Category: Faith and Family on the Internet

TV Ad Turns Around the Bad-Dad Story of “Cat’s in the Cradle’

In his 1974 folk song “Cat’s in the Cradle,” Harry Chapin sings about a father who, too late, discovers that his adult son has become just as neglectful of him as he was of the boy growing up.

Among the lyrics:

I’ve long since retired and my son’s moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, I’d like to see you if you don’t mind
He said, I’d love to, dad, if I could find the time
You see, my new job’s a hassle, and the kid’s got the flu
But it’s sure nice talking to you, dad
It’s been sure nice talking to you
And as I hung up the phone, it occurred to me
He’d grown up just like me
My boy was just like me

Now, investment firm TDAmeritrade has released a new ad that turns that song on its head, reimagining it with a father who gets it right the first time. With Father’s Day coming up, it’s a great reminder of the vital importance of dads, adoptive dads, foster dads — and spiritual fathers, including good priests — in the lives of children.

It’s an investment that returns endless dividends, even in heaven.

Get some hankies.

Image: YouTube Screenshot

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook. Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.

Former “Bad Boy” Mark Wahlberg Speaking Out for His Catholic Faith

Today, June 5, is the 46th birthday of actor and producer Mark Wahlberg, a Catholic and, like all of us, a work in progress.

In his youth, he committed crimes and acts of violence and served time in jail for them. As a rapper and actor, his music and roles have often employed foul language, overt sexuality and violence. He was also an underwear model.

But if a repentant thief crucified next to Christ could find his way into the kingdom, there is hope for us all.

In recent years, Wahlberg publicly recommitted to his Catholic faith and married longtime girlfriend Rhea Durham — at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Beverly Hills, where he has been a regular Mass attendee. Their children also attend a Catholic school.

While not all of his movies are family fare, he was a star and producer for “Deepwater Horizon,” the film about the 2010 explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and “Patriots Day,” about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Both of these films celebrated the heroism of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.

He’s also spoken out publicly about the difference returning to the Church as made in his life.

From 2012, on Piers Morgan’s now-defunct CNN talk show:

As the Master of Ceremonies for the World Meeting of Families festival in 2015, during Pope Francis’ visit to America …

He also had to make a little apology to Pope Francis for his raunchy movie, “Ted” …

And from 2016, a viral video calling for vocations to the priesthood, and talking about what priests have meant to him …

We all make mistakes, sometimes terrible ones, and when you become a public figure, there’s no escaping your past. But if the best use of fame is to help others, Wahlberg is making good use of his celebrity to show what repentance and redemption can mean.

Happy Birthday, Mark!

Image: Courtesy Amazon Prime

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook. Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.

5 for First Friday: Family-Friendly Viewing for June — ‘American Girl,’ ‘Funderdome,’ ‘Free Willy’

It’s the First Friday of the month, so we’re spotlighting some family friendly viewing options for June.

“An American Girl Story: Summer Camp, Friends for Life”: An Amazon Original Special premiering on Prime Video on June 8, this “American Girl” story follows the characters Z, Paz and Drew. Their friendship is cemented at S.T.E.A.M. (science, technology, engineering, art, math) camp when they find themselves working together to solve a summer mystery, without the help of smartphones or computers. The story encourages the kind of problem solving and perseverance vital to the academic success of young women in a fun way that will engage girls.

“Steve Harvey’s FUNDERDOME”: Based on the success of “Shark Tank,” ABC is hoping for another hit with this summer series, also from producer Mark Burnett, which helps contestants to chase the American dream. Premiering Sunday, June 11, “FUNDERDOME” is a seed-funding competition show where two hopeful entrepreneurs face off to win over a live studio audience. The prize? Financing of their ideas, products or companies.

