... and with it, an opportunity.
Tonight the wife and I went to our Church to partake of a soup supper... and then watch one of the most moving and beautiful reenactments of the Stations of the Cross I've ever seen. The music, the portrayals, the staging, the creative sets, all were done with great care and effect.
I found myself surprisingly emotional at times. And thought, interestingly enough, about my boys, the ladies they love and my soon to be born granddaughter, Amelia.
I thought about how I looked forward to a time, hopefully in the not too distant future, when we might all together see something as beautiful and inspirational.
It'll be an opportunity I hope we'll all one day take, as a family.
Which brings me to an opportunity coming up this weekend.
I learned that this Sunday night, Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ will be aired on commercial TV for the first time and interestingly enough, I learned that Mark Shea actually had a connection to its release 10 years ago. I also learned, from Mark's piece, a little more about Gibson's creativity:
The film itself generated enormous controversy, of course, hitting all kinds of cultural and aesthetic buttons. Some of this was due to the sheer violence of the film, some of it was due to the (I think unfair) charge of anti-semitism against it. And a lot of it was due to the fact that many people simply had no background for seeing the very clear theology inherent in it. In many ways, it was Mel Gibson's meditation on the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary and the Stations of the Cross. It was marinated in imagery that, to a Catholic, was as clear and beautiful as (to a non-Catholic) it was opaque and mysterious.
For instance, I remember reading one critic remarking the Gibson had apparently randomly inserted peaceful moments from earlier in the life of Christ into the narrative, simply to give the viewer a reprieve from the violence. But in fact, every frame of that film is there for a theological and artistic reason. So, for instance, as Jesus arrives at Golgotha, we suddenly cut to the Last Supper and Jesus unwrapping the cloth holding the bread he will consecrate as the first Eucharist. The scene then cuts back to Jesus being stripped of his clothes. He is nailed to the cross--and as he is lifted up on it the scene cuts back to Jesus at the Last Supper elevating the bread, giving thanks, and saying "This is my body". In short, Gibson is using a cinematic vocabulary, here and throughout the film, to say what Catholics say in every Mass. For the same reason, he shows Mary--Jesus' greatest disciple--kiss the bloody feet of Jesus and come away with the Precious Blood on her lips: it's the filmic way of saying "This is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant."
The gospels have been described by one 19th century German theologian as "passion narratives with long introductions". The good news that Christians had to tell--indeed the only news they had to tell--was not that that Jesus was a moralist, or a miracle worker, or prolife, or told some nifty stories. It was that he was God incarnate who had suffered and died for our sins and then been raised to life on the third day, now to rule and reign over the universe till the last enemy, death, was put under his feet and he returned on the Last Day to judge the living and the dead. All the stories, saying, parables, and miracles in the gospels are just commentary on and preparation for that. Everything the Church has ever done since then has looked back to that 72 hour period in the life of its Hero. Gibson's daring choice (in a culture as theologically illiterate as ours) was to confront modernity with the Passion Narrative with no introduction and as little supporting material from the rest of the gospels as he could. To let the shocking story of Christ Jesus scourged, crowned with thorns, crucified and risen speak for itself with the enormous crushing power it still retains.
You should read the entire piece.
And you should take the opportunity to see the movie this weekend, particularly if you've never seen it before.
It would be a most meaningful start to Holy Week.