The Passion Redux

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It appears I was somewhat wrong about the movie. While it had no immediate effect or resonance, I found that at Mass today, it seemed to have imparted to me some greater sense of Christ's humanity. Somehow the events of the Movie made Jesus more of a person to me--it reified His humanity in ways that have not been possible for me before. So at Mass, I was doubly joyful in the Love of the Great God and the Love of the Great, Good Man. I can't explain it, but God works in mysterious ways his wonders to perform. Thank you Jesus.

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I cannot watch the film. It is bad enough that stills from the film I have seen have invaded my imagination at prayers.
Does anyone know anyway I can get around this?
(I suppose this is why I prefer ikons or gothic art to more realistic paintings and statues since no one really looks like ikons or mediaeval paintings.)

The movie has done the same for me at Mass.

Dear Mark,

My first suggestion would be to pray about it. What about the images haunts you or bothers you? (I'm not asking the question, but suggesting that it is something to ask God in prayer.) Once you know the source of your antipathy, perhaps you will better understand how best to rid yourself of the images.

In fact, the stills are far more disturbing than the movie itself (at least in my estimation). I have never been a great fan of the ultra-sensationalistic devotional art one often associates with Latin America, so I do sympathize deeply with what you say. And it was a fear I had about seeing the movie, but the images don't linger with me, only the love that was behind them. A grace of God.

So once again, simply pray and offer it all up for God. Perhaps for the moment this is the cross you must take up and bear. (and I don't mean that as either rhetorical flourish or sad pun--merely that the negativity of the images is a burden for this moment.)



Think of the acting. I found that the various devices Gibson used (like slow motion) helped me to remember that I was watching a movie.

Though I liked Caviezel's interpretation of Jesus, I knew at all times that he was Caviezel, not Jesus.

The movie has also affected myself at Mass, though towards the good.

During the exit hymn today "Under the weight of the Cross" the images of Jesus falling under the cross and struggling to get up invaded my consciousness. I struggled singing through the tears onto the next verse, but I was glad to be reminded his great love for us.

Thanks all for your thoughts.
Once again I was not explicit...I am afraid that when I pray/meditate that I will see "Jim Caviezel" and not our Lord (though I have not personally seen Him yet). I know I won't be praying to Jim Caviezel and I am pretty sure if I see the film I would be mindful enough that this is an actor portraying Him. Still, seeing a living, breathing person in place of our Lord is sort of "ruins" my meditative imagination. (On one level it is like watching the film "Dr. Zhivago" before reading the book. I could only picture the actors as the book's characters. In this case, in stead of just a book, it is someone I pray to and adore.) (Normally, I do not picture anyone when I pray, but a ready-made picture will take over if I have seen one that is a photograph or a realistic painting.)
And it is not the depiction with blood and violence per se that I object to as much as the degree to which the real Passion will seem unreal to me in my imagination/meditation after seeing a fairly realistic rendering on the screen. Conversely, Fra Angelico's "Mocking of Christ" comes to mind. Because the painter uses spatial and temporal indirection, our Lord's humiliation appears more obliquely real. The means of His humiliation being isolated in mid-air make the impact seem (to me) more felt. Sort of the way a blind man's other four senses are (supposedly) sharpened. It resonates more deeply in my mind. Realism, OTH, seems to package its subject in order to elicit a programmed response. (I am not knocking realistic art. Relgious subjects, however, do ask of the viewer something different than Holbein's portraiture or Tissot's elegant socialites.)
Don't get me wrong. I want to see the movie. (All the right people like it and the usual suspects despise it.) I am reminded of a web discussion on Teresa of Avila's comments on the over-active imagination. I guess that is what I have.
Peace, all!

Dear Mark,

I can't speak for you, but I can say definitively that whoever played Jesus does not occupy my mind even a little bit at prayer. I initially was concerned about some of the same issues, but they haven't materialized.

But every person is different and those risks must be evaluated by each one as they think about seeing the film. Thanks.



Dear Mark,
I was worried about the same thing, and in fact, when I saw the stills, I was very perturbed about it, not wanting my mind to fasten on this particular image as somehow "being Jesus", and intruding on the Presence in my soul.
But I am so glad I saw the movie. I have had experiences much like what Jeff and Steven have remarked upon. It is just that there is now some more penetrating sense of his humanity, his great suffering. (I am having a hard time verbalizing this, so please bear with me)!
But I have NO lingering image of Caviezel in my mind as Jesus, or of Maia Morgenstern as Mary, for that matter. And yet, through the conduit of their acting, and of all the talents and vision of those who made the film, something came through and left a more lasting impression with me than any other film of its sort ever has. I feel that the opportunity to see it was a gift from God, and I am glad I did.

The stills from the movie didn't make me want to see the movie at all. But seeing the movie was a far different experience...



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on March 6, 2004 2:11 PM.

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