In each of the 13 episodes, the audience will represent the “customer” and votes to determine the winner. After each round, and before host Steve Harvey reveals the results of the crowd’s majority vote, the entrepreneurs will be given a choice to cash out and walk away for a lesser amount. But if an entrepreneur cashes out, they forgo the opportunity to win the whole cash prize – a good move if they lost the crowd vote, but a bad move if they would have won it.

“Charlotte’s Web”: Available on Amazon Prime, the 1973 animated classic, based on E.B. White’s children’s book, follows Wilbur the pig, who worries about reaching the end of the season when he knows he’ll likely end up on someone’s dinner table. But a wise and sweet spider named Charlotte promises to spin a web that will save young Wilbur from his otherwise inevitable fate. The 2006 live-action version, starring Dakota Fanning, is also available, on Hulu.

“Free Willy”: In keeping with the animal-lover theme, this 1993 feature film, available on Amazon Prime, follows a young boy in foster care who bonds with an orca in captivity and does everything possible to save the whale and set him free. Its sequels, “Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home” and “Free Willy 3: The Rescue,” are available on Hulu.

“Battle of the Network Stars”: In a revival of the popular competition series that aired in the 1970s and ’80s, MMA fighter Ronda Rousey and NFL star DeMarcus Ware are the captains of rotating teams made up of 100 television stars from 14 different network and cable companies. Premiering June 29 on ABC, the summer series allows offers celebrities competing in events such as swimming, running, basketball-dunking and obstacle courses.

As in the original, the competition is held at Pepperdine University, on the shores of the Pacific Ocean in Malibu, California.

It may be an old concept, but one that families can always enjoy together.

Here’s a peek at the original, including Lynda Carter, the original “Wonder Woman”:

Korbi is a former full-time TV blogger, writing for sites such as E! Online and Yahoo!. She is now a full-time mom of twin boys. In her free time, she moonlights as a Marriage, Family & Individual Therapist.

Image: Courtesy Amazon Prime

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook. Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.

Protecting Kids (and Their Souls) in a Media/Digital World

While parents are rightly concerned what their kids see on television or hear in school, every laptop, tablet and smartphone opens a door to a digital world where the best and worst of humanity is on view.

There is software to help parents filter what their children can see — click here for a current rundown of top offerings, via PC Magazine — but social media especially opens up risks of trolling and cyberbullying, and may allow child predators to target potential victims.

How is the Church Helping Protect Kids in the Digital World?

This coming October, the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome is host for a congress called “Child Dignity in the Digital World.”

From Vatican Radio:

Spearheaded and hosted by the University’s Center for Child Protection headed by Prof. Hans Zollner SJ, the congress entitled “Child Dignity in the Digital World” will examine new forms of abuse children can be subjected to in the digital world, and discuss the risks and challenges of the digital age and its impact on the dignity of children.

The congress foresees the participation of global scientific and technical experts and decision makers, and aims to promote appropriate action.

The International event will take place from 3 to 6 October in partnership with WePROTECT Global Alliance. At the end of the congress a declaration will be presented to Pope Francis who is scheduled to receive the participants in audience.

Although hazards to children abound online, a lot of responsibility lies with those who create content, and those whose job it is to curate content, including parents and teachers. Even if they’re kept away from a TV screen, in many families, it’s extremely difficult to protect innocent young eyes from images on social media.

What Does Pope Francis Have to Say About Digital Communication?

A lot of what’s televised and posted online does no good for adults, either.

In his recent address for the 51st World Communications Day in January, Pope Francis spoke directly to content creators, appealing to the better angels of their nature:

I would like, then, to contribute to the search for an open and creative style of communication that never seeks to glamorize evil but instead to concentrate on solutions and to inspire a positive and responsible approach on the part of its recipients. I ask everyone to offer the people of our time storylines that are at heart “good news.”

What Can Parents and Parishes Do?

Along with commercial filtering programs, fellow Catholics can help each other find great, faith-affirming family content. Here’s one great resource, “Strong Catholic Family Faith,” formed with the help of experts from the dioceses of Jefferson City, Missouri; San Jose, California; St. Petersburg, Florida; and Joliet, Illinois.

