Today my university lecture was on Moral Theology. What a day! My lecturer called for a courageous example before the class, of a real ethical dilemma that has affected us personally in our ministry or lives. After a weak response from the group, and my initial trepidation, I softly and clearly in brief spoke my dilemma. I warned him first it would be a tricky one. Bless the darling lady sitting next to me who discreetly touched my hand and whispered under her breath “well done you” after I outlined my journey. Today’s lecturer (who is a priest) gave me a wonderful response, the class were witness to such a gentle, laid-back, sensitive virtuous man, sharing his wisdom, and scriptural knowledge of marriage dissolution, reconciliation and healing to individual cases as stated in the bible. I eagerly read the piece of scripture which he later photocopied for me. I am unsure that it will help in my futile situation, but there is always hope.
After uni I took myself off to see the very relevent and heartbreaking film Trishna.
“Britain’s most prolific filmmaker Michael Winterbottom returns to Thomas Hardy for his third adaptation of the author’s work. Relocating ‘Tess of the d’Urbervilles’ to India, with Freida Pinto as the film’s eponymous and ill-fated heroine, Trishna is a bold and visually striking work that makes the most of its stunning backdrop. No less impressive, as Trishna’s tortuous lover, is Riz Ahmed, proving once again to be an exciting presence in contemporary British film.”
To view the official trailer click on the below link.
It was beautifully acted. The life enriching colours of mustard, emerald, ochre, cerise pinks, kingfisher blues, reds and marigolds, were reminiscent of the Women Changing India exhibition (which I just loved) at the Satchi gallery last summer. The colours brought to life all that was beautiful in the film, and were a vibrant contrast to the life destroying events which unfolded.
The ambiguity of Trishna’s first tears, links beautifully to the tragic ending of the film. One is unsure at the beginning if she has regrettably slept with her love, if it were under some kind of passionate duress, or were she out right raped. Later that evening, her emotions capture her sorrowful and poignant feelings of personal violation for her loss of innocence, whether it were freely given or taken. It’s a beautiful and sorrowful truth that is rarely captured in films.
A passionate love affair unfolds and we witness how being intimately held, closely caressed, and kissed in such a deeply loving way, is to fulfill a longing and a yearning that is akin to the human heart. A huge theological moral and ethical situation then becomes the apparent catalyst for things to turn incredibly bad, it is only then that we see another side of Trishna’s lover, previously un-seeable.
The film is heartbreaking. There was one scene where the tears running down Trishna’s face bled salt into my mouth, and with a staccato outward breath I couldn’t hide from myself the fact that I recognised that look in her eye. I wonder what it is that gets some people to the point where they stand up and say enough is enough, and yet the same point allows others to believe that their only way out is fatal.
At the end of the film I had to hold my hand over my mouth, so as not to call out in pain and solidarity with the victim. The credits rolled, the lights came on and I realised I was still frozen with my hand over my mouth. The Lord’s Prayer ringing out in the background was just all too much.
This week our Catholic Church is asking us to sign the petition for The Coalition for Marriage, to register our opposition to a change in the law on the definition of marriage. I have to admit, whilst I am happy for a traditional marriage to be about the sacred union of a man and a woman, based on the relationship in the above film, I am struggling with the union ‘for life’ part. This is the coalition statement, “I support the legal definition of marriage which is the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. I oppose any attempt to redefine it.”
Last night I watched the BBC series about Catholic women in Britain today. It focused on the female staff, volunteers and congregation of Westminster Cathedral. It captured something of the beauty, richness, depth, wonder, resilience and feminine warmth of their journey, and what their faith personally means for them today. They shared their heart-felt moments with openness, honesty and a blessed integrity. So very sincere, but some were clearly hurting from divorce, and in a position where the Catholic Church could not embrace them fully in new relationships.
I hereby publicly retract a statement which I privately presented to my priest last week, under a cloud of disillusionment with my personal faith. “A good Catholic I will never make”.
On the contrary, it makes a very good Catholic to question unfair ethics. To remain honest and True to God, with personal integrity. And to speak up for whats truly right and just, for the Greater Love.
“A Great Catholic I make”!