This sounds like a movie I want to see

From  Rorate Caeli:

It is with this in mind that I offer my thoughts on a film that I saw very recently and that I think is a powerful contemporary meditation on the Catholic priesthood.  The film is Calvary, directed and written by John Michael McDonagh  and starring Brendan Gleeson.  The setting is contemporary Ireland, a perfect setting for asking the question about what it means to be a Catholic priest in a world that is not only secular but also deeply and negatively post-Christian.  The director stated in a recent interview that this film is Bresson’s Diary of a Country Priest with a few gags thrown in.  I would not agree with that rather flippant assessment of the film.  For me it is significant that the director who conceived this film saw its relationship to Bresson’s film based on Bernanos’ novel.

A number of reviewers call this film a dark comedy.  I am not sure what they mean by this, unless they see life itself as an absurd comedy of sorts.  The film is dark, but at its heart there is a light in the person of Father James, the protagonist of the film. But this light is not in the least sentimental; it is a light of strength and reality in the midst of the messiness of human life and relationships that is the arena in which the Catholic priest must do his battle for Christ, for the Church, and above all for the God who is Love.  This priest is intensely aware of his situation:  a man of faith who must witness to Christ amidst a hostile and unbelieving world in a manly and realistic and courageous and loving way.  And he also understands the weakness and the unreality and the silliness and the mediocrity of the Church that he serves and that he loves.  And he understands his own weakness that he struggles to overcome, and he finally realizes, like St. Paul, that Christ’s grace is sufficient for him to do what he must do as a priest.

If I were a bishop I would show this film to all my seminarians and then talk to them about it. It is not easy to watch. But it is not only an antidote to careerism and pietism and clericalism and romanticism.  It is a testament to the essence of the Catholic priesthood as intrinsically related to the suffering and death of Jesus Christ.  It is significant that neither Bresson’s film of The Diary of a Country Priest nor Calvary include scenes showing the priest celebrating Mass exceptin passim.  But neither film needs to do this, for both films show the priest as an alter Christus in his very life.  And what each priest in both films experience as they offer the Holy Sacrifice is translated into something startlingly real in how each lives his life as a priest, especially in his relationships with the people who surround him, some of whom who love him, some who hate him, and some who are totally indifferent to him.

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6 Responses to This sounds like a movie I want to see

  1. Simon says:

    It sounds good. Like you, I’d like to see it but it might the subject matter demote it to the ‘alternative’ cinemas? One well worth looking for, though.

  2. Tim S. says:

    The reason why it was important that they did not include the Mass is because to do so would diminish the subtlety necessary to engage the audience about what is essentially Alter Christus. Furthermore, there would be plenty of questions of theological nature which would hit the audience like a sack of hammers that would basically put off the audience, since we’re talking about a secular bunch who really have no patience with academic topics; they’d probably pass off any theological significance of the Mass in the film as “Gobbeldygook”. (And we don’t want that.)

  3. EPMS says:

    In “Diary of a Country Priest” we see a class being prepared for First Communion. Afterwards the priest asks his star pupil if she is impatient to receive Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. She shrugs indifferently, deeply surprising him. “But you seem so enthralled during class”. “Yes” she says, “by your beautiful eyes”.

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