In Father Phillips words, responding to a Calling is not only about moving away from something, but about moving toward Some-One. It is in that truth that we find the message of this film, everyone has a Calling! The Second Vatican Council in the Catholic Church reemphasized this teaching. It is found at the heart of the Gospels and was the clear teaching of the early Church. Every Baptized Christian is called to hear God's voice! We all have a specific vocation. Have you found your calling?
CHESAPEAKE, VA. (Catholic Online) - As we walk through the final days before the celebration of the Nativity of the Lord, our readings for daily Mass invite us to reflect on the response of the Virgin Mary to her unique and specific vocation. For example, we hear from the account in the first Chapter of Luke's Gospel when the Angel Gabriel issues the invitation from the Lord to Mary and we are challenged to consider Mary's response. (Luke 1)
Among the writings of the early Church Fathers we find these words from the Cappadocian Father, Gregory of Nyssa: "What came about in bodily form in Mary, the fullness of the godhead shining through Christ in the Blessed Virgin, takes place in a similar way in every soul that has been made pure. The Lord does not come in bodily form, for ´we no longer know Christ according to the flesh´, but He dwells in us spiritually and the Father takes up His abode with Him, the Gospel tells us. In this way the child Jesus is born in each of us."
Conversion happens when we say "Yes" with our words and our deeds to God's invitation to allow Him to be formed within us. We are then called to give Him to others. Every baptized Christian, no matter what our state in life, has been called to a special and unrepeatable response to the Lord's calling and the mission of the whole Church.Finding our specific vocation - and then living it fully and fruitfully - is the purpose of our lives. It is also the path to authentic human flourishing and fulfillment.
It has been a year since I received a copy of the DVD of a documentary film "The Calling",directed by David A. Rhanghelli. I receive a lot of requests to review movies. However, this movie arrived as a gift, at just the right time. Like many people, Christmas is an emotionally difficult time for me. There are many reasons - ranging from past experiences to an almost predictable bout with a cold or the flu - which tend to impede my fruitful preparation. Sadly, I experience Pre-Christmas melancholy.
The film was a gift from David and a remedy. It was followed by a kind E mail which I also appreciated. I sensed upon receiving the movie, that it was about more than a request for a review. I would soon find out how correct that sense was. The Movie deeply touched me at a critical time in my life. I remember opening the package and being drawn by the subtitle "Life is a calling, what is yours?"
I recently spoke with David to get an update on this extraordinary film. He told me the Calling has been honored nationally and internationally with (16) Official Selections to film festivals. The film has also already received (7) Nominations and won (4) Best Documentary and Cinematic Achievement Awards! It has been screened at (17) Catholic Universities. It was a featured Cinema presentation at the World Youth day in Madrid, Spain.
David told me, "When I started making "The Calling" the intent was to document the deeply personal process of saying 'yes' to Christ's call. But, I never intended to make a 'vocation' film. I wanted the film to personalize these experiences, and give a voice to various viewpoints about it.
"There are characters in my film that question answering their own call. They express doubts and frustrations. Yet, it's these very emotional and honest moments that make the film real and accessible. Yet, it's these very emotional and honest moments that make the film real and accessible."
I would add a hearty "Amen". This is a beautiful film precisely because it is so very real, human and accessible.This is also what people need to read, hear and view. Following the Lord Jesus Christ as His disciple is for very real people. It is also not easy. But, when you find the treasure, there is no other way to live.
From the beginning scene this film melted away my cynicism, rejuvenated my weary soul and restored within me the hope of the season and a deeper understanding of my own vocation, in all of its diversity and uniqueness. More than a movie; it is an invitation to a personal encounter with the God who is Love. Watching the film I was repeatedly moved to prayer, tears, repentance and reflection on the meaning of life and the beauty of the Christian vocation.
The film revolves around the deeper meaning of "vocation", a word whose etymology in the Latin gives us the essence of the film's claim that everyone has been summoned, called by God. The Latin root is "Voice". We are all are able to hear His voice. We choose to learn how to listen and we choose to respond. That hearing and responding paves the path of a life lived in the Lord.
Father Phillip Scott is a priest in Tampa, Florida. He is a magnanimous, loving, charismatic priest whose genuine relationship with God is evident from the moment the viewer first meets him in this film. He is the founder of a new religious community in the Catholic Church called "The Family of Jesus the Healer".
Fr. Phillip communicates the love of a living God in his lifestyle of poured out sacrificial love for others. He is a "Man's man" and a "Priests priest". Everything about this man draws you to the One whom He serves. His humor, his empathy, his compassion, his wisdom, his dynamic faith, strength of conviction and his infectious smile communicate the truth he proclaims, that Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead and is the meaning of life itself for every man, woman and child created in His Image.
