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compassion international

November 06, 2008

(Please don’t forget to visit Nick’s blog)

This is our last day in the Dominican Republic. Tomorrow morning we will head for the airport and from there we will fly for home, leaving the developing world and returning to the developed world. As much as I’ve enjoyed this experience, I can’t deny that I’ll be glad to be home. I’ve been to many homes here in Dominican Republic but I don’t know if I’ll remember any of them more vividly than Julia’s house. I wrote about Julia yesterday, describing the kind of poverty she had experienced as a girl—poverty that forced her to wear a borrowed dress just to have her photo taken for Compassion’s sponsorship program. Now a university student as part of Compassion’s Leadership Development Program, tears spilled from her eyes as she remembered the shame of poverty. Today Julia lives in a slightly nicer home—though dark and musty and sad by our standards, it was positively luxurious compared to many we saw and compared to what she had known as a child.

tears.jpg

We sat in Julia’s living room, on benches and chairs and the floor, and asked her mother about what Compassion meant to her, having seen it support two of her girls. She had no words. Tears filled her eyes, and ours. I guess words really weren’t necessary. We asked Julia about her sponsors and she told us of Roger, the sponsor in New Zealand who had supported her from age six all the way through her graduation from the Sponsorship Program. For twelve years Roger had supported her, written her cards and letters, sent her gifts, and even written her asking for advice on whether or not he should ask his girlfriend to become his wife! For twelve years he had prayed for Julia and she for him.

“What would you tell him if you could talk to him?”

“I love you so much. I still read your letters and cards and still have the pictures you sent to me!”

“What does Roger mean to you?”, we asked.

“He is my superhero.”

A superhero. It was not the only time this week I heard the word. For all the talk of the extraordinary men and women who have made such a difference in the lives of children, when I went to the homes of the girls and they proudly showed off the letters and photos they had received, the sponsors, whether from America or New Zealand or anywhere else, looked awfully ordinary to me. And I guess this is what Compassion is looking for. They aren’t looking for the rich and the famous, the notorious or the renowned. They are looking for ordinary people to play an extraordinary role in the lives of children who so desperately need help. They’re looking for a few ordinary superheroes.

I’ve been here for four days now and have seen Compassion in action. I’ve seen women being trained in how to care for their children. I’ve seen projects where the children receive an education and receive the good news of Jesus Christ. I’ve seen future leaders who are attending university through the Leadership Development Program. I’ve seen a water filtration system built to supply an entire neighborhood—thousands of people who drink water that leaves them with fungi and lesions—with pure, clean water. I have met Compassion staff who were sponsored children themselves and who are now dedicating their lives to serving children through the organization that so ably served them.

I came to Dominican Republic on something of a fact-finding mission. I do not sponsor a child. I’ve thought about it many times, but have never had confidence that Compassion is what they claim to be. But having seen it in action, I now have no doubts. I’m willing to stake my reputation on it. When I get home we will be visiting the web site as a family to choose at least one child to sponsor. Frankly, I’d like to have each of my kids sponsor one child (though I still need to talk this over with Aileen!). Compassion is all that they claim to be—more even. They were true to their word and allowed me to open every filing cabinet, look behind every door, and so on.

Today I want to encourage you to consider sponsoring a child. You know the pitch—for the price of a cup of coffee a day you can make the difference in the life of a child. I know now that this isn’t just idle talk. You really can (and will!) make a difference. But don’t just sponsor a child—write to him, have your children write to him, pray for him, send him a birthday gift. These things will get through to him, they will mean the world to him, they will change his life.

Click Here To Get Started

November 05, 2008

Have you ever looked through the photos of children at Compassion’s site or at a table at a concert and wondered why sometimes five or six girls are wearing the same dress? It’s not a school uniform and is not a particularly nice dress, so why are several of the girls wearing it? Today I found out why. With tears of shame, even fifteen years later, Julia (pronounced “HOO-lia) sobbed her story. She had been born in such poverty that when, at age five, Compassion had taken her photograph in the hopes that they would be able to find a sponsor for her, she had no clothes she could wear in that photograph. And so she huddled in a bathroom naked with eight other girls while they waited their turn in the dress. One by one they put it on, faced the camera, and then took it off and returned to their tattered clothes. Today Julia, vivacious and hilarious, broke down as she remembered the shame of poverty. Today Julia, a university student and participant in Compassion’s Leadership Development Program, helped showed me how Compassion defines success.

Compassion’s child development model has three core programs. We saw the first of these on Monday in the Child Survival Program which helps children from before their birth up through their third birthday. We saw the second of these on Tuesday in the Child Sponsorship Program. This is the program Compassion is best known for as it connects one sponsor with one child. Today, Wednesday, we saw the third one of these in the Leadership Development Program. This is the program that accepts graduates from Child Sponsorship who display exceptional leadership potential. These young people receive a university education and leadership training that helps them become leaders within their church and within their communities. And so, in these three days, we’ve seen the broad sweep of what Compassion does and how it works with children from before they are born all the way through their university graduation. It takes children who would otherwise have very little opportunity and sets them up as future leaders. It ends the cycle of poverty by equipping children to be productive members of society.

