National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

You Already Have All You Need

User’s Guide to Sunday

BY Tom & April Hoopes

January 25-31, 2009 Issue | Posted 1/16/09 at 12:16 PM


Feb. 1 is the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B, Cycle I).


A movie can awaken children to St. Paul’s story. Use it as part of a larger effort to teach about the apostle in the Year of St. Paul. We have watched the main three recent movies about St. Paul. None is great, and none is entirely worthless. With each, be ready with the fast-forward.

Paul the Emissary (1998, starring Garry Cooper, 54 minutes)

Pros: accurate; shorter than the others (maybe too short); Paul’s preaching voice.

Cons: goofy special effects.

Conversion scene: awkward; you see Jesus himself. He looks and sounds odd. (Perhaps fast-forward this part, and read it instead.)

Warnings: none.

Peter & Paul (1981, starring Anthony Hopkins, 194 minutes)

Pros: makes the early Church real; Anthony Hopkins is excellent; muted special effects.

Cons: important: accentuates the apostles’ weaknesses to the exclusion of their strengths; John is all wrong; Peter is ineffectual and weak, and the movie is too long (to solve both problems, fast-forward all the parts with Peter, until after Paul dies).

Conversion scene: so-so; focused on a bulging sun.

Warnings: turned the story into “faith-alone” Paul vs. institutional Christianity, ignoring Paul’s deeply sacramental outlook. The movie changes the Bible’s story to remove Peter’s central role in the Church.

St. Paul the Apostle (2000, starring Johannes Brandrup, 180 minutes)

Pros: exciting fight scenes boys will like; visually appealing; colorful.

Cons: not at all true to the story; too long.

Conversion scene: scary; done with weird lighting and strange colors.

Warnings: nudity and one wedding night scene Dad had to fast-forward and block.


Deuteronomy 18:15-20; Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 7-9; 1 Corinthians 7:32-35; Mark 1:21-28. offers free homily packs for priests.

Our Take is the site to buy the Register’s Guide to the Rosary and the book The Better Part by Father John Bartunek. They are published by the publisher of the Register, but we would recommend them regardless of the publisher.

Often, we look for something new to transform us. We want to change our routine, try the latest diet, read the newest book offering a system for getting our life together.

Change is often necessary, but the readings today point to the things that are already in our life and propose we pay attention to them.

1. Learn from the Pope. The first reading enjoins the people of Israel to listen to the prophets sent by the Lord. We have been greatly blessed in our day with Pope Benedict XVI. His words are “prophetic” in that they see and speak the truth with great insight and clarity. We also have lots of means available to read his words. For instance, his audiences appear in the Register each week.

2. Be attentive in prayer. The Psalm tells us: “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” This suggests that his voice is, in fact, being spoken to us and that we are not automatically aware of it. The habit of meditative prayer can make us aware of it. To start, pray the Rosary with concentration.

3. Put your life in perspective. The life of married people has lots of distractions that can easily take our minds off of spiritual things. The second reading challenges us to set God’s priorities in our lives and not let our stresses set our priorities for us.

4. Go to Christ’s side. The Gospel shows Christ the Lord casting out demons and speaking with authority. He is near us already: at every Mass and confession and in every tabernacle. We should go to him, study him, and talk to him in order to love him and imitate him.

Forget looking for something new to transform you. With your rosary, page 6 of the Register, and access to a Catholic church, you already have enough to get started.