CatholicFamilyFaith.org: As described, “The Strong Catholic Family Faith website has been created to assist parish and school leaders in finding the best and most relevant content and experiences for developing faith-filled Catholic families.  All of these resources have been selected and reviewed by the Project Team and drawn from trusted sources.”

The site offers media resources (including reviews), faith practices, the liturgical calendar, parent and grandparent formation, information on the sacraments, and leadership training and other initiatives for adults and youth.

It’s impressive.

Here’s one of the videos:

Image: Courtesy Pixabay

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook. Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.

Catholic High Schools Battle ‘Prayer-Shaming’ in Two Videos

Want to feel proud of Catholic high-school students? Here are a couple of videos that celebrate prayer, faith and freedom — and also remind us of the sobering reality a lot of young people face in our violent world.

This especially warms our hearts, since Family Theater Productions’ founder, Servant of God Father Patrick Peyton, C.S.C., was a strong proponent of the rosary, especially the family rosary, and of prayer in general. He’s known for the phrase “The Family That Prays Together Stays Together,” based on his own experiences of daily family rosaries growing up in Ireland.

No doubt he’d be very pleased to see the video below, created in 2015 by students and teachers at East Catholic High School in Manchester, Connecticut.

It urges all of those who love God and pray to come out of the shadows.

As they say: “No more prayer shaming. Let’s bring God and prayer back into our lives.”

In early 2016, in the wake of the December 2015 terrorist shooting in San Bernardino, California, that killed 14 people and injured 22 more, students at Notre Dame High School in nearby Riverside, California, made a similar video to support East Catholic High.

After the San Bernardino shooting, there were indeed incidents of “prayer-shaming,” as many on social media made cynical attacks on those who offered prayers. From a story in The Atlantic:

The most powerful evidence against this backlash toward prayer comes not from the Twitterverse, but from San Bernardino. “Pray for us,” a woman texted her father from inside the Inland Regional Center, while she and her colleagues hid from the gunfire. Outside the building, evacuated workers bowed their heads and held hands. They prayed.

The video is also a reminder that today’s high-schoolers live with constant reports of terrorist attacks and school shootings — and in the case of these kids, terror took someone they knew.

Pray for our Catholic schools and students. Let’s keep them strong, keep them Catholic, and keep them dedicated to Christ, the Faith, the Church and to prayer.

Amen.

Image: YouTube screenshot

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook. Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.

Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima With Film

Saturday, May 13, is the 100th anniversary of the first appearance of Our Lady of Fatima to three shepherd children in Portugal in 1917. When you’re not watching coverage of the papal visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima on EWTN, you can slip in a few movies.

“The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima” (1952; available via DVD from Amazon Prime): As described by Deacon Steven Greydanus:

[It] is an old-fashioned production in the Golden Age tradition of religious fare like The Song of Bernadette. It’s not as good a movie as The Song of Bernadette (the best of Hollywood’s Golden Age piety, in my opinion), but it’s well made, entertaining, and fairly faithful to the main facts (despite liberties such as Gilbert Roland’s fictional rascal with a heart of gold, added to help mediate the story for mainstream audiences).

“The 13th Day” (2009; available via DVD from Amazon Prime): The editorial review at Amazon describes this British production thus:

In a world torn apart by persecution, war and oppression, 3 children in Fatima, Portugal were chosen by God to offer an urgent message of hope to the world. Based on the memoirs of the oldest seer, Lucia Santos, and many thousands of independent eye-witness accounts, The 13th Day dramatizes the true story of three young shepherds who experienced six apparitions of Our Lady between May and October 1917, which culminated in the final prophesied Miracle of the Sun on October 13th. Abducted from their homes, thrown into prison and interrogated under the threat of death in the government’s attempt to silence them, the children remained true to their story about the crucial messages from Mary of prayer, repentance and conversion for the world.