Our day began with a visit to another one of Compassion’s Santo Domingo projects. Here we were greeted as we have been greeted each day—with a program of music, prayer and Scripture. It seems clear by now that music is an integral part of Dominican Christianity. Most of the songs seem to be simple but to contain great truths; most are accompanied by loud clapping and joyful praise. We accepted an invitation to the project’s office and here we were shown the project’s records—ledgers, records of attendance, and so on—everything they could do to give us confidence that they are faithful stewards of the gifts God has given them. I paged through the ledger for some time, doing currency conversions in my head and expressing amazement that they can do so much with so little. We visited some of the classrooms, slipping in and sitting down among the children (and in my case even being expected to participate in a lesson on the Good Shepherd).

But the day’s main attraction was meeting two of the students of this project who are currently part of the Leadership Development Program—Julia and Mariolvis. Both girls had grown up in the neighborhood and both attended the church associated with the project. Both had been sponsored from a young age. Each of them shared her story, telling of fathers and siblings who had died, of extreme poverty, but of the joys of attending the project and of graduating to the Leadership Development Program. We toured both of their homes—homes that in any context but what we saw yesterday would have been shocking—meeting their mothers and their siblings, admiring their academic accomplishments and expressing joy at their graduation photographs.

Someone asked the questions that always arise: “Did you have a sponsor?” “What were their names?” “Did they send you letters?” In both cases today, the girls were sponsored, knew the names of their sponsors and told of the letters, cards and gifts they had received. Mariolvis, was asked what it meant to her to be part of the Leadership Development Program. With joy she said it meant the world to her, but it was her next words which grabbed me. “The Lord was hiding that gift from me,” she said. It was a gift God held back until the proper time. God has blessed her so richly, calling her out of the hopeless life awaiting her and freeing her from the cycle of poverty. Now Mariolvis is studying marketing at a local university and is actively involved in evangelism there. She thanks God for Compassion, aware of the life-changing impact it has had on her. She thanks God for his hidden gift to her.

And this must be the question Compassion has to answer all the time. What happens when sponsorship ends? What happens when a child gets too old to be sponsored? What does success look like to Compassion? From what I learned today, I’d say that it looks like this.

Mariolvis

Here are some more photos from today:

November 04, 2008

(When you’re finished here, please visit my son Nick’s blog at challiesjr.com.)

I must have met 100 children today; 200 maybe. I had children touching my skin, poking my nose, grabbing my ears, hanging off my back, arms and shoulders, poking their hands into my pockets and asking, always asking, to have their photo taken. I shot photo after photo of children posing for the camera, smiling and giving a thumbs up or “rabbit ears.” I’d show them their photo on the little screen on my camera and they’d laugh and point and run to fetch their friends. It’s a trick that didn’t ever seem to get old. We were in this small batey to see Compassion’s largest program—the Child Sponsorship Program.

As we did yesterday, we did two home visits today. We dropped into the homes of some of the children who are sponsored by Compassion International. Here we saw abject poverty—a different kind of poverty than we saw the day before. A shocking, terrible, unjust kind of poverty.

We arrived just after nine at a batey well outside the city limits of Santo Domingo. A batey is a plantation and in this case a sugar plantation. The people living there are perhaps not quite slaves but neither are they free. While I was not able to figure out the exact circumstances in this particular batey, a typical story goes like this. A man is wooed from Haiti and convinced to move to Dominican Republic where he will work at a plantation and improve his lot in life. The situation in Haiti is so desperate that many are unable to resist. But when they and their families arrive, they find that they’ve been lied to. They have revoked their Haitian citizenship and are unable to qualify for Dominican citizenship. As non-citizens, they have no real rights. And so they find themselves working at bateys, living nearly as slaves. Their wages are very low. They are forced to buy everything they need from company-owned stores that charge exorbitant rates. Soon they are in debt, unable to leave but unable to make a living by staying. They may live out their lives in this state of constant injustice. And all the while they are employed (or is it owned?) by American-owned companies—maybe the company which sold you your last bag of sugar.

The homes are tiny and dirty and decrepit. Many are falling apart but the company refuses to fix them. When asked about this, I heard one woman say, “Promisa, promisa, promisa.” The corporation promises, but never delivers; the poverty continues. In the first home we met an old grandmother who had ten children of her own and who had taken in several of her grandchildren after their mother had died. In the second home we met a mother and grandmother and watched their boys play together with my Nick. In both cases, these families had a child sponsored by one of our group. The second grandmother, who looked impossibly young to be a grandma, was asked about her hopes and dreams for the future and she had little to say. She had dreamed of being a doctor or a psychologist in her younger days, but her hopes had been shattered. Now she lives on this squalid batey. I don’t think she dares hope any longer.

