Sex and the City

Here are two reviews of the film “Sex and the City”.


The first is the one I wrote for St. Anthony Messenger, July 2008:

This one is by Sr. Bernadette Mary Reis, FSP. She wrote it for Busted Halo and surveyed many women for their response to the film.

Media Literacy Course Releases YouTube Video!


Thanks to Nick Pernisco of Santa Monica College, our Master Teacher in Media Literacy Certificate Course participants made a video and posted it today on YouTube!

We hope this is the first of many!


St. Paul goes to the Movies in the Pauline Year 2008-2009

Painting of St. Paul by El Greco

I recently received two inquiries about major motion pictures that correlate with St. Paul’s life, ministry, letters. Folks want to use the films to explore the theology and spirituality of St. Paul during this Pauline Year June 2008 -June 2009, commemorating the birth of St. Paul. I think this is a great idea! In fact, we may choose Pauline theological themes as the framework of the National Film Retreat in 2009.

Here are some suggestions for now, but I hope to amplify this list over the next few months. The first thing to do, is of course, is to identify the key theological themes in St. Paul’s life and writings.


These two books explore some films from a Pauline perspective.

St. Paul at the Movies: The Apostles Dialogue with American Culture

by Robert Jewett; paperback, 1993

St. Paul Returns to the Movies: Triumph Over Shame

by Robert Jewett; paperback, 1998


Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM offers many themes in his amazing CD series, The Great Themes of Paul: Life as Participation, from St. Anthony Messenger Press:

I have already listened to this series twice (and some of the CD’s even more). It is accessible and explains so very much about Paul.


You might also subscribe to so you can received the Pope’s weekly talk from his Wednesday general audience). Pope Benedict XVI has already started what will be an amazing catechesis/exegesis collection of St. Paul.


Right off I can offer these four themes and if you order Richard Rohr’s series and take notes while listening, which I warmly recommend, you can find so many more.

          Experience of God (Paul’s Encounter with Christ on the Road to Damascus; his mystical experiences; his understanding of redemption)

o   Millions; The Third Miracle; Brideshead Revisited (on DVD but a new film version is coming out this summer); Cry the Beloved Country; The Mission

          Transformation (Paul’s Transformation – he never speaks of conversion but of transformation in Christ)

o   The Lives of Others – a Stasi agent is transformed by art, and the goodness of others

          Participation (Body of Christ; love for one another; Agape, Filia, Eros)

o   Mostly Martha, Big Night,  Babette’s Feast; What’s Cooking; Simply Irresistible, Pieces of April; Soul Food; Eat, Drink, Man, Woman: any of the food movies that speak to family, food/meals, community

          New Creation (The cosmos; the new heaven and the new earth; care for the earth)

o   Contact; An Inconvenient Truth; The Burning Season; WALL-E


Cinema Divina

I suggest using the Cinema Divina approach (based on the ancient practice of lectio divina.) For an article, Cinema Divina for Teachers: Spiritual Development through Contemporary Film (Today’s Catholic Teacher, Jan-Feb, 2008) explaining this method, please visit

Theological Reflection

Another approach is that of Theological Reflection (which interfaces well with a media mindfulness approach). For an article, Preaching Goes to the Movies: the Gospel meets popular culture when homilies dare to engage film (National Catholic Reporter, 2004) explaining how to use theological reflection for film viewing, visit :

Pastoral Planning and Preparation

Most of these films are for mature believers who understand that the film is a story about something rather considering it in its parts, which, when taken by themselves, may seem inappropriate to some viewers. Only one or two films above are suitable for adolescents; the rest are for young adults and adults. I strongly recommend that you screen the films ahead of time so that you will know the story, context and content, and be able to connect Pauline and cinematic themes (and decide ifthis is really the best film for your group.)

It is a good idea to create a handout for your event(s) with the name of the film, a brief synopsis of the film (essential information about each film canbe found at – the Internet Movie Database), select quotes from Scriptures that provide a way to have a dialogue about the film and Pauline themes. It is also good to have 3-4 questions to guide the reflection and conversation.

Some words to the wise:

– Don’t give in to the temptation to tell the story of the film ahead of time; if anything, read the Scripture quotes before the screening.  The vast majoroty of people dislike having the story told to them in advance. Just watch the film… Let it tell the story.

– You MUST have a license to show films in any other setting than a normal school day and within the curriculum of the school: see  Christian Video Licensing International is the name of the company. This is a fine company that can keep us all legal. Retreats and after school programs require a license. RCIA does not count as school curriculum, for example.

– Be sure to have a break after the screening. Provide refreshments.

– Move the chairs into a circle for the conversation; this provides for a respectful and fair conversation

– Avoid doing all the talking; the role of the leader is to facilitate and draw out the participants.

– To prevent someone from hogging the time and dominating the conversation, be sure to ask everyone to keep their comments to two  minutes at a time – and that you have the stop watch and will use it.

