For a more complete explanation of Cinema Divina, check out our article here. For our review of "Midnight Special" click here.
Cinema Divina for Midnight Special.
Lectio: A Reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans.
Because if you profess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you'll be saved. For with your heart you believe and are restored to fellowship with God, and your profession through your mouth leads to salvation. Scripture says, "No one who believes in him will be put to shame." The same Lord is Lord of all and he bestows riches upon everyone who calls upon him, for "whoever calls upon the Lord's name will be saved."
As I watched the film and prayed with the Scripture passage, I was impressed by the character of Roy. "Midnight Special" is science fiction and it took me seeing the film more than once to figure out what was going on. Roy's parents moved to the Ranch, a cult of some sort, when Roy was a teenager. Sarah also grew up at the Ranch and they eventually married and had their son, Alton. Now age eight, Alton's not your normal kid as this weird blue light comes from his eyes. Anyone who looks into his eyes "sees" something different, they see what Alton sees. The cult folks at the Ranch abuse this "power" of Alton's and they think he's their savior. But Roy, Alton's Dad, sees that the Ranch people are taking advantage of Alton. Roy is forced to kidnap his own son away from the Ranch in order to protect him. He goes to his childhood friend, Lucas, now a state trooper, for help. Together, Roy and Lucas spirit Alton away from the Ranch and the G-men who seem like they come straight out of The X-Files.
Roy is a man of faith. For a while, he believed the distortion of Christianity preached by the Ranch, but he came to his senses when their actions did not reflect their words. Roy has faith in Alton. He truly believes what his son tells him about not belonging to this world and needing to get to specific coordinates at a specific time. Has Roy "communed" with Alton the way others at the Ranch have? The film doesn't answer that question but we can assume that he has. Still, the lengths to which Roy, and then he and Sarah together, are willing to go in order to protect Alton are inspiringly extraordinary.
As the deadline for Alton draws near, Alton becomes sick and Lucas wants to take him to a hospital. Roy refuses, believing that following Alton's directions is the right thing for him. When Alton wants Roy to take him to see the sunrise (he's never been able to go out in the daytime before), Roy hesitates but puts his faith in his son, who seems to know that it won't hurt him now.
I won't spoil the film for you but my reflections are about faith, especially Roy's faith. He had absolute faith in his little boy. He loved him so much that perhaps he wasn't thinking straight and going on faith alone. His actions sure would seem crazy to anyone on the outside. Life is like that, isn't it? I see so many "crazy" things in this world, things that I find hard to believe. OK, some of them are really crazy, but who's to say that God isn't somehow acting in the strange things that happen to us on a day-to-day basis? I believe that God can work through anything but it's harder to put that belief into practice. Yes, discernment and intelligence are need to "test the spirits" but there is a point when we step out in faith. I see this kind of faith in the character of Roy in the movie. At the same time, I see that, even as a person of faith, I sometimes lack faith. It's true, I believe, like St. Paul says in the Scripture passage that Jesus is Lord and God raised him from the dead, but I don't always act like I believe that. I sin. We all do and that's why I'm so impressed with Roy in this film. He's not perfect, but he believes and he's willing to put his life on the line for his son. He believes so much that he draws Lucas into his faith. I want to have the kind of faith that draws others to the God they find in me.
My prayer, as a result of spending some time with the film and the Scripture passage is for an increase of faith in myself. Not only that, but, Lord Jesus, I ask you to increase my faith so that I can be a living example of your love in the world today. There's lots of craziness out there but you, Lord, bring peace. Let me be so imbued with that peace that others may find peace through me.
I marvel in quiet for a few moments at the wonderful way God can 'speak' through the Scripture but also through film.
The action I am committing to as a result of doing this prayer time, is to be more faithful to a daily examination of conscience. I actually do this on a regular basis most of the time but sometimes it's just a couple of moments and that doesn't really give me time to look over my day. By being more faithful to the examination of conscience, I hope to grasp the grace God gives me, take it to heart and grow more into the kind of person that inspires faith and love in other people.
Lord Jesus, we believe that you are the "conduit" between God and our world. You came to us so that we could be with you and the Father and Holy Spirit in heaven one day. Strengthen our belief, Lord, so that, as we encounter you through faith, we may proclaim your love with our mouths and our lives. Amen.
About the Author
Sister Hosea Rupprecht is a member of the Daughters of St. Paul, a religious community dedicated to evangelization with the media. She holds a Master of Theological Studies degree from the University of St. Michael’s College in Toronto and an MA in Media Literacy from Webster University in St. Louis.
Sr. Hosea is director of the East Coast office of the Pauline Center for Media Studies, based in Staten Island, NY, and speaks on media literacy and faith to catechists, parents, youth, and young adults. Together with Father Chip Hines, she is the co-host of Searchlight, a Catholic movie review show on Catholic TV. Sr. Hosea is the author of How to Watch Movies with Kids: A Values-Based Strategy, released by Pauline Books & Media.
For the past 15 years, she has facilitated various film dialogues for both children and adults, as well as given presentations on integrating culture, faith and media.