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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Beaver

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

Walter Black (Mel Gibson) is depressed. Ever since taking over management of his father’s toy company two years previously, he can barely get out of bed. His wife Meredith (Jodi Foster) finally asks him to leave their home. His eldest son Porter (Anton Yelchin) notes every undesirable trait of his father so he will not become like him. Walter’s younger son, Henry (Riley Thomas Stewart), loves his father but is confused.

Walter discovers an old beaver hand puppet in his stuff and decides to use it to communicate. Walter now has an Australian accent when the Beaver is speaking and he asks people to address themselves to the puppet. Thus, Walter manages to get the toy company back on tract and he moves back home.

Porter lives a secret life: he writes papers for other students for cash, and gets involved with the class valedictorian, Nora (Jennifer Lawrence), who wants him to write her speech and then he is caught for writing another student’s paper. Nora has her sorrows as well, opening up a whole other dimension to understanding depression. At dinner for their 20th anniversary Meredith doesn’t want to speak to the Beaver. This does not turn out well.

I have to give Mel Gibson credit for taking on a role that seems like an “apologia pro vita sua” : a defense for some of the tragic moments in his own life that have played out across the media for years. The film invites us to understand the inner life of one who is emotionally or mentally ill, those voices inside their heads, and extend empathy and understanding. Walter, a danger to himself as played out in an off screen moment of self-violence, is hospitalized and gets the help he – and his family - has needed for so long.

I was moved by this poignancy and helplessness portrayed in the film, by those who suffer illness and those who love them. To me, the acting is flawless and direction by Jodie Foster, a longtime friend of Gibson, is strong and right on. More than anything, I wish Mel Gibson well, because he can really hold his own on the screen.




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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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