My Review of The Way of Saint James Saturday, Feb 18 2012 

Originally submitted at Aquinas and More

Over the lovely “Camino de Santiago”, the Way of St. James, which is the ancient route leading from the Pyrenees to the famous and ancient shrine of Santiago de Compostela, this documentary followsthe journey of several pilgrims who differ in culture and religious faith, united only by a …

Informative but a bit too secular

By Fran from Colorado Springs on 2/18/2012
3out of 5

Pros: Spanish Landscape, Camino hints, Spanish Churches

DVD, English subtitles
English commentary

For anybody even considering doing the Camino de Santiago, this DVD gives you a good idea about the landscape and towns you will encounter. It convinced me that I can do at least part of the pilgrimage because not all of Spain is in the mountains. It provided interesting information about the origins of the camino as well as the meaning of the name Santiago de Compostela.

However, I was hoping to hear more about the spiritual aspects of this pilgrimage. Most of the people interviewed were doing the camino for secular reasons such as meeting a new challenge, getting away, etc. Since the camino at its heart is a spiritual pilgrimage, I was put off by the lack of emphasis on that aspect.

Also, the commentator said more than once something about the “worship of St. James.” NO, NO, NO! Catholics do not make the pilgrimage to worship the remains of St. James. Venerate, yes, but worship, definitely not.

While the commentary was in English, all of the interviews had subtitles because they were not dubbed. I am getting tired of having to read DVDs!



Saint Movies for February Tuesday, Jan 31 2012 

There are four feasts for which I could find movies in February–Our Lady of Lourdes, St. Valentine, St. Bernadette and St. Josephine Bakhita.  The story of Our Lady of Lourdes (feast February 11)  is told in two documentary DVDs titled Woman Clothed with the Sun:  Zaragosa, Guadalupe and Lourdes and The Miracles of Lourdes.  A recent film,  Lourdes – A Study of Faith, Science and Miracles is an intriguing story of a non-believing journalist whose research leads him to a bit of his own family history and whose own life is affected by what he uncovers.   The feast of St. Bernadette is on February 18, so you might want to check out Bernadette or the old favorite The Song of Bernadette, which has been reformatted for widescreen.  A new film about Bernadette is called Bernadette of Lourdes, which is especially appealing to children because all the actors are children and young adults.  One story told, particularly for children is Bernadette – The Princess of Lourdes, the ever-popular animated version which is engaging to the very young.   But what of Bernadette after the visions ended?  You will find The Passion of Bernadette fascinating as you follow her beyond the grotto of Lourdes.

A relatively unknown saint is Josephine Bakhita, the first saint from Sudan whose feast is February 8.  Her story is compelling and is relevant today because the suffering in Sudan continues.    Her story is told in a newer film called Bakhita:  From Slave to Saint.    Though the movie is in Italian with English subtitles, you will be drawn in to this beautiful story.    Bakhita  found her sanctification through the trials she endured and is an inspiration for all of us.

Of course, the saint everybody celebrates but few know why, is St. Valentine, whose feast is February 14.  Learn the true story of this in third-century martyr in the film, The First Valentine.

Films are a great way to bring to life those people who have lived lives of heroic virtue and fidelity.  Why not plan a family film night and get to know one of the many saints of the Church whose feast is celebrated this month?  You won’t be disappointed.

Re-visiting Saints by the Month Saturday, Dec 31 2011 

OK.  So I am starting on my first resolution for 2012–that is, to do a bit more blogging and update my Saint Movie recommendations monthly.  The movies are good for family viewing and can be used as part of the homeschooling curriculum.

In 2008, I could only find a couple of saint movies for the month of January.  To the movies about St. John Bosco is now to be added The Dreams of Don Bosco featuring Doug Barry of Radix fame.   The feast of St. John Bosco is January 31.  Be sure to invoke his intercession for editors and those who work with young boys on this day.

The feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is on January 4.  A recent movie called Time for Miracles tells the story of a wealthy American woman who was reduced to poverty when her husband died of tuberculosis in 1803.  She converted to Catholicism and shocked her society friends as well as her family by doing so.   Nevertheless, she forged ahead and founded the American Sisters of Charity, the first American parochial school and left a legacy of hospitals and orphanages, as well as over 20 communities of nuns around the country.  This “can-do” woman is a model for all Catholic women, as she shows us what can be done, no matter what the odds are against us.  St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is the patroness of many causes:  against problems with in-laws, against the death of children and parents, for people ridiculed for their piety, and for widows.   She is a good advocate for teachers and homeschool parents because she was so dedicated to the education of children.  

Following the feast of St. Elizabeth Seton is, of course, the Feast of the Epiphany when we commemorate the visit of the three wise men to the Christ Child.   The Fourth Wise Man, while not one of the three, represents all of us and our journey to the Christ Child, no matter how long it takes.

UP Sunday, May 31 2009 


I’m not big on animated pictures generally, but I loved Up.  Always the skeptic with Hollywood anything, I was pleasantly surprised by this latest Pixar movie.

