Movie Review: The Rite

Throw in a quote from Blessed Pope John Paul II at the beginning of a movie and apparently all the Catholics will think it’s a great movie.

On the contrary, Catholics need to be more discerning. Besides, it wasn’t even that fantastic of a quote about exorcism, evil, and existence and influence of the devil in the modern world. And it wasn’t even that fantastic of a movie. I also disagree with the USCCB’s overly positive review (which I read after watching the movie myself), and think the movie does nothing to underscore the value of priesthood. Rather, I think it undermines it through the excessive portrayal of a layman performing priestly duties. I am therefore not inclined to read the book.

Problems with the movie:

~Michael Kovak (the seminarian) absolves a dying girl– or rather, pretends to, with a priest (albeit, injured) no less than 10 feet away. Without ordination, his blessings and absolutions are ineffective. Plus… the priest was RIGHT THERE… It was the cruelest thing he could’ve done to only pretend to offer a dying girl what she desperately wanted when the real thing was readily available.

~Unrealistic. They would never send a seminarian… or ANY person of weak faith into a room with a demon. Bad idea. That doesn’t help a person find faith, but it does make them an excellent candidate for the next possession. The best line of the movie was probably, “choosing not to believe in the devil won’t protect you from him”. The truest thing said in the movie. However, they did the exact opposite– the seminarian doubts the reality of possession, and the existence of the devil, so they throw him into a room with him and his demons ready to devour a doubting soul.

~The priest takes a phone call on his cell phone in the middle of an exorcism. Yes, this portrays priests in a bad light. Anthony Hopkins makes a bad priest (… typical Hollywood style).  They tried (inappropriately) to inject some humor into the movie. It’s a scary situation. A scary portrayal. The attempt at a laugh was pathetic, pitiful, and inappropriate.

~A layman (Michael Kovak) performs an exorcism, even wearing a stole (a vestment proper to a priest) part of the time.

To be fair, they did get some things right:

~The fear factor was there, though I  think perhaps it was a bit overboard at times which made it seem less realistic. Nonetheless, evil is a scary thing. It should be scary, but we should not have an irrational fear about it. Our Lord has conquered and triumphed, and we do so in and through Him.

~The demon telling Michael (the doubting seminarian) that he’s followed him. When he didn’t believe, when he doubted, he was really following the devil; though he falsely believed he was following no one. This is not a battle where one can ride the fence or sit on the sidelines. If you don’t play on God’s team, then you play for the devil. It’s that simple.

This is not an exhaustive rendering of the pros and cons of the movie, but I had no desire to watch it a second time to really parse through it scene by scene or line by line. And if I had to watch a girl die begging for Last Rites with a priest 10 feet away and a doubting seminarian pretend to mutter a powerless absolution all over again, I probably would’ve broken the disc. At the very least.

Practical tips in response to evil:

Get yourself some holy water and USE it. Frequently. (… as an added bonus, holy water remits venial sin!)
Pray the Our Father. Frequently.
Pray the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel. Frequently.
Pray the Rosary. Frequently.

*NB: “Frequently” means “at least daily”.

Good reads on exorcism/the struggle against evil:

The Spiritual Combat/Treatise on Peace of Soul by Dom Lorenzo Scupoli
An Exorcist Tells His Story
by Father Gabriele Amorth
An Exorcist: More Stories by Father Gabriele Amorth

Surprising Statistics

Unfortunately it’s not surprising, but it is disappointing… according to the latest statistics from CARA (Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate) only a mere %14 of Catholics think pre-marital sex is wrong, and even among Catholics who regularly attend Mass (i.e., at least once a week) only %30 said pre-marital sex is wrong. Msgr. Pope from the Archdiocese of Washington noting the statistics said, “we have a lot of work to do”… YA THINK!?! Archbishop Chaput also said last week that this generation has failed in catechesis… in handing on the faith to the next generation and as a result young people today have lost a “moral vocabulary”:

“Our culture is doing catechesis every day. It works like water dripping on a stone, eroding people’s moral and religious sensibilities, and leaving a hole where their convictions used to be.”

“Christians in my country and yours – and throughout the West, generally – have done a terrible job of transmitting our faith to our own children and to the culture at large.
Instead of changing the culture around us, we Christians have allowed ourselves to be changed by the culture. We’ve compromised too cheaply. We’ve hungered after assimilating and fitting in. And in the process, we’ve been bleached out and absorbed by the culture we were sent to make holy.
We need to confess that, and we need to fix it.”

