Movie : Our Triumphant Holy Day
Director : Greg Di Roma
If you don’t mind sir, tell us something about yourself. The beliefs, the skepticism that perhaps dictated the terms for you before the journey?
I’m from Peekskill, NY, besides being a filmmaker, I’m also a hockey player and coach. Of course I’m very active with my faith as I’m also part of the Catholic Young Adult group, Credo Young Adults that made the trip to the Holy Land possible. I’m a videographer at Westchester Community College’s Cybersecurity program as well.
So going on this journey, I had no idea what to expect. I had a lot to learn when it came to faith, I needed to understand the Bible Story better and grasp the messages behind it. All my life I had a hard time understanding God and the way He works. A lot of times I was skeptical on where He was taking me in my life. This trip changed a lot of that, I better understood Salvation History and what lessons are to be learned from it.
The trip opened my eyes to a lot of things and ever since, I’m more mindful of God and what He does to fulfill His plan. I have a much more different and positive outlook on life. I have more hope for the future than I ever did.
Sir, why do you think Israel and Palestine are significant places to visit for the ones seeking faith?
The Holy Land is called, “The Fifth Gospel” because now you’re physically seeing the sites and can relive those stories. The land itself puts a lot of things in perspective and you feel the presence of God in all these sites. You can better understand the things Jesus and the disciples went through.
Jerusalem alone puts things in perspective because it’s not just any fancy city in the world. The buildings and sites have something special about them, and people are there to worship God. There’s no corporate buildings or signs like you would see in a capital city of the world.
Reliving the stories of these sites can definitely change your faith because you can see what it took to achieve Salvation and how far the people in these stories went in their lives.
Sir tell us about the role you think stories play in the life of an individual today. Do you believe they act as outlets of wish fulfillment?
Absolutely. Stories play a huge role in our lives because they teach us something, we expand our horizons and get different ideas. They inspire us to do something or look up to someone as a role model.
How do you think individual experiences differ from the collective? Why do you think it is significant?
Well experiences vary from individual to individual and I think that’s what makes them significant. Everybody has their own story or something to overcome. My trip to the Holy Land helped me overcome my skepticism about life and God. It also helped in retracting self limiting beliefs I held on to all my life. Everyone of course has a similar reason to go to the Holy Land but there’s something specific they want to get out of it.
Could you suggest a few movies, documentaries and books that are primarily about a spiritual journey that eventually changes the person undertaking it in some way or another?
Heaven is For Real and The Resurrection of Gavin Stone are a couple that come to mind. Of course The Chosen, the show about Jesus, is definitely something everyone should watch.
I’ve only gotten to see a few spiritual documentaries like another documentary on the Holy Land, “Hope in the Holy Land,” which is about a man who journeys there to better understand the Israeli and Palestinian conflict and gets a shift of perspective on it. There’s also another really good short documentary from Mark Bone called, “No Country is An Island,” which is about the terrorist attack in Sri Lanka and how the people there from different faiths and backgrounds try to work together to ease tensions within the country and heal from the treacherous attack.
I haven’t read too many spiritual books but I will say, if you’re Catholic, I would definitely do consecrations to saints or devotions like the Consecration to St. Joseph, that takes you on a spiritual journey as you learn more about the Foster Father of Jesus. Doing a consecration will grant you guidance and can give you blessings and protection from St. Joseph or any other Saint you consecrate yourself to.
Some of my all time favorite movies are Star Wars, Rocky, Lord of the Rings and I feel they give your perspective on a lot of things and show a unique journey the characters in those movies have.
Tell us about the journey from being a skeptic to a believer. Is it a painful process? To unlearn one’s tendencies and inclinations, one’s beliefs and judgements.
I would say it depends on what beliefs you’ve had. It’s definitely hard to unlearn self sabotaging beliefs that you’ve known all your life or the negative lessons you’ve learned from society or what some people in your life may have taught you.
It’s a process, things can become innate in your childhood but once you grow into adulthood, you start to see life is so much different and the things you may have done or gone through in your childhood don’t define you. It’s hard to let go of judgements and assumptions but sometimes all it takes is a little shift in perspective to start turning things around.
It took a lot for me to start changing perspective, I either had to go through painful experiences or see certain things happen in order to start becoming more of a believer and have more inner peace.
Do you think sir the presence of doubt is extremely important in realizing the presence of a supreme being? A certain kind of enlightenment that must exist against blind subservience.
I would say so, it makes you aware of negative thoughts and that there’s something you can defy. There’s always something to learn from failure. Sometimes you have to fail or go through something painful in order to succeed and grow as a person. Having doubt can either make you vigilant and help you avoid something that’s potentially dangerous or it can make you do something you’re afraid to do that in the end helps you overcome and gain confidence.
It’s easy to doubt God or faith, but you’d be surprised at how those doubts are disproven when you have faith.
Keeping all kinds of prejudices aside, do you think everyone must read the Bible at least once in their lives ?
I think it definitely doesn’t hurt to take a look at it and read some passages. The Bible is an amazing thing because it teaches you how to go about life and you’d be surprised by the kinds of ideas it has compared to the ideas of society. Lots of shifts in perspective.
Tell us about the magnetic nature of astute visuals. Why do you think they attract a wider amount of attention generally?
Well of course nice visuals help in making a film. You want to establish a look for the film. If you give a wider audience a certain look, they’ll be curious as to what the story is all about and the style of it. The Holy Land is unique because the beautiful landscapes there aren’t anything like you would see anywhere else, like the Judean Wilderness or the Sea of Galilee. The sites there of course look like a work of God and that definitely made the story.
Why do you think sooner or later one must question his beliefs, the nature of existence and desire ultimate bliss?
Our faith teaches us that the things of this world are not to rule our lives and a lot of these things are not of God. This is not the world God intended. Whatever society tries to put in your head is a lot of times not true or negative. Coming from experience, negative beliefs ruin your life. Faith is not about that. A lot of good things that happen in this world happen in ways we don’t understand. It’s always better to question your beliefs because it’s good to see whether or not they’re serving you. And we are not of this world, we are creations of God and one day we believe that eternal life is going to happen and a new world is going to be made.
In that same breath, there are a lot of beautiful things in this world and you should always strive to experience them. God definitely wants you to be able to do that. The nature of existence is still somewhat of a mystery which definitely sparks curiosity, I think exploring it more and more is a beautiful thing. You never know what you’ll discover and you might see how God works in strange ways.