Christ on the Cross by Velazquez

Call me a big-time Catholic loser, but when some friends got together on Palm Sunday to watch “The Passion of the Christ” for the second time, I didn’t show up. You see, the sad truth of the matter is this: I couldn’t get through it the first time I tried to watch it.

I thought about it a quite a bit after that first attempt and felt really bad. So many people told me it was a wonderful movie, and an important one. But after much reflection, I finally realized that if I had been alive during the time that Christ lived –and had been there the day he was brutally whipped and mocked and spat upon — I would have turned away, covered my face and wept.

I wouldn’t be able to witness the brutalization of anyone I love, especially if there was nothing I could do to stop it.

So that one time I tried to watch the movie with my husband, I found it impossible to keep my eyes open. I just couldn’t bear to see Christ’s open wounds, his blood and his tears. I am pretty sure that I saw about 15 minutes total of the entire movie, and even that was so upsetting that I was despondent for days.

I realize this makes me a wimp because I know plenty of people, good solid Christians, who watched the film more than once. But the truth is this: If I had actually been among the crowd watching the Lord Jesus Christ being nailed to the cross on that dreadful day long ago, I would have turned away. I just couldn’t bear to see him suffer.

My cowardice doesn’t mean that I don’t love him. He already knows that I do.

Lorraine’s latest book is “Death of a Liturgist,” a mystery. She also is the author of “The Abbess of Andalusia,” a biography of Flannery O’Connor from a Catholic perspective.

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