Lights, camera, altar

Lights, camera, altar

A Pennsylvania Catholic church is transforming itself into a theater to show The Passion of the Christ.

Troy Waligura of WAVE Systems of Uniontown explained how the company will convert the church into a theater.

“We have permission to pipe and drape the entire altar. We will build walls out of curtains,” he said. “We will have a 9-by-12-foot rear projection screen with an LCD projector.

“We’ve never done anything like this before,” Waligura added. “But basically a church is built with everything focusing on the center. It looks like it will come out well. We’ll be tied into their sound system and bring other speakers, so it will be a full theater experience.”

Yeah, everything focuses on the center because that’s where the Eucharist is. I do have a problem with this because I think there’s a real danger of confusion. The church is a sacred space where the Sacrifice of Calvary is memorialized every day, but what they’re doing is setting it up as a space where a fictionalized presentation of the Sacrifice of Calvary will be shown instead.

Hey, I’m a fan of the movie, but this goes directly to some people’s criticism of it, that a realistic portrayal of the Passion will cause people to confuse the movie with reality. I think making the same place where you celebrate Mass into a movie theater adds to that tendency.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
17 comments
  • I’m not sure I would call The Passion of the Christ “fictionalized”, but didn’t Catholic churches used to have passion plays each Holy Week?  I doubt they were ever held in the main sanctuary, but I might be wrong about that.

  • By definition, if it’s not a documentary, it’s a fictional account. It does not strictly adhere to the Bible and no first-person accounts were used to make it. There are things in there that come from the imagination of the filmmakers or others.

    That’s not a criticism, just an acknowledgement of the reality.

    I’d prefer Passion plays not to be in the sanctuary either, but even then there is a qualitative and substantive difference between the interaction with live actors and watching a celluloid representation. Ask anyone who’s acted on stage and on screen. Or anyone who’s seen a play and a movie, for that matter.

  • There is an additional concern to what Dom has indicated (which I agree with, btw).

    The concept of a “worship space” being made available for artistic performances is very much a part of the agenda of the church redesigners ala Richard Vosko.  It is very much a part of the agenda of those promoting Gaia worship (see Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York.—Consider the antics of a Matthew Fox/Rave Mass.)  This will suit the purposes of the liturgical dancers to a “T”.  Using TPOTC as an introductory event to begin this metamorphosis of the church is diabolically clever.  Dom has bravely spoken out against it.  How many more will remain silent because after all “It’s the Passion movie, for goodness sake!”

  • My vote is for Passion Plays and plenty of them (preferably with simultaneous exposition of the Blessed Sacrament) ….the apostate liberals already have had had their way with churches for 40 years… this’ll be a way to counteract the denial of the real presense of Christ. Not surprising this is going on in PA.

    In the Philippines people allow themselves to be actually nailed to a cross…they have medical personnel on hand and use sterile nails…

    This is what Catholic cultures do …

    This type of activity would counteract the Diversity Ministry/Celebration of Single Motherhood/Inclusivness Conferences that gets doped out in Worcester Diocese.

    The Sanctuary as worship space disappeared the day the altar rails went into the dumpster.

  • They don’t nail themselves to the cross in the sanctuaries of their churches.

    Just because liberals have had their way with churches doesn’t mean we should feel free to misuse them too.

    Have Passion plays and show the movie, but do it in the appropriate venue. The sanctuary of a church is for the worship of God, not for entertainment or performance, no matter how much good will is involved. That’s the lesson liberals have not learned and something I would thought the more orthodox would have.

  • Isn’t it true that when a church is dedicated, it becomes a space reserved for sacramental services only, and that to use the church for ANY other event requires that the dedication first be undone?

     

  • Can. 1220 rl>
    67.115.86.87
    2005-03-01 10:14:19
    2005-03-01 14:14:19
    Guys ‘n gals, don’t you know that the re-presented sacrifice of Calvary isn’t enough for the Church?  Where’s the relevance?  The drama?  The entertainment?  The popcorn vendor?  And—omigosh—isn’t *The Passion of the Christ* both relevant AND religious?  I suppose now you’re going to start saying that Jim Caviezel looks less like Jesus than the Host does.

    I’m with Dom, Carrie et al.  Diabolically clever is right.  When I lived in Montreal in the late 80s, the stupendously beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral had already been morphed into a jazz hall and opera house.  Oh, and they had something called a “mass” (sp) there sometimes, too, but from photos it seemed comparatively boring.

  • Dom,

    A video message from the bishop would not be a performance

    I’ll say. I saw the thing 7 times. (rimshot)

    It’s still setting up a movie screen and running a projector and interrupting the Mass w/ a cheesy video production, w/ crappy background music, even if it is the bishop. And it looks like a 10 minute movie, not a homily.

    But this Friday w/ have some teen performers doing a play about Jesus the Healer in the church. And I probably will not attend.

    I’m saying I was raised that you don’t do these sort of things in the church building. And if you have a play or a movie or a concert, you repose the Blessed Sacrament in another chapel.

  • As the coordinator of the event in question I must say that I understand and respect most of your comments. Though it likely will not totally satisfy your conserns the Blessed Sacrament will be repose in another chapel. As for using churches and chapels for these kind of events it has been customary in many areas. Think of the countless guest speakers, concerts and recitals that have been held in churches. I think the most important thing to keep in mind is the pastoral needs of the community and thus you make your decision on if you would use your church or not for this type of activity.

  • While I would have a problem with many concerts, recitals, and speakers as well, It hink there is a qualitative difference between the physical presence of someone versus the showing of a movie, a phantasm of a person, if you will.

    It’s good that the Blessed Sacrament will be removed to another chapel, and that at least the movie is not just some mindless entertainment. Still, I worry that suing a church, which is supposed to be set aside for worship, rather than a hall sets a bad precedent in people’s minds.

    At least reassure me that you’re not selling snacks and drinks.

  • No Drinks, No Snacks!!

    An introduction at the beginning of the evening as well as a written program will be distributed asking people to remember that they are present in a church and that they are still asked to act in a reverent manor.

  • Matthew,

    You’ve made me feel better about it because it’s obvious you want people to be reverent. May I ask why the film isn’t being shown in a church hall or some other venue? Is one not available?

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