Sunday, December 18, 2011


I think that Pope Benedict while not endorsing the form of the "Protestant Communion Service" would very much appreciate the significance of it as it concerns forgiveness and reconciliation in heaven which the Holy Eucharist is meant to signify. The brief synopsis below will help you to understand the very last scene of the movie and it is powerful, but one really needs to see the entire movie to appreciate it:

Places in the Heart

Martha Moore-Keish on Communion and Hope for Heaven

“Action adventure films like The Rapture and Left Behind get people talking about the end times. But the final scene from the 1984 film Places in the Heart offers a more biblically complete picture of what God intends for us in the new heaven and new earth.

Set in rural Texas during the Depression, the film ends with people passing bread cubes and tiny cups of grape juice down the pews. A woman passes the elements to her cheating husband. Ku Klux Klan members share bread and juice with a black man they assaulted. A sheriff, killed at the start of the film, quietly passes the bread and cup to the young black man who shot him, saying, ‘The peace of Christ.’

‘In that understated scene, the living and the dead, black and white, young and old, those who have sinned and those who have been sinned against, all sit together in the same dusty whitewashed sanctuary to share the Lord’s Supper,’ says Martha Moore-Keish, assistant professor of theology at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia.

Moore-Keish often uses this film clip to explain how the layered meanings of the Eucharist deepen our eschatological understanding of how to live now as citizens of heaven.”


Gene said...

That is a nice, sentimental, very protestant statement. Did you notice that the trays are passed "horizontally?" I'll bet you that our hyphenated-woman theology professor is about as lib prot as you can get. "In the Garden" along with "What A Friend" were the two hymns we used in seminary to illustrate a misguided, humanistic, personalistic Christology. I deliberately did not watch "Places in the Heart." I think I watched a Clint Eastwood shoot 'em up instead and felt equally sentimental.

Gene said...

Yep...I looked her up. Lots of double speak about ecumenicism and communion, ritual and liturgy. Yawn...more feminista theology, too.

Anonymous said...

The particular point about how we will love in Heaven and need to start loving that way now is well taken. Every blue moon a Protestant can teach us or remind us of something.

Even those who we generaly do not agree with, such as the theology professor, can be right about a thing or two once in a while. OR, as in this case, give a different perspective that causes us to pause and reflect.
Just because the messenger is wrong about many things, doesn't mean God doesn't use a person to bring good messages sometimes, or to touch us.
Having said that, I also say thanks to pin for helping to make sure noone accidentally becomes a 'devotee' of this professor.

BTW: There is nothing wrong with sentimentality perse. God uses it touch our hearts and draw us closer to Him and each other.
This helps us perfect ourselves Love of God and in Charity toward our neighbor.

IT's OK for movies to be sentimental.

I add, that part of me feels sad for Protestants (and all non-Cathlolics)...they have to make do with incompleteness and don't even know it. Actually, it IS sad. I'll say a prayer for them.


Gene said...

Squeeker, you are correct in what you say. Now, I do have a sentimental moment now and again. I actually cried at "Bridges of Madison County" when I realized that Clint Eastwood was not going to whup or kill a single person in the entire movie. I also crieed once when I dropped and broke a bottle of single malt scotch. So, there.

Pater Ignotus said...

The theological significance of this final scene was brilliantly rendered. Those who had been reconciled - the sheriff and the black young man, the husband and wife, etc - shared in the Lord's Supper. Notably, it was the one person who refused to be reconciled - the "other woman" with whom the man had the affair - who did not share in the meal. As the church folk were recalling the Last Supper, she (the other woman) was seen driving by and leaving town.

I remember being deeply moved by this cinematic depiction of the connection between the Lord's Supper and reconciliation. Bravo!

TCR said...

I hope underneath all the "speck-seeking" comments towards our Protestant brothers and sisters, we have not failed to appreciate Father's post. We are warned first to remove the planks in our own eyes.

My wonderful Baptist mother never failed to remind us that we do not approach the Lord's table without first examining ourselves and reconciling with those with whom we have grievances. So we took the "Lord's Supper" seriously even though we passed the plate horizontally (how else can one pass it?) and suffered along without the fullness of the faith, but with the love of God which is immeasurable.

Forgiveness is not sentimental. It is hard and not for the faint of heart. Yet, we can do no less, because with the threads of forgiveness, the cloth of Charity is made. "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us."

Yes, I pray for my Protestant friends and family. I also beg their prayers for me.

TCR said...

Forgiveness is abandonment, "death," and sacrifice upon the altar of our selfishness. Divine help is needed to forgive without reservation. We receive this assistance through the Eucharist which imparts strength as we offer our wounds up with Christ. Yet, it is up to us, in our free will, to take the first step.

