Wednesday, June 23, 2010
AN HONEST PRIEST
Today's movie, THE SAINT OF 9/11. It has been on my netflix Q for a couple years creeping toward the top. The Oliver Stone film brought it to mind. Priests don't usually hold my attention. I have a terrible time with people who "represent" God in their imaginations. I don't have much regard for missionarizing, using God and religion to tell other people what to do with authority. The Age of Colonialism used religion to control other people in ways that in my way of seeing were very twisted, because self-centered only. All to serve the Massa and make him rich so he can live in a great big house with polished brass doorknobs and Goldilocks for his wife. The notion that people of cultures not our own are invalid comes from ego-centrism only. It has nothing to do with making lives of those people any better. Get them in bluejeans and tshirts fast as possible, make them look civilized, send pictures back home of civilizing the natives and folks back home send more money. Another way for the few to control the many.
All this said, I don't go into a documentary about a priest with much enthusiasm. I'd seen the picture of him dead at least a dozen times, and I don't even have television. The Stone WTC film brought him to mind. Thought I'd run it to the top of the Q and see it now while the WTC film is fresh in the recent past. What a surprise it turned out to be, right away. I never once distrusted his motive. A Franciscan monk, he chose to live in the world of NYC with street people, the poorest of the poor, comfort people with AIDS, always looking to help somebody out, out of whatever ditch they find themselves in. There was lightness about him, light as in shining light and weightless light. He sought ways of serving that were real serving, not show serving.
He became the chaplain of the NY Fire Department. He had a special relationship with all of them, a spiritual guide and a friend. He spent a lot of time in the fire stations, knowing everybody, assisting them spiritually, individually and just being somebody to talk with. He walked all over NYC. He came from Brooklyn, his mother and dad Irish immigrants. The people that knew him liked to call him a saint. Myself, I'm slow to use such a word. I suspect they were slow to use the word too. I have met a few people I'd say were filled with light. As people who knew him described the light in him, I recognized the lightness I'd seen in a very few. I expect he did indeed have the qualities of what we call a saint. It's an awkward word and no one in their right mind wants to be called that, least of all him, Mychal Judge.
I liked about him he wasn't looking to start a missionary organization or anything like that. He went at odds with the Church's commandments on a fairly regular basis. When he was helping people with AIDS and the pope declared people with AIDS heathen outcasts, Father Mychal was helping them, doing what he believed Jesus would do. The film caused me to reflect that an awful lot of people extend themselves in service to others, this county and everywhere else. Faces and names of people I know are racing through my mind of people who do things to help people who don't have much ability to help themselves. When somebody from Rotary sits outside Food Lion asking people to buy some items for Solid Rock Food Closet. The baskets fill up with bags of food different people bring out and give to them in a hurry. I think what got to me most about the film was seeing as my thoughts ran parallel to the documentary that he's not the only one. It's everywhere.