FORMED

REVIEW #44: The Wonderful World of Benjamin Cello

Benjamin CelloA couple days off from school, even if it is school at home, means the kids are going to start to get squirrelly. If you are anything like my wife and I, you may get tired of the endless loop of meaningless children’s media they consume. You might want to try this show on Formed called, “The Wonderful World of Benjamin Cello.”

The show reminds us of some of the greats in children’s programming like Mister Rogers or Captain Kangaroo (though not at their status of course). We felt like you could tell a lot of thought went into the content and style of the show. It might just be the kind of show to start a conversation in your house. Check out my review to see if it is right for you. 

Title

The Wonderful World of Benjamin Cello

https://watch.formed.org/benjamin-cello

Presenter

Ensemble cast of creative characters led by Benjamin Cello played by Benjamin Wolaver. 

Length 

Six episode each about 15-20 minutes long

Style of Content

  • Musically orientated children’s show with great emphasis on using one’s imagination and often quoting scripture. In addition to human charters played by adults and children, there are also puppets which play a role in the plot at times. 
  • TBH - The show is on par with secular children’s shows of this type. Video and sound are great. The sets are generally well done. Occasionally the acting comes across as forced, but it isn’t better or worse than other life action children’s shows of this nature. The overall design and content of the show feels intelligent. 

Content

Benjamin Cello goes on short adventures to learn lessons around faithfulness, friendship, trust, among others. He encounters various other characters that help to teach or explain these lessons. Ultimately this show seeks to reveal to children the satisfaction of focusing on truth, beauty and goodness - the transcendentals. The show uses the beauty of music and art to demonstrate God’s goodness. 

My children found it entertaining and engaging. My almost 3 year old for sure was entranced by the music and colorful sets. My older kids enjoyed it for its sometimes campy nature, but in a good way. Of all the obnoxious shows my kids have watched over the years this one of the least bothersome. Often it crosses over into interesting content for us adults too. 

Scripture 

Philippians 4:8 among others. 

Why you should watch these videos

If you want your kids exposed to beauty in the form of classical music, art, and scripture or faith filled life lessons, then this show is probably for you. 

Why skip it

If you don’t have kids or can’t get past some of the classic kids programming nature of the show, then you probably want to check out something else. 

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative, and Engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative (1-5 Books)

📘📘📘📘

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

🧡🧡🧡🧡

Engaging-ative (1-5 Wows)

😲😲😲😲😲

REVIEW #43: FORMED Now! - The Spirituality of Thanksgiving

thanksgivingPublication Review Date Nov. 19th, 2020

Next week across this great land we will celebrate Thanksgiving. While some may find it difficult to find things to be grateful for, I do believe there is much for which we can give thanks. And it’s true that this year may look different than every other year. We may not get to celebrate in the way we are accustomed. How are going to give thanks this year? What does this seemingly secular holiday off our faith?

In this short video, The Spirituality of Thanksgiving, Dr. Tim Gray helps us to understand the spiritual component to Thanksgiving. He goes on to explain that if we are looking for how to give thanks this year we could turn to the Psalms to find beautiful prayers of the thanksgiving to give us inspiration. Read my review of this video to see if it would be a good preparation for the Thanksgiving Holiday.

Title

FORMED Now! - The Spirituality of Thanksgiving.

https://watch.formed.org/videos/spirituality-of-thanksgiving

Presenter

Dr. Tim Gray is the President of the Augustine Institute and a professor of Sacred Scripture.

Length 

About 18 minutes. 

Style of Content

  • Formed NOW! is filmed on a set at the Augustine Institute. Dr. Gray speaks while seated without visual aid or additional video or images. 
  • TBH - The video and sound are fine. The lighting on the set is pretty harsh, but it isn’t bothersome. Dr. Gray seems a bit weary and maybe that is okay. Maybe it is how many of us are feeling. Maybe this is the exact situation in which we need good counsel on how to be grateful. 

Content

Dr. Gray unpacks the theology and spirituality of Thanksgiving. He explains that Thanksgiving can be a particularly Catholic holiday in that the core of our prayer as a people of God is our prayers of thanksgiving. He goes on to explain the traditional Jewish prayers of thanksgiving. Dr. Gray invites his audience to live with a spirituality of thanksgiving. In addition, Dr. Gray walks through some Psalms from the Old Testament which are prayers of thanksgiving.

Why you should watch these videos

If you’d like to grow in your understanding of God’s presence on Thanksgiving, then you should check this out. If you are feeling like you need to grow in thanksgiving in general, this video may help you.

Why skip it

If you aren’t looking for a deeper Christian or Jewish understanding of thanksgiving, then you may want to skip this.

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative, and Engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative (1-5 Books)

📕📕📕📕

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

❤️❤️️❤️️

Engaging-ative (1-5 Wows)

😲😲😲

REVIEW #42: Father Michael McGivney: An American Blessed

Father Michael McGivney: An American BlessedPublication Review Date Nov. 12th, 2020

On October 31st 2020, Fr. Michael McGivney was named Blessed by Pope Francis. This means that a miracle was attributed to his intercession and Fr. McGivney is one step closer to becoming a recognized Catholic Saint. Fr. McGivney is most known as the founder of the Knight of Columbus a fraternal organization of Catholic men. There is more to Fr. McGivney’s story than the Knights and there is more to the Knights than pancake breakfasts.

I was pretty blown away by this short video and I think you would be too. The story of the Fr. McGivney’s miracle is pretty powerful. Check out my review of this formed.org video below. 

Title

Father Michael McGivney: An American Blessed

https://watch.formed.org/videos/father-michael-mcgivney-an-american-blessed

Presenter

Multiple laypersons and priests present on this topic.

Length 

About 27 minutes. 

Style of Content

  • A narrator drives the central story of this video while many different individuals given further information about the life and ministry of Fr. McGivney. Beautiful video, historical video and pictures, and dramatic illustration bring this story to life.  
  • TBH - This video is very well produces and looks great. The excellence in the production is matched by the excellence in the story telling. 

Content

The video begins by telling the story of Fr. Michael McGivney. From humble beginnings as the son of Irish immigrants to local parish priest and ultimately to his death at about 38 years old from a flu pandemic, the viewer learns more about Fr. McGivney then just about his beginning the Knights of Columbus. We also briefly hear about Fr. McGivney’s vision for the Knights and how they have served in the American Catholic Church. The video concludes by telling the story of the miracle that has given Fr. McGivney the title of Blessed on his way to being declared a Catholic Saint. 

Why you should watch this video

If you want to hear the story of an American Blessed with the real life miracle that brought that about, then you should check this out. If you’re curious about the Knights of Columbus and how they got their start, then you should watch this video. 

Why skip it

If you are looking for a catechetical or Biblical study, then maybe try something else on formed. 

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative, and Engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource.

Informative (1-5 Books)

📗📗📗📗

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

💚💚💚

Engaging-ative (1-5 Wows)

😲😲😲😲😲

REVIEW #41: The Search

The SearchPublication Review Date Nov. 5th, 2020

Why are we here? Why does anything exist? Does God exist? These are some big questions. These questions and many more are tackled in The Search on formed.org. At the beginning the pandemic I reviewed Episode 1 of The Search. I’m back to review Episodes 2 & 3. You don’t want to miss this review or this incredible study. (SERIOUSLY, just go watch Episode 3 right now. Worth it.)

Title
The Search
https://watch.formed.org/the-search

Presenter

Chris Stefanick is an engaging presenter who gets to the heart of things with his presenting style which seems natural and authentic. 

Length 

Seven episodes each one about 30 minutes long give or take. 

Style of Content

  • While presented and narrated by Chris Stefanick, vivid video and images are cut with intelligent and insightful commentary of experts in fields of psychology, philosophy and theology. 
  • TBH - The video is gorgeous and the presentation very professional and current. If it wasn’t on formed.org you’d think it was put together by a secular studio. Awesome looking. 

Content

Episode 2 - This episode of The Search begins with the vastness of creation and ends with the even larger reality of our interior life. The case is made using science and rational to demonstrate that we are more than a collect of cells. The main take away is that each of us is a beautiful miracle. 

Episode 3 - WOW. Power packed episode about the existence of God. Tackles the false dichotomy between Science and Religion. Did you know that Vatican run observatories since the 16th century? I didn’t either. If you only watch 1 episode of The Search, watch Episode 3. 

Why you should watch these videos

If you are looking to contemplate the big questions of life, then these videos are for you. If you want to think about why you are here and why believe in God, then you should check out these vides. 

Why skip it

If you are looking for in depth biblical exegetical study, these videos aren’t for you. 

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative, and Engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative (1-5 Books)

📙📙📙📙📙

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

🧡🧡🧡🧡🧡

Engaging-ative (1-5 Wows)

😲😲😲😲😲+

REVIEW #40: St. Francis of Assisi: Sign of Contradiction

Formed 40Publication Review Date Oct. 30th, 2020

Sunday November 1st is All Saints day. At this great solemnity we celebrate the great Saints of our Church. In anticipation of this feast, it might be helpful to look more closely at the life of one particular saint. With this in mind, I reviewed a film that examines the life and faith of one of the most well know saints - St. Francis. 

If all you know about St. Francis is that he likes animals then you might want to see why millions have revered this great Saint for the last 800 years. By examining Francis’ life, this film helps the viewer to look inward to their own life of faith. Check it out. 

Title

St. Francis of Assisi: Sign of Contradiction

https://watch.formed.org/st-francis-of-assisi-sign-of-contradiction/videos/st-francis-of-assisi-sign-of-contradiction

Presenter

Fr. Dave Pivonka, TOR is the main presenter with many other interviews and commentators. 

Length 

About an hour and fifteen minutes. 

Style of Content

  • This film is a collection of video of Italy 
  • TBH - Wow. This movie is seriously beautiful and attractive. From sweeping shots of Assisi in central Italy to the incredible video of the insides of gorgeous European Churches, you will be blown away by the beauty of this film. 

Content

This film examines the life and mission for St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis is so much more than a bird bath or a friend to animals. Francis was a son, a solider, a poet, a businessman, a confused young man, a leader, a hermit, a saint, and much much more. Watching this film you will hear incredible insights and witnesses to the complexity of Francis’ faith and true conversion. By examining the life and faith for St. Francis the film makers truly examine the experience of conversion and deepening faith for all of us.  

Scripture

Philippians 2 among others. 

Why you should watch this film

If you are interested in how a rich merchant’s son can become one of the greatest saints, then you should watch this film. If you don’t know much about St. Francis, then you should check it out. If you just enjoy beautiful film making, then this is worth the watch too. 

Why skip it

If you are looking for something light and unchallenging, that you should probably check out something else. 

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative, and Engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative (1-5 Books)

📗📗📗📗📗

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

💙💙💙💙

Engaging-ative (1-5 Wows)

😲😲😲😲😲

REVIEW #39: The Elements of the Catholic Mass

FormedPublication Review Date Oct. 23rd, 2020

Every single time I’ve learned something new about the Mass, the next time I attended I had a more profound experience of prayer. Knowing about what we are about when we gather together for Mass is so helpful in growing in our love for the Mass. The Catholic Mass has so many hidden gems that help us to worship well and by learning about them we can see how the Mass really is the source and summit of our faith life. 

One easy and convenient way to learn about the various aspects of the Mass is to watch this series of brief videos (really 2-5 minutes each!) called The Elements of the Catholic Mass. Check out my review below. 

Title

The Elements of the Catholic Mass
https://watch.formed.org/the-elements-of-the-catholic-mass

Presenter

Fr. Douglas Martis, former director of the Liturgical Institute, is a clear presenter who states simply the beauty and joy of the Catholic Mass. 

Length 

31 episodes all of which are less than 5 minutes long. Most episodes are around 2-3 minutes long.  

Style of Content

  • Fr. Douglas Martis is filmed giving talking points. Often these points are shown through text or images. While there aren’t as much variety as some other studies, Fr. Douglas is engaging and the videos are so short that they keep one’s attention. 
  • TBH - The video is well done and clear. I don’t really have anything to complain about here.  

Content

Fr. Martis breaks down the Mass into bitesized pieces that can unpacked in a short amount of time. Fr. Martis covers key aspects to understanding Liturgy in general like when he talks about the definition of the word Liturgy or the role of Parishioners. He also walks through he various moments of the Mass like when he examines the processions or bowing before receiving communion. 

BONUS

There is a great little study guide that you can print out and follow along with when you watch these videos.  

Why you should listen to this talk

If you want to get more out of the Mass then these videos are for you. If you wish you know more about what happens during Mass than you should check these out. 

