Just something to think about. Consider it the stuff that you sit through before the movie starts.
The Bear would like to talk about a move. At the same time he would like to share his mate's experience as one who takes the Blessed Sacrament to the hospital. There is a tie-in.
We recently had a lively discussion of Catholic or Catholic-friendly movies. Many of you had your own suggestions, for which the Bear is grateful. He wants to watch every single one. A very thoughtful one, although hard to watch, is 2014's indie film, Calvary.
It stars Brendan Gleeson, best known for playing "Mad-Eye" Moody in the Harry Potter film adaptations. In Calvary, he gives an excellent, wide-ranging performance as Father James, the parish priest of a small Irish town. Father James seems world weary, and frequently has to apologize when he gives a flip or sarcastic answer. He's not perfect. He can drink and even brawl. Nonetheless, he serves his parishioners with love and dedication.
The movie begins with Father James hearing a surprising confession. A man explicitly details his sexual abuse by a priest when he was seven years old. He then tells Father James that he is going to kill him. The reason he has chosen Father James is because he is a good priest. The man gives him a week, and will meet him on the beach. The film follows the events of the next seven days, to the final encounter on the beach.
It is later revealed that Father James knows who the man is. His effete, rose-sniffing bishop advises him to go to the police. Throughout the movie, the tension builds as we do not know what the good priest will do.
During Mass, different members of the parish are shown taking communion. During the next few days, we learn that, despite Father James' efforts, this is some kind of parish of the damned. The same people who took communion are not only sinners, but proud of their sins.
Father James endures the taunts of an atheist doctor, the sexual burlesque of a parishioner's rent boy, the teasing of an adulteress, and a frank discussion by her lover about how Irish women like to be hit. Father James is there for them, but does not suffer fools -- or unrepentant sinners -- gladly.
Father James realizes, as his time is running out, that despite his best efforts, the town is full of unrepentant sinners who openly despise him. As the day of his encounter approaches, the violence directed agains him and his church escalates.
Father James had been married, but his wife died shortly after giving birth to a daughter. He is visited by the daughter, who has recently slashed her wrists. ("Long ways, not across," everyone offers helpfully.) She blames him for leaving her after her mother died. Her father became a priest and went to Africa, leaving her alone. Another matter to resolve before Sunday, on the beach.
When the day arrives, Father James is spiritually prepared, a willing sacrifice if the man who threatened to kill him shows up and goes through with it. He must think, however, that by any earthly standard, the town stands as a monument to Satan's victory over him.
The title gives away much. Father James is a Christ figure, despised for his goodness, and taunted by sinners. He vicariously bears the guilt of the Church for failing to address the homosexual abuse of children, and must confess that he did not cry when he read about it. A chance encounter with a little girl is interrupted by an angry father, who assumes that Father James must be a child molester.
The younger priest that serves with Father James has not gotten to know his parishioners, and is disliked even more than Father James. He worries whether calling a man "black" is politically correct. He only seems to light up when the town's rich man offers to give a large donation. Eventually, the young priest is run out of town, and Father James' last words to him are "You have no integrity." Father James, on the other hand, is always shown out visiting his flock, even when he knows they despise him.
Between his detached bishop, serenely enjoying his rose garden, and the shallow priest that serves with him, Father James seems to be a rarity -- a priest with integrity.
He says there is too much talk about sin and not enough about virtue. When asked what he thought was the greatest virtue, he says, "Forgiveness is highly underrated." This is especially significant under his circumstances. A man who cannot forgive has threatened his life. And at the same time, would he be able to forgive that man? Would he be able to forgive if he were that man? How about the cruelty of his parishioners?
The film's last shot recalls that line in a tender, if indirect way.
Calvary is the place where it looked like the goodness of God died. Jerusalem, and its people, stood as a monument to Satan's apparent victory. The question Calvary leaves you with is, did Satan win, or was Father James right when he said, "My time will never be gone."
The Bear gives it 4/5 fish, with the caveat that it is a heavy movie with a couple of difficult scenes. There is also some mordant humor. The Bear thinks the Church Sexual Abuse cow should have run out of milk by now, but is under the impression it is an institution in Ireland. He supposes it is more of a MacGuffin here, since it is not dwelt on. Others might see it as central.
The Bear's mate visits the hospital to provide the Blessed Sacrament to Catholics, and be on hand to call the priest if necessary. Patients' religion is noted in their records, so she goes from room to room with her pyx. We also obtain rosaries to hand out if people want them.
She recounts how few Catholics want the Blessed Sacrament. Many treat it of no importance and are even rude to her, especially if visitors are present. They need to prove something. Often she will return home without having given a single person the Blessed Sacrament. Once again, Jesus is present, and people mock Him and reject Him.