If I asked you to define the word miracle, what would you say? Ignatius Press recently released a DVD called Miracles that looks at this phenomenon and attempts to define it. This 35-minute film begins with several priests, Fr. Marcus Holden and Fr. Andrew Pinsent, philosophizing on the subject. Eventually, we get a fairly concise definition. A miracle is an extraordinary, supernatural event that happens in nature that nature could never produce by itself. However, a miracle is not something that happens just to cause people to wonder at. A miracle happens so that a change will occur in humanity, and people will turn to God.
After we have a definition, the subject turns to Scripture to look at miracles found in the Bible. Examples given from the Old Testament include the Flood, the parting of the Red Sea, and the collapse of the Walls of Jericho. Where we see the most miracles performed are in the New Testament with Jesus. The reason for this is not only because Jesus is God, but also because people then needed convincing since Jesus was founding a new religion. It is interestingly pointed out that despite these miraculous events that people witnessed first-hand, some still turned away from God, because His teachings were too difficult for them. The miracles of Christ were performed, not just to ease people’s sufferings, but were for the salvation of souls.
EWTN contributors James and Joanna Bogle contribute to this film as well, and points out that miracles didn’t stop when Jesus left this world. Instead, His Apostles’ ministries were filled with miracles as well. As time passed, miracles became rarer, except in one situation. Anytime a new mission is established and a conversion of people is attempted, miracles seem to be more abundant. This goes back to the need for these signs to convince people and save their souls. The film goes on to talk about present day miracles, such as the many that are credited to Pope John Paul II while he was still alive and the incorruptible bodies of approximately 140 saints. Other topics covered include the Eucharist, Mary, and shrines in Europe (Fatima and Lourdes, primarily).
When I first received this DVD, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Since the film was only 35 minutes long, I wasn’t sure what to expect and how in-depth they could actually get. However, after watching it through, I was pleasantly surprised and wanted to immediately watch it again. It is the perfect introduction on miracles and does a masterful job of explaining exactly what miracles are, what purpose they serve, and citing examples. The main point I took away from this DVD is that miracles are not an end to themselves, but serve several purposes. “They convince us of the reality of God, help us when we need divine help, and to point to certain religious truths.” This is a great DVD to pick up for small groups or religious education at your parish.
Iñigo López de Loyola was born at the castle of Loyola in the Basque Country of Spain. As a boy, he was a page to one of his relatives for the kingdom of Castile. It was here that he developed a love for military exercises and the ideas of fame, honor, and protecting a lady. When he was older, he jointed the Spanish Army which was fighting against the French. It was here that his leg was severely injured, and his life was forever changed. For a long time, he wallowed in self-pity because he could not return to the only life he knew. Eventually, he had a conversion experience and eventually became who we now know as St. Ignatius of Loyola. Recently, Ignatius Press released a film called Ignatius of Loyola: Solder, Sinner, Saint.
The film itself is told in autobiographical fashion with scenes broken down like chapters in a book. I know that St. Ignatius penned an autobiography, but I have never read it, so I can’t say for sure if it draws from this work or not. The film follows very closely to key areas of his life. We see his childhood frequently, both early in the movie and often in flashbacks. We see his career as a soldier and the permanent injury he sustained. We also see his seedy past, visiting brothels and engaging with a particular woman. Most importantly, we see his conversion story and the fruits of this conversion. He goes back to the brothel and helps the woman realize that she is more than just a prostitute. She is a child of God and can do so much more with her life than this “profession.” We lastly see the Order of Jesuits and all the people that he helped convert.
The movie is beautifully done in terms of cinematography and acting. Often times with religious films, you get over-the-top acting or the movie coming off as too preachy. This film does not suffer from that, but instead tells the conversion story of a man who would go on to become a great soldier for Christ. There are parts in this movie that are going to be bloody and gory (battles and injuries) and there are sexual scenes (nothing shown, but definitely implied off-camera) where they visit prostitutes and employ them, so you will want to watch this before immediately showing it to your children. However, including these scenes is important, because it shows that Ignatius was a sinner and a flawed man (like we all are), who could only be saved by the grace of God. This is a very profound movie, and a worthy title to be included among the many other saints movies Ignatius Press has been publishing. Highly recommended!
Copyright 2017 Stuart Dunn
These DVDs were provided to me for free by Ignatius Press in exchange for an honest review.