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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Lesson of Sal Mineo

Welcome back to all the folks who gave up the internet for Lent!  

We've had a lovely Easter capped off by the always wonderful plethora of Bible movies. Deviled eggs and " Greatest Story Ever Told" make for a great relaxing Easter evening. Although, I must admit, that at some point during the film, perhaps when both Sal Mineo and Shelley Winters are cured by Jesus within minutes of each other, the movie begins to feel like a Bible version of "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" in terms of cameo star power. Ah well, a glorious movie, none the less. 

Now to catch up on some questions:

 Hello Sister,
Something I read today suggested Jesus didn't try and communicate with Herod when presented to him as he knew that grace would not reach him as he lead such a sinful life. It also suggested that He prayed for and agonized over Judas. As anything is possible with God I don't understand why both of these men could not have had their hearts changed. If it's a case of them having a role to play in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't seem fair that they were not given the opportunity to change while we are. If it's a case of having free will and having to want to change and accept graces is there any point in praying for people who have no intention of changing to change? Sorry, I find it all very confusing.

To begin with, both men always had the opportunity to change.  They had free will. No one took anything away from them.  The miracles of Jesus had nothing to do, ever, with Jesus changing someone's mind through His power as the Son of God.  

Take Sal Mineo's miracle moment in "The Greatest Story Ever Told".  He is lame (meaning his feet are all twisted, not his acting ability).  When Jesus tells Sal to arise and walk, Sal responds that there must me something the matter with Jesus, since Sal's affliction is so obvious. Jesus tells him to walk anyhow, saying to Sal, more or less, "Just do it." With each step, Sal Mineo's leg untwists a little more until he is walking, cured of his affliction. 

Sal Mineo:  You cured me!

Jesus: Your faith cured you.

God does not change your heart for you. You have to do that yourself.  Herod would have had to to that himself. Judas would have had to do that himself.  We pray for grace, for God to work within us or others, but everyone will always have free will to turn from that grace.

As for the Great Scheme of Things....that's Sacred Mystery territory. If you are a regular reader you'll know what I mean by that.  The Church defines a Sacred Mystery as that which we are not even meant to understand, God's wisdom that is beyond our capacity as humans to ever understand.  I define it to mean, "Just let it go."

Sacred Mystery=Catholic for "just let it go."

Here's an example: Mary had free will. She could have said no when asked to be the Mother of Jesus. We all know she didn't, but she could have. Yet, Mary was born without Original Sin on her soul (the Immaculate Conception) because God knew she would be the Mother of Jesus, though she could have said no, He knew she wouldn't, but she still could have, but He knew she wouldn't, but....

Sacred Mystery.

Without free will, we are indeed role players, pre-programmed robots, in the Great Scheme of Things. How that all works along with God's omnipotent knowledge....

Sacred Mystery.

I'll bet this didn't help you much.  Just let it go.  I'll admit that I am always very happy to do this. There is so much in this world which we must understand. Math, what causes obesity, what things infuriate or calm the people with whom we share oxygen, street signs that are just some kind of vague symbol, which way to turn the car wheels when parking on a hill, how long the milk will stay fresh if you leave it on the counter, what happens if you mix bleach and ammonia, why you should never mention the Korean War to Grandpa Bill, how come it's better to live a life of compassion and forgiveness as opposed to one of judgement and competition, what Jesus meant when he said, "Consider the lilies"...

It's a relief that there are things that I am not expected to understand. I am happy to leave them to God.


jeliecam said...

Blessed Easter to you all,

Speaking of Easter movies, when we were little, back in the 50s & 60s, there was a movie that was run yearly at Easter time. We can not remember the title, and hope that you or one of your readers could help. It was about a little orphan boy that was taken in by some monks in a desert monastary. The little boy would go up to the attic and talk to a life-sized statue of Jesus. I won't give the ending (spoiller), but the monks did follow him up the stairs to see what he was doing.

