FHS commercial

The story of Tim Tebow is filled with people who have doubted him. The doubts continue and yet Tebow finds success. How does he do it? How does he overcome adversity? What makes him a champion?

I would like to propose that Tim Tebow's mindset makes the difference.

In her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Dr. Carol Dweck talks about two different kinds of mindsets, a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.

A fixed mindset says:
1. Your intelligence is something very basic about you that you can't change very much.

2. You are a certain kind of person, and there is not much that can be done to really change that.

3. You have to be perfect. Failure is not an option.

4. Hard work is for those who don't have what it takes.

A growth mindset says:
1. You can become more intelligent over time.

2. No matter what kind of person you are, you can always change substantially.

3. Failure is an opportunity for growth.

4. Hard work is necessary for anyone to succeed.

Tim Tebow embodies a growth mindset.

Tebow does not have all of the talent in the world. His throwing motion is unconventional. His throwing accuracy is well below other top quarterbacks. This is why NFL commentators and analysts have doubted Tebow from day one. But, what they don't realize is that Tim Tebow knows how to improve and he has been improving his whole life. He isn't worried about failure. He isn't worried about looking bad. He is worried about improving and working hard. He has a mindset to overcome adversity. His teammates consistently remark that they have never seen someone work as hard as Tim Tebow does.

In college, Tim Tebow had incredible success. But, during one season, his team had an unexpected loss that ruined the opportunity for a perfect, undefeated season. Listen to Tebow's response:
"I'm sorry. We were hoping for an undefeated season...but I promise you one thing, a lot of good will come out of this. You will never see a player play harder than I will the rest of this season. You will never see a player push his team harder than I will. And you will never see a team play harder than we will." This speech was later titled, "The Promise" (see picture on the left). His team later went on to win the national championship. This is a growth mindset at work!

And, Tebow's attitude has changed his entire team. When he took over the team, the Broncos had a 1-4 record. Since Tebow has been at quarterback, they have been 7-1. The level of play by the entire team has risen. Champ Bailey (picture on right), who has played for 13 seasons and will almost certainly be a Hall of Fame cornerback said this, "Tebow is a special player. I have never seen a player quite like him in my whole career! I'm gonna play all out for the guy! I know he will be out there giving 110% every play every week, so I'm gonna give 120%."

Tebow's mindset is contagious. How can you carry this mindset into your own life?

Here are three ways to apply the growth mindset to your life:
1. Our Spiritual Life
If there is a faith that believes that people can substantially change, it is Catholicism. We believe the sacraments can radically change
our very souls. We believe that God's grace can transform our human nature into something greater. But, we believe that this change can only occur when we realize our failures and allow God to change us. If we have a fixed mindset and want to look perfect, we block God's ability to use us.

In a Wednesday audience on some of the Church's early evangelists, Pope Benedict said this, "Hence there are also disputes, disagreements and controversies among saints. And I find this very comforting, because we see that the saints have not 'fallen from Heaven'. They are people likes us, who also have complicated problems. Holiness does not consist in never having erred or sinned. Holiness increases the capacity for conversion, for repentance, for willingness to start again, and, especially, for reconciliation and forgiveness."

What mindset do we have towards our relationship with God?

2. Relationships
Dr. Dweck says that a fix mindset looks for a spouse who: "Puts them on a pedestal. Makes them feel perfect. Worships them."

A growth mindset looks for a spouse who: "Sees their faults and helps them to work on them. Challenges them to become a better person. Encourages them to learn new things."

I think this can also apply to our friendships. Which kind of mindset do we have in our relationships and to what extent?

3. Our Work
It is easy to stick with the things we are good at and to be afraid of improvement in the areas that we are not. Often, we can convince ourselves that we are not capable of this or that. In reality, we are afraid of the hard work and the potential failure that might occur.

What stops us from accomplishing what you are supposed to do? Do you have a fixed mindset about what you are capable of?

These are just three areas where our mindset can make the difference. Perhaps you have a growth mindset in one area and a fixed mindset in another. Find one way this week to work on a growth mindset and keep watching Tim Tebow for inspiration.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Why you should listen to Jesus, the Pope, and Bono

In case you haven't already heard, this month's theme for FOCUSequip is Missions! Why should I care about missions, you ask? Well, a few reasons (in order of descending importance)
  1. Jesus says so- Jesus Christ is present in every human being. Don't believe me? I will let Jesus speak for himself:
    "Then the King will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, ' Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.'" (Matthew 25:34-40)
  2. The Pope says so- In his very FIRST encyclical, Pope Benedict XVI stressed the importance of caring for those less fortunate than us.
    "Love for widows and orphans, prisoners, and the sick and needy of every kind, is as essential to the Church as the ministry of the sacraments and preaching of the Gospel” (Deus Caritas Est, 22).
  3. Bono says so- Maybe you could score a couple backstage passes to a U2 concert if Bono knew you were going on a mission trip... at least its okay to dream, isn't it?
    "To me, a faith in Jesus Christ that is not aligned with the poor ... it's nothing." -Bono
Wow... That is pretty sobering. Our love for Christ must compel us to share His love with others- and not just those whom it is easy to share it with, those who look nice and smell nice, but with every human person, especially the poor. The world is searching and seeking for answers to suffering and the countless problems of society, and the only way to answer these questions is to pour ourselves out in loving service to our brothers and sisters. Talk is cheap. Action speaks volumes. And they will know we are Christians by our love....

