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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Help

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

“The Help” is based on Kathryn Stockett’s 2009 best selling novel of the same name.  I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Even though it is a fast read, it is a great read.
 
It is Jackson, Mississipi, in 1962.  Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan (Emma Stone) returns home to her privileged life in Jackson, Mississipi.  All her friends are married with children and following the paths of their mother’s before them, they have hired maids, or “the help”. These are African American women who have served these families for generations, with great love and personal sacrifice. And for what? Often for very low wages and to be mistreated.
 
Skeeter tries to get a job in New York but an editor tells her to get experience. She is hired at the local paper to write household hints, about which she knows nothing. So she asks “the help.”
 
She begins with Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis) who tells the little girl she cares for, “You is kind, you is smart, you is important.” But the child is chubby and her mother is embarrassed by her.
 
Meanwhile, Minnie (Octavia Spencer) manages to get herself fired by the horrible rumor monger Holly Holbrook, who heads the local women’s society. Minnie’s sweet revenge is priceless. Sissy Spacek plays Mrs. Walter, Hilly’s mother. She is in the early stages of dementia, and she gets Hilly, too, with hilarious élan.
 
The rest of the maids are unwilling to tell their stories because they fear retribution. But an event galvanizes them. When the book is published, you can imagine the reaction.
 
The cast is filled with the finest African American actresses of our day, beginning with Cicely Tyson, as Constantine, the maid who brought up Skeeter. Emma Stone seems everywhere this summer, and she is credible and spirited. 
 
Yes, the white women are caricatures as contrasted with “the help.” And the film looks almost too pretty to tell stories of such heartbreak and betrayal.
 
But we get the point. Racism, white on white, too—and domestic abuse—is with us today, hidden behind closed doors.
 
“The Help” is a tribute to human dignity, faith, and forgiveness. It  is relevant, engaging, and entertaining. It will take you by the heart.


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Anthony Zaccaria: At the same time that Martin Luther was attacking abuses in the Church, a reformation within the Church was already being attempted. Among the early movers of the Counter-Reformation was Anthony Zaccaria. His mother became a widow at 18 and devoted herself to the spiritual education of her son. He received a medical doctorate at 22 and, while working among the poor of his native Cremona in Italy, was attracted to the religious apostolate. He renounced his rights to any future inheritance, worked as a catechist and was ordained a priest at the age of 26. Called to Milan in a few years, he laid the foundations of three religious congregations, one for men and one for women, plus an association of married couples. Their aim was the reform of the decadent society of their day, beginning with the clergy, religious and lay people. 
<p>Greatly inspired by St. Paul (his congregation is named the Barnabites, after the companion of that saint), Anthony preached with great vigor in church and street, conducted popular missions and was not ashamed of doing public penance. </p><p>He encouraged such innovations as the collaboration of the laity in the apostolate, frequent Communion, the Forty Hours devotion and the ringing of church bells at 3:00 p.m. on Fridays. </p><p>His holiness moved many to reform their lives but, as with all saints, it also moved many to oppose him. Twice his community had to undergo official religious investigation, and twice it was exonerated. </p><p>While on a mission of peace, he became seriously ill and was brought home for a visit to his mother. He died at Cremona at the age of 36.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, help me make my life more about you and less about me. May others see you in me—your image and likeness. Teach me ways to increase my time with you, my service to others, and my love for my family, for strangers, and for the poor. You are the light in the darkness. With each new day, may we be light to one another.

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