Top 10 movies to inspire you during these challenging times

by Jerry Circelli

North Texas Catholic

 

FORT WORTH — During these unprecedented days when we’re asked to limit our exposure to the outside world, in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, families are spending more time together at home than they probably ever have in the past.

While these are certainly challenging times, they also give us many opportunities to grow stronger in our faith and closer to our loved ones. One way includes sitting down together to watch Christian-based movies.

If you search a bit, you can find these types of movies everywhere — through streaming movie services, online DVD sales, or perhaps they are gathering dust on your shelf.

Here is a list of movies to consider watching:

“The Way”

After discovering that his son has died during his quest to complete “El Camino de Santiago” (The Way of Saint James) pilgrimage in Spain, a grieving father heads overseas to claim his remains. Ultimately, the father decides to complete his son’s journey. This is a story about overcoming grief, surmounting obstacles, and growing in faith. In addition to inspirational performances by Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez, the 2010 movie brings us inside the spiritual magnificence of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, where the body of St. James the Apostle rests. There is no better time than now to experience this journey.

 

Juliet Stevenson stars as Mother Teresa in “The Letters.” The movie follows the life of Mother Teresa, who eventually heard what she termed “the call within the call” to serve the poorest of the poor. (Photo by Freda Eliot-Wilson)Juliet Stevenson stars as Mother Teresa in “The Letters.” The movie follows the life of Mother Teresa, who eventually heard what she termed “the call within the call” to serve the poorest of the poor. (Photo by Freda Eliot-Wilson)

Juliet Stevenson stars as Mother Teresa in “The Letters.” The movie follows the life of Mother Teresa, who eventually heard what she termed “the call within the call” to serve the poorest of the poor. (Photo by Freda Eliot-Wilson)

“The Letters”

This is the story of one of the greatest humanitarians of all times — Mother Teresa. Through correspondence she left behind with her spiritual advisor, we get an inside look at Mother Teresa’s often-challenging life and tireless work to help the poor and the sick. Mother Teresa faced the troubles of the world with faith, courage, and compassion. Through this 2015 film, we witness her unconditional love for humanity and get to know her better than we have in the past. Canonized in 2016, St. Teresa of Calcutta is an inspiration to us all.

 

“The Blood and the Rose”

A powerful film about Our Lady of Guadalupe, “The Blood and the Rose” is a theatrical documentary, produced in 2013, that explores the mystery of St. Juan Diego’s tilma and its miraculous image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Dr. Mark Miravalle with Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, said the film is “nothing short of the greatest cinematic testimony to the power and authenticity of the appearances of Our Lady of Guadalupe.” See it for yourself and you’ll realize he is correct.

 

“The Bible” (TV series)

Producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett bring sacred texts to life with this 10-part miniseries that retells stories from the Scriptures. When it aired on the History Channel in 2013, “The Bible” took viewers on a spiritual and historic journey from Genesis through Revelation. See also, “A.D. The Bible Continues” for the 2015 follow-up to the award-winning series.

 

“Courageous” and “Fireproof”

Many Christian-based films followed the lead of these two movies in delivering a strong message about being a good spouse, parent, and person in general. None are more powerful or moving, however, than these two productions. The films are both action-packed, taking us on unexpected twists and turns, just as we face in our everyday lives. How we react to those challenges defines us, as we see characters increasingly relying on God for their very survival. “Fireproof” was released in 2008, while “Courageous” was produced in 2011.

 
The movie poster for God's Not Dead 2. (CNS/Pure Flix)
“God’s Not Dead”; “God’s Not Dead 2”; “God’s Not Dead: A Light in the Darkness”

Three movies that go hand-in-hand are the 2014 production of “God’s Not Dead,” the 2016 film follow-up titled “God’s Not Dead 2,” and a third film made in 2018 aptly named “God’s Not Dead: A Light in the Darkness.” These movies deal with real-world challenges about religious freedom and threats to our God-given, inalienable right to practice our faith. The movies illustrate the words of St. Paul in 2 Timothy 3:12 that state, “ anybody who tries to live in devotion to Christ is certain to be persecuted.” These films, through the example of their characters, can inspire us to stay strong.

 

“A Man for All Seasons”

At various times in our lives, we find ourselves faced with the choice of doing the right thing or caving in to peer pressure. No greater example of this exists than the life of Sir Thomas More. As Roman Catholic Chancellor in the 16th Century, Sir Thomas More was torn between his duty to England’s King Henry VIII and his own conscience when the king sought his approval to divorce his wife and marry his mistress. Sir Thomas More’s decision decides the fate of his own life and has ramifications that last through this day for a nation and for the universal Catholic Church. He is the patron saint of politicians, statesmen, and lawyers. This film won six Academy Awards in 1966.

 

Movies to help you prepare for Holy Week:

“The Passion of the Christ”

As we approach Holy Week, “The Passion of the Christ” is especially timely and spiritually enriching. This powerful and graphic film, released in 2004, depicts the last 12 hours in the life of Jesus, on the day of his crucifixion in Jerusalem. A devout Catholic, actor Jim Caviezel is part of a cast and production company that pays meticulous attention to detail. “The Passion of the Christ” is hard to watch at times and is not suitable for young viewers. When the kids go to bed, renew your connection with Christ through this movie, which makes us ever mindful of the sacrifices Christ made for us.

 

In Risen, Joseph Fiennes portrays Clavius, a Roman tribune charged with finding the body of Christ after his crucifixion. (Photo courtesy Columbia pictures)In Risen, Joseph Fiennes portrays Clavius, a Roman tribune charged with finding the body of Christ after his crucifixion. (Photo courtesy Columbia pictures)

In Risen, Joseph Fiennes portrays Clavius, a Roman tribune charged with finding the body of Christ after his crucifixion. (Photo courtesy Columbia pictures)

“The Robe” and  “Risen”

Two other films that give us insight into the final days of Jesus are the 1953 production of “The Robe” and 2016 movie titled “Risen.” Both movies present Christ through the perspective of non-believers who, like so many others throughout history, are touched by His teachings. “The Robe” is a classic film that was the first to be released in the widescreen process called CinemaScope. “Risen” is also a beautiful film with skillful cinematography and moving soundtracks. What is most striking about both films is how they show us that, like the lead characters, we too are on a constant journey in search of truths that will bring us closer to Christ. Along the way, we discover that God provides us with signs and directions that lead us closer to Him, if we are willing to open our hearts and minds.

FORT WORTH — During these unprecedented days when we’re asked to limit our exposure to the outside world, in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, families are spending more time together at home than they probably ever have in the past.

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