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Walk “The Way of St. James” From Afar

Joaquim Rocha

Matthew Becklo - published on 03/27/14

And support a great new film project.

“In feature films,” Alfred Hitchcock once observed, “the director is God; in documentary films, God is the director.” Documentaries have a unique way of revealing both the beauty and the suffering of the world around us, stirring our sense of wonder and even springing us into action.

Grassroots Films – an independent film studio founded in a half-way house in Brooklyn, New York – has shown this time and time again over the past decade. From full-length projects like The Human Experienceand Child 31 to shorts like "The Passion of Jason Black," their stylish blend of pathos and verve, emphasis on the mystery of the human person, and call to social action is nothing short of awe-inspiring:

And it’s only the beginning.According to writer and producer Michael Campo, “Grassroots Films has some amazing projects in the works right now… from new TV series ideas to feature length documentaries, Grassroots Films is continually expanding its role as a positive media player in the industry.”

Now, there is a unique opportunity to help fund their newest documentary – but they only have a few days left to meet their goal, and they have a long way to go.

The vision for the film is laid out on the film's website, where you can learn more, donate, and help spread the word:

“In anticipation of the 800th anniversary of Saint Francis of Assisi's pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, a group of young men from the Saint Anne's chapter of Catholics in Action in Gilbert, Arizona have decided to travel the thousand-year old Way of Saint James this summer 2014, on a journey that spans over 500 miles across some of the most geographically beautiful landscapes in all of Spain. This documentary will record the experiences of these pilgrims across 40 unforgettable days, in which they will face difficulties and personal struggles (i.e., physical and psychological stress). It narrates the story of men in search of the goal of our human existence: in search of the meaning of life, and the truth of who they are as men before God.”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rpzSM5X-nY?rel=0%5D

If this all sounds familiar, the Way of St. James was also the focal point of the 2010 film The Way starring Martin Sheen – and has a long, revered history stretching back centuries. “The Way of Saint James is a pilgrimage directed to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, situated in Northwestern Spain, where the remains of Saint James the Greater are buried. It is also known as Saint James’ Way or by its Spanish name, el Camino de Santiago. The Way of Saint James began in the ninth century when the saint's remains were discovered in the Libredón Forest, the place where the city of Santiago de Compostela now stands. Over the course of its 1,200 year history, many saints have joined the Camino: Francis of Assisi, Dominic, Isabel, Brigid, Aloysius of France, Vincent, John XXIII, John Paul II, and many others.”

Let’s face it: most of us will never have the time or the money to travel to Spain and undertake this pilgrimage ourselves. But we do have the opportunity to help make the next best thing a reality, and “walk” the way of St. James with friends and family from afar – and fortunately, there’s no better qualified team to take us along on the journey.

Matthew Becklo is a husband and father-to-be, amateur philosopher, and cultural commentator at Aleteia and Word on Fire. His writing has been featured in First Things, The Dish, and Real Clear Religion.

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