7QT: Christmas Movies for Families
Celeste Holm and Loretta Young in Come to the Stable
There seem to be an endless array of Christmas movies to view during this miraculous and grace-filled season. Some have little to do with the real meaning and spirit of Christmas, while others share the Christmas story and the real reason for the season. Some are great Christmas classics that bring much joy and love to our heart. This is the time of the year when the flame of love burns brightly in our hearts. Self-giving, in emulation of our Savior, is what Christmas is all about. Here are seven films that convey that message:
1. The Star — (2017) Catholic filmaker Timothy Reckart has created a beautiful animated movie for Christmas that is authentic and reverent, while at the same time is funny and delightful. This an excellent film that your entire family will enjoy! I have seen it twice and would love to see it again. It is so good that the National Catholic Conference for Catechetical Leadership has created a wonderful Catholic curriculum for it.
2. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) Who doesn’t love this great Christmas classic? This Christmas drama was produced and directed by Frank Capra, that was based on the short story “The Greatest Gift”, written by Philip Van Doren Stern in 1939, and privately published by the author in 1945. The film is considered one of the most loved films in American cinema. In this bittersweet comedy-drama, an angel helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman (James Stewart) by showing him what life would have been like if he never existed. Other stars in the film include Donna Reed and Lionel Barrymore. This is a film that has the potential to change your way of looking at life — appreciating all that God has given you and done for you.
3. The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945) If you are Catholic and you have not seen this film yet, you are really missing out. This is a must see. In this follow-up to director Leo McCarey’s Going My Way (1944), Bing Crosby repeats his Oscar-winning performance as the congenial young priest Father O’Malley. Father O’Malley is sent to help out the financially strapped St. Mary’s Academy, which is presided over by Sister Benedict (Ingrid Bergman). The two differ in their ideas on teaching styles and there is a friendly rivalry between them. A huge hit at the box office, Bells of St. Mary’s was nominated for nine Academy Awards. This is one of my personal favorites, as there is so much nostalgia and humor in it.
4. Going My Way (1944) In one of cinema’s most charming pairings, Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald star in this classic musical drama that tells the tale of singing Father O’Malley (Crosby), sent to take over the aging and cantankerous Father Fitzgibbon’s (Fitzgerald) parish. Winner of seven Oscars, including Best Picture, the film features one of Crosby’s best-loved tunes, “Swinging on a Star.” The Christmas scene at the end is particularly moving, but the entire film will win you over. This is a nostalgic and heartwarming story that will make you laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time.
5. Come to the Stable (1949) Two French nuns who are determined to fulfill a promise made to God for saving a hospital from destruction during World War II, Sister Margaret (Loretta Young) and Sister Scholastica (Celeste Holm) arrive in Connecticut with the dream of building a children’s hospital. All they need is land and money. They already have the most essential ingredient–faith. This film, filled with charm and humor, earned several academy awards. I love the faith that these young nuns have and how the lives of people in the film are changed by their bold witness to their faith. Interesting movie trivia: On the set, Loretta Young made people put money in a jar if they used the name of the Lord in vain. Thus, she earned the nickname “Attila the Nun.”
6. Mary of Nazareth (2013) is a wonderful film on the life of Mary, Mother of Christ, from her childhood through the Resurrection of Jesus. Actress Alissa Jung gives an amazing portrayal of Mary. The film also presents the beautiful, self-giving love that St. Joseph and Mary share. It is rated PG, due to the scenes from Herod’s court and the scenes on Mary Magdalen, so parental discretion is advised.
7. The Fourth Wise Man (1985) “The Fourth Wise Man,” based on the moving story, “The Story of the Other Wise Man” by 19th century writer Henry Van Dyke, traces a life-long search of a wealthy court physician and astronomer in ancient Persia named Artaban (Martin Sheen), who dedicates his life to finding the Messiah. Along the way, he give his gifts to needy people, leaving him with no offerings whatsoever. However, he attains the true gifts of God: faith, hope, and love, and ultimately, peace.
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God bless your week!