Why skip it

If you have done extensive study of scripture you make find these to be elementary. 

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative, and Engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative (1-5 Books)
📕📕📕📕📕

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)
❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️

Engaging-ative (1-5 Wows)
😲😲😲

REVIEW #38: Praying the Rosary Like Never Before

Image002 1Publication Review Date Oct.15th, 2020

At the visitation for one of my wife’s grandfathers a group of about 15 men came in, gathered around the casket, and began to pray the Rosary. The crowd that was gathered was moved and amazed at the faith of these great men. Later we looked into the casket and saw the rosary of my grandfather-in-law. The beads were worn, the metal was discolored. This was a rosary that was prayed often. 

This beautiful witness to the power of the Rosary has always stuck with me. Dr. Ed Sri gives the talk reviewed below all about the Rosary and why it matters to Catholics. 

Title

Praying the Rosary Like Never Before

https://watch.formed.org/praying-the-rosary-like-never-before-by-dr-edward-sri/videos/praying-the-rosary-like-never-before-by-dr-edward-sri

Presenter

Dr. Edward Sri is a nationally sought Catholic speaker who appears regularly on EWTN and is a founding leader of FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students).

Length 

About an hour long. 

Style of Content

Audio recording of a talk given by Dr. Sri. 

TBH - The audio recording is clear and well done. One can hear everything Dr. Sri says well and appropriate levels of audience reaction. 

Content

After a brief introduction Dr. Sri goes on to unpack various questions surrounding the Rosary. Why do we pray it? Does praying it detract from appropriate worship of God? What do I do if I struggle to pray the Rosary? How can we pray the Rosary well? Dr. Sri seeks to answer these and many more questions. One of Dr. Sri’s most important points was to help the audience to never feel discouraged in praying the Rosary. Even when we struggle with praying the Rosary, we are reminded that all prayer begins with our intention to give God the gift of our time and attention. While we should always seek to grow in giving God our best effort in prayer, the effort to pray the Rosary at all is a good thing.

Scripture

The Mysteries of the Rosary as found in Scripture. 

Why you should listen to this talk

If you’ve ever wondered why the Rosary is such an important prayer for Catholics, this talk will be helpful. If you want to know some of the scriptural support for the Rosary, this talk is for you. 

Why skip it

If an audio talk isn’t attractive, you may want to watch one of the videos on the Rosary in Formed. 

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative, and Engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative (1-5 Books)

📓📓📓📓📓

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

💛💛💛💛

Engaging-ative 

1-5 Wows

😲😲😲

REVIEW #37: FORMED Now! Archangels

archangelsPublication Review date Oct. 2, 2020

I don’t know about you, but I grew up at a time when the role and importance of angels were down played in my Sunday School classes. Most of what I learned about angels I learned from movies (Angels in the Outfield, Wonderful Life, Michael). I thought angels were for grandmas and babies. I was wrong and found out I have a lot to understand about angels. 

In a culture that has devalued spirituality and the supernatural, ignoring the angels makes sense. All the more reason to grow in our understanding of the angels and how they aid God in his mission in the world. You can see if this brief video is the right introduction for you about angels by checking out my review. 

Title

FORMED Now! Archangels

https://watch.formed.org/videos/formed-now-archangels

Presenter

Dr. Ben Akers and Dr. Elizabeth Klein are both professors at the Augustine Institute. 

Length 

About thirty minutes.

Style of Content

Video of an interview filmed on a set at the Augustine studio. The video is well done and the sound is easy to hear most of the time. 

TBH - The lighting on this stage is pretty stark. It makes the speakers easy to see, which is good, but there are deep shadows which can be distracting. Okay, maybe we’re nitpicking the video a bit. 

Content

Wow. What a jam packed, interesting conversation about angles in general, the Archangels in particular. Dr. Klein did her doctoral dissertation on St. Augustine’s references to angels in book ten of his work City of God. Needless to say, Dr. Klein is an angel expert and talks authoritatively about how we think and talk about angels. Particularly Dr. Akers and Dr. Klein talk about the work of angels in scripture and then how the Church understands angels. The talks specifically about the Archangels, as it was their feast day this past week. The video ends with Dr. Klein explaining why there is a hierarchy of angels. 

Scripture

Many pieces of scripture are discussed. Pretty much everywhere angels are talked about in scripture. Here are a couple references, but there are many others. 

Abraham wrestles an angel - Genesis 32.

Angel watching over the Israelites - Exodus 23

Jude talking about Michael - Jude 1:9

At the Incarnation - Luke 2

Michael fighting the Devil - Revelation 12

Why You Should Watch This Video

If you’d ever wanted to learn more about the angels, then this short video is for you. If you only think of angels as chubby, winged babies, then watching this video will help you see a broader understanding of angels. 

Why Skip It

If you don’t enjoy the interview format, then maybe skip this one. If you struggle with fast talkers (both Dr. Klein and Dr. Akers can say a lot in a short amount of time), then maybe this isn’t for you. 

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative, and Engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative (1-5 Books)

📘📘📘📘📘

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

💙💙💙💙

Engaging-ative (1-5 Wows)

😲😲😲😲

Previous Recommendations

ReformersPublication Review date Sep. 25, 2020

In times of great difficulty God raises up saints to meet the challenge and spread the good news of Jesus Christ. In the 1500s the city of Rome and the Church were facing a time of great difficulty. The Protestant Reformation was challenging the Church and Rome had recently been sacked by Charles V. Who did God send? 

Among others, St. Phillip Neri came to Rome and sought to do the will of God in sharing with young homeless and unemployed people the gospel. St. Phillip Neri’s story is an example of a saint using unconventional methods to teach the ageless gospel message. Read my review of this video below. 

Title

True Reformers - Saints of the Catholic Reformation 

Episode 3 - Saint Phillip Neri

https://watch.formed.org/videos/saint-philip-neri-the-apostle-of-joy

Presenter

Christopher Blum is a Professor of Theology and Academic Dean at the Augustine Institute. 

Length 

Episode 3 - Saint Philip Neri is about thirty minutes. 

Six Session, each about 30-40 minutes in length. 

Style of Content

This video is a recording of Dr. Blue telling the story of each saint on a set at the Augustine Studios. 

TBH - The video is well produced. Sound and video are clear. It isn’t the most exciting video and has few images or videos to help the story move along or to keep our interest. This video could just as easily be listened to in the car as well as watched. 

Content

In this simple video series, Christopher Blum tells the story of the lives of Saints of the Catholic Reformation. This particular episode focuses on St. Phillip Neri. Dr. Blum tells us about St. Phillip Neri’s journey from young boy in Florence to his ordination and priesthood in Rome. We hear about the order and ministry that St. Phillip Neri founded and his propensity and use of humor to preach the gospel and stay humble. 

Why you should watch this video

If you are looking to be inspired by the life and works of a great saint who lived in times of great troubles, then this video is for you. If you are looking for an example of a man with great faith who lived with great joy, then this video is for you.

Why skip it

If your attention isn’t kept by a simple story told without other content than you may want to watch another video. 

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative, and Engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative (1-5 Books)

📗📗📗📗📗

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

💛💛💛

Engaging-ative (1-5 Wows)

😲😲😲

Symbolon Cover PhotoPublication Review date Sep. 10, 2020

Monday we celebrated the Nativity of Mary. In my house, we sang the happy birthday song to Mary after our bedtime prayers (no cake unfortunately). If you’ve ever wondered why Mary is such a big deal to Catholics and what we really believe about her, you may want to watch this episode from Symbolon, a series on formed.org all about Mary and the Saints. Check out my review below. 

Note Bene: Symbolon is a multi-episode series explaining the Catholic faith with great grace and depth, but in a way that everyday Catholics can understand. This video on Mary is just one episode among many. 

Title

Symbolon - Mary and the Saints

https://watch.formed.org/symbolon-the-catholic-faith-explained/season:1/...

Presenter

Dr. Ed Sri is a theologian, author and well-known Catholic speaker who appears regularly on EWTN. Each year he speaks to tens of thousands of people from around the world, including clergy, parish leaders, catechists and laity.

In addition, several other Catholic theologians and catechetical leaders share or are interviewed during this episode. 

Length 

About 37 minutes.

Style of Content

  • A potpourri of engaging images and video, voice over, interviews, presentations, and dynamic text. 
  • TBH - The content is well done. In particular the video of St. Mary Major in Rome is inspiring and beautiful. The interviews are shot on a stage with some pretty intense lighting and look a little funny, but otherwise, the video is well done. 

Content

This episode of Symbolon unpacks the basics of a Catholic understanding of Mary. The video starts by explaining some of the misunderstandings of Church teaching about Mary like “Catholics worship Mary.” The video goes on to name four teachings about Mary that the Church recognizes that may or may not be controversial. With each statement the presenters carefully help the viewer gain a deeper understanding of what the Church really teaches about Mary and the Saints. In addition, viewers will hear about why these teachings about Mary actually matter to us and how a devotion to Mary works in the life of an everyday Catholic. 

Why you should watch this video

If you’ve ever wondered why Mary is so important to Catholics, then this video is for you. If you have ever questioned Church teaching about Mary’s perpetual virginity or her assumption, then you should check this out. 

Why skip it

If you have a strong Marian devotion, this video may be review for you and you may want to skip it. 

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative, and Engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative (1-5 Books)

📙📙📙📙📙

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

💛💛💛💛

Engaging-ative (1-5 Wows)

😲😲😲

FormedPublication Review date Aug. 28, 2020

I have a 2 1/2-year-old. His favorite word is “Why?” If it wasn’t so cute how he says it, it might be annoying (okay, sometimes it is annoying). But in reality, he is asking the right question. Sometimes at Church we do a good job explaining the what or the who and don’t do as good job explaining the why. 

The talk I reviewed on Formed today answers the simple question, “Why Jesus?” You will get a load of material as to why you, and everyone in your life, can and should believe in Jesus Christ.  

Title 

The Case for Jesus 

https://watch.formed.org/the-case-for-jesus/videos/the-case-for-jesus

Presenter 

Dr. Brant Pitre is the Distinguished Research Professor of Scripture at the Augustine Institute, Graduate School of Theology. He earned his Ph.D. in Theology from the University of Notre Dame, where he specialized in the study of the New Testament and ancient Judaism. 

Length  

About an hour. 

Style of Content 

  • An hour-long talk given before a live audience.  
  • TBH - The audio is clear and well done. Some people find the recording of Dr. Pitre’s voice to be difficult to listen to, but I didn’t think it was distracting.  

Content 

Why do you believe in Jesus? Is faith in Jesus rational? Dr. Pitre gets to the very heart of the Christianity which helps the listener really examine and then reaffirm their belief in Jesus. If Jesus really is at the center of all we say and do as Catholics, then we need to be rock-solid in our belief in Jesus. This belief isn’t blind or superstition but rooted in the rational mind that God gave us.  

Honestly, I think most people listening to this talk will be shocked by how rational and real our faith in Jesus really is.  

Scripture 

A number of different New and Old testaments texts are used with a special emphasis on the gospels.  

Why you should listen to this talk 

If you are the kind of person who wants proof and likes rational thought, this talk is for you. If have a family member or friend who thinks faith is a silly fairytale, this talk is for you.  

Why skip it 

If you are looking for storytelling and cleverly crafted talks, this talk might not fit the bill.  

The Ratings 

I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative, and Engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource.  

Informative (1-5 Books) 

📙📙📙📙📙  

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

💛💛💛💛💛  

Engaging-ative (1-5 Wows) 

😲😲😲😲

FormedwhoamitojudgePublication Review date Aug. 28, 2020

Recently someone accused me of being “so judgmental.” It wasn’t meant to be a compliment. Yet when we think someone is wise we might say that they have “good judgement.”  What’s the difference? Are both true?

In a world where being judgmental is a high cultural crime, how do Catholics understand right and wrong? In this talk, Dr. Ed Sri talks about judging, right and wrong, faith and love. Read my review below to see if this talk would be good for you to hear (spoiler, I think it would be good for all of us to give a listen). 

Title

Who am I to Judge?

https://watch.formed.org/talks-explore-the-catholic-faith/videos/who-am-i-to-judge-responding-to-relativism-with-logic-and-love-by-edward-sri

Presenter

Dr. Edward Sri is a theologian, author and well-known Catholic speaker who appears regularly on EWTN. Each year he speaks to tens of thousands of people from around the world, including clergy, parish leaders, catechists and laity.