– Let the participants know that there are no right or wrong ways to interpret the film (this doesn’t mean there is no right or wrong), therefore, everyone’s opinion is valid and deserves respect. The facilitator may want to ask questions to clarify the comments, but respect is paramount.



National Film Retreat 2008 Melting Pots: Food and Family

The 9th annual National Film Retreat took place this past weekend. All together, 19 people took part at one point or another. Reflecting on the spirituality and theology of food and family in the movies was enriching and inspiring. The theme was “Melting Pots: Food and Family.”

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?, Eat, Drink, Man, Woman, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, The Global Banquet (a documentary on the politics of food), and finally, What’s Cooking? yielded much”food for thought”, conversation, and prayer.


Here are some photos from our weekend:

Some of the participants…. from Los Angeles, Boston, Ohio, Singapore and San Clemente, San Diego…. Sister Lynette Constance (4th from left)is a newly professed sister of the Daughters of St. Paul. Congratulations, Sr. Lynette!

During Mass, Fr. Greg used a clip from Mostly Martha.

After we saw Ang Lee’s Eat, Drink, Man Woman, we went out to dinner at the newly renovated Fuji Wok Restaurant on Sepulveda Blvd., across the street from the Pauline Center in culver City.

Sr. Frances, Carol Anne and Sr. M. Joseph at the Fuji Wok!

The retreat concluded with lunch with the community of the Daughters of St. Paul in our convent dining room. Sr. Madonna Janet cooked Italian and Sr. Frances decorated….

For anyone who would like to join us for a repeat of this retreat, please see the entry below about the Catholic Cruise Retreat. I think there is still room! But act now!

(Two of the films will be replaced with Big Night and My Big Fat Greek Wedding because of the selection available to the cruise lines.)

If you would like to be notified of the 10th annual film retreat in 2009, please send an email to

Blessings to all!

Into Great Silence Office of Readings Soundtrack

 Although I have not yet heard this new release yet, if it is anything like the sound track for INTO GREAT SILENCE, it should be good!



 | spotlight

available now


Only in complete silence does one begin to hear.
Only in the absence of language does one begin to see.

After the incredible critical acclaim and commercial success of the documentary film Into Great Silence, Jade Music is proud to release the follow-up album to the soundtrack: Into Great Silence – Office of the Night. 

This is the first time that any recording of the Office of the Night at the Grande Chartreuse has been made available in its entirety.

The two-CD album is a collection of chants, readings, prayers, and sounds of silence recorded by film director Philip Gröning during his six-month stay at the monastery. It includes an extensive 50-page booklet with liner notes, lyrics, and prayers.

“This Office of the Night appeared to me to be the core of the Monks’ life and spirituality, the heartbeat of the Order for more than 1000 years. I wanted to share my experience with an audience.” – Philip Gröning 

Available July 15th

into great silence 
| movie soundtrack

In 1984, German filmmaker Philip Gröning wrote to the Carthusian order for permission to make a documentary about them. They said they would get back to him. Sixteen years later, they were ready. The soundtrack to Into Great Silence includes the touching and amazing chants from the Monks that make up the Grande Chartreuse Choir.

Available Now

Visit Milan’s Into Great Silence page
About the film


Iron Man and The Iraq War Movie

Iron Man, based on the popular comic book character, is a thoroughly entertaining film. Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) runs a weapons development corporation. After he is captured by the Taliban while delivering the latest weaponry, a doctor/scientist/engineer, also a captive, gives him a new heart to replace the one that is damaged during his capture. He witnesses civilians being killed during attacks by his company’s weapons used by the enemy. He then resolves to develop target-sensitive weapons and to find out how his company’s weapons are getting into enemy hands. To escape, Stark and his new friend invent an Iron Man suit that allows Tony to fly. He returns to LA to find out who is selling his weapons to the enemy, make the target-sensitive weapons, and finesse his Iron Man suit.

Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark in Iron Man.

I knew Iron Man had to have had military backing because the only entity in the film without a moral crisis is the military liaison played by Terrence Howard. Now it’s really obvious. The thing is, knowing that the military was involved in the film is a real let-down. How moral dilemmas have changed, how the moral premise of stories have changed. The article in today’s LA Times (see link below) really deflates Tony Stark’s hero status.

Take this and the way the latest version of The Incredible Hulk ends (this means you have to stay until the last credit rolls to find out) affirms that maybe super-hero movies aren’t what they used to be. They are no longer about character (although I thought The Incredible Hulk was very good until that ending…) but propaganda pieces.

Marshall McLuhan was right: the medium is the message and media massage us into … what?

Lots to think about.,0,2815991.story


Catechists Certified in Media Literacy

The Tidings

July 4, 2008

Page 14



Six catechists representing three dioceses were certified June 22 as Master Teachers in Media Literacy at the Pauline Center for Media Studies in Culver City.

