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The Passion of the Christ.

It took me a long time before I went to see the "Movie". It is already the middle of Lent and I was still busy in my house like Martha who wanted to receive Jesus so well. But my reason for putting it off was a prayerful one, as if I thought I was not worthy to witness the greatest drama of all time. I was not going to the "Movie", the work of art, the tremendous achievement of Mel Gibson. No, I was going to take part in the most painful event in history this time not by using my imagination, as I often do in prayer, but by literally going back in time and following the Way of the Cross. Time and space disappeared, history took a pause, nature became filled with awe and actors assumed the features of the "real" historical figures. I became lost in contemplation. The Heavenly Father in the eternal now was also looking at His Beloved Son and the horror of sin which required such a sacrifice.

Continually I was transported in spirit to the tabernacle there at St. Clement's and told Jesus: this is what Mass is all about, this is why you hid yourself under the species of bread and wine. Lord, "I believe, I adore, I hope and I love Thee; and I ask pardon for all those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love thee." The tall figure in the garden of Gethsemane filled me with terrible anticipation. The pagan "numen inest" (a deity is inside), so often uttered by the Romans as they entered a grove, now refers to the Man-God, Jesus Christ, Our Lord. The first sorrowful mystery--the agony of Jesus in the garden--unfolded before my eyes in its full anguish and sorrow. "Dear Jesus, Thou dost go to die--For very love of me: Ah! Let me bear thee company--I wish to die with Thee."

Yes, to those who believe, The Passion of the Christ is a true spiritual experience, but to those who do not believe the violence is too much! It is because it is all they see. The wonderful teaching of the Gospel simply does not catch their attention. Remember the Song of Bernadette of Franz Werfel? Referring to the miracles at Lourdes he said: "To those who believe no explanation is necessary; to those who do not believe no explanation is possible."

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and so is faith in the heart of the believer. The movie opened with a quotation from Isaiah: "He was wounded for our iniquities, bruised for our transgressions", the Son of Man full of sorrow. How could He bear such suffering? He could because He had loved us with "an everlasting love"! This eternal drama of love is summarized in the following Bible verse: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him may not perish but have life everlasting." Yes, this is what the unbeliever misses: "the eternal dimension of love"!

Believe it or not, the Devil, that hideous and vile creature, caught my attention. How many people l today believe in the Devil? I will tell you--not very many. But all the saints of God believed and believe in this enemy of Christ. Did you notice how he "cruised" among the apostles and tried to show his ugly face behind every scene? "Jesus Christ was manifested that he may destroy all the works of the Devil!" Oh, the cruelty of Satan! How he was and still is hiding himself behind respectful people, in books, entertainment, and that all-powerful television! Many years ago, when Satan began to show his ugly face to me, I exposed him in a poem which I am quoting here: "The devil is always hiding in art, television and books; few people are able to see how ugly he really looks. But even fewer believe that he really exists; that he employs against mankind nasty and silly tricks such as to deceive them about God, about heaven and hell, saying this earth is our destiny, employing even hard sell. But I know better than that, I know his ugly face; and I designate him forever to the one and only place--that is hell! There he will roast forever, forever remain alive, in muddy and slimy regions--that's where the devil will hide!"

But he is no match for Jesus Christ! Did you see the young man holding an ugly baby? Did you see his shadow behind every blow that fell on Jesus? How cunning, how wicked, how depraved is the Evil Spirit who did not want to serve God! It is all his doing. It is Satan who brought mankind to such a state of iniquity that God out of love and mercy had to give His Son to die for justice's sake. Yes, I felt every blow that fell on Jesus and I saw the pride of man. Yes, I lived through all the sorrowful mysteries of Our Lord presented to me as if by the very hand of God. And holy Mary! Her mute eloquence spoke to me more than all the books I have read about her. Her via dolorosa is her divine Son's via gloriosa. If ever I doubted that she is the Co-Redemptrix, I certainly do not any more. "Mother, this is your son; son, this is your mother." The Suffering Servant spoke to me personally just as He comes to me personally in every Holy Communion. It is for love of Him that I have written this meditation. Thank you, Mel Gibson, for creating such a masterpiece.

Sunday March 28, 2004

It so happened that the following Sunday, after I had seen The Passion with my husband, was Passion Sunday! I was still all immersed in the sufferings of Christ, when in church I heard the processional hymn: Man of Sorrows Wrapt in Grief.

"Man of Sorrows wrapt in grief Bow Thine ear to our relief: Thou for us the path hast trod Of the dreadful wrath of God;

Thou the path of fire hast drained Till its light alone remained. Lamb of Love! We look to Thee: Hear our mournful litany."

Then the priest, Father Bizard, confirmed again: "Every second of The Passion of the Christ has infinite value. The Passion of the Christ is not a movie, it is a reality! Christ is still suffering; he took on himself every human suffering. Pascal said that Christ will be in agony till the end of time. Christ suffered from Gentiles and Jews, from men and women, from rulers and the mob, from friends and acquaintances. Judas is like every soul who received Jesus in Holy Communion and is not in the state of grace. The movie helps us to meditate of the passion of Christ."

The holy Mass ended with the recessional hymn:
 "O Sacred Head surrounded by crown of piercing thorn!
 O bleeding Head so wounded, reviled and put to scorn!
 Death's pallid hue comes over Thee, the glow of life decays,
 Yet angel hosts adore Thee, and tremble as they gaze."

Editorial Note:

Jesus suffers today only in the sense that the Whole Christ does--not the head but the members, with suffering sanctified by the head.

Josephine Krol is a freelance writer in Ottawa
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Author:Krol, Josephine
Publication:Catholic Insight
Article Type:Movie Review
Date:Mar 1, 2005
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