One of the joyful experiences in our lives is celebrating special occasions. We gather with family and friends to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, baptisms, confirmations, and retirements, to mention a few. The mood is usually festive and there is a spirit of joy brought about by those who are present. Each person makes a difference by their presence. That is why they are invited in the first place. How good it is to be one of those people. Last Sunday’s Gospel reading called us to reflect on the first miracle recorded in St. John’s Gospel (2:1-11). No one is sick, dying, possessed, or in danger. The only problem is that the couple apparently did not plan for the consumption of wine by the guests and they ran out. How fortunate they were to have invited Jesus and His mother to their celebration. Mary tells Jesus there is a problem: “They have no more wine!” Jesus’ response seems to indicate there is nothing He can do about it: “Woman, how does this concern of yours involve me?” But Mary knows her son and His love for her and all people. Jesus tells the waiters to fill the large jars with water and He changes the water into wine. What was an embarrassing situation turned into a wonderful experience for the couple and all present. Jesus took water, a common element in our world and changed it into wine. The ordinary became extraordinary. There are many meanings to be seen here. First of all Jesus is saying to all of you who are married, “I love you and I care about you. Turn to me and I will hear your prayers and give you the grace and power you need to live your married love to the fullest.” As husband and wife you complement one another. You enrich one another and enable each other to be far more than you would be without each other. To those who become parents, He says, “You are like God, you create new life where there was no life before. Not only do you bring new life into the world, you sacrifice with love for your children. How wonderful to see you live in the image in which human beings were created.” What might seem normal and ordinary is extraordinary. One of the wonderful things we teach in the Church is that husbands and wives are signs of Christ’s love for us. You give us a living example of how Jesus gave Himself as you give yourselves to each other.READ MORE
Dr. Brant Pitre, Scripture scholar and bestselling author, uses biblical and historical evidence to bolster the “case for Jesus” by exposing the problems with the many false theories that have been introduced over the past hundred years, resulting in widespread skepticism about the reliability of Christian Faith. He tackles head-on questions like: Were the four Gospels written anonymously? Did Jesus claim to be God? Did Jesus fulfill the Jewish prophecies of the Messiah? and many more.
An Ordinary Martyr, the Life and Death of Blessed Stanley Rother, tells the story of a young man born into a devoted German Catholic family in the small farming town of Okarche, Oklahoma. His calling to the priesthood and missionary service led him to Guatemala where he would give his life for his people. This short film captures the heart, devotion and resolution of Blessed Stanley Rother and the ultimate sacrifice he made for his faith.
With the conclusion of the Masses last Sunday where we celebrated the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord we entered another phase of the Church Liturgical Year called ordinary time. This portion of ordinary time will last until March 8, 2019 which is Ash Wednesday. From that point on we will focus on the forty days of Lent, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and the fifty days of Easter. Then on Monday, June 8, 2019 we will once again resume ordinary time in our Liturgical Year. Even though we call our current time ordinary, there is nothing ordinary or mundane about it. Yes, we all have our daily routines. The lights, decorations, and splendor of Christmas decorations have run their course and now we are in ordinary time of winter in the world of nature. But there is nothing ordinary about our lives. If we get ourselves into the rut of a routine we can all too easily slip into the melancholy idea expressed in the first line of my column last week which came from the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes 1:9: “What has been, that will be; what has been done, that will be done. Nothing is new under the sun!” The ordinary presence of the people we love and who love us are far from melancholy and mundane. Their presence is inspiring, encouraging, and life giving. Hopefully we can see the joy we bring to all those we encounter every day. Most importantly, hopefully we can see the presence of God.READ MORE
“What has been, that will be; what has been done, that will be done. Nothing is new under the sun!” This quote, from the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes 1:9, at times can seem pessimistic and dooming. We know that if we do not learn from the mistakes made by those who preceded us in history, we are doomed to repeat them. What is new is what we are completing our celebration of in a special way in our Church year today; the celebration of the birth of Jesus. In Jesus, God entered our world. Why? Simply because He loves us. We are free to accept this love and grow in our life with Him and we are free to go our own way.READ MORE
Popular author and presenter Patrick Madrid draws Life Lessons from the many interesting, funny, instructive, and poignant experiences of his life. With wisdom and good humor, Patrick reflects upon the treasure trove of riches we can all take from our daily lives.
Grounded in Scripture and a firm moral foundation, Patrick's Life Lessons shows how the smallest stories that make up your life are clear pointers to the greater story of God's work in your life. The laughter, the tears, and the beauty of life come alive through Patrick's insightful and clear style. These life lessons will inspire you to look anew at your everyday experiences--and see the wonder of God.
