At the annual Lenten Penance Service at St. Dominic Church, Bensonhurst, young people acted out how Jesus defeats the world’s efforts to reduce people to instruments. The message was that He is there to help people get over life’s temptations.
The penance service also included opportunities for confession and other self-reflection activities related to Lent.
Isabella Tomasulo, who played the lead in the skit, said that it was very moving to portray life’s struggles and how Jesus leads to salvation.
“He is always there to help us through all of our problems,” she said. “God will always be there in your life.”
The skit showed a happy young girl walking with Jesus while the devil, observes from a distance. The girl is being pulled by temptations that distract her and makes her question her worth. That leads her to other temptations including money, vanity, drugs and later self-harm. She is overwhelmed.
Then, as she ponders whether to take her own life, she remembers God, drops the rope the devil had given her and tries running toward Jesus. As the lights flicker, she is pulled back by vices and temptations, who throw her to the floor and start pounding on her as she struggles to get up. Then Jesus, who had been fighting the devil for the soul of that girl all along, runs to protect her. He takes the blows for her. He just wants her to be safe. She starts to react. She prays. After a while, Jesus stands up and defeats the evils. He then lifts up the girl and embraces her before they continue the journey together.
Sierra Fidilio, a youth from Bensonhurst, said the presentation – including the acting and lighting – was very powerful. She was impressed by how it touched themes that can affect young people but are often not discussed, such as eating disorders, pills and self-harm.
“When she had the rope around her neck – and she was going back and forth on whether (to commit suicide) –and then she takes it off and she runs to Jesus …That gave me chills,” she said. “It made me realize that even when she left Jesus and did bad things, she went back to Him …and He was still there.”