I object to the profanation of sacred images and sacramentals in cinema. I have been writing about and meditating on the power of the Holy Cross, the Holy Roman Catholic Church and the enemies of our souls, demons and how evil has become more mainstream and acceptable. I love movies, especially the old vampire movies. Lugosi was great, even in Abbot and Costello. Horror movies were like old Westerns or gangster flicks. There was a moral and the good guys always won in the end. Vampire pictures revealed to their audiences that these undead demonic creatures could be repelled by the crucifix, holy water, sunlight and a wooden stake through the heart. The coexistence of good and evil in individuals, societies, and situations was depicted in films, however, the strength of the good, always portrayed in the Christian context trumped evil. Sacred images were never profaned for the sake of art. Hollywood was fearful of offending Christian sensibilities and maybe respectful of religious articles. That attitude changed in the 1970s.
Evil Is At a Fever Pitch Today
Evil seems to have hit a fever pitch today but it has been wriggling up to this point for decades, maybe centuries. The only difference is that today, in our post-Christian world, evil has become emboldened, strengthened and outspoken. In the past, the Church and other Christian confessions could be relied on to push back evil, even in the movies. I think of Pat O’Brien as the tough street smart priest in that great old Cagney flick “Angels with Dirty Faces”. Or the real life hero priests like the Venerable Servant of God Bishop Sheen. He was bigger than Mr. TV himself, Milton Berle. I also think of priests like Fr. Capodanno the posthumous recipient of the Medal of Honor (America’s highest military decoration), for actions during the Vietnam War. Our priests used to be our shepherds and defenders; sadly, it seems they have been cowed or have become apathetic. That’s a generalization of course because I can name many priests today that I admire and are on the forefront of the battle. Think Mitch Pacwa of EWTN, Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life and Father Joseph Fonti (who is truly a priest’s priest) as well as the many priests sidelined by false charges, and whose bishops abandoned them yet stay faithful to their vows in silence, loneliness, and isolation. Today all kinds of affronts are hurled on the flock and it seems the hierarchy has abandoned the flock and in some cases, even facilitates the evil. This is not new or unusual. Jesus had Judas. However, what seems to be happening is the fulcrum of evil is media (all media) which is able to reach the multitudes and nobody is pushing back.
Evil Is Cool
Evil has become bold, mainstream, cool and in your face. Wiccan practitioners are pretty main stream now. Satanists are not far behind, complimenting new agers, pantheism, the religion of identity, materialism, abortion. The list goes on and on. The tsunami of evils foisted on a weary society by politicians bought and paid for by the abortion industry and other special interest groups, violence depicted in the news reporting on fascist anarchists attacking people and property shutting down free speech along with the systematic destruction of our culture from within is having its effects.
The Movie the Exorcist
So when did this modern assault in the cinema by evil actually begin? No one can say for sure but I think it began with the movie ‘The Exorcist’. The profanation of the statue of Our Lady and the pornographic use of the crucifix was unacceptable to me when I first saw the movie and even more so now. I was appalled and amazed at how nobody seemed bothered, insulted or affronted by that. Those scenes were the most abhorrent scenes I’ve seen in a movie; they are pure evil. Yet I heard not a peep of outrage about the profanations.
The Enemy Plants His Flag in Cinema
The next cinema territories the enemy placed his flag were in recent vampire movies. The old vampire movies depicted faith-filled vampire hunters which gave them power over evil. The power of Christ was their power. Today, vampires are depicted as laughing at crucifix bearing vampire hunters. They are totally unaffected, unafraid and even amused.
Is this phenomenon of the unafraid vampire a reflection of a post Christian America that no longer has faith? Is the devil getting more brazen because his followers believe and have faith not only in him but in God, Whom they despise in favor of their lord Satan? I think that’s part of it. The enemy who is said to be the ‘god of the airways’ is sending a very clear message that society can’t hear or doesn’t care about. Is it because they don’t believe in devils? After all, that is superstitious Catholic nonsense, right? Being depicted as a superstitious invention of Catholics is Satan’s greatest strength. Lucifer’s followers believe. I have heard it said that Satan’s followers would rather reign in hell than serve in heaven. How misguided. Are they not aware that slaves don’t reign? It boggles the mind. Why would someone choose darkness, suffering and eternal misery over the love of the Creator?
