Yes. I’m well aware that I’m three months late to the trend. I have that mulish habit of rewatching TV series and films three times a month, but of course, no shame in that.
For people who haven’t heard of Midnight Mass, it’s a Netflix miniseries that revolves around a young man who returns to his isolated hometown on Crockett Island in the hope of rebuilding his life after serving four years in prison for killing someone in a drunk-driving incident. He arrives at the same time as a mysterious, charismatic young priest who begins to revitalise the town’s flagging faith. However, the community’s existing divisions are soon exacerbated by the priest’s deeds while mysterious events befall the small town.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I want to say that this commentary will contain spoilers. So if you haven’t watched it yet and are meaning to watch it, I recommend you watch the series first and then come back here.
Though most of the series was well received, there were still some complaints about the long, ‘unnecessary’ monologues, especially from the devout Catholics who titled it blasphemous. As a Catholic, I actually enjoyed this very much. It brought me a sense of familiarity, but it also made me slightly uncomfortable. As you know, Hollywood loves to exaggerate everything in the media. Often, when touching on subjects such as religion, they are untrue and quite stereotypical at most. But upon hearing the hymns and the sermons, it was scarily accurate. Characters such as Beverly Keane, Father Paul, Erin Greene, Riley Flynn and Sheriff Hassan were portrayed so accurately that it was so eerie.
For instance, in Book II: Psalms, Riley attends a one-on-one AA meeting with Father Paul. The way he engages with Riley is almost foreign, always trying to use the same religious language. As I am Judas Project mentioned in his YouTube video (“Ex-Catholic Priest Reacts to Midnight Mass”), ‘the priest is always up here, and brings people up to God… Father Paul always has some ulterior motive to draw Riley back into believing.’ He also stated how it seems like you cannot have a normal, human conversation with them as they try to make everything divine or something of a higher power.
I had a similar encounter when I was in secondary school. Considering that I was raised Catholic, it made sense for me to be in a Catholic school. In school, we had a deacon, and when there was no religious event of some sort, he would stroll around the grounds, greeting students and wishing them well. I’d pass by him in the corridor at times, and we’d talk. I remember confiding to him about some school troubles. You know, the typical ‘so stressed and so busy revising.’ He would reassure me at first, but he’d always have a way to link everything back to God.
“You’ll be alright, just don’t forget to pray to God because he will be there to guide you.”
“Everything’s going to be alright, but always remember to have time with God despite the pressures because it is God’s plan for you, and things will get better for you. Just believe and trust in Him.”
Although it is endearing at times, there are moments where I’d wish they’d just talk… No God involved, just thorough advice.
On the other hand, no matter how much people deny that there’s no such person as Beverly Keane in real-life and that she’s just exaggerated as a plot tool, the reality is people like Bev Keane do exist. The religious fanaticism and the ‘holier-than-thou‘ attitude, saying that she doesn’t judge but does precisely that. I wish I could tell you how many people I have encountered who are exactly like her, but there have been so many that I’ve lost count. She’s the prime example of someone who uses religion to harm someone, and she’s an example of justifying the bad things she has done with Bible verses instead of acknowledging that she’s in the wrong.
Either way, as much as I love to dissect every frame and scene of the series, it would take so much time for you to read. Besides, Midnight Mass is that type of series where you’d discover new things every time you rewatch it. For instance, in Book IV: Lamentations, Erin and Riley exchange ideas about what they think will happen after they die. Riley, with his scientific concepts – atoms, stars, and decaying cells – while Erin shares the typical ideology of a Christian’s ‘heaven.’ But at the end, when they both die, they experience the opposite of what they thought. Erin is with the stars and Riley with heaven.
Midnight Mass doesn’t only show the faults within the religious institution (aka the congregation itself, at least some). It also shows that we will continue not only to exist even after we die, but we will continue to be loved eternally, no matter what you think happens after we die. In addition, it also teaches us that it is not religion or the belief system that is bad; it is the people who use it for power and gain, especially if it involves hurting and shaming others.
Nonetheless, I hope you enjoyed reading this! And if you want to share more ideas about this series, comment down below! See you all next Wednesday!