Friday, January 13, 2017

Will You Take the Challenge of Bringing Your Family Closer to God? A Review of the Be Not Afraid Family Hour

Pursuing holiness is challenging, isn’t it? All sorts of obstacles, trials, and temptations can lead us to fumble around, fall, and sin. Furthermore, not only are we called to follow God, but we need to help others in their journey to Heaven! Choosing to follow God and seeking to be holy is tough, but so very important. Parents have a particularly pivotal role in helping their children grow closer to God. Pope Benedict XVI notes that,
“The Second Vatican Council speaks of parents as the first messengers of God, called to rediscover their mission, taking responsibility in educating…They are called to open small minds to the love of God as a fundamental service to their lives, being the first catechists and teachers of the faith to their children…” ~General Audience on November 28, 2012
If this isn’t a daunting task, I don’t know what is.

Thankfully, there are many fabulous resources to help parents as they bring their families closer to God. One such resource is the Be Not Afraid Family Hour, by the Apostolate for Family Consecration. This series provides a structured, approachable, simple, and profound way for families to grow in the Faith together.

~ Many thanks to the Apostolate for Family Consecration, for providing a copy of the Be Not Afraid Family Hour in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. ~

What is the Be Not Afraid Family Hour?

Image is courtesy of the Apostolate for Family Consecration. 
Used with permission.
Each Be Not Afraid Family Hour involves one hour of education, inspiration, and prayer. Dynamic Catholic speakers instruct families on various matters of the Faith. There are also inspiring testimonies, where various Catholics show how they are choosing to serve God. Finally, each episode concludes by guiding the family in a Rosary together. Sprinkled throughout each episode are challenges for families, called “The 6 Principles Challenges.” These are concrete ways in which families practice the virtues, further their knowledge of the Faith, and help others.

What did I think of the Be Not Afraid Family Hour?

As I pulled out “Episode 9: Identity in Christ,” I was struck by the attractive package design. I thought the color scheme was nice, and while some people may desire a fancier package, I was perfectly fine with the no-frills cardboard case. The text of the logo on the cover was a little difficult to read, since it was red lettering on a red background, though. Otherwise, I liked the physical appearance.
The AFC Tracking Guide is a handy resource for keeping track
of progress on the 6 Principles Challenges throughout the month.  
When I began the program, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the DVD menu (this may seem like a weird characteristic to narrow in on, but I’ve seen far too many religious products that have lousy DVD menus). The episode continued to impress me with its quality in video, editing, music, and presentations. 

The episode launched into a talk by Fr. Joseph Freedy, a young priest from the diocese of Pittsburgh. Fr. Freedy was engaging as he gave a lively series of short segments about finding one’s identity in Christ. Following this talk, Brother James of the Holy Spirit spoke about his Faith journey. I found his story of being a cradle Catholic, who came alive in the Faith as a teenager, very encouraging.

In the next segment of the episode, Theresa Baker, a young Catholic woman, discussed her struggles when her mother became very ill. As she described the darkness and difficulty of that time, and how she had to let “being a teenager” step aside while she cared for her family members, I was struck by what a powerful witness she was. Following Theresa’s short talk, there was a clip about The Pilgrim Project. While I thought it was interesting to learn about this program, the transition in the episode was a little jarring to me at first. It seemed that this short segment did not follow the same format as the rest of the episode, and took me by surprise.

Finally, the Rosary began. I typically am not a huge fan of guided Rosaries, but I found
myself really enjoying this one! I liked the peaceful, simple scenes that were acted out leading into each decade of the Joyful Mysteries. 

Image is courtesy of the Apostolate for Family Consecration.
Used with permission.
I did think it was strange that each mystery was not verbally announced, and only acted out (though the title of each mystery was put onscreen briefly), because little children who can’t read could be confused or lose track of the decades. Also, if any blind children are present, they would need the verbal cue. Overall, I thought the Rosary was very well done. I especially liked how, at the beginning of the 3rd Joyful Mystery, the video focused on a shepherd in the field. I also loved that at the end of the Rosary, there was a prayer to St. Joseph.

Following the Rosary, all of the 6 Principles Challenges were presented together. Not only was this a great way to pick how to grow in the Faith, but it was also a fantastic way review the major points of the episode. Also, I want to note that on the Main Menu, the “About AFC Promo” is a fantastic, short video that covers the importance of parents educating their children in the Faith. So, definitely watch this segment before or after the episode!

In summary

The Be Not Afraid Family Hour is a high-quality resource to aid faith formation. I love that it involves the entire family learning and growing together, instead of the various family members listening to different talks. People of all ages and backgrounds will be able to find something in the episode to discuss and grow from, no matter if they are a nominal Catholic or a devout Catholic! I appreciate how adaptable this program is to a variety of settings: Each hour-long episode can be done once a month, or broken into shorter segments over a month. While it is geared towards families, it can also be used for groups of high school students. It can be done in the home or at larger parish events. Over a dozen episodes of the Family Hour have been released, covering a variety of topics, such as “Fitness and Faith,” “Creating Your Family’s Mission,” and “Four Steps to be a Great Catholic Leader.” Each DVD is $9.95, which I think is a very reasonable price for a great resource that parishes and families can use. 

Seeking holiness can be difficult, and bringing our families to God is a challenge. As we go forth in life, this resource has amazing potential in helping us strengthen ourselves, our families, and our culture. I recommend checking out the Apostolate for Family Consecration and learning more about their work!

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