Just as the title suggests, this was supposed to be a movie review. Yesterday I was given tickets for a screening of Restless Heart: The Confessions of St. Augustine,the first full length movie about the conversion and life of St. Augustine of Hippo. It seemed to be the perfect solution. I had been out of ideas for my upcoming blog post and figured that it was meant to be – I’d attended and watch the movie, come home and write up my thoughts about the actors, the plot, the cinematography and my overall opinion of the film.
If I did that, simply giving my remarks on it, I would be cheating the true impact of what happened when I was there.
First, St. Augustine’s Confessions was assigned reading for one of my classes in college – Social World. It was a class that viewed history and culture through the lens of philosophy. We read them all – Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Virgil and may others. We took turns debating what the truth (with and without the capital “T”) was, how it formed our laws and how it applied to us.
In a large group lecture one of the professors, who is Catholic, presented another way to view St. Augustine’s confession that was different than we had concluded. Instead of applying the traditional definition to the word conversion (something was once one thing and is now another) to look at is as a gradual turning towards something.
In the life of St. Augustine, there is a clear instant her refers to. He is meditating in a garden when he hears a child’s voice calling out to him to “Take and read.” As he picks up the Bible near to him, he chooses to covert to Catholicism. Although that is a very clear point in his journey, his conversion did not all happen there. There was a gradual turning of his soul away from his life for the pleasures of the flesh to a life deeply rooted in Truth and love. Even after his conversion he continued to seek the truth and spread the Word of God. A conversion is never finished – we must continue to turn towards Him and the Truth every day of our lives.
Halfway through the film there was a commotion in the middle section of the theater. The talking was just loud of enough to create a distraction but not enough to effect the entire crowd. Quickly I realized there was something wrong and all I could think of to do was pray. I closed my eyes and began to quietly pray a Hail Mary, an Our Father, anything and everything I could think of. Even the simplest petition: Jesus, Save Us.
Soon, the lights turned on as the paramedics entered the room with a stretcher and attended to the man. They didn’t tell us what happened. All I could hear was the paramedics asking if there was a history of medical complications. I was sitting in a room with 200 or so people, silent, unable to figure out what to do next.
As the paramedics continued to assist the man, a woman about five rows in front of the paramedics stood up and quickly announced that we’d pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. In an instant, a group of Catholics, all to see a movie, began lifting up this man – someone we didn’t even know – in prayer. It was something we could, somehow we could make a difference in what was going on.
Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase your Mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.
As we prayed, we could hear the paramedics and the stretcher leave the theater. When we finished the chaplet we closed with a sign of the cross and the movie began again. Ten minutes had passed. We spent the last ten minutes coming together through prayer as the Mystical Body of Christ.
Those ten minutes terrified me. And in those ten minutes, I turned to the only one who I could think of – God – what other choice did I have? I knew the man was in good hands – the paramedics responded quickly and were there to provide medical attention, but what if it hadn’t?
After the movie came back on I realized the great impact of what had happened. All of us, together in prayer, not so much more as the smallest bit alone than when we were before. As we are constantly turning towards him with everything we do he is constantly at our side revealing his unyielding love for us. Even in the scariest, unexpected times, he is there.