May 16, 2022
How a film about a man seeking stillness provides exactly that.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Greek Orthodox saints (we certainly weren’t before we discovered this film), St Nektarios is quite a famous one — these days. Previously (both in his lifetime and for many, many years after), he was the opposite: shunned, slandered and despised.
The reason for this was simple: he was a holy man. Holy in the truest sense of the word: humble and kind, generous to the poor, slow to anger, patient in poverty — a man who sought the presence of God more than he sought wealth, favour, or titles. Naturally, the people (this was late 1800s Cairo, Egypt) loved him. And sadly, his ambitious religious superiors couldn’t understand him, and grew jealous.
He practiced asceticism, specifically hesychasm, which is a type of monastic life in which practitioners seek divine quietness (Greek hēsychia) through the contemplation of God in uninterrupted prayer. Such prayer, involving the entire being — soul, mind, and body — is often called “pure,” or “intellectual,” prayer, or the Jesus Prayer, which is a mental invocation of the name of Jesus Christ, considered most efficacious when repeated continuously. The most widely accepted form of the prayer is “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.” It reflects the biblical idea that the name of God is sacred and that its invocation implies a direct meeting with the divine.
We think it would be safe to say that there are a lot of people out there today who are hungry for this too — both those who are fully conscious of it, and those who are not — those who fill that hunger with other things, material possessions and human pleasures. Both were things that ascetics eschewed.
In Man of God, Nektarios can be seen repeating the Jesus Prayer most beautifully, in humility and solitude, and we also get to see how this divine quietness of spirit played out in his interactions with others. It is nothing short of inspiring.
Perhaps the most enjoyable part of the film in this sense, however, is the style. It’s almost as if the filmmakers wanted to lead us into divine quietness through the film itself. The colours are soft and low-key, the action gently-paced, the tone reflective.
It’s the kind of film where the very watching of it slows you down, detaches you from the subtle panic of unimportant things, and turns your heart towards deeper things.
Movies Change People, People Change the World.
That’s the kind of film that we can get behind. And when it’s a true story (we love true stories) about someone who lived a truly inspiring life, then we are definitely on board.
Man of God is coming to cinemas around Australia and New Zealand on JUNE 2.
For a current list of where it will be playing, go HERE.
If you can’t find a cinema near you and think your friends or community would appreciate it, it’s very easy to organise your own screening, simply gather a group and contact your local cinema.