As the days grow shorter and humanity settles in for a fall and winter amid a pandemic, good films can help the spirit grow. Here are Catholic Sentinel staff picks for this season.


2004, PG, Amazon Prime

Warning to the sanctimonious: In this film, St. Clare smokes a cigarette. St. Peter is grumpy, especially when reminded about being martyred.

But don’t run. Embrace the shock. Gritty reality’s beauty is one gift of this constantly giving film, which tells the story of a 9-year-old Catholic schoolboy whose mother has died. Young Damian retreats to a cardboard box near the train tracks; it’s his tiny monastery where he imagines/encounters (you decide) some of the great figures of Christianity.

After a bag of money seems to fall from the sky onto Damian’s tiny abbey, it sets off a religious/moral earthquake that rumbles through the film. Damian and his older brother take sides in a debate that can inform all of our decision making; what do we do with the gifts God bestows?

The story is charming and funny, especially when we see what generous little Damian does with the cash. It’s a winner for children who are trying to form their own consciences, perhaps like never before as they, like Damian, are alone during the pandemic.

It turns out the money, while perhaps divinely delivered, also came from the hands of threatening crooks who want it back. Those scenes could cause anxiety in some youngsters.