Then the most beautiful thing happens. He takes all the discord and works it to the good. It is the reconciliation that our world waits for and will be revealed in the fullness of time.

I pray that none of us drives away.

Gene said...

TCR, having been a protestant minister, I appreciate your sentiments. "Horizontally" was an inside theological joke. Much of Neo-Protestant theology is horizontal, i.e. man-centered.

Ignotus, At the "Lord's Supper," in which direction do you pass the peas? Also,when pouring the iced tea, do you pour from the left or the right to avoid spilling it in the cornbread?

When it comes to movies about reconciliation, I kinda like "The Passion of Christ."

Gene said...

I never liked the designation "Lord's Supper" even as a Protestant. As a pastor, I always called it "Communion." Having grown up in the South with big family suppers and get togethers, I was too acutely aware of the nature of supper. I remember in high school at big family meals my uncle in his cups, my grandpa telling off color jokes, and my fourteen year old cousin Sally and me groping each other under the table while my dad threw scraps to the dogs lying nearby. So, "supper" does not conjure up devotional thoughts. Wonderful memories, yes, but nothing awe inspiring (except, perhaps, Sally.*sigh*).
Seriously, however, Priests and Catholics who deliberately and consistently refer to the Eucharist as a meal have an agenda. Do not be fooled.
From Pope John Paul's, 'Ecclesia de Eucharistia': "In various parts of the Church, abuses have occured, leading to confusion with regard to Catholic doctrine and sound encounters an extremely reductionist understanding of the Eucharistic mystery. Stripped of its sacrificial meaning,it is celebrated simply as if it were a fraternal banquet."

And, from then Cardinal Ratzinger, "The Eucharist is far more than a meal; it has cost a death to provide it, and the majesty of death is present in is not just a matter of pious discourse and entertainment, or some kind of religious beautification, spreading a pious gloss on the world; it plumbs the very depths of existence, which it calls death,and strikes out an upward path to life, the life that overcomes death...the Eucharist is a sacrifice, the presentation of Jesus Christ's death on the Cross." (from 'God is Near Us,' p. 44) Meal...yeah, right...

Pater Ignotus said...

Another good source for deepening our appreciation for the "layered meanings of the Eucharist is "Dining in the Kingdom of God: The Origins of Eucharist according to Luke" by Fr. Eugene LaVerdiere.

LaVerdiere examines several scenes from the Luke's Gospel and eloquently explains how each one adds another layer of meaning to our appreciation of the Sacrament.
It is very readable and very good for group discussion and learning.

Mr. C said...

If you want to cite the two perfect polarities of films depicting the perfect expression of "Catholic" reconciliation, as opposed to MG's masterwork you cite, I think you'd have to have "The Godfather" at one extreme, and "True Confessions" at the other. Nice to have Robert Duvall bridging both of 'em.
Reconciliation is, ahem, "messy" business in any scenario apparently.

Anonymous said...

I do get what Pin is saying. When I watched that I was confused because they were basically just eating. IT was people learning to coexist and 'break bread'. But without the presence of Christ it seemed very external and dependent on the view of the filmmaker. Sorry to be so literal; and the sentiment of the movie is very nice.

I watch a lot of foreign film and you can completely miss the point of something if you watch it from your own perspective, or are not sure what symbols are being used in the film. Same for literature from other cultures and times. The good stuff rises above interpretation, but there is still some need to be guided.

This is a very nice conclusion but seems to elevate the people on par, if not even above, the sacred.


Gene said...

Hey, RCG, do you wear a turtle neck when you watch those foreign films? LOL

Pater Ignotus said...

The reconciliation accomplished between/among the characters in the scene is accomplished by Christ. The wife who was cheated on takes her husband's hand, the sheriff who was murdered takes the plate from the young black man who killed him (and who was lynched), etc.

No, in this little country low-Methodist (maybe) congregation there is no "Real Presence" in the elements of bread and grape juice. But He is really present in the powerful and unexpected reconciliation.

I see no attempt to raise the people to the level of the divine, but a powerful example of the Divine working in and through the people.

Templar said...

So Christ is there? No ordained clergy, no sacraments, no real presence, no Church. Just a bunch of folks eatting and drinking. So is it safe to conclude I don't need Holy Mother Church and her Sacraments then?

Gene said...

Here is a reviewer's take on it: "This is a representation of an ultimate communion between living and dead, or of living and dead taking their places in the heart. Communion also represents a sacrifice of flesh and blood, both the sacrifices made during a life together and the ultimate sacrifice paid by both Royce for his facing the call of duty and by Wylie in his "crucifiction" at the hands of the white commnity."

