The Greatest Love Creates the Greatest Miracle

Have you experienced the greatest miracle?

If you’ve been to Mass, then you have indeed. The real question is: did you recognize it?

A new 3D animated film, “The Greatest Miracle” (opens nationwide Dec. 9), strives to refresh our understanding of the Mass, remind us of the constant struggle between good and evil, and give us hope that faith will triumph in the end.

The film focuses on a day in the life of three main characters: Monica, a recent widow who is struggling to support her broken family and be both mother and father to her young son; Doña Cata, an elderly woman who feels she is a burden to her family; and Don Chema, a bus-driver whose son is dying of cancer.

Monica and Don Chema cross paths early on; distracted by thoughts of his son, Don Chema nearly broadsides Monica’s car as she, equally distracted, is heading to work on a Saturday, rather than spending the day with her son. After shouting at each other and continuing along their way, each has a seemingly chance encounter with a friendly teenage boy. The brief conversations that ensue convince each to take a detour on the plans of the day, instead heading to church.

Doña Cata is also making her way to church, having slipped out of the house without letting anyone know where she was going. She has left behind anxious staff who are concerned that her bedroom door is locked and she is not answering when they call her name.

As the Mass progresses, both Monica and Don Chema are recalled to the miracle occurring before their eyes–and in their hearts–by gentle reprimands and reminders from the teenage boys. They find themselves able to see in a way they never have before; Monica sees a gathering of the community of saints, and when her husband emerges from the crowd, he reassures her that he is always with her—and so is Jesus. Don Chema encounters the Blessed Virgin Mary and comes to understand the depth of her grief upon her son’s death; he realizes that he is not alone in his pain, and that the Blessed Mother accompanies him through it.

Though the boys—who have a secret identity that also gives much hope to the characters—draw Monica’s and Chema’s attention to various aspects of the Mass, they also remind them about the souls in Purgatory who need our prayers; the true importance of Confession; and the onslaught of temptation and distraction that we all face every day, which—if we allow it—can separate us from God and from our faith. Meanwhile, Doña Cata provides an example of what can result from a life lived with true faith.

Directed by Academy Award nominee (for “The Princess and the Frog”) Bruce M. Norris, the visual writer of “Pocahontas” and “Hercules,” the film reminds us all that Mass is not just a series of rote actions and responses, but a deep encounter with our Lord. “Something quite special is going on here,” Pope Benedict explained in Light of the World, his book-length interview with German journalist Peter Seewald. “He is here, the One before whom we fall on our knees!”

When Monica asks her companion how long Jesus will stay with her after receiving him in the Eucharist, the boy says simply, “As long as you want him to.

“He will make your heart his home.”

An important reminder during this period of Advent, when we joyfully await his coming–and all through the year.

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