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God Squad: More questions from Ms. Pepitone's theology class 

The absolute last installment (for this year) of my (short) answers to questions from Ms. Pepitone's Theology Class at Mercy High School in Middletown, Connecticut.

Q: What are some ways that you like to personally connect with God and spend time with Him? I am working on developing a more personal relationship with God and would like to feel closer to him. — From B

A: Say "Thank You" to 25 people today. Recite a list of your most obvious blessings. Look very closely at some object in nature. Then read Psalm 23.

Q: When overwhelmed with stress, how do I ask God for advice? I know He can't answer me directly with words like a normal conversation, so what should I look out for? — From P

A: Sit in a comfortable place. Breathe in and out slowly. Quiet your mind, and just listen to your soul. The Bible calls what you hear a "still small voice." (I Kings 19:11-13). The Bible is right. God speaks very softly. Our job is to quiet all the other noises in our life and listen.

Q: How can I improve on my patience after praying to God and not feeling like my prayer was answered quickly? How can I be certain that everything will be OK, and that God's plan for me is right on track? — From H

A: How long do you think the Lord God of the entire Universe ought to wait before getting back to you?

Q: Why do we have a voice in our head sometimes that encourages us to do the wrong thing? Do you think that not attending Mass is dishonoring God, even if we pray on our own time? — From A

A: We are partly animals and only partly divine. Sometimes the animal voice wins.

Q: I find it difficult to forgive people who have hurt me. How can I look to God and ask him to help me forgive people? — From A

A: Try this: Consider every sin committed against you to be a minor sin and every sin you commit against others to be a major sin.

Q: I was wondering, how do you know if you've been forgiven? Is it a feeling that comes up suddenly? — From J

A: You know if you have been forgiven if you don't do the bad thing ever again.

Q: When you are in a tough spot in your life and you feel like God is not there for you or near you, how do you stay faithful without having doubts? Thank you! — From B

A: Abraham, Jacob, Moses, most of the prophets and Jesus all had doubts. Doubts are not the enemy of faith. They are the proof that you still care about your faith. Live through your doubts and some day you will live yourself into the answers. People with no doubts about anything are creepy.

Q: When and where is the best time and place to pray? — From B

A: Anywhere. Anytime.

Q: How do you know if you are making a good choice that aligns with God's teachings and principles? — From E

A: If your choice brings hope or healing, it is a good choice.

Q: I pray every night, and recently I bought myself a prayer box. Do you think I should continue to write in the box? Will God hear my prayers if I write them down? I think your messages are very important for people to hear. You give signs of faith and teach the good Word of God. — From E

A: Thank you. I used to have a prayer box, but now that I am old, I need another box with a note to tell me where I put the first box. Seriously, you only need two prayers, "Thank you" and "Give me the strength to do your will."

Q: Is God always there even when I cannot feel His presence? — From H

A: Yes.

Q: What are religions that started from another religion? — From K

A: Out of Judaism came Christianity and Islam. Out of Hinduism came Buddhism.

Q: Why are women not given a greater role within many churches and religions if we were made equal to men? — From G

A: They should be.

Q: If God created Adam and Eve as the first ever human beings, what were dinosaurs about? — From T

A: The dinosaurs were not the first people, and Adam and Eve were not the first dinosaurs. Hope that clears things up for you.

SEND QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS to The God Squad at or Rabbi Marc Gellman, Temple Beth Torah, 35 Bagatelle Rd., Melville, NY 11747.

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