Lent is a season of drawing into a deeper intimacy with Jesus. Watching sacred films during Lent is one method I use to draw closer to Christ. Here are seven films I recommend watching this Lent:
1. Risen (2016) It opens in theaters on February 19, 2016. While I have yet to see this film, the reviews are wonderful! Catholic World Report reviews it as does Our Sunday Visitor and Lisa Hendey gives her endorsement.
2. Restless Heart: The Confessions of Augustine (2012) Filmed in Europe, the first full-length feature movie on Augustine uses a historic backdrop to tell the true story of one of the Church's most beloved and well-known Saints. Its message of sin, conversion, redemption is as timely today as it was in the 5th century of Augustine. It is the story of a gifted man who pursues fame and fortune without a moral compass - and the dramatic changes that occur in his soul when challenging events lead him to see the light of truth. It also chronicles the collapse of the Roman world and how Augustine laid the intellectual foundations of what became Europe. With Augustine, the stories of two other great saints, Monica and Ambrose, are also portrayed.
3. Ben Hur (1959) Charlton Heston plays Judah Ben-Hur, a proud Jew who runs afoul of his ambitious boyhood friend Messala (Stephen Boyd) in this epic that boasts an unforgettable chariot race and earned 11 Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Heston) and Best Director (William Wyler). Condemned to life as a slave, Judah swears vengeance against Messala and escapes, later crossing paths with Jesus.
4. The Passion of The Christ (2004) Oscar-winning actor-director Mel Gibson helms this epic that focuses on the last 12 hours of Jesus's life -- from the betrayal, trial and death of Jesus to his brutal crucifixion and resurrection from the tomb. Starring Jim Caviezel as Jesus, Maia Morgenstern as Jesus's mother and Monica Bellucci as Mary Magdalene, The Passion is spoken entirely in Latin and Aramaic, and the violent Crucifixion scenes are incredibly graphic.
5. Into Great Silence (2005) Director Philip Gröning's study of the Grande Chartreuse monastery introduces a world of austere beauty as it follows the daily activities of the resident monks, whose silence is broken only by prayer and song. With no sound save the natural rhythms of age-old routines, the documentary -- a Special Jury Prize winner at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival -- captures the simplicity and profundity of lives lived with absolute purpose and presence.
6. St. Anthony: The Miracle Worker of Padua (2005) This film is one of my all-time favorites! It is an outstanding film on the amazing life of St. Anthony. It presents Anthony as a dynamic and appealing person who sacrificed wealth, popularity and family for the Kingdom of God.
Born into a Portugese noble family in 1195, Anthony defied his father's wishes to become a knight and, instead, followed the call of God to become a monk, eventually joining the Franciscans as a follower of St. Francis of Assisi. Anthony became renowned for his powerful preaching and his miracles that won countless souls to Christ. The film follows his travels through Italy, his mission to Morocco and his meeting with St. Francis. It beautifully portrays the power of his preaching, the holiness of his life, his love for the poor and oppressed, and the wonders of his miracles.
7. For Greater Glory (2014) In Mexico in the late 1920s, President Calles institutes a vicious ban on Catholicism that results in many deaths and prompts retired general Gorostieta to join the motley militia groups fighting to preserve religious freedom throughout the country.
Have a wonderful weekend and a happy and holy Lent!
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