So, it would be cruel to speak of all this and not provide you the opportunity to partake in this Christ-centered service. Ergo... FOCUS is blessed to have an entire department dedicated to this cause: FOCUS Missions. They have 30 mission trips going out this year! Is Christ calling you out of your comfort zone and into the mission field? Well, we here at FOCUSequip this month hope to help you discern that call. Keep an eye out as we post some blogs on the importance of mission for our faith and as we highlight some of the different missions that FOCUS goes on and tell you more about them through our blog, Facebook, and Twitter. The application deadline for Spring Break Mission Trips is DECEMBER 15TH! That is only 10 days away! So we will be filling you in on those missions first! So stay tuned and hopefully you will find Him whom you are looking for...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Waking up: Bruno Mars vs. St. Josemaria Escriva

In the spirit of concluding our November theme of Prayer and the Liturgy...

So I'm sure most of you have heard "the Lazy Song" by Bruno Mars (if you haven't, don't waste your time or your soul). Essentially the song is all about how he wakes up one day and doesn't want to do anything with his life, he just wants to "lay in his bed" all day long and do other unproductive and generally life-less things (for those of you that may like this song, I am not saying you are a bad person, just trying to show you what you are filling your mind and heart with). Judging by this song, when Bruno wakes up in the morning, he has no purpose, nothing to live for, nothing to fight for. Sadly, I'm sure this is how many people in our society feel.

So, this got me thinking/praying. What is my first thought when I wake up? Mostly its annoyance and a general bitterness for the Hawaiian culture because of the ukelele song that plays on my phone to wake me up. Once I get past that, I reach all the way across my bed to hit the evil snooze button. The other day I came across this passage from St. Josemaria Escriva about what he calls "The Heroic Minute." Take a look:

The heroic minute. It is the time fixed for getting up. Without hesitation: a supernatural reflection and… up! The heroic minute: here you have a mortification that strengthens your will and does no harm to your body.It's so discouraging to find oneself beaten at the first skirmish (Josemaria Escriva, The Way).

So, this got me thinking. First off, although I am not a doctor, I am pretty certain that the extra 5 minute intervals of "sleep" that we get from snoozing doesn't actually do anything for our body because it is not real sleep or real rest, thus it is purely a psychological battle. This battle seems unwinnable at times.

But wait, there is hope, says our beloved Spanish Powerhouse. If we can just claim that first moment of the day for Christ and give Him control over our life, we will see drastic changes. Instead of allowing Satan to creep in and taint our day with self-love from the very beginning, we can reject him and start our day off with a victory over the evil one! I think it all goes back to the question: What makes you get out of bed in the morning? Obviously, for Bruno Mars, there isn't much to live for, so why get out of bed? Well, my brothers and sisters in Christ- we have a lot to live for, because of what Christ did on the Cross. So let's wake up with purpose and immediately allow the love of God to overwhelm us and fill us to overflowing!

So, give this a try just for one week (only 7 days) and see if it doesn't change the way you go about your day. Try setting your alarm for the ACTUAL time you need to wake up (not 10 minutes earlier just so you can hit snooze twice), and when that alarm clock rings, place two feet on the floor, stand up and just speak the name of Jesus. Don't underestimate the power in prayer, and the power in His name. Besides, what better way to start your day than slapping Satan in the face?

So, I leave you with one question: What do you live for, and is it worth getting out of bed in the morning?

"Unless in the first waking moments of the day you learn to fling the door wide back and let God in, you will work on the wrong level all day; but swing the door wide open and pray to your Father in secret, and every public thing will be stamped with the presence of God."
- Oswald Chambers

By Guest Blogger Austin Ashcraft, FOCUS Missionary

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Are You Free?

In Interior Freedom, Jacques Philippe offers an important challenge. In his own words:

“Every Christian needs to discover that even in this most unfavorable outward circumstances we possess within ourselves a space of freedom that nobody can take away, because God is its source and guarantee. Without this discovery we will always be restricted in some way, and will never taste true happiness.”