This is a movie you can take your kids to.  The very tender littles may have problems with the dogs which alternate between being humorous and menacing.  The story has all the essential elements to draw you in:  believable characters, positive family values, a villain, adventure, an unexpected twist, humor and great animation.  The movie is in the theaters in both regular and 3-D format. 

For plot details, read here.

Fireproof Tuesday, Sep 23 2008

This is a movie with a good message and lots of Catholic endorsements.  It starts this weekend and needs support to stay in the theaters beyond its first showing.  Give it a try and let me know what you think.  I will concede up front that there are some things in this marriage I would like to have seen (like children), and since it was done by evangelicals, the delivery is a bit different than we are used to, but the message is good, nevertheless, and there is enough action to keep it from just being a “chick” flick.

Saint Movies for September Sunday, Aug 24 2008 

As we continue our monthly saint movies, I am deviating a little bit because of the two upcoming political conventions at the end of August.  As we watch the conventions and are preparing to vote in November, it might be helpful to ground ourselves and our own convictions with the memorable story of St. Thomas More,  A Man for All Seasons.  St. Thomas More chose to die for what was right and true rather than capitulate in the conflict with his friend King Henry VIII over the king’s divorce from Ann Boleyn and his refusal to swear the Oath of Supremacy which would declare the king as the head of the Church in England.  A wonderful family man, a loyal servant, Thomas More said of himself…”The king’s good servant, but God’s first.”   For a wonderful teaching about this holy martyr of conscience, read the first page of the bulletin from Holy Ghost Church in Denver. 

During the month of September, the Church puts Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta and St. Pio of Pietrelcina before us.

Blessed Mother Teresa died on September 5, 1997, and was beatified by Pope John Paul II on October 10, 2003.  Because Mother Teresa lived in our day, there are volumes written about her life and many are first-hand accounts by people who knew her.  She founded the Missionaries of Charity to work among the poor and dying in the streets of Calcutta.  Her work drew the attention of the world’s leaders and among other honors, she received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.  Her fame did not affect her, however, and she boldly talked about the culture of life versus the culture of death in the presence of the rich and powerful.  She believed in the inherent dignity and worth of every human being and lived her life serving others.

 Mother Teresa  is considered the definitive story of her life.  This film, shot in ten countries, was five years in the making.  It shows how Mother Teresa was able to do her work without getting entangled in the political, religious and social barriers which could have discouraged a less determined missionary. 

Mother Teresa:  The Legacy was the official film for the beatification of Mother Teresa.  It contains interviews with Mother Teresa and chronicles her legacy.

 My favorite pick for a Mother Teresa movie is Mother Teresa:  Her Heart Found the Forgotten, Her Faith Found a Way, which stars Olivia Hussey whom we first met in Romeo and Juliet years ago.  More recently she has performed in Jesus of Nazareth and The Jeweler’s Shop.  In this film, Olivia Hussey portrays the fearless missionary with a vision, the holy nun, and the servant of the poor. 

A different format is an animated film called The Fifth Word:  Mother Teresa of Calcutta.  This film is a documentary in the “Giants of Peace” collection and was nominated for the Mother Teresa International Film Festival in Calcutta.

Padre Pio’s feast day is September 23.  Francesco was born into a shepherd’s family and entered the Capuchin novitiate at the age of 15.  This holy priest received the stigmata at the age of 30 while praying before a crucifix.  He was a gifted confessor, and it was said that he could read hearts.  It was reported  that some people would deliberately conceal their sins or confess false sins and Padre Pio would admonish them to tell the truth and repent.  Padre Pio endured excruciating physical suffering coupled with great joy and persecution during his life.  He died in 1968 and was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2002.  There are numerous documentaries about this contemporary saint and a couple of dramatizations as well.  In the award-winning film, Padre Pio, Miracle Man,  the viewer meets the young boy and follows him throughout his life up to the time of his death.  The Night of the Prophet is told through the eyes of a journalist who while seeking a story, discovered in Padre Pio a man who lived Christian purity and charity to the utmost.   Even skeptics were moved by this saint, and countless thousands were privileged to confess to him and receive his blessing. 

August Saint Movies Thursday, Jul 31 2008 

When I compiled the list of saint movies by date, there were two saint movies for August, but one which is about Edith Stein is no longer available unless you can get hold of a VHS format.  Her story is good, though, so you might want to read about her instead.  There are many options,  and this extraordinary woman who converted from  Judaism to Christianity and then became a Carmelite nun who died at Auschwitz has much to teach us.  Her feast day is August 9. 

Maximilian Kolbe, also an Auschwitz martyr,  is celebrated by the Church on August 14.  This humble man, a Conventual Franciscan, had a great love for the Blessed Mother and took the name Maximilian Maria in her honor.  He founded the  Immaculata Movement  which was dedicated to converting sinners, opposing freemasonry, spreading devotion to the Miraculous Medal and of course spreading devotion to the Blessed Mother.

