Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Passion Then and Now

Rob Kaczmark and Danny Hidalgo from Spirit Juice Studios are the cinema artists behind our upcoming documentary on Blessed James Alberione, founder of the Pauline Family. You know the one—the preview they made with screenwriter Sr. Helena Burns is a permanent fixture on the right side bar of this blog.

Well, they did it again, this time for the Paulists, in collaboration with Outside da Box. At just over five minutes, Palm Sunday is a quickie for teens, but packs such a punch that even adults are left reeling—or weeping, as safety coach and Facebook friend David Sarkus unabashedly admitted on my Wall.
From the Palm Sunday Web site: “Brothers Julio and Marvin become restless during the reading of the Passion, and begin playfully slapping one another with palms they received upon their visit to church. Unsurprisingly, their mother is not amused with their behavior. After a brief scolding, the two simmer down only for a moment before they agree to a wager with one another: who can shout ‘crucify him’ the loudest. Once arranged, the younger of the brothers gets overwhelmed by the experience.”

In just nine days, the flick on YouTube has received almost 9,000 views. What is it about his passion that, as Jesus predicted, would draw everyone to himself, when he would be “lifted up” from the earth? (cf. Jn. 12:32) It can’t just be a morbid fascination with torture or death. We can glut ourselves with such depictions anywhere. Neither is it the politics or intrigue, common enough in any thriller. It probably doesn’t even have much to do with the fact that it happened to God: even those who don’t completely share our convictions are often inexplicably attracted by something beyond simple curiosity.

The fact of the matter is, the paschal mystery is at the core of our faith and of who we are as redeemed persons. We pick up the Liturgy of the Word each day and read the texts through the prism of this, the greatest drama the world will ever know. In fact, how Mark’s Gospel has been described is true to some extent of each of the four: “a passion narrative with a long introduction.” The New Testament apostolic letters, as well as texts from the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), take on their full richness of meaning in light of the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ.

“All because of us. All because his Father asked him to love us to death,” says Jesuit Bob McMillan. “Not just to heal our ills—a wart, a backache, a foot problem—but to recreate us.” His obedience earned goodness for us and showed us goodness and does goodness in and through us. “We may look awkward at it. We may not make it look easy or flashy, but we can do it.” Like any little kid at a ballet recital or on the baseball diamond, we who are “imitators of God, as beloved children,” (Eph. 5:1), may stumble in the attempt, but God is busting buttons that we’re even trying.

This may surprise you, but there’s a huge chance that Christ is beckoning you to plunge with him into the passion this year as you never have. Why not ask him how? It might be to attend one of the services of Holy Thursday or Good Friday, or of the Easter Vigil, that you didn’t plan to attend. It might be to spend an extra fifteen minutes with the Word at a set time each of these next ten days during Holy Week and Easter Week and notice if there’s a recurring theme in the Word or the season’s symbols just for you—light in the darkness, the new life of spring, the empty tomb…. It might be to finally carry out that act of almsgiving you promised you’d do at the beginning of Lent, or to take the first steps toward a reconciliation with someone you know—and really do love. Whatever it is, it’s worth letting him take the lead and just attentively follow. Our community will pray in these days that you will let him surprise you with peace and joy. If you think of it, would you do the same for us?

Our sisters in Sendai, Japan, are beginning the process of recovery of their home and media center which were severely damaged in last month’s earthquakes. Thanks to your generosity, we’ve been able to raise $3,694.00 for them.

We will complete this fundraising project on Mother’s Day, May 8. So, if you haven’t yet donated as you had planned, the window of opportunity is still open for another two weeks. You can donate securely online here. Or if you prefer to send a check, you can make it out to the Daughters of St. Paul and mail it to my attention (Sr. Margaret J. Obrovac, FSP) at 50 St. Paul’s Ave. Boston, MA  02130.

Questions? E-mail me at or call 617-676-4423.

Regardless of what you may choose to do materially, we ask you to continue praying with us for the Japanese people. Prayer suggestions have been prepared by our sisters with audio and visual accompaniment also at, on the right side bar. The site also includes suggestions for talking with children about this natural disaster especially.

For additional Catholic information, including the initiatives of the Holy See and the current spiritual climate in Japan, refer to the Fides News Agency.

From (Daughters of St. Paul international site):

The Pakistani Christian Masihi Foundation has declared 20 April as a day of prayer and fasting for Asia Bibi.

On that day, every Christian in the world is invited to light a candle and say a prayer for this Pakistani woman who has been condemned to death for blasphemy and who is currently being held in the Sheikupura prison in Punjab. Informed about the initiative, Asia [said], “I am grateful to the Masihi Foundation for having organized this event, which gives me the hope that perhaps I will live. I feel loved by the Catholic Church and all the Christian communities throughout the world. I am proud to be the daughter of such a loving and merciful community. I want to send a message of peace and love to the whole world.”

Paul Bhatti, the brother of Shahbaz Bhatti, the recently-slain minister for religious minorities in Pakistan, has also lent his support to this event. Like his deceased brother, Paul Bhatti is Catholic and is a special councilor for the country’s religious minorities.
“I want to assure every-one that I am working with the [Pakistani] government and religious minorities to find a solution to this problem,” he said, “so as to prevent other innocent people from becoming victims of the current law concerning blasphemy.”

1 comment:

  1. WOW. I've got to share this with my son who is a big film buff and has made some amateur videos. Fabulous. Thanks for sharing this with us.


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