Thus it is with a deep sense of joy I have been following the build-up to Michael Sheen's appearance in The Passion, a theatrical production taking place in Port Talbot over the Easter weekend.
For more info visit the National Theatre of Wales website.
It's funny because I can recall travelling through Port Talbot, as a child in the 70s, and thinking this was a place from hell. The sulphurous plumes, the yellow sky, the stench, and at night you would see the flames from the works. The smell above all else made me wonder who could live in the town, in close proximity to to those horrors. I can still remember looking at the serried ranks of houses with their washing on the lines and wondering if those clothes ever got fresh air to blow them clean, or would they too smell of sulphur and be stained yellow by the clouds belching out to the heavens.
That the same town should now be witness to Christ's Passion means that Salvation is possible even for the worst of us (town or human!).
Events like this are ever so important and having seen two Passion plays in recent weeks (one put on by the Clydach Catholic Church's parish members which tour many towns and cities, and one put on by our local junior school), it does remind you (and other members of the community - Catholic and otherwise) of the cost paid by Our Lord, the reason for His Incarnation, and the rejection, suffering, death and Resurrection which are all part of the Easter and Passion story.
An event of this magnitude, starring a 'famous' actor from Hollywood can only bring more attention to the Passion in Holy Week. I know Hollywood stars can rise and fall (witness Mel Gibson), but I'm not blind to the world - we all of us know that many people will be attracted to the message via a famous name, just as more people will go to a Clint Eastwood film than a Barry Dingle film (yes, I made that name up - please don't sue me Mr. Dingle, wherever you are!).
|Port Talbot's Steelworks|
So bravo to Mr Sheen for taking the plunge. Passion plays (whether sanitised or traditional) are never popular with the 'Islington elite' for various reasons and this all-so Catholic (in every sense) of occasions always strikes me as being the most at variance to the modern demand for inclusivity and false ecumenism (conversely whilst being the story of Redemption that is available to all).
In the week when a man is on the verge of being sacked for displaying a palm cross at work, on the weekend when Christ was cheered into Jerusalem as an all-conquering hero, we are reminded that Christ and His followers have much to suffer and have their crosses to bear, in witness of their Faith, in belonging to the Church that Christ established.
An event like this can only bring Graces to Wales, and help bring more Welsh people to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
That can only be a good thing! Thanks Michael.