Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Fr. Joe Saw "Don Jon"

Don Jon can't hang on the bar like Jesus can!
I saw Don Jon last week. And liked it.

It had lots of nudity. Foul language. Drugs. Sex. Drinking. I wouldn't recommend it to everyone and I even told my friend Fr. Scott that he'd end up burning his eyes out if he saw even the first minute what with the t and with the a and the girls and the chika-pow-wow.

So, this is not an endorsement.

But I liked it.

Here's what I liked.

Although it had some over-the-top cartoonish representations of the Church and Catholicism, it spoke to a very real attitude some of us Catholics have concerning sin.

I've searched online for this little graphic that appeared at the end of the movie. I finally discovered it on a trailer made for television:

I'm just guessing but it seems that there's a cross, a heart and a repeat symbol. Which is one of the big themes in the movie. Spoilers ahead....

Jon's life is so regimented that sin is part of his everyday life. Jon lists his priorities as: My body, my pad, my ride, my family, my church, my boys, my girls, and my porn.
With that pattern, Jon goes out on either Friday nights (or Saturdays-not sure if Jon is a Saturday vigil guy or not), parties with his friends, picks up girls, has sex with them and, more times than not, goes online and completes his evening by, to use the old term, self-pleasuring himself.
Sure. He can be signing up for Obamacare...

This is a common scene in the movie. Then it is followed by Jon (nicknamed Don Jon) hurrying to his Catholic Church to go to Confession so he can receive Communion. The priest varies the number of "Our Fathers" and "Hail Marys" according the number of times Jon committed fornication or self-pleasuring.

The symbols of cross, heart and repeat seem to say that Jon gets faith, gets some love and then repeats the process. I translate it as the old familiar: MESS UP, FESS UP, CLEAN UP (repeat).

We mess up. We commit sins that we know are wrong but out of weakness, we do it anyway. Pornography and masturbation are incredibly rampant sins with the overabundance of electronic devices that can access porn sites anywhere. In the movie, Jon is watching porn on his cellphone while waiting for a class to begin. Not that that ever can happen in real life, can happen in real life.
We mess up. We use our bodies. We use others. We tend to allow the selfish self-directed sexual acts to pervert us.

ScarJo's selfie is better than yours.
Then we fess up. We go to Church and confess our sins. We recognize our helplessness and weakness. We admit our sins. We get absolved.

We are cleaned up. We are in a state of grace. We have freedom from our bondage to sin. Things are good. We kneel in prayer. We listen at Mass.

Then we leave the Church, check our cellphone to see what's going on Facebook....

And repeat.

The conclusions of Don Jon concerning the selfishness of sex and redemption aren't perfect and, in my opinion, a little hurried.

For the Catholic, to be caught in a "sin-cycle" of Mess-Fess-Clean Up isn't what being a Christian is about. We should recognize that even when absolved of sin, we can still be prey to sin. We are not protected from evil. We are given the grace to stand strong and avoid temptation.

In the act of Contrition, we say that we want to stay away from "whatever leads me to sin". So that means we have to know our own weaknesses. Drinking make you more pliable? Don't drink. Facebook stalking lead to...well...feeling like a stalker? Don't go there. And so on.

We're going to mess up. For sure. But we shouldn't make a habit of it.

Make a habit instead of fessing up! Daily admit that you are a sinner in need of God's mercy. Confess that you don't have the strength to handle all the devil throws at you.

Then take care of the things you can- your body, your boys, your girls, your ride- and let God take care of the things he can.
Since the priest is celebrating the Mass Ad Deum, he can't see this!
Starting the day with prayer is a good remedy against sin and it makes Confession, when we do sin, more effective against the sin-cycle.

And concerning the Church in the movie? The priest was sort of sucky. He wasn't a good Confessor. He did seem to celebrate Mass Ad Deum, though. Odd. We priests just don't throw out litanies of penances to show how good your doing. Penances are given to help your soul. But so is counsel.

In our out of Confession, priests are here to help.

We help you not to depend on thing things you call your own that own you (your girls, your ride, your porn). We remind you that you are God's. And it's better to be God's and at his service than to believe he is yours to be used so you can go through the cycle.

Now, my next issue is the sister in the movie texting during Mass....not that you'd do that.....