Ordet (1955)

Ordet is another one of those films that is on all those list of great film lists it is by Carl Theodor Dreyer who also directed The Passion of Joan of Arc. The film is based on the play of the same name by Lutheran minister, Kaj Munk , it won Bodil Award the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and was honored at the Golden Globes as Best Foreign Language Film in 1955 and it is one of the film on the Vatican list of films. Spoilers to follow.

The film doesn’t really have a plot it is a look at the life of the Borgen’s family farm. Morten, a prominent member of the community has three sons. Mikkel, who has no faith; Johannes, who went insane studying Soren Kierkegaard and believes himself Jesus Christ;  and Anders, who is smitten with the daughter of the tailor who is the leader of another sect. Mikkel is married to Inger who is pious and they have two daughters Inger is also pregnant with another child. Johannes isn’t the best as he wanders off condemning the lack of faith in the town and the world in general. Anders goes off to Peter, the tailor’s house, to ask for his daughter, Anne’s hand in marriage but this request is refused as Anders isn’t the same faith as the Tailor and his family. While this is happening Inger is trying to convince Morten of this engagement, it doesn’t go over well.

Anders returns home with the sad news and Morten changes his mind and he and Anders go to visit Peter and find out why he refused. Peter tries to get Morten and Anders to join his sect. While this is taking place Inger goes into a difficult labor, Mikkel calls informing Anders and Morten about what’s happening and they come rushing home, but not before Peter wishes that Inger die so that Morten will see the error of his ways and join his sect. When Morten and Anders return home they do not get great news the child is dead and Inger isn’t in great shape. Now things turn south here as death returns  and takes Inger, this is the turning point of the film as everyone is affected. Johannes wanders off and on the day of the funeral Peter apologizes to Morten and agrees to the proposal. Johannes returns and says that if the family only had faith and asked God to raise Inger from the dead it would happen. One of Inger and Mikkel’s daughters has the faith to ask for this to happen and Johannes agrees to do so. Inger begins to stir and everyone rejoices at the resurrection and Mikkel claims that he has found his faith.

This film seems like it would be something great to watch during Lent as it deals with faith and features a death and resurrection. It isn’t the most quick paced film but it is a nice change of pace from any modern film. Ordet is the one film from Dreyer that was both a critical and financial success. I would agree with all those talking heads that place it as one of the greatest films ever and if you ever get the chance to watch this to take the two hours and sit with the film and digest it.

The Resurrection

The first Glorious Mystery is The Resurrection. It appears in all the Gospels and I am positive that it is mentioned in a couple of other New Testament books as well. The fruit of this mystery is faith. Jesus after dying on Good Friday and being placed in a tomb on the first day of the week, the day after the Sabbath, women came to anoint the body, but the stone was rolled away and the tomb was empty. They were told to go tell of the good news. We should be reminded of the Story of Doubting Thomas, who wouldn’t believe that Jesus had risen until Thomas himself could see the hands and put his hand in the side. When Jesus finally appeared that second time with Thomas in the room Jesus said to him “because you’ve seen you believe. Blessed are those who have not see but believe.” This is faith, it is one of the theological virtues written about in the Encyclical Lumen Fidei.

Institution of the Eucharist

The final Luminous Mystery is the Institution of the Eucharist. This takes place at the Last Supper and is featured in all the Gospels. The fruit of the mystery is Adoration. This is one of the high points of our faith that we remember at each and every mass, “Take Eat, Take Drink, Do this in memory of me.” That’s the Last Supper in a nutshell and all to often we forget to show reverence to this idea. Let us all remember that this is the seed of our faith. Without this event we’d all be some other religion now and sure numbers of the faithful are falling across the world but we can bring out awe and wonder out into it. Sharing our joy in the Eucharistic banquet table we all we sit at one day.

