• Reel Life Journeys

    Potter’s love for his friends triumphs over all

    It’s been a long journey to normalcy for Harry Potter. Some people work their whole lives to achieve fame and fortune. Harry had it thrust upon him before he was out of his playpen, but it never mattered much to him. All he really wanted was to live in a family of love. As we are reminded in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2,” in theaters now, Harry was just a small child when his parents were murdered by the evil wizard Voldemort in Godric’s Hollow on All Hallows’ Eve. Left with only vague memories and a lightning bolt scar on his forehead, Harry was sent to live…

  • Reel Life Journeys

    Our response to adversity defines our lives, our faith

    Last month I wrote of our Lenten journey and how we should follow the example of Jesus (and the Abbate family) to care for others, even in the darkest times of our lives. Now in the glorious light of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday, I want to tell you about the Hamilton family, specifically their daughter Bethany, whose life is portrayed in the new film Soul Surfer. Bethany discovers that a tragic event she thought was the end of her life was in fact just the beginning to a new, more meaningful one. The only daughter of surfers Sheri and Tom Hamilton, Bethany grew up on the island of Kauai…

  • Featured Posts 1,  Reel Life Journeys

    Learn important lessons by playing with toys

    When I was a wee lad, about five years old, my favorite toy was Doggie, a cuddly-soft stuffed animal. This little guy had floppy cloth ears and black button eyes. I played with him during the day and held him tight every night as I drifted off to sleep. Doggie got a lot of my playtime and love, so much so that his fur eventually became worn, an eye was lost, and all the leg stuffing was squeezed down into four very large paws. But it didn’t matter, Doggie was my favorite toy. If he lived in the same world as the toys in Pixar’s three Toy Story films, Doggie…

  • Reel Life Journeys

    There are love lessons to learn amidst the laughter

    In each Reel Life Journeys column, I try to illustrate a moral theme or Christian teaching with examples from films and family life. I often use examples from science fiction and fantasy films, as I really enjoy the complexity and symbolism found in The Lord of the Rings, Superman, Back to the Future, etc. Lately, however, I have enjoyed a genre of film that some may label as pure fantasy—romantic comedies. Granted, some of the plot devices are rather far-fetched. Would you really fly from Baltimore to Seattle to meet an insomniac with a nice radio voice? But these are very entertaining films that touch on fundamental human needs—to love…

  • Reel Life Journeys

    Stories entertain, enlighten & teach us the meaning of love

    Our children came home for Easter weekend, a wonderful time to laugh together, eat together and celebrate Mass together as a family. To prepare for the weekend, I worked a few hours to organize the basement—tidying up the empty nest, so to speak. I wanted to create more “hang out” space for the college students and their friends. One project involved boxing up old books and rearranging our bookshelves. With the children out of the house during the school year, many more of my books could replace theirs in the main bookshelf upstairs in the living room. Off the shelves came The Hungry Caterpillar and other bedtime picture books. Next…

  • Reel Life Journeys

    Remembering the past puts joy and gratitude in the present

    The children are home from college this week to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner and some needed time off from their studies. Our house, which is spacious while they are away at college, is one again crowded and noisy. I love it. Don’t get me wrong, my wife and I enjoy living in an “empty nest” during the school year. Our conversations are longer and better, the remote control is right where I left it, the chocolate milk lasts more than a day, things like that. But there are times when I wish I could go back in time about fifteen years, just for a weekend. I’d love to hear three grade…

  • Reel Life Journeys

    Love unconditionally & know God’s unconditional love

    According to my dictionary, a routine is a set of “commonplace tasks as must be done regularly or at specified intervals.” In this sense, routines can be good, helping us to organize our time and accomplish tasks in a timely manner. The dictionary also states that a routine is “unvarying, unimaginative, a rote procedure.” In this sense, routines can be bad, especially to relationships. In a marriage, a bad routine can move individuals to disengage from their spouse and fill their days with mindless, heartless actions. In the film Fireproof, destructive routines have crept into the marriage of Catherine and Caleb Holt. Catherine (Erin Bethea) is the PR director of…

  • Reel Life Journeys

    Live in love today, even if items remain on your “bucket list”

    In the very first column I wrote for this blog, more than three years ago, I described the things I would do “if I were a rich man,” as Tevye sang in Fiddler on the Roof. While a couple of items were rather indulgent (new house, cars for everyone, lots of overseas travel), I realized that many could be accomplished without a fortune. The list empowered me to do the things I love, such as spend more time with my family, develop my skills as a writer, and communicate more often with family members who live hundreds of miles away. It was the same feeling of empowerment felt by the…

  • Featured Posts,  Reel Life Journeys

    Baseball delivers strong personal & family values

    “I believe in the church of baseball.” – Bull Durham You can learn a lot through baseball. I don’t mean the easy stuff, such as wrapping a rubber band around your well-oiled glove with a ball inside and placing it under your mattress all night to break it in; or never putting your favorite Mickey Mantle baseball card in the spokes of your bicycle. Save that noisy and destructive place for a Dick Tracewski or a Clete Boyer. I mean the hard stuff – the life values that many people spend their whole lives trying to understand. If they had only played baseball, they would have quickly learned how to……

  • Reel Life Journeys

    Fathers and sons love on the same frequency

    Dear Dad, I watched a really good movie last week with Tommy – Frequency, starring Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezel. It came out in 2000 – did you ever see it? Tommy gave the film high praise, so I really wanted to watch it with him. As you know, it’s important to share special moments with your children because you never know how many you’ll have. The story is set in New York City in 1969. Frank Sullivan and his son John are huge Mets fans. Poor souls. Lucky for them it’s the year of the “Amazin’ Mets,” that stinking team that beat our Cubs and then defeated the Orioles…