Length 

About one hour

Style of Content

  • Audio recording of a talk given in front of a live audience. I watched many of Dr. Sri’s presentations and this is one of his best. He is clear, engaging, clever, inspiring and gentle. Dr. Sri’s style of presentation is a balanced combination of storytelling, philosophical explanation, Church teaching, and engaging exhortation. 
  • TBH - The recording is well made and the audio is clear. You won’t be distracted by the recording or the sounds from the audience. I’ve heard some people are bothered by Dr. Sri’s voice, but I didn’t find this to be true on this recording. 

Content

Dr. Sri examines the realities of being a Catholic in a relativistic culture. We are constantly exposed to relativistic thinking that strips the moral life of a search for excellence and desire for goodness. Dr. Sri clearly defines relativism, gives examples from real life and shows the results of this world view. The talk is organized under the premise of how to talk with someone who views the world through a relativistic lens. The result is a helpful guide for both how we speak with relativists and a careful self-examination of our own world view. 

Scripture

Dr. Sri mentions many pieces of scripture that are supportive of the topic, but they are not necessarily the cornerstone of the talk. 

Why you should listen to this talk

If you want to learn how to speak with friends, families, coworkers who don’t share your views, this is a great talk to listen to. If you have ever wondered why the Church is full of rules, this talk helps to answer that question. 

Why skip it

If you are looking deep scriptural study, check out another talk or video on formed.org. 

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative, and Engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative (1-5 Books)

📕📕📕📕📕

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

💚💚💚💚💚

Engaging-ative (1-5 Wows)

😲😲😲😲😲

Screen Shot 2020 08 12 At 10.38.33 AmAre you saved? Have you ever been asked this question? Even if you haven’t, the idea of being saved or what it means to be saved is central to being Christian. How are Catholics to understand this question? How are we saved?

Dr. Michael Barber answers these questions and much more in his Lectio teaching series all about salvation. Check out my review below. 

Note Bene: I’ve reviewed this series before I have finished watching it. If anything significant changes after completing the series, I will change my review. 

Title

Lectio: Salvation 

https://watch.formed.org/lectio-salvation-with-dr-michael-barber/season:1

Presenter

Dr. Michael Barber is an Associate Professor of Theology and Scripture at the Augustine Institute. 

Length 

Ten videos, each about thirty minutes in length. 

Style of Content

This study is a series of presentations given to a live audience in a studio. 

To Be Honest - The video and audio are well done and well produced. The set is fine and the audience never gets in the way of the presentation. It’s nice to have the audience there because they laugh at some of some of Dr. Barber’s jokes which helps us viewers realize they are jokes.

Content

This study is really a hybrid between rich theological and academic content and the practical application of faith into daily life and understanding of our faith in God. Dr. Barber does more than just review the church’s teaching on salvation. By inserting clever analogies and clear examples, Dr. Barber helps the viewer to unpack this dense theological topic. 

The series is organized by titles describing misconceptions about salvation, e.g. “Not Self-help,” “Not a Spectator Sport,” or “Not just for other people.” Each talk helps the viewer to dismiss a misunderstanding about Salvation and replace it with a helpful, true view of the Catholic understanding of Salvation. 

Scripture

John 10, Psalm 119, Sirach 45, Col 2, Phil 2 and many others. 

Why you should watch these videos

In so many ways salvation, life and death are the central question of Christianity. If you want to better understand salvation and grow in faith in God, then you should watch these videos. If you have ever struggled to trust God with your whole life, then you should watch this series. 

Why skip it

If you aren’t looking for a presentation style lecture series, you might want to skip this one. 

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative, and Engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative (1-5 Books)

📒📒📒📒📒

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

💛💛💛💛

Engaging-ative (1-5 Wows)

😲😲😲😲

Formed Next PopePublication review date Aug. 4, 2020

In a time of great uncertainty, it can be easy to lose hope. However, this is just the time to focus on each next step to move forward with a boldness that accomplishes the mission we’ve always been on - to make Jesus known and loved in the world. In that spirit, Dr. Tim Gray has interviewed George Weigel about his new book The Next Pope.

As Mr. Weigel explains, this book isn’t about personalities or a list of top candidates, but is a vision for what the next pope needs to be. Consequently, this is a vision for how the Church must be in the world and how we must embrace our call as missionary disciples of Jesus Christ. 

This interview is fascinating for those of us who love the Church and want the world to know the joy of being Catholic. This interview might just be fascinating for you too. Check out my review. 

Title

FORMED NOW! The Next Pope

https://watch.formed.org/carousel/videos/formed-now-the-next-pope

Presenter

Dr. Tim Gray and George Weigel. Dr. Tim Gray is the President of the Augustine Institute. George Weigel is a best selling author, the official biographer of St. John Paul II, and is the Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

Length 

About 30 minutes.

Style of Content

Dr. Gray interviews George Weigel via a video chat. 

The video and sound quality are solid and everything is well done in the video. 

Content

This interview focuses on the future of the Catholic Church, what the next pope needs to both do and be, and how we regular Catholics in the pews can grow the faith. Dr. Gray and George Weigel also identify just some of the difficulties facing the Church such as culture and a western society that doesn’t support Christianity. The two also talk about some bright spots where the Church is growing, like in Africa and Asia. In the US they talk about the growth of college campus ministry through FOCUS and other student ministries. The main take away is the idea that Church leadership needs to continue to be evangelists at heart and missionary focused, and that we people in the pews must not wait for anyone else to fulfill our role of missionary disciples seeking to make Jesus Christ known and loved in our place in the world. 

Scripture

Acts of the Apostles 27 and 28

Why you should watch this interview

If you are interested in or worried about the future of the Catholic faith, you should watch this interview. If you want to know about how you can help make Jesus known and loved in the world through your Catholic faith, then watching this interview is a step in the right direction. 

Why skip it

If you are looking for a prediction or a list of candidates for the next pope, you won’t find it in this interview. If you aren’t interested in the global influence of the Church, you might not find all that you are looking for in this interview. 

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative, and Engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative (1-5 Books)

📘📘📘

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

💙💙💙💙

Engaging-ative (1-5 Wows)

😮😮😮😮😮

IntothebreachformedPublication review date July 28, 2020

I know a great number of good men who are seeking to be good fathers, brothers, sons and to know God. That isn’t the case everywhere or for every man. The video series Into the Breach seeks to examine what it means to be a man and a man of God. These well-produced videos will raise many questions for the viewer and give many answers as well. It might just be a good series for you to check out. 

Title

Into the Breach

https://watch.formed.org/into-the-breach

Presenter

A variety of presenters Fr. Mike Schmitz, Matt Birk, Scott Hahn, Mike Sweeney, Curtis Martin and Dr. Tim Grey, among many others. (Basically a who’s who of Catholic Men and those who lead Men’s Ministries). 

Length 

Twelve episodes each one is about 10-13 minutes long. 

Style of Content

Fast-paced video full of live-action shots of various manly activities intertwined with experts sharing information. The video is incredibly well-produced, well made and very clean. 

To be honest, this is a professionally produced video and there are few, if any, qualms with the production and format. 

Content

Into the Breach is a video series about male spiritually, masculinity, men’s role in the family and the Church and commentary on the current culture’s understanding of what it means to be a man. The inspiration for this video is an apostolic letter to men written by Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted. Each episode centers around a particular aspect of what it means to be a man like: fatherhood, leadership, family, brotherhood, suffering, prayer, etc. Often the video challenges a view of masculinity that is weak or selfish and instead focuses on the need for men to be courageous and willing to sacrifice for others. The series seeks to explain that men will be at their best, and happiest, when they embrace their role in the family and in society. 

FYI - This series was produced by the Knights of Columbus. If you are wondering why the KoC branding is all over the series, now you know. 

Scripture

Proverbs 27:17 and many others. 

Why you should watch this series

If you are a man looking for some inspiration or a nudge to embrace a strong and vivacious approach to life and faith, this video is certainly for you. If are curious about how to balance a faith that says “Blessed are the meek” and instructs us to “Wash feet” all while also standing up for truth, then you should check this video out. If you have a man in your life who struggles with practicing the faith, this might be a good video to check out.  

Why skip it

This series is rich with red-blooded manliness (lots of video of men chopping wood, seriously). If that doesn’t interest you or if you are not interested in male spirituality, then you should probably check something else out. 

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative, and Engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative (1-5 Books)

📘📘📘📘

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

💙💙💙💙💙

Engaging-ative (1-5 Wows)

😮😮😮😮

FormedbrotherfrancisPublication review date July 21, 2020

If you have kids in the house, you already know that for as much fun as they have had outside all summer, they may be retreating into a little air conditioning and screen time. For younger kids, I watched and reviewed Brother Francis, a kid’s animated show on FORMED.org. If your younger kids are looking for something new to watch, this show just might be the thing. 

Title

Brother Francis

https://watch.formed.org/brother-francis-1

Presenter

Brother Francis is a cartoon religious brother.

Length 

Ten 28-minute episodes and one 10 minute mini-episode. 

Style of Content

Brother Francis is a computer-animated cartoon kids show. Brightly colored with loads of movement and energy, this show will keep a lot of kids' attention. There are times when Brother Francis slows down and talks seriously and that seems to be just as effective at keeping a young one’s attention. 

TBH - While not quite Pixar (okay, not even close), the Brother Francis cartoon isn’t so bad that it is distracting to watch. The only thing is the intro song is both catchy and strangely animated. It may weird you out if you are thinking about it too much, but you also may find it stuck in your head later. 

Content

Brother Francis is all about focusing on how to be happy and holy people. He does this by introducing or explaining aspects of the Catholic faith. Brother Francis tells stories about Jesus and relates them to our lives. He explains the Eucharist, Saints, and the Rosary. Brother Francis even has a sing-a-long episode. 

My family found him to be engaging and pretty clear in his communication. I even caught my older kids watching after the toddler had walked away. 

Scripture

Brother Francis references many different pieces of Scripture. For example, in the episode about the Eucharist, Brother Francis talks about John 6. 

Why you should watch this show

If you have kids or grandkids to whom you are trying to pass along the Catholic faith, you should watch Brother Francis with them. If you really like the way Catholicism is explained to children and it helps you grow a childlike faith, maybe you should check this out. 

Why skip it

If you are looking for an in-depth study of Catholicism, this isn’t what you are looking for. If you don’t like kid’s music or animation, this show isn’t for you. 

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative, and Engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative

📕📕📕📕

Transformative

💚💚💚💚

Engaging-ative 

😮😮😮😮😮

ShadeformedPublication review date July 14, 2020

Mid-summer for my family usually means a lot of adventures, grilling almost every night, and listening to some summer music (“summer bops” as my daughters call them). With that in mind, I’ve reviewed a new music series from FORMED.org. Shade by Brother Isaiah may be too chill for a true summer bop, but it may also be exactly what you need right now. Check it out. 

Title

Shade - The Series

https://watch.formed.org/shade-the-series-1/season:1

Musician

Brother Isaiah OFM is a member of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal currently living at St. Juan Diego Friary in New Mexico.

Length 

Twelve songs each about five minutes long, plus a short introduction video. 

Style of Content

Shade is a live recording of Brother Isaiah performing a series of songs at the friary where he lives. Brother Isaiah plays guitar, piano and sings. 

TBH - the recording is simple and sometimes the mix is imperfect, but that seems to add to the charm of this series. 

Content

Brother Isaiah is an up and coming Catholic musician who uses these simple songs to witness to the love of Jesus Christ and our need for His Mercy. In the introduction Brother Isaiah explains that one of his favorite Psalms is 121:5 in which God is described as shade on a hot day. God is our rest and our protection. This series of songs are written with this in mind. And honestly, it gets there. I was moved by every song I listened to in some way. Sometimes the music and lyrics moved my heart to yearn for God. Sometimes it moved my toe to tap. 

Brother Isaiah sounds a bit like Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz, or Ben Harper. If you don’t know who any of those artists are, just give him a listen and see if you enjoy his music. 

Scripture

Psalm 121:5 among others. 

Why you should listen to these songs

If you are looking for some music that is authentic, heartfelt, and full of rich imagery and faith, then check out these songs from Brother Isaiah.

Why skip it

If you are looking for a full band or some rad EDM party bops, then this music isn’t for you.

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative, and Engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative (1-5 Books)

📕📕

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

💚💚💚💚💚

Engaging-ative (1-5 Wows)

😮😮😮😮😮

FormednowReview publication date July 7, 2020

Monday, July 6, was St. Maria Goretti’s feast day. If you don’t know St. Maria Goretti, she is a great example of how powerful forgiveness can be. Her story is told and the topic of forgiveness is covered in Monday’s Formed LIVE discussion with Dr. Tim Grey and Dr. Scott Hefefinger. See if this would be a good video for you to watch by reading my review below. 

