In January, Pope Francis invites us to pray for the gift of diversity in the Church: “Let us pray to the Holy Spirit to help us recognize the gift of different charisms within Christian communities and to discover the richness of different ritual traditions within the Catholic Church.” In light of this prayer intention and Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Gaudete et exsultate on the call to holiness in today’s world, I recommend these films for comment and analysis in our communities.
The Seventh Room (1995)
This film is based on the life of philosopher Edith Stein, a woman of Jewish origin who converted to Catholicism and entered a Carmelite convent where she took the religious name of Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. She was arrested by the Gestapo and interned in a Nazi extermination camp in Auschwitz where she was murdered. Pope Francis quotes this saint and martyr verbatim when he talks to us about “the signs of holiness that the Lord presents to us through many of the most humble members of that people who also participate in the prophetic function of Christ, spreading his testimony…In the darkest night the greatest prophets and saints emerge. However, the life-giving current of mystical life remains invisible. Surely, the decisive events in the history of the world were essentially influenced by souls about whom the history books say nothing” (n. 8). Let’s discuss as a group what watching this film leaves us and what we think of this statement by Edith Stein that Pope Francis quotes.
The Mission (1986)
This film, winner of the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Festival, takes place in the 18th century and takes place in the Iguazú Falls and the Jesuit missions in South America. In it we see Father Gabriel (Jeremy Irons), who enters the Guarani territory after the martyrdom of some of his fellow missionaries. He goes with his Bible and an oboe that will be an element that will lead the indigenous people to accept the priest and the Gospel. Let us reflect and comment on these words of Pope Francis about mission: “For a Christian it is not possible to think about one’s own mission on earth without conceiving it as a path of holiness, because ‘this is the will of God: your sanctification’ ( 1 Thess. 4, 3). Each saint is a mission; It is a project of the Father to reflect and embody, at a certain moment in history, an aspect of the Gospel” (no. 19). Let us pray with the Pope that the Holy Spirit will help us discover the richness of the different ritual traditions within the Catholic Church and continue with the mission of reflecting and embodying the Gospel.
Fr. Sergio Guzmán, SJ
National Coordinator of the Pope’s Prayer Network Mexico