Adolescents are bombarded during most of their waking hours by images on various screens: computer, television, and film. As so-called digital natives, they are aware that these images are manufactured and manipulated to elicit certain responses. But while they acknowledge the artificiality of those images, they allow the same mediated messages virtually unfettered access to their hearts and minds with sad or even chilling results. Catholic educators and pastoral workers are charged with helping young people navigate the terrain created by popular media for at least two reasons: to nurture a more sophisticated approach to reading media, and to leverage Catholicism’s long history of employing art to illuminate aspects of God and the transcendent. The endeavor described in this article posits that the Great Commandment (Matthew 12:28-31), to love God and love one’s neighbor as oneself, provides an intellectual and pastoral framework for using recent popular films to sharpen media literacy skills on the one hand and to cultivate a sacramental imagination on the other, using tools that are portable to multiple disciplines and to most new films.



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