Heroic Nature of the Priesthood

We recently had a chance to see “The Rite” with Anthony Hopkins; as well, Cowboy Papist is just finishing the same book by Matt Baglio.  It was interesting to see the more biographical settings of the book put into a fictionalized story on film.  Some critical fictional additions do occur in the film, but overall it was quite enjoyable, with Tony Hopkins eliciting more than a few chuckles for his character’s dead-pan delivery of some great lines.

Below is an interesting video by Father Robert Barren on exorcism films; he speaks to the genre, and gives a few thoughts on “The Rite” as well as the most foundational exorcist film of our culture, “The Exorcist.”

Fr. Barron is becoming a favorite of Cowboy Papist; he is on top of our culture here in the USA, and he adds a new, orthodox and pastoral voice to the onslaught of opinions.  In this video, he asserts that “The Rite” cannot compare to the “The Exorcist” as a film, and Cowboy Papist and Herself certainly enjoyed this most recent exorcism film and recommend it to teenagers and up.

That said, it’s unique to hear Fr. Barron relate to the priest’s ‘point of view’ in these films; frankly, most viewers tend to accept priests in films almost as stereotypical.  From “The Rite,” we have the grizzled priest who can’t afford a razor, the doubting priest who uses reason and science to such a point that his faith is threatened, and the academic priest who’s too busy to communicate well.

As Fr. Barron states, the Catholic Church today are proponents of science and reason in virtually every aspect of our culture – it usually takes years to canonize a saint, (John Paul II notwithstanding).  But it is interesting to see how Fr. Barron can find elements of his own self in these characters.  Though Hollywood always seems to separates these stereotypes into single characters, Fr. Barron, (and we assume most priests), find these elements commingled jointly in themselves.

No priest, nor any one person for that matter, is a stereotype, but like each of us, each priest does indeed have a bit of roguish, or cranky, scientific, reasoned, doubting and faithful aspect within themselves.  It’s good to remember this point in our culture – no matter the effort of our media.

Key to Fr. Barron’s review of exorcist films is recognizing and appreciating the masculine character and strength in these characters – the “heroic nature of the priesthood” as they through the Church, sacramentalize us from the “reality of the supernatural.”  We must learn to accept that the supernatural is with us.

Read the book for a great overview of the very recent history of exorcism in our Church, there are numerous hair-raising anecdotes to keep you up at night!  Fr. Barron’s insightful review is helpful in putting these films in context from a priest’s viewpoint:

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