Hoping to provide for all of you whose New Year’s resolutions included adding a regular source of Catholic formation beyond the Mass into your life (if you don’t have that built in yet), here are some recommendations.
First of all, I think it could be pretty easy to take control of your casual radio time. Some people can spend hours just listening to whatever the local AM or FM channel feeds them. If you have access to Sirius Radio, how about listening to EWTN (channel 130)? If you look them up on the website, you can get a program schedule, if you want to see what’s on at a particular hour of the day. Or without a subscription you could listen to one of the following Catholic radio channels: Redeemer Radio (FM: Fort Wayne 106.3, Michiana 95.7, Bryan/Angola 89.9); St. Gabriel Catholic Radio out of Columbus, Ohio AM 820, Annunciation Radio (Toledo 89.7). Catholic radio channels across the country almost always include a significant part of EWTN programming. There is a wide range of spiritual and catechetical shows. Throughout my priesthood, I have encountered many people’s lives that have been very nourished by Catholic radio.
Another way of taking control of your listening time would be to plan ahead and download podcasts that you can play from your smart phone onto the car radio or another Bluetooth-friendly device. You can usually download a podcast app that will automatically update a particular show each day. There is a very fine and entertaining podcast called “Catholic Stuff You Should Know”. It is created by a diocesan religious order called the Companions of Christ. You download a media/podcast player app onto your smart phone, and then you search for “catholic-stuff-you-should-know/companions-of-christ”. The earliest podcasts (six years ago when they started) were less than 10 minutes each, and now they tend to be about 30-40 minutes each. If you Google “Catholic Stuff You Should Know Companions of Christ” the website page will come up for you with instructions. Scroll through the programs, and you will get a feel for how awesome the topics are. The format is a conversation among two or three priests. Plenty of spontaneous humor and bantering as each topic is covered. But the content is always absolutely solid. I am pretty familiar with the Companions of Christ.
Another podcast option would be to go to internet address “Avemariaradio.net” out of Ann Arbor. There is a podcast of a talk show called “Kresta in the Afternoon”. It is a two hour show each afternoon. Many contemporary news items are treated from a Catholic perspective. The authors of new books are interviewed, so you get summaries on wonderful new books. Church leaders are sometimes interviewed on timely topics. New church programs are explored (such as YDisciple, or the Virtue Education Program of the Ann Arbor Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist). Also available on this website are podcasts of “Catholic Connection”, which covers a wide range of doctrinal, spiritual, moral topics each week.
Next on the list of resources for Catholic formation is the website of Catholic Answers (www.catholic.com). Catholic Answers can also be accessed via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. On their YouTube channel I know there are hundreds of short videos covering an amazing range of apologetic topics (answering the question “why?” for so many areas of Catholic life). There are also many printed materials you could order and download from this website, especially relatively short tracts covering all kinds of Catholic teaching. This is a website that can be trusted to be solidly from the heart of the Church.
Another YouTube channel option is Young Catholic Minutes. These are very short scenarios that illustrate the answers to questions such as “Why do I have to go to Mass?”, “How far is too far?”, “Why is contraception wrong?”, “Why do I have to listen to the pope?”, etc. Each video is less than three minutes long.
For staying up with the news from a Catholic perspective, consider a daily email from “NewAdvent.org”. This is my primary email newsfeed for things Catholic, and I find that I am usually up on all the latest news nationally and internationally in the Church. On this site you will also find the original Catholic Encyclopedia, as well as the Summa Theologiae of St. Thomas Aquinas. Super resources!
Another great website for Catholic news is the National Catholic Register (www.ncregister.com). Also, check out the Catholic News Agency (www.catholicnewsagency.com) This is the very reliable news feed that supplies our parish website and app.
With that in mind, please download our parish app, if you’ve not done so. There you will have a resource of prayers, confession preparation, the parish website, the parish electronic events calendar, the parish Facebook page, the news feed, etc., etc. Using our parish app for ongoing formation is a no-brainer. And that brings to mind our weekly bulletin as well. I am learning that there are actually adults in our parish who do not yet read the bulletin (young adults included!!). If you know somebody around you who does not read the bulletin, please encourage them to do so. We very intentionally include regular faith-formation blocks in the bulletin: Saints quotes on the Eucharist, a paragraph from the official Catechism of the Catholic Church, a snippet from Pope Francis’ Jubilee Year of Mercy document, etc. We do this to make it as easy as possible for any parishioner to have very quick access to some meditation-worthy material each week. You have automatically provided for you super-solid stuff that you can actually take to prayer! My bulletin letters are meant to keep everybody in touch with pastoral and finance council proceedings, but also keep people in touch with my thoughts on various topics, as well as providing what I hope is some pretty solid teaching on issues I judge to be pertinent as your pastor. So reading the bulletin each week is another no-brainer as a part of your personal faith formation. Finally, regarding resources which are already part of our parish life, consider signing up on the FORMED.org website under our parish, using the login code which is often printed in the bulletin as a reminder. There are many fine educational video programs available there. Most programs are divided up into segments of half an hour or less, so it is easy to take in a little bit of time. (Imagine a married couple being rejuvenated by watching the “Beloved” series, which is often used for marriage preparation.)
A constant official resource for doctrine, the sacraments, morality and spirituality is the Catechism of the Catholic Church. You can find an online electronic version of the Catechism at http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc.htm. There is an index of topics that can help you answer any particular question you have about the Faith. You just have to be able to look up your topic as you would in a dictionary. Then there is a link to paragraph numbers that pertain. The hardcopy version, available online or at any bookstore, has the same indices.
For a plethora of resources regarding reading the Bible from a Catholic perspective, check out the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology: https://stpaulcenter.com/. This is Scott Hahn’s organization. There are Bible studies, short weekly blogs on the Sunday readings, a host of library suggestions, etc.
For solid, trustworthy Catholic publishing companies, consider Ignatius Press (www.ignatius.com). You have to get on their website and check out the many resources they have: books for education and inspiration on the saints, theology, sacraments, life issues, philosophy, prayer, etc. They also have all of this at a level for children. Hundreds of the books are actually available electronically for your iPad. This is a favorite Catholic publishing company of mine, and has been for years.). Sophia Institute Press (www.sophiainstitute.com) is another favorite of mine for many years. They have many, many good books in the areas of spiritual growth, angels and saints, apologetics, marriage and family. They also have about 30 children’s titles, primarily Saints stories, or other heroic Catholics.). Another reliable source is Midwest Theological Forum (www.theologicalforum.org). This publisher is definitely a bit more academic in nature. This company is most known for its “Didache Series” of materials. Most famous is the four-volume high school/college-aged textbook series, covering each of the four pillars of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: Creed, Sacraments, Morality, Prayer. Our Sunday Visitor is another pretty reliable resource that I would check out for educational and inspirational materials.
My favorite daily devotional is the Magnificat (http://us.magnificat.net/home) although I know there are other fine ones out there. Magnificat has a kids’ version as well. Great way to help your kids through the Mass each week!
So there are a bunch of ideas for finding something to listen to or read in an ongoing way for your faith formation. If you ever need help finding something specific, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,