Saturday, October 22, 2011

In honor of Blessed Pope John Paul II: A Review of "You are my Hope"

Today is the feast day of Blessed Pope John Paul II. I am blessed to be part of a review team for a special project produced by CCC of America about Blessed John Paul II called "The Man, The Pope, and His Message." It is a re-release of a series of documentaries comprised of a 4-disc DVD series which contains five hours of footage providing an in-depth look at Bl. Pope John Paul II's life, papcy, and message.

CCC of America has made special arrangements with the Vatican and Alberto Michelini, the renouned Italian journalist to produce this series.

The press release regarding the reviewers of this project is here (my review will follow): Ushering in the celebration of Blessed John Paul II’s October 22nd feast day on the anniversary of his inauguration as pope in 1978, CCC of America is partnering with 10 popular Catholics in the Blogosphere for a special project on his legacy. With footage secured through special arrangements with the Vatican, CCC recently released John Paul II: The Man, The Pope and His Message, a Special Edition remastered multi-DVD documentary series providing an intimate portrait of this iconic Church and World Leader. Each of the 10 short films, directed and produced by renowned Italian Journalist, Alberto Michelini, will be reviewed by 10 Catholic leaders in Catholic New Media.

The Blogroll of notable reviewers of this series includes the following:

Lisa Hendey, founder/editor of, author, columnist, speaker, podcast and TV host.
Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, author, journalist, EWTN TV Host, Blogger, radio host, and speaker.
Lisa Mladinich, founder of, author, columnist, speaker, creator of catechetical puppet script ministry, and podcast host.
Fr. John Bartunek LC, ThD, news commentator, served as the English-language press liaison for the Vatican’s 2005 Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist, author, Ethics teacher, founder of RCSpiritual, contributor at Faith & Family.
Matt Warner, founder of and, blogger at the National Catholic Register.
Gary Zimak, Catholic Lay Evangelist, founder of Following the Truth, writer, and Radio Host.
Elizabeth Scalia, the Managing Editor of the Catholic Portal at Patheos, a columnist at First Things, and the blogger known as The Anchoress.
Leticia Velasquez, founder of Catholic Media Review, Causa Nostrae Laetitiae, and Cause of Our Joy, freelance writer, speaker, film and book reviewer.
Steven R. McEvoy, freelance writer, reviewer at Catholic Dads Online, founder of Book Reviews and More.
Deacon Greg Kandra, Roman Catholic deacon serving the Diocese of Brooklyn, veteran broadcast journalist who served 25+ years as an award-winning writer/producer for CBS News in both NY and WA, blogger at The Deacon’s Bench.

Reviews will be posted on each blogger’s site between October 19 – 22, 2011, with links to all 10 on CCC’s Facebook page and the official film website at The 10 volumes within the series provide critical insights into the most central message of this beloved Pope: From rallies with thousands of youth, to critical inter-faith relations, as well as his role with the fall of Communism, the five hours of footage contained in this series unlocks what was in the heart of the Holy Father.

Supporters of Blessed John Paul II, the reviewers of these films will create more opportunities for the messages of this hero of the Faith to become even more personal. CCC of America is honored to collaborate on such an inspiring project with some of the Church’s biggest movers and shakers in new media.

The trailer and more details on the series, as well as educational resources, are available through the official film site:

ABOUT CCC OF AMERICA: A trusted leader in family entertainment for more then 25 years, CCC (Creative Communications Center) of America is committed to the production and distribution of quality family entertainment that is not only engaging, but also conveys moral values. This media company is determined to provide wholesome fun for families, wherein they discover stories of real heroes of the faith who lived lives of courage, love and truth. Original award-winning CCC productions include: 11 DVDs in the Saints & Heroes Animated Film Series, and a feature film Crystalstone. CCC of America possesses the rights to distribute additional DVD movies and music CDs that are in line with our moral standards and core religious beliefs.

And now for my review of Volume Two: "You are my Hope" John Paul II and the Youth

Blessed. Pope John Paul II is a hero to me so to see him in this series really warms and inspires my heart. Although, he was a regal pope, he was no stranger to hardship. He understood what it was like to grow up with intense challenge and always wholeheartedly challenged the youth of today to reach for holiness no matter what. His message was often demanding but the youth responded to it with great enthusiasm. The greater the challenge from Bl. John Paul II to the youth, the greater the applause from the youth at all his visits with them.

The young people never failed to exude enthusiasm and great emotion being in the presence of Bl. Pope John Paul II. Their spiritual father told them, "You are my hope. You are the hope of the Church." The youth always came to hear the message of their dear Papa.

"If you want peace open your hearts to Christ." He constantly challenged them to consistently strive for peace and lead lives of holiness. He told them, "Jesus Christ gives hope and meaning to our lives."

"If you want peace, work for justice. If you want peace, proclaim the truth. If you want peace, treat others as you want them to treat you. In short, if you want peace, you must love."

Bl. Pope John Paul II viewed youth as a key stage in every person's life. He understood the restless heart of young people, a heart that unceasingly seeks an answer to the meaning of life and their future. He never cased to set ambitious goals of holiness for youth.

"Be perfect as your Father who is in heaven is perfect" he would tell them.

It was so important for Bl. Pope John Paul II to meet with the youth wherever he traveled. He took more than 100 trips in Italy alone and there was always a crowd of youth waiting to see him.

"Be ready to commit your life every day to transform history."

And, he encouraged them with such loving words, "The future of the world shines in your eyes."

Volume Two of this DVD series shows moving narrated clips of Pope John Paul II with various groups of youth around the world. Pope John Paul II had such an amazing way with youth. His love for them showed immensely through their embraces, their conversations, their repartee, their prayers together.

Bl. John Paul II's words to youth speak to all of our hearts. "To be truly free does not in any way mean to do what I like, to do what I want to do. Freedom contains in itself the criterion of truth, the discipline of truth. To be truly free means using one's own freedom for what is a true good. Therefore to be free means to be a man of upright conscience."

I wholeheartedly recommend this beautiful documentary film series and am looking forward to watching it in its entirety along with my family. CCC of America has done a fine job in bringing the fruits of Bl. Pope John Paul II's legacy to life to inspire us further on our journeys of holiness.

We can all put Bl. John Paul the Great's words into practice: "Be strong in your faith. Do not be afraid to bear witness to it wherever you are. Always be ready to give reason for the hope that is within you."

J P 2, we LOVE you! Please intercede for youth and all of us on this your feast day, dear Papa!

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