Vi e ben noto

Vi e Ben Noto is one of Pope Leo’s encyclicals on the Rosary it’s focus is on the Rosary and Public Life, it is addressed to the Bishops of Italy.  Like many other of Leo’s rosary encyclicals it is a gentle reminder from His Holiness to pray the Rosary during the month of October. Sure it is addressed to those in Italy but just like other it seems like it could have been written a fortnight ago. ” We find . . . much to sadden Our souls. Faith and Christian morals, the precious inheritance bequeathed by Our ancestors, and in all past times the glory of Our country and of Italy’s great ones, are being attacked artfully and in covert ways, or even openly, with cynicism that is revolting, by a handful of men who seek to rob others of that faith and morality they have themselves lost.” This can be said of many places around the world today where so many of us care more about what’s happening in the world but not to the world. It’s complex but are we a Christian more than on Sunday, do we take what we hear and synthesize it. As Pope Leo states to his fellow bishops “Let it be your work, venerable brethren, to revive this Christian feeling among your people, an interest in the Catholic cause, a confidence in Our Lady’s help, and a spirit of prayer.”  Let us all take some time this week and pray the rosary or some other form of prayer this week.

Twenty Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

This week the readings come from Habakkuk 1:2-3, 2:2-4; Psalm 95; Paul’s second letter to Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14; and Luke’s Gospel 17:5-10.

Faith is the common factor throughout all the readings. Beginning with Habakkuk telling us that the Lord say that the just one because of their faith will live. Even though there are woes in the world violence and hatred those that have faith will be safe. This was an important message that is still debated today “Why do bad things happen to good people?” We all call to the Lord for help and often time our prayers are unanswered but we need to keep the faith.  This idea is continued in the Gospel where we have a Mustard seed come up again. The Mustard seed is one of my favorite images in the Gospels as it is the small seed that can grow into a great size. This is especially true with each of our faith lives sure we all have doubts about our faith, like those Habakkuk is talking to we cry out the woes of the world and hope that the Lord will do something but all to often it doesn’t happen the way we want it to. This is Jesus echoing the keep the faith idea. Now the second half of the Gospel is just as interesting we are asked who among us would tell a servant who was coming in after tending the field/sheep to come sit at the table with them but would rather ask the servant to serve them and let them eat later. We should respond to what we are commanded to do with “We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.” It’s like the Alexander Pope quote “Act well your part for there all honor lies” we do what is expected of ourselves and good will come from it.

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

This wee the readings come from Wisdom 18:6-9; Psalm 33; the Letter to the Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-12 or 19; and Luke’s Gospel 12:32-48.

The theme this week is how Faith gives us hope. We hear about Abraham who after the Lord told him to leave Ur and his homeland with his family did so without asking why for he had faith that the Lord would provide for him. This idea is hinted at in Wisdom where we hear about the Passover and Exodus is an idea that has been known for the ages of Jewish History, Abraham, Issac, Jacob and the like all knew to have faith and hope. We continue this idea in Luke  with the parable of the Faithful Servant. This is the one where the servant awaits the Master to return from a Wedding but the servant doesn’t know when this will happen. We need to be like the servant who is ready for their master to return rather then the one who beats others and drink up the wine. It’s like if we knew when a robber would come and break into the house we’d be ready, but we never know when this is going to happen so it’s best to be safe. As the motto of scouting says “Be Prepared”. We need to be ready for anything to happen and have faith that things will end up positively.  I hope that we can keep all those in Rio for the Olympics (athletes, coaches, and fans) as well as everyone who is traveling in our prayers this next couple of weeks that they all are kept safe.

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

This week the readings come from Genesis 18:20-32, Psalm 138,Paul’s letter to the Colossians 2:12-14, and Luke’s Gospel 11:1-13.

We hear several times in these reading about being persistent. In Genesis we hear of Abraham who pleads with the Lord to spare Sodom and Gomorrah if there are but fifty innocent people in the city and works his way down to ten. The Lord then says if he can find ten innocent people he will spare the cities. Haggling with the Lord to save the lives of many, this is something lost in the prayers of many of us as we tend to see it as a one way conversation. This idea continues in the Gospel where the friend goes asking for bread at midnight and if the one in bed doesn’t get up at first it is only due to the persistence of the friend knocking on the door. So to is it with the Lord all we have to do is knock and it will be open, ask and we shall receive, seek and we will find.  We need to be persistent in our prayers, as  we hear Paul tell us we need to pray without ceasing.  Sort of like the Jesus Prayer in the Orthodox Church where it’s a simple mantra “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” and the mantra becomes a part of your life. Prayer needs to become a part of our lives more than the hour on Sunday at Mass.