Yesterday I said that Compassion is in the business of stories—of writing stories through the lives of children. But today I saw that they are also in the business of giving hope. By meeting the needs of these children they are offering hope. In the midst of this sad little batey in a small and overlooked corner of the Dominican Republic I saw hope. I saw a school teaching children to read and write and to think bigger than the life they’ve always known. I saw children whose physical needs were being met, who were being told of a God who loves them, who were being educated and who are being given the skills they’ll need to make a real living. In the midst of dirt tracks running with refuse, in the midst of trash being picked through by mangy dogs, in the midst of such poverty; in the midst of all of this, I saw hope. If you look at these photos, maybe you can see it too (RSS subscribers will need to click through to see the slideshow):

November 03, 2008

I’m writing this morning from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. As you know, my son and I are here with Compassion International to see how they serve God by serving this nation. From now until Thursday we will be touring the country and seeing Compassion’s work among its people. We will be busy all day and writing in the evenings, so, as a break from the usual routine around here, I’ll be posting later rather than earlier. In just a few minutes we’ll be meeting up with the rest of the team and, as I understand it, taking a look at one of Compassion’s Child Survival Programs. Stay tuned this evening and I’ll be sure to tell you all about it.

July 17, 2007

Tuesday July 17, 2007

Interview: Sinead O’Connor has a new album, “Theology,” that she says is based on the Old Testament (and that is being pitched to Christians). Christianity Today has an interview with her. “I also feel that Jesus is inside everybody. It’s almost like an energy or a thing that lives inside of us.”

Blog: Phil Simpson is currently writing a biography of Jeremiah Burroughs (and, as I understand it, still needs a publisher!) and has just created a Jeremiah Burroughs site. “I hope you will find many things on this site which will help you to know God better, love Jesus Christ more, and glorify Him in practical ways.”

Art: ReformationArt has a sale on prints of five great reformers.

Music: The shortest concert ever.

August 21, 2005

“Move over, politics. Americans are looking for personal, ecstatic experiences of God, and, according to our poll, they don’t much care what the neighbors are doing.” So says Newsweek in the first line of the feature article in the latest issue of the magazine. I think it would be safe to say that many professed Christians are seeking the same. “ ‘Young people got tired of hearing that once upon a time people experienced God directly,’ says historian Martin E. Marty of the University of Chicago. ‘They want it to happen for themselves. They don’t want to hear that Joan of Arc had a vision. They want to have a vision.’” Many forms of religion are only too happy to provide that type of experience. The article goes on to point to Catholicism, Buddhism, Islam, Kabbalah, Wicca and Pentecostalism. Each of these is able to provide the type of ecstasy that Americans are seeking after.

On one hand it is exciting that Americans are seeking after a personal experience with the Divine. That is an experience that Christianity can and does provide. Christianity is the first faith that offered a personal experience with God - to know Him in a deep, intimate personal way, and at the same time to be known by Him. It may not be exactly what people expect, but as long-time believers we are prone to forget just how powerful an experience it is to be indwelt by the Spirit of God.

What Christianity cannot truly provide is the type of ecstatic experiences many people desire. Christianity is a religion where we are never encouraged or expected to take leave of our senses. The ecstasy that is found in the techniques of Eastern meditation or in the wild dancing and yelling of pagan religions is completely foreign to the Bible. And yet many Christians try to blend religious experiences. The article mentions Ron Cox, a New Yorker who left his Southern Baptist Church and tried and rejected Hinduism and Buddhism before experiencing a Pentecostal worship service. “he was trans—fixed by the sight of worshipers so moved by the Holy Spirit that they were jumping, shouting and falling to the floor in a faint. Soon he, too, was experiencing the ecstasy of the Holy Spirit. Once, it seemed to lift him right out of his body: ‘I felt the Spirit come upon me, and it was an overwhelming presence. It was bliss. I thought only 10 or 15 minutes had passed, but three hours had gone by. And I remember just shouting, ‘Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah!’ ‘” This type of experience may be produced in the name of God and with fleeting reference to the Bible, but this is not what God desires of us.

In our day it is increasingly important that we know what God expects and allows in worship. He has not kept silent when it comes to his expectations of our worship. The Bible is filled with godly wisdom that instructs us how we can worship Him in spirit and truth. Let’s not lose sight of this as our culture becomes increasingly desirous of experience that we cannot provide if we are to remain faithful to our Guide.

The article concludes with the type of line we have come to expect in a postmodern society. “So let us say together: Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! Sh’ma Yisrael. Allahu Akbar. Om. And store up the light against the darkness.” After all, Americans agree that all (or most) roads ultimately lead to the same destination. And they are right: most do. Thankfully, God has seen fit to show us the one road, the narrow road, that runs straight to Him.

You can read Newsweek’s article here.

