Monday, January 08, 2007

The USCCB Never Fails To Disappoint
And this is just another example

OK... I'll admit it, I was all excited when I first heard of the movie The Nativity Story. That was until I found out that they went with the Protestant version of the actual birth of Christ.

For those who don't understand what I'm getting at, the traditional teaching of The Church has always maintained that because of her Immaculate Conception and subsequently being free for Original Sin, The Holy Mother experienced no physical pain during the actual childbirth, also known as virginity in partu (during birth). Many Church Fathers have described the Birth of Christ to 'be like that of rays of sunlight passing through glass'.

Ahhh... but the USCCB has never let Church Teaching get in the way of being on the cutting edge of 'being of this world'.

And to a film that spits in the face of 2,000 years of Church teaching, insults the Holy Mother, and ultimately insults Our Lord, the USCCB deems it proper to rate this film one of it's Top Ten Family Films of 2006, and has rated it A-I, suitable for all audiences. Except Catholics, of course.

13 Comments:

Anonymous Jenn in Colorado said...

One of our priests at our FSSP chapel here in Colorado, was discussing it at an adult catechism class. He said that as adults, we would not be sinning to see it, per se, but UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should any one of our children see it at all!

I also heard that that was only one problem with this movie.

6:04 PM  
Blogger Former Altar Boy said...

And given the depth of today's catechetical programs, RCIA, etc. and the cerebral quality of the average homily, how many Catholics do you imagine even knew that was the belief and teaching of the Church for the last 2,000 years?

No, it's so much more important to hear about peace and justice programs, feel-good silliness, and hear how good we all are (being as sin no longer exists, how could we not be?).

9:20 PM  
Blogger paramedicgirl said...

Doesn't USCCB stand for the United States Conference of Confused Bishops? I know in Canada that's how we read CCCB. The Catholic component seems to be missing.

9:49 PM  
Blogger Paul, just this guy, you know? said...

While I (and many Protestants) believe in the perpetual virginity of the Mother of God, and in the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, I don't claim to know how that played out in real life, as regards St. Mary's labor pains.

While I rather like that "sunlight passing through glass" line, it would not undermine any piece of my faith to learn that the Blessed Mother, among her many sorrows and trials, also suffered labor pains.

I found it to be a beautiful movie. Not an explicitly Catholic movie, not so Catholic as The Passion, but I quite enjoyed The Nativity Story. Not perfect, but certainly worthwhile, and easily the best religious movie out of Hollywood in decades.

Indeed, at the moment of the birth of the Lord, all I could think, seeing the baby, was, "My Lord and My God!"

10:53 PM  
Blogger Vir Speluncae Catholicus said...

Paul,
If The Holy Mother did suffer labor pains, that would fly in the face of her being free from Original Sin. And that's coming from the likes of St Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas.

3:55 PM  
Blogger Paul, just this guy, you know? said...

Bless me Caveman, for I have sinned. On my bookshelf, I have G.K. Chesterton, Mark Shea, Scott Hahn, even Peggy Noonan and (God help me) C. S. Lewis. I do not have St. Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas.

But I do have the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the new Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and even the old Baltimore Catechism.

To my great surprise, the Baltimore Catechism doesn't deal with any of the Marian doctrines at all. A deficiency I shall have to compensate for as I work on my children's religious education.

The CCC is very insistent on all the points I affirmed in my earlier comment, the perpetual virginity of Mary, the Immaculate Conception, and the rest.

The CCC quotes the Bl. Pope Pius IX from his 1854 infallible proclamation of the Immaculate Conception: "The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin."

Which, in my view, does not claim that the Blessed Mother was preserved immune from all effect of original sin.

The new Compendium gave me the closest clue, this quote from your buddy, St. Augustine, to the effect that the Blessed Mother "remained a virgin in conceiving her Son, a virgin in giving birth to him, a virgin in carrying him, a virgin in nursing him at her breast, always a virgin."

Unfortunately, this also falls short of an assertion that the Blessed Virgin didn't suffer labor pains.

So in the authoritative documents I can find on the teachings of the Catholic Church, not to mention Holy Scripture, I find no specific assertion that the Blessed Virgin did not suffer labor pains. Quite frankly if it were the case that she did not, I'm a bit surprised that Scripture omits the fact, as it would be, I should think, an even-more attention-getting claim than that of the viriginity of the Blessed Mother.

So if you've got a citation for St. Augustine or St. Thomas on this point, I'd certainly be interested in the context.

My take is that while there may be a long tradition regarding this question, and it may certainly be true, that the Church does not in fact teach that the Blessed Mary Ever Virgin suffered no labor pains in giving birth to Our Lord.

