“Only the penitent man will pass” – The Last Crusade
My favorite Indiana Jones movie is the The Last Crusade and the tests came to mind recently when I was thinking ofwhat was blocking my path to holiness. The answer was inspired with the memory of one of the tests that Indy passed before he could get to the Holy Grail. I eventually concluded that it would be interesting to review the tests and see what instruction I could glean from them. Finding glimmers of God in pop culture is fun. Oh, it kind of goes without saying but spoilers of the movie follow.
The first test is the Breath of God and only the penitent man will pass. Now if you remember from the movie this test had saw blades come out from the walls and the floor in to decapitate or bisect our favorite archaeologist. And if you remember our favorite archaeologist genuflected and bowed his way out. Then used his whip to stop the traps from springing again. It occurred to me that I was not being as humble in my prayer life as I should, that I was not going beyond saying the words but also acting on them. In the season of Lent we are called to repent, turn away from the world, and look towards God. One of the traditional ways in which we do this is prayer. By praying we humble ourselves in the presence of God. By praying we acknowledge our desires and then turn them over to God. And if we do not pray, if we do not humble ourselves, we submit ourselves to sin and the wages of sin is decapitation (or bisection if the weather permits).
Prayer can save us from sin. Not only ourselves but others, Indy wasn’t the only one saved by his act of penitence. His father was eventually saved and the Germans who followed were also saved. The worst kind of people can be shown the light by prayer; St Monica prayed so hard and so long, and eventually the prideful hedonist that was her son repented and became one of the greatest intellectual voices of the Church, St. Augustine of Hippo. Our repentance has deep repercussions, not only for ourselves but for others. Many of us (myself included) start the path of repentance because of our fear of hell. But the best motive for repentance is the same one that Indy had, Love, love for his father. In the same way Jesus ventured out into the desert for forty days out of love for His father. And we enter Lent out of love for Our Father. The first thing we must do is heed the cry of the wilderness “Repent!” and trudge in the desert in humility through these tests in our lives. For only the penitent man shall pass.
Joshua Fahey is a Chestertonian who loves a good pop culture reference that enlightens the path to God.