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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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First Martyrs of the Church of Rome: There were Christians in Rome within a dozen or so years after the death of Jesus, though they were not the converts of the “Apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 15:20). Paul had not yet visited them at the time he wrote his great letter in 57-58 A.D.. 
<p>There was a large Jewish population in Rome. Probably as a result of controversy between Jews and Jewish Christians, the Emperor Claudius expelled all Jews from Rome in 49-50 A.D. Suetonius the historian says that the expulsion was due to disturbances in the city “caused by the certain Chrestus” [Christ]. Perhaps many came back after Claudius’s death in 54 A.D. Paul’s letter was addressed to a Church with members from Jewish and Gentile backgrounds. </p><p>In July of 64 A.D., more than half of Rome was destroyed by fire. Rumor blamed the tragedy on Nero, who wanted to enlarge his palace. He shifted the blame by accusing the Christians. According to the historian Tacitus, many Christians were put to death because of their “hatred of the human race.” Peter and Paul were probably among the victims. </p><p>Threatened by an army revolt and condemned to death by the senate, Nero committed suicide in 68 A.D. at the age of 31.</p> American Catholic Blog People are not perfect. But God does not only call upon great saints to reveal his love for the world. He also calls the broken and desperate. We are all called to act as God’s light in this darkening world.

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