Hmmmm....something seems to be missing here,, just who paid the ultimate sacrifice? Whose blood did you say that was? Seems cinematic theology misses the mark pretty often...

Pater Ignotus said...

If you cannot see the presence of Christ in the reconciliation between a cheated-on wife and her husband or between a shooting victim and his attacker, then you cannot, it seems, see Christ under the forms of bread and wine.

Christ, born in poverty in a manger, should be a reminder to "see" the Lord in unexpected places.

Anonymous said...

TMI, Pinvan!

Anonymous said...

I feel like I am being rude about this, so I apologise up front. There is nothing more rude than someone telling me how much they like something than me telling them how much I dislike it. Terrible.

I understand how a priest would love this movie, it is his business to want people to come to peace. I can even imagine the Holy Father liking it on that level, and expecting him to pick up on the disconnects some of us has mentioned and ignore them.

If I was showing this to a class for discussion we would have to explore the view point of the director or writer. It is likely as Fr Ig said, a low Methodist or similar. This is important to the next question: Is saying you are sorry enough? Can one do things that sorry can never be enough? We have discussed the nature of forgiveness here before, so what is the event for each of these people as they receive?

Also, the plot formula where the sinner who quite suddenly is sorry for his actions and then forgiven by everyone has become so common it is now trite and a shallow cover for glorifying the sin. If you don't believe me, just look at the Disney Channel and every plot for every one of their shows. This cycle is repeated every thirty minutes with the result that children are lured into misbeviour by the promise of easy forgiveness.

Personally, a feature that seems to be abused in many Protestant churches is the nature of salvation and the act of forgiveness. It is overtly allowed to excuse sinful behaviour or to segregate behaviour between the 'saved' and the 'unsaved'. In other words the struggle to be good proactively is almost put aside because if you can 'ask Jesus into your life' you get a pass. So the natural human act is to nod toward the temptation and put up a minor resistance knowing you are forgiven anyway.

This is present in our Church at times, the Troubles in Ireland for example, that I believe were the cause of the downfall of the clergy there. It also makes me wonder if the abuse of communion we have experienced since VatII has prevented the True Presence from entering our lives and protecting us from many of the foolish decisions we have made.


Gene said...

Ignotus, Certainly I can see Christ in those events...that isn't the issue. It is about how theological truths are presented and perceived. Right belief and how it is preached and preserved is the issue. Why, Hell, when I was in line to confess to you the other night at the penance service, I actually saw Christ in about unexpected!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Apart from the fact that this scene is from a Protestant Communion Service, I have always understood it to be symbolic of heaven, not an actual communion service as some of the characters that are there are killed off in the movie before this service--it is eschatological and about reconciliation that Christ brings about--something very refreshing from a Hollywood production!

Pater Ignotus said...

I you are expecting to see a Catholic liturgy in the depiction of a small, rural Methodist congregation in the 1950's, then your expectations need serious realignment.

Yes, Fr. McDonald, the theological adviser to the director got the link between the Lord's Supper and the Eschaton right.

Templar said...

I can't see Christ under the forms of bread and wine. I believe He is there because he told us he would be. Likewise he told us that he would bind or loose our sins through his clergy, not through the reconciliation of just another pew sitter.

If a spouse cheats on their spouse, reconciliation between the two is immaterial to the soul. If they are Catholic and the one who transgresses seeks forgivness (truly seeks it) the other one is bound to forgive, if they fail to the sin is upon them. Reconciliation between the sinner and God is what matters. Reconciliation between the husband and wife is a nice to have, but in the grand scheme of things somewhat minor. Another 40 or so years of someone stomping around this vale of tears pissed off at you is meaningless compared to an enternity in Heaven or Hell.

So, no I don't see Christ in that movie. I see a bunch of sinners sitting around having a snack in hell's waiting room.

Gene said...

Right on, Templar, Now, pass the biscuits! LOL!

Anonymous said...

PI, you are correct, and I want to avoid that. But the value of a film is the message it carries, in total.

Put another way, there is a lot to learn and contemplate from, say, a movie about the Alamo, but maybe not something to emulate.


Gene said...

