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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Time Traveler's Wife

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana star in a scene from the movie "The Time Traveler's Wife."
At its core the enjoyable tale of a lifelong committed relationship, "The Time Traveler's Wife" (Warner Bros.) benefits from persuasive central performances by Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams as a pair of chronologically challenged lovers, turns that successfully divert attention from the story's logical loose ends.
 
But director Robert Schwentke's romantic drama also features some behavior that would clearly be objectionable in a less far-fetched context than that provided by its fantasy premise.
 
Bana plays Chicago rare books librarian Henry DeTamble. Henry is afflicted with a unique genetic disorder that causes him to disappear from the present and travel—involuntarily and randomly—through time. So when he first encounters McAdams' character, artist Clare Abshire, she's a total stranger to him, though—thanks to repeated visits his future self will pay to her past, beginning when she was six—he's already her best friend and one true love.
 
The script, adapted from novelist Audrey Niffenegger's 2003 best-seller by Bruce Joel Rubin—who penned 1990s similarly supernatural "Ghost"—eventually implies that Clare also knows for certain at this point that she and Henry will ultimately wed. If so, the first-date bedroom encounter that she aggressively initiates must be considered premarital relations of a unique kind.
 
Whenever Henry is transported, his clothes stay behind and he appears in the new moment naked. This circumstance not only entails a few scenes of rear nudity, but drives Henry to break into buildings or cars and steal other people's clothing in order to cover himself.
 
A plot development dealing with sterilization seems to imply that it may be wrong in the situation portrayed, but not as a general matter.
 
In addition to his faithful love for Clare, Henry cherishes the memory of his opera singer mother and has a nurturing, though strained, connection with his father (Arliss Howard) whose grief-motivated drinking endangers his career as a violinist.
 
Yet there is no suggestion that either of them had Henry's condition, or knew of anyone perching on a higher branch of the family tree who might have bequeathed it to him.
 
The idea of a 20- or 30-something Henry befriending the childhood version of his future wife -- and kindling her love for him -- will strike some as romantic, others perhaps as creepy. But the dialogue explicitly makes the point that their first kiss comes when Clare is 18.
 
The film contains brief nongraphic premarital sexual activity, rear nudity, a sterilization theme, a few uses of profanity, and some crude and crass language. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
 
- - -
 
Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.


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Pio of Pietrelcina: In one of the largest such ceremonies in history, Pope John Paul II canonized Padre Pio of Pietrelcina on June 16, 2002. It was the 45th canonization ceremony in Pope John Paul's pontificate. More than 300,000 people braved blistering heat as they filled St. Peter's Square and nearby streets. They heard the Holy Father praise the new saint for his prayer and charity. "This is the most concrete synthesis of Padre Pio's teaching," said the pope. He also stressed Padre Pio's witness to the power of suffering. If accepted with love, the Holy Father stressed, such suffering can lead to "a privileged path of sanctity." 
<p>Many people have turned to the Italian Capuchin Franciscan to intercede with God on their behalf; among them was the future Pope John Paul II. In 1962, when he was still an archbishop in Poland, he wrote to Padre Pio and asked him to pray for a Polish woman with throat cancer. Within two weeks, she had been cured of her life-threatening disease. </p><p>Born Francesco Forgione, Padre Pio grew up in a family of farmers in southern Italy. Twice (1898-1903 and 1910-17) his father worked in Jamaica, New York, to provide the family income. </p><p>At the age of 15, Francesco joined the Capuchins and took the name of Pio. He was ordained in 1910 and was drafted during World War I. After he was discovered to have tuberculosis, he was discharged. In 1917 he was assigned to the friary in San Giovanni Rotondo, 75 miles from the city of Bari on the Adriatic. </p><p>On September 20, 1918, as he was making his thanksgiving after Mass, Padre Pio had a vision of Jesus. When the vision ended, he had the stigmata in his hands, feet and side. </p><p>Life became more complicated after that. Medical doctors, Church authorities and curiosity seekers came to see Padre Pio. In 1924 and again in 1931, the authenticity of the stigmata was questioned; Padre Pio was not permitted to celebrate Mass publicly or to hear confessions. He did not complain of these decisions, which were soon reversed. However, he wrote no letters after 1924. His only other writing, a pamphlet on the agony of Jesus, was done before 1924. </p><p>Padre Pio rarely left the friary after he received the stigmata, but busloads of people soon began coming to see him. Each morning after a 5 a.m. Mass in a crowded church, he heard confessions until noon. He took a mid-morning break to bless the sick and all who came to see him. Every afternoon he also heard confessions. In time his confessional ministry would take 10 hours a day; penitents had to take a number so that the situation could be handled. Many of them have said that Padre Pio knew details of their lives that they had never mentioned. </p><p>Padre Pio saw Jesus in all the sick and suffering. At his urging, a fine hospital was built on nearby Mount Gargano. The idea arose in 1940; a committee began to collect money. Ground was broken in 1946. Building the hospital was a technical wonder because of the difficulty of getting water there and of hauling up the building supplies. This "House for the Alleviation of Suffering" has 350 beds. </p><p>A number of people have reported cures they believe were received through the intercession of Padre Pio. Those who assisted at his Masses came away edified; several curiosity seekers were deeply moved. Like St. Francis, Padre Pio sometimes had his habit torn or cut by souvenir hunters. </p><p>One of Padre Pio’s sufferings was that unscrupulous people several times circulated prophecies that they claimed originated from him. He never made prophecies about world events and never gave an opinion on matters that he felt belonged to Church authorities to decide. He died on September 23, 1968, and was beatified in 1999.</p> American Catholic Blog In times of intense loss and grief, we take our place with Mary as she embraces all our grief in her own as she is silently holding in her arms the stark presence of our suffering God in the lifeless body of her Son.

 
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