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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Help

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

“The Help” is based on Kathryn Stockett’s 2009 best selling novel of the same name.  I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Even though it is a fast read, it is a great read.
 
It is Jackson, Mississipi, in 1962.  Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan (Emma Stone) returns home to her privileged life in Jackson, Mississipi.  All her friends are married with children and following the paths of their mother’s before them, they have hired maids, or “the help”. These are African American women who have served these families for generations, with great love and personal sacrifice. And for what? Often for very low wages and to be mistreated.
 
Skeeter tries to get a job in New York but an editor tells her to get experience. She is hired at the local paper to write household hints, about which she knows nothing. So she asks “the help.”
 
She begins with Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis) who tells the little girl she cares for, “You is kind, you is smart, you is important.” But the child is chubby and her mother is embarrassed by her.
 
Meanwhile, Minnie (Octavia Spencer) manages to get herself fired by the horrible rumor monger Holly Holbrook, who heads the local women’s society. Minnie’s sweet revenge is priceless. Sissy Spacek plays Mrs. Walter, Hilly’s mother. She is in the early stages of dementia, and she gets Hilly, too, with hilarious élan.
 
The rest of the maids are unwilling to tell their stories because they fear retribution. But an event galvanizes them. When the book is published, you can imagine the reaction.
 
The cast is filled with the finest African American actresses of our day, beginning with Cicely Tyson, as Constantine, the maid who brought up Skeeter. Emma Stone seems everywhere this summer, and she is credible and spirited. 
 
Yes, the white women are caricatures as contrasted with “the help.” And the film looks almost too pretty to tell stories of such heartbreak and betrayal.
 
But we get the point. Racism, white on white, too—and domestic abuse—is with us today, hidden behind closed doors.
 
“The Help” is a tribute to human dignity, faith, and forgiveness. It  is relevant, engaging, and entertaining. It will take you by the heart.


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Conrad of Parzham: Conrad spent most of his life as porter in Altoetting, Bavaria, letting people into the friary and indirectly encouraging them to let God into their lives. 
<p>His parents, Bartholomew and Gertrude Birndorfer, lived near Parzham, Bavaria. In those days this region was recovering from the Napoleonic wars. A lover of solitary prayer and a peacemaker as a young man, Conrad joined the Capuchins as a brother. He made his profession in 1852 and was assigned to the friary in Altoetting. That city’s shrine to Mary was very popular; at the nearby Capuchin friary there was a lot of work for the porter, a job Conrad held for 41 years. </p><p>At first some of the other friars were jealous that such a young friar held this important job. Conrad’s patience and holy life overcame their doubts. As porter he dealt with many people, obtaining many of the friary supplies and generously providing for the poor who came to the door. He treated them all with the courtesy Francis expected of his followers. </p><p>Conrad’s helpfulness was sometimes unnerving. Once Father Vincent, seeking quiet to prepare a sermon, went up the belltower of the church. Conrad tracked him down when someone wanting to go to confession specifically requested Father Vincent. </p><p>Conrad also developed a special rapport with the children of the area. He enthusiastically promoted the Seraphic Work of Charity, which aided neglected children. </p><p>Conrad spent hours in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. He regularly asked the Blessed Mother to intercede for him and for the many people he included in his prayers. The ever-patient Conrad was canonized in 1934.</p> American Catholic Blog We let the devil exist by continuing to rebel against God. Satan tempts us, but we choose to sin. The devil can’t read our minds, but he can see our weaknesses. God has overcome the snares of the devil, though. When we live in Him, we have no reason to fear.


 
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