 

Title

FORMED Now! Forgiveness: Saint Maria Goretti

https://watch.formed.org/formed-live-1/videos/formed-now-forgiveness-sai...

Presenter

Dr. Time Gray and Dr. Scott Hefelfinger are both professors at The Augustine Institute.

Length 

About 30 minutes

Style of Content

Conversation style presentation where Dr. Gray and Dr. Hefefinger discuss together. Dr. Tim Gray introduces topics and then asks Dr. Hefefinger asks questions. This is a recorded “live” conversation where the presenters are seated on a set and hold a back and forth discussion.

TBH - The style of the conversation is fine, but not much more than fine. The lighting is a little strange, but overall the video is good enough. 

Content

At the core of this video is examining Forgiveness. The inspiration for this topic is the life and martyrdom of St. Maria Goretti. St. Maria Goretti forgave her killer and by this act of forgiveness a great conversion of many was initiated. After telling St. Maria Goretti’s story, both Dr. Grey and Dr. Hefefinger further discuss and explain forgiveness. By diving deep into forgiveness, we hear about our need to forgive and to be forgiven. The conversation covers sin, salvation, the challenge of forgiveness, loving enemies, praying for those we struggle to forgive and much more. 

Scripture

Acts 7:58, Acts 9:1-9, Matthew 18:21-35, among others. 

Why you should watch this video

If you are in need of a nudge to forgive someone in your life, this conversation may be for you. If are interested in hearing the story of a great, but humble saint that teaches us a very concrete lesson, thank this one if for you. If you need some conviction about your need to forgive someone, this might be a good video for you. 

Why skip it

If a free-ranging conversational style video isn’t your thing, you may need to watch something else. If you aren’t up for a challenge this video may not be for you.

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative, and Engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative (1-5 Books)

📗📗📗

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

💙💙💙

Engaging-ative (1-5 Wows)

😮😮😮

Vbs LogoI’m coloring outside the lines during this review. Instead of reviewing a video or talk on FORMED.org, I will be reviewing HNOJ’s very own Virtual VBS! Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we weren’t able to host VBS in person this year. Normally 400+ children, teens and adults pack HNOJ for five fun-filled days of music, crafts and Bible stories. 

This year our Elementary Faith Formation Coordinator, Therese Reichert, along with an assist from the rest of the Faith Formation Team, has put together a Virtual VBS for our families at HNOJ. To participate (or just check out the theme, stories and crafts) visit the link below and register (for free) and you’ll receive a password to check out the Virtual VBS. 

Title

HNOJ Virtual VBS 2020

https://www.hnoj.org/vbs

Presenter

Theresa Reichert, the Coordinator of Elementary Faith Formation at HNOJ, is the primary presenter and craft demonstrator. She gets an assist on music and storytelling from the Faith Formation Team of Chris Kostelc, Elliut Fonseca, Kelly Schumacher and Ashley Cermak. 

Length 

Five Sessions of VBS, each about 20-25 minutes long. 

Style of Content

Video quality is pretty good for in-house. They are well edited and move along pretty well. The sound quality on the music portions is solid. 

TBH. About the only knock on these video style-wise is that the sound isn’t always the greatest. All of these were filmed at home or in the office which makes for difficult sound challenges. 

Content

Each session of HNOJ’s Virtual VBS includes an introduction explaining that session’s content and connection to the theme, VBS Praise and Worship Music time, a Bible Story as told by a member of the Faith Formation Team, journal time with Q&A and scripture connection, and a craft demonstration. 

Scripture

Bible Stories - Tower of Babel, Nehemiah, Zacchaeus, St. Paul, Jesus’ teaching about God’s House with many rooms.  Many other scriptures are used to connect the stories to the Gospel. 

Why You Should Participate in Virtual VBS

If you have elementary or preschool kiddos at home and you want to share God’s love with them, then your family should participate. If you have someone at home who likes building things or construction trucks or Bob the Builder, you should check this out. 

Why Skip It

If you are looking for something serious or don’t have kiddos at home who would participate in VBS, then this video series might not be for you. 

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative, and Engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative (1-5 Books)

📘📘📘📕

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

💙💙💙💜

Engaging-ative (1-5 Wows)

😮😮😮😮

ScotthahnformedPublication review date June 26, 2020

During the recent lockdown not only were public Masses suspended, but many people stayed away from the confessional as well. If you haven’t heard, many parishes, including HNOJ, has resumed hearing confessions during our normal confessional times (Saturday mornings beginning at 8:30 a.m.) And as always, you can set up a time to come in by appointment. 

If you need a little motivation to return to Confession, then read my review of Dr. Scott Hahn’s talk The Healing Power of Confession. You may just need to hear what he has to say about this beautiful Sacrament. Also, Dr. Hahn is pretty entertaining if you’ve never heard him speak. 

Title

The Healing Power of Confession

https://watch.formed.org/the-healing-power-of-confession-by-dr-scott-hahn

Presenter

Dr. Scott Hahn is an international Catholic speaker and scripture scholar. He is one of the most sought after Catholic evangelist. 

Length 

One hour and fifteen minutes

Style of Content

Audio recording of Dr. Hahn giving a talk to a live studio audience. At the end of the talk Dr. Hahn answers questions from the live audience. 

TBH - The recording a great. The sound is clear. To Be Honest, there is nothing to dislike about the style of the content. 

Content

Dr. Hahn is known for taking classic Catholic teaching and explaining it in a way that makes the audience think this is the first time they’ve ever been taught these truths. It is no different in this talk. Whether we regularly go to Confession or it’s been years, Dr. Hahn explains the beauty and the power of the Sacrament, why we need it, and how it helps us be happy in a way that you won’t hear anywhere else. If I hadn’t just gone the morning I listened to this talk, I might have jumped in my car and headed to confession myself! 

Dr. Hahn is a consummate storyteller. The talk, in fact, feels like one story after another, but Dr. Hahn adeptly intersperses plenty of teaching and truth in the midst of the story-based explanations. 

Scripture

Matthew 9:1-8, among others. 

Why you should listen to these talks

If you haven’t been to confession in a while (COVID-19 reason or otherwise) and are looking for some good motivation, then listen to this talk today. If you have always questioned things like, “Why do I have to go to a priest?” then you should check this talk out for the answers. If you hate going to confession, check this out. 

Why skip it

If you don’t want to hear an audio talk and rather watch a video, then check out something else on formed.org. But seriously this talk is amazing and I can’t think of a real reason to skip it. 

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative, and Engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative (1-5 Books)

📘📘📘📘📕

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

💙💙💙💙💚

Engaging-ative (1-5 Wows)

😮😮😮😮

SacramentsformedReview date June 23, 2020

Have you ever been asked, “Where is that in the Bible?” I have and at the time I bubbled through an answer. I wish I had read this book at that time because my answers would have been a great deal more convincing.

In Sacraments in Scripture Dr. Tim Gray shows his reader the Biblical roots for the Sacraments of the Catholic Church. Not only does this book help us to answer questions about the Bible and Church, it will help us to understand the role of Sacraments in our faith life too. Check it out. 

Title

Sacraments in Scripture

https://watch.formed.org/sacraments-in-scripture-by-dr-tim-gray

Writer

Dr. Tim Gray is the President of the Augustin Institute and a professor of Sacred Scripture. 

Length 

171 pages 

Style of Content

The chapters of this book are centered around each of the Seven Sacraments. Each chapter ends with a set of study questions to help the reader think about the contents of the chapter and focus on what the author thinks is most important. 

Dr. Gray is a clear and straightforward writer. I think this book gets to the point and delivers on the title. Some might find it a bit dry as it is doesn’t have a lot of extra stories. 

Content

In this book Dr. Tim Gray explores the biblical sources and support for the Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church.

Scripture

Too many to list here. The reader will find New and Old Testament scriptures within the pages of this book. 

Why you should read this book

If you’ve ever wondered or been asked “where is that in the Bible,” then this book is for you. If you are curious as to why the Church has Seven Sacraments, this would be a helpful read. 

Why skip it

If you are looking for a fun beach book this summer, well this might not be it. 

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative, and Engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative (1-5 Books)

📗📗📗📗📕

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

💛💛💛💚

Engaging-ative (1-5 Wows)

😮😮😮

MiraclesformedPublication review date June 19, 2020

A number of years ago I was asked, “Why doesn’t God perform miracles like he used to?” Maybe you have the same question. Maybe you have experienced a miracle. Maybe you don’t believe in miracles at all. No matter what your experience of miracles has been, how we think about miracles and faith helps to show us how we understand God and ourselves. 

Today I review a short video all about miracles. While no short video could answer all the questions we may hold about miracles, this video is a good starting point to understanding how God works through miracles. 

Title

Miracles

https://watch.formed.org/miracles-1/videos/miracles

Presenters

Fr. Marcus Holden and Fr. Andrew Pinsent with special guests Jamie and Joanna Bogle. 

Length 

About 36 minutes. 

Style of Content

Headshots of seated speakers with no in-studio audience is supported by images and video that help to demonstrate the concepts being described. 

Video is well done and meets all current standards for this style of video. It’s not extraordinary, but it’s solid. 

Content

This video begins by defining what a miracle is and what a miracle is not. This portion is very helpful for the viewer to understand what the speakers mean by a miracle. They go on to describe and explore various kinds of miracles. Incorrupt bodies of great saints, Eucharistic miracles, healings, apparitions, and personal experiences of God’s miraculous work are some of the miracles examined. The video ends by placing miracles within the full experience of God and one’s faith journey. 

Scripture

Various miracle stories from the Old and New Testament. 

Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-8, 19-14, Luke 24:1-44, John 20:1-29

Why you should watch this video

If you are interested in miracles and want to better understand how they influence faith, then you should check this out. If you are skeptical of miracles, then watching this may be helpful to understanding how the Church views miracles and verifies their authenticity. 

Why skip it

If your aren’t interested in the mashup of science and religion, you may want to skip watching this video. If you are looking for a scripture study, then this isn’t for you. 

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative, and Engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative (1-5 Books)

📕📕📕📘

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

💚💚💚💜

Engaging-ative (1-5 Wows)

😮😮😮😮

FormedgreatcatholicReview publish date June 16, 2020

During this time when our regular routines have vastly changed, we may be asking ourselves why we do what we do? Maybe the question of “Why?” has even crept into your faith life. Seriously seeking an answer to the question of “Why am I Catholic?” can be a profound experience. 

In this talk, Jason Evert examines this very question and explains to his audience, and to us, why he is and remains Catholic. In fact, he goes a step beyond this and beautifully witnesses to the joy of our faith through engaging storytelling. 

Title

What’s so great about being Catholic?

https://watch.formed.org/talks-share-your-faith/videos/what-s-so-great-a...

Presenter

Jason Evert is an internationally recognized speaker on faith and chastity for teens and adults. He is not your average Catholic speaker. Jason uses storytelling, humor and clear explanation of the genius and joy of the Catholic faith to share the good news of our faith.

Length 

About 45 minutes. Plus a 15 minutes bonus talk from Patrick Madrid. 

Style of Content

An audio recording of a talk given before a live audience. 

The recording is clear and well done. The audience is kind of loud in their laughter and response, which isn’t terrible, but could be distracting. 

Content

The core of Jason Evert’s talk is his seeking to answer the question, “Why am I Catholic?” Jason tells his personal journey from a mediocre practice of his faith into a more profound and beautiful Catholicism. Jason engages his audience by telling stories of the great Saints and Martyrs including St. Teresa of Calcutta, St. John Vianney, and particularly Pope St. John Paul II. 

Jason specifically addresses the idea of doubt and unbelief and how we as Catholics respond. What is the reason to be Catholic? It’s True. 

Scripture

Luke 15:7 and many many more. 

Why You Should Listen to this Talk

If you are looking for an engaging, entertaining explanation of why Catholicism is true, you should check out this talk. If you like good storytelling and Catholic things, you should give this talk a try.

Why Skip It

If you have trouble with fast-talking, you might want to check out something else. If you are looking for an analytical, catechetical teaching, you should look up something else on formed.org.  

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative, and Engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative (1-5 Books)

📙📙📙📘

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

💜💜💜💜💛

Engaging-ative (1-5 Wows)

😮😮😮😮😮

FormedcorpuschristiThis weekend we will be celebrating a very important feast - The Feast of Corpus Christi. Maybe you're asking - What exactly are we celebrating? Find out by watching this quick FORMED Live video. Here is my review of this video realized yesterday by FORMED.

