I can't bring myself to see The Rite, the new exorcism film starring Anthony Hopkins. I'm not a horror flick person to begin with, but as a Catholic blogger and author I kind of felt as though I had an obligation to see this one and report back to you. But there is something about this movie that just stops me in my tracks and makes me look for the closest romantic comedy, and that something is pure Evil.
Just last week I was in my local public library and the book version of The Rite, by Matt Baglio, was sitting on the shelf. I was surprised it was there, given the popularity of the topic and the title right now, so I took it off the shelf and went to put it in my bag of books for checkout. Then I stopped. I thumbed through it, and the little I saw made me put the book back on the shelf. I just don't want to get that close to the devil. In any fashion.
Today I came across a review of The Rite that really got to the heart of this matter. Father Leo Patalinghug over at Grace Before Meals takes an in-depth look at the positives and negatives of Hollywood's latest attempt at translating Catholic rituals and beliefs for the big screen.
From Father Leo's post:
Let’s say a few things about what movie did get right. First, this movie affirmed two truths: (1) That the devil is real! and (2) Hollywood doesn’t really understand the Catholic Faith and the interior workings of the Church!
Both of these “frighten” me in a way, because the devil sometimes uses Hollywood’s arrogance, ignorance, and even atheistic agendas to “hide” and go unseen. The influence of Hollywood is sometimes greater than the Gospel, especially for younger generations who will watch this movie and think it’s either all true or either all false. Both extremes are the devil’s temptations!
That’s why I’m blogging about this movie. From a pastoral perspective I offer these thought for our Grace Before Meals families.
Ultimately I have to say (from a personal opinion) that I liked the movie enough because of the genuine message that highlighted the struggle and championship of good over evil. It highlights the reality that even priests, and other people of faith can be “tempted” by the devil. Yes, people of faith can even experience doubt. It realistically showed some of the inherent properties concerning the ancient Rite of Exorcism, such as the devil’s knowledge of hidden things, the ability to manifest supernatural powers, and the craftiness and lies that devil incarnates in people who are possessed. It rightly describes some of the prayers of the Rite, as well as authentic “confusion” that people have regarding the spiritual life. There were some redeeming qualities in the movie. For me, the best image of the exorcist’s power came in the final scene when the young priest exercised his real authority of evil in the Sacrament of Confession.
However, there were some other things that annoyed me when watching this film. For example: the fact that the movie shows a “seminarian” dressed like a deacon and offering absolution and a final blessing (something reserved for a priest); the fact that this same “seminarian” - despite his doubts - is the “golden child” sent to Rome to study the ritual after one “5 minute” conversation with his superior; the fact that this “seminarian” performed an exorcism without any authority given to him by his Bishop. All of that is hogwash and not how things happens!
Father Leo recommends having a conversation about evil and the devil over family dinner. Doesn't sound like something you want to try? Here's why it's important and what he suggests:
If we do not voice our fears to the right people - namely our guardians, our pastors, and to God in prayer - we may be “limiting” the grace to help us overcome our fears. Parents ought to realize that young people are the biggest targets for the devil. But unlike this movie, the temptations and possessions are much more “attractive” and less frightening. A dinner discussion about the different ways evil manifests itself in the world can help a young person make distinctions and good life decisions; having a conversation about good versus evil can give young people courage through a “healthy” and “humble” fear of the supernatural.
Ultimately, your dinner discussion should end with messages of hope, as it did in this movie: Good will always conquer evil! Faith is needed at all times! The Sacrament of Confession is one of the greatest forms of “exorcism” as it releases the penitent from the burden of the sins provoked by the temptation of the devil!
Read Father Leo's full review HERE.