Today’s blog is an invitation to view the prologue of a film Pax et Bonum Communications is making. It is a very different film for us…and one I’ve been dreaming of making for many years. As I write this, we are just days away from releasing our new film The Smile of a Sick Child, which is set in Peru and features the heroic work of Dr. Tony Lazzarra, a Secular Franciscan from the US who ministers to the impoverished and seriously ill children not far from Lima. And in two weeks, I will be leaving for Honduras to begin our 5th film on poverty; the film will feature the work of the Medical Missionaries of Mary.
Between our poverty films, I have been quietly working on a film about the necessity for stillness and silence in our prayer life. The film will be filtered through the spirituality of St. Francis of Assisi. Here is a link to the beginning of the film:
The Spirit of Saint Francis is a visual meditation on the invisible spiritual world of the saint and how his sacred discoveries can help us as we move toward God in our own way, in our own day.
During the past fourteen years I’ve taken nearly 40,000 photographs. Most of them feature severe poverty in worst slums around the world. As an antidote to looking so intensely at so much suffering, I began to use my camera in a therapeutic fashion by focusing on beautiful and tranquil scenes, usually without any people in the frames. I’ve taken nearly 10,000 photographs over the years during eight trips I’ve made to Assisi and other places in Italy that played an important role in the life of St. Francis of Assisi. The photographs from Franciscan Italy play a starring role in The Spirit of Saint Francis.
This simple and unique film explores the contemplative dimension of the Franciscan charism and the importance of stillness and silence in our spiritual lives. While St. Francis is famous for his great works of charity in caring for the poor, fully half of his adult life was spent in solitude, clothed in silence and fervently engaged in prayer. Action, for the saint, flowed out of prayer.
The stated mission of Pax et Bonum Communications is to celebrate the Franciscan charism. We have produced four films which illustrate the Franciscan concern for the poor. The Spirit of Saint Francis looks at the Franciscan love of prayerful solitude. The film is primarily a visual meditation whose photographic images of quiet spaces in Italy serve as a calming balm. The landscapes, trees, mountains, rivers are living repositories of sacred images and eternal truths. These sacred places – sanctum sanctorum – are sources of inspiration where human consciousness is temporarily set free. The photographs mimic Bernard of Clairvaux’s discovery of heaven in the book of nature and says “amen” to John Muir’s wish for everyone to listen “to the preaching of pine trees.” The narration gently leads the viewer into a deeper appreciation of the importance of checkering his or her life with periods of silence, stillness and solitude. And because I can’t help myself, the film also says that as we grow in prayer we must also grow in compassion for the poor.
It will take the better part of the year to complete this film…and at this stage we are seeking funding for it. If you wish to be a sponsor, please contact me.