August 09, 2005

It is a mild, grey morning at the cottage. My daughter is still asleep, so I have been unable to dial-up and do my twice-daily email check (that’s about all I do when I’m on vacation). So I’ve been passing the time by looking through directories of old articles. Among these I found the four articles that kick-started this site back in 2002. “Calvinism vs Arminianism” is dated October 10, 2002. “Mother Teresa” is dated October 28. Those articles were posted back when this site was only a repository for family photographs. Almost a year passes before it becomes a blog. A few months later there are articles about the band Evanescence and another examining my own propensity for evil. Those articles were really my first attempts at putting pen to paper, so to speak, and posting public articles. In October of that year I decided to get serious about blogging and haven’t missed a day since November 1, 2003.

There is one other article I found that I’m quite sure I never posted. But it seems that it was an important one in my spiritual development at the time. This was a time when I was considering walking away from the Reformed faith. Reformed was all I had known, yet I had begun attending a non-Reformed church and had seen a faith that I considered more active and more exciting. My wife and I began, pragmatically, I suppose, to wonder if being Reformed was a spiritual liability.

And so I wrote an article I entitled “Losing My Religion.” I am almost embarrassed posting it because it is somewhat private, but at the same time I found it interesting. I need to reflect on how successful I was in losing my religion. I have only vague memories of writing the article, but know that it came at a time when I began to “backwards engineer” my faith. This is a term I often used at the time and described the process of trying to dismantle my beliefs, bit-by-bit, to try to understand what was mine, what was tradition, and what was biblical.

And so I give you, without any further commentary, “Losing My Religion.”

Pronunciation: ri-‘li-j&n
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English religioun, from Latin religion-, religio supernatural constraint, sanction, religious practice, perhaps from religare to restrain, tie back — more at RELY
Date: 13th century
1 a : the state of a religious a nun in her 20th year of religion b (1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2) : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance
2 : a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
3 archaic : scrupulous conformity : CONSCIENTIOUSNESS
4 : a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith
- re·li·gion·less adjective

Is it not true that everyone in this world is searching for a system of beliefs to which they can subscribe with scrupulous conformity? And do we not all wish to have a cause, principle or system of belief to which we can hold with ardor and faith? Based on such a drab description it is no wonder that so many people in our society are abandoning religion. There are some who are comforted by holding to an institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs and practices, but certainly the general public is turning its back on just such a portrayal of religion. And who can blame people for running away from beliefs so stagnant and dreary?

The Christian faith, which our society is so quickly abandoning, should be much more than a commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance. A religion based upon scrupulous conformity is destined to lead to legalism. Legalism, in turn, binds us to a reliance on our own abilities to find purpose and meaning in life.

Jesus was a perfectly sane man. Would it be sensible to suffer and die to save the world from sin and to deliver God’s people from the clutches of the Law in order to institutionalize a system of restraints and constraints? No! Faith, true saving faith, provides freedom. It provides joy and it provides pleasure. As Christians it becomes our joy and our delight to find pleasure in God. It is only in Him and through Him and ultimately through a restoration of a relationship with Him that we can find freedom. We are set free from the ties that have bound us and are allowed to experience true communion with our Creator.

I believe that every Christian has, within him, some religion. Within each of us there is desire to conform to an institutionalized system of beliefs. Sometimes we all prefer to be constrained rather than allowing ourselves to really be set free.

And so I am losing my religion. It is difficult to do. In many cases certain tenets of my religion have been with me since I was old enough to understand anything. Others have crept in somewhere along the journey and have wormed their way into the core of my being. Such beliefs are difficult to root out, and as a matter of fact, are difficult even to see within myself. Yet I am confident that with honest and deliberate self-examination I will be able to find them, contain them, and eradicate them.

I refuse to live a life bound by the bonds of religion. I want a faith that is living and breathing, a faith that wrap itself around every part of my life.

Life is far too short to miss the real thing.

February 28, 2004

The Passion of the Christ has been described by Protestant leaders as being �factually accurate,� �very accurate [in the details],� �realistic,� �biblical,� �an accurate account,.� �a true representation of Jesus� and �close to the Scriptures.� All of these quotes were taken from The Passion Outreach Web site, a resource dedicated to helping churches of all denominations capitalize on this movie. This movie is continually described as an exceedingly accurate portrayal of the gospel account of the passion of Jesus � an account that transcends denominations.

Mel Gibson has repeatedly acknowledged that He drew inspiration for The Passion of the Christ both from the gospels and from the writings of Anne Catherine Emmerich. He respects her to such an extent that he carries an Emmerich relic in his pocket at all times. Most Protestants pastors and leaders admit that Gibson has taken �artistic license� at times, but by reading Emmerich�s book The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ we will see that much of what is perceived as artistic license is actually following the words of Emmerich. It seems that it is impossible to reconcile Emmerich and the Bible. The movie must either follow the Word of God or the words of a human. Though the two seem to complement each other at times, far more often they contradict. A staunch Roman Catholic and devotee of Mary, Emmerich adds situations and theology which stand in direct contrast to the beliefs Protestants should hold dear.

Why?