Title

FORMED Live: The Feast of Corpus Christi

https://watch.formed.org/formed-live/season:1/videos/formed-live-the-fea...

Presenter

Dr. Time Gray and Dr. Ben Akers are both professors at The Augustine Institute. 

Length 

30 minutes

Style of Content

Conversation style presentation where Dr. Gray and Dr. Akers discuss together. Dr. Tim Gray introduces topics and then asks Dr. Akers questions. This is a recorded “live” conversation where the presenters are seated on a set and hold a back and forth discussion.

TBH - The style of the conversation is fine, but not much more than fine. The lighting is a little strange, but overall the video is good enough. Some may not enjoy or easily follow the conversation format. 

Content

This Sunday we will celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi.  This discussion explains this feast and Jesus’ real presence in the Eucharist. Dr. Gray and Dr. Akers teach by sharing the story of the Eucharistic miracle from the 13th century. 

This video is full of engaging stories about Eucharist miracles, the history of this great feast, and teachings on the Eucharist. While other versions of these FORMED live can be a little dry, this one is engaging and interesting. 

In addition, Dr. Gray and Dr. Akers give some great suggestions on how to grow in our understanding and our faith in the Eucharist. 

Traditional Prayer for Corpus Christi

https://catholicexchange.com/corpus-christi-our-debt-to-st-thomas-aquinas

Why You Should Watch this Video

Jesus’ Real Presence in the Eucharist is such an important truth of our faith, learning more and celebrating well is a way to grow closer to Jesus. If you want to celebrate well and grown in understanding, watch this video. 

Why Skip It

The discussion/interview format isn’t for everyone, if that bothers you, you may want to skip it. 

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative, and Engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative (1-5 Books)

📕📘📕📘

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

💙💙💙

Engaging-ative (1-5 Wows)

😮😮😮😮

TrueworshipformedIf you’ve been back to Mass at HNOJ recently, you know it is a different experience than it was before COVID-19. We aren’t singing. We’re spread out strangely. Our voices are muffled by masks. These are all important and good temporary changes for our times. I’ve heard some people say without singing it just doesn’t feel like Mass. I can understand and my heart is with that thought. 

At the core of Mass isn’t singing or the homily. At the heart of Mass is Jesus in the Word and the Eucharist. This Tuesday I am reviewing at talk given by Fr. Mike Schmitz called “True Worship.” He gave a similar talk at HNOJ back in 2012 when he did a parish mission with our community. 

Title

True Worship

https://watch.formed.org/true-worship-by-fr-mike-schmitz/videos/true-wor...

Presenter

Fr. Mike Schmitz is a nationally recognized Catholic speaker and works with Catholic young people in college and high school in the Duluth, MN area. 

Length 

1 hour and 15 minutes

Style of Content

Audio recording of Fr. Mike Schmitz giving a series of homilies at the Newman Center at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

TBH - The recording is a little rough. With a fair amount of echo and a tinny sound. Also, Fr. Mike is a fast talker. Those could be deterrents for some people. The content is so good you’ll probably be able to listen past the poor recording. 

Content

Fr. Mike Schmitz gives a series of homilies about the Eucharist and the Mass. The first talk centers on the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist and how when we believe that, we attend Mass differently. The second homily is about our role in every Mass we attend. The third homily is the challenge of overcoming complacency in our attitude towards the Eucharist and God. The series ends very practically in suggesting four ways we can come to Mass hungry for Jesus in the Eucharist.

Scripture

John 6 - The Bread of Life Discourse 

Why You Should Listen to These Talks

If you are looking to understand why we need to attend Mass and receive the Eucharist, you might find some answers. If you want to be inspired by God’s real presence in the Eucharist, then you should take a listen. If you want to figure out how to come hungry to the Eucharist, then check out this homily series. 

Why Skip It

If a tinny, echoy recording will be so annoying that you won’t be able to listen, then you might want to listen to something else. If you struggle with a fast talker, Fr. Mike Schmitz is a fast talk and so you may want to skip it. 

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative, and Engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative (1-5 Books)

📕📕📕📕📘

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

💛💛💛💛💚

Engaging-ative (1-5 Wows)

😮😮😮😮

FindingpurposeformedEarlier this week I recommended a 14-episode series with almost seven hours of content. Today I am reviewing a six-minute video. If you are looking for some inspiration you can watch while a steamer bag of vegetables cooks in the microwave, this video is for you.  

In Finding Purpose, the narrator sets out to show that life is better when lived with purpose. Sometimes we mistake activity with purpose. Sometimes we wake up with purpose and sometimes we don’t. By the end of the video, we are presented with a simple two-step process to discovering purpose. Here is what I thought of the video. 

Title

Finding Purpose

https://watch.formed.org/finding-purpose/videos/finding-purpose

Presenter

Unnamed narrator

Length 

Six minutes

Style of Content

This video is in that internet video style that we’ve all seen but is nearly impossible to explain. It is a combination of narration and animated illustrations of content. Basically, someone is saying some stuff. Some of that stuff comes on the screen in words. Some of that stuff comes on the screen with simple stick figure illustrations. 

TBH - It looks and sounds like many of the short, punchy videos you may get caught watching online. 

Content

Finding Purpose paraphrases a Fulton Sheen talk from back in the day. The basic premise is that if we don’t have purpose, we are less happy, loose hope and become inward-focused. This video is challenging and gives us a game plan for finding purpose again. 

Scripture

No scripture is explicitly mentioned, but allusions to John 14:6 can be felt. 

Why You Should Watch This Video

If you need a good challenge or are looking for a way to regain your purpose, then this video will give you a simple game plan and may inspire you to live with purpose. If you want a quick video that might nudge you to move towards God, then check this one out. 

Why Skip It

Some might find this video a little challenging and if you aren’t open to that right now, then you may want to skip this one. If you are looking for an intense Bible study, then this isn’t your video. 

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative, and Engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative (1-5 Books)

📕📕📕

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

💛💛💛💛💛

Engaging-ative (1-5 Wows)

😮😮😮😮

WildgooseformedThis past week we celebrated Pentecost, the birth of the Church. That beginning happened when the Holy Spirit came as tongues of fire and rested on the heads of the disciples and they were motivated to spread the good news of the gospel to the whole world. Awesome. 

Yet many of us don’t know much about the Holy Spirit and what the Church teaches about the third person of the Trinity. The series I review today is a crash course in the Holy Spirit from the perspective of the modern Catholic’s experience of the Holy Spirit. Why is it called “The Wild Goose”? You’ll have to watch to find out.

Note Bene: This is one of my absolute favorite video series. When I told my wife, Liz, that I was reviewing it for today, she said, “Ohhh, I really liked that one. So good. Tell people to at least try it.” 

Title

The Wild Goose

https://watch.formed.org/the-wild-goose-with-fr-dave-pivonka

Presenter

Fr. Dave Pivonka is a Franciscan priest with a humble but inspiring presentation style. 

Length 

14 Episodes each about 20-30  minutes long. This seems like a lot of content, but it goes quickly. 

Each episode contains a presentation of the main topic by Fr. Dave with both instruction and personal witness from his life. We will also see interviews by many others both regular Catholics and religious sisters and priests. 

TBH - Okay. This series is gorgeous and almost poetic in its use of imagery and video to convey meaning. 

Content

The Wild Goose series is all about the Holy Spirit. Expect to hear about the Catholic understanding of the third person of the Trinity. You will also hear a great deal of personal witness from some really impressive people about their varied and inspiring experiences of the Holy Spirit. Some of these stories might even be called miraculous. 

Scripture

Acts 2 as well as other scriptures. 

BONUS

A great, simple study guide that helps the view hone in on the most important information from each episode. 

Why You Should Watch this Video

If you’ve always wanted to know more about the Holy Spirit or improve your prayer life in the spirit, then this series is what you are looking for. If you like instruction in the faith that is beautiful and maybe a little different than what you’ve experienced, then you should check this out. 

Why Skip It

Hearing other people’s powerful experiences of the Holy Spirit may elicit strong emotions in you. If this is your first exposure to how powerful the Holy Spirit can and does work in the lives of Catholics and you’re aren’t looking for that kind of religious education, you may want to try something else on formed first.

I think this series is so good, I think everyone should try at least one episode. If you do try it and have some questions don’t hesitate to reach out and ask me your questions about the series or the Holy Spirit. Chris’s Email.

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative, and Engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative (1-5 Books)

📗📗📗📗📗

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

💜💜💜💜💜

Engaging-ative  (1-5 Wows)

😮😮😮😮

EstherformedReview publish date May 29, 2020

The Kostelc family sat down to watch another FORMED family film and review it. We chose “The Bible Collection - Esther” because my high schooler had just read the book of Esther with her HNOJ small group and the rest of us didn’t know much about Esther. What we found was an engaging story of a strong female character who used every ounce of her wit and charm to save the Jewish people from destruction. What we didn’t find was a “family” movie (If you define “family” movie as a film with appropriate content for all ages).

Check out our review to see if this would be a good film for you and your family. 

Title

The Bible Collection - Esther

https://watch.formed.org/the-bible-collection-esther/videos/the-bible-co...

Presenter

Feature film length dramatic representation of the book of Esther found in the Old Testament. (you know, a movie about Esther). 

Length 

About an hour and a half. 

Style of Content

This movie, depicting the Book of Esther, is part of a larger series of movies about books or characters from Scripture. The movie is not a word-for-word recounting of the Scripture, though it contains snippets of Scripture, instead it tells the story found in the book of Esther with some artistic license. 

TBH - The movie actually looks great. The sets and costumes are pretty incredible for something like this. The acting was mostly really well done and believable. I had that wonderful experience of forgetting that I was watching a movie and instead was just able to get into the story. 

Content

The Book of Esther can be found in the Old Testament and tells the story of a young Jewish woman who becomes Queen of Persia. In about 586 King Nebuchadnezzar conquers Jerusalem and exiles the Jewish people to Babylon. In 539, King Cyrus of Persia conquers the Babylonians and sets the Jews free to return to Jerusalem. Many do return, but not all. 

Esther stays in Susa with her adoptive Uncle Mordecai. This is where our movie begins to tell us how Esther became Queen to King Ahasuerus (Xerxes maybe?), grandson of Cyrus, and using her wit, intelligence and grace influenced him to save the Jewish people from Haman, a top court official. 

Haman was offended by Mordecai’s refusal to bow to him and had schemed to have all the Jews of the Persian Empire killed. Instead, Esther, through an act of incredible courage, convinced the King to allow the Jews to defend themselves and eradicate their enemies. This Scripture is the basis of the Jewish feast of Purim. 

Scripture

The Book of Esther

BONUS

I asked my family to review this film too. Here is what they said:

Wife “The girls were uncomfortable because it was a little bit racy as you can imagine a Biblical story with a King and Harem would be, but never inappropriate or explicit. I was super entertained and impressed with the quality. I’m not an Esther expert, so I’m not sure how closely it stuck to the story, but in more than one scene I could pick out scripture that I recognized.”

14 yo “I liked it. But some of the acting was a little, not great. It told the story of Esther well.” (She’s the only one of us who has actually read the entire book of Esther.)

10 yo “I thought that the cameras were good and the acting was good. There were a couple scenes that were a little iffy for a 10 yo.” 

2 yo “zzzzz” (We watched it after he had gone to bed.)

Why You Should Watch This Video

If you are looking for a movie with a strong and intelligent female protagonist who saves the day, then you should check this movie out. If you don’t know anything about the Book of Esther, you watching this will give you a good starting point for learning about Esther and her story. If you have older middle school or high school-aged kids, this might be better suited for a movie night with them. 

Why Skip It

If you have little kiddos, the content of this story is pretty PG-13 even if the film doesn’t show anything explicit, and so you may want to skip it. If historical movies set in the ancient world aren’t your thing, you may want to skip this one. 

The Ratings

For movies on Formed, I am using a different rating system. I think reviewing them with the same standard as a theological study or talk isn’t helpful. Instead, I am reviewing them in terms of All the Feels, Cringy, and Engaging. Engaging - Was the movie engaging or entertaining? Did I want to watch it? Cringy - Was the movie well made? Was the acting good? Did anything make me cringe and not on purpose? Cringe isn’t a good thing.  All the Feels - Did this movie make me feel something? Did this movie transport me to another place and experience the story?

