Some terrific insight here from my friend Nicole Perone in U.S. Catholic:
As Encanto is rereleased in theaters this Lent, I am struck by how timely the film is. It inspires us to examine our own gifts and where we fall short of being the person God created us to be. Lent is a time for embracing and tackling our imperfections head on, exactly as God created us, and discerning when those qualities need to be refined and when they need to shine. This season of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving is not meant to be purely penitential for its own sake, but to focus our energies on where we need to grow.
Although it is problematic in the film, Abuela’s encouragement of each member of the family to consider how their gift can make the community better is actually a very significant piece of vocational discernment. To paraphrase Frederick Buechner, where do your great gifts meet the town’s great needs? Perhaps it is to heal, like Julieta; or to ease burdens, like Luisa; or to make people feel heard, like Dolores; or to spread beauty, like Isabela. Each person’s gifts have a distinct role to play in the body of Christ.
We discover early on in Encanto that something is threatening the family’s magic: the Casita is starting to fail and the Madrigal’s magical powers are weakening. Cracks begin to show both in the brick and mortar of the Casita and in familial relationships, straining under the pressure to be perfect and to serve the community and one another.
The film takes us through the Madrigals’ almost purgative journey to heal these cracks… To move forward, the family Madrigal must offer penance, naming where they have hurt one another through crushing expectations, fractious relationships, or abandonment and exclusion.
This healing comes in the penultimate song, which also offers the most ringing account of vocation. The whole family sings as they stand in the rubble of their collapsed home—and collapsed family. In the end, the family Madrigal discovers that their true gift is not their magical powers, their assigned family roles, or the ways they improve the lives of the townspeople.
As Abuela sings, “The miracle is not some magic that you’ve got / the miracle is you / not some gift, just you / all of you.”