I can't agree with your statement that "If The Holy Mother did suffer labor pains, that would fly in the face of her being free from Original Sin", particularly the phrase "fly in the face". At worst, I would call it a curious seeming-inconsistency, of the sort that, when we shall come to "know, as we are known" we will say, "Oh! Of course that's how it is!"

I have to also take issue with your remark that the movie The Nativity Story "spits in the face of 2,000 years of Church teaching, insults the Holy Mother, and ultimately insults Our Lord". I'm reasonably sensitive to such issues myself, and what I saw was a movie intended not to insult Christ, His Mother, or Christians, but rather to be a meditation on the mystery of the Nativity, and one that succeeds in conveying much beauty. It is neither perfect, nor explicitly Catholic.

I found it to be above-average; indeed, it brought a tear to my eye at several moments.

I found myself thinking as I came out, that I was grateful that the moviemakers had made a movie to appeal to Christians, rather than to "challenge" Christians.

I really think you're being too hard on it for simply failing to be completely Catholic to your standard; it doesn't claim to be Catholic at all. It's a Hollywood movie.

We're called upon to "be perfect, as Christ is perfect". Not to demand perfection of others.

You know that most days I'm right there in your corner. This time, I think you're off-base.

10:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't see the movie, but plan to watch the DVD. Frankly, whether or not the Blessed Mother had labor pains is not something I worry over. I've known women who gave birth without feeling labor pains at all, and I've known women who had mild to severe labor pains.

Frankly, I think Jesus was born in a normal way since the bible describes him as a "man like us in all things, save sin"

Anyway, from what I've heard of the movie, most people come out of it with a deep respect for Saint Joseph - as they should.

8:35 AM  
Blogger Anita Moore said...

Let's face it: compared to the filth, sleaze, dreck and just plain garbage emanating out of Hollywood, this probably IS a family film. I have not seen it myself, but if it is that bad, then perhaps we're seeing an illustration of Proverbs 27:7: "He who is sated loathes honey, but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet."

8:57 PM  
Blogger Vir Speluncae Catholicus said...

You are forgiven, Paul. 3 Hail Mary's and 3 Our Father's.

Anyhow, in the ref I gave on the posting, go to the section entitled "The Virgin Birth".

It gives a number of examples, ranging from the NT and OT, to the Council of Chalcedon. And I'm sure you know that there are many, mant other sources of reference on this particular point.

One other point to consider... the thought that many Catholics have today "even if she did experience labor pains, that's really no big deal", is something new to Catholicism.

Another fruit of Vatican II?

9:24 PM  
Blogger Vir Speluncae Catholicus said...

Oops,

PS, if you think I'm off-base on this one, Paul... no problem. I'm comfortable with that. We've disagreed many a time in the past. And we'll probably disagree in the future (but not TOO often).

With that said, I think you're off-base on this one, Paul.

10:06 PM  
Anonymous Cajun Nick said...

VSC,

I saw the movie. I've left several posts on this topic at Jimmy Akin's site, saying that I didn't AT ALL see that it undermined the Church's teaching.

I also admit that it didn't edify our beautiful Marian teachings, either.

I saw it as more neutral, rather than taking a slant. Certainly, I did not see it "spitting in the face" of Church teaching. Nothing in the presentation showed that the director and actors TRIED to undermine Church teaching.

I give my full assent to the Church teaching about Mary not suffering labor pains. However, the Church doesn't teach that Mary didn't have to exert effort during delivery. She had to push. (Show me where the Church doesn't teach that the Blessed Virgin didn't to do that much.)

Just because someone exerts effort, doesn't mean that the person feels pain.

Imagine lifting your personal limit on the benchpress - just once. Do you have to push up, breathe hard, maybe even give a little grunt? Probably, yes.

All that effort, and when it was over, if someone asked you whether or not it hurt to make the press, would you say yes? Probably not.

Anyway, I didn't see any pain on the part of the Blessed Virgin Mary. So, I don't see where there is a problem.

But, then, maybe I, too, am off-base.

By the way, GEAUX TIGERS!!!

7:52 PM  
Blogger The Dreamer said...

I generally skip the USCCB ratings and head over to Decent Films for Stephen Greydanus' reviews.

http://www.decentfilms.com/sections/reviews/nativitystory.html

While he gave it an A-, I still after reading the review, decided it wasn't something for my children. Instead, my 6 oldest and I headed over to see Charlotte's Web. He gave is a B-, but my kids gave it a B+!

I'll wait for The Nativity Story to hit the top of my NetFlix que and review it with my wife. Maybe next year with our 10-and-up kids.

Pax et Bonum

11:49 PM  
Blogger Vir Speluncae Catholicus said...

But, then, maybe I, too, am off-base.

You just may be, Nick.

BTW, congrats on a well deserved win.

5:55 AM  

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