Alright, Ignotus, you like to call the Holy Eucharist "The Lord's Supper" like protestants do. I know that you do this deliberately in order to convey a certain theological/ecumenical stance as well as to be obnoxious to the people on this blog. So, why don't you tell us more about why you choose to use a designation that scorns (that's right...scorns) the theology of sacrifice in the Eucharist and which Popes Paul VI, JPII, and Benedict XVI all speak pointedly against...not to mention Augustine, the Church Fathers, and Aquinas. Your consistent "protestantizing" comments and your two-penny ecumenicism are an insult to the devout Catholics on this blog and your refusal to engage anyone in theological discussion for more than a post or two (until you get challenged)mark you as what is known on forums as an "agenda troll." You are not stupid, so you know that this view of the Eucharist as the "Lord's Supper" guts the very priesthood of which you are a member, denigrates the Sacrifice of the Mass, and is deliberately used by protestants as a means of denying the Real Presence. So, once again, why don't you tell us why you use the term instead of Eucharist? I have ben at St. Joseph's for six years and have attended a number of other Catholic Churches and I do not believe I have heard the term, "Lord's Supper" used by any Priest. So, enlighten us, as you seem to think you are able.

On this blog, you have consistently scorned the EF, poked fun at certain rituals like the lifting of the chausable, promoted an ecumenicism that would weaken Catholic identity, attacked Fr. MacDonald, condescendingly pontificated to other members of the blog, and taken a Modernist/Progressivist stance in every discussion. On another blog a while back you, as Pater Ignotus and recognizably so, were complaining in most uncharitable terms about a woman in your Church who had knelt to receive. So, tell us now about your ecclesiology with regard to the Catholic Church and about your theological understanding of the Holy Eucharist...and why we should believe anything you say.

Anonymous said...

I think reconciliation is worthy of emulating.

Pater Ignotus said...

Pin, you've got your shorts in a knot again, unnecessarily. Relax.

I have used the "Lord's Supper" in this thread since that was the theme of the film clip we are discussing. Unless your computer showed something else, the scene was a rural, low-Methodist (maybe)congregation celebrating the "Lord's Supper."

In many other posts I have referred to "the mass," "the Eucharist," and, maybe once or twice, "the Divine Liturgy" or "the Sacred Synaxis."

If you've been at St. Joseph's for six years (I have been a Catholic for almost fifty-four years now, by the way) and have never heard the mass referred to as the "Lord's Supper," I suggest you attend on this coming April 5th when, lo and behold, yoiks and gadzooks, and Leapin' Lizards!, the Mass of the Lord's Supper will be celebrated. Note, please that that is the Church's term, not mine.

I have never complained under any name on this or any other blog about anyone kneeling to receive communion in any parish. You've falsely accused me on this one, and you've falsely accused other of being me, too. As was written of Louis Napoleon Bonaparte at the beginning of the War of Spanish Succession, "your hubris has exceeded your judgment."

I never attacked Good Father McDonald. I do disagree with him, a fact you construe as attack. That's your right, but you're wrong.

Yes, I have poked fun at hem-lifting and maniple-wearing. I find them, well, funny. You may think that they are sacred rituals, revealed by God to be essential to the proper, legitimate, and valid celebration of the mass. I don't agree and I think they are amusing vestiges.

Blessed "O Antiphons" and Holy Christmas.

Gene said...

Ignotus, if I have falsely accused you, I apologize. Now, how about answering the questions about your ecumenical/theological stance regarding the Eucharist/Liturgy.
I would construe your snotty comments to Fr. as attacks or, at least, uncharitable affronts.
My comments about the designation "Lord's Supper" stand. It is a view of the Mass that the above mentioned Popes have spoken strongly against. I left out Pius XII, as well.
You are clearly a modernizer. I don't think you are fooling anyone on the blog.
And, if you would stick to one alias and stop being cute with names no one would falsely accuse you of being someone else or them of being you.

Pater Ignotus said...

Pin - I'll use any name I choose when posting because it's fun. I would suggest that if you deal with the idea/s that is/are posted, rather than trying to turn everything into some ad hominem rant, then the name of the poster wouldn't matter.

I don't come here to fool anyone - get that out of your head and we may be able to discuss issues rather than idiosyncracies.

I say again, in this thread I have specifically referred to the "Lord's Supper" because that is what was shown in the film clip Fr. McDonald posted. And again, I have regularly referred to "the mass," "the Eucharist," and maybe "the Divine Liturgy" and "the Sacred Synaxis" in numerous other posts.

"Mass of the Lord's Supper" is the Church's own term, not mine.

Templar said...

I wonder why PI habitually writes "mass" and not "Mass". The one exception being when he writes "Mass of the Lord's Supper". It is disrespectful not to capitalize "the Mass". Could be subconscious, but given his track record, probably not.

Gene said...

Ignotus, You have not answered the question.

Gene said...

BTW, Ignotus, you play with names because it is fun; I do ad hominem because it is fun...

Unknown said...

If you cannot see the presence of Christ in the reconciliation between a cheated-on wife and her husband or between a shooting victim and his attacker, then you cannot, it seems, see Christ under the forms of bread and wine.
Cheaters Girls