James Bowman, whose reviews I generally enjoyed over the years, I think missed one salient point in the new movie The Nativity Story. It is potentially very offensive to Catholics — at least those Catholics who take their theology and faith seriously. I know the general script and dialogue are based loosely on the Gospels, and that the director Catherine Hardwicke attempted to make the Mother of God more approachable to post-modern teenage girls; however, the content of the movie itself I find very offensive.
Catholic Mariology is based on two thousand years of Sacred Tradition, and it always stressed that Mary was never just a normal peasant girl. When the angel Gabriel announced she was “full of grace” (full, meaning she had all of God’s graces), Mary had to be different. The fact that God chose her to carry his Son logically implied — if you believe what was written in the Old Testament about God’s demands concerning the building of the Arc of the Covenant — that Mary had to be sinless. She carried God’s new Covenant with Man. Her body would infuse her humanity to the Savior. Christ’s humanity was hers. Christ’s DNA came from hers. As Simeon would later say, Christ’s physical sufferings would become her sufferings. By overshadowing Mary the Holy Ghost became her spouse. Mary, betrothed to the Holy Ghost, conceived Jesus without Sin. Again, Gabriel announced that she possessed all of God’s graces. Her Fiat, or total acceptance of God’s Will, was evident in the Gospels, and this was always understood by the Apostles, who knew her best. Yet somehow this is totally missing in the movie. Hardwicke’s depiction of Mary was an obvious attempt to bring Mary down to our level. It was in this sense, the movie begins to lose it. Mary is depicted as just another petulant teen suffering teen angst, and is so totally self-absorbed that she rarely realizes that she is carrying the Son of God. Despite being in total communion with Christ (how many people can say they were in direct physical contact with God 24X7?), Mary doesn’t quite figure out what’s going on.
The virgin birth, and perpetual virginity of Mary, of course are not written into the script. Mary’s labor and birth to Christ are painful and bloody just like a normal birth. St. Augustine believed that Christ passed into the world like light passing through glass. Most if not all Protestants believe that Mary and Joseph had other children. For Catholics, the Holy Ghost is Mary’s spouse. If Mary and Joseph had other children, Mary would be an adulterer. The supernatural union of the Holy Ghost and Mary could only come by if Mary was sinless. Mary’s womb, the 2nd Arc of the Covenant, would have to remain perfect and undefiled — that is her virginity would have to remain intact even after the conception and birth of Christ. It was written in the Old Testament that even touching the Arc of the Covenant by unclean hands resulted in instant death by those who touched it. For Catholics, it is even more so concerning a woman whose body would bring forth God’s final Covenant with Man. Hardwicke’s script fails completely to bring this aspect of Mary’s birth of Christ to light. Mary’s perpetual virginity is not some piece of useless trivia long forgotten. It is central to the Nativity Story.p>I understand what Hardwicke was doing. For over 50 years, the Nativity Story has become a piece of civic tradition. Both Catholic and Protestants celebrate the incarnation of God into the World. The Catholic understanding of her isn’t necessarily the easiest to convey via the cinema. I’m sure Hardwicke had no intentions of directing the movie with a copy of the Catechism in one hand. However, for Catholic parents the movie totally undermines what they believe and wish to convey to their children. The Nativity goes directly against the Joyful Mysteries that are regularly prayed by Catholics. For this reason, I wouldn’t recommend the movie to Catholics. br> — JP br> Indiana /p> p>
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