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'The Passion,' as Seen by a Woman Religious

3/15/2004 - 8:00 AM PST

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Sister Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz on 3 Key Moments

ANN ARBOR, Michigan, MARCH 15, 2004 (Zenit.org).- As a special feature, a woman religious offers her view on key parts of the film "The Passion of the Christ."

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Three Moments of "The Passion of the Christ"

By Sister Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz, OP Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist

Viewing "The Passion of the Christ" affects each person in an individual manner. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the film's portrayal of the last 12 hours of Christ's life on earth, the majority of this depiction of these most sacred hours is rooted in the various Evangelists' accounts found in Scripture.

As a woman religious, I viewed "The Passion" through the eyes of my own feminine nature and the spousal vigilance proper to one whose freely made avowal of the evangelical counsels identifies me as "sponsa Christi." Through such eyes, I have chosen three scenes which have become as the heartbeat of my reflections.

From the opening scenes, I realized that I could not identify with Christ as such. That identification would be more fitting for a priest, who, as "alter Christus," finds his likeness in the God-Man, Jesus Christ.

For me, Jim Caviezel's portrayal of Christ elicited tears wrung from the heart which, I soon understood, was beating as one with Mother Mary's and with all the women portrayed in the film: Mary Magdalene, Veronica, Claudia, the weeping women.

1st: "All Things New"

I watched Christ, I walked with him, I desired to wipe the dirt (which as a woman so bothered me) plastered with ever increasing thickness upon his holy face.

My admiration of Christ's Mother grew as, deep within my own being, I reacted to the bloodthirsty crowds which swirled in mad frenzy throughout the film in their physical and mental brutality toward Christ.

I felt my own body lean toward the screen and had to hold myself back to prevent the release my heart sought. I wanted to shout Simon's later words: "Stop! Haven't you done enough? Stop!"

But she, the Mother, did not; neither did he, the Son and innocent victim. Rather, when the Mother, following the manly logic of John's directions, was able to approach her Son, she tenderly said, "I am here!" And he responded by gifting her (and us) with the secret of obtaining the strength necessary for propitious redemptive suffering: "See, Mother, I make all things new" (Revelation 21:5).

St. Louis de Montfort must have rejoiced anew in heaven at this poignant scene culled from the spiritual reflection of Mel Gibson. Can we not summarize the Marian entrustment which John Paul II's coat of arms has displayed to the world for a quarter of a century now as the simple suggestion, "Through the Mother to the Son"?

Perhaps the greatest moment of a mother's love is known when her resolute strength emboldens her children for a suffering the world cannot understand but one rooted, by the redemptive value it offers, in the opened heart of the Christ.

2nd: His Presence

A personal spousal moment for me was epitomized when the Mother was wildly running through the streets in search of her bound and already brutally beaten Son.

Upon crossing over the ground which hid his physical presence from her eyes, as he was held in the dungeon below on that fateful night, she instantly knew his presence; and, bending down, she touched her cheek, her heart, to the ground.

Jesus, too, knew his Mother's closeness and, as the cameras fell below the dust to the hollowed and dirty tabernacle below, the viewer is able to catch Jesus reaching out his hand in an invisible embrace with the woman he loves. The One whom "the rocks like wax melt before his glance" (Judith 16:15) was separated from his Mother, but they still knew a oneness beyond the things of this world.

Similarly, as "sponsa Christi," I am not gifted with the marvelous sensible affects a bride comes to know in her husband. Therefore, the interior communication is heightened, and through this I know Christ's presence with me: each morning in Eucharistic adoration with my community, in each holy Communion, and by reaching out to each person my Spouse sends me.

Through my embrace of all people, regardless of their individual strengths and weaknesses, I know the touch of my Spouse and that touch spiritually fructifies our union as I, with him, behold all humanity as my spiritual children.

3rd: The Pietŗ, and priests

The third moment which I wish to point out is that immortalized by Michelangelo's famed Pietŗ. The Son lies in the lap of the Mother once again. Though the Man of Sorrows is now dead, I cannot view this scene as anything but Hope Personified. ...

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