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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Captain America: The First Avenger

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

During World War II, Steve (Chris Evans), a skinny kid from Brooklyn, tries to enlist in the army over and over, only to be deferred due to his small stature and asthma. Finally a government scientist, Dr. Erskine (Stanley Tucci), notices Steve; he is impressed by his courage, his humanity and heart.

Steve is placed in a special program that turns him into a superman, a fighting machine with a shield of red, white and blue, that can fend off the attacks of Hitler’s evil weaponry wizard, Dr. Schmidt (Hugo Weaving). It is revealed that Schmidt is really a demon called Red Skull, whose evil power stems from a secret energy source.
 
Captain America is a superhero from the Marvel Comic Book universe.  The first comic of the series was published in 1941 by Timely Comics, written by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, who were also co-founders of Marvel Comics.
 
With this summer’s release of “Thor” and “Captain America” the way is paved for next summer’s blockbuster release of “The Avengers” of the 21st century, a film that will be populated by now familiar cinematic characters drawn from the Golden Age of Comic Books (late 1930’s through the early 1950s) and more recent video games: The Hulk, Iron Man (we meet Tony Stark’s father in “Captain America: The First Avenger”), The Black Widow,  and Hawkeye (formerly of the Thunderbolts.)
 
Comic books-into-film is a hugely successful film genre because they are a special effects bonanza, the heroes are beautiful people, and the bad guys lose. The stories are basically the same: good vs. evil engage in a massive struggle and good triumphs. There is almost always an American patriotic spin to the plot. While good does triumph, the use of vengeance as a virtue is a concern to thoughtful viewers.  Also, seeing the world in the simplistic black and white categories of good vs. evil and violence as a way to solve problems, falls far outside of the Judeo-Christian worldview.
 
Comic books-into-film prod the audience to inquire: Is the superhero’s way the way of the Lord Jesus – and if it is not, what is?


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Gregory the Great: Coming events cast their shadows before: Gregory was the prefect of Rome before he was 30. After five years in office he resigned, founded six monasteries on his Sicilian estate and became a Benedictine monk in his own home at Rome. 
<p>Ordained a priest, he became one of the pope's seven deacons, and also served six years in the East as papal representative in Constantinople. He was recalled to become abbot, and at the age of 50 was elected pope by the clergy and people of Rome. </p><p>He was direct and firm. He removed unworthy priests from office, forbade taking money for many services, emptied the papal treasury to ransom prisoners of the Lombards and to care for persecuted Jews and the victims of plague and famine. He was very concerned about the conversion of England, sending 40 monks from his own monastery. He is known for his reform of the liturgy, for strengthening respect for doctrine. Whether he was largely responsible for the revision of "Gregorian" chant is disputed. </p><p>Gregory lived in a time of perpetual strife with invading Lombards and difficult relations with the East. When Rome itself was under attack, he interviewed the Lombard king. </p><p>An Anglican historian has written: "It is impossible to conceive what would have been the confusion, the lawlessness, the chaotic state of the Middle Ages without the medieval papacy; and of the medieval papacy, the real father is Gregory the Great." </p><p>His book, <i>Pastoral Care</i>, on the duties and qualities of a bishop, was read for centuries after his death. He described bishops mainly as physicians whose main duties were preaching and the enforcement of discipline. In his own down-to-earth preaching, Gregory was skilled at applying the daily gospel to the needs of his listeners. Called "the Great," Gregory has been given a place with Augustine (August 28), Ambrose (December 7) and Jerome (September 30)as one of the four key doctors of the Western Church.</p> American Catholic Blog The pierced, open side of Christ on the cross, which makes visible the Sacred Heart of the Son of God, remains “the way in” to knowledge of Jesus Christ.

 
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