Or, Why I Bring a Rosary to the Movies.
It was a cold evening, overcast and treacherous ice lay on the roads and byways, and I was running late for my date with the one and only Secret Vatican Spy. We were off on another adventure, this time to see The Rite. And so, scheming up plans for dinner and enjoying a long conversation in the process, we prepared ourselves for the movie. We talked about how excited we were to see it. I had not even seen the trailers for it, I just knew it was endorsed by my bishop, and I wanted to see it for that reason.
The Secret Vatican Spy on the other hand was full of taut and energetic awe at going to see this film of films, this magnum opus, this scary endeavor into the great and dark beyond. We made our way treacherously upon the sheet of us that stood between the car where we had parked to the front of the theatre.
After taking more than one verbal cue from Kassie to slow down, (she was wearing heels) we finally made it to the front and purchased tickets. The warmth of the inside of the theatre was a blessed relief after the biting cold outside.
Coffee in hand, we entered the theatre and had a seat.
The previews rolled by, and we wanted to see every film on the reel for the previews. And then there was one unexpected trailer, one neither of us had been prepared for. There Be Dragons. Someone is making a movie about St. Josemaria Escriva!Now, this might not be of interest to everyone, but I love it. I cannot wait to see this film and will do all I can to endorse it. But anways, back to our tale.
The movie then started. Kassie clutched my arm and squee’d with excitement (she loves scary movies,) and I just sort of let the film take me in slowly.
From the moment of its beginning, I could tell I was going to like it. The camera work was exquisite, the colors, vivd, the dialogue splendid. And I wondered quietly to myself why this movie wasn’t a winter blockbuster.
The story unfolded and then, suddenly, there we were, Rome. My little convert’s heart fluttered and stuttered at the beauty of the Vatican, and at the sights and sounds of the Ancient City. I could have squealed with joy, I got chills, I wanted to be in St. Peter’s square and Kassie too kept excitedly whispering how the sights and sounds gave her chills too. We grinned, and laughed and smiled, and enjoyed the subtexts where Catholics could laugh at things that other people miss out on.
We curtailed through the streets of Rome following Fr. Michael Kovak, and his training to become an exorcist. He was a reluctant skeptic, offended by the idea of the supernatural and trying to resort to psychological explanations for everything. However, even his annoying skepticism couldn’t phase me as we passed the Coliseum, and saw the various fountains of Rome in the backgrounds and forefronts.
We saw the little neighborhoods, and the Vatican rising above the Ancient City, to stand majestically at her heart. For a convert, it was awe-inspiring.
It was indeed an exciting time, thrilling and enjoyable. And suddenly, the movie unrolled the creepy music, the long pauses, the silences, the tensions and the underlaying foreshadowings, and things changed. I was glued to my seat, scared, and enjoying it. Kassie whispered “Are you scared?” And I, being a latin man full of bravado said “No, I’m ok.”
A few minutes later, she whispered, “Do you have a rosary?” to which I replied “No, I forgot it in my other coat before I left.” She smiled at me and said “Do you want this one?” producing a rosary I’d seen her make, and I smiled, and said “No thanks, I’m ok for now.”
All this comes on the heels of a previous date where we felt compelled to go visit the hospital’s perpetual adoration shrine and get some holy water before we could go home. Yes, we like scary movies, but we also like Jesus, a lot more. So, I was wondering if it was going to be a ‘Holy Water After the Movies’ sort of affair.
About 20 minutes later I was near shaking, and I found my hand clutching Kassie’s with the rosary between us, both of us touching the crucifix with hope, and enjoying the fears being brought before us. Rome had suddenly become a place where the forces of darkness were doing battle with a skeptic seminarian, and his teacher, Fr. Lucas. Possession wasn’t about pea soup, or spinning heads or magic words, it was about doing battle with the devil.
It was a battle as ancient as the ministry of Christ and before, the battle of faith vs. doubt. A battle of Truth vs. lies.
I loved the themes in the film, doubt vs. certainty, fear vs. faith, the nature of the supernatural, modernism, religion, belief, etc. There were so many positive points to this film that I’m surprised that there is not a more massive outcry for this movie to be watched.
The demonic portrayals were accurate, intimidating and realistic. The writhing, the facts that the film used to convey the reality of demonic possession was intense, and a welcome relief from movies where skepticism and jadedness are the meal ticket. I applauded the accuracy, and the fairness of the film, and I applauded the themes, the maturity of the film and the way in decided to speak favorably of Rome, and priests despite the media’s obsession with negative press for the Vatican.
I loved that this film was so well made, and so positively in favor of the Church, and yet managed to pull it off without being preachy or annoying.
I was so glad that the film ended the way it did, because it ended up not being a holy water at the adoration chapel sort of affair, and I felt satisfied and hopeful in the end. I figured out why I love going to the movies with Kassie so much last night. Besides her being my best friend, it’s because she remembers the rosary, and because she knows when I’m scared, and because she will totally pray in the middle of a movie and still be able to enjoy it. It reminded me of why I’m Catholic, the ability to share in little things, like taking a rosary to the movies.
- I bring a rosary to the movies because there are places in everyday life where prayer can make a difference and scary movies happens to be one of them.
- I bring a rosary to the movies because the bible tells us to pray without ceasing
- I bring a rosary to the movies because my girlfriend doesn’t forget them, even if I do.
Today is the memorial of a Church father who laid a lot of groundwork for our theology of the Holy Spirit, St. Cyril of Jerusalem.
The Spirit comes gently and makes himself known by his fragrance. He is not felt as a burden, for he is light, very light. Rays of light and knowledge stream before him as he approaches. The Spirit comes with the tenderness of a true friend and protector to save, to heal, to teach, to counsel, to strengthen, to console.
Look at the movement in these words. The Spirit has a procession of his won, and he is preceded by light, and knowledge, much as Isaiah and the prophets would say of the Spirit of the Lord. St. Cyril is a wonderful saint to consult for theology of the Holy Spirit, and I would encourage you to engage him at some point in your near future, maybe even today.