Suffering from tuberculosis, Maximilian was tireless in spreading devotion to Our Lady, and he published  a magazine called Knight of the Immaculate.  He also printed a Catholic daily newspaper.  He went to Japan to spread the devotion there, founded a monastery, and printed a Japanese version of his magazine. 

He  returned to Poland because of his poor health and started a radio station.  His monastery there had 800 men and was completely self-sufficient.  Monasteries were a target for the Nazis, and on September 19, 1939, he was arrested following the Nazi invasion of Poland.  He was held briefly and then released, but was arrested again when the Nazis thought his presses were being used for anti-Nazi publications.   He was sent to Auschwitz and there, after serving his fellow prisoners and being terribly abused by the guards, gave his life in exchange for the life of a married man with young children.  You can learn more about him in this film. and this one.

The Feast of the Assumption is celebrated on August 15, so it is also a good time watch any of a number of good films about the Blessed Mother.  For this month, I suggest Mary, the Mother of God, another in the series of the Footprints of God.

Saint Movies for July Thursday, Jul 3 2008 

July is a sparse month for Saint movies, but don’t despair.  There are other options.  Before getting to those, however, July has a very important saint about whom a couple of movies have been made.  That is St. Maria Goretti, whose feast is July 6.  Maria Goretti was born in 1890 and was brutally murdered at the age of 12 as she defended her purity.  She forgave her attacker and his testimony was used in the process for her beatification.   Maria Goretti is patroness of the young and of rape victims, and she is invoked against poverty.  She is truly a saint for our day.

The first movie is simply called Maria Goretti.  This is another in the wonderful and informative series of Italian films about the saints which was filmed on location and was done with historical accuracy.  This movie, made without the flash of Hollywood-style films, tells of the grinding poverty and hardship faced by the people who worked the land for others under terrible conditions and rampant disease.  Martina Pinto in the lead role as Maria and Luisa Ranieri and Massimo Bonetti as her parents, portray the deep love and faith which enabled them to survive in an atmosphere of hate and mistrust.  Flavio Insinna who portrayed John Bosco in another movie, struggled with the injustice and depravation of the people and seemed headed out of the priesthood because he couldn’t reconcile the problems.   In the end though , he realized that “there is no injustice, misery or suffering that can defeat the strength of a pure heart.”  The second move is Fourteen Flowers of Pardon and is a documentary with historical photographs and footage of Maria’s canonization. 

The Pauline Year began on June 29 with the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul.  This entire year will be a wonderful opportunity to get to know the “Apostle to the Gentiles.”  There are numerous movies  about St. Paul now available.  Check out the links and find some that catch your interest.  A good one to start with is Apostle Paul and the Earliest Churches.  This 48-minute film traces Paul’s missionary journeys with colorful graphics and maps to help the viewer visualize the extent of his travels.  On-sight filming  provides the geographic context for understanding the dedication Paul had to spread the Faith.  It also helps the viewer understand the different challenges Paul faced with the different local churches.  In less than one hour, one can get a greater appreciation for the work of the persecutor-turned evangelist, St. Paul.

The Singing Revolution Sunday, May 11 2008 

I will be speaking about the idea of beauty at an upcoming conference, and have been considering beauty as expressed in different media.  One medium that affects us all is music, which has the power to move people to tears, to move them to war, to move them to destruction, or to move them to revolution.

We went to see a documentary film called The Singing Revolution yesterday in Denver.  This film tells the story of how music was used to overthrow decades of Soviet oppression in the little Baltic nation of Estonia.  Without raising a weapon, thousands of people succeeded in bringing down their slavemasters through their music. 

Don’t let the term “documentary” scare you off.  Please try to see it.  You will be drawn in by the story and the beautiful music.  Imagine 24,000 people singing in tune skillfully following a conductor while the Soviet army stands helplessly by.  This film is a “must-see,” but like so many good movies in the last few years (The Passion of the Christ, Bella, etc.) it won’t come to a theater near you unless you request it.  Please take a few moments to check out the website and then call your local theaters and ask them to bring this wonderful film to your city.  Then, encourage your family and friends to go see it.  It is a bit of history about which few are aware and it is presented in a way that will lift your spirits.  Your young teens and older will enjoy the movie.  The music which brought about this revolution was set to a national poem and was banned by the Soviets, but the people managed to sing it anyway and by doing so, kept hope for freedom alive in their hearts.

 One of the lessons I took away from the movie is the importance of love of country in the survival of a people and a culture.  Unfortunately, often people do not realize how good their own country is until they lose their freedoms and suffer oppression for decades as millions did under Soviet domination.



Family movies for May Thursday, Apr 24 2008 

Rather than redoing the post I did for Aquinas and More, I will direct you to that site.  There are lots of wonderful movies relevant to Our Lady and several saints whose feast days are in May.  Enjoy the movies!

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