“The central issue is whether we ourselves really do believe. Catechesis is not a profession. It’s a dimension of discipleship. If we’re Christians, we’re each of us called to be teachers and missionaries.”
“If we’re embarrassed about Church teachings, or if we disagree with them, or if we’ve decided that they’re just too hard to live by, or too hard to explain, then we’ve already defeated ourselves.”
“We need to really believe what we claim to believe,” he stressed. “We need to stop calling ourselves ‘Catholic’ if we don’t stand with the Church in her teachings – all of them.”

In response to the crisis, the Archdiocesan website put up a PDF of relevant passages from the Sacred Scripture condemning pre-marital sex. You can find it here.

While it is clear that the Bible condemns pre-marital sex (“fornication”), and the Church has always taught that sex before marriage is wrong; it’s also clear that either people don’t understand this, or very few care anymore. This baffles me. Even aside from the religious aspect of things, look at the situation rationally: what has promiscuity brought us? … STDs, children who don’t know their fathers or who must grow up in a ‘broken home’, and all the mental consequences of casual hookups (depression, etc.), etc. Not one good thing has come from embracing promiscuity.

I have to also admit, given the popularity of Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, especially with Christopher West and others supporting and teaching it all over the country… I am surprised at the numbers… but as the good Archbishop Chaput said, “the central issue is whether we really believe”.

 

What does the Catholic Church teach regarding Christian Marriage?
Casti Connubii (On Christian Marriage) — Pope Pius XI
Arcanum (On Christian Marriage) — Pope Leo XIII

“The Last Acceptable Prejudice” continues

The television (the tabernacle of Satan, as Fr Groeschel would say) is tuned to a show which shall remain nameless. I did not choose the show, and have been making a concentrated effort to ignore it. However, the past several minutes have consisted in repeated insults against the Catholic Church, and a long segment praising homosexuality…

It’s one thing to disagree with a thing from a rational perspective, and quite another to level insults, poke fun, and dismiss a thing irrationally.

More and more it seems like the Catholic Church is everyone’s favorite punching bag. The York Times, The Boston Globe…most news outlets in general. And apparently, with the testimony of this particular talk show, the Church is the best new punchline for everything. Especially whatever of the Church’s teachings that [the insulters] misunderstand.

This latest episode consisted in mocking the Eucharist (a very grave offense), one of the hosts talked about receiving [from the Chalice] multiple times when she went to Mass because she was “still thirsty” (an alcoholic insinuation). I pray it was a joke. More concerning than if she received mulitple times (which is unnecessary and obviously disrespectful), is the flippancy with which she dismissed the Most Sacred Blood of Our Lord. She preferred its alcholic accidents to its supernatural graces. The Eucharist is not wine. It is not a symbol. The substance of the wine is changed (into the Most Precious Blood of Jesus Christ), even though the accidents remain the same (it still looks, smells, and tastes like wine–but it is not). Her dismissal of the Precious Blood, mocking the fact that its accidents remain, is a mockery of the price of Salvation. It’s disgusting. It’d disheartening.

I worry about the state of the world.

I pray during this month of the Precious Blood that more Christians become aware of the price of their Salvation and turn in love to the Precious Blood that poured forth from Our Lord on the Cross and made present in the Chalice during the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Independence Day

I saw a shirt a few years ago with a big American Flag on it, it read, “In America we’re born to be free, too bad we aren’t free to be born!” and was followed by several statistics on abortion. It’s the perfect t-shirt slogan about abortion in this  country.  How ironic. Abortion is a travesty of “freedom”.

In truth, we have lost the meaning of freedom. Our modern world has completely forgotten the truth. Instead of reality, we seek only convenience.

There is no world in which the pursuit of the common good can allow for the death of anyone, no matter how young or helpless. Murder is senseless, even more so as a ‘solution’. However, abortion is not merely murder. I don’t think there’s a word to describe the utter horror of abortion. A mother slaughtering her offspring–in the womb. No woman, no person, has the ‘right’, the “freedom” to kill anyone. To decide who lives and who dies. Especially a mother. A mother is charged with the sacred duty of protection. It’s her job to protect, defend, and love her child. Murder is a gross denial of motherhood. A dross denial of the dignity of being a woman. To murder your own child is the most abhorrent act possible.

The late Pope John Paul II once said, “a nation that kills its own children is a nation without hope.” This Independence Day, we, as a nation, celebrate our freedom and the hope of the “American Dream”. Abortion is the destruction of freedom, the destruction of hope, and the destruction of the American Dream.

