Loss, Grief, Anger, Forgiveness? All are processes. You don't wake up one morning, decide to forgive, and then it's over. You forgive, fall back into anger, and then do it again.
There may be cathartic moments, but the grief continues.
Relationships are built in grief, not outside of it. In anger, not outside of it. The opposite of love is not hatred; it is indifference.
That's part of what you learn from the movie Mass. It's one of the best movies of 2021. Kevin Fallon of The Daily Beast introduces the movie this way:
Mass is a volcanic, unflinching depiction of four parents navigating the unthinkable. Years before, Linda and Richard’s (Reed Birney) son opened fire on his classmates at his high school, before going to the library and taking his own life. Gail and Jay’s (Jason Isaacs) son was one of the victims.
Neither couple is certain what they’re after by participating in this meeting. Forgiveness? Acceptance? An explanation? Their lives are forever tethered. Maybe conversation can do something for their grief, the pain that has overwhelmed their lives in so many different ways.
In the spiritual alphabet of humanity offered by Spirituality and Practice, "F" is for forgiveness and "C" is for connection. You'll see both in Mass. But you might want to add some other letters: "P" for persistence amid irresolvable pain. And "Q" for questions that never get answered.
And you'll get new ears for Silence, too. Not the contemplative silence of closeness with God, but the silence of so much pain you can't find words for it.
Mass is an unforgettable depiction of people who have had to endure unspeakable tragedy, apart yet together. The film does offer hope. There's some reconciliation at the end. Blest be the ties that bind. But it is not hope of the adventurous kind. It is more like a tragic hope, a tragic beauty, in which sadness and pain are never lost, but somehow endured by true grit and divine grace, woven together in tears, partly shared with one another and also shared (I believe) with an eternal Companion to all who suffer.
In Christianity a religious Mass is an activity in which people experience the presence of God through acts of praise, lamentation, confession, promise, tragedy, and joy. A Mass is a coming together of many human emotions, all present to the eternal.
In the movie Mass there's also a coming together, but not in a way that belies the crosses of life by hiding in Easter Sunday. The movie is about coming together on a good Friday, with people who cause you pain, all the while hoping for a hint, a taste, of resurrection, but not expecting one that will, in the words of the Book of Revelation, wipe away all tears.
If the history of the universe somehow ends with pure joy where all tears are wiped away, this Mass is not that end. This Mass is more honest, more human, more poignant, and more painful. And maybe, in that kind of way, more Christlike. God doesn't become flesh to get rid of flesh. God becomes flesh to partake of the agony and poignancy of terrestrial life, apart from which there is no heaven. God is in the ties that bind, whether beautiful or painful or both. God is in the relations.
- Jay McDaniel, 5/9/2022