Before we begin this examination I would like to answer the question of why I have decided to present this information. Certainly this could be construed as an attempt to just be critical for the sake of being critical. It could be seen as an attempt to lower other people�s perception of a man who claims to be a Christian. It could be seen as an attempt to discredit this movie.

I present this information for the sake of sharing what is true and what is false in this movie. This movie is being presented as truth, yet much of it is error. I seek to expose what is truth and what is error so people who see the movie can understand what parts of the story truly happened and are therefore important and part of the story of the Savior�s death. At the same time I wish to show which parts are inspired by false revelation supposedly revealed by God almost two thousand years after the writing of the Bible. The error adds elements to the story that detract from God�s glory and Christ�s purpose in suffering and dying.

Brief Biographical Sketch of Anne Catherine Emmerich

The following information is drawn primarily from the Catholic Encyclopedia. It is evident that her abilities are fiction, yet the Encyclopedia teaches they are fact.

Anne Catherine Emmerich was an Augustinian nun, stigmatic and ecstatic who was born in 1774 and died in 1824. She was forced to work from an early age and after a difficult twenty eight years of life entered the Augustinian convent at Agnetenberg, Dulmen. She soon began to display strange powers and ecstasies. Her convent was closed in 1812 and she was forced to find refuge in a poor widow�s house. In 1813 she became bedridden. It was during her long illness that her supernatural abilities became popular knowledge. Some of these abilities included conversing with the child Jesus, predicting future events, having knowledge of other people�s diseases and prescribing remedies that never failed. She soon experienced the stigmata with which she suffered for many years. In 1819 the poet Klemens Brentano visited her and she asked him to write down the many visions God had given her. In 1833 the “The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to the Meditations of Anne Catherine Emmerich” was released followed in 1852 by “The Life of The Blessed Virgin Mary.”

Six weeks after her death a rumor surfaced that her body had been removed from its grave. She was disinterred and it was discovered that her body had suffered no decay.

Emmerich�s visions are considered by the Roman Catholic Church to be private revelations and not public revelations. Therefore, not all Catholics are required to believe them and the Church has no official position on their accuracy or truth. They are widely accepted amongst Traditionalist Catholics and relatively unknown to other Catholics.

Emmerich�s Influence in The Passion of the Christ

The following table details many of the scenes in the movie that are not described in the Bible and shows, where I have been able to find out, where the inspiration came from. This is not an exhaustive list of all the extra-Biblical material presented in the movie.

The Passion of the Christ

The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Satan torments Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane

Chapter 1, pages 100-102

But Satan, who was enthroned amid all these horrors, and even filled with diabolical joy at the sight of them, let loose his fury against Jesus, and displayed before the eyes of his soul increasingly awful visions, at the same time addressing his adorable humanity in words such as these: ‘Takest thou even this sin upon thyself? Art thou willing to bear its penalty? Art thou prepared to satisfy for all these sins?’”

Mary wakes up, sensing Jesus’s arrest

Chapter 1, page 116

During this agony of Jesus, I saw the Blessed Virgin also overwhelmed with sorrow and anguish of soul, in the house of Mary, the mother of Mark. She was with Magdalen and Mary in the garden belonging to the house, and almost prostrate from grief, with her whole body bowed down as she knelt. She fainted several times, for she beheld in spirit different portions of the agony of Jesus.”


Chapter 11

THE Blessed Virgin was ever united to her Divine Son by interior spiritual communications; she was, therefore, fully aware of all that happened to him—she suffered with him, and joined in his continual prayer for his murderers. But her maternal feelings prompted her to supplicate Almighty God most ardently not to suffer the crime to be completed, and to save her Son from such dreadful torments.”

Soldiers throw Jesus off a bridge

Chapter 3, page 131

I saw our Lord fall twice before he reached the bridge, and these falls were caused entirely by the barbarous manner in which the soldiers dragged him; but when they were half over the bridge they gave full vent to their brutal inclinations, and struck Jesus with such violence that they threw him off the bridge into the water”

Jesus’ abuse when before the priests.

At this answer of Jesus the countenance of Annas flushed with fury and indignation. A base menial who was standing near perceived this, and he immediately struck our Lord on the face with his iron gauntlet, exclaiming at the same moment, ‘Answerest thou the High Priest so?’ Jesus was so nearly prostrated by the violence of the blow, that when the guards likewise reviled and struck him, he fell quite down, and blood trickled from his face on to the floor. Laughter, insults, and bitter words resounded through the hall. The archers dragged him roughly up again, and he mildly answered, ‘If 1 have spoken evil. give testimony of the evil; but if well, why strikest thou me?’”

Flashback: Jesus, as a young carpenter, is at home with Mary


During court scene, Mary prays, “It has begun Lord. So be it.”


After thrice denying Jesus, Peter runs to Mary, weeping and calling her, “Mother.”

