MOVIE 

Walking ‘The Way’

In the movie “The Way,” starring Martin Sheen, we get a wonderful up-close view of what it’s like to walk the 800 kilometers of the famed Camino de Santiago de Compostela, the historic pilgrim path that weaves through France and Spain. Although I had read a lot about the Camino and even know two people who have made the spiritual trek, I certainly came away from the movie version with a new appreciation for the courage and determination of those who undertake this level of pilgrimage. It is not for the faint of heart.  

And yet, even seeing the rigorous terrain, the often-crowded sleeping conditions, and the many emotional and physical difficulties encountered along the Way was not enough to make me cross the possibility off my list of potential pilgrim journeys. Quite the contrary. Seeing the film reminded me that pilgrimage is about leaving our comfort zones. Pilgrimage — as we see through the central characters of “The Way” — is about looking at things we want to ignore, seeing in others what we’ve never seen before, exploring uncharted territory in our own hearts, healing our brokenness, finding our Truth. 

Perhaps one of the most interesting things about “The Way” is its lack of an overt Catholic focus, and yet what a powerful Catholic message it sends about the spiritual journey, about trust in God, and about the dignity of life itself. It’s a beautiful film, one that is sure to leave you hungry for a pilgrim experience, even if it’s only as far as a local shrine or historic church in your own diocese. 

Mary DeTurris Poust

BOOK 

Meditating on angels   

One of the big things that sets Christians today off from their ancestors in the faith is lack of devotion to angels — particularly their own guardian angel, which Jesus himself assures each person has (Mt 18:10). That’s the challenge set forth by frequent OSV contributor and early Church scholar Mike Aquilina in his new book, “A Year with the Angels: Daily Meditations with the Messengers of God” (Saint Benedict Press, $44.95). 

“I believe the angels are the great neglected intermediaries in human relationships,” he writes. “How much stronger our families would be — our neighborhoods would be — our friendships would be — our workplace would be — our society would be — if only we, habitually and silently, called upon the help of the guardian angels of the people who are with us in the course of a day.” 

The beautifully bound book contains 365 brief meditations from the Church Fathers about angels. Each is accompanied with a question for reflection and a closing prayer, to help the reader gradually draw closer, through prayer and study, to the angels — one of God’s greatest gifts to humans after the gift of life itself.

TV 

Family-friendly fun on ‘Mass Confusion’

The family sitcom is something of an oxymoron these days. Long gone are shows like “The Cosby Show” with a loving mother, father and children. Now, the hottest sitcom is “Modern Family,” which charts the dysfunction of an extended family, including a same-sex couple. 

Jennifer and Greg Willits, co-hosts of “The Catholics Next Door” radio program on SiriusXM, and Mac and Katherine Barron, of the “Catholics In A Small Town” podcasts, hope to bring back the family sitcom — this time with a Catholic twist. Their new “Mass Confusion” was to premiere at 8:30 p.m. Thanksgiving Day on CatholicTV.  

The pilot’s plot centers around Jennifer’s 40th birthday celebration and the emotions the milestone event evokes. Topics up for grabs on the show include serious subjects — the blessings of large families (five for the Willitses and three for the Barrons) and the importance of being open to life — and lightedhearted ones, such as what happens when one of the kids turns the oven to broil while the birthday cake is baking, but all is done with a deft touch. 

The show encores Thanksgiving weekend at 8:30 a.m. and 10 p.m. Nov. 26 and 3:30 p.m. Nov. 27 on CatholicTV. It can also be viewed free from an iPhone or an iPad. For more information, visit www.catholictv.com/Mass-Confusion.aspx

TECHNOLOGY  

Video-link tree lighting

With a tap on an iPad, Pope Benedict XVI will light the world’s largest electronic Christmas tree in Gubbio, Italy, without having to leave his home in Vatican City. 

The city of Gubbio and the Diocese of Gubbio announced at a news conference Nov. 12 that the pope would light the tree via a video link set up by the Vatican Television Center. The tree-lighting ceremony takes place on the evening of Dec. 7, the eve of the Immaculate Conception.  

From his apartment in Vatican City, the pope will turn on the tree using an application on the iPad 2. Before lighting the tree, the pope will send a video message to the citizens of Gubbio thanking the volunteers on the committee who organized the event and who have been responsible for setting up the tree for decades. 

CNS