Thursday, August 04, 2005

Roma Victor!

Mark Mossa, SJ of You Duped Me, Lord has found another awesome vocation poster. His readers have also engaged in quite a discussion on whether or not these posters are appropriate or not. Some think the posters may do more harm than good:
Okay, I think I've officially gotten old. I wasn't terribly impressed with these posters. And though I enjoyed both the movies being referenced, I have to ask about the link between priesthood and characters whose use of brutal violence is central to their "vocation." And what is the vision of priesthood being communicated? The lone spiritual warrior? Is that going to attract men who will be capable of leading and forming communities of Christian discipleship?
Others think the marketing has merit:
I can see where Peter is coming from with the violence angle. But look at the posters. The Gladiator priest isn't holding a sword (I actually can't tell what he's holding the picture is so small.) and the Matrix Priests' weapon is ...a Rosary. That's what makes these visuals so compelling for me. The weapons for these spiritual warriors are spiritual.

I have done some reading on various priests' and seminarians' blogs where they are concerned about effeminacy spreading in the seminary. I think that the other message that these posters convey is that priests are Men, not, for lack of a better term, girly men.

Full disclosure: I loved both films and have seen them ad naseum. Having said that, I love the idea of using the characters in posters to promote vocations. I'll address the posters one at a time, beginning with the Neo poster.

First of all, Neo from the Matrix is definately a Christ figure in the movie. Secondly, as a messiah, he comes to a people in bondage to bring them to freedom. Creation is not the enemy in the movie; the guilded cage of the mind is what enslaves humanity. When one considers the symbolism of Neo--apart from the violence that he enacts--then it's clear that the priest insert becomes a compelling one. As a Catholic ordained to become in persona Christi, A priest comes to all of us to lead us to freedom in Christ.

Maximus from Gladiator is also an appropriate icon for the priesthood. Again, look at the Character's symbolism within the film. Maximus is the dedicated servant. Even when he's a slave that fights for his life in the Colleseum, he remembers the dream that is Rome. He schemes with Senator Grachus and the corrupt Emperor's sister to depose the usurper. In the end, he fights the villain to save his sister's son. He models fidelity and sacrifice. Aren't these characteristics we admire in good priests?

I believe these posters can go a long way to helping our dysfunctional culture re-envision who a priest is. I'm looking forward to seeing more.