Across the world, Catholics are going without Masses under COVID-19 precautions. Separation from the Eucharist is a painful thing. But it mustn’t be a cause of anxiety, frustration, or despair for us, but rather a time to increase our understanding, our love, and our longing for Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.
While you’re hunkered down and waiting, there are so many opportunities the media is presenting for a strengthening of our communion with the entire Church and of a deepening of our understanding of the living Word of God. There is also increased opportunity for contemplation.
The screen is often seen as the enemy of contemplation. And frankly, it often is. But films can also help us to enter into deeper prayer and contemplation in certain contexts. For you, this may well be one of those contexts.
In the Mass, we contemplate Christ the Living Word, and we adore Christ in the Eucharist. Here are five biblical films that will help you dive more deeply into your contemplation of the Word of God, and nourish your love of our self-giving Eucharistic Lord. May you find in the stories you watch food for the journey, and a spark to ignite an even greater love for the Mass, and the one we encounter in it. And remember, both in the Mass and outside the Mass, he is with you always… until the end of time.
1. Full of Grace
Full of Grace is a beautiful, contemplative gaze at the life of Mary after the resurrection of Christ. It explores her role in the life of the early Church, and we discover just how one might come to believe in a Jesus they had never met because of her. The film portrays with tender reverence the Dormition of Mary, and gracefully bows its head to the Assumption. It is filled with the living of the Word, and depicts the Eucharist in a moving scene with many of the apostles. The most beautiful part of this film is the relationship between Peter and his Master’s mother, now his own mother too. It may well help you to fall in love with the Church anew.
Recommended reading: John 19: 25-29; Acts 2
Recommended prayer: 4th Glorious Mystery of the Rosary: The Assumption
2. The Chosen – Episode 5 (The Wedding Gift)
The Chosen’s fifth episode is the Wedding at Cana: the first public miracle of Christ, the kick-off of his public ministry, and a mystery of the rosary. The series does it justice. Staying true to Scripture, episode 5 delves into both the humanity and divinity of Christ, introduces our beloved doubting Thomas, and paints the turning of water into wine in such a powerful way that its prefigurement of the Eucharist is tangible. Jesus’ relationship with a very real middle-eastern-mother Mary shines in this episode, in a way that allows her trust in him to inspire a like response in us.
Recommended reading: John 2:1-11
Recommended prayer: 2nd Luminous Mystery of the Rosary: The Wedding at Cana
3. Paul, Apostle of Christ
Paul, Apostle of Christ strikes a balance between contemplative quiet and sudden bouts of suspenseful danger that is quite accurate to the life of an early Christian of the Apostle’s time. Following Paul in his later years through the eyes of his dear friend Luke, the film presents a tender exploration of the experience behind this feisty convert’s letters. It’s exploration of the sufficiency of God’s grace has the potential to change viewers’ lives in how they approach their daily battles. There is a very subtle nod to the Eucharist in the film, and you have to be watching for it, but it happens in a poignant context that bears much meaning.
Recommended reading: Acts 9: 1-19, 2 Cor 12:9
Recommended prayer: Divine Mercy Chaplet
4. The Young Messiah
The Young Messiah mostly does not follow stories found in Scripture, but rather artistically represents what might have happened during Christ’s unmentioned childhood. While it cannot be taken as fact, this film contains much truth in it’s exploration of the personal dynamics of the family of Christ. It is through the people in young Jesus’ life that we learn we are not alone in grappling with what Christ’s identify means in our own lives. The film depicts the self-gift of the Holy Family in a way that inspires viewers to desire to respond with that same generosity… to live the joy of the Word and the self-gift of the Eucharist in a deeply personal way.
Recommended reading: Luke 2: 41-52
Recommended prayer: 5th Joyful Mystery of the Rosary: The Finding of Jesus in the Temple
5. The Passion of the Christ
The Passion of the Christ speaks for itself. At once bloody and contemplative, it begs the viewer to enter in to the contemplation of the last hours of Christ’s life. It is at once Scriptural and Eucharistic. It demands a true reckoning of our profession of faith with our life in a way that surrenders all to him who surrendered all for us.
Recommended reading: John 19-20
Recommended prayer: The Stations of the Cross