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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Twilight's Confession

--> by Susan Fox
"And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come into the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God.” (John 3:19-21)
Welcome to the Light: the Sacrament of Reconciliation is an intimate encounter with Jesus Christ in His Tribunal of Mercy. The movie Twilight contains a  scene that demonstrates the power of this sacrament.  Sometimes a good movie can help us understand something about human nature.
T
wilight is about the love between a human girl and a vampire. It has all the magic and power of Shakespeare’s tale of Romeo and Juliet, a star-crossed pair of lovers whose relationship was doomed because their historically feuding families would never agree to their marriage. In Twilight, Edward and Bella fall in love, but their relationship is doomed from the beginning because in order to be consummated it means her death. Edward is an honorable vampire in this piece of literature based on the book by Stephenie Meyer. He therefore refuses to end her life in order to bring her into his life, which can be very brutal at times. 
There is a confessional scene in the movie in which Bella, learning that Edward is a vampire, confronts him. He reveals that he is a tortured soul, loving a girl, but afraid that he’ll accidentally kill her: “You can’t love me because I’ve killed people. I’m a predator. I’m the bad guy. If you wanted to get away from me you couldn't.” And when she turns to him and says, “I trust you. You won’t hurt me.” He then concludes she must see what he really looks like. Now the whole movie is charmingly filmed in Forks, Wash., which is located in a rain forest and it’s always cloudy and raining.
One of the things that Bella finds out about Edward and his “family” of other teenage vampires (foster vampire children with adoptive vampire parents) is that they do not come to high school classes when the sun shines. So Edward must fly Bella up to the top of a mountain above the cloud cover so she can see what he looks like in the sunshine. It’s a glorious scene in which he walks up out of the clouds, the gray, the dark and the rain into a tiny slash of sunlight. It’s filmed in the woods. She sees his face and the skin on his chest. Now this is a fantasy and Edward is not your traditional ugly dead thing. Instead as he walks into the sun, Bella marvels, “Your skin is like diamonds. You are beautiful.” Now on a very human level, hopefully that is what every bride says to her bridegroom on their wedding night.             But in a spiritual sense that is what happens to every soul that walks into the Catholic Church and goes to Confession. If we could see our souls after confession, we’d exclaim, “You are beautiful!” (Confession is for people who are already baptized, and have sinned. If you are not baptized, the same thing would happen when you are baptized.) St. Faustina calls the Sacrament of Reconciliation the Tribunal of God’s Mercy.
 
Those who avail themselves of this sacrament have not loved the darkness, but they have come to the Light. They have come to Christ to show Him just exactly what they are – warts and all – so they might be healed. And in the Light of that encounter with Jesus Christ, we are indeed healed. I speak from years of experience. Just as the woman at the well came to draw water and instead received living water (the Holy Spirit) when she met Jesus Christ. “Sir, give me this water that I might not thirst, nor come here to draw (water).” (Jn 4:15) Ah, but first she must be cleansed. So to facilitate this, Jesus, says, “Go call your husband, and come here.” (Jn 4:16). He knew what she would say next: “I have no husband.” Jesus says to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and he whom you now have is not your husband. This you said truly.” Her sins were confessed, and she repented. And she believed: “Sir I perceive that you are a prophet.” Christ revealed to her that He was the Messiah. The encounter with Christ completely turned her life around. She became an evangelist who told everyone in the village about Jesus: “Come see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” (Jn 4:29) And that led everyone in her village to come out to Christ. And in the tradition of the Catholic Church we celebrate her life as that of St. Photina, who converted her own family, Emperor Nero’s daughter, Domnina, and in doing so enraged the emperor. He killed Photina, her sons and her sisters – all for the Christian faith. Such was the marvelous fruit of the Samaritan’s woman single encounter with Jesus Christ at the well.
Now what about poor Edward? Does his stepping into the sunlight and confessing his sins to Bella, his love, heal him in the same manner? Absolutely not. After she says, “You are beautiful,” he walks back into the darkness and announces, “I am a monster.” What a dramatic scene. The man had such beauty, and yet his soul concludes, “I am a monster.” So do we all without the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Ah, but St. James said, “Go confess your sins to one another.” Why couldn’t Edward be healed by confessing his sins to his friend? Why could not anyone be healed by confessing their sins to their friends? We must read Holy Scripture in context: “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” (James 5:14-17) St. James is recommending getting your sins forgiven by the presbuterous – elders, root of the English word priest. Saint Ambrose said, “Christ granted this power to the apostles, and from the apostles it has been transmitted to the office of priests alone.” St. John Chrysostom said, “Priests have received a power which God has not given either to angels or archangels . . . they are able to forgive our sins.”
Why can’t I just talk to God in a mirror or my friend and confess my sins? Why did Edward walk back into the darkness and say, “I am a monster”?

