In this time of deprivation, one ministry that has stepped up in leadership is FORMED, a collaboration between the Augustine Institute and Ignatius Press. FORMED, already a household name for many Catholic homes and parishes, was on the brink of its one millionth subscriber as of late March. They’re currently offering a seven-day free trial for all new subscribers — visit https://formed.org for details.

I spoke with Dr. Tim Gray, President of the Augustine Institute, who provided me with some insights about his hopes for how FORMED can continue to serve the Church.

 

1.) Tell me a little about FORMED in terms of how people have come to use it recently.

FORMED is keeping us busy. This week, we surpassed a million current subscribers and are seeing over 100,000 unique users on FORMED every single day. People are at home, and are anxious. People are looking to God, spiritually hungry, but can't go to Mass. They can use FORMED to pray and worship, and there is a lot of content for kids. We are scrambling to help provide that for everyone. The last few weeks have actually been far busier than usual for us, even as the world in general has slowed down. We have had 40 dioceses call us since the pandemic escalated in the U.S., because their parishioners can't attend Mass, so they want to get FORMED for their parishes. Bishop Joseph Tyson of the Diocese of Yakima in Washington state, an area particularly impacted by the coronavirus, wants to get FORMED for everyone in his diocese.

 

2.) What hope do we have in the midst of this global coronavirus situation?

I feel sorry for those who don’t have faith. Our faith grounds us. When you look at Christians, and the way that we have approached plagues, economic downturns and other crises throughout history, we Christians have responded differently than the pagans. During plagues, Christians have gone in to help, even at the risk of contracting the sickness and death. We Christians view the world differently. God is the one who will restore all things in the end. As Paul says in Romans 8:35, “What will separate us from the love of Christ?” (see Romans 8:35-39). Only our willful sin can separate us from the Lord. For those who don't have the same Christian mindset, they tend to absolutize situations, rather than see our circumstances in terms of eternity. For every Christian who roots himself in the Word of God daily, our convictions and hope can be sustained, even in the midst of difficult times.

 

3.) What do you hope for in the long run for those who use FORMED?

I hope that subscribers find encouragement and spiritual inspiration. That is what we find from users’ testimonies, and that lifts me up. People need to be encouraged during this season, in this challenging era. My family has found inspiration, and that is what I hope others do as well. The ultimate goal is to bring people closer to God.