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Captain America: The First Avenger

Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.

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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Francis of Assisi: Francis of Assisi was a poor little man who astounded and inspired the Church by taking the gospel literally—not in a narrow fundamentalist sense, but by actually following all that Jesus said and did, joyfully, without limit and without a sense of self-importance. 
<p>Serious illness brought the young Francis to see the emptiness of his frolicking life as leader of Assisi's youth. Prayer—lengthy and difficult—led him to a self-emptying like that of Christ, climaxed by embracing a leper he met on the road. It symbolized his complete obedience to what he had heard in prayer: "Francis! Everything you have loved and desired in the flesh it is your duty to despise and hate, if you wish to know my will. And when you have begun this, all that now seems sweet and lovely to you will become intolerable and bitter, but all that you used to avoid will turn itself to great sweetness and exceeding joy." </p><p>From the cross in the neglected field-chapel of San Damiano, Christ told him, "Francis, go out and build up my house, for it is nearly falling down." Francis became the totally poor and humble workman. </p><p>He must have suspected a deeper meaning to "build up my house." But he would have been content to be for the rest of his life the poor "nothing" man actually putting brick on brick in abandoned chapels. He gave up all his possessions, piling even his clothes before his earthly father (who was demanding restitution for Francis' "gifts" to the poor) so that he would be totally free to say, "Our Father in heaven." He was, for a time, considered to be a religious fanatic, begging from door to door when he could not get money for his work, evokng sadness or disgust to the hearts of his former friends, ridicule from the unthinking. </p><p>But genuineness will tell. A few people began to realize that this man was actually trying to be Christian. He really believed what Jesus said: "Announce the kingdom! Possess no gold or silver or copper in your purses, no traveling bag, no sandals, no staff" (Luke 9:1-3). </p><p>Francis' first rule for his followers was a collection of texts from the Gospels. He had no idea of founding an order, but once it began he protected it and accepted all the legal structures needed to support it. His devotion and loyalty to the Church were absolute and highly exemplary at a time when various movements of reform tended to break the Church's unity. </p><p>He was torn between a life devoted entirely to prayer and a life of active preaching of the Good News. He decided in favor of the latter, but always returned to solitude when he could. He wanted to be a missionary in Syria or in Africa, but was prevented by shipwreck and illness in both cases. He did try to convert the sultan of Egypt during the Fifth Crusade. </p><p>During the last years of his relatively short life (he died at 44), he was half blind and seriously ill. Two years before his death, he received the stigmata, the real and painful wounds of Christ in his hands, feet and side. </p><p>On his deathbed, he said over and over again the last addition to his Canticle of the Sun, "Be praised, O Lord, for our Sister Death." He sang Psalm 141, and at the end asked his superior to have his clothes removed when the last hour came and for permission to expire lying naked on the earth, in imitation of his Lord.</p> American Catholic Blog The joy of the Gospel is not just any joy. It consists in knowing one is welcomed and loved by God…. And so we are able to open our eyes again, to overcome sadness and mourning to strike up a new song. And this true joy remains even amid trial, even amid suffering, for it is not a superficial joy: it permeates the depths of the person who entrusts himself to the Lord and confides in him.

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