Fr. Eduard Perrone, Pastor of Assumption Grotto Parish in Detroit, Michigan would not even utter the name of the movie in his May 21 Sunday sermon. But everyone knew long before he uttered the initials. Unfortunately, I have had to carry the name in my title line so the post can be found by those searching for articles on the movie and book.
What struck me when listening to the sermon this Sunday, is that he touched on the virtue issues, or lack thereof, tied into wanting to see this movie - some serious things for Christians to think about.
Here is Fr. Perrone's take on it, in full. I'll work on getting an audio uploaded if it turned out alright. I have not yet listened to the recording I made.
(Begin Sermon for May 21, 2006) I’m not accustomed to devoting the Sunday homily to topics that are in the current news. This is by choice. The reason for this is that the sermon is supposed to expound matters of faith and morals for the upbuilding of the life of the people. By contrast, when I drive by denominational churches and read their billboards pre-announcing the Sunday sermon, I find catchy titles that address the very issues of current interest that I generally avoid. Another reason why I do not speak so much about news items is because when one is in the thick of things, one does not have the necessary perspective to make accurate judgments about them. I might risk writing about them in the church paper rather than spoil the sermon which–I am ever reminded–is being delivered in the Presence of His Sovereign Majesty, the Lord.
Having said that, I am not going to propose an exception to this general rule; but there is a matter of contemporary interest that cannot escape comment, at least in an indirect way, since it concerns a most serious matter detrimental to the faith. I am speaking here of The Movie that has just been released. I will not deign to mention its name, but I’ll give you its initials: D-V-C. I’m one least qualified to speak about this film or the book upon which it is based for many reasons: I haven’t read the book nor even the books that debunk its claims; ditto for the movie; and I don’t read the newspapers, don’t watch TV and don’t listen to radio news or talk shows. I lead a deliberately sheltered life. But this issue concerns me greatly, not because its blasphemies are new (in fact, they’re old hat, as I will soon explain), but because it seems that many believers are giving the thing such unwarranted attention.
Somebody is making an awful lot of money by disseminating foul blasphemies about our beloved Lord and the Savior of the human race, the ever Blessed Jesus Christ, only-begotten Son of the Most High God become man. Moreover, I gather, from what I’ve heard, this effort is a veiled attack on the Catholic Church. What should our reaction be?
Now, we ought to get an idea of how Catholics would have responded in former times, in order to see how far we have departed from the way of sanity and sanctity. At one time, Catholics were shielded from reading or viewing anything that would be an occasion of sin through the publishing of the Index of Forbidden Books and the rating system for films. These could be consulted by devout believers not in order to hide their heads in the sand, but to be spared falling into mortal sin and heresy. That, I would aver, was evidence of real pastoral concern for the spiritual welfare of the Catholic people: shepherds guarding the flock by keeping the wolves at bay. We now have the circumstance that among those reading and, I suppose, watching what amounts to an affront to faith and good morals, are Catholics (who ought to stand apart) who are joining in and exposing themselves to grave spiritual dangers. I therefore make this public admonition to you: stay away from this and do not be seduced by a morbid curiosity to want to find out what all the controversy’s about. That alone–idle curiosity–is sinful (it’s among the capital sins). I will tell you however some things you should know about this book and this film.
First, you need to know something–precious little, however–about the occult. Occult means what is hidden or secret. Now, there’s a reason why some things are kept secret. In the case of evil things, it’s to keep under cover what is too shameful to expose to the light. People commit sin in secret in order not to be seen: lying, stealing, impurity, gossip, etc. There’s a whole occult literature (inspired by the devil from the first centuries of the Church) that attempted an alternative account of the life of our Lord from the one found in the Gospels. These occult writings, these forgeries, were long ago refuted by theologians and doctors of the time. Much of this occult material was destroyed because it was recognized as evil, and a lie, and a snare. (By the way, the religion of Islam, which we must confront yet today, developed its heretical opinion about Jesus not from the New Testament but from those very heresies that were found in some of these occult writings that were still circulating at the time of Mohammed. So you can see what long-term damage falsehood can have, even unto the present conflict in the world). Unfortunately not every trace of occult writing was successfully destroyed. Some copies survived. In fact, it has always been available in print, although formerly only by the weird and seedy world of the occult. Now, regrettably, this has become open and popular in a series of occult books and films that are warping minds and rotting souls of many, including Catholics. The present craze is only the latest manifestation of these ancient evils. This is not new stuff, just discovered, truth that the Catholic Church has been hiding from you; rather it’s a new dress for tired occult doctrines which the Church refuted and renounced centuries ago for the protection of souls. Many do not realize this and so their guard is off by the alleged newness of this material. It needs to be said clearly that we are never permitted to delve into occult things; these are sins, mortal sins and can cause very serious harm to souls, even unto their eternal loss.
Next point: anything which smacks of blasphemy about the sacred Person of our Lord should instantly be shunned with righteous indignation and should be met by making acts of reparation for the insults given to our Lord. There ought to be outrage, offense taken, a firm resistance to the propagation of this evil and a turning to the Lord to beg His pardon for these affronts to His Divine Majesty and to His Bride, Holy Church.
Third point: there’s another danger. Surely this present subject matter is a sin against the faith and therefore gravely sinful. But, as you should know, there are other consequences for violating one’s conscience. What I mean is that whenever one gives himself over to serious sin, besides the eternal punishment that it merits, there’s an added temporal punishment for acting against right reason. The reason for this added punishment is that sin is not just doing whatever forbidden thing one might like to do; it’s also a violation of right reason. Thus, one might say, that when one sins, one does an insane thing. He chooses irrationality over truth: the definition of insanity. Thus we have the saying: "sin blinds the intellect." While this form of damage done due to sin is not necessarily evident, by turning to the sins of the occult, blasphemy, sacrilege and the demonic, the results–like those resulting to the brain from the use of narcotic drugs–are often of far-reaching damage. When one turns from the light of Christian truth to embrace the cursed darkness of the demonic and the occult, one violates his rational nature in a very perverse way. The results of this have long-term effects on a soul. I would liken that effect to the loss of innocence; one cannot retrieve it after it’s gone. Even though there are people who, after a gruesome episode with these evils come back repentantly to the Catholic faith, they retain a moral scar and a memory which they will have to bear for a lifetime. It’s not that God does not pardon the sincere return of a sinner, or that He’s cruel in His punishments, but that sin has its natural consequences, not only those in eternity, but those in the present life as well. (This should be obvious in how sin has often ruined marriages, scarred the lives of children, or ruined one’s life’s work–just to give a few examples of sin’s aftereffects).
I have to bring this subject to a close now but I want to do my duty as a pastor and forewarn you about going down a road fraught with spiritual dangers and terrible consequences. Stay away from these evil things and turn to our Lord and offer Him the comfort of your fidelity and love. We’re fast becoming proficient in impiety and ever so negligent in making amends to our affronted Lord.
As Catholics you have devoted your lives to a sacred Person: the Son of God. Come to His defense and be the soldier of Christ that you are! (End Sermon)
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