Philippe vividly shows that obtaining this “space of freedom” or as it is called elsewhere, interior peace, is not just a nice complement to our life in Jesus Christ, but remains as the central measure of our faith, hope and love in God himself. To illustrate this he examines specific situations where our interior peace might be tested: with ourselves, with others and with suffering. He examines how interior peace relates to our views on the past, the future and the present moment. Rather than making interior peace an airy and abstract concept, he uses real life examples to demonstrate how others have obtained this peace.

Interior Freedom is not for the lighthearted. Readers in the past have noted that it has “rocked their world.” It is a book that reveals your interior to yourself whether you are ready for it or not. While difficult, Philippe’s encouragement gives you the freedom to find interior peace in God’s will and timing.

To order Interior Freedom from the FOCUS book store, click here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Is the New Translation of the Mass More or Less Scriptural?

Below is an interview published on Zenit with our beloved Dr. Sri about the Biblical Roots of the Mass and how the New Translation coming out in a couple weeks will richly enhance our scriptural experience of the Mass. Enjoy!

NOTE: A particularly interesting part of this interview is the second to lass question about ecumenism. Since the New Translation is so much more intimately tied to Scripture, this could be a HUGE tool in helping our Protestant brothers and sisters better understand the beauty of the Catholic Mass!

Interview With Author on Finding Scripture in theNew Translation

By Kathleen Naab

LITTLETON, Colorado, MAY 5, 2011 ( Many Catholics might not realize just how much an hour at church on Sunday mornings puts them in contact with the Bible.

In addition to the readings and psalm, "practically everything in the liturgy has some roots in Scripture,” according to a scholar who has written a book to point out these connections.

Dr. Edward Sri goes into the biblical roots of liturgy in his book, "A Biblical Walk Through the Mass." And he says the forthcoming new translation of the Mass makes these roots even more visible.

ZENIT: Will the new translation help us become more in tune with Scripture and see the links between liturgy and the Bible?

Sri: From the opening Sign of the Cross to the closing “Thanks be to God,” the prayers and rituals of the Mass are permeated by the Bible. Indeed, practically everything in the liturgy has some roots in Scripture. Knowing more about that biblical background will help deepen our understanding of what we are really saying and doing in the Mass.

The new translation of the Mass will help make the biblical background shine more brilliantly. It will convey more fully the rich biblical metaphors, images and allusions found in the Latin text of the Mass.

ZENIT: Can you give some examples?

Sri: In the prayer shortly before Holy Communion is distributed, the priest has been saying, “Happy are those who are called to this supper.” But in the new translation, the priest will say, “Blessed are those who are called to the supper of the lamb.” These new words more clearly recall a climactic moment of the Book of Revelation when Jesus, the Lamb of God, is depicted as a bridegroom joining himself to his bride, the Church. An angel announces this intimate union, saying, “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the lamb” (Revelation 19:19). The new translation more clearly echoes the angel’s invitation to the heavenly wedding supper of the lamb and reminds us that Holy Communion is an intimate loving communion with Jesus -- one that is likened to the union shared between husband and wife.

Similarly, the people have been saying, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you …” But in the new translation, we will say, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof.” The new words reflect the humility and trust of the Roman centurion who asked Jesus to heal his paralyzed servant at home (cf. Matthew 8:5-13). As a Roman officer who was in charge of a hundred soldiers oppressing the Jewish people, the centurion humbly acknowledges, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof.” Like the centurion, we, at this moment in the Mass, recognize our own unworthiness to have Jesus come sacramentally under the “roof” of our souls in Holy Communion.

ZENIT: How did the history of this intertwining between liturgy and Scripture unfold? Masses were celebrated for decades before Scripture (the New Testament) was even written, so when did liturgical texts and Scriptural texts become so closely linked?

Sri: One could say that the Bible and the liturgy always have gone hand-in-hand. The intertwining of the Bible and liturgical worship is older than the Mass itself, for ancient Jewish worship was filled with allusions to the Hebrew Scriptures. Jesus’ words at the Last Supper also contained numerous allusions to Old Testament passages and images. It is not surprising, therefore, that when the Eucharist was celebrated in the early Church, the various expressions of Christian liturgical worship continued to be shaped by biblical themes. Over time, as the rituals and prayers of the Mass developed, the Scriptures remained a key source of inspiration for these liturgical rites and played an important role in helping shape the liturgy that has come down to us today.

ZENIT: From blogs to books, happily there is a lot of information available on the new translation -- for anyone interested to find it. What about those Catholics who are not, perhaps, as interested as they should be. Are there practical ways the Church can take advantage of this catechesis opportunity?

Sri: I think we have a unique opportunity to help the faithful reflect more on the meaning of the Mass and how it relates to their lives. People will need to learn new responses and new musical settings. As they are taken out of their routine in the liturgy and will need to learn the newly translated Mass parts, there is a wonderful opportunity to teach about the meaning of what we say and do in the liturgy and to catechize on the Eucharist and the Mass itself. Thus, I hope the preparation goes beyond mere mechanics -- simply training people to say new responses -- and leads to catechetical and spiritual renewal.

