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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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Catherine of Alexandria: According to the <i>Legend of St. Catherine</i>, this young woman converted to Christianity after receiving a vision. At the age of 18, she debated 50 pagan philosophers. Amazed at her wisdom and debating skills, they became Christians—as did about 200 soldiers and members of the emperor’s family. All of them were martyred. 
<p>Sentenced to be executed on a spiked wheel, Catherine touched the wheel and it shattered. She was beheaded. Centuries later, angels are said to have carried the body of St. Catherine to a monastery at the foot of Mt. Sinai. </p><p>Devotion to her spread as a result of the Crusades. She was invoked as the patroness of students, teachers, librarians and lawyers. Catherine is one of the 14 Holy Helpers, venerated especially in Germany and Hungary.</p> American Catholic Blog To live charitably means not looking out for our own interests, but carrying the burdens of the weakest and poorest among us. –Pope Francis

 
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