Confessions of a Catholic Wimp: Why I Can’t Watch ‘The Passion of the Christ’

Christ on the Cross by Velazquez

Call me a big-time Catholic loser, but when some friends got together on Palm Sunday to watch “The Passion of the Christ” for the second time, I didn’t show up. You see, the sad truth of the matter is this: I couldn’t get through it the first time I tried to watch it.

I thought about it a quite a bit after that first attempt and felt really bad. So many people told me it was a wonderful movie, and an important one. But after much reflection, I finally realized that if I had been alive during the time that Christ lived –and had been there the day he was brutally whipped and mocked and spat upon — I would have turned away, covered my face and wept.

I wouldn’t be able to witness the brutalization of anyone I love, especially if there was nothing I could do to stop it.

So that one time I tried to watch the movie with my husband, I found it impossible to keep my eyes open. I just couldn’t bear to see Christ’s open wounds, his blood and his tears. I am pretty sure that I saw about 15 minutes total of the entire movie, and even that was so upsetting that I was despondent for days.

I realize this makes me a wimp because I know plenty of people, good solid Christians, who watched the film more than once. But the truth is this: If I had actually been among the crowd watching the Lord Jesus Christ being nailed to the cross on that dreadful day long ago, I would have turned away. I just couldn’t bear to see him suffer.

My cowardice doesn’t mean that I don’t love him. He already knows that I do.

Lorraine’s latest book is “Death of a Liturgist,” a mystery. She also is the author of “The Abbess of Andalusia,” a biography of Flannery O’Connor from a Catholic perspective.

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About the Author

Lorraine is the author of “The Abbess of Andalusia: Flannery O’Connor’s Spiritual Journey.” She also has written three mysteries, most recently “Death Dons a Mask.” Her email is lorrainevmurray@yahoo.com. All of her books can be seen on her website is www.lorrainevmurray.com.

Lorraine V. Murray grew up in Miami, and graduated from Immaculata Academy High School. One of the nuns there predicted that if Lorraine went to a secular college, she would be in great danger of losing her faith. Lorraine thought that was funny, but in fact the sister’s prediction came true.

Majoring in English at the University of Florida, Lorraine bid farewell to her Catholicism when she was 19. She went on to get a Ph.D. in philosophy and became a radical feminist and atheist for over 20 years.

After teaching courses in English and philosophy on the college level, Lorraine worked as an editor in a university publications office. In her forties, the Lord called her back to her Catholic roots, and she went on to write about her conversion journey in her book “Confessions of an Ex-Feminist.”

Her recent books are "Death of a Liturgist," a fun-filled mystery featuring murder and mayhem in a Georgia parish, and "The Abbess of Andalusia," which explores Flannery O'Connor's Catholic journey. All her books can be seen at www.lorrainevmurray.com (link provided below).

Lorraine writes regular columns for the religion section of “The Atlanta Journal-Constitution” and “The Georgia Bulletin.” She lives in Decatur, Georgia, with her husband, Jef, a Tolkien artist and book illustrator. In her spare time, she bakes bread, watches hummingbirds, and chases squirrels out of her garden.

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2 Comments

  1. I’ve watched it a few times, but I always sob the whole way through. And I have to force myself to watch it once each Lent, it’s certainly not something I do with relish. I think I feel the same way you do – watching last night, I half wondered why someone didn’t try to stop them – during his beating, while he was carrying his cross, when they were nailing him to it. But I think I would be like you, I would turn away and cry. And that’s knowing what we do – that the cross is triumph and that God ends victorious.

    But then? All they knew was that a man they loved and thought was God and going to save them all was now suffering the most ignominious death possible, and he did nothing to stop it. I imagine what holds us back is that we know he has to go through it – what held them back was that he was going through it.

    I completely understand your inability to watch – it is a terrible and wonderful movie!

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