I cannot explain to you the feeling that went through my entire body last night at the Cobb Palm Beach Gardens Theater, while watching the phenomenal blockbuster, “Son of GOD”. Not only did we weather the “Tornado Warnings” during the afternoon to get there and not only was the movie a very accurate depiction of what truly happened in the life of our Lord & Savior – but, to watch a movie like this – a day after Ash Wednesday – with a theater full of Catholic friends – is difficult to put a price tag on an experience like this. We need to do this more often.
I laid in bed all night, thinking about the movie; thinking about all our wonderful friends who showed up; thinking about the “100” year-old Catherine Hughes, who sat in her wheelchair in front of me; thinking of our youngest camper, Marlee (8 years old), who sat next to me (while covering her eyes during the rougher parts of the scourging); and I am still reliving the beautiful prayer that Father Richard Champigny – the 75 year-old humble Carmelite priest – opened up the evening with. Yes, a beautiful, heartfelt prayer in a public theater. We had the entire theater to ourselves & that was awesome! It should be like that everywhere we go. Thank you, Father Richard.
And, friends, if Christian on a Mission had the money, we would do this “Bold for Our Faith Movie Night” every single time a wonderful Christian movie like this comes out. Heck, we should show Christian movies like “Son of GOD” at our churches every Sunday – we will pack the pews! And, nobody will leave right after Communion. They will wait until the end of the movie!! And, the movie “Noah”, is on deck & coming soon to a “Catholic Theater” near you…Can we do this one more time? I will try my hardest to do this all over again. Stay tuned…Just pray it doesn’t rain for 40 days & 40 nights when this one comes out…and, no woodpeckers on the ark, please.
Well, last night, the Catholics came from everywhere. From “18” different parishes (not including some of our “snow birds” from Ohio, New York, New Jersey, etc,). But, nobody traveled as far as our beloved “100” year-old Catherine Hughes – who came up all the way from Deerfield Beach with her beloved mom, Dolores (President of the CCW). And, they drove up in torrential rain, wicked thunderstorms and tornado warnings. Needless to say, Jesus was right there in the back seat with Catherine & Dolores, calming the storms as they headed north on I-95. They came up early (at 4:30 pm, during the height of the storm), to get a bite to eat. Friends: If that doesn’t motivate you to get more active and “step out of the boat” for your Faith, I don’t know what will…I love those two beloved ladies as well as the countless ladies from the CCW who showed up last night, as they filled the entire theater with their love and tenderness.
And, not too far behind them was our two beloved Carmelite priests – Father Richard Champigny & the retired Father Rommaeus Tooney. They drove all the way up from St. Jude in Boca – and yes, during the torrential storms as well. Nothing but dedication and a love for our Lord. I think it was only appropriate that we had those wicked storm warnings leading up to a Christian movie like this because Satan tried his hardest in keeping all of us from attending – while Jesus simply walked on water and calmed the storms for us, just in time for the majority of us to drive safely to the theater. When we keep our eyes focused on Jesus and not lose sight of Him, He will bring us to calmer waters, greener pastures and Catholic Theaters.
And, let’s not forget our “Michelangelo of the Diocese”, Father Harold Buckley, whose latest & greatest sculpture, The Descent”, graces our beautiful grounds at our beloved Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Cemetery. Yes, soon to turn “89” (in April – the same age that Michelangelo retired from his prolific art career), this Brooklyn Renaissance Man showed up with the ever-smiling, beloved Ken Reynolds, as his Cursillista “groupers” greeted Father Buckley as if he had co-written “Son of GOD” with Roma Downey & Mark Burnett. “The Buck Stops Here” is how I always greet Father Buck and just to watch him walk ever-so-gingerly to the box office with his trusty old cane, made my night. What a gem we have in Father Buckley. Folks: Love him while we still have him. They don’t make them like Father Buckley anymore. I love the man dearly. GOD Bless him.
Friends: It would take me forever to thank everybody that came out to “Son of GOD” last night, as we had an incredible representation from our beloved Diocese. From Bishop Barbarito’s Executive Secretary, Annette Russell & her beloved mom (the last two to leave the shopping center with me); to our beloved Chancellor, Lorraine Sabatella & her husband, Joe; to Birthline/Lifeline’s coordinator, Mary Rodriguez & her husband, Jose; to countless ministry leaders, sacristans, Pro-Lifers, Deacon John Beaudoin, Deacon Greg Horton, My Main Man, Barry Hallett, and one of the cutest & most serious altar servers we have in our Diocese – Jordan Ross (11 year-old from St. Patrick). Sitting next to me on my left was Jane McGann – another gem in our Diocese. What a humbling honor to hold her hand during the more excruciating parts of the Passion. All told, we came from “18” different parishes – all to see one thing:
THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD – The Life & Times of Our Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ.
For those who could not make it out last night for this “Special Event”, we prayed for you and hope you can make it out to see this wonderful film. You did miss one special night, but there will be more to come. This film was made very purposefully, very articulately and with terrific cinematography. The lighting was exceptional. The acting, tremendous. The story line, right on target. The lead actor, superb. The main character, perfect.
How does one portray a perfect character like Jesus of Nazareth? How does one try to imitate everything that He did? How does one become closer to Jesus and His teachings? For starters, going to a movie like this in a huge group of “180” Catholics is a pretty good start. And, going a day after Ash Wednesday truly motivates one to fast, pray & give it all up for the One who died for us. I only wish we could have attended this incredible movie on Ash Wednesday, itself, as I can just see the theater managers, Susie & Harry, watching 180 Catholics walking into their lobby with ashes on our foreheads in the shape of a cross. That was my initial idea, but, too many people were at church that evening receiving their ashes. That would have been “bold”, though…”bold for our faith”.
In closing, on behalf of our non-profit ministry, Christian on a Mission – I want to say Thank You to everybody who came out last night to watch “Son of GOD”. I thank the numerous people who sent beautiful e-mails & thank you messages about our event last night. This was our “6th Christian Movie Night” over the past few years as I try to do these events because it serves to bring all of our parishes “Two-Gether” as One Body in Christ – and that is my ultimate mission with our ministry. We have “266,882” parishioners in our “53” Catholic parishes in our Diocese and my ultimate goal is to one day be able to meet each and every one of them through the countless events that we run in our beloved Diocese.
Now, tell me it isn’t great to be Catholic?