March 2, 2004
vol 15, no. 62

The People Speak
Heart-felt sharing on 'The Passion of The Christ'
    Editor's Note: Following are several of the comments we received from readers sharing their personal views and emotions and how they were personally touched by seeing Mel Gibson's 'The Passion of The Christ'. If you would like to contribute your comments, send them to My take on The Passion

Part One Feedback from the first seven readers:

from Barbara Lewis

   To me this was a powerful film. Yes, it was violent, but Jesus suffered the Passion in all the extremes of human emotion. He endured all the pains and sufferings because of love.His love was shown, in the movie by how He lovingly embrased the cross. Who on earth could show this much love for anyone.

   The Movie was "MARIAN"...I t should how the heart of Mary and the heart of Jesus are so intwined, that they were inserperable. It showed the utmost respect the apostles had for the mother of Jesus...Peter asking her for forgiveness.

   The Movie was "CATHOLIC"...The movie was an in depth meditation on the Sorrowful Mysteries and on the Stations of the Cross....I don't even think I'll be able to read the Stabat Mater again without feeling what Mary went through.

   The Movie was "EUCHARISTIC"...... From the flashbacks of the Last Supper you can see Jesus saying the first Mass. Hear Him say for the first time the words of the Consecration. The Flash backs tie the crucifixion to "THE HOLY SACRIFICE OF THE MASS", because, first and formost the Mass is a sacrifice. Because God is outside of time, at the Mass we are brougt to the foot of Calvary. The Mass is the same sacrifice as Calvary, a propitiatory sacrifice.

   It's no wonder the bishops didn't want to support it. Their Mass is a happy meal complete with a fast food table................I just pray that people see this too,

from John B. Leritz

   Just saw "THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST".It is even more than anyone should venture to expect.Nothing is left untouched by Gibson.It is the heart and soul of mankind's purpose in this life.The Body and Blood of Christ and His sacrifice as the Lamb of God are given real meaning.Jesus and Mary (knowing Their roles in the Redemptive and Salvific Mission of Jesus for mankind) could not have been better portrayed.

   The film is NOT anti-anything other than the sinfulness of the whole human race.The only bigots are the slanted media that constantly cry wolf and find undeserving and blasphemous fault with anything connected with Christ----and Gibson.The actual violence and gore (The Passion) so necessary in the telling of this story pales in comparison to almost any "good" teenage horror film---the holloween and chainsaw massacre etc farces that have no purpose in their bloodletting and carnage.The violence reflects His torture, the gore reflects His Suffering for all of us---and our terrible deeds.

from Joyce Soos

   I just wanted to say that this movie was great. Yes I did cry but mostly cried when the Son and the Mother were together during all of the passion. I was also given a deep sense of peace during the movie that helped me get through the most excruciating parts, namely the scourging.

   This movie is almost down to the letter of Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich's book on the Passion. I have read all of her books, and can say that this movie brought it out in vivid detail which needed to be shown. I will see this movie again, and will even buy the DVD when it comes out. The Passion of The Christ should be shown to future generations until the end of time. Thank you for the Daily Catholic and thank you for this movie!

from Michael S. Yoder

   The only thing I could add to all that has been said about this movie is that after seeing it I hope and pray that I sin no more.

   May God bless Mel Gibson and his family for this movie that he created under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost.

from Charles Fortunato

   This was a personal message to me. Why did Jesus Christ suffer so much for me? How do I sin to offend Him? Where do I sin to offend him? Am I worthy of His sacrifices? Everyone of us knows our sins, which can be forgiven by repentance and giving unconditional surrender to His love.

   The legendary cynics of the liberal media have castigated and assailed the integrity of this movie. The sordid movies from Hollywood are never mentioned. They do not want you to hear the truth.

   The enormous effects of this film is that it will produce a global awareness that the crucifixation - a brutal event - will show how our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, through His prolonged pain and agony, took away the sins of the world.

   Direct awards should be given for their enormous achievements. Mel Gibson, director, producer and co-writer, Jim Caviezel (Jesus Christ), the lyrical score and its editing, the natural essence of cinematography, the mastering of detail in production and the superb task of casting.

   This magnificent masterpiece will move hearts and bring people closer together in faith, hope, love and forgiveness.

from Adam Austin

   Much has been written of Mel Gibson's opus, The Passion of the Christ, in recent months. Most of it having to do with theology, historical accuracy, and alleged anti-Semitism. Those subjects, though, have no bearing on whether or not this is a good film.