Engaging(1-5 Wows)

 😮😮😮😮😮

Cringy (1-5 Cringe)

 😬

All the Feels (1-5 Hearts)

💛💛💛💛💛

ConversionformedReview publication date May 26, 2020

At some point in a person’s life, we encounter an inconsistency in our understanding of the world that spurs us to search for truth. Jennifer Fulwiler was perfectly content in the materialistic, scientific worldview she inherited from her family of origin. That was until she held her first child and realized that what she believed about the world wasn’t the whole truth. 

In this talk, “From Atheism to Catholicism: My Conversion Diary,” Fulwiler shares her story of a passionate search for the truth, that was inspired by her non-believing parents, helped her to discover God and the Catholic Church. If you are looking for some inspiration, this brief talk by the bright Fulwiler, might just be the thing you are looking for. 

Title

From Atheism to Catholicism: My Conversion Diary

https://watch.formed.org/talks-being-catholic/videos/from-atheism-to-cat...

Presenter

Jennifer Fulwiler is a writer, blogger, nationally recognized speaker, and, most importantly, wife and mother. Fulwiler is a smart, clear, and engaging presenter and storyteller. 

Length 

About 40 minutes. (The description says 1 hour, but that includes a preview of a separate talk).

Style of Content

Audio recording of a talk Fulwiler gives to a live audience. Well recorded and easy to listen to. 

TBH - Nothing to report besides the fact that it is an audio recording.

Content

Jennifer Fulwiler gives the account of her conversion from staunch and convinced atheist to a believer in God and later to Catholicism. This talk is Fulwiler’s personal witness, her transformation into a person of faith. Fulwiler’s conversion came as an adult and she really only started learning about Christianity as an adult. Hearing a story from this perspective was intriguing. The storytelling is engaging and moves quickly. I found myself pulled into the story and wanted to keep listening. 

Why You Should Listen to This Talk. 

If you want to hear the story of someone how actively searched for truth and found the Catholic faith, then you should listen. If you need some inspiration, this might be a good talk to listen to. If someone in your life has left the faith or lost faith entirely, this might be a good talk to listen to. 

Why Skip It

If you are looking for an in-depth scripture or catechetical study, then this isn’t the talk for you. If you want to watch a video, this is a talk, so yeah, watch a video. Honestly there really isn’t a good reason to skip this one entirely - it is relatively brief and really good. 

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative and Engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative (1-5 Books)

 📗📗📗

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

💙💙💙💙

Engaging-ative (1-5 Wows)

😮😮😮😮

Formed StoryPublication review date May 22, 2020

If you’ve ever tried to start reading the Bible for the first time, it can be intimidating. “Where do I start?” I’ve heard many people ask. In addition, we may have some ideas about reading Scripture that do not really line up with how Catholics read the Bible. 

If you are looking for a succinct overview of the entire Bible and short but punchy introductions to how Catholics read Scripture, then you may want to check out “Our Story: A Basic Introduction to the Bible for Catholics.” With clear, fast-paced, five minute episodes, this may just be the thing you are looking for to jump-start reading your Bible. 

Title
Our Story: A Basic Introduction to the Bible for Catholics
https://watch.formed.org/our-story-a-basic-introduction-to-the-bible-for...
 

Presenters
Mark Hart is a dynamic presenter who uses humor and knowledge to help the audience grow in understanding and appreciation of Scripture.

Kevin Saunder is a Scripture expert who uses his vast knowledge of Scripture and measured presentation style to walk the audience through the scriptural support for all things Catholic. 

Length 
Nine five- minute long episodes. About 45 minutes of total content. 

BONUS
A simply awesome, free study guide that I would highly recommend downloading. So much more information in the study guide. 

Style of Content

Each short video is simply the presenter speaking to the camera with a list of topics being discussed on the left-hand side and a bar at the bottom highlighting points in the talk. The video is of good quality and on a simple white background.

TBH - Honestly the videos are so short and fast-paced you probably couldn’t do anything more with them. The style of the videos is good enough for what they are trying to accomplish.

Content
This series really is an introduction to the Bible. In the first six episodes Mark Hart walks through the entire Old and New Testament and gives a summary of the important parts of the story. At times, Mark hart tells the audience a singular long story weaving different books together. 

In the last three episodes Kevin Saunders demonstrates scriptural support or scriptural sources for the significant areas of Catholicism like the Mass, the way Catholics read Scripture, and what we believe (doctrine). 

Scripture
As an introduction to Scripture this series contains many particular pieces of scripture. 

Why You Should Watch this Video
If you have always wanted to hear a straightforward overview of the entire Bible, this series would be helpful. If you feel like you know little or nothing about the Bible, then you will get a decent introduction to the entire Bible. If you are looking for a short video to watch about your faith, these are short and punchy and may work for you. 

Why Skip It
Mark Hart speaks very fast. If that bothers you, you may not like this series. The content is a very high level summary of the entire story of Scripture. If you have done a lot of study you may not hear anything new and want to skip this series. If you are looking for more depth about particular books, this series won’t meet that desire. 

The Ratings
I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative, and Engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative (1-5 Books)

📕📕📕

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

 🧡🧡🧡

Engaging-ative (1-5 Wows)

😮😮😮

Cosmos FormedReview date May 19, 2020

One of the nagging questions for us in the 21st century is how science and religion exist alongside each other. Since the Enlightenment, we have been told that science and religion are enemies. Some would say that if one is rational and scientific that they can’t be religious and believe in God. As Catholics, we don’t believe that. 

Fr. Robert Spitzer makes a case in From Nothing to Cosmos that not only does science fail to prove God doesn’t exist, but in fact, scientific evidence may exist that leads us to believe in God. If you think this is a far fetched claim, then I encourage you to check out this series. Even the first 15 minutes of the first episode will likely shed new light on the question of and science and religion. 

Title

From Nothing to Cosmos: God and Science with Fr. Robert Spitzer

https://watch.formed.org/from-nothing-to-cosmos-with-fr-robert-spitzer

Presenter

Fr. Robert Spitzer is an intelligent and enthusiastic presenter. Fr. Spitzer clearly knows his stuff and cares deeply that he gets his audience to understand this complicated topic. Some may find his presentation style to be overly zealous. In addition to Fr. Spitzer other experts speak on their area of study. 

Length 

Four episodes, each about an hour in length. 

Style of Content

This series looks like a multi-episode series on a cable science channel. It is highly produced with lots of images, movies and animations. The main presenter is shot on a green screen and the background changes often to illustrate what he is speaking about. The main points of the presentation are displayed and summarized well and not just spoken by the presenter. 

TBH - Okay. Some of the illustrations and videos are a little silly or hokey. You may be put off by some of these. Also, Fr. Spitzer is pretty excited about this material and some people may not appreciate his style. 

Content

The center stage in this series is the relationship between religion/God and science. Not only does this series set out to show that there is little to no conflict, but in fact that science may at times be further proof for the existence of God. It is a challenging thesis which Fr. Spitzer seems to support at every turn. By examining the origin of existence, near-death experiences, and even the question of alien life forms and multiple universes, Fr. Spitzer seeks to show (not just tell) us just how well religious belief in God and science can work together. 

Honestly, there is a TON of content in this short four-episode series. I learned more about cosmology, physics and mathematics than I was anticipating. The good news is that Fr. Spitzer repeats the material in a way that helps us review it throughout the series. 

Scripture

Genesis 1 and others.

Why You Should Watch this Video

If you have ever had questions about the relationship between science and religion, then this video is for you. If you are curious about the beginning of existence and speculative science in relationship to God, then you should check this out. 

Why Skip It

If scientific language and knowledge isn’t your thing, then maybe this video isn’t for you. If you are too distracted by Fr. Spitzer’s presentation style, then then you might want to skip it. 

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative, and Engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative (1-5 Books)

📕📕📕📕📕

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

💙💙💙💙

Engaging-ative (1-5 Wows)

😮😮😮

Prayerforbeginnersformed(Review Publication Date May 14, 2020)

The last review of FORMED content was for a six-part talk on prayer. Today I am reviewing a MUCH shorter treatment of the same subject namely the short but insightful book on prayer called Prayer for Beginners written by Dr. Peter Kreeft, renowned philosopher and writer. 

In the introduction, Kreeft explains that while there are thousands of books on how to pray, there are very few for those who are busy, distracted and, frankly, not very good at praying. That what this book is. It is a book for those who want to pray, but struggle. I believe this short-in-stature little gem would aid just about anyone in their prayer life. 

Title

Prayer for Beginners 

https://watch.formed.org/prayer-for-beginners-by-peter-kreeft

Author

Peter Kreeft is a Professor of Philosophy at Boston College, convert to Catholicism and the author of over 80 books on Theology, Philosophy and Apologetics. He is a tremendous teacher of an authentic and beautiful Catholic faith. 

Length 

167 pages (This is book small in size - the pages are not large pages.)

Style of Content

This is a brief but powerful little book. The chapters are short and punchy. Kreeft gets to the point quickly and doesn’t mince words. Kreeft’s writing style is practical and conversational. 

TBH - Honestly, Kreeft’s style is very readable and accessible. It’s important to know that Kreeft doesn’t pull any punches. If you read this, you will be challenged. 

Content

Peter Kreeft addresses both the basics of prayer, (why, who, what, where, when) but also some of the difficult aspects to a healthy prayer life, like distractions or the impact of sin on the person praying. Kreeft writes this book for people who are beginners in prayer and he considers himself a beginner! While Kreeft writes on topics that would be helpful to those just starting to pray, he absolutely challenges those who have been practicing prayer for a while too. Often in this short book, Kreeft gives a new and helpful way of thinking about prayer that will only make sense if you’ve tried and failed to pray at times. 

Scripture

Matthew 7:7

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

among many others

Why You Should Read This Book

If you want to improve your prayer life or need a little nudge to make prayer a priority, then Prayer for Beginners would be a good read for you. If you would enjoy a thought-out, rational approach to faith, you will likely appreciate and find value in this title. 

Why Skip It

If you are looking for a warm and comforting book on prayer, you might want to start somewhere else.

BONUS

Audiobook - You can listen to this book on formed at https://watch.formed.org/prayer-for-beginners-by-peter-kreeft-1/videos/p...

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative and Engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative (1-5 Books)

📗📗📗📗

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

💙💙💙💙💙

Engaging-ative (1-5 Wows)

😮😮😮😮

Lectio FormedReview publish date May 12, 2020)

If you were to ask 100 random people on the street what does it mean to have faith, almost all would probably name prayer as the most important action of a faithful person. Yet, when I talk to people about their prayer lives, almost all of them wish they had a richer, more meaningful, more consistent prayer life. How can something so central to our faith, be so difficult for us?

No matter what the answer is to that question, we all know that if we can get prayer right, we will grower closer and closer to God. The Lectio Teaching Series and Dr. Tim Gray have tackled this important topic. I thought I knew a lot about this subject, but this series opened my eyes to many ways to improve my prayer life. You might want to check it out. 

Title

Lectio Series: Unveiling Scripture and Tradition - Prayer

https://watch.formed.org/lectio-prayer-with-dr-tim-gray/season:1

Presenter

Dr. Tim Gray is a knowledgable and straight forward presenter. He is more animated in this series than I’ve seen him in other talks. 

Length 

Six Sessions all about 30 minutes in length. 

Style of Content

A series of six talks given before a live audience by Dr. Tim Gray. The talk is augmented by sacred art, video and images of holy sites, and written scripture and quotes. 

TBH - The video is well done and easy to follow. The cut-ins of images or video of art, scripture, and sites is engaging and keeps the viewer's attention. Honestly, as videos of talks go, this is well done. 

Content

Prayer is the core of a life of faith in God. This video series thoroughly examines the basic movements of prayer. By unpacking a single prayer form, Lectio Divina, Dr. Gray examines the basic building blocks of all forms of prayer. This series purposefully repeats the stages of prayer and explains how entering into prayer through the first step is vital for meaningful, powerful, joyful prayer. Dr. Gray makes connections between a wide range of scripture and traditional teachings of the Church that are helpful in growing one’s prayer life. The content would be helpful for a beginner in prayer and rich enough for someone who has a developed prayer life. 

Scripture and Tradition

John 4:4-42 Women at the well. 

Duet 6:4-5 “Hear, O Israel…”

Psalm 1:1-2 

Genesis 28:11

John 1:50, 51

John 14:6

CCC 2560 Prayer

CCC 2654 Guigo’s Ladder 

Why You Should Watch this Video

If you desire deep, rich, meaningful prayer, you should watch this video. If you have struggled in your prayer life and wonder how you can have authentic prayer, then you should check this out. If you think of prayer the same way you think of flossing, you may want to watch this video. If you feel like you have a good handle on pray and understand Lectio Divina, this series will deepen your understanding and enrich your practice of this prayer form. 

