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Film of the Month - November



Films are an important feature of popular culture but can they also be a vehicle for theological enquiry? Veritas thinks they can! Every month during the Year of Faith, we offer a Film of the Month, which we invite you to watch, reflect on and discuss. As an initiative for the Year of Faith, you might like to start a Year of Faith Film Club in your work, school or parish community, where these films can be discussed and shared. Film reviews are kindly provided by Fr John-Paul Sheridan PhD.


Film of the Month for November: Entertaining Angels: The Dorothy Day Story


‘Forget not to show love unto strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.’

(Hebrews 13:2)


This month’s film is based on the story of Dorothy Day. The film was released in 1996 and starred Moira Kelly as Dorothy Day and Martin Sheen as Peter Maurin. The director was Michael Ray Rhodes and it was released by Paulist Pictures, a production company behind another film from our series, Romero.


The cause for Dorothy Day’s canonisation was promoted by the Claretian Fathers and was formally opened by Pope John Paul II in March 2000 at the request of Cardinal O’Connor of New York. In 2012, at a meeting of the American bishops, the cause was formally endorsed, having been promoted by the current Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan.





  Dorothy Day was born in 1897 to an Episcopalian family in Brooklyn, New York.  As a young woman she was agnostic and a friend of the playwright Eugene O’Neill. She lived a bohemian life, was married and had suffered a painful abortion. She began to take an interest in Catholicism, combining its practise with what she had learned when she had been baptised and confirmed as an Anglican when she was a girl. She was abandoned by her lover, Foster Batterham, but not before giving birth to her daughter, Tamar Teresa, in 1926. She had her daughter baptised and was eventually initiated into the Catholic Church herself. 


She was also briefly a Benedictine oblate in the 1940s, and when she left the order she was interested for a time in the Fraternity of Jesu Caritas, which had been founded on the ideals of Charles de Foucauld. As someone who espoused left-wing politics all her life, she brought this conviction to her faith. She was influenced by Peter Maurin, who was an outspoken champion of the poor and marginalised.  She began to write for the magazines Commonweal and America, and eventually founded the political journal The Catholic Worker. Founded in 1933, it was meant to promote Catholic social teaching.


The journal led to the founding of ‘houses of hospitality’, not only in America but all over the world. Day was the recipient of many honours, including the Laetare Medal from the University of Notre Dame in 1972. She was never afraid of controversy and was outspoken both in her support and condemnation of those whom she saw respectively as champions and oppressors of the poor and marginalised. It was this attitude that led her to utter one of her most famous quotations: ‘If you feed the poor, you’re called a saint, but if you ask why they’re poor, you're called a Communist.’


She was friendly with the founders of the Communist Party in the United States and made trips to the Soviet Union and to India (to meet Mother Theresa). She joined Cesar Chavez in his work on behalf of the migrant fruit farmers in California. Her final appearance was during the Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia in 1976 and she died in 1980 in New York. 


Entertaining Angels - Study



Previous Films of the Month:


October 2013: There Be Dragons

September 2013: Babette’s Feast

August 2013: Mr Holland’s Opus

July 2013: Romero

June 2013: No Greater Love

May 2013: The Way

April 2013: Freedom Writers

March 2013: Of Gods and Men

February 2013: Song of Bernadette

January 2013: Brother Sun, Sister Moon

December 2012: It’s a Wonderful Life!

November 2012: Shadowlands

October 2012: The Mission


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