Penitential Movie Reference

Barb Spies, OFS, Director of Mission Services and Pastoral Care

Here we are in the second week of Lent. We are reminded of this being a penitential season with the prayers, the music, and the Gospel acclamation. We focus on prayer, fasting, and charity during this time. Sometimes lines and scenes from movies strike me when I least expect. This Lent, every time the word “penitent” appears, I think of the third Indiana Jones film. There is a search for the Holy Grail, the chalice Christ used at the Last Supper. One of the admonitions is that “the penitent man” will pass through the opening of the cave where the chalice can be found. Indiana Jones and his father keep repeating “penitent man… penitent…penitent.” At the same moment they come to the realization that “the penitent man kneels before God.” I’ll let you watch the movie to find out what happens, but suffice it to say that being penitential is a saving grace!

I have been reading daily reflections for Lent, but these are in Spanish, since I’m always trying to improve my Spanish skills. As I translate one of the reflections, I see these words: “When God speaks, the words are not only informative, they are formative and performative. That means that not only do we learn about God, but that our hearts are formed so that we are more attentive to listening, and our actions are shaped by God’s grace so that God’s will is done.” St. Francis took the words of God in this way. They informed him of God’s will, they formed him to be attentive and penitent, and they shaped the actions he performed. He started his ministry of preaching penance to all, helping them along the road to salvation. Not only did the friars, his brothers, join him in his rule of life, but the Poor Clares, and the lay people who became the Third Order, the Order of Penitents. This group became the Third Order regulars, who are the congregations of Sisters, like the Felicians, and Brothers who follow the Rule of St. Francis, and the Secular Franciscans (like me!),  who are lay people who live out the Gospel in their daily lives, working to participate in daily conversion, turning their hearts and minds to God’s will, responding to the needs of the poor. They are to remember their role as part of a penitential order. This Lent may we all be reminded of what it means to be penitent, even if that reminder comes from a popular culture reference!

Blessed Angela: “Keep repeating the words: May your Will be done.”

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