Thursday, July 8, 2010

Cinema, Contemplation and Community

Cinema, contemplation and community is the sub-title of the reflection I am writing for my class with Fr. Richard Rohr, O.F.M. (Everything Belongs, The Naked Now). Not everyone feels comfortable reading Rohr's books or listening to his audio tapes. I think that is the point. Paul reminded the early Christians: "Do you not know that you died?" I don't think that was a very good vocation ad for Christianity - or was it?

In this course I am finding out that our heart seeks kenosis even as we try to avoid suffering and awakening to a full life in Christ. It is easier to give small gifts to false gods through the day keeping "them" placated. Full worship of God in Spirit and Truth is challenging. The reason is that we can't pull it off, we can't turn on the faucet of grace. Grace flows freely. We can't control it. False-gods at least give me something back when I perform certain tasks, even if "they" are never placated and always want more. My heart seeks falling fearlessly into a great love. At the heart of Jesus wisdom teaching is that losing our life saves our life. This losing is an act of surrender - not something to do. The journey to transformation is our baptismal gift -"It is no longer I who live, Christ lives in me" (Gal. 2:20).

Even if we can't really "make" contemplation and transformation happen - is there a  way to jump start our surrender? Centering Prayer and Contemplative practice witness to surrender. In my paper (since I am a Pauline this is a media-take on the Benedictine prayer from) I propose that Cinema Divina (from Lectio Divina) may help us awaken the eyes of our heart. Coming together to read scripture, to mediate and contemplate - to then re-reading this scripture through contemporary films (incarnating the Word in contemporary human situations) followed by prayerful sharing - may lead us into a deeper contemplative experience and surrender.

Cinema Divina can also become an invitaion to integrate parts of our contempoary life that don't seem to mix, technology and spirituality - like oil and water. Blessed Alberione reminds us that the natural becomes supernatural through consecration: “Water (and oil) for baptism must be natural and, as much as possible, pure and readied with a special blessing: and it serves as matter for producing supernatural effects."

5 comments:

Sr. Margaret Kerry, fsp said...

This just in from Brazil Conference

Pope Benedict says: What is required, in a word, is a mission of evangelization capable of engaging all the vital energies present in this immense flock. My thoughts turn to the priests, the men and women religious and the laity who work so generously, often in the face of immense difficulties, in order to spread the truth of the Gospel. Many of them cooperate with or actively participate in the associations, movements and other new ecclesial realities that, in communion with the Pastors and in harmony with diocesan guidelines, bring their spiritual, educational and missionary richness to the heart of the Church, as a precious experience and a model of Christian life.

In this work of evangelization the ecclesial community should be clearly marked by pastoral initiatives, especially by sending missionaries, lay or religious, to homes on the outskirts of the cities and in the interior, to enter into dialogue with everyone in a spirit of understanding, sensitivity and charity. On the other hand, if the persons they encounter are living in poverty, it is necessary to help them, as the first Christian communities did, by practising solidarity and making them feel truly loved. The poor living in the outskirts of the cities or the countryside need to feel that the Church is close to them, providing for their most urgent needs, defending their rights and working together with them to build a society founded on justice and peace. The Gospel is addressed in a special way to the poor, and the Bishop, modelled on the Good Shepherd, must be particularly concerned with offering them the divine consolation of the faith, without overlooking their need for "material bread".

Margie said...

Movie Nights in our parish brought out good things. The parish provided the auditorium. People were generous with their participation: in putting up money for the license to show films, in choosing the right film, in setting up equipment, in prayer and discussion, in sharing food and beverage, in logistics, in making donations, and in just being there to listen, ask questions, watch the film and support each other. I think we are planting seeds to make ourselves grow and be media savvy in social communication. All talents are useful in this 'vineyard.' It all adds up.

Rae said...

Our parish did movie nights for the first time this year. We had just four nights - one in Advent, one in Lent, one during Easter time, and one just before summer. They worked well. We hope to do it again this year, although we lost our student intern from Notre Dame who headed up this initiative. How many nights does your parish do during the year, Margie>

Rae said...

" Full worship of God in Spirit and Truth is challenging. The reason is that we can't pull it off, we can't turn on the faucet of grace. Grace flows freely. We can't control it. False-gods at least give me something back when I perform certain tasks, even if "they" are never placated and always want more. "

I am finding it hard to make my Hour of Adoration each day. Full worship of God in Spirit and Truth seems elusive in a way that is similar to establishing habits of good eating and regular exercise. When you stop for one day, there's a reluctance to start up again the next. If two days go by and you haven't resumed your good habit, it's even harder. By the third day you've skipped, you are on a roll and in danger of just dropping it all. This is happening to me with the daily Hour. What you say about placating the false gods is cogent. At least one can have the illusion of control.

Good habits. How easy it is to abandon them. I'm doing Weight Watchers now, and as usual it is working for me. It always does - until I stop. At Weight Watchers, the weekly meetings are so helpful. What is the equivalent weekly meeting with the Hour of Adoration? Weekly Mass keeps the communion of saints united in worship. What keeps us in communication re: daily worship and habit?

In community, Sister Margaret, are there difficulties in carrying out the daily commitments, in doing the Hour? Is there discussion about such difficulties?

Margie, how do you keep up your daily commitment to living out the Pauline charism?

Sr. Margaret Kerry, fsp said...

Thanks for your reflection Rae. The spiritual leaders have said that you live into spirituality. Valuing leads to virtuing (if I can make up the word) as you illustrated with good eating and exercising. You value, not so much the food choices or the time out of your day to exercise but how it strengthens you toward the good habit. If you go on a crash diet that is usually not going to work. If you decide to run an hour every day even though you are just starting, you may not keep it up. So with our life of prayer - starting with 10 minutes of meditation of day may lead you to 30 minutes. The secret is in knowing that the faucet of grace is not something we turn off and on - it is always on. We just get under it in our daily life and soak in God's presence. We don't do anything - and so all else becomes response to this love. And again leaning into the faucet - living into prayer - is our response... In community we are at an advantage with a Chapel in the house. However some may find it difficult to attend prayer because they find work that needs to be finished. Alberione assured us that by taking this time we will be able to multiply our efforts. We are handing everything over to God. It is a sabbath time that reminds us God is God and I trust that all with be well as I am in God. There is also the reality of spiritual growth - having a director helps here. There may be a time when a person's prayer is moving into contemplation and that seems weird when it happens - that is really letting go. At times this, when it is not just avoidance, is a genuine need to just be present and wait until prayer "shows" itself anew.