Saturday, April 7, 2012

The movie "The Passion"

Where can I go from your Spirit?
   Where can I flee from your presence?  
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
   if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
   if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me,
   your right hand will hold me fast. 
-psalm 139

VEE:  Guess which movie and where I was.  I was a lapsed (out of laziness and stupidity) Catholic living near Tokyo.  I didn't go to Church, I didn't do anything except be a selfish lazy idiot.  Then, in a country with 127 million people and one million Catholics a little film comes, much to my surprise, and posters appear all over Tokyo in some of the busiest train stations as displayed in the pic I took above.  There were even a few commercials on TV.  Out of curiosity I went wanting to see what all the fuss was about and determined not to cry as well!  For some reason I didnt pick a  theatre near home but one close to Tokyo Disneyland in a busy shopping mall an hour and a half train ride away.  The showing was in the early afternoon and much to my surprise there were people there and the theater was maybe half full, most of us probably having no idea what we were in for!  People who brought snacks stopped snacking as the movie progressed.  Everyone cried, I bawled, I could hear even the guys crying.    When our showing ended and we all left the theater I saw a line of people waiting to get in for the next showing and I thought, "you guys have no idea what youre in for!"  The movie's dialogue was in the original languages as filmed, with English subtitles on the bottom, and the Japanese subtitles going down the right hand side.

It was a long hour and a half trip home after watching that!  I lost my appetite and had nothing to say to anyone for the rest of the day!  It also started a learning process as I had to explain to myself and non-Catholics what we just saw.  It also started the process of God explaining to me who He is and how much He loves me, thus the psalm quoted above, one of my favorites.  Even to those who have no clue, He comes to them in little ways and big ways.  He will not be stopped.

DS:  I first read about "The Passion" in a celebrity magazine.  It was a critical piece describing the process Mel Gibson was undertaking to bring the story of Jesus to the big screen.  Already, wicked hollywood was not very accepting of the movie, even during its beginning stages.  I remember thinking, "I have to see that when it comes out..." but then, not thinking about it anymore after that.

Fast forward a few years after that article, and I find myself in the convent.  During my postulant year, the movie came out in select theatres across the nation.  A  donor bought tickets for every member of the community.  We were very excited!  In preparation for the movie, another donor sent us the teacher-manual- type study book describing the symbolism and the scenes in the movie.  We read that first.  It made me eager to see it.  When the day finally arrived, we all loaded into our shuttle vans and went downtown to the movieplex.

While in line for the movie, we caught the attention of everybody in the lobby.  Some people smiled as our community, donned in their beautiful white habits, walked about the lobby and talked with friends who decided to join us.  Other people looked at us in disdain and nodded their heads in disapproval.  It hit me how controversial this movie was to some people, and here we were, a very young, vibrant, HAPPY community of Sisters in line to see it... I guess that made it more than religion-haters could bear!

From the get-go, the movie draws  you in.  You see Jesus at the start of His Passion, and the movie takes you through every moment, step by step all the way to the Crucifixion.  To describe the movie as "powerful" is an understatement.  This was a cinematic masterpiece.  The subject was love, and not just any  love but the greatest love of all, that of "laying down one's life for one's friends."  Most people wept from the scourging scene, where Jesus is tied to a small pillar and whipped with sharp objects, iron claws, and bare rods.  But, strangely I didn't weep at that scene.  I wept when Jesus falls for the 3rd time under the weight of His cross, and Mary, His mother comes rushing to His side while remember Him falling down as a toddler.   The love Jesus showed His Mother throughout the film was touching and beautiful.  As He greets her on the way to the crucifixion, He takes her face and tells her, "Look mother, I make all things new!"  And He lifts His cross with a renewed strength, something that Mary seemed to give Him every time He looked at her.

Vee and I watched "The Passion" last night.  We remembered where we were the first time the movie touched our lives.  I believe her life was touched in a very profound way, as it directed her down the path towards a newfound relationship with Jesus.  For me, it renewed in my heart a committment to belong to Him forever.  I may have left the convent, but my desire to belong to Him alone has never left me.

Today is Holy Saturday, and it is a day of anticipation.  Jesus opens the gates of Heaven to those who had fallen asleep.  He descends into hell and pulls these sleepers awake from their slumber.  Their wait is over.  The Messiah has come.  The Church awaits His resurrection as She celebrates the Easter Vigil tonite, the greatest Liturgy the Church possesses.  


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