I have been waiting for months to see the new film There Be Dragons, which tells the story of an estranged father and son whose lives are forever changed by their encounter with St. Josemaría Escrivá. If you haven’t yet seen the trailer, take a look:
Sadly, the film won’t be playing where I live for at least another week, possibly longer. The good news is, a film about a Catholic saint, with a well-known director and actors you might actually recognize, will be released tomorrow in theaters across the United States.
The reviews so far haven’t exactly been stellar. I’ve seen glimpses of positive press, mostly Religion features and opinion columns (Exhibit A, Exhibit B), Exhibit C) – but on the whole, the critics have been pretty… well, critical. That doesn’t discourage me from going to see the film, and it shouldn’t discourage you, either. Whatever the critics say, the film can’t be called a total flop, and here’s why.
In a recent interview with Zenit, former Vatican press secretary Joaquín Navarro-Valls indicated that the good work of the filmmakers is already bearing fruit:
“Without planning to do so, [director and writer] Roland Joffé has started a movement of many people who feel moved to forgive. The producers are daily receiving messages of thanks (some are on the Internet) from people who see the movie and decide to return home after years of separation, from spouses who are reconciled, from parents and children who have come to accept one another again, from others who return to God after a long time of being distanced from Him.”
(You can read the entire interview with Dr. Navarro-Valls on Zenit.org.)
Amazing, right? Though it shouldn’t surprise us, really. Holiness begets holiness. Mercy begets mercy. It’s like I was saying on Sunday: we let God’s mercy into our hearts, it grows within us, and then we share it with others by showing them mercy. Then it grows within them, then they share it with others… and soon there is quite a bit more goodness and mercy in the world than there was before. That’s what the life of a saint does – it transforms the world.
As for those critics, people will see what they want to see. Those whose hearts are closed, who believe they’ve found all the answers they need, will inevitably dismiss a film like this as yet another mediocre wartime drama. On the other hand, those people who are still seeking, who maybe want to change, to be a better person, to learn how to forgive, but perhaps don’t believe it’s possible – they are the ones who can be changed forever by the story of a saint.
St. Josemaría Escrivá, pray for us!