Chapter 11, page 165

Mary approached him instantly, and said, ‘Simon, tell me, I entreat you, what is become of Jesus, my Son !’ These words pierced his very heart; he could not even look at her, but turned away, and again wrung his hands. Mary drew close to him, and said in a voice trembling with emotion: ‘Simon, son of John, why dost thou not answer me?’—‘Mother!’ exclaimed Peter, in a dejected tone, ‘0, Mother, speak not to me—thy Son is suffering more than words can express: speak not to me!’”

Mary walks about the now-emptied courtyard and then falls with her face pressed to the floor, directly above the cell in which Jesus is imprisoned

Chapter 11, page 166

John, therefore, led her and the holy women to the front of the prison where Jesus was confined. Mary was with Jesus in spirit, and Jesus was with her; but this loving Mother wished to hear with her own cars the voice of her Divine Son.”

Satan and his minions torment Judas

Chapter 5, page 144

I beheld the traitor, Judas Iscariot, wandering about, alone, and a prey to the tortures of his guilty con-science; he feared even his own shadow, and was followed by many devils, who endeavored to turn his feelings of remorse into black despair.”

An effeminate Herod is depicted amidst cushions

Chapter 20, page 194

Herod was expecting them. He was seated on a pile of cushions, heaped together so as to form a species of throne, in a spacious hall, and surrounded by courtiers and warriors.”


Chapter 20, page 195

the luxurious and effeminate prince turned away in disgust, uttered the name of God, and said to the priests in a tone of mingled pity and contempt, ‘Take him hence, and bring him not back into my presence in such a deplorable state.’”

Herod calls Jesus a fool and commands that Jesus be given a fool’s homage

Chapter 20, page 197

But he spoke in the most contemptuous manner to Jesus, and turning to the guards and servants who surrounded him, and who were about two hundred in number, said: ‘Take away this fool, and pay him that homage which is his due; he is mad, rather than guilty of any crime.’”

The scourging scene is very similar to that written by Emmerich. Jesus is scourged against a pillar in the center of a courtyard. The scourging culminates with the use of chains with barbs that tear chunks off his back. Jesus is then rotated so the soldiers can scourge the other side. Mary is prominent throughout the scene as if exhorting Jesus.

Chapter 22, page 206

This pillar, placed in the centre of the court, stood alone, and did not serve to sustain any part of the building”


Chapter 22, page 206

Jesus trembled and shuddered as he stood before the pillar, and took off his garments as quickly as he could, but his hands were bloody and swollen. The only return he made when his brutal executioners struck and abused him was to pray for them in the most touching manner: he turned his face once towards his Mother, who was standing overcome with grief; this look quite unnerved her: she fainted, and would have fallen, had not the holy women who were there supported her.”


Chapter 22, page 208

Two fresh executioners took the places of the last mentioned, who were beginning to flag; their scourges were composed of small chains, or straps covered with iron hooks, which penetrated to the bone, and tore off large pieces of flesh at every blow. What word, alas! could describe this terrible—this heartrending scene!

The cruelty of these barbarians was nevertheless not yet satiated; they untied Jesus, and again fastened him up with his back turned towards the pillar. As he was totally unable to support himself in an upright position, they passed cords round his waist, under his arms, and above his knees, and having bound his hands tightly into the rings which were placed at the upper part of the pillar, they recommenced scourging him”


Chapter 23, page 211

I SAW the Blessed Virgin in a continual ecstasy during the time of the scourging of her Divine Son; she saw and suffered with inexpressible love and grief all the torments he was enduring.”

During the scourging scene, Mary says, “My son, when, where, how will you choose to be delivered from this?”


Pilate’s wife hands white linens to Mary, who uses these to wipe Jesus’s blood from the floor

Chapter 23, page 211

I saw Claudia Procles, the wife of Pilate, send some large pieces of linen to the Mother of God.”


Chapter 25, page 218

Then it was that the Mother of Jesus, accompanied by the holy women, approached the pillar and wiped up the blood with which it and the ground around were saturated.”

Flashback: Mary Magdalene recalls Jesus preventing her from being stoned and writing on the ground (this is a misusage of John 8:1-11; the woman in this passage was never named)


Jesus prays, “I am your servant and the son of your handmaid.”


Jesus falls multiple times while carrying the cross (These correspond to the 3rd, 7th, and 9th Stations of the Cross. “The Stations of the Cross are a popular Catholic devotion. Each of the fourteen stations stands for an event which occurred during Jesus’ Passion and death at Calvary on Good Friday. A person making the Stations Of The Cross is to meditate about each event depicted at each station, and pray.”

Chapters 31-33

Mary meets Jesus while on the way to Golgotha (4th Station of the Cross)

Chapter 32

Then came her beloved Son. He was almost sinking under the heavy weight of his cross, and his head, still crowned with thorns, was drooping in agony on his shoulder. He cast a look of compassion and sorrow upon his Mother, staggered, and fell for the second time upon his hands and knees. Mary was perfectly agonised at this sight; she forgot all else; she saw neither soldiers nor executioners; she saw nothing but her dearly-loved Son; and, springing from the doorway into the midst of the group who were insulting and abusing him, she threw herself on her knees by his side and embraced him. The only words I heard were, ‘Beloved Son!’ and ‘Mother!’”

