Holy Horrors

February 21, 2010 at 7:21 am Leave a comment

“Whereas the words say love, love, love; the sounds and images say hate, hate, hate.”

Andrew Sarris, NEW YORK OBSERVER on The Passion of the Christ

Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ never made even the slightest impression on me. I refused to watch this Oscar award-winning motion picture not even for the fact that its realistic and convincing ‘Scourging at the Pillar’ scene drove hordes of people to bawl their heads off over popcorn nor for gaining commendation from distinguished critiques like Scott Foundas of L.A. Weekly andPeter Travers of Rolling Stones.

Irrefutably, The Passion of the Christ has a brilliant cinematography and cast list. However, the movie failed to openly illustrate Christ as an epitome of vivacity and demonstrate his moral radicalism, charisma and fervent eloquence. Gibson, a devout Catholic and director/co-producer of the movie said that he financed the project because “Whether you’re a believer or not, [Christ’s] death affects you.”

The movie, which depicted the last twelve hours of Christ’s life, apparently, is only committed to show Jesus’ agony and martyrdom.The Passion is the Christ is a visual guilt-trip; a graphic and grim illustration of blood, torture, hate, betrayal and torment.

From my twelve years of education in elementary and secondary catholic schools, I was faced with the horrors of the perishing Christ with His broken, ensanguined body nailed on the cross, the El Santo Entierro (the body of the deceased Christ enclosed in a glass coffin), Saint Rita of Cascia with a single thorn buried in her forehead and the persecution and torture of San Lorenzo Ruiz de Binondo illustrated in full color in Christian comic books waiting in the school library’s magazine racks.

Here is a compilation of other Christian idiosyncrasies that I have learned from years of being a baffled (and nightmare-plagued) Catholic:

Perpetual migraine

Saint Thomas Becket, martyr and archbishop of Canterbury, was slain in 1170 by Henry II’s disciples in Canterbury Cathedral after the former had a conflict with the king regarding the rights and privileges of the church. His images and icons depicted him as a haloed friar with a sword embedded on the crown of his skull.

I was ten, in my school uniform, tramping the vestibule of some provincial church when I first encountered his terrifying bust (in consequence of this experience, I developed my present dark nature which never ceases to horrify people, wholesome or otherwise.). Naively enough, I then thought he performed his daily routine around the Cathedral bearing the sword on his head as a form of spiritual sacrifice. Ow.

[ Source ]


Bleeding to be redeemed: atonement with oomph

Saints such as Saint Dominic and Saint William would routinely instruct their cohorts to scourge their naked backs. Early monks, who themselves had a penchant for self-flagellation, also began to flagellate their penitents as part of their reparation. Caterina of Cardona wore iron chains which bore through her flesh and took on self-flagellation which would last for hours each day. Such acts, spirituals and monastic hermits maintained, would subject them to mystical ecstasies and visions of heavenly grace.

This brings me to recall the Penitentes of Mexico, an assemblage of supplicants who offer themselves to be crucified every Easter, which is very similar to our local dour re-enactments of Christ’s torment and death every Holy Week.
Perhaps, I will never comprehend how having the body in exquisite pain and tortured state will make one establish a union with that Someone whose ego surpasses all other egos. And perhaps, I will never figure out the underlying principle behind the Catholic Church’s seeming fixation for the morose as reflected from the image representations of its spiritual icons. I am not indulging in anti-Christian sentiments nor am I courting a blue corner seat in hell. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion; I am only taking advantage of the privilege.

If truth be told, it only boils down to one thing: No one can and will ever figure out God and what He requires for one to gain a golden ticket to His amusement park.

George Bernard Shaw once quoted: “Must then Christ perish in torment in every age to save those that have no imagination?”

With this, I rest my case.

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Entry filed under: film, thinking aloud.

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