Our Lady gave a secret to the children told in three parts, from a harrowing vision of hell, to prophetic warnings of future events including the advent and timing of the Second World War, the spread of communism, and the attempted assassination of the Pope.

Stylistically beautiful and technically innovative, the film uses state-of-the-art digital effects to create stunning images of the visions and the final miracle that have never before been fully realized on screen. Shot on location in Portugal and in the UK, the film has a cast of hundreds to re-create the scenes of the 70,000 strong crowds, with 3 young Portuguese actors playing the iconic roles of the Seers.

Witness the greatest miracle of the 20th Century, and experience the incredible, emotionally-charged and harrowing world of three young children whose choice to remain loyal to their beliefs, even in the face of death, would inspire thousands.

Filmed in High Definition with Dolby Surround Sound. Stars Jane Lesley, Michael D’Cruze, Filipa Fernandes and Tarek Merlin.

“Finding Fatima” (2010; available via DVD from Amazon Prime): If your tastes run more to documentary, here’s one from the same filmmakers who produced “The 13th Day.” It combines archival footage, dramatic reenactments, interviews with experts and visual effects to tell the whole story of the the apparitions, which began with an angel and continued on the 13th of each month between May and Oct. 1917 (when the Miracle of the Sun is reported to have happened in front of scores of onlookers).

“The Song of Bernadette” (1943; available to stream via Amazon Prime): Of course, Fatima isn’t the only place Our Lady is reported to have appeared. This Hollywood classic stars Jennifer Jones as peasant girl Bernadette Soubirous, who reported 18 visions of the Virgin Mary in Lourdes, France, between February and July 1858. Having been based on a novel about the events, it’s not perfectly historically accurate, but it is moving and won four Academy Awards, including best actress for Jones.

One pope associated strongly with Fatima is John Paul II, and for good reason. On May 13, 1981, the 64th anniversary of Fatima, Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Agca fired on the pope at point-blank range at the Vatican.

From a 2016 story at Crux:

Yet the two bullets Agca fired at the pope somehow went wide of their targets, one grazing off John Paul’s elbow and the other penetrating his abdomen but narrowly missing a major artery.

To John Paul II, it was no mystery at all why he survived: the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima.

On the anniversary of the assassination attempt, John Paul II traveled to the shrine of Fatima in Portugal to give thanks to Mary for saving his life, placing the bullet doctors had removed from his body in the crown of the Virgin’s statue, where it remains to this day.

There have been a few films about JPII, but one of the best is a 2005 CBS miniseries, called, unsurprisingly, “John Paul II.” Available on DVD from Amazon Prime, it stars Cary Elwes as the young Karol Wojtyla, and Jon Voight as the elder Wojtyla, when he was Pope John Paul II.

From a review by Deacon Steven Greydanus:

Reverent, respectful, well acted and well-paced, Pope John Paul II does about as good a job at covering both halves of its subject’s life as could be hoped for in a TV movie. The miniseries neatly splits its two nights between the pre-election Karol Wojtyla and the reign of Pope John Paul II, with Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride) playing Wojtyla from his youth to the 1978 conclave and Jon Voight (Holes) playing John Paul II from the conclave to his 2005 death.

Both actors do a remarkably good job at evoking the speech, style and physical presence of this most media-exposed of popes. Elwes particularly excels at projecting Wojtyla’s formidable intellect and passion, and Voight is especially good at realizing the Holy Father’s pastoral spirit and iron resolve. Both actors effectively tackle the physicality of the role, Elwes energetic and athletic as the younger Wojtyla and Voight giving an impressively controlled performance from the vigor of the early years of the papacy through the slow decline to that painful final public appearance when all the pope’s immense willpower could not coax speech from his throat.

Have a Blessed Feast of Our Lady of Fatima!

Images: © José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro / CC BY-SA 3.0; Kristyn Brown

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook. Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.