My dear people of St. Mary’s:
I hope you all have been enjoying your parish gift of FORMED, the digital platform to help you and your families deepen your Catholic Faith. A few weeks ago we introduced this free subscription to you by doing a “reverse collection”, where we gave out cards with our parish passcode. Soon after, I began receiving e-mails from a variety of parishioners, thanking me for the subscription and telling me how much they were enjoying it. One mother wrote me that her two young sons were already “watching the ‘Jesus Stories’ on their iPads.”
Currently we have 111 individual users and families signed up, but we should have many more. Remember this is a gift from St. Mary’s to you; there is absolutely no cost to you, and you will not be asked to spend any money in the future. Let me give you some idea of what is available for you when you sign up for FORMED.
Weekly, they offer on the homepage a short video called “Opening the Word”. In three to five minutes, a presenter explains the theme of the Scripture readings for the upcoming Sunday Mass. Interesting and informative, a brief video like that can make a world of difference when you arrive at Church on Sunday, already prepared for what you will hear at Mass.
Audio talks are also available. There is a wonderful talk by Dr. Scott Hahn (with whom I have done a number of pilgrimage) entitled “Prepare the Way of the King”, where he speaks about what we now know about the shepherds, the mysterious Magi, and King Herod, a great way to experience Advent.
FORMED, like Netflix or Amazon Video, offers full-length movies for you. For example, the film Mother Teresa, starring the famous actress Olivia Hussey, is a wonderful drama on the life and work of one of our greatest and newest canonized saints. There is also the film Pope John Paul II, which dramatizes the life of the great pope and saint from his time as a college student in Poland to his death as pope in 2005. It stars Carey Elwes as the young Karol Wojtyla, and Jon Voight as Pope John Paul. It is a beautiful, reverent, and accurate portrayal of the life of the saintly pope. There is also the film, Padre Pio, Miracle Man, a drama on the life of the Capuchin Franciscan St. Pio of Pietrelcina. Padre Pio had the stigmata, the miraculous imprinting of the wounds of Christ on his own body, for fifty years. Portrayed by the well-known Italian actor Sergio Castellitto in a remarkable performance, the film is inspiring and uplifting, as well as being a great introduction to the life of this modern saint.
FORMED also offers great and engaging bible studies. One such study, The Bible and the Virgin Mary, has twelve episodes of about 25 minutes each. Beautifully filmed and hosted by a variety of presenters, these films will take you through Our Lady’s appearances in the Bible, and teach you more about her role in the Church throughout history.
Other videos of interest are: How a Pope is Elected; The Shroud of Turin; The Camino of St. James in Compostella; Exorcists Tell their Story; The Problem of Evil; Divine Mercy 101; Bishop Fulton Sheen of Angels; & The Scientific Evidence for Creation. There are videos and talks for teens and young adults, and many resources in Spanish as well. FORMED also offers free eBooks for download in the areas of fiction, nonfiction, and youth.
For children there are cartoon videos on the lives of many saints from Francis of Assisi to the children of Fatima; a series about a Franciscan brother named Francis who teaches children about their faith; the “Jesus Stories”, a series of 10 minutes videos explaining the parable and stories Jesus told; and two seasons of “Cat.Chat” to teach children the most important lessons on the Catholic Faith with catchy songs, jokes, and even juggling!
I encourage every parishioner who has not yet done so to sign up for FORMED. Watch something on the treadmill in the morning, or on the train to work, or on the bus to school. Download some good Catholic books to your Kindle, iPad or Nook. Watch a movie together as a family. Listen to a talk while cooking dinner. I promise you will not be disappointed!
How do you get access to FORMED?
On your computer go to www.formed.org. Then scroll down the page a bit and you will see “Register: Sign up free using your parish code.” Click on that and you will see a box entitled “Parishioner Registration.” Type in St. Mary’s parish access code: CM9F26. Below, type in your email address, and click “Go” and you are registered. Everyone in the parish can use this site as often as they want for free.