Father Ralph’s Religious Struggle

I watched The Thorn Birds last week.  The Thorn Birds was a 1983 miniseries about a priest, Ralph de Bricassart, who was in love with a woman named Meggie.  It was based on a 1977 novel by Colleen McCullough.

It was quite a miniseries, let me tell you that!  Overall, I liked the characters and the actors and actresses playing them.  My main problem, however, is that I do not entirely understand Father Ralph’s religious struggle.

Throughout the miniseries, Father Ralph believes that he must choose between God and Meggie.  I can understand his conceptualization of the “Meggie” choice: part of him wants to be with the woman he loves and to have a family with her.  What is unclear to me is how he was conceptualizing the “God” choice.  Did that entail serving others?  In the first episode, Father Ralph tells Frank about his desire to be a conduit for God.  The thing is, though, Father Ralph would leave Australia, the place of his service, so that he could become a Cardinal and later an Archbishop.  Maybe he was even hoping to become pope!

Father Ralph did have ambition.  He did not just want to be a lowly priest serving people in Australia.  He wanted more than that.  But how is that serving God?  I think part of my problem is my lack of knowledge of what a Cardinal or Archbishop actually does.  To me, Father Ralph was serving God most when he was being a loving presence in Australia.  What was his service to God like when he was a Cardinal and Archbishop?

Anyway, my Mom has read the book, and she says it goes into more detail about Father Ralph’s religious struggle.  I may read it.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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1 Response to Father Ralph’s Religious Struggle

  1. I remember watching the Thornbirds when I was 13 or 14 and Richard Chamberlain was so dreamy lol. I read the Thornbirds in French and Father Ralph was fighting between his ambitions and his love for Meggie, he felt that he could answer God’s calling best by ascending the rungs of stature within the Church. That was his interpretation of God’s message. Mine was that he should have been honest with everyone involved but especially himself.

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