Sister Judy - Nun NicerWednesday, March 04, 2015
This blog will be a two-part one. To compensate for the second part, heavy on Catholic Church Doctrine, mostly very boring for those who like pictures but don’t read, the first part is going to be a fun sort of “who done it?” kind of part. Both blogs are about the opening night play, Sister Judy, Wednesday night at the Arts Club Theatre’s Review Stage on Granville Island. Sister Judy was directed by Patrick McDonald and the play was written by Shawn Macdonald. The go-between was Rachel Ditor.
After the charmingly challenging play I located that expert on marsupials and opera, Peter Cathie White, Executive Director of the Arts Club Theatre Company. I told him, “You are going to like my blog on this play. I have a photograph of three women and one of them is the father of Lili Beaudoin (Ruth in Sister Judy).” White who to his defense we must add that he is an Australian, replied, “What’s that, can you repeat that?” Below is the photograph in question.
|Lili's father with Lois Anderson & Manon Beaudoin - King Llyr|
|Lili with Colin Heath, Manon Beaudoin, Dorea Beaudoin & Camille Beaudoin.|
|Lili Beaudoin, Jenny Wasko-Paterson, Mike Wasako & Shawn Macdonald - March 4, 2015|
The Boring Part II
I must reveal that I obtained a very good liberal; there is such a thing, Roman Catholic education in my youth, in Austin, Texas!
Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore,
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.
Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived:
How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed.
What God's Son has told me, take for truth I do;
Truth himself speaks truly or there's nothing true.
Adoro te devote, Saint Thomas Aquinas
Last night my wife Rosemary and I were witness to a play, written over 8 years by local thespian Shawn Macdonald, Sister Judy in which truth was at stake and by the end of 85 minutes I would guess that truth won. If it didn’t and I have my doubts it brings to me the idea that blind faith is blind and with just a touch of reasoning (call that doubt) faith renewed is the best of all faiths.
In fact Sister Judy is that kind of play with lots of substance whose appearance, a deft Who Done It? (and I will not reveal nor even hint of it here) does not distract on the least on from the fine acting our senses reveal to us.
This is so because crucial to the play is the doubt that suddenly hits Mike Wasko who plays a priest, a very contemporary one. It seems that one day he is unable to say Mass.
Mike Wasko’s priest Frank teaches English Lit at what must be a Catholic university in Eastern Canada. He is friends with a Benedictine nun, Judy, played by Jenny Wasko-Paterson who teaches history (she works back from Constantine the Great on all things Jesus Christ and Church Doctrine). Into the mix we have a young first year college student, Ruth played by Lili Beaudoin who is in Sister Judy’s class. The combination of the three, a caustic mix is the play.
Father Frank cannot say Mass. He tells Sister Judy over a weekly (Friday evening) chat at her office (she keeps a fine bottle of single malt in her desk drawer) that he no longer can believe in the magic words he utters at Mass. Ruth tells Judy that Christ and the crucifixion were a myth with no actual historical proof. It is here where the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist becomes crucial and most important evidence to a resolution of the play.
The magic words in question are “Hoc est corpus meum” (this is my body) which when the priest utters them at Mass, with the intersession of God, the wafer in his hand becomes the body of Jesus Christ and the wine in the chalice the blood.
Before the play opened I located playwright Shaw Macdonald sitting at the back row. I wished him luck but warned him that since I was well taught about Church Doctrine and theology by Brother Edwin Reggio,C.S.C. (the same order, Congregation Of Holy Cross Priest, nuns and brothers teach at Notre Dame in Indiana) I was going to be checking for any inaccuracies!
Everything in the play would have passed muster (nihil obstat) by Brother Edwin except for the statement that Frank makes ,”I cannot see how those at Mass will believe that it is supposed to be the body of Christ when I say the magic words.”
I was plenty wrong about that and Macdonald plenty right.
Very important in magic are the words hocus pocus. If you think that expression might have come from a distortion of “hoc est corpus” you would be absolutely right!
We Roman Catholics call that mystery Transubstantiation and Sister Judy would tell you that if you do not believe in it you are under the pain of an eternity in hell.
Of that mystery St. Augustine wrote:
"Christ was carried in his own hands when, referring to his own body, he said, ‘This is my body’ [Matt. 26:26]. For he carried that body in his hands" (Explanations of the Psalms 33:1:10 [A.D. 405]).
My very Catholic grandmother told me this story when I was a little boy:
St. Augustine was walking on a beach when he spotted a small boy running into the water and then running back to pour the scooped sweater from a seashell into a hole in the sand. After various trips Augustine inquired. “I am emptying the sea into the hole.” Augustine pointed out that this was an impossibility. The little boy uttered this and then vanished, “It is far easier to empty the sea into the hole than to figure out what is currently running through your mind.”
Enough of all this theology! But not quite. To me Sister Judy represents a sort of rock of immobile stability (St. Peter the rock upon which Christ built his church?). From two sides she is accosted by doubters (Frank and Ruth). Sister Judy (perhaps with the help of a generous Zinfandel) seems to be impervious to it all and plays the charming nun to the hilt (in my Catholic boy’s school experience I met many). Mike Wasko, even in uncomfortably tight jeans, plays the priest I would confide all my sins to. Meeting up with the charming Lili Beaudoin back stage gave me a good idea that all that angry (most believable) was acting after all. I didn’t dare ask her if all those tattoos were real.
Sister Judy is the perfect play for Lent. The idea of fasting and staying away from the good stuff (booze and sweets) for 40 days came to us (so my Anglican wife Rosemary told me) from Christ going into the desert after being baptized. In the desert he was tempted and promised all by the devil. Christ resists and the rest is a history that Ruth would say never happened. Judy plays a steadfast Christ figure, who loves, listens and tellingly, finally loses her temper once. If during Sister Judy - A Love Story (it is advertized as that) you wonder about Sister Judy talking about loving Jesus and wanting to get closer to Him you might want to know the curious fact that nuns wear a wedding band. When they take their final vows and become nuns they become brides of Christ and are given the gold band.
For those who do not believe but doubt I can only say that St. Thomas, the Apostle of “doubting Thomas” fame was not rebuffed by Christ for his incredulity. Christ said to him:
Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed [are] they that have not seen, and [yet] have believed. John 20:29.
And these doubters can enjoy this sober (but still funny) play as one that is not a musical (seen before in Broadway or the movies) but is a work written by an intelligent man with supreme good taste that will challenge their thought process all the way to the end. The cast is perfect and Sister Judy as played by Jenny Wasko-Paterson and playwright Shawn Macdonald should both get a Jessie Richardson award.
If God exists.