ONLY GOD CAN FORGIVE SINS.

This past week, I was privileged to read and discuss “Lord, Have Mercy: The Healing Power of Confession,” by Scott Hahn, former Presbyterian minister turned Catholic theologian. Hahn points out in this book that when Jesus said to the paralytic in Mark’s Gospel, chapter 2, “Son, your sins are forgiven you,” the scribes sitting around watching this thing unfold disbelieved He could do this. In their hearts, they said, “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” They knew that only God can forgive sins. The only thing they hadn’t figured out was that Jesus Christ was God. Jesus wasn’t ignorant of the teachings of his people. He knew what they would think if he said, “Your sins are forgiven.” So he healed the man to show that He could forgive sins. By forgiving his sins, He revealed that he was God.

I wish someone would do a romantic movie like Twilight about Christ. He is really phenomenal, and none of it has to be made up. It’s real. So if only God can forgive sins, why are sins forgiven in the Catholic Sacrament of Reconciliation and Penance? In our Catholic discussion group this past week, my husband of 25 years told us a story I had never heard before. In his youth, he had attended well, a “holy roller” Church. And he said it was very satisfying rolling around on the floor and crying about his sins. “Oh God, please, forgive me.” But when he went back the next week, they were still rolling around on the floor. And the same thing happened the third week. He concluded they did not recognize that they had been forgiven. And the one thing he knew from his life as a Catholic was that Jesus Christ has given the power to forgive sins to the apostles and they handed that power down to the prebuterous – the priests. So the next week he went to Confession for his sins.

After the Resurrection, Jesus came among his apostles in the locked upper room, and said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (John 20:21-23)

Jesus gave the apostles a divine power that night, the power to forgive sins. No man had ever held this power before. Now we know the apostles were human and they were not perfect people (Peter denied Christ three times). But yet they were human men given a divine power. And to what purpose? So that we might be healed. Was it only that generation that would be healed of their sins? No a divine power is given in every generation because Jesus Christ said He would be with the Church until the end of time. And He is not a liar. So the line of succession from the apostles has remained unbroken in the Catholic Church. Men of every generation have been given this power to forgive sins since the time of Christ. Good men, bad men, but still a divine power given so that the people who repent, who seek the Light of Christ might indeed have an encounter with Jesus similar to the one of the Samaritan woman at the well.

Does it work? Yes, after I go to confession I don’t walk around thinking I am a monster. I feel restored to my rightful place as a beloved child of God. The healing of the Tribunal of Mercy is something that no mere man could do. It is a divine power. I tried explaining it once to a teenage girl: I go to confession and confess my sins, and I reveal my temptations. Now I have done this many times, and the temptation has completely left me. If I had confessed my sins to a man, he would have had to follow me out of the confessional and say constantly, “Susan, don’t commit that sin again.” Over and over again. But the priest doesn’t do that. He doesn’t follow me out of the confessional. He doesn’t even remember what I told him. Yet the desire, the tastiness of the sin so to speak is completely gone! That is divine power. I thank God that Jesus has given this power to Catholic priests, and I can avail myself of this sacrament of the Catholic Church frequently. I may have loved the darkness at one time, but I have come into the Light enough times to know "But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God." (Jn 3:21)

2 comments:

  1. one thing I can not stand about the twilight series, is in it They have reversed the Classic Christian role of the Vampire Mythos. so in a real sense have lost the Warning of Isaiah "20Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! 21Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes And clever in their own sight!…" Do I believe that this is a cause for many problems today? well lets see, the blindness of many both Catholic and Non Catholic to their own poor example of what passes for Catholicism just helps to perpetuate a Error made Long ago. but it does in fact try to Glorify Evil, which is why won't touch any of those books. the only time can Use Evil in a Story is When it is Made Clear that the Villan is Evil. otherwise you get a Grey area, and grey area's are at least for me, The Advisary's Playground. even though it too is a Work of Fiction the Lord of the rings had Clear Deffinitions of What is Evil. Twilight Romances Evil.

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  2. Dan, I'm trying to get people to read about the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I'm sorry, the Twilight Movie detracted from the piece for you, but you wouldn't believe how many hits I get because Twilight is in this piece. Don't you think the kind of audience Twilight attracts has a right to know such a treasure is in the Catholic Church? God bless you. Susan

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