I have a guest blogger, today. Mr. Geoff FitzGerald, O.P., is the Formation Director of the Boston Pro-Chapter of St. Dominic, and the previous Justice and Peace columnist for eLumen, and most importantly, a good friend.
Geoff has written a review of the film, The Triumph.
You can correspond with him at email@example.com.
My wife, Janice, and I, with Postulant Patrick Murphy, joined a packed house at the Norwood Theater on June 23. We’d attended the Dominican Forum featuring Fr. John Vidmar, OP, hosted by our Boston pro-chapter; he’d spoken about his new book on The Crusades and the Inquisition. We enjoyed a vegetarian dinner including gluten-free pizza, then saw the film, The Triumph.
(The people of Norwood took pains to build and maintain the theater; it’s used mostly for live performances now. Across the street on the Norwood Common a swing band was entertaining folks on lawn chairs on a beautiful warm early summer night.)
There’s a trailer for the film at thetriumph.org; it doesn't reveal anything about the subject matter. The flier we were given last week didn't, either. Took some Google work to find a film review and learn that it’s a documentary about Medjugorje.
This was a private showing; reserve tickets in advance, pay at the door. The seats downstairs were filled; the balcony where we sat was half full.
The film concerns a 28-year-old named Ben who makes a pilgrimage to Medjugorje. He serves as Everyman. Very appealing normal guy, does nice back flips. His progress becomes the viewer’s. He encounters one of the visionaries, Maria, young in 1981 when this all began and older now 30 years later.
The film promotion may have chosen not to speak openly about Medjugorje because the site and the claims and the reactions among church officials have been controversial.
This is not a sidebar, but is a story illustrating a point: I spoke with a man who attended the Dominican Forum on the Crusades and the Inquisition. House arrest of Galileo came up, which led this man to speak about religion and science. The man once believed in the theory of evolution, he said, but not anymore. Geological rock striations don’t have to mean the earth is billions of years old. The timeline in reality is what the Bible says it is, he thinks. [I didn’t respond that his argument means that Anglican Primate James Ussher may have been right in 1650, calculating backwards through Biblical genealogies to conclude that the earth was created at 9:00 AM on October 22 in 4,004 BC.]
My answer was, I am disinterested (not uninterested). Scientists aim a telescope and conclude that the universe was created 12 or more billion years ago. Fine by me. 100 years from now there will be a different interpretation. Science never proves anything; it only demonstrates. This is fundamental, and every scientist knows it, and ordinary folks have to keep it in mind. How God created, whether in six literal days or in six eons, does not matter. Scripture is the revealed word of God given for our good. Its aim is to bridge the gap between infinite God and finite us. Speculation about the interplay between science and faith is a distraction.
The point for Medjugorje is that the controversies are a distraction. Something miraculous has happened or it has not. Since reason alone cannot answer, we turn to faith. Is Medjugorje a source of renewal, of deepened faith, of wonders, or not? Folks from everywhere report that they have been moved to conversion and confession. The joy on the faces of the one visionary in particular and of others in the crowd is perfectly plain.
Has one of the visionaries chosen to pursue wealth and fame in later years? Maybe so; I see no evidence of it in the visionary Maria, who waits tables, speaks humbly and simply and joyfully. I hear no errors in faith or morals in what visionaries tell us that the Blessed Mother tells them.
There’s no point getting legalistic about all this. You go round and round forever. I believe the appearances are not false claims. Janice and Patrick and I saw the fruits in the film. I could see in the faces of others in the audience after the film – folks of all ages, particularly those Ben’s age – that many were moved. I believe there will be many confessions next weekend, of folks who saw this film.
No doubt the film will be released on DVD; we will buy it.