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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner star in "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse."
Though it sticks to a tried-and-true recipe that will undoubtedly delight the legions of enthusiastic followers who have made the franchise it extends a box-office blockbuster, "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" (Summit) may strike less-committed viewers as occasionally over-familiar.

On the plus side, director David Slade's third installment in the hugely popular Gothic romance series -- based on the best-selling novels of Stephenie Meyer—draws, like its predecessors, on self-referential humor to leaven its potentially ridiculous proceedings. And, while Melissa Rosenberg's script ramps up the mostly bloodless battling among its supernatural characters, it also shifts the basis of its main couple's chaste interaction from a matter of constraint to one of choice.

Said couple is, of course, composed of well-behaved vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson)—who preserves the appearance of a high-schooler, despite being more than 100 years old—and teen mortal Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart). Their romance, typified by an early scene in which Bella reads poetry to Edward amid the blooming flowers of an idyllic rural glade, is currently complicated by a number of factors, some old and some new.

As in the previous episode of their story, 2009's "The Twilight Saga: New Moon," Bella is determined, despite Edward's many objections, to become a vampire herself to remain with him permanently. Equally opposed to this change is Bella's friend, and would-be love interest, Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner). Despite being a werewolf—what's a girl to do?—Jacob offers Bella the prospect of a somewhat normal life.
Edward and Jacob's antipathy is more than personal, since, according to Meyer's mythos, vampires and werewolves are long-standing instinctual enemies. But with Bella's life threatened by villainous bloodsucker Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard)— out for revenge against Edward for the death of her own true love, James, and busy assembling an army of plasma-hungry minions to advance her schemes—the rivals must unite to protect the object of their conflicting affections.

The climactic battle includes scenes of wounding and mutilation. However, since vampires are shown to be made of ice on the inside, there is only a bit of bloodletting among the human characters.

Though Bella is anxious to consummate her love for Edward, their brief, fully clothed bedroom encounter terminates in his refusal to do more than kiss and caress her. But while his restraint was previously motivated by the fear that passion might drive him to put his fangs into Bella, Edward now takes a stand on principle, resolving to uphold Bella's virtue until the two are married.

When Edward acknowledges that such values-driven behavior isn't "modern," Bella perhaps says more than she knows when she responds, "Not modern; it's ancient!"
The film contains considerable stylized violence, an off-screen rape, a scene of nongraphic sensuality, a birth control reference and a few mildly crass terms. The Catholic News Service 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.
*******
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.




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Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi: Mystical ecstasy is the elevation of the spirit to God in such a way that the person is aware of this union with God while both internal and external senses are detached from the sensible world. Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi was so generously given this special gift of God that she is called the "ecstatic saint." 
<p>She was born into a noble family in Florence in 1566. The normal course would have been for Catherine de' Pazzi to have married wealth and enjoyed comfort, but she chose to follow her own path. At nine she learned to meditate from the family confessor. She made her first Communion at the then-early age of 10 and made a vow of virginity one month later. When 16, she entered the Carmelite convent in Florence because she could receive Communion daily there. </p><p>Catherine had taken the name Mary Magdalene and had been a novice for a year when she became critically ill. Death seemed near so her superiors let her make her profession of vows from a cot in the chapel in a private ceremony. Immediately after, she fell into an ecstasy that lasted about two hours. This was repeated after Communion on the following 40 mornings. These ecstasies were rich experiences of union with God and contained marvelous insights into divine truths. </p><p>As a safeguard against deception and to preserve the revelations, her confessor asked Mary Magdalene to dictate her experiences to sister secretaries. Over the next six years, five large volumes were filled. The first three books record ecstasies from May of 1584 through Pentecost week the following year. This week was a preparation for a severe five-year trial. The fourth book records that trial and the fifth is a collection of letters concerning reform and renewal. Another book, <i>Admonitions</i>, is a collection of her sayings arising from her experiences in the formation of women religious. </p><p>The extraordinary was ordinary for this saint. She read the thoughts of others and predicted future events. During her lifetime, she appeared to several persons in distant places and cured a number of sick people. </p><p>It would be easy to dwell on the ecstasies and pretend that Mary Magdalene only had spiritual highs. This is far from true. It seems that God permitted her this special closeness to prepare her for the five years of desolation that followed when she experienced spiritual dryness. She was plunged into a state of darkness in which she saw nothing but what was horrible in herself and all around her. She had violent temptations and endured great physical suffering. She died in 1607 at 41, and was canonized in 1669.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, keep me in your care. Guard me in my actions. Teach me to love, and help me to turn to you throughout the day. The world is filled with temptations. As I move through my day, keep me close. May those I encounter feel your loving presence. Lord, be the work of my hands and my heart. Amen.

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