On Saturday evening I took myself off to see the acclaimed film Amour. It was beautiful and devastating. It was heartbreaking. It would have been a difficult film for anyone to watch alongside ones partner, understanding the potential of what the future could hold, but so much more unbearable to watch alone. I imagined being alone with no-one to Love or be Loved by, in the same deeply selfless way, as the two characters who lived together and cared so deeply for each other. (They alone were in almost every frame). Such a dignified and eloquently loving relationship magnified and upheld by the indignities they endured.
I think of the priests I know, often living alone or maybe in brotherhoods which chop and change, and I think of the utter sadness of them not being able to commit in agape Love to permanent deepest friendship, in which life’s interior and exterior sufferings can be shared in human Love. The highest Love, intimate sole friendship with another soul, which heightens us to the fullness of our humanity, allowing us to transcend in prayer and beyond, to God.
Celibacy still calls for the intimacy of deepest celibate relationships fulfilled.
This film was full of dignity for the utter indignity of human suffering. One could clearly question where is God in such cruel senseless pain? One could question how such a God could have created His beings with such flaws including physical/health flaws? One could question how God could allow anyone He Loved so deeply, so much indignity, suffering and pain? One wonders that only a masochistic God could make a people’s in the image and likeness of Himself and then inflict such barbaric sentences of grief and pain upon them?
One could wonder and get nowhere with these wonderings.
But understanding and knowing that God is Love, is to know that all of our questions and wonderings, and all of our suffering, and all of the flaws of our humanity can be exceeded and transcended by Love. All suffering and even death (hellishly painful as it may be) is in grace transformed and transcendently met, when supported endured and faced in the compassion comfort and expression of Love. We are strengthened in weakness by Love. Any poverty, tragedy trauma or pain (however devastatingly heartbreaking) may be upheld closer than close, in dignity, by such selfless expressions of Love. A Love that supersedes life (even death) Love that supersedes All pain. Death and suffering has a putrid stench that Love alone can overpower.
The film was suddenly severed. Leaving the deathly severed film alone in the black silence was absolutely awful. To see people openly crying and wiping away tears and to feel them flinching with such heart-breaking suffering, made me proud of the often hidden side of our humanity. People touched, moved and broken at other people’s tragedy makes such profound compassion visible. A compassion that provokes a response of Love and selfless giving at least to those we Love, and for some, beyond even their own loved ones.
A makeup check before the journey home was compulsory.
I had spent my day before the film at Tyburn convent, where Martyr’s (long forgotten by some) are prayed for at the Tyburn shrine day in day out. People including children who gave their life rather than renouncing their faith. That any person could bear such selfless witness is beyond any earthly power I could ever presume to know. Only the God part of us (I am sure) could supernaturally endure such witness.
The nuns at Tyburn live permanently behind a grill, from which they never leave. They are silent for most of their day. They live in perpetual adoration before the Blessed Sacrament each living their lives in prayer kneeling before our Lord in turn, twenty-four hours a day, every day. Their days are spent working, cleaning and praying with a very small amount of recreation. I observed the gentle, praying, softly moving beings like creatures of another realm, floating from one prayer into another. It was all a little surreal. Quite beautiful and so very pure that it became almost artificial. No trace of any individual personality was visible in the young sisters voice that read the daily reading. I found it immensely beautiful but was shocked by how incredibly sad I felt to witness such witness. The contradictory strength both feelings invoked in me – impossible to place, all held in tension one against the other, neither relenting from their stance.
I wonder if we could ever have perpetual adoration in our Cathedrals.
On the tube on the way home I looked at all the beautiful people. Each and every one of them so very beautiful, and they didn’t even presume to know how beautiful they were. Each person having a beauty both similar to, and different from their fellow beings. A burnt face with its fragile skin and beautiful life imbued eyes. A radiant personality shining out from a less radiant body. A healed hare lip with its beautiful fulness and telling scar set within perfect olive skin. A painfully thin hurting body barely supporting such a beautiful face. A beautiful average being beautifully humbly average, seemingly content just to be. The deepest darkest most beautiful eyes holding all the pain within. Not one person didn’t have something of beauty reaching out from them. I sat quietly observing them all, contemplating such suffering and beauty, smiling warmly when eyes dared to meet and hold my own.
If only they all knew how beautiful they were.
If only they all knew how somebody prayed for each and every one of them.