Why Skip It

If a talk style format doesn’t sound engaging to you, you may want to skip this. If you are looking for a light watch, then maybe check out something in the movie section of FORMED. 

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative, and Engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative (1-5 Books)

 📘📘📘📘

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

💜💜💜💜

Engaging-ative (1-5 Wows)

😮😮😮

ThesearchformedReview date May 8, 2020

I don’t know about you, but pressing pause on what had been my normal life has led to more introspection and questioning than I would have ever done in a normal month. Sometimes that thinking as been difficult. 

By no coincidence, formed.org has released the first episode of a new series called The Search. This series is all about our search for meaning and happiness. It seems to me to be a good time to consider the big questions of life. 

Note Bene: The series is being released one episode at a time. Only the first episode is out right now and that is what I reviewed. When the entire series is complete I will do a brand spanking new review. 

Title

The Search: Episode 1 What do you seek?

https://watch.formed.org/the-search-may-2020/videos/the-search-episode-1

Presenter

Chris Stefanick is an engaging presenter who gets to the heart of things with his presenting style which seems natural and authentic. 

Length 

25 minutes

Style of Content

While presented and narrated by Chris Stefanick, video and images are cut with intelligent and insightful commentary of experts in fields of psychology and faith. The story of a former NBA player is also highlighted. 

TBH - The video is gorgeous and the presentation is very professional and current. If it wasn’t on formed.org you’d think it was put together by a secular studio. 

Content

The content of Episode 1 of  The Search is an invitation for the viewer to ask the question, “What do I seek?” In other words, we are asked to think about what we want out of life and what we are going to do with our time on this earth. While many potential options are explored, we are asked to examine whether anything really satisfies us completely and forever. The content is fast-paced and engaging and you almost can’t believe when the episode is over how fast it went. 

Scripture

John 1:38

Why You Should Watch This Video

If you want to think more deeply about why we exist or how we can be truly happy, then this video is for you. If you like powerfully gripping videos and deep thinking, then you will likely enjoy this series. 

Why Skip It

If you want something light and distracting, you should try something else. If you don’t like the modern style of fast-changing, high energy video collages, then you may not enjoy the style of this series

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative and Engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative (1-5 Books)

 📕📕📕

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

 💚💚💚💚💚

Engaging-ative (1-5 Wows)

😮😮😮😮😮

What Is Spiritual Communion FormedReview release date May 5, 2020

For weeks we have all worshiped as best we can from home. We’ve been lucky at HNOJ because the parish has done such a great job with filming our weekly Mass. And it’s just not the same as being at our parish, in person. 

Mostly that is because we don’t get to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. We are invited to make a Spiritual Communion, but what is that? What does it mean? FORMED Live is here to answer these questions and further put Spiritual Communion in context with whole of the spiritual life. 

Title

FORMED Live: What is Spiritual Communion

https://watch.formed.org/formed-live-1/videos/formed-live-what-is-spirit...

Presenter

Dr. Tim Gray and Dr. Ben Akers.

Length 

30 minutes

Style of Content

Conversation between Dr. Gray and Dr. Akers about the role of Spiritual Communion in our faith life. This is a recorded “live” conversation where the presenters are seated on a set and hold a back and forth discussion.

TBH - The style of the conversation is fine, but not much more than fine. The lighting is a little strange, but overall the video is good enough. Some may not enjoy or easily follow the conversation format. 

Content

The conversation between Dr. Gray and Dr. Akers deftly places the act of Spiritual Communion within the whole context of the spiritual life. What is the purpose of faith and religion? Further, what is the purpose of Spiritual Communion? Answers to these questions and much more are the basis of this conversation about Spiritual Communion. 

Scripture

1 Corinthians 11 & 13, John 14, as well as many quotes from Saints and Church documents. 

Why you should watch this video

If during this time of virtually attending Mass and Spiritual Communion you have been wondering about Spiritual Communion, you can find out more about it through watching this conversation. If you are missing Mass in person and looking forward to receiving the Eucharist again, this video may help you to grow in appreciation for Spiritual Communion. 

Why skip it

The conversation format won’t be for everyone and if you are looking for a linear argument and explanation, you may want to skip it. The presenters can get pretty deep pretty fast, so if you aren’t looking for a rich and deep conversation about the spiritual life, then you should watch something else on FORMED.

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative, and Engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative (1-5 Books)

 📕📕📕📕

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

 💚💚💚

Engaging-ative (1-5 Wows)

😮😮

Ociee Nash FormedReview release date May 1, 2020

Family movie night! Today, I’ve reviewed the movie The Adventures of Ociee Nash. However, I didn’t want to trust my own instinct on what is billed as a heartwarming family-friendly movie (not usually my thing). So I enlisted the whole Kostelc family to watch and review this film. 

If you are looking for a bit of goodness wrapped in a simple plot, then you may just want to pop some popcorn and have a family movie night with this movie. 

Title

The Adventures of Ociee Nash

https://watch.formed.org/the-adventures-of-ociee-nash

Presenter

No presenter - feature length film.

Length 

One hour and forty minutes. 

Style of Content

Family movie with a heartwarming, family friendly adventure. 

TBH - Looks like a real movie. Seemed like the cinematography got better as it went along. “Didn’t look liked it was filmed on an iPhone 4.” High praise from my eldest. 

Content

The Adventures of Ociee Nash is the tale of a nine year old girl being raised on a farm in Mississippi by her father and brothers. When it is decided she is going to go live with her Aunt and learn the ways of a lady, hijinks ensue. It is heartwarming and not overly preachy. The movie is based on Milam McGraw Propst’s award-winning novel, A Flower Blooms on Charlotte Street.

BONUS

I asked my family to give their opinion of the film. Here is what they had to say. 

Wife - “I found this movie to be surprisingly engaging. Even my 2-year-old sat through the first half-hour without moving. The only cringe-worthy part for me was the depiction of a gypsy.” 

My 14-year-old - “Not the worse movie I’ve watched on Formed. Actually I kind of enjoyed it.” 

My 10-year-old - “I liked the movie. It had lots of adventure so it went fast. It was kind of funny. I can’t think of anything I didn’t like about it. I give it 3.5 stars. 4 is great, but it was just less than that.” 

My 2-year-old - “Doggie.” 

Why you should watch this video

If you enjoy family-friendly movies with a straightforward plot and likable characters, you will likely get a chuckle out of this film. If you are looking for something for your family to watch, especially younger elementary-aged children, you will probably enjoy this movie. Honestly, I kept my expectations in check and ended up really enjoying this film. When we had to pause it to put our youngest to bed, I was eager to restart it and watch the rest. Seriously. 

Why skip it

If you are looking for explicitly faith-based movies or typical Hollywood fair, then you may want to skip this. If you are looking for brooding, plot twist-filled, and sophisticated dialogue, why are you looking for a family friendly movie? Go watch a Terrence Malick film. 

The Ratings

For movies on Formed, I am using a different rating system. I think reviewing them with the same standard as a theological study or talk isn’t helpful. Instead, I am reviewing them in terms of All the Feels, Cringy, and Engaging. Engaging - Was the movie engaging or entertaining? Did I want to watch it? Cringy - Was the movie well made? Was the acting good? Did anything make me cringe and not on purpose? Cringe isn’t a good thing.  All the Feels - Did this movie make me feel something? Did this movie transport me to another place and experience the story?

Engaging(1-5 Wows)

 😮😮😮😮

Cringy (1-5 Cringe)

 😬

All the Feels (1-5 Hearts)

💛💛💛💛

MasterpiecesformedRelease review date April 28, 2020

And now for something completely different. So far we’ve listened to talks, watched stand-alone videos, multi-episode learning series, but now I’ve reviewed something completely different. 

Masterpieces is a short documentary on Art and Faith. While watching, you’ll hear about the process of creating art and how five artists found a calling in being artists. The documentary is beautiful and almost a meditation on the arts and faith. 

Title

Masterpieces

https://watch.formed.org/masterpieces

Presenter

No central presenter or host. Five artists are featured: Christopher Allen, Annabelle Moseley, Denis Demirer, Madison Mitchell and Br. Joseph Hoover. 

Length 

35 minutes

Style of Content

Documentary style interviews are spliced with video of the process of producing art and beautiful shots of their artwork. 

TBH - Well shot and beautifully constructed, this documentary wins high marks for style and pace. Seriously, Masterpieces is beautiful. 

Content

Five artists are interviewed about art and their experience of God within the artistic process. This short documentary is an exploration of the vocation of the artist. The central question of how art and faith is examined. 

Scripture

Psalm 19:1

Bonus

St. Pope John Paul II wrote a letter to artists in 1999. One of the subjects of this documentary mentioned it. Click below to read it yourself.

http://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/letters/1999/documents/hf_...

Why you should watch this video

If you find God in the arts or are curious about how an artist of faith finds inspiration, this documentary is for you. If you are looking for a short but beautiful exploration of what it means to be called by God to do something, then check this out. If you need a break from heavy theological learning, this video might just do the trick. 

Why skip it

If the arts or artists aren’t your thing, you may want to skip it. If you are looking for some serious Catechetical study, this isn’t your documentary and you should probably check out something else on formed.org. 

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative, and Engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative (1-5 Books)

 📙📙

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

 💚💚💚

Engaging-ative (1-5 Wows)

😮😮😮😮😮

ckostelc@hnoj.org

Review publish date April 24, 2020

SufferingformedI once heard a priest say that no matter who we are, rich or poor, man or woman, old or young, we have to suffer. I acknowledged that he was probably right, but that he didn’t mean me or the people I loved. At a time when it feels like the whole world is suffering, it makes it harder to deny that priest’s statement. 

Why do we suffer? Dr. Scott Hahn tackles this important and difficult question in his audio talk “Making Sense out of Suffering.” And he nails it. If you have ever questioned why a loving God would have us suffer, then you should consider giving this talk a listen. 

Title

Making Sense Out of Suffering

https://watch.formed.org/making-sense-out-of-suffering-by-dr-scott-hahn/...

Presenter

Dr. Scott Hahn. Dr. Hahn is a gifted presenter with incredible presence, clear style, and well organized content. Honestly Dr. Hahn is one of the absolute best Catholic presenters out there. I’ve never listened to him speak without my faith and heart being changed. 

Length 

About 1 hour. 

Style of Content

Audio talk with an audience. 

TBH - As audio talks go, this one is great. Dr. Hahn has a pep in his voice that keeps one’s attention and there is an audience which adds to the experience. 

Content

Dr. Hahn seeks to answer the question, “Why do we suffer?” The talks purpose is to give meaning to what otherwise looks like meaningless pain. By using scripture and Church teaching Dr. Hahn clearly outlines the role of suffering in the spiritual life. 

Scripture

Colossians 1:24 and Hebrews 5:7-10 are featured. The story of Jesus’ Crucifixion is also described.

Why you should listen to this talk

If you want to change your experience of suffering and understand better why we suffer, then this talk is for you. If you are currently suffering in anyway, this talk can help you understand how God can use that suffering and help you become a saint. 

Also, if you want to hear one aspect of the secret genius of our Catholic faith, this talk will bring you up to speed. 

Why skip it

If audio talks aren’t your thing, then maybe figure out something else on formed.org. 

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative, and Engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative (1-5 Books)

 📙📙📙📙

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

 💚💚💚💚💚

Engaging-ative (1-5 Wows)

😮😮😮😮

Review publish date April 21, 2020

HappinessformedWhat do you want out of life? A lot of people’s answer is the same - Happiness. Yet, we don’t often talk about happiness or the good life in the context of faith. This video series from The Magis Center and Fr. Robert Spitzer SJ, does address what happiness and faith have to do with each other. 

Note Bene: I promise I won’t make a habit of this, but I also reviewed this series on just the first handful of episodes. 

Title

Happiness

https://watch.formed.org/happiness-1/season:1

Presenter

Jenny and Eric (actors?) are the main co-presenters and are clearly heavily scripted. 

Also, we hear from Fr. Robert Spitzer SJ, the intelligent and enthusiastic priest behind the Magis Center, the organization that made this video. He has a love for this topic and has developed much of the content. As a presenter or teacher he can either draw people in or potentially turn them off.  There are also many other experts and interviews throughout the series. 

Length 

Seven episodes long series each ranging from 23-41 minutes long.

Style of Content

Co-presenters narrate and explain concepts which are illustrated with animations and further unpacked by experts. 

