52 people, 52 fates, 52 stories with one thing in common: God. As a preparation to the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) a new series entitled He and I has been launched in the public media at Christmas. 52 people speak about their faith and do a testimony of faith and God – said Tünde Zsuffa to our newspaper.
The press officer of the Eucharistic Congress works together with the crew, thus she can directly see how everyday people open their hearts and speak about God with complete sincerity in front of the cameras. As a writer she found this openness especially exciting and valuable.
– Believers often have to face undeserving attacks. As the public testimony about God and confession of faith includes the potential risk of being mocked. How did you select and search the testifiers?
– Looking through the eyes of the potential television viewers we firstly looked for people whose conversion and relationship with God can induce something in other people. We did not want to interview celebrities because we thought that the audience can identify more easily with testifiers who are everyday people.
– Is there a common motif or idea which links the different fates, attitudes and stories?
– Of course. The point is that those who live with the grace of faith can see that the relationship with God can provide answers in all areas of life to our questions and guides us in the labyrinth of our doubts. At the same time it was interesting to see the differences. For example in connection with the name of God. There were people who spoke about God in such an amazingly natural way as one speaks about a relative. But there were testifiers who had a problem with speaking about God.
– What is the reason?
– It is difficult to give an exact answer to this question. I have already met this phenomenon elsewhere: even believers cannot always easily speak about God. It is one thing that somebody says that he or she was brought up in a religious family, went to catechesis, received holy communion and went to holy masses. But confessing God or even publicly pronouncing his name is completely different. It is even more difficult to speak about Jesus. That is why I am quite happy that the motto of the Eucharistic Congress is: “Meet Jesus in Budapest.” The leitmotif of the series He and I is to bring Jesus the purest source of our life closer to everyday people.
– How did the interviews enrich you as a writer as a person who shares her thoughts in stories?
– They strengthened me. As a writer I think that literature or any kind of self-expressing art is a brave way of showing our inner world, the depths of our soul. If the author is sincere he or she can let people get close to him or her. I had the chance to experience this on behalf of the testifiers now, they strengthened me. It was a great experience that this time it was not me who showed myself as a writer but I could witness the believers sharing of their deepest
feelings and relationship with God in front of the crew. This courage will give fruits. Lot of people will be able to identify with these confessions. An open heart can open up other hearts as a smile can induce other smiles and when we see a weeping eye we start to cry. I think it is so simple.
– Without spoiling the stories before seeing them could you mention some people and ways of opening their hearts in the interviews?
– One of the testifiers is my son who is an athlete in the national team. When the crew was doing the film with him I was not there. Later I watched the film which astonished me. He is not even sixteen years old but he spoke about things to unknown people with the purest sincerity I had never seen him do. I re-listened to it several times and wondered whether he really wants to share it with anybody.
The testimony of a university professor a head of department deeply touched me as well who confessed his faith and spoke about God living in him with tears in his eyes. There is another story which shocked me. It is about a homeless man who was yelling high on drugs in front of the basilica fifteen years ago and today he is a brave family father leading a house of spiritual exercises.
There is another person who repented his sins of cheating others in a prison and converted there. The counterpoint of this story is that of a Carmelite nun with a holy bright face. Still, these two people are linked by Jesus thus they are brother and sister in the Lord in spite of their difference. This old nun spent three years in a labour camp as a prisoner in the 1950’s and tells us that she had one of the most beautiful Christmases of her life there in a solitary confinement where she strongly felt God’s presence. It is very human when she says that sometimes she was about to lose her faith. But as she was the moral support of many people there she prayed to be able to show strength in faith even in times of doubt because she did not want to let the ones who trusted in her be disappointed.
– Is it absolutely necessary to live a human drama, tragedy or a big mistake in order to get the grace of living faith? Or did you have interviews with testifiers who have always been well and simply love their life?
– To be short we spoke to such a person. She uses beautiful figures of speech to express herself. For example when she says she is a kitchen-maid in God’s kitchen. When the director drew my attention to this person I wanted to know the story of her life. “She is the story of her life” answered the director shortly. Indeed. Simple thoughts and way of speaking, serenity. Human life can be like this. One can live and speak about God like this as well.
– What feelings did the interviews generate in the members of the crew?
– We hadn’t been expecting such a difficult time. It is like when the priest at the holy mass right before the communion would ask the faithful why they are there.
And then they – the sick, the customs officer, the prodigal son, the obsessed, the paralytic, the doubting scholar, the beggar, the tired Pharisee – look at you and do not say it is none of your business this is an issue between God and me but they answer seriously with a shaking heart and tears in their eyes or smile on their face and say „I am here man because God is everything for me” „Because He accepts and loves me as I am”; „Because I feel home with
Him”; „Because I arrived home here and now"; „Because He takes me in His lap and rocks me"; „Because He is merciful”; „Because where else could I go?”; „Because when I cried He comforted me”. And though we the crew ask some more questions but not for having the right answers but because it is good to be present when one lover speaks in a delighted and stuttering way about their innermost relationship. Then in a small countryside room, ambulance station, classroom, farm, prison, chapel or anywhere where they speak we thank God that we can be part of what happens that we can see Him shining on the face of His lovers.
– What are your expectations about these short films? When would you say "it was worth doing”?
I could feel from the very first moment that it was worth doing. We came together. I do not only think here about our crew or the testifiers but the channel leaders of the public television as well. I invented the series with Beatrix Siklósi in summer. She proposed of creating a program with the help of which we can get the audience closer to the congress and to Jesus. I liked her idea because as a press officer besides my media activity I try to change the apathy of people, their unrealistic and senseless hatred for each other. Of course it is important to publish good articles, interviews, but as there are less and less readers I doubt the popularity of these important and nice messages. I trust that the personal confession of these everyday people will reach many viewers of the TV screens – on channel M5 and Duna TV – and through video sharing. I also trust that the everyday nature of the testifiers will awaken the desire to search God in many hearts. Jesus was born in a stable. The simple pictures, voices, sentences of these short films are in harmony with this. They can efficiently enter in homes clearly mediating God to people.
Source: Magyar Kurír
Photo: Marcsi Ambrus