          Three of the catechists were from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, two from the Diocese of Orange, and one, Judy McMillan, is a Catholic school teacher from San Diego. The certificate is recognized by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ Department of Catholic Schools and Office of Religious Education for continuing education and recertification.

          “For me,” said Carmen Maldonado, the Director of Religious Education for St. Anthony’s Parish in El Segundo, “the curriculum was the most positive aspect of the course. The information was very useful and practical. The fact that we had the opportunity to put what we learned into practice forced me to focus more on the media I choose to watch.”

In addition to classes on popular culture, advertising, the Internet, and the history of film, “we spend an ample amount of time on the theory and practice of media literacy as an essential set of life skills for believers today,” explained Sister Rose Pacatte, a Daughter of St. Paul and director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies. “Media literacy, or media mindfulness as we like to call it in the faith community, is an educational imperative for citizens in the 21st century.”

Relgious of the Sacred Heart of Mary Gretchen Hailer, a program instructor, said she is “heartened to see the increase in interest in media literacy and the capacity of our catechists to integrate it into their ministry.” Sisters Hailer and Pacatte co-authored the award-winning resource guide, Media Mindfulness: Educating Teens about Faith and Media (St. Mary’s Press, 2007) and recently submitted Our Media World: Teaching Kids K-8 about Faith and Media to Pauline Books & Media for a 2009 release.

The 2008-2009 Master Teacher in Media Literacy Certificate course will begin on Saturday, September 20, 2008. The complete syllabus and registration form is online at  Tuition is $310.00 and covers all materials. The deadline for registration is September 10. An identical course in Spanish, for Spanish-speaking catechists and teachers, is in development.  For more information, contact Sister Pacatte at

HERO AWARDS on July 4th

Here is an article that was published in The Tidings this week ( about The Hero Awards. It’s true, it will be up against the Boston Pops on July 4th, but if you have TiVo, or a way to record one and watch the other, this show is excellent. The stories, vignettes, really speak to conversations about character.


Sr. Rose

‘Heroes’ honors ordinary who do the extraordinary

By Sr. Rose Pacatte, FSP

A new awards show has been born in Hollywood. I was privileged to be present at the Universal Hilton June 13 for the taping of an inspiring evening honoring ordinary people who have done — and continue to do — extraordinary things.

On July 4, the 2008 Hero Awards — sponsored as a fundraiser for Feed the Children ( — will air in Los Angeles on Channel 13, 8-10 p.m. This new awards show, hosted by actor Dean Cain, star of “Lois and Clark: the New Adventures of Superman” — features numerous stories, often in re-enactments and interviews. Among them:

—Corben Whitney, an off-duty CHP officer from Fresno, was recognized for pulling a family out of a burning car, especially the youngest child who was caught in the strap of his car seat. Facing intense heat, Whitney succeeded in saving the child who sustained second and third degree burns but is recovering.

—Dr. Sean Boutros is a Houston plastic surgeon who chose his field because, as he told me, “I first wanted to be a heart surgeon. But I discovered that heart surgery is quite repetitive. Plastic reconstructive cranial and facial surgery lets me apply principles over techniques to give children a new start in life.”

In one case Boutros worked with a Houston hospital to give Daniel, a four year-old Kenyan boy who had been attacked by a dog, a new face and ear. Dr. Boutros also travels nationally and internationally to offer his services free of charge and to train other doctors in this field.

—When Leana Beasley had a grand mal seizure in 2007, “Faith” Beasley, her Rottweiler service dog, pushed a special 911 button on the phone and barked into it. Faith then rolled Leana into a recovery position and waited near her owner until help arrived. When I asked Leana what she would like to tell readers of The Tidings, she replied that faith saved her life. “Even when you lose everything,” Leana said, “don’t give up faith because you can get everything back again.”

Other inspirational stories include a teen musical prodigy who uses music to encourage young cancer patients, and a train-loving fifth grader created a foundation funded by recyclables to take sick and underprivileged children and adults on the train ride of a lifetime. A parade of average people — kids helping kids, a man dedicated to healing and caring for endangered grizzly bears, doctors offering life-changing procedures to cancer patients, community activists and educators — are recognized for amazing acts of heroism, uncommon generosity and humble service.

These stories and more are linked by the reflections of such celebrities as Bryant Gumbel, Joan Lunden and Iron Man’s Faran Tahir. Musical performances — “The Rainbow Connection” by composer Paul Williams, songs by American Idol contestants Bo Bice and Ace Young, and the title song “Heroes” by the Greater Los Angeles Gospel Choir — round out the show.

Youth preparing for confirmation, as well as catechists, volunteers, teachers and anyone who enjoys true inspiring stories will want to tune in to this unique awards show. The 2008 Hero Awards is a meaningful way to commemorate the July 4 holiday.

(This show has a BK rating — “Bring Kleenex.”)

Daughter of St. Paul Sister Rose Pacatte is director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies in Culver City.