ZENIT: You mention the importance of preparing ourselves, our families and children, for the transition to the new translation. What methods or resources would you suggest?

Sri: First and foremost, we need to take time to educate ourselves about the upcoming changes so that we are able to understand them and enter into the newly translated prayers ourselves. I recommend that people take time to seek out articles and books on this topic. Attending a workshop offered by one’s diocese or parish or by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops also could be very helpful.

Moreover, by learning about the Mass changes, we can help others through the transition. Many people have questions about the various changes and about why we even need a new translation. Once we come to grasp the meaning of the changes, we will be better equipped to help explain the meaning behind the changes to others.

We also want to prepare our children for the upcoming transition. In my home, we have just begun talking about the new translation -- albeit in very basic terms that a 10- or 8-year-old might understand. Yet, we should not be surprised at how much children can perceive.

We recently discussed how the new words, “And with your spirit,” point to the unique action of the Holy Spirit working through the ordained priest to change the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. Our children quickly saw, on their own, how the previous words, “And also with you,” did not convey that important point as clearly. But the key to having conversations like this -- whether it be with our children or friends or family -- is to educate ourselves on the meaning of the changes. The person who does not take time to learn about the new translation will not be able to help others. As the saying goes, “You can’t give what you don’t have.”

ZENIT: Would you say that "A Biblical Walk Through the Mass" is an ecumenical tool?

Sri: I have had a number of Protestant Christians express gratitude for this project. Some have noted how it has helped them appreciate the Mass more and how they never realized how biblical the Mass was. While the primary audience I had in mind was Catholic, I am hopeful that the book might be of service to our Protestant brothers and sisters, helping explain the Mass in Biblical terms that they may find more appealing.

ZENIT: You say your book could be viewed as a "Bible study" on the Mass. Do you see it as a good tool for group sessions?

Sri: The book is meant to be a biblical tour through the Mass parts, helping people understand the significance of all that we say and do in the liturgy. The book can be read on its own for one’s own personal study or devotion. But Ascension Press also has developed excellent supplemental resources that can accompany the book and be used in small group settings for catechesis. There are study workbooks for participants, easy-to-use leaders’ guides and DVD video presentations on the new translation and the Mass as a whole that go along with the "Biblical Walk Through the Mass" book. Parishes, schools and small groups around the country are using these additional components for adult education and to prepare people for the new translation.

--- --- ---

On the Net:

"A Biblical Walk Through the Mass":

Monday, October 31, 2011

3 Ways To Redeem Halloween

Redeem Halloween

This Article is written by Guest Blogger Dr. Brian McAdam, FOCUS Missionary in the National Formation Department

Halloween is the vigil of a major Catholic feast day. Let’s redeem it!

The word “Halloween” is a contraction of “All Hallows’ Eve.” It is the evening before All Hallows’ Day, which is what we used to call All Saints’ Day in the Church. So Halloween is the vigil of All Saints’ Day.

All Saints’ Day, in turn, is a solemnity (major Catholic feast) in the Church instituted to honor all the saints both known and unknown. Halloween should be for All Saints’ Day what Christmas Eve should be for Christmas: namely, a time of preparation before a great feast!

Is this what you think of when you hear the word “Halloween”? Probably not. Most of us probably think of trick-or-treating, horror movies, and pumpkins — or, if you’re posh enough, pumpkin spice lattes! Halloween has come to include so many secular elements that its original meaning has been largely covered up.

How should Catholics serious about their faith participate in Halloween?

One extreme would be to plunge headfirst into everything that Halloween has come to imply for some people. The big mistake here would be to participate in things we should always avoid, like the occult (see CCC #2116). We also want to avoid things that take the focus off God and His saints; horror movies, for instance, might be an example.

Another extreme, however, would be to abandon Halloween altogether on account of the fact that it is often associated with things like horror movies and occult practices. The big mistake here would be to detract from the Church’s Solemnity of All Saints by not keeping its vigil.

The best course of action would be for us to redeem Halloween. “Redeem Halloween” — say it three times fast! Here are a few examples of how we can redeem Halloween:

1. Pray and fast

Pray and fast in preparation for the great feast that is All Saints’ Day. Ask for the grace to emulate the saints who have gone before us in faith.

2. Watch a movie about a saint

Rather than watch a horror movie, watch a movie about a saint’s life. Among the many great movies about saints are those listed on the Vatican Top 45 Movie List.

3. Dress up as a saint

When others ask about your costume, you can tell them you’ve dressed up as such-and-such saint and use the opportunity to share with them the Catholic meaning of Halloween.

How else can we redeem Halloween? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.