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Lenten Reflections - Mary of Nazareth

A Film released by Ignatius Press and Carmel Communications
Release date: October 13, 2013
Available through private screenings at local theaters

One might not suppose that Mary of Nazareth would be a fitting reflection for the Lenten Season, however, the story of Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection began with the story of Mary, his mother, whose unshakeable faith in God accepted his will at all costs. The film “Mary of Nazareth” depicts the story of Jesus Christ’s mother from the time of her childhood until her Son’s resurrection from the dead. The film is shot in various parts of Europe and Tunisia and represents an authentic look at the woman who gave birth to the Son of God. Mary is beautifully played by German actress, Alissa Jung, and her performance helps viewers truly encounter the Catholic understanding of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The story begins with Mary’s life as a child at her home in Nazareth with her parents, Joachim and Anne, played by Italian actors, Roberto Citran and Antonella Attili. Mary is portrayed as a mysterious and loving child who grows into a beautiful and deeply spiritual woman. The storyline continues in the biblical narrative of her engagement to Joseph, played by Luca Marinelli, and their life together as the parents of Jesus Christ, played by Andreas Pietschmann of German theater. As the story progresses there are meaningful moments that demonstrate Mary’s role in the life of Christ and his mission of salvation – together, they fulfill God’s will, each in their own appreciable way. This film has its foundation in the Catholic devotion to Mary as the Queen of Heaven by demonstrating her impeccable example for us on earth in contrast to Queen Herodias (played by Antonia Liskova) whose efforts to subvert the God’s will are foiled. “For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction” (Psalm 1:6).
There is no doubt – this story is very sentimental, but it is told from Mary’s point of view. This perspective is a woman’s viewpoint which signifies the bond of love between a mother and her son. Sentimentality is born in the heart, not the mind and its thoughts, but the core of human love. As Scripture tells us, “…Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). A mother treasures the memories of her children and her relationship with them – not in her thoughts alone but with every beat of her heart.
“Mary of Nazareth” not only portrays the significant aspects of Jesus’ life and ministry, but it certainly deepens the story by revealing Mary's relationship with her son, with Joseph, with her own family, and with Christ’s followers. She personifies love, purely and completely. The thread that connects her to Jesus is deeper than mere human understanding. Two people sharing one heart, and that heart brings about God’s love for us. As brothers and sisters in Christ, all Christians share Mary as our own mother. If one did not understand the deep love Mary has for each one of us reflections on this movie may enlighten that understanding.
Lent is a very special season where, for forty days, we contemplate our relationship with God and work to strengthen it. We have many avenues at our disposal to help us grow closer to him in a bond of faith and love. “Mary of Nazareth” is a film that depicts, from a human standpoint, how to have a relationship with God – through submission of our will, through deep prayer and faith, through good works out of love for our neighbors, and through forgiveness.
Catholics are taught from our early catechism that we have been created to know, to love, and to serve God, and to accept his will for us. The Lenten Season affords us the opportunity to spend some time getting to know God a little bit better, to grow in our love for him, and to find ways to serve him. The story of Mary’s life is a testament to this human purpose. She was willing to accept God’s will at all costs and helps us each day to do so as well – even at our most difficult moments. She was there with Christ – she is there for us.
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