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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Twilight Saga: New Moon

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

There is something at once reassuring and sad in the fervor with which its target audience of tween and teen girls will undoubtedly greet the lovelorn Gothic romance sequel The Twilight Saga: New Moon (Summit), at least to judge by the squealingly delighted reaction of such viewers at a recent preview screening.

Their enthusiasm is reassuring because this latest chapter in the love story of well-mannered vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) and mortal high school student Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) is—like its 2008 predecessor Twilight—remarkable for the innocence of their interaction. (Edward fears that temptations of the flesh, if indulged beyond the occasional kiss, might give way to temptations of the blood.)

What makes it sad is the thought of how rare the portrayal of such a restrained relationship has become, even in entertainment aimed at the young. And then, of course, there's the fact that it takes an occult contrivance to compel and enforce the couple's chastity.

Though behaving themselves when together, in fact, Edward and Bella spend most of their time apart in director Chris Weitz's adaptation of the second book in Stephenie Meyer's best-selling series of young-adult novels. That's because, early on, Bella has a slight accident involving a bit of bleeding that sends the less controlled members of the undead clan with which Edward lives, especially the ever-predatory Jasper (Jackson Rathbone), into a dangerous frenzy.

Appalled, Edward feigns a change of heart, breaks off their relationship, and disappears. Disconsolate Bella eventually turns to her American Indian friend Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) for solace. But, in addition to wanting to be more than mere pals, Jacob has a supernatural secret of his own: He's inherited the gene that turns some members of his tribe, when provoked, into werewolves.

And who are the werewolves' mortal enemies? Why, vampires, naturally. So, as the picturesque proceeding sweep from the misty Northwest of Bella's hometown of Forks, Wash., to the sunny hills of Tuscany, the sighing, gazing and moping are interrupted by some intermittent violence as outsized battles flare between superhuman opponents.

Along the way, Bella's pleas to be transformed into a blood-sucker—thereby resolving her dilemma and allowing her to remain with Edward forever—lead to a hazy discussion about the possible loss of her soul. Edward, we learn, believes that all his kind, no matter how courtly, are damned, though precisely what that means Melissa Rosenberg's script never tarries long enough to explore or explain. There's also a brief exchange about the origins of Jacob's problem that echoes, presumably for humorous effect, the debate about the origins of homosexual orientation.

The film contains considerable action violence, a vague sexual reference and at least one mildly crass term. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-II—adults and adolescents. 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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Maria Goretti: One of the largest crowds ever assembled for a canonization—250,000—symbolized the reaction of millions touched by the simple story of Maria Goretti. 
<p>She was the daughter of a poor Italian tenant farmer, had no chance to go to school, never learned to read or write. When she made her First Communion not long before her death at age 12, she was one of the larger and somewhat backward members of the class. </p><p>On a hot afternoon in July, Maria was sitting at the top of the stairs of her house, mending a shirt. She was not quite 12 years old, but physically mature. A cart stopped outside, and a neighbor, Alessandro, 18 years old, ran up the stairs. He seized her and pulled her into a bedroom. She struggled and tried to call for help. “No, God does not wish it," she cried out. "It is a sin. You would go to hell for it.” Alessandro began striking at her blindly with a long dagger. </p><p>She was taken to a hospital. Her last hours were marked by the usual simple compassion of the good—concern about where her mother would sleep, forgiveness of her murderer (she had been in fear of him, but did not say anything lest she cause trouble to his family) and her devout welcoming of Viaticum, her last Holy Communion. She died about 24 hours after the attack. </p><p>Her murderer was sentenced to 30 years in prison. For a long time he was unrepentant and surly. One night he had a dream or vision of Maria, gathering flowers and offering them to him. His life changed. When he was released after 27 years, his first act was to go to beg the forgiveness of Maria’s mother. </p><p>Devotion to the young martyr grew, miracles were worked, and in less than half a century she was canonized. At her beatification in 1947, her mother (then 82), two sisters and a brother appeared with Pope Pius XII on the balcony of St. Peter’s. Three years later, at her canonization, a 66-year-old Alessandro Serenelli knelt among the quarter-million people and cried tears of joy.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, may the medals we wear be constant reminders of the lives they depict. While wearing them, may we be blessed through the saints’ intercession and protected from harm. Help us to continue to spread the messages of Jesus and Mary and the saints and angels.

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