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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Midnight in Paris

By
Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.
Source: AmericanCatholic.org

Director/writer Woody Allen’s film opened the Cannes Film Festival earlier this month and it is indeed one of his best films in a long time; clever, sharp, entertaining and though not overly self-conscious as Allen’s films can be, the litany of writers and artists in the film meet Allen’s cinematic requirement for neurosis.

Gil (Owen Wilson) is in Paris with his fiancé Inez (Rachel McAdams) and her parents who have business in the city of lights. Gil is a screenwriter trying to write a novel about a man who runs a nostalgia shop. When a friend of Inez, Paul (Michael Sheen) and his wife run into them in a restaurant, Gil wants nothing to do with the boorish, pseudo-intellectual professor. Instead of dancing, he goes for a walk.

At midnight, a vintage car stops in front of him, and F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston) and his wife Zelda (Alison Pill) invite him to come along to a party. There he meets expats, or the famous Lost Generation, from America and other countries who form the vibrant artist community of Paris in the 1920s; include Cole Porter and Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel.

The funniest encounter is with Hemingway who tosses off words straight from his novels with references to his “A Moveable Feast” and seems itching for a fight. Gil runs into a litany of famous people and falls for Picasso’s mistress, Adrianna (Marion Cotillard)  who wants to live in 1890’s Paris, the city’s “Golden Age”.

Hemingway, or Fitzgerald, tells Gil that “Nostalgia is a flaw of the romantic imagination” and that nostalgia is denial.

There’s something to this, I think. After one of my younger sisters and I saw the 1992 Merchant-Ivory period masterpiece “Howard’s End”, she said, “I was born in the wrong place and the wrong time.” And then she sighed as she grasped her young daughter’s hand to return home.

Gil realizes that living in the present, while appreciating the past, is probably the best way –and that the icons of the past were just humans, too, gifted and flawed. And he decides to move to Paris.


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Alphonsus Liguori: 
		<p>Moral theology, Vatican II said, should be more thoroughly nourished by Scripture, and show the nobility of the Christian vocation of the faithful and their obligation to bring forth fruit in charity for the life of the world. Alphonsus, declared patron of moral theologians by Pius XII in 1950, would rejoice in that statement.</p>
		<p>In his day, Alphonsus fought for the liberation of moral theology from the rigidity of Jansenism. His moral theology, which went through 60 editions in the century following him, concentrated on the practical and concrete problems of pastors and confessors. If a certain legalism and minimalism crept into moral theology, it should not be attributed to this model of moderation and gentleness.</p>
		<p>At the University of Naples he received, at the age of 16, a doctorate in both canon and civil law by acclamation, but she oon gave up the practice of law for apostolic activity. He was ordained a priest and concentrated his pastoral efforts on popular (parish) missions, hearing confessions, forming Christian groups. </p>
		<p>He founded the Redemptorist congregation in 1732. It was an association of priests and brothers living a common life, dedicated to the imitation of Christ, and working mainly in popular missions for peasants in rural areas. Almost as an omen of what was to come later, he found himself deserted, after a while, by all his original companions except one lay brother. But the congregation managed to survive and was formally approved 17 years later, though its troubles were not over. </p>
		<p>Alphonsus’ great pastoral reforms were in the pulpit and confessional—replacing the pompous oratory of the time with simplicity, and the rigorism of Jansenism with kindness. His great fame as a writer has somewhat eclipsed the fact that for 26 years he traveled up and down the Kingdom of Naples, preaching popular missions. </p>
		<p>He was made bishop (after trying to reject the honor) at 66 and at once instituted a thorough reform of his diocese. </p>
		<p>His greatest sorrow came toward the end of his life. The Redemptorists, precariously continuing after the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773, had difficulty in getting their Rule approved by the Kingdom of Naples. Alphonsus acceded to the condition that they possess no property in common, but a royal official, with the connivance of a high Redemptorist official, changed the Rule substantially. Alphonsus, old, crippled and with very bad sight, signed the document, unaware that he had been betrayed. The Redemptorists in the Papal States then put themselves under the pope, who withdrew those in Naples from the jurisdiction of Alphonsus. It was only after his death that the branches were united. </p>
		<p>At 71 he was afflicted with rheumatic pains which left incurable bending of his neck; until it was straightened a little, the pressure of his chin caused a raw wound on his chest. He suffered a final 18 months of “dark night” scruples, fears, temptations against every article of faith and every virtue, interspersed with intervals of light and relief, when ecstasies were frequent. </p>
		<p>Alphonsus is best known for his moral theology, but he also wrote well in the field of spiritual and dogmatic theology. His <i>Glories of Mary</i> is one of the great works on that subject, and his book <i>Visits to the Blessed Sacrament</i> went through 40 editions in his lifetime, greatly influencing the practice of this devotion in the Church.</p>
American Catholic Blog Those who want to participate more fully in salvation history are comforted by the fact that Jesus wants to walk with us in our suffering and wants to break bread to give us strength on our way.

 
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