FORMED sometimes offers live events where viewers can watch a presentation as it happens and submit questions online for a guest. These episodes are then made available for later viewing. In “Catholic Answers to the World’s Questions,” hear the interesting story of how the Catholic Answers website began. Host Jayd Henricks and Christopher Check, President of Catholic Answers discuss the importance of Catholic apologetics in the New Evangelization.
Whenever we are looking to do something well we have to put our heart, soul, mind, and strength into it. At times it takes a lot of courage and energy. We really have to believe in what we are doing. Determination is defined as firmness of purpose or resoluteness. The more determined we are, the more we plumb he depths of our heart, soul, mind and strength. During Advent we reflected on the words of the prophets and came to see clearly God’s determination to send a Savior to us. Jesus is the one who fulfilled these prophecies and promises. God spoke through the prophets even though many times people ignored the message. God was not put off by human indifference or rejection. The determining factor was His all encompassing, unconditional love. God never stopped and will never stop loving us. During the Christmas Season we reflect on the wonder and awe of the birth of Jesus through the eyes of Mary, Joseph, the shepherds who heeded the message of the angel to go to Bethlehem to see the Christ Child as an infant, and the Magi who journeyed to see Him.READ MORE
On January 1st, we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. Gain a deeper understanding of the Blessed Mother and the Church’s teaching regarding her by listening to “Mary: The Indispensable Mother of God.” Tim Staples explains the incredible impact that the Church’s understanding of Mary has on our spiritual lives, and the profound way that Marian doctrines and dogmas safeguard what we believe about her Son. Using penetrating insights and humor, Tim shows how correct knowledge of our humble Mother reveals our own identity in Christ and empowers us to say “Yes” to God!
Happy New Year! How blessed we are to anticipate another year of life. Will it be a good year? A happy year? As much as it depends on things that will happen beyond our control, even more it depends on our inner hopes, dreams, joys, and attitude. Years ago there was a song entitled “Sixteen Tons” by Tennessee Ernie Ford. Sixteen tons described the amount of coal a miner would mine in one day and the sad lyric described that experience in this way: “Sixteen tons and what do you get, another day older and deeper in debt.” . . . “I owe my soul to the company store.” Who do we owe our soul to? Who or what brings us joy and hope? Who or what brings us sadness and burdens? Is the expression “Happy New Year!” a mere formality that momentarily gives a brief glimmer of hope or does it convey the opportunity to live fully rather than just exist and go through the same old, same old routines of daily life in 2019?READ MORE
The story of the birth of Jesus is often misunderstood. But this fastpaced, thought-provoking look at the true story of the Nativity clears away widespread misunderstandings of Jesus’ origin. Join top scholars, inspirational speakers, and popular authors as they explain the story behind the story of the birth of Jesus. The Story of the Nativity also includes stunning works of art depicting the biblical story, from Fra Angelico to Rembrandt, and footage from the Holy Land showing the places where the Christmas story actually took place. Explore the true story of Mary and Joseph, Jesus’s miraculous conception, the birth of John the Baptist, the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, the Star of Bethlehem, and the birth of Jesus. This is an invaluable tool for believer and unbeliever alike to learn more about Jesus of Nazareth and about the truth of Christmas.
One of the amazing tools of technology is the GPS (Global Positioning System) we use to find our way to desired destinations that we drive to. All we have to do is type in the address and we are voice guided, turn by turn until we hear the words - “You have reached your destination.” On December 2nd we began our yearly journey through the season of Advent to prepare for Christmas. Advent is the time we have as people of faith to prepare for the true meaning of Christmas. It is the birth of Jesus in our world that we celebrate world wide and the gift that Jesus is to each one of us that we give thanks for as people of faith. A technological instrument called a GPS will guide us to our physical destinations. But the true GPS is Jesus, God’s Powerful Son who has come to guide us into God’s life and nurture us on the way with His love, mercy, and presence.READ MORE
Mary of Nazareth is an epic motion picture on the life of Mary, Mother of Christ, from her childhood through the Resurrection of Jesus. Shot in high definition, it was filmed in Europe with outstanding cinematography, a strong cast, and a majestic music score. Actress Alissa Jung gives a beautiful, compelling, and inspiring portrayal of Mary.
