Spiritual Movie, Spiritual Death

Indeed, the Son of God was revealed to destroy the works of the devil. (I John 3:8)

Will it sound too grim if I wish you all well–during another year of strife? Will it sound even grimmer if I remind you that not all of us will be on earth on New Year’s Day, 2013?

I do not wish you unnecessary struggles. After all, at every Mass, the priest prays on everyone’s behalf that the good Lord would deliver us from all distress. The priest prays that He Who promised peace to His Apostles would fulfill his will in us and grant us peace.

But why did St. John have to write his letters? Why, after all, did all the human authors of the New Testament documents feel the need to write?

In this world, we will have troubles, says the Lord. “But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

God took our human nature to Himself, became man, set His feet on the earth, showed signs of His divinity with miraculous wonders—and we proceeded to crucify Him.

The Apostles wrote because the beautiful and simple Word of Truth had been, in certain quarters, distorted and maliciously misunderstood. They wrote because a battle ceaselessly rages between the pure love of God the Father and the agonizingly confusing destructiveness of the Evil One.

So strife makes up a good deal of our business in this world. The Enemy always crouches nearby, never farther away than right here, in the devices and desires of my own heart. We children of God have a birthright, a spiritual anointing from heaven—but for now it stands besieged at all times by the wiles of the horizon-lowering, clarity-destroying Devil.

The word ‘spiritual’ itself contains ambiguities that illustrate the point. What does the word ‘spiritual’ really mean?

Listen, different people like different movies. I do not intend to put myself forward as a film critic.

But I recently saw a movie about someone walking the pilgrim way of St. James in Europe.

The movie presented itself as a ‘spiritual’ film. But the long walk which the protagonist made was hardly a ‘spiritual’ pilgrimage.

What am I saying?

‘Spiritual’ does not mean: vague, uncommunicative, or self-serving. It does not mean being inconsiderate and small, with the excuse, “Look, I am going through some changes.” It does not mean making a religion out of my own emotions.

God is Spirit. Spirituality comes from God. God generates goodness and life, and He strives against disobedience and destruction with infinite patience and strength. God shares His perfect spirituality with us. He anoints us with His Holy Spirit and gives us a share in His divine wisdom and love.

God’s mind and heart extend a great deal beyond the reaches of our own. Being spiritual means being mild, humble, consumed with other people and their interests. The Spirit of God blows where He wills, drawing us interiorly into a thick, dark cloud.

We must step into the divine darkness with absolute trust. Spirituality means a kind of daily death. Christ, hanging on the cross, abandoned Himself altogether to the Father. Our way to heaven demands that we imitate that act every day.

In this movie about the Camino to Campostela, a poor man loses his son to a sudden and untimely death.

No one wants to bury a child. Unfortunately, in the movie the grieving father did not have the decency to bury his dead son. Instead of burying the young man with a Christian funeral, the father proceeds to scatter his son’s ashes all over obscure, unmarked locations in France and Spain.

Did the father see to it that his son’s body be brought to the foot of the altar, where the sacrifice of Christ could be offered for the cleansing of his sins? No. Did he give a thought to others who might want to be able to visit his son’s grave and pray for him? No.

We Catholics have inherited many truly remarkable practices from the earliest generations of Christians. Perhaps the most important would be our way of dealing with death.

Death calls the genuinely spiritual out of us. Death brings us face-to-face with the vocation of the Christ of God. When we confront the death of a loved one, our faith in Christ makes its claim on our whole hearts.

Christ conquered death. He overcame the sin of the world. Being “spiritual” has nothing to do with yoga or long walks or esoteric clothes or teas or Nepalese textiles. Being spiritual means 1) believing that Jesus of Nazareth lives in heaven and 2) basing absolutely everything on this single fact.

When we believe, Christ’s righteousness dwells in us. His Spirit lives in us. And the Enemy cannot destroy us, no matter what snares he throws in our path, even the snare of death itself.

…Hey, did you know that this famous British talent Susan Boyle covered Tears for Fears’ “Mad World?” Ethereal as hell.

2 thoughts on “Spiritual Movie, Spiritual Death

  1. I understand what you are saying about scattering cremains, but I understood the main theme of this movie to be “pilgrimage” or journey within. I felt with the protagonist as he accepted the meaning of his son’s life and found some spiritual meaning for himself during this pilgrimage. Granted, he was not going on pilgrimage for a spiritual reason but, like St. Augustine, his heart was restless. And he probably remained restless at the end of the movie because his heart was not yet at rest in Christ.

  2. Father Mark,

    Coping with the dualities of life (e.g., life and death, love and hate, obedience and free will) is such a challenge, that it’s almost begs a being a definition of being an “adult”.

    I propose that, “Being truly an adult is defined by the ability to knowingly sit in the middle of a dichotomy or a dilemma for a protracted period and not go stark raving mad.”

    Susan Boyle (or Tears for Fears, for that matter, but more so, Ms. Boyle) singing Mad World might well partially meet that definition, or at least, offer a musical view of that state.



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