STEUBENVILLE, Ohio, March 5, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Catholic actor Jim Caviezel, who famously played Jesus in The Passion of the Christ, told university students on Sunday that they must set themselves apart from this “corrupt generation” and “be saints.”
“You weren’t made to ‘fit in,’ my brothers and sisters. You were born to stand out. Set yourself apart from this corrupt generation. Be saints,” he said.
Caviezel made the comments during a March 4 panel discussion at the University of Steubenville, Ohio, where he discusses the soon-to-be-released film, Paul, Apostle of Christ, in which he stars. He was joined by EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo, host of The World Over, Dr. Scott Hahn, Chair of Biblical Theology and the New Evangelization at the university, and Eric Groth, executive producer of Paul, Apostle of Christ.
While the panel's dialogue on the film was fascinating, it was Caviezel’s concluding speech that made the crowd in an overflowing room rise to its feet in thunderous applause.
Caviezel told the students that they are at “war” with the “most dangerous enemy” who wants to strip them of their freedom, of having the right “to do what you ought.”
“Every generation of Americans needs to know that freedom exists, not to do what you like, but having the right to do what you ought,” he said.
Here is his concluding comment in full:
This message is for you. A great man once said that, ‘evil is powerless if the good are unafraid.’ But you and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth – or, we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.
We’re at war with the most dangerous enemy that has ever faced mankind in his climb from the swamp to the stars. And it’s been said if we lose this war, and in so doing, lose this great way of freedom of ours, history will report with the greatest astonishment, that those who had the most to lose did the least to prevent it from happening.
Well, I think it’s high time now that we ask ourselves if we still even know the freedoms that were intended for us by our founding fathers? Every generation of Americans needs to know that freedom exists, not to do what you like, but having the right to do what you ought.
You weren’t made to “fit in,” my brothers and sisters. You were born to stand out. Set yourself apart from this corrupt generation. Be saints. God bless you.
The actor’s words were met with thunderous applause and a standing ovation.
Elsewhere during the panel discussion, the actor made bold statements of faith, for instance, asserting, “I believe the devil is more afraid of me than I am of him.”
When asked by a webcast viewer who had experienced conversion after watching The Passion of the Christ if Caviezel thinks his movie on Saint Paul will be similarly powerful, the actor explained this movie is different, but the message will be just as powerful.
“Forgiveness is everything. It’s forgiveness at all costs. And it does not mean weakness, it does not mean passivity. It means meeting evil face to face with love. And that’s the power behind this movie.”
“Love and Forgiveness” is the theme running through the movie, he said.
In one of the film clips shown to the audience, Caviezel as St. Luke, says to a young Christian who proposes murdering Romans to avenge the deaths of members of Rome’s nascent Christian community, “None of us here have walked with Christ, but Paul has followed him longer than us all. I have watched him being beaten. I have watched him be stoned and flogged, and never once did he raise his finger against his oppressors. Let peace be with you. For we live in the world but we do not wage war as the world does. Peace begins with you, Cassius. Love is the only way.”
“Courage . . . is ardent love, noted the actor. “Love creates change by igniting a passion in each one of us, one person at a time. Paul is the spark that ignites a real revolution. And that revolution is love.”
The film’s executive producer, Eric Groth, explained why this movie focuses only on the end of Paul’s life.
“To tell Paul’s entire life story would require a miniseries. You look at the amazing conversion experience he went through. From being Saul, the greatest persecutor of the early Church … to the greatest promulgator of the faith, and to look at that from the end of his life where he’s gone through that conversion, and all those experiences where he’s gained wisdom and yet we can still see a man who is very human, who knows he’s saved by the grace of God, and yet he still has those struggles with his humanity. And I think that’s an important thing to be able to reflect on, to be able to say, ‘Hey, he’s a lot like I am.’”
Dr. Scott Hahn described the historical/Biblical context of this moment in Paul’s story.
“The Roman Empire, under Nero, fell into the deepest corruption. The darkness was most likely demonic,” said the theologian. “And so here is the Christian community—the Body of Christ—experiencing what Jesus’ body had just undergone a couple of decades before, back in the early 30’s. And so you recognize this is the moment when it looks as though this empire, this culture of death, will snuff out the life of Christ’s Body.”
“What I think this movie shows us,” continued Hahn, “reminds me of the old proverb: “They buried us, but they didn’t know we were seeds.”
“We have got to buckle up and really pray and enter into the wisdom of Paul’s writings because we might not end up in prison, but our children or our grandchildren will, and they have a lot to learn from the lessons of this man,” said Dr. Hahn.
“You know, it’s said that Paul was such a zealous apostle because Saul was such a zealous persecutor,’ continued Hahn. “God redirected all of that energy, and even though he’s aging in this movie, it is really refined and deepened. And that’s the kind of wisdom we need now.”
“Theological speculation has a place, but that really practical wisdom in the face of death and suffering, this is where we learn life’s deepest lessons,” he added.
Paul, Apostle of Christ will be released in theaters on Wednesday, March 28, one day prior to Holy Thursday when Catholic celebrate the institution of the Eucharist.
Caviezel is a devout Catholic who has called abortion “the greatest moral defect of the western world.” He is also working on a sequel to “The Passion of the Christ” with director Mel Gibson that focuses on the Resurrection.
“This is the real deal. It’s going to blow your mind. It’s absolutely going to make you so proud. You heard it here: It’s going to be the biggest film in history,” said Caviezel.