The newly released film, The Rite, takes seriously the problem of evil. It takes a serious look at the way some of us (most of us?) struggle with our faith. And our lack of faith. Our longing to have faith, to believe and not waiver. Our victories and our defeats. People who criticize The Rite for not being The Exorcist completely miss the point. Catholics who criticize The Rite for getting the priesthood or The Faith all wrong miss the point too.
What is the point? That evil is real, not the Hollywood industry’s version of cheap thrills, but twisted perverted and perverting evil is real. That the devil is real. That we ignore him to our peril. That belief, like faith, is not something you have but something you do. That priests are human beings like the rest of us but they are more than that, too. That priests are called to the priesthood. That’s why we call it a “vocation”. That the calling is from God but He calls them through other human beings in the midst of their ordinary lives. That part of every priest’s ordinary life is to help ordinary people protect and guard their souls and fight the real temptations of the real devil who wants to destroy them. That exorcism is not mere superstition, something the Church has grown out of and can safely forget now that we are all moderns.
Those who prefer to ignore the problem of evil will hate this film. Those who think there is no problem of evil will not understand it. Those who prefer evil will probably not go to see it in the first place, but that probably won’t stop them from condemning it. Those who don’t like to see priests struggling against the same temptations the rest of us do, will not like it either, completely missing the fact of the very positive outcome at the end. An outcome that I don’t often see coming from Hollywood.
Bottom line: I liked The Rite and I’ll be writing more about it in the coming days, both after I go see it again and as I continue to read the book. Stay tuned. Peace be with you.
I downloaded the book after seeing the movie and I’m reading it now. The movie was “suggested” by the novel and there are differences. And I’m glad. The screenwriter did much to bring us right into the story, much to show us drama and pull us into the soul-searching of the young protagonist. And pull me in, it did. I know that evil is real, I didn’t need convincing. And I’m glad to see that there are others who know it exists, too. And that they also know that the Catholic Church is the ancient enemy’s ancient enemy. Now if we can just get our priests and bishops to go see it. Maybe we should give them all copies of the book and the DVD. Or take them out to dinner and a movie…