Franciscan Crown: Finding in the Temple

We are back with the mysteries of the Rosary. Mary, Joseph and Jesus went down to Jerusalem to the temple for Passover when Jesus was about twelve or so and on there way back to Nazareth Jesus couldn’t be found, both Mary and Joseph though he was with the other parent or with some of their relatives so about three days later they discovered he wasn’t there. So they went back and found Jesus sitting with the teachers in the temple listening and asking questions. All were impressed with his understanding of what the teachers in the temple were talking about.  When Mary and Joseph show up anxious from looking for Jesus, Jesus responds to them that where else would he have been, “in my Father’s house” or “about my Father’s business” or “in the things of my Father”. We should all remember this and at times when we feel lost we can always find Jesus in these places. All to often we can lose Jesus in our lives and not have space for him but we can always find him again.

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

This week the readings come from the prophet Zechariah 12:10-11, 13:1; Psalm 63; Paul’s letter to the Galatians  3:26-29; and Luke’s Gospel 9:18-24.

The main thing to realize from the readings this week is the active role that we all need to take in our faith lives. As Jesus points out in the Gospel we need to take up our crosses and follow him. To the apostles he asks “Who do people say I am?” How would we answer this question if posed to us. Do we suffer with the Messiah or would we rather forget about it and only remember the happy part. We all live in between peaks of joy and valleys of despair. When we are in despair we remember the peaks of joy and try to get back there, so to could be said with faith. We tend to focus on Easter and being an ‘easter people’ for so much time that we can forget about the tragic events that lead to it. Sure we remember the whole Passion at each and every celebration of the Eucharist, but all to often we hear about the good thing people overcoming struggles, helping those in need. We should struggle with our crosses because if we don’t it seems meaningless Jesus carried the weight of the world on his way to die and what minor problems do we have compared to that.

Amoris Laetitia: Part 2

In the first part I sort of went over the first five chapters.  Now it’s on to chapters six through nine of Amoris Laetitia.

Chapter six offers some Pastoral Perspective, as we can tell Pope Francis goes through some perspective on the family from that of bishops using the final reports from the synod. It emphasizes that families need to be evangelized and go out and evangelize as well. Sure the training of religious is lacking in understanding the complexities of families face today but training could be better and there is a wealth of knowledge in the oriental tradition (Coptic, Marionite, Ruthenian, Melkite) where there are married clergy. Pope Francis turn to divorce and calls it a evil and hopes that by focusing on the family the Church can prevent the spread of the evil of our times.

The focus of chapter seven is about the education of children. It starts off by saying that parents shouldn’t be that concerned where their children are and how they are doing at all times but rather who they are with. As Pope Francis puts it “obsession is not education.” It goes on talking about how parents are the first teachers of their children. Surprisingly, there is a section focusing on sexual education it needs to be more encompassing then just the biological with an emphasis on ‘safe sex’ it need to be a education for love or mutual self-giving.

Chapter eight is the most talked about section of this exhortation. It begins echoing what Pope Francis said “Let us not forget that the Church’s task is often like that of a field hospital.” This section covers some controversial subjects and the word guiding, discerning and integrating are key. It is best summarized by a paragraph  where the faithful in complicated situation should talk with pastors or other lay people “They may not always encounter in them a confirmation of their own ideas or desires, but they will surely receive some light to help them better understand their situation and discover a path to personal growth. I also encourage the Church’s pastors to listen to them with sensitivity and serenity, with a sincere desire to understand their plight and their point of view, in order to help them live better lives and to recognize their proper place in the Church.” (312)

Chapter Nine turns back to marriage and the family. Here we talk about gifts of love small but real gestures that not only lead us closer to each other but also closer to our Father in heaven for as Pope Benedict XVI said blinding ourselves of the world and those around us blinds us to God as well. The final paragraph is necessary reading material for all families “no family drops down from heaven perfectly formed; families need constantly to grow and mature in the ability to love.” This is our never-ending vocation.  Pope Francis then concludes with a prayer to the Holy Family.