I love gangster movies too so I will reflect on Godfather III because of its profanation of the image of Our Lady. It was rightfully panned by critics but I noticed a profound message in the movie. Scorsese’s movies many times appear to grapple with Catholicism, faith, the Church, criminality. To me, at least that indicates he may be a religiously conflicted person. Brilliant but spiritually fractured. His movies are a critical depiction of religion, the Church, corruption, religious hypocrisy and the individual struggle between good and evil. In previous ‘Godfather’ movies, religious statues during feast processions may have been the background music while criminal acts were taking place, but holy images were never profaned. In ‘Godfather III’, during a religious procession, Mafiosi were arguing in the street with profanity being exchanged as the priest and altar servers were passing by. They were completely oblivious to the priest, the servers and the religious procession taking place right in front of them. Then the most horrifying scene occurred. Assassins carrying the statue of Our Lady pull out shot guns and start shooting allowing Our Lady’s beautiful image to crash to the ground. I object! This is no different than the so called artists that paint profane images, dip crucifixes in urine or let insects crawl over sacred items. I object! It is not art. It is unnecessary evil.
This scene marked for me the clean break with the Church for the Corleone dynasty and in my mind for Scorsese himself. Only he knows how he feels but as a person who loves Our Lady, there is no circumstance in which I would allow profanation of her sacred image. So that’s my yardstick for Scorsese, who I used to admire. No more. It seems the enemy planted another flag in that movie. I see there a break with Holy Mother Church represented by the statue of Our Lady whom the devil hates.
The reasons for this rise in blatant, societally accepted evil are legion. Some believe that Vatican II played a role. Others claim Russia was never properly consecrated to Our Lady as requested at Fatima. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of hypotheses. Only God knows for sure.
What Can We Do?
So what can we do? We can change the world, even if it takes one person at a time. The old adage of “How do you eat a whale? One bite at a time,” is apropos.
People who dabble in evil oftentimes are seeking power and acceptance. As baptized Christians, we are the most powerful people on earth. Do we realize that? We are temples of the Holy Spirit. Do we realize that? The Holy Spirit dwells in us. Do we ever consider this? If not we should.
Know your faith. Find out why we believe what we believe and why we do what we do. For example, many Catholics have no idea why they genuflect when they enter a church. I see people genuflect on Good Friday or in other non-Catholic houses of worship. We have Google, folks; use it. Think about how you worship and then test yourself to see if you know why. Being knowledgeable about our beautiful faith is imperative in our fight against evil.
Read Scripture daily. Pray unceasingly. Pick up the great weapon used by Padre Pio and all the saints, the holy Rosary. Frequently go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Get a spiritual advisor. Go to daily mass and Eucharistic adoration. Mediate on God’s love for you and His Power. Avoid sin and the occasions of sin.
The enemy wages war against humanity. He likes to be anonymous but he and his minions do plant flags and we have to be on the lookout for them. We need spiritual eyes to identify them. They are all around us. Have you ever noticed how the enemy enjoys planting his flags near Catholic churches? Have you ever noticed the close proximity of Masonic Lodges and abortion clinics to Catholic churches? It is not coincidental. He has declared war. He is a rebellious spirit, a murderer and the father of lies. The good news is that Jesus won the fight for us. The war is won but there are still battles to be fought. Angels are given to the faithful to help us in these battles. Make no doubt about it: we are engaged in a war. Not against flesh and blood as Scripture tells us but against principalities (mostly invisible). Even though the war is won, we are called to support the angelic troops with our prayers and fidelity.
A New Pentecost
We need to reignite the faith in ourselves and others. We need the Holy Spirit in our lives, in our Church, in our families. We need a new Pentecost and the laity may be called to lead that. It has to start with our personal prayer life and in the way we choose to manifest the love of Christ to the world. Jesus rhetorically asked, “When the Son of man comes; will He find faith on earth?” I certainly hope so.