For many of us, how we live our Faith and what we watch when we stream movies or tune in to favorite TV shows can sometimes seem to come from two different planets: they seem completely separate from each other. Perhaps this is even truer than in the past, as our post-Christian culture increasingly immerses itself in stories that lack a Biblical or Christian ethical foundation. But the media are an important part of life today; they can be much more than a means of escape and relaxation.
How can we bring these two separate worlds together in our own lives? How can we bring our relationship with Christ into our relationship with the media world around us?
Taking time to reflect on the media we read, watch, view, and respond to is the easiest—and best—way to start. Putting that media in dialogue with the Word of God is invaluable in helping us grow as disciples of Christ.
Today’s art forms, when created with authenticity, remind us about what is important in the human experience. The movies we resonate with, the music we listen to and cannot get enough of, the characters in the novels, and the shows that we binge-watch or deeply identify with, are about something deeper than their subjects. Media today are an important way in which many of us experience and understand the people and the world around us, as well as helping us to learn about and decide how we can make a difference in a world haunted by injustice and suffering for so many people.
For over two decades, the Daughters of Saint Paul have offered resources for deeper conversations on the media we consume, through our Pauline Center for Media Studies. We have given a special focus to films, through live Faith & Film Nights, Cinema Divina Retreats, media workshops, film reviews, and movie lectionaries. Now, we are able to make a new resource more widely available online.
Meeting Jesus at the Movies Guides Now Available Online!
The Pauline Center for Media Studies is delighted to offer a new online resource for individuals, families, youth groups, prayer groups, and classrooms, that can help launch that reflection process. Beginning this week, guides for Meeting Jesus at the Movies, Cinema Divina, and Kids Meeting Jesus at the Movies are available for download for individual and group use for a minimal fee. Two general "how to" guides, plus a sample guide, are available free. (Note for classrooms and parishes: The individual movie guides, available for download for a nominal fee, include permission to photocopy or reproduce as many copies needed for your movie night!)
How Do They Work?
These faith and film guides are meant to be tools for us to enter into the media culture with a faith perspective, and to take from these cultural artifacts ways to grow in our relationship with Christ and others.
Movies are visual stories that can sometimes be seen as modern day parables. Using movies together with Scripture provides a wonderful opportunity for group sharing and prayer. Because each person comes to a movie with his or her own background and experiences, every person watching a film will have a different understanding. What one person gleans from a film might never occur to another. The Holy Spirit lives and breathes in each one of us. Sharing our impressions of a movie, in the light of God’s word, can be a powerfully enriching faith experience.
The Pauline Center for Media Studies (PCMS) suggests two possible ways to approach a faith & film event: Meeting Jesus at the Movies and Cinema Divina. We’ve also adapted guides for family-friendly movies for use in your family or in the classroom with our Kids Meeting Jesus at the Movies Guides. The free general guides offer an overview of how to lead each event; the individual guides offer a Scripture passage, theme, questions and prayers for the selected movie.
Meeting Jesus at the Movies
Meeting Jesus at the Movies is a conversation-based event. It’s not really a film discussion but more of a faith sharing of insights from watching the film in light of the Word of God.
Each guide offers a Scripture passage to begin with. At the end of the film (often as the credits roll), the Scripture is re-read. Then, the guide offers questions to begin a conversation about the movie, in light of the Scripture and the theme provided. The discussion concludes with a short prayer.
Cinema Divina draws on the ancient prayer form of lectio divina. Unlike “Meeting Jesus at the Movies” described above, Cinema Divina is more of a prayer experience than a conversation, although there is an element of sharing involved. The first step, lectio, entails reading the Scripture passage provided, watching the movie, and re-reading the Scripture. In the second step, meditatio, participants are invited to share the part of the movie that touched them deeply. The guide follows up with suggestions for following the last three steps, oratio, contemplatio and actio, and then offers a short prayer to conclude.
Try It Out!
Every time we have run a faith & film night, people have told us how invaluable they are. Try it out with your family, your classroom or prayer group. Watching a film together can be fun, but the time to reflect and discuss the deeper themes in the film makes each movie an unforgettable experience.
You can find the full alphabetical list of downloadable movie guides available here. Download the free General Introduction and How To Use These Guides and the Kids Meeting Jesus at the Movies Introduction here to get a better idea of how easy it is to run a faith & film event. A free sample guide will always be available on our site—this month we put up the guide to the film, Wonder.
A full searchable list of all the movie guides, according to theme, Scripture, and movie genre will be made available soon. If there is a movie that you'd like us to provide a guide for, email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org We'll try to keep up with your requests.
For more information, visit: http://media.pauline.org/guides