Flashback: Mary remembers a time when Jesus (as a child) fell and she came running with outstretched arms


The scene in which Simon of Cyrene is pressed into service is very similar to that written by Emmerich. One of Simon’s children is present. He is initially reluctant, exhibiting great disdain towards Jesus. Simon soon after experiences a change of heart.

Chapter 33

At this moment Simon of Cyrene, a pagan, happened to pass by, accompanied by his three children. He was a gardener, just returning home after working in a garden near the eastern wall of the city, and carrying a bundle of lopped branches. The soldiers perceiving by his dress that he was a pagan, seized him, and ordered him to assist Jesus in carrying his cross. He refused at first, but was soon compelled to obey, although his children, being frightened, cried and made a great noise, upon which some women quieted and took charge of them. Simon was much annoyed, and expressed the greatest vexation at being obliged to walk with a man in so deplorable a condition of dirt and misery; but Jesus wept, and cast such a mild and heavenly look upon him that he was touched, and instead of continuing to show reluctance, helped him to rise, while the executioners fastened one arm of the cross on his shoulders, and he walked behind our Lord, thus relieving him in a great measure from its weight”

Veronica wipes Jesus’s face (6th Station of the Cross; the cloth with the bloody face imprinted in it is now a relic)

Chapter 34

Seraphia was the name of the brave woman who thus dared to confront the enraged multitude; she was the wife of Sirach, one of the councillors belonging to the Temple, and was afterwards known by the name of Veronica, which name was given from the words vera icon (true portrait), to commemorate her brave conduct on this day.

Seraphia had prepared some excellent aromatic wine, which she piously intended to present to our Lord to refresh him on his dolorous way to Calvary. She had been standing in the street for some time, and at last went back into the house to wait. She was, when I first saw her, enveloped in a long veil, and holding a little girl of nine years of age whom she had adopted, by the hand; a large veil was likewise hanging on her arm, and the little girl endeavoured to hide the jar of wine when the procession approached. Those who were marching at the head of the procession tried to push her back; but she made her way through the mob, the soldiers, and the archers, reached Jesus, fell on her knees before him, and presented the veil, saying at the same time, ‘Permit me to wipe the face of my Lord.’ Jesus took the veil in his left hand, wiped his bleeding face, and returned it with thanks. Seraphia kissed it, and put it under her cloak. The girl then timidly offered the wine, but the brutal soldiers would not allow Jesus to drink it.”

The scene of Jesus and Simon of Cyrene is very similar to that written by Emmerich. Simon threatens to stop helping if the soldiers continue in their cruelty, saying that he will do so even if the soldiers kill him. Simon then places Jesus’s arm across his shoulders, supporting him.

Chapter 35, page 243

Their cruelty to Jesus so exasperated Simon of Cyrene that he at last exclaimed, ‘If you continue this brutal conduct, I will throw down the cross and carry it no farther. I will do so if you kill me for it.’”


Chapter 35, page 244

Jesus was on the point of again falling, but Simon, who was behind, perceiving that he could not stand, hastened to support him; he leant upon Simon, and was thus saved from falling to the ground.”

The scene in which Jesus is nailed to the cross is very similar to that written by Emmerich. After the first hand is nailed, Jesus’ other arm is stretched out with a sickening crunch to reach the hole provided for the nail. The soldiers also subject Jesus to more agony as they stretch his body out to the wooden footrest that they placed too low.

Chapter 38, page 250

The Blessed Virgin stood motionless; from time to time you might distinguish her plaintive moans; she appeared as if almost fainting from grief, and Magdalen was quite beside herself. When the executioners had nailed the right hand of our Lord, they perceived that his left hand did not reach the hole they had bored to receive the nail, therefore they tied ropes to his left arm, and having steadied their feet against the cross, pulled the left hand violently until it reached the place prepared for it. This dreadful process caused our Lord indescribable agony, his breast heaved, and his legs were quite contracted.”


Chapter 38, page 251

The executioners had fastened a piece of wood at the lower part of the cross under where the feet of Jesus would be nailed, that thus the weight of his body might not rest upon the wounds of his hands, as also to prevent the bones of his feet from being broken when nailed to the cross. A hole had been pierced in this wood to receive the nail when driven through his feet, and there was likewise a little hollow place for his heels These precautions were taken lest his wounds should be torn open by the weight of his body, and death ensue before he had suffered all the tortures which they hoped to see him endure. The whole body of our Lord had been dragged upward, and contracted by the violent manner with which the executioners had stretched out his arms, and his knees were bent up; they therefore flattened and tied them down tightly with cords; but soon perceiving that his feet did not reach the bit of wood which was placed for them to rest upon, they became infuriated. Some of their number proposed making fresh holes for the nails which pierced his hands, as there would be considerable difficulty in removing the bit of wood, but the others would do nothing of the sort, and continued to vociferate, ‘He will not stretch himself out, but we will help him;’ they accompanied these words with the most fearful oaths and imprecations, and having fastened a rope to his right leg, dragged it violently until it reached the wood, and then tied it down as tightly as possible. The agony which Jesus suffered from this violent tension was indescribable; the words ‘My God, my God,’ escaped his lips, and the executioners increased his pain by tying his chest and arms to the cross, lest the hands should be torn from the nails. They then fastened his left foot on to his right foot, having first bored a hole through them with a species of piercer, because they could not be placed in such a position as to be nailed together at once. Next they took a very long nail and drove it completely through both feet into the cross below, which operation was more than usually painful, on account of his body being so unnaturally stretched out”

