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Posts Tagged ‘priesthood’

What happens to priests who journey to the end of the world and then cannot leave?  I can think of at least two films where this is shown.  Both are moving.

In The Nun’s Story (1959), set in the 1930s, the nun played by Audrey Hepburn is sent by her order to the Belgian Congo.  There, miles upstream in the great jungle, she encounters a priest ministering to lepers.  He has himself become a leper.  He knows he will die there.  God has ordained this.

In Black Robe (1991), set in 17th century Canada, the Jesuit played by Lothaire Bluteau is ordered to go and relieve the priest at a remote mission station on one of the Great Lakes.  After a perilous journey, he eventually reaches the station to find the priest dying and his frightened flock begging the Jesuit to stay.  He does.  His face shows what he knows: that he has no choice.  He will never be able to leave; he will die there in his turn.

What goes through your mind, Father X, as this realisation sinks in?  Do you lament?  Do you rail against God?  Or do you say:  it was all ordained that this was always how it would end?  If so, are you comforted?

It makes me all the more wanting to see the film Of Gods and Men, about the monks massacred in Algeria, but I know it will be hard to watch, particularly the scene in which it dawns on them that they will not survive.

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A few days ago I visited the Book of the Dead exhibition at the British Museum, praised by the Guardian critic for its enthralling depiction of a culture making great art in the guise of religious enactment.  It was impressive, but left nagging questions in my mind. (more…)

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