   Mel Gibson is a Traditional Catholic; that is, he embraces Catholic Orthodoxy, adhering to the Church's traditions, and attends a Mass in which the sacrificial nature of Christ's actions is not muted or watered down. I, too, am a Traditional Catholic. But none of this has anything to do with the film. Bias aside, I was quite prepared that despite my respect for Gibson's prior directing efforts and for the Catholic Faith, this film could very well fall short in terms of aesthetic beauty.

   This movie is a masterpiece.

   Self-financed and rendered in Latin and Aramaic, Mel Gibson has woven an epic of the last 12 hours of Christ's life that transcends all attempts to place it within the religious genre of cinema. With unrelenting force of imagery, Gibson has the audience on the ropes of this drama and leaves little to our imaginations. We are witness to each lash, each scourge, each nail pounded into the flesh of Jesus.

   The components of what constitutes a good film are all here: superb directing, a good screenplay, absolute beautiful cinematography (by the Caravaggio painting hand of Caleb Deschanel), a film score that caresses our emotional responses to the imagery, and terrific acting.

   The Passion has at its heart the Mother of Christ, played by Maia Morgenstern, whose relationship with her Son is underscored by flashbacks and the maelstrom of tears that flow generously from her eyes (as well as by Monica Belluci who plays Mary Magdalene). We witness the inner conflict of Pontius Pilate (Hristo Shopov) who can find no just cause in condemning Jesus, but allows the crowd to sway his final opinion. We even find Satan (Rosalinda Celentano), as always, within our midst, eerily androgynous and creeping along to only find, at the end, that his plan has not worked.

   But acting kudos must inevitably go to Jim Caviezel for his portrayal of Christ. This is not an effeminate Christ. This is a hero up on celluloid, and Caviezel's performance gives new meaning to what constitutes method acting. Some critics will assail this film for what they term lack of characterization, that the flashbacks provided hardly provide enough detail to understand the 'why' behind this man's crucifixion. This is akin, though, to criticizing Coppola for not providing enough background detail about the US involvement in Vietnam in his film, Apocalypse Now. Regardless of the viewer's knowledge of Jesus, there is enough projected on screen for him to realize that a great travesty is being committed and out of that travesty comes a resounding triumph.

   As a film, The Passion of the Christ succeeds brilliantly. There will be various nuances within the visceral reactions of those who see it. For this film is more than a mere film---it centers on a man who has acted as a lightning rod for the last 2000 years. One may very well be able to walk away and only affirm that an innocent man bravely sacrificed himself out of the love that he preached. But that would hardly satisfy the charge of blasphemy leveled against him. And if he was and is not the Lord, then we are confronted with two other choices---that of liar or lunatic. This is not what we see up on the screen.

   As Scripture states, "he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." Christ suffered for us so that by Him, we can be delivered.

   The Passion of the Christ definitely has.

from Sarah Stewart

   We went and saw "The Passion of the Christ" on Ash Wednesday. Words cannot describe it. I'd like to think it changed my life- but I am so prone to say things like that and forget them a few days later. I have never before been struck with such a deep sense of Christ's love for me and of my own unworthiness. Several times, forgetting I wasn't actually there, I wanted to cry to Jesus to save Himself, that I am not worth it, that I would be willing to be plunged into Hell to spare Him such suffering. I am the biggest wimp in the world when it comes to suffering and would do anything to be spared the stomach flu, so that it inspired such sentiments in me is a miracle of God that I hope lasts. It makes any sacrifices and any pain seem worth it, if only I can show Him how much I love Him, and share in His sufferings in any way.

   It isn't anti-Semitic at all. If anything, it was anti-Roman- I'm not exactly proud of my Italian hertiage at this point. Almost all of the positively portrayed people in the movie were Jews. The very first judicial proceeding shows two Jewish leaders standing up for Jesus. Any acts of mercy shown to Jesus, with very few exceptions, are performed by Jews. I have to wonder if the people who claim it is saw a different movie then I did...or maybe they just saw what they wanted to see. In my opinion, the worst character in the movie was Pilate- who knew he was doing wrong and was given every grace in the world to do right, but chose not to.

   The portrayal of Our Lady is beautiful. Several times, when I felt I didn't have the courage to keep watching, I saw Her act in such a tender, merciful manner, and I kept going. It inspired a new love and devotion to Her, and being a mother myself, I can't even imagine...

   It is violent though. I would not take someone younger then 14 or 15 to see it. The flogging scene is actually more brutal then the crucifixion. I couldn't watch much of that scene...my eyes stayed involuntarily closed. I think the violence was necessary. Had it been more whitewashed, it would not have had the same impact on me. Artistically, it is absolutely gorgeous, and only the anti-Christian and anti-Catholic prejudices of America will keep it from winning every award known to a movie. If I could buy a ticket for everyone in the world I would.

    March 2, 2004
    vol 15, no. 62
    Vox Populi