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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

SENNA

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

Aryton Senna de Silva (1960 – 1994) was a Formula One racing champion from Brazil. He gave hope to the people of Brazil during hard times, and he gave back through philanthropic work, especially for the education of Brazil’s millions of poor children.

This documentary follows Senna’s life chronologically. He fell in love with racing as a child and won go-cart races as a teen. He worked his way up to Formula One, which refers to the rules that all participants must adhere. The incredibly high speed races take place on race tracks and through narrow city streets.

Senna was a devout Catholic and talked about racing as a spiritual, almost mystical experience. Not all the other racers appreciated this, but he was no fool. One of his most famous sayings was, "Just because I believe in God, just because I have faith in God, it doesn't mean that I'm immune. It doesn't mean that I'm immortal" (1989).

“SENNA” has won major awards at the Sundance Film Festival, the Los Angeles Film Festival and Adelaide Film Festival.

When the publicist invited me to the screening and said it was about Formula One racing, I was glad she could not see the blank look on my face. But then she said that Senna, the subject of the film, was a Catholic and the film has a surprising spiritual dimension. I was intrigued, so I went to the screening – and cried at the end.

British film director Asif Kapadia said that “Senna was complex and no angel. But he achieved so much in such a short time, confronting corruption within the racing culture and emerging with integrity.”

“Senna,” Asif said, was “otherworldly, intelligent, eloquent, an artist. He raced to become closer to God.”
This is an inspiring story about a sport, a sportsman, about competition, about rivalries and ambition. But I think you might agree that Senna didn’t just go into a “zone” when he was racing, he went where Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890) described as the imagination, a place to “realize faith”. In one of Newman’s “University Sermons” he describes so well, I think, what Senna’s experience might have been like when he describes the mountain climber  who “… makes progress on a steep cliff, who by quick eye, prompt hand, and firm foot, ascends he knows not himself; by personal endowments and by practice, rather than by rule, leaving no track behind him, and unable to teach another. And such mainly is the way in which all men, gifted or not gifted, commonly reason, - not by rule, but by an inward faculty.”


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Anthony Claret: The "spiritual father of Cuba" was a missionary, religious founder, social reformer, queen’s chaplain, writer and publisher, archbishop and refugee. He was a Spaniard whose work took him to the Canary Islands, Cuba, Madrid, Paris and to the First Vatican Council. 
<p>In his spare time as weaver and designer in the textile mills of Barcelona, he learned Latin and printing: The future priest and publisher was preparing. Ordained at 28, he was prevented by ill health from entering religious life as a Carthusian or as a Jesuit, but went on to become one of Spain’s most popular preachers. </p><p>He spent 10 years giving popular missions and retreats, always placing great emphasis on the Eucharist and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Her rosary, it was said, was never out of his hand. At 42, beginning with five young priests, he founded a religious institute of missionaries, known today as the Claretians. </p><p>He was appointed to head the much-neglected archdiocese of Santiago in Cuba. He began its reform by almost ceaseless preaching and hearing of confessions, and suffered bitter opposition mainly for opposing concubinage and giving instruction to black slaves. A hired assassin (whose release from prison Anthony had obtained) slashed open his face and wrist. Anthony succeeded in getting the would-be assassin’s death sentence commuted to a prison term. His solution for the misery of Cubans was family-owned farms producing a variety of foods for the family’s own needs and for the market. This invited the enmity of the vested interests who wanted everyone to work on a single cash crop—sugar. Besides all his religious writings are two books he wrote in Cuba: <i>Reflections on Agriculture</i> and <i>Country Delights</i>. </p><p>He was recalled to Spain for a job he did not relish—being chaplain for the queen. He went on three conditions: He would reside away from the palace, he would come only to hear the queen’s confession and instruct the children and he would be exempt from court functions. In the revolution of 1868, he fled with the queen’s party to Paris, where he preached to the Spanish colony. </p><p>All his life Anthony was interested in the Catholic press. He founded the Religious Publishing House, a major Catholic publishing venture in Spain, and wrote or published 200 books and pamphlets. </p><p>At Vatican I, where he was a staunch defender of the doctrine of infallibility, he won the admiration of his fellow bishops. Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore remarked of him, "There goes a true saint." At the age of 63, he died in exile near the border of Spain.</p> American Catholic Blog The greatest tragedy of our world is that men do not know, really know, that God loves them. Some believe it in a shadowy sort of way. If they were to really think about it they would soon realize that their belief in God’s love for them is very remote and abstract. Because of this lack of realization of God’s love for them, men do not know how to love God back. —Catherine de Hueck Doherty

 
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