It’s Halloween, and there’s plenty of spooky stuff on TV. But, it’s also All Hallows Eve, which means tomorrow is All Saints Day, and once the kids are coaxed out of their costumes and recovered from their candy coma, it’s time to teach them about the real stars of the week.
Unfortunately, a lot of great movies about saints are older, in black-and-white or foreign languages, so it’s hard to get kids to watch. So, I’ve picked two that might have appeal to teens or tweens — and one that’s aimed straight at your little future saints.
A Man for All Seasons (1966) — available on DVD or streaming on Amazon Video
The favorite movie of Bishop Robert Barron (see below), this Academy Award winner for best picture is based on the stage play by Robert Bolt. It stars Paul Scofield as Sir Thomas More, a loyal subject of King Henry VIII (Robert Shaw of “Jaws” fame), who refuses to give public approval to Henry’s intent to divorce his lawful Catholic wife, Katharine of Aragon, to marry his mistress, Anne Boleyn.
In an era where government action and Christian conscience seem to come more frequently into conflict, More’s ultimately unsuccessful attempt to obey both his king and the Church is instructive and relevant.
On top of that, it’s a wonderful script, with crackling dialogue, sumptuous costumes and sets and excellent acting (including Orson Welles as Cardinal Wolsey).
The Letters (2015) — available on DVD or streaming from Amazon Video
From the review by Sister Helena Burns of the Daughters of St. Paul at LifeTeen.com:
“The Letters” is another film about the life of Mother Teresa of Calcutta (acted with aplomb by Juliet Stevenson) — specifically that part of her life where, posthumously, personal letters that revealed her prolonged dark night of the soul surfaced. The stunning revelation is chronicled in the book “Come Be My Light — The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta.” She had wanted these letters burned at her death, but, thankfully, her spiritual advisors did nothing of the sort. To know that the woman whose name is synonymous with acts of charity struggled with not just intermittent spiritual dryness but full-blown, persistent desolation, can give courage to even the most skeptical of believers and non-believers alike.
The film’s slow, reflective pace and truly lovely soundtrack makes it suitable as a retreat film or for viewing when one is in a contemplative mood.
Brother Francis — The Saints: Our Heavenly Friends (2017) — available on DVD (also here), on YouTube and at the show’s Website.
Geared to viewers 8 and younger, this delightful animated series (with English and Spanish tracks) follows Brother Francis — a Franciscan, of course — as he guides children through all aspects of the Catholic Faith.
Regarding the episode focusing on the saints, from Amazon.com:
Join Brother Francis as he introduces children to their heavenly friends, the saints! Learn about the wonderful comfort, encouragement, and help given through those that serve God in His Heavenly Kingdom. This episode includes: The Story of Saint John Bosco – The inspiring account of the devoted saint whose dedication to God and his calling resulted in a multitude of children whose lives were changed forever. I Will Do My Best for Jesus A musical reminder to do our best for God and others no matter what our circumstances are. Meet the Saints – Viewers will be introduced to wonderful saints like Dominic Savio, Thérèse of Lisieux, John the Baptist, and many others. Entertaining and instructive, Brother Francis: The Saints is a wonderful way to help children better understands who the saints are and why they are so very important. See also these best selling, Brother Francis DVDs and Coloring & Activity Books, The Rosary, Bread of Life, Forgiven, Lets Pray. The King is Born, Born into the Kingdom, The Sacraments, The Jesus Stories, Following in His Footsteps, and More. The Brother Francis DVDs are great teaching and compliment the Brother Francis Coloring & Activity Books. –Don Greve
Here’s a taste:
Blessed All Saints (Wednesday, Nov. 1 — A Holy Day of Obligation!) and All Souls (Thursday, Nov. 2)!
Image: Courtesy Brother Francis