As the cross is lifted up, Mary opens fists, releasing pebbles she had been holding (perhaps in a gesture of surrender)


Jesus is depicted as having long hair and being generally pleasing to the eye

Chapter 41, page 257

The complexion of our Lord was fair, like that of Mary, and slightly tinted with red; but his exposure to the weather during the last three years had tanned him considerably. His chest was wide, but not hairy like that of St. John Baptist; his shoulders broad, and his arms and thighs sinewy; his knees were strong and hardened, as is usually the case with those who have either walked or knelt much, and his legs long, with very strong muscles; his feet were well formed, and his hands beautiful, the fingers being long and tapering, and although not delicate like those of a woman, still not resembling those of a man who had laboured hard. His neck was rather long, with a well-set and finely proportioned head; his forehead large and high; his face oval; his hair, which was far from thick, was of a golden brown colour, parted in the middle and falling over his shoulders; his beard was not any great length, but pointed and divided under the chin.”

Mary begs, “Flesh of my flesh, heart of my heart, my son, let me die with you.”

Chapter 43, page 259

the Blessed Virgin, filled with intense feelings of motherly love, entreated her Son to permit her to die with him”

A soldier is showered by Jesus’ blood after piercing His side

Chapter 48, page 276

He seized his lance and rode quickly up to the mound on which the Cross was planted, stopped just between the cross of the good thief and that of our Lord, and taking his lance in both hands, thrust it so completely into the right side of Jesus that the point went through the heart, and appeared on the left side. When Cassius drew his lance out of the wound a quantity of blood and water rushed from it, and flowed over his face and body. This species of washing produced effects somewhat similar to the vivifying waters of Baptism: grace and salvation at once entered his soul. He leaped from his horse, threw himself upon his knees, struck his breast, and confessed loudly before all his firm belief in the divinity of Jesus.”

Jesus’ body is lowered by the soliders and other men

Chapter 48, page 285

Then Joseph and Nicodemus, having placed ladders against the front of the Cross, in a very upright position, and close to the body, untied the upper strap, and fastened it to one of the hooks on the ladder; they did the same with the two other straps, and passing them all on from hook to hook, caused the sacred body to descend…”

Jesus’ body is lowered into Mary’s arms and the camera focuses on Mary in the “Pieta pose” before panning and fading out (this suggests Mary as a co-redeemer)

Chapter 50, page 285

When the body was taken down it was wrapped in linen from the knees to the waist, and then placed in the arms of the Blessed Virgin, who, overwhelmed with sorrow and love, stretched them forth to receive their precious burden.”


Chapter 51, page 286

THE Blessed Virgin seated herself upon a large cloth spread on the ground, with her right knee, which was slightly raised, and her back resting against some mantles, rolled together so as to form a species of cushion. No precaution had been neglected which could in any way facilitate to her—the Mother of Sorrows—in her deep affliction of soul, the mournful but most sacred duty which she was about to fulfil in regard to the body of her beloved Son. The adorable head of Jesus rested upon Mary’s knee, and his body was stretched upon a sheet. The Blessed Virgin was overwhelmed with sorrow and love. Once more, and for the last time, did she hold in her arms the body of her most beloved Son, to whom she had been unable to give any testimony of love during the long hours of his martyrdom. And she gazed upon his wounds and fondly embraced his blood-stained cheeks, whilst Magdalen pressed her face upon his feet.”



Sources:

Emmerich, Anne Catherine. The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Read It Online

I am indebted to a brother in Christ for doing much of the comparison between the movie and Emmerich’s book.

�I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book.� Revelation 22:18

February 10, 2004

Newsweek is featuring a cover article on The Passion of the Christ in their current issue. You can read the full text of the article here. From a Christian perspective the article shows terrible theology and a view of the Bible that strips it of its inspired origin. Though deeply flawed, the article makes for an interesting read. An example:

Amid the clash over Gibson’s film and the debates about the nature of God, wheth-er you believe Jesus to be the savior of mankind or to have been an interesting first-century figure who left behind an inspiring moral philosophy, perhaps we can at least agree on this image of Jesus of Nazareth: confronted by violence, he chose peace; by hate, love; by sin, forgiveness—a powerful example for us all, whoever our gods may be.