DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - Richard and Stephen Payne of Arcadia Films, producers of the award-winning Saul Alinsky exposé A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing (2016), are bringing to life Cdl. Gerhard Müller's Feb. 8, 2019, "Manifesto of Faith."
The father-and-son team have been laboring since February to illustrate Müller's exhortation visually. Now, after more than seven months of work, their project is being made available to viewers worldwide. Manifesto of Faith will premiere online at 12 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Oct. 1; anyone interested joining in the debut can register at the film's website.
Speaking to Church Militant on Monday, the Paynes described the motivation behind their project.
Stephen recalled that he and his father "fell in love" with Müller's manifesto upon its release, immediately recognizing its immense catechetical value. The manifesto's doctrinal and moral clarity is of enormous benefit, he noted, as it "helps remind people of the basic tenets of the Faith in a time when there's so much confusion about what we actually believe."
"The cardinal was of course prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Pope Benedict XVI," Richard added, "and so his voice is very authoritative in dealing with the Divine Revelation that ended with the death of the last Apostle — this basic teaching that is the proclamation of the deposit of the Faith."
Based "almost verbatim on the original text of the document," he said, the film "gets right down to the heart of the matter."
He explained that the document "focuses on the primacy of the supernatural, the matter of Divine Revelation," which imparts "a recognition that the Church is a supernatural institution, that the fundamental teachings are matters that are critical — critical matters of faith."
The document gives "a sense of the importance of living the supernatural virtues — faith, hope and charity — as we have received them, of living a sacramental life," Richard continued.
He observed that Müller's manifesto "really cuts through a world where people base so much on a kind of naturalism," where they've "lost a sense of the supernatural."
It reinforces Pope Benedict XVI's reflections on the "relativist problem that we have in our world," he added, "this dictatorship of relativism, where everyone is making up their own sense of belief, of truth," he added.
"When you come away from this document," Richard reflected, "you get a sense of the centrality of the Eucharist," as it reaffirms and reinforces the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ as "the source and summit of our spiritual life."
Pointing out the practical benefit of visually illustrating Cdl. Müller's manifesto, Stephen explained:
We're filmmakers, and we see this beautiful document, but we also know that so many people are not reading it. There's a whole world of people out there who are very visual, and of course, film is a visual medium, primarily, and it's a great opportunity to create a film that not only literally goes word-for-word with this beautiful document, but also to speak in the multiple levels of meaning that film allows us, in regards to the sacramental imagination.
"We try to use a cinematic language that gets us at those levels at which we are trained as a matter of faith," Richard added. "In the catechism, we talk about the literal level, the allegorical or symbolic level, the moral level and the divine level. With music and visuals, there's a way of adding to these an expression of richness."
"It's like a new cathedral," he explained, "the way that light first came through the windows of [Our Lady of] Chartres. But with music and visuals, now we have an extension of that principle, which helps people enter more deeply into the meaning of what Christ left us through the Apostles."
"It's become a kind of 'faith-opera,' in a sense," said Stephen. "It's highly musical, highly visual."
The father-and-son team said the Oct. 1 release date, one week before the start of the Oct. 6–27 Amazon Synod, is accidental — or, perhaps, providential.
"We started discussing the project in February and March," he continued. "The synod wasn't really part of our original thinking. We just saw the problem of the confusion that's driving people out of the Church, and knew we needed something that could be a visual catechesis, an inspiration."
"Something that would lead them to the Catechism," Richard interjected. "For a long time we've had this confusion among Catholics because of the breakdown of catechesis — people are just not properly formed in the Faith."
"Unfortunately, many people don't know where to go to get the truth, and so much of the contemporary catechesis since Vatican II has not been well-focused on what the Church truly teaches," he added. "Through this film, we hope to help lead people directly to the Catechism."
"The film is meant to pull back the veil of the reality of the supernatural life, aligned with the sacraments," Stephen said. "We want people to recognize that there's no place else to go."
The Paynes explained that after tomorrow's premiere, they plan to make Manifesto of Faith available for purchase on DVD at the film's website.
"There will also be an opportunity for people to get involved — to use the DVD to have home viewing parties, parish-based viewing parties, and also beyond that to be active as evangelizers in the Faith," Stephen added. "We have a whole plan established on the website for people to actually turn to, and we have step-by-step guides to help people with what to do, what the Q&A should look like and so forth."
In addition to English, the film is currently available in Spanish, French, German, Italian and Portuguese. A Chinese-language version is also in the works and should be completed in the medium-term.
Cardinal Müller and his staff have viewed the film and have declared it "magnificent." In fact, Müller is hoping to include it during many of his upcoming talks around the world.
"Implicit in the cardinal's piece is the Word of God," Richard said. "He has written this in such a way, that, touching on the senses in the way cinematic language does, you're called to change your life, to live the good news and to let it be the root of everything that you do."
"It's something to know, but primarily, it's something to live," he observed. "The understanding comes from believing, first. Understanding doesn't create belief — belief is a gift from God. And through the film, we try to awaken this sense of receiving divine revelation — making that the heart. Through that comes understanding."
Manifesto of Faith will be released online at 12 p.m ET on Tuesday, Oct. 1; anyone interested in viewing the premiere can register at the film's website.