The film vividly captures the essence of Mary’s profound faith and trust in God amidst the great mysteries that she lived with as the Mother of the Messiah, as well as her compassionate humanity and concern for others, and the deep love that she and Jesus shared for one another. The movie underscores her special role in God’s plan for our redemption, her unique relationship with Christ, and the tremendous suffering that she endured in union with his Passion and Death, as well as her serene joy at his Resurrection.
To download this video, go to https://formed.org/watch/56c4f0b00ad372740930a67e or search for Mary of Nazareth
One of the blessings we have in twenty-first century America is the ability to get from one place to another quickly and safely. Sometimes when I drive to my brother’s house in Greenport, I think about the people who first inhabited Long Island and how long that trip would have taken. A distance I can travel in a little more than an hour would have taken all day or a couple of days. The pioneers traveled across our country in covered wagons and it took months to go from Missouri to the West Coast. Today we can fly across our nation in a matter of five or six hours. The Gospel last Sunday had this quote from Isaiah: “A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” The journey Isaiah was speaking about was not a physical one, but a spiritual one. Advent is our time to journey to Christmas. We spend a lot of time and energy shopping, decorating, sending cards, wrapping, and gathering. But all of this activity points to something else. And it is really not something else it points to, but someone else - God Himself coming into our world in the person of Jesus Christ. When I pray the Joyful Mysteries of the rosary I am amazed and overwhelmed at the humility and love of God in Jesus. Sometimes I kneel before a statue of Joseph leading a donkey on which Mary is riding with the child Jesus in her arms. Jesus, the second person of the Blessed Trinity, the Son of God, is present as an infant in Mary’s loving arms. What was going through the mind of Mary and Joseph? Here they are trusting in God, fleeing from Herod who is seeking to kill the child Jesus. How can God put Himself in such a vulnerable and powerless position? Why would God do this in the first place? There is only one conclusion - He loves us more than we can ever imagine or comprehend. We are overwhelmed with gifts from those we love at Christmas and we bring the same joy to those we bring gifts to. How overwhelming it is to even begin to think of how hopeful, loving, and trusting Jesus was. That is the core and essence of Christmas.READ MORE
“John the Baptist went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’” These words from this Sunday’s Gospel are very appropriate for us as we seek to look beyond our “practical” preparations for Christmas. Advent is our time to look back at the hopes of the people of Israel who longed for the promised Messiah. Even more it is a spiritual time to look at the presence of God in our everyday lives.READ MORE
This week we remember a highly important event in the evangelization of the New World that occurred in December, 1531. Over the course of four days, the Virgin Mary, under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe, appeared to an indigenous convert named Juan Diego. As a result of this encounter, and the image miraculously imprinted on Juan Diego’s tilma (cloak), nine million Native Americans embraced the Catholic faith, and the Americas began its transformation into the Catholic hemisphere. Our Lady of Guadalupe's message of love had replaced the institutionalized violence of the Aztec culture and built a bridge between two worlds.
Guadalupe: The Miracle and the Message traces the history of this transformative event from the 16th century to the present. Featuring interviews with leading theologians, historians, and experts on the scientific inquiries into the miraculous image, the film explores both the inexplicable mysteries behind the image, and the continued relevance of the Guadalupe apparition to the modern world. Narrated by Jim Caviezel.
To download this video go to: https://formed.org/watch/57ed74007e237b6012a38920 or search for Guadalupe.
There are many ways we express ourselves to one another. One of the key tools we have to communicate are the words we use. Words are spoken or written with joy, enthusiasm, gratitude, compassion, encouragement, inspiration, and a host of other positive reasons. They are also spoken with anger, disappointment, vengeance, sarcasm, rejection, to the point where we now have what we call verbal abuse.READ MORE
Fr. Alfred Delp, S.J., was a heroic German Jesuit priest who was imprisoned and martyred by the Nazis in a Nazi death camp in 1945. At the time of his arrest, he was the Rector of St. Georg Church in Munich. He was an important figure in the Resistance movement against Nazism. Accused of conspiring against the Nazi government, he was arrested in 1944, tortured, imprisoned, and executed on February 2, 1945. While in prison, Fr. Delp was able to write a few meditations found in this book, which also includes his powerful reflections from prison during the Advent season about the profound spiritual meaning and lessons of Advent, as well as his sermons he gave on the season of Advent at his parish in Munich. These meditations were smuggled out of Berlin and read by friends and parishioners of St. Georg in Munich. His approach to Advent, the season that prepares us for Christmas, is what Fr. Delp called an "Advent of the heart." More than just preparing us for Christmas, it is a spiritual program, a way of life.
To download this ebook, search for Alfred Delp on formed.org