Category Archives: Movies

“Without Needing Us, God Thirsts For Us”

Wanted to share with you all about the short film students from my alma mater are producing about the story of the woman at the well.  Please keep them in your prayers and consider donating if you can!

Photina – a short film project

mary-sig

How to Respect God’s Name

If you’ve noticed how hard it is to watch a movie or to turn on the TV for any significant amount of time without hearing the name of God being taken in vain…. well, then you are better off than I am.

In theory, I know that it’s a big deal to take the name of God in vain.  I know that as Christians we are supposed to have great respect and reverence for the Holy name of God; and we are never supposed to treat God’s name as if it were something common or, even worse, as something to be cursed.  Personally, I myself do not speak the name of God in vain.

But what I’m realizing lately is that I don’t exactly take notice or particular offense when others do, either.  And this is no good.

This became clearly apparent to me when my fiancé and I decided to check out a popular TV series on Hulu last week.  We ended up turning it off within the first 25 minutes, because in that brief amount of time the characters had already cursed God’s name three times (which was a shame, because it was an interesting show otherwise).  I wish I could say that my fiancé and I were both equally appalled by this, but the truth is that had Tyler not pointed it out, I probably wouldn’t have blinked.  I’ve become so desensitized to hearing God’s name be taken in vain that I hardly even notice when it happens.

So I have been thinking about how to rectify this.  On the one hand, we shouldn’t be looking for and/or anticipating the sins of others; but in the same breath, as members of the Body of Christ, it should pain us to hear the name of our God disrespected and spat upon.

My solution: A three-step check-list that might help you out if you’re like me and struggle in this area.

1. Pray

Pray for greater respect and reverence towards God’s name.  Try the Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus, or the Divine Praises, or simply and earnestly ask God for a greater love for His name.

We need to pray that we never forget that God is a Person (actually, three Persons) with whom we are called to be in relationship.  When we hear someone cursing the name of the one we love, what other logical response is there but to be pained by it?

 2. When God grants you the grace of noticing when His name is being disrespected, acknowledge and respond.

If it’s a TV show, turn it off right then and there.  If it’s a song, skip over it.  If it’s a friend in conversation, be so bold as to speak up in defense of God’s name, and ask kindly that he or she not insult you by belittling the name of God.

If we don’t acknowledge and take action, then it will remain commonplace for us to hear God’s name being slandered.  If we begin to acknowledge and take action, we’ll start to notice more and more.

 3. Pray

The point of seeking to become more aware is not so that we can be appalled and angry; it’s to yield a greater love and respect for God.  As we start to notice more often God’s name being disrespected, we have more opportunities to respond to God in love.  And that’s kind of the point of all of this anyway.

Should You See “For Greater Glory”?

If you haven’t heard of the film, For Greater Glory, it depicts the true story of the Mexican “Cristero War” in the 1920s:

“It’s history that is not even that well known to many Mexicans…The Mexican government set up its own church, deported all foreign priests, and made the sacraments unavailable. Even after the war ended in 1929, each local governor continued to enforce the constitutional anti-clerical laws in different ways. It took a long time for this to change. Officially, priests couldn’t wear religious vestments in public until 1998.”

Producer Pablo Jose Barroso from an interview with the National Catholic Register

Before I get into my review of For Greater Glory, you need to understand something about me.  I went to a Catholic university that focuses on bringing Christ to the culture through business and media.  As a result, many of my close friends are incredibly passionate filmmakers who also happen to be faithful Catholics.  (Me?  I started out on the film track and moved into the Theology-meets-media side of things.  Hence the blog).

I tell you this because after three years of sitting in classes with these people, having many conversations with them both in and out of the classroom about what good art is (and what it is not), I must admit that they have rubbed off on me.  These are both truly devout Catholics and dedicated filmmakers.  When a movie or television show combines these peoples’ two greatest loves—their Christian faith and film, as the film For Greater Glory does—you have what we call a sensitive area.

In discussions about good art, my friends often come back to the theme of what Blessed John Paul II says in his Letter to Artists: “beauty will save the world.”  If it’s not beautiful, then it’s not the Gospel, no matter what the subject matter of the art claims to be.  Their point: A bad film does not glorify God just because its subject matter happens to be faith-based.

So when I see a movie that attempts the audacious (yet so very needed) task of portraying the glory, truth, splendor, and/or truth of the Christian faith on the screen— even though I don’t consider myself to be anything of a filmmaker— I still tend to hear my friends’ voices in my head.

Now that you know all of this: What did I think of the film, For Greater Glory?

As a moviegoer, I was entertained.  As a Catholic, I was moved.  As an American living in 2012, with the HHS mandate threatening our basic right to religious liberty, I was sobered.

I truly do believe that we need more films that tell the great stories of our faith as For Greater Glory does.  We have so many of these stories, ranging from stories in Scripture that have stood the test of time to the incredible stories of the lives of the Saints and martyrs.  These stories need to be told, and they need to be told well.

It’s easy for me to say that as someone who is not a filmmaker, and I can understand that for a Christian person in the film industry, this is a scary task.  Knowing that these stories deserve nothing less than excellence means that if the film is not received well by an audience, it’s not the fault of the story itself but of the people who made it.  That’s a heavy burden.

So praise God for the people that realize the importance of telling these stories, and who believe in the power of them, as the makers of For Greater Glory do.  I sincerely recommend that all young Catholics go see this movie (not too young, though.  It is rated R for its depictions of violence).

And please pray for Christians in the film industry.  They’re hard at work for the Church; I promise you 🙂