Posts Tagged ‘Jeor Mormont’

We began by looking at the heroic likeness between veterans and priests, and then proceeded to examine the reflection of priestly spirituality in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings.”

Here are two additional works of art in which we get a glimpse at priestly heroism:

2. Game of Thrones

Jon-Snow-Jeor-MormontFor me, the “Night’s Watch” along Westeros’ Great Wall has an obvious connection with the priesthood.  Did author George R.R. Martin intend this?  Can’t say…but I know he was raised Catholic, and I’m sure the Marists who were responsible for his early education must have at least given him the “raw material” for this part of the story.

Here we have men who forgo the lives of husbands and fathers, leave their natural families behind, and together form a new family with a common purpose: Defending the Seven Kingdoms against supernatural enemies in which no one any longer believes (probably as a result of the complacency that has developed out of the safety they have enjoyed so long because of the Watch’s protection).  In the extreme cold of the North, deprived of common comforts and, for all intents and purposes, almost forgotten, they persevere in the face of dangers both natural and supernatural, and on their watch the Seven Kingdoms are kept safe.

One of my favorite scenes from the first season of the HBO series occurs in one of the last episodes.  Novice Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) attempts to leave the watch in order to help his brother, Rob Stark, in his battle against a usurper king.  Jeor Mormont (James Cosmo), the Lord Commander of the Watch, confronts him with this question: “Is your brother’s war more important than our war?”

He goes on to ask what difference it would make “who sits upon the Iron Throne” when the supernatural threat stirring in the North came upon the world.  Their war, like the war of our priests and of all believers, is with supernatural powers that stand outside the ages and threaten us all.

St. Paul puts it this way:

For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. (Ephesians 6:12)

3. The Exorcist

max-and-miller-andsoitbeginsfilms-comFinally, we must look at what is arguably the most favorable portrayal of the priesthood in Hollywood in the last 40 years — a portrayal that occurs in what is arguably the most frightening movie of all time: William Friedkin’s adaptation of William Peter Blatty’s “The Exorcist.”

Most people hear “The Exorcist” and think of Regan MacNeil, the sweet-little-girl-turned-green-vomit-spouting-demon-possessed-monster.  But I think too few of us pay attention to the role of the two priests who drive the demon out of her: Fr. Merrin (Max von Sydow) and Fr. Damian Karras (Jason Miller).

SPOILER ALERT: Both priests die in the exorcism process (not unheard of, believe it or not).

Even prior to this, we see those heartbreaking scenes in which the demon torments Fr. Damian with the guilt and memory of his recently deceased mother.  (Indeed, that is something anyone who would participate in an exorcism is advised to be aware of.  The devils can read our thoughts, and they know our secrets.  Anyone directly involved in the exorcism process is fair game for this kind of thing.)

And then, at the end of the movie, freed from possession and ready to begin life anew with her mother, Regan encounters a priest in the street…and gives him a kiss on the cheek.  She realizes all too well that the collar is the mark of a brave and selfless warrior.

I want to make it clear that I am not in any way trying to take attention away from our military veterans.  By comparing our priests and our veterans, I only want to point out one of the many demonstrations of how the Church, while transcending history, nevertheless takes its place within history, uniting Herself to the world in its joys, hopes, sorrows, and struggles.

With these joys, hopes, etc. in mind, let’s end with this video:

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