More pictures

End abortion. Fight it. Pray for God’s mercy and justice.

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray, and do thou, O prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God cast into Hell Satan and all evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Abortion is NOT healthcare!

What ailment does abortion heal? What medical condition does abortion cure? What lifesaving benefit does abortion offer? What life does abortion save?

The answer to all of the above: nothing. NOTHING. None. No one.

Abortion is an elective “procedure” if we can bear to call it that (perhaps that’s what Hitler called the gas chambers?). Abortion is a murderous anti-medicinal abomination that destroys the goal of all medicine: to protect LIFE.

I hate, loathe, and abhor the rhetoric. The complete selfishness demonstrated by pro-abortion advocates is downright scary. It’s TERRIFYING. Slogans like, “it’s a personal decision, not a legal debate”, “my body, my choice”, etc. are pathetic in comparison to the reality of abortion:

When did we forget our responsibilities to protect and defend the weak? Where was his “choice”? Where was his “personal decision” regarding his body?

Given the chance, no one would opt to be slaughtered in their mother’s womb.
That’s the ugly, real side of abortion that pro-abortion activists don’t want you to think about. The murder of innocent children in the wombs of their mothers.
Abortion is NOT healthcare. Abortion is murder.

Who’s telling the truth?

Many others have commented on Obama’s speech at the Notre [Sh]ame commencement; I wasn’t planning to, but after coming across some stats that show that States with federally funded abstinence-only sex education programs have significantly lower abortion rates than those States which reject funding for abstinence-only programs, I can’t be silent.

Why?

Because just this month, a few weeks prior to Mr. Obama’s chatter about “common ground” to “reduce the number of abortions” he cut abstinence-only sex education programs from federal funding.

According to the data then, if we abandon abstinence-only sex education programs (because, who’s going to use them if you can’t afford them?) abortion rates will not go down, but will shoot up the opposite direction: up. Cutting federal funds for abstinence-only sex education programs is NOT a step towards reducing the number of abortions in this country (it’s a step in the other direction). Cutting federal funds for abstinence-only sex education programs is NOT a step towards “common ground” (it’s an entrenchment of the same pro-ABORTION politics Obama has been lobbying for since he began campaigning).

The appeal and pleas for “common ground” and “dialogue” during his Notre [Sh]ame commencement speech were empty promises dressed in fancy rhetoric (which obviously fooled more than a few people).

Notre [Sh]ame: the Decline of a Catholic identity

By now it’s practically old news, reading about President Obama’s invitation and honorary law degree to be received this weekend at Notre Dame University (former Catholic institution of higher learning); it’s getting to be a wary topic. And what’s the hullabaloo? There’s a standing invitation for the President (whomever he may be) to speak at Notre Dame’s commencement activities. Why all the Catholic uproar, protests, and talk of scandal?

It’s not because President Obama is speaking at Notre Dame. No sir. Sure, if Obama were simply speaking at Notre Dame’s commencement, many Catholics would “tsk, tsk” and shake their heads. But, (and this is key) Obama’s being awarded (i.e., honored) with an honorary (there’s that honor again) degree of (here’s the kicker,) Law. A law degree. An honorary law degree to the most pro-abortion President this country has ever seen. An honorary law degree to a man who voted against the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, who promised Planned Parenthood enthusiasts that he would remove all restrictions on abortion by signing the Freedom of Choice Act, who had the audacity to call unplanned children punishments, etc., etc., etc. the list goes on.

It’s a slap in the face to Catholics in this country. It’s a slap in the face to citizens of this country who have fought tirelessly against the evil of abortion.

This is not a matter of politics– it never has been– it’s a matter of LIFE. This is the real life or death situation. The lives of millions of American children depend upon our speaking up for them who cannot speak for themselves. Life is sacred, life is special, life is full of meaning. This is the foundation for EVERYTHING.

To trample and take lightly the pro-life movement– the fight to save the morals and basic human rights in this country– is an affront not merely to humanity, but robs Notre Dame of its Catholic identity. You cannot be Catholic and devalue life. You cannot embrace Catholicism and reject the sacredness of human life, reject the Gospel call to defend and help the weak, the poor, the vulnerable, the marginalized, etc. Social justice issues DEPEND upon a foundation that respects, at its base, the right to life.

Notre Dame truly has become Notre Shame under the watch of Fr. Jenkins and those who support the honoring of President Obama at this year’s commencement activities.