Father Phillip lives as a Christian, a follower of the living Jesus Christ. He really believes that Jesus continues His redemptive mission in the lives of his followers as they live their vocation within the Body of Christ, the Church. Because of this kind of living faith he is able to be a spiritual father to the members of the religious community he founded. He bears the life of the Risen Lord for others.
At one point in the film Father Phillip explains, "Every man at his deepest level is a father". It becomes clear as the viewer watches this priest live his vocation why Catholic and Orthodox Christians call priests "father". Father Phillip Scott heard the Lord call him, in these words, "My son, return to your country of origin". That country is Peru, and the priest intends to move his missionary community there in obedience to the Lord.
As has happened through over two millennia of Church history, others drawn to Jesus through this man's compellingly Christian way of life have joined with him in this new religious community called the "Family of Jesus the Healer". The film focuses on the move of the community to Peru, their missionary work with the poor, and the continuing challenges faced by the central characters in living out their own Christian vocation or "calling".
Mother Mary Elizabeth is the head of the women's community. She has two grown daughters and six grandchildren. Like other women in Christian history who have lost their husbands and raised their children, she has responded to a later vocation to spend the rest of her days in the religious life, as a nun. This was enough of a challenge to her daughters when she lived that vowed life in Tampa, Florida. However, for her to now move to Peru, far away from them and the increasing gift of grandchildren, well that is another story.
The relationship between the daughters and their mother is one strand in a tapestry of relationships woven together in this beautiful documentary. In one of her comments explaining her transition to the religious life Mother Mary says "it's all about family; that's what my life was all about and that was the most surprising thing about religious life, it's still all about family.'
Her natural daughter explains at another point, "The day that my mother received the habit (distinctive religious clothing of a nun, sister, monk or brother) was like a death." She writes in a letter which her mother shares later in the film, "You are still my mother, I did not forfeit my rights to you, I gave you up. You are everyone's mother now."
Orlando Castillo is a young man, from a wealthy family, who lives in a gated community in Tampa, Florida. His father is a Doctor. Along with his loving wife, they have raised their son in the Catholic faith. Orlando exudes a goodness and love of life which any father would be thrilled to witness in the life of his son.
He has been discerning the possibility of a call to the priesthood since his teenage years. His Catholic parents are pleased. However, when responding to that sense of a vocation to the religious life and the priesthood comes to mean leaving Tampa and the family to move to Peru and live with the poor, they begin their own deep struggle.
As the young man leaves for Peru for his first stage of discernment in the religious community, the documentary presents the response of these loving parents with honesty. Their son's letters home are their only initial connection to him. It is a pattern which has played itself out in the family life of many of the saints throughout the ages.
We watch his father move from hurt, to mistrust and suspicion of Father Phillip, to surrender to the Lord's call in his son's life. The scene when Orlando, at a Mass attended by his parents, enters the novitiate of the religious life and takes the name "Brother Jose Maria", is profoundly moving. You want to be sure to have some tissues nearby.
However, it is not the only part of this documentary which bring tears to the viewer. Later in the film Mother Mary-Elizabeth, responding to her natural daughter's needs and her own desire to be a grandmother, seeks a year's leave of absence from the community to return to Tampa.
Father Phillip is at first hurt and somewhat angry. She is a major part of the relational foundation of the Family of Jesus the Healer. He is a spiritual father and she a spiritual mother. Yet, he rises above this understandably human response and explains "she took off the habit to meet her children as a mother."
Later the priest asks the question which is at the heart of this documentary film, "What is God's Will?" He explains that "the goal is to find the Lord...In finding Him you will help one another".
In Father Phillips words, responding to a Calling is not only about moving away from something, but about moving toward Some-One. It is in that truth that we find the message of this film, everyone has a Calling! The Second Vatican Council in the Catholic Church reemphasized this teaching. It is found at the heart of the Gospels and was the clear teaching of the early Church. Every Baptized Christian is called to hear God's voice! We all have a specific vocation.
In this masterpiece of filmmaking this vital message is communicated in the lives of all of the main characters. Priesthood, religious life, diaconate in Christ, marriage, and parenthood are all, when lived as a response to "the Calling", a path to holiness and a means for mission. They are a Way of following the Lord Jesus Christ and experiencing the fullness of human flourishing and true happiness - and leading others to find the same treasure.
"The Calling" is more than a beautiful film; it is an invitation to find the meaning of human existence through discovering who were created to become as we respond to our own calling. Buy the DVD for your own Christmas present! Then, buy it for everyone you love. Give them all the gift of finding their own Calling. 'The Calling' is a filmmaking masterpiece which moves hearts to say 'Yes' to the Lord. It deserves all the recognition it is now receiving - and much more.
By Abigail James (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
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