Looking at movies and the stories they tell through the lens of faith and spirituality is one of my favorite ways to pray. If you cannot make it to a retreat house you might consider making a living room retreat in your own home. In the July issue of St. Anthony Messenger (I have been reviewing movies for the magazine since June, 2003) I offer a what, why, and how approach to making room for God during the “dog days of summer”:
Summer Film Retreat 2012
For Lent this year, the Pauline Center for Media Studies hosted a six-part weekly program using The Way, starring Martin Sheen. In the film written and directed by Sheen’s son, Emilio Estevez, Sheen plays Tom Avery, a widower who travels to France to bring home the body of his son who died in an accident. Tom discovers his son had just set out to make
the 800-kilometer pilgrimage to the shrine of St. James of Compostela and resolves to
take his place on the Camino (see October 2011 St. Anthony Messenger).
Because we wanted to keep the motif of the pilgrimage, even though we met at our center and people arrived by bus or car, our slogan was “If you can’t walk it with your feet, you can do it from your seat!” The same can be said for an annual retreat, which can be made at home if you’re unable to get away to a retreat house. Summertime is ideal to live out Jesus’ invitation to the disciples in Mark 6:31: “Come away by yourselves to a deserted
place and rest a while.”
Narrative films are an ideal way to bridge faith and life, using the format and methodology of the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius. A Scripture verse that reflects Tom’s reality and journey in The Way is John 9:11.
John Pungente, SJ, and Monty Williams, SJ, have published two books, Finding God in the Dark: Taking the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius to the Movies I & II. Pungente and Williams break down the 30-day retreat into 52 chapters in each volume: one step of the exercises, with Scripture readings, and one film for each week during the year.
The Lights, Camera…Faith! book series can also be used (by Pacatte and Malone, Pauline.org). These volumes include Scripture references, a film, commentary, and
questions for reflection.
For your cinema retreat, you will want to choose quiet time, turn off your phone, and have a Bible, journal, and pen handy. Read the suggested Scripture and then see the film. Afterward, take a break to write your responses to the questions, and take some time for silent prayer.
Continue reading here for the list of movies and scripture connections