Of all the movies I’ve ever watched in my life, ‘Going My Way‘ may be the single most influential for me.
If you’ve never seen it (and please, please tell me that you have), it was made back in 1944 and told of a young priest (Bing Crosby) who’s brought in to help save an ailing parish and its elderly pastor (Barry Fitzgerald). That year it was the highest-grossing picture, was nominated for ten Academy Awards, and won seven…including Best Picture.
Wow, how times have changed.
Today this film is often rejected for being too schmaltzy, and certainly too “pro”-Catholic Church. Of course, when compared to the way the Church is portrayed in cinema and on TV these days, I guess that last criticism must be true. Think about it: it actually shows priests tending to their community, telling jokes and being all-around decent human beings.
By the time I was 9-years-old I had all the songs in the movie memorized and wanted nothing more than to be a funny, singing priest like Crosby’s Father O’Malley (minus the straw boater, perhaps). Obviously, that didn’t end up happening for me, but I’ve kept my faith & reverence for the Church, and ‘Going My Way‘ was a not-so-insignificant part of that.
I mention all this because our culture today seems to be running full-tilt AWAY from such positive portrayals in movies of Christian faith, or even faith in general, …unless your ‘faith’ is in Global Warming or some such thing. Even worse, tragedies like abortion continue apace, and there can be no doubt that religious liberty itself is under serious threat both here and abroad.
These are troubling times for all Christians.
But all is not lost, at least to my eyes. As a practicing Catholic, I’m heartened by the modern-day Father O’Malleys that I’m seeing come out of seminaries. They aren’t the priests from ‘The Da Vinci Code‘: they’re joyful, happy warriors who fully realize what they’ve signed up for, and are excited about the challenge. My parish has been blessed with two recently, and both are impressive in their faith, humor and humility.
Work took me to a Seminary several times in the past year or two, and I can tell you firsthand: high-caliber candidates for the priesthood are currently the rule rather than the exception.
Our good friend James over at Biltrix posted a cleverly entertaining video from a seminarian a couple months back. In it, the soon-to-be priest asks for your prayerful support for him and ALL of his classmates as they go about preparing for their vocations to Go God’s Way.
I would echo his plea: these men certainly need our prayers, and our world most certainly needs them.
My only question is: I wonder if this young man has learned “Swingin’ On A Star” yet?
From Ed over at HotAir, looks like I’m not the only one who has observed a change in the newest group of priests on the horizon:
“Ashley McGuire, senior fellow at the Catholic Association, says to expect the next generation of Catholic priests to be different from their recent predecessors. After a long fight over abortion, and now the government intrusion of the HHS mandate, the seminaries are seeing an upswing in traditionalists and conservatives — perhaps more than anything seen since Vatican II….”