TBH - The production is a little dated. It’s not as beautiful or well made as some other series on Formed. 

Content

This series seeks to answer the question - What is happiness? They lean on some pretty significant research, modern studies of humanity, and classic philosophy to answer that question and present it in a way that most people can understand. The content is solid, thought-provoking, and helpful in reflecting on one’s own life. 

Bonus

You can download a free study guide for this series too! But be warned, it is big one! Loads of pages with content spread wide. 

Why you should watch this video

The topic of happiness is so central to establishing what we want out of life and why we live the way we do. It is important to be reflective of our beliefs, actions, and desires in light of seeking happiness. If you want to take some time to review how you might be happier, then you should watch this video. 

Why skip it

Jenny and Eric are presenters that will not resonate with everyone. Their examples sometimes seem even trite or silly. If you can’t get past somewhat stilted presenters and the occasional awkward production choice, you should probably try something else. 

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative, and Engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative (1-5 Books)

📘📘📘

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

💚💚💚

Engaging-ative (1-5 Wows)

😮😮

Review publication date April 17, 2020

Divinemercy FormedThis coming Sunday is Divine Mercy Sunday which means the entire Catholic Church will celebrate this beautiful and profound mystery of God’s mercy for us. The teaching of the Divine Mercy was an important one for St. Pope John Paul II and has often been cited by Pope Francis. Yet, such an important teaching of the Church is still a mystery to many of us. 

If the teaching on the Divine Mercy is new to you or you only know of the Divine Mercy chaplet and image, then watching this video will aid you understanding why the whole Church celebrates the Divine Mercy this Sunday. 

Note Bene - This review was conducted after having watched just the first 3 episodes of the series. I plan on watching rest over the weekend and if my review changes, I will update it. I finished the series and found my review remained true. Jesus, I trust in you!

Title

Divine Mercy with Fr. Michael Gaitley

In the Second Greatest Story Ever Told

https://watch.formed.org/divine-mercy-with-fr-michael-gaitley

Presenter

Fr. Michael Gaitley. Fr. Gaitley is a clear presenter who demonstrates his care for Divine Mercy and sharing its good news with the world. He is a joyful priest and his only knock as a presenter is that can talk a little fast for some viewers. 

Length 

10 Episodes of various lengths between 18 and 36 minutes long. 

Style of Content

A mix of presenter teaching, classic religious art, historical photographs, scripture, Church teaching, and reflections on our beliefs as Catholics.

TBH - Professionally produced with loads of great images and graphics to further illustrate the content. You won’t be bored. 

Content

This study accomplishes what it sets out to do. It clearly and with great depth explains the teaching of Divine Mercy. By placingDivine Mercy within the context of God’s plan for our salvation and by giving more modern revelations of God’s Divine Mercy in the lives of many Saints, this study helps the viewer to grow in understanding, appreciation and devotion to the Divine Mercy. 

Bonus

A Digital Study Guide is available for download with the study series.

Scripture

Genesis and the Old Testament is featured in the first episode, while John 15, Romans 6, the Resurrection appearances, and other New Testament scripture is unpacked in the second episode. Scripture is woven throughout the series. 

Why you should watch this study

If you want to understand the Divine Mercy, then this video is for you. If you need to see how God wants to pour mercy into your life, you should watch this study. If you want to know why the Sunday after Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday, you can find out in this study. 

Why skip it

This study is a heavy dose of Fr. Michael Gaitley. If you don’t like his style, you’ll have a lot of him to watch to get the content. With 11 episodes it is a great deal of material to get through. 

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative, and Engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative (1-5 Books)

 📘📘📘📘

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

 💜💜💜

Engaging-ative  (1-5 Wows)

😮😮😮😮

Review publication date Tuesday, April 14

Presence FormedIn the midst of being socially isolated and with the absence of public Masses being said in our Archdiocese, we can feel pretty separated not only from each other, but from the Eucharist as well. This might just be the time to learn a little more about the Eucharist and Mass. 

Today I review Presence a study series on FORMED.org. Maybe learning about the Eucharist while being absent from it will be difficult. My hope is that learning about Jesus and Eucharist will bring us closer when we feel far from it. 

Title

Presence

https://watch.formed.org/presence/season:1

Presenter

An ensemble of theologian, catechists, and missionaries Chris Stefanick, Dr. Ed Sri, Deb Holiday, Dr. Time Gray, Jim Beckman, Luis Soto, Dr. Sean Innerst, Dr. Mark Giszczak, Dr. Scott Powell among others. 

Length 

Three Sessions, each last 35-40 minutes. Plus four bonus videos about the Eucharist including one design for Children to get an up close view of altar during Mass. 

Style of Content

A mix of narrated images, talking-head teaching and explanations of scriptures, works of art, reenactments of historical moments, scriptural scenes, and saint stories. 

TBH - One of the best produced and most professional looking things on FORMED. Honestly, the study is fast paced and full of rich and engaging images and content.

Content

Starting with examples of heroic devotion and the power of the Eucharist from the lives of Saints, the Presence study goes on to explain what the Eucharist is, why we believe what we believe, and why it should matter to us. There is a strong connection made between God’s plan for our salvation, Jesus Christ, Holy Scripture and the Church’s practice of the Mass. 

BONUS

Digital Study guide available for download!

Scripture

Exodus 3, Acts 2:42, Psalms, John 6, Last Supper accounts, Multiplication of Loaves, and many books of the New and Old Testament are discussed and explained in light of the Eucharist. 

Why you should watch this video

You should watch this video if you want your faith in and understanding of the Eucharist to deepen and grow. If you want to make your participation at Mass more meaningful, you should watch this study series. If you want to grow in your desire for God, understand better His plan for your Salvation, or Mass to be a powerful moment of faith no matter the distractions, this video is for you. 

Why skip it

If you are looking for an intellectually heavy scripture study or lighthearted romanic comedy with the unlikely coupling of a bumbling hero and uptight heroine, then maybe skip this video series. 

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how informative, transformative, and engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative (1-5 Books)

📘📘📘📘📘

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

💚💚💚💚

Engaging-ative (1-5 Wows)

😮😮😮😮

TriduumAs we pray through Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday it can be easy to forget that these things really, truly happened. The people are real, the events are real, and the places are real. Seeing the actual physical locations of Jesus’ last days of earthly ministry can be helpful for our faith. In light of that we review a new video from FORMED.org - Triduum: A Spiritual Pilgrimage. 

Title

Triduum: A Spiritual Pilgrimage

https://watch.formed.org/triduum-a-spiritual-pilgrimage/videos/triduum

Presenter

Dr. Ben Akers narrates this video by mixing scripture and meditations to further reveal the true beauty of the images of the video. 

Length 

About 30 minutes.

Style of Content

Narrated tour of the Holy Land in the format of a guided meditation. 

TBH - Honestly, this video is beautifully shot with sweeping views of the Holy Land and the Churches associated with the scenes of the last three days of Jesus’ earthly ministry. The only detraction is sometimes the music associated is a little overwhelming. 

Content

This video is a 30 minute retreat using meditations and reflections narrated over stunning visuals from the Holy Land. You will see many of the most famous sites from the city of Jerusalem and the surrounding area. In addition classic paintings of Jesus and the disciples are used to illustrate the scriptures. Occasionally Dr. Akers pops up during the narration, but mostly just leads the meditations while we see scenes of the holy sites of Jerusalem. 

Scripture

Scripture from Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection from all four gospels are used for the meditations. 

Why you should watch this video

If a 30 minute visual retreat revealing the sights of the Holy Land and sacred art would help you enter into the Triduum more profoundly, then you should watch this video. If seeing the holy sites of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection would help you know your faith and deepen your prayer this Easter, then you should watch this video. 

Why skip it

If you are looking for a study of scripture or something a little light hearted, then go ahead and find another piece of content on FORMED.org. 

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how informative, transformative, and engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative (1-5 Books)

📘📘📘

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

 💚💚💚💚

Engaging-ative (1-5 Wows)

😮😮😮😮😮

Review Publication Date April 7, 2020

Intro

Holy Week is full of traditions and prayers that help us to remember the scriptural accounts of the week leading up to Jesus death and resurrection. By taking a deeper look at what Jesus does and says during this week, we can grow in our practice of preparing for and celebrating Easter. In turn, we will grow closer to Jesus Christ. 

Dr. Brant Pitre explains the scriptural roots of Holy Week in an hour-long talk that will help unpack the meaning of what we do now and what Jesus did in the very first Holy Week. 

Title

The Jewish Roots of Holy Week

https://watch.formed.org/holy-week-triduum/videos/the-jewish-roots-of-ho...

Presenter

Dr. Brant Pitre is a dynamic presenter who clearly loves his material and is thrilled to share it with us. His material is full of “ah-ha” moments that he clearly presents with a direct and enthusiastic presenting style. 

Length 

About 1 hour

Style of Content

Audio Talk - no video. 

TBH - Dr. Petrie is an insightful Biblical Scholar who genuinely is excited to shares what he knows about the topic, which is evident in the talk. He has unbridled enthusiasm for his topic. if you like unbridled enthusiasm, then he is your cup of tea.

Content

Dr. Pitre walks through each day - Palm Sunday through Holy Saturday - and explains the scriptural description of the first Holy Week, how Jesus fulfills the Old Testament prophesy and historical context of our gospel accounts of Jesus’ road to the Cross and Resurrection. Dr. Pitre enjoys asking “Why?” about things we take for granted in scripture and then blows us away with an insightful answer that helps us know Jesus and the Gospel better. 

Scripture

Select readings from the passion, death and resurrection accounts from Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John. In addition, many Old Testament scriptures are referenced. 

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative, and Engaging I find that resource. Information refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative (1-5 Books)  

📗📗📗📗📗

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

💙💙💙

Engaging-ative (1-5 Wows)

😮😮😮😮

Why you should watch this video

If you enjoy having the scriptures explained in such a way where you say “Oh wow, I didn’t know that” or “Ahhhh, Now I understand” then this talk is for you. You will encounter Ah-Ha after Ah-Ha listening to Dr. Pitre make connections and fully reveal hidden gem after hidden gem in the scripture relating to Holy Week. If you want to know the reason why we celebrate Holy Week as Catholics, you should watch this video. 

Why skip it

If you would rather see a video or don’t like to nerd out over scripture, you should probably skip it. 

FormedbrotherfrancisReview publication date April 2, 2020

If your family is anything like mine, adjusting to this new normal of staying home has taken some getting used to. Last week the Church celebrated an important feast - The Annunciation -  on March 25. In the midst of our new normal that celebration fell through the cracks. 

Luckily, FORMED.org has a short little Bible Study all about the Annunciation presented by Dr. Ben Akers. If you want to know why this feast is so important, then you may want to check out this short, single session Bible Study of Luke 1:26-38. 

Here is my review of the video study available free online at FORMED.org. 

Title

A Bible Study on the Annunciation 

https://watch.formed.org/faith-at-home/videos/a-bible-study-on-the-annun...

Presenter

Dr. Ben Akers is a clear communicator and good presenter who mostly gets down to business interpreting scripture. Good energy and enthusiasm. Not a lot of stories or examples.

Length 

About 30 minutes.

Style of Video

Recorded talk with one camera and no illustrations or other video or images.

TBH - High Quality and Clear, but pretty much just a 30-minute talk, walking through the scripture Luke 1:26-38. Dr. Ben Akers is a quality presenter, but this is a recorded talk as basic as it gets.

Content

An explanation of the Annunciation found in Luke 1:26-38. Dr. Ben Akers often explains the Greek text and possible translations and explores the theological implications of the text. Dr. Akers also applies these theological outcomes to our daily life.

Scripture

Luke 1:26-38

Various Old Testament references that relate to the primary text. 

The Ratings

I am rating each resource in terms of how Informative, Transformative, and Engaging I find that resource. Informative refers to how much information and how well the video presents that faith knowledge. Transformative refers to how well the resource invites participants to conform their life to follow Jesus Christ. Engaging (-ative) refers to how entertaining, gripping, or interesting I find the resource. 

Informative (1-5 Books)

 📕📕📕📕

Transformative (1-5 Hearts)

 💛💛💛

Engaging-ative (1-5 Wows)

😮😮

Why you should watch this video

If you are looking for a deeper understanding of the Annunciation, why it is a big deal, and why Mary is a powerful example of faith, then you should watch this video. If you like taking a deep dive into a piece of scripture and applying what it means to your daily life, this video is for you. 

Why skip it

If you are looking for sweeping videos of the Holy Land or an entertaining story with quips and jokes, then maybe skip this one.

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