By JOEL M. KONZEN, SM | Published February 3, 2023 | En Español
I just happened to hear a media commentator mention that he didn’t find much that he really wanted to watch on a very popular streaming service. He is probably not alone. There are many streaming services, and on each of them the shows of interest to particular viewers might be fairly scant. Catholic viewers may need to be more selective in locating viewing options that treat the topics they are likely to want to see.
The good news is that there has been a recent uptick in viewing choices concerning Catholic figures or religious topics and personalities. Here are a few examples, mostly without tips on viewing, as the formats and sources are many.
“Mother Teresa: No Greater Love,” a documentary and tribute to the saint and founder of the Missionaries of Charity, appeared in theaters in the fall of 2022 to notable acclaim. The appeal of Mother Teresa as an exemplar of Christian charity, vowed life, and Catholic action is as great as ever.
Also late last year there was “Lifemark,” a movie about adoption, a topic that rarely comes up in conversation or in the movies. The true story includes a real-life mother who desires to meet the grown son that she gave up for adoption. Just shining a light on adoption is an important pro-life contribution.
One that you may hear less about, but which has been well received, is “The Preacher to the Popes: Raniero Cantalamessa.” Father, and recently Cardinal, Cantalamessa has been the preacher to the Papal Household since 1980, the longest such service in the church’s history. Bishops in the United States had the privilege of a week’s retreat with the Franciscan priest in 2019, and Pope Francis named him a cardinal just months ago.
“The Most Reluctant Convert: The Untold Story of C. S. Lewis,” while not about a Catholic, is a biopic about a well-respected Christian writer. Like “Lifemark,” it’s available on the Pureflix streaming service. Lewis’ life has appealed to many over the years because of his conversion from atheism at university to prominence as a popular speaker and writer on the spiritual life.
A partial biopic, “Prophet,” treats the life of Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, a leader of the Polish Church after World War II who was imprisoned for speaking out against the Polish state. He had a significant influence on the young Karol Wojtyla, who would go on to become St. John Paul II. Wyszynski deserves much credit for the revival of a vibrant Polish faith in the 20th century.
A YouTuber named Jerome Chong has put together a catalog of videos on clearly Catholic areas of interest, such as Marian apparitions, saints, eucharistic miracles, conversion to Catholicism, and stories about individuals who followed a call to religious witness. These are carefully done videos, between 5 and 10 minutes long, that can prompt one to learn more about a topic or person.
In addition to these, Ignatius Press offers a good range of DVDs on the lives of saints, as well as many other documentaries and docudramas. So, the message is that we don’t have to be satisfied with only what is available on the most popular streaming services. There are worthwhile options for the Catholic viewer. While the type of movie I’ve highlighted only stays briefly in theaters, as a rule, these are usually available as DVDs or via a particular video service.
I am grateful that The Georgia Bulletin informs readers of television offerings, books, and movies of interest to its readers, particularly in the columns of Dr. David King, professor of English and film studies at Kennesaw State.