If you or anyone could help us remember this movie's title, that would be great. We'd love to have it on dvd.

Sister Mary Martha said...

I can help! That would be The Miracle of Marcelino. Or something like that. The Miracle of the Boy's Name, which is something on the order of Marcelino.

Maureen said...

I have the book! - Marcelino, but I never knew it had been turned into a movie. I gave it to my granddaughter this Lent, but she didn't enjoy it - I suppose manners and mores have changed since it was written and my granddaughter is a down to earth little person and thought the monks were negligent in failing to provide proper care and support for the little boy! So I took it back again, because I have had this book since I was nine years old....and I am attached to it.

You sound better now, I am glad to see that!

Anonymous said...

Sister, your post is as good as any Doctor of the Church...clear, entertaining, full of common sense and accurate theology!

Your statement, "everyone will always have free will to turn from that grace," reminded me of the story of Lazarus and Dives.(Lk 16:19-31) “And he said, "If they (your brothers) do not heed Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”

It seems that once we are given the gift of faith, it is up to us to pay attention to the graces right in front of us.

Unknown said...

@jeliecam...Last year, I bought the "Miracle of Marcelino" DVD remake (1980's) for $5 on Amazon. It wasn't as good as the original 1950's black and white. The old classics can't be beat. Buy it! What have you got to lose except 5 bucks?

lilabraga said...

this is such a profound true! We are the miracle makers in the hands of God...we can create a life of miracles of or a life of regrets....all we need is faith and grace.
I am a great believer in god's mysteries...even if this can be seen as an stupidity.But I do prefer a life of faith in God than a life of emptiness.
Happy Easter sister.

jeliecam said...

Thanks to all the commenters. We didn't know it came from a book. Now we can check that out and the 80s movie. We'll still look for the 50s b&w.

mph said...

Thanks Sister. It's the last bit I especially wonder about. Is there a point in praying for a change in people who have no intention of changing? We've had no offers on our house and I am still in an unhappy relationship with neighbours that seem to get more vindictive with no provocation...I'm praying for myself to rise above it as well...

Anonymous said...

Just my 2 cents regarding Judas
Judas condemnation was not because of the betrayal of Jesus but because of his lack of faith.
If he had truly believed Jesus, he would have believed in His ability to forgive--even His own betrayal.
Just ask Peter...

Anonymous said...

I bought the b&w "Marcelino" from Amazon; found it with a search on the site. Linda

Anonymous said...

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Could you please tell me if you are you planning to provide posts and information about the new translation of the Mass on your blog? If so, would you like a free review copy of “A Biblical Walk Through the Mass,” Dr. Sri’s latest book, which addresses the aforementioned changes, and the accompanying study guide booklet? For more information on the book and study guide, please visit http://guidetothemass.com/information/new-translation/10/home-catholic-study-biblical.

Just send me you shipping address, and I will send you the book and study guide as soon as possible. Thanks in advance for your time and attention. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

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Media Relations Specialist
The Maximus Group
140 Colony Center Drive,
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Martha said...

That story scared the bejeebies out of my classmates and me when told to us at storytime in 2nd grade by a nun. Years later, reminiscing, we remembered the story, and imagined she must've made it up but, to our horror and chagrin, found it in a Catholic magazine in video form for sale. 2nd graders just don't 'get' death's blessings, I'm afraid. Yikes!

So, still don't want anything to do w/ the story- scarred, I suppose!

Joe Pacuska said...

Dear Sister,

Is there a patron saint for those who lack patience and need to develop the virtue?

Lisa said...

Seems like the saint who is most synonymous with patience is St Laurence. When we say someone is like "St Laurence on a gridiron," doesn't that mean the person is being very patient despite terrible suffering? But probably most of us are more in the situation of St Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower, who had to cultivate patience because the nun behind her in choir made an annoying sound with her teeth, and the nun next to her in the laundry splashed.