Watching Father Stu When Your Journey Ended Differently

“You have to learn the hard way how to live in the light.”

We watched the highly acclaimed film Father Stu via Amazon Prime, and it is the most riveting two hours I have witnessed in a long time.

It is film with, yes, generous portions of “colorful metaphors” the term Spock used regarding 1970s human behavior in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home”. Are they appropriate? In the movie, it is part of the vocabulary Mark Wahlberg’s character was exposed to, growing up; an example of unnecessary metaphors was the single expletive Jeremy Renner’s character unleashed in a pivotal scene in the outstanding science fiction film, Arrival.

But to the story. It is one person’s journey, not unlike our own, with our own history, its highs and lows, celebration and grief, negative behaviors and out and out near fatal mistakes. In an important moment, Stu is near death, and sees the Blessed Mother. This directs his life to entering the priesthood. This is preceded by an important moment which I won’t give away. It is so striking, you almost miss it, but then you say “Yes, I understand-I get it”. Stu misses it, but as he recovers from a serious injury, he remembers, and tries to find out who he talked with at a bar. The bartender says he doesn’t know, but you will; Stu does, eventually.

Stu has to uncouple so many parts of his past life yet confront the consequences when he does. The exchanges between his girlfriend, and with his father (played amazingly by Mel Gibson) lay that out, plainly. To do what God calls us to do will be learning “the hard way”. Some decisions seem like a piece of cake, but how difficult they can be.

When we must disconnect from “the old ways”, are we running away or running towards what God wants from us? I well recall having to face that decision nearly 50 years ago, on a summer night at a camp in Upper Michigan with what I knew was a message as I decided whether to continue my journey as a Dominican monk, or be in the world. I know I was directed to lift someone and help them move on from a devastating loss to new life. I realized to be “in the light,” I had to follow God’s call and move ahead. It was a sleepless night, but I greeted the dawn with a full heart, knowing His love enveloped me as I decided to “move back” into daily life in the world.

We leave Stu’s final journey with faith, hope, and love.

May our daily journeys find us open to living in the light, the light of God’s love.

Michael Throop