TOP TEN MOVIE FAVORITES: A life at the movies.


What follows is what came from my Lectio Divina (Phil 2:5) meditations. I need to acknowledge Brother Michael, O.C.S.O. and Father Cassian, O.C.S.O., monks both at the Monastery of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit, Conyers, Georgia, for expanding my idea of Lectio to group Lectio, photos, and music Lectio and even sitting down to a computer and letting the Holy Spirit dictate what to say. I must tell them I have a problem with their suggestions and guidance. I don’t know how to turn off the spigot of the Holy Spirit. I guess that is a good problem to have. 

If you know what the Left Hand of God is, then you know that it is a movie starring Humphrey Bogart, actually, his last film as well as for Jean Tierney made in 1955, although she was having severe emotional problems during the filming.  At the end of his life, Bogart had terrible coughing spells between takes for the movie. You can see age in his weathered face. Lee J. Cobb plays the War Lord in this film set in China in the 1940s. I bring this up because you can now see it on Comcast movies if you wish. I rate the Left Hand of God as one of my top ten movies of all time. 

Other top ten movies are:

1. Gregory Peck in Keys of the Kingdom (and anything else he was in)

2. Charlton Heston in Ben Hur (and anything else he was in)

3. Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain (and anything else he was in)

4. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers in Top Hat (and anything else they were in)

5. Humphrey Bogart in The Left Hand of God (and anything else he was in)

6. John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara in The Quiet Man (and anything else they were in)

7. Basil Rathbone in The Court Jester (and anything else he was in)

8. Cary Grant in Gunga Din, Victor McLaglen(and anything else any of them were in)

9. Gary Cooper in Lives of a Bengal Lancer (and anything else he was in)

10. Katheryn Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart, and Cary Grant in The Philadelphia Story (and anything else any of them were in)

11. Spencer Tracy in Inherit the Wind (and anything else is was in)

Notice anything about this list? Something out of place?

  • For one thing, there are eleven movies, not ten. Baker’s Dozen? Sometimes you just have to squeeze life a little to get it to ooze what you want.
  • They all have movie stars that make me laugh, cry, or think. Other movies, for sure, do this, but these have reached my heart.
  • Movies are actual stories told by writers, actors, producers, directors, and stage hands, all working together to put ideas down within a specific timeframe. Some are good, some are terrible.
  • I like any movies these actors or actresses are in.
  • It shows how old-fashioned and sentimental I am.

Seeing how movies can relate to Christ might seem like a stretch. Think about it for a moment. As a Lay Cistercian who does Lectio Divina at least once every day (Phil 2:5), I try to relate everything to this saying, “have in you the mind of Christ Jesus.”

  • What Jesus came to do was on a stage (the world, in particular, a set in Jerusalem).
  • He had a supporting cast of characters (you could not find a more unlikely crew of cats to herd).
  • Christ had a script (to do all the Father had told him), yet he had writers take down these ideas because he never wrote a script or a book (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, et al.).
  • He was a leader extraordinaire but only ever gave one command: love others as I have loved you.
  • He was tempted by Satan in the desert. Want an excellent visual of the Devil? See the fantastic choreography of Bob Fosse in his “Snake in the Grass” scene from The Little Prince Movie.
  • The script had drama and incredible feats beyond the imagination of even the best scriptwriters. You could not make these miracles up.
  • He walked on water.
  • He raised the dead.
  • He was transfigured before the eyes of witnesses.
  • Like all heroic films, our hero had to overcome tremendous obstacles and come out on top. Was this magic? If not, he had significant special effects.
  • His supporting cast was always slow to get what he was trying to do, even going to sleep once when he needed them the most. 
  • The mother of some of the cast members wanted her sons to have the highest billing in the movie, but He told her it was not his to give. (After all, he was not the Director.)
  • Christ did his own stunts, doing all the scourging at the pillar, crowing of thorns, and carrying his cross himself (they did get an extra, Simon of Cyrene, to help him when he fell down too many times).
  • The climax to this film was not just a sword fight, as Basic Rathbone had in Robin Hood, or even a ship’s battle, as Gregory Peck did in Captain Horatio Hornblower. He volunteered to give up his life because of love.
  • The star dies in this film, giving his life to his friends. Sounds like Gunga Din and Tales of a Bengal Lancer, don’t you think? But, like all epic films (El CidThe Ten CommandmentsThe Greatest Story Ever Told), death is not the end of the movement. There is a resurrection of the hero from the dead, and he appears to Mary and the Apostles and other disciples after his death.
  • His enemies said his disciples stole his body away and made up all these fanciful tales. They still do to this day.
  • They recognized him in the breaking of the bread. We still do that today.
  • This film was made with no budget and no money for actors.
  • They had to pay to make the film; the cost is their life and to give up everything and follow The Master.
  • There have been many sequels to this film down through the ages.
  • Check out the movie about the Seven Cistercian martyrs of Our Lady of Altas for a poignant sequel.  Oh, and don’t forget to watch The Left Hand of God.   
  • What is the title of this film? It has many names, all of them good. I like to call it “The Divine Equation.” Not a catchy title, but I can call it what I want. I may change the title later if I get more mean and cranky. 
  • His followers promoted the movie, filmed in their hearts by the Holy Spirit. They still do. There is only one movie reel known to exist, although there are countless movie projectors on which you might play it.
  • The Father was the Director, while the Holy Spirit was the cinematographer. It was filmed in real-life color. Each individual person is in the cast, be they, believers or non-believers. 
  • Editing was done to the many scripts submitted as a biopic of his life after he Ascended. The Twelve Apostles were the Board of Directors and selected the best scripts after being enlightened by the Holy Spirit and approved by The Director.
  • The reviews were rave. His exploits spread to Rome from Jerusalem within twenty-five years of his birth. That must have been a box office record at the time. Those who attended the movie later said it was “to die for.”
  • It could have been just another Indy movie about an obscure cult. Instead, it had a worldwide audience.
  • Promotion is done by each person who loves others as Christ loved us.

This movie is not for everyone, but for anyone wishing to grow deeper in the Mystery of Faith, to sit on a park bench in the dead of winter and wait for the heart of Christ to come by and touch you with His love. To paraphrase the book Little Prince, the time you take to wait for someone to come by your bench is meaningful. What is essential is invisible to the eye.

To those who see this movie and interiorize its message of love and hope, there awaits a final showing at the end of time, a Gala Grand Movie Premier. Everyone will be there. You don’t want to miss it. Oh, I forgot, you must have a ticket to get in. The good news is that Christ gave everyone a ticket upon their birth, but not everyone realizes what they have. They redeem their ticket upon their Baptism and Confirmation. Lose your ticket? No problemo! Christ makes all things new…now and Forever. And don’t forget to buy popcorn and a drink.

Praise to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. The God who is, who was, and who is to come at the end of the ages. Amen and Amen. –Cistercian doxology

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