Thursday, August 02, 2012

Church History Through Film

Three of our friends were ordained as deacons in June. As we celebrated their ordinations, my older boys (ages 10 and 14) raised a number of questions about deacons. I explained that our friend Tom is a now a permanent deacon, but that Jacob and Kevin are transitional deacons who plan to be ordained as diocesan priests. This led to questions about the differences between diocesan priests and ordered priests, among brothers and fathers and sisters.
I pointed out that our family friend, Father George, is a Dominican priest, that our bishop is a Franciscan, and that one of the other guests is a Jesuit.
The boys got the gist of this, but the whole conversation led me to consider the fact that my children are growing up in a different era and in a different environment than the one in which I was raised. I spent twelve years in Catholic schools. This was the late sixties and seventies, so many orders were in a state of flux, but I certainly knew what a nun was and what a religious brother was. My boys? They’re a bit fuzzy on all this.
As summer afternoons have brought scorching temperatures and a sleeping toddler, I have decided to use our down time to introduce the boys to some of the great saints of our faith. We started out watching Brother Sun, Sister Moon. It’s a bit like Godspell meets the Middle Ages and there’s a nude scene, but the boys came away with an understanding that Saint Francis wasn't just that guy in the brown dress singing to the birds, but a flesh and blood human who loved God without reservation and rebuilt his church on earth. Now when I tell them our bishop is a Franciscan, they have some understanding of what this means.

The next week, we recognized the feast of Saint Thomas More by watching A Man For All Seasons. This feast coincided with the Fortnight of Freedom we recognized here in the United States.
Because I’m a former history teacher and think timelines just rock, we’re assembling one in our hallway.
The history teacher in me is all about people and places and dates. The Catholic in me wants to crack open the lid that is the treasure trove of our faith and stand in awe at the work God has done through ordinary men and women throughout the ages. I hope all of us come away with a deeper understanding of the communion of saints, with a broader view of different spiritualties that all fall under the umbrella of Catholicism, and with an appreciation of how a single life lived wholeheartedly for God can change the face of the earth.
Here’s a list of movies titles I’ve gathered from around the ‘net. I've included comments on the ones we've recently watched.

Which films are worth watching? Which are forgettable? What other recommendations do you have?

I haven’t found anything about Saint Dominic, Saint Benedict, or Saint Ignatius Loyola. Any suggestions?

The List:

Molokai: The Story of Father Damien - Great movie. There is a brief scene when a doctor suspects Father Damien has syphilus rather than leprosy.
Brother Sun, Sister Moon - Godspell meets the middle ages. Brief back view nudity. Very well made film.


A Man for All Seasons - Excellent film.

Ocean of Mercy

The Passion of the Christ


The Scarlet and The Black
Something Beautiful for God

The Passion of Bernadette

Saint John Bosco: Mission to Love

Pope John Paul II


Diary of a Country Priest
Black Narcissus

Into Great Silence
Passion of Joan of Arc

Maximillian: Saint of Auschwitz

Padre Pio: Miracle Man - We watched an ancient VHS copy of this. It tells the story, but is very low budget. The kids' attention flagged.

Karol: A Man Who Became Pope

The Reluctant Saint

From Ignatius Press: Saint Rita, Padre Pio, Saint Anthony of Padua, Saint Bernadette, Saint Therese (the Little flower), Saint John Bosco, Saint Paul, Pope John Paul II, Saint Francis of Assisi, Mother Theresa

The Shoes of the Fisherman


allie c said...

what a wonderful idea thank you so very much for sharing. I love timelines, never thought to add when the different orders started. Brilliant.

Anonymous said...

Not being a Catholic, I would love to understand this all better. Please show us the finished timeline! I've nothing to add to your list, but will note a few of your suggestions.

I suppose the different orders did different things depending on where they lived? I learned a bit about the Cistertians in the North of England reading "My Father's English Acre". I hadn't realised they were so influential.