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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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Jeanne Jugan: 
		<p>Born in northern France during the French Revolution—a time when congregations of women and men religious were being suppressed by the national government, Jeanne would eventually be highly praised in the French academy for her community's compassionate care of elderly poor people.</p>
		<p>When Jeanne was three and a half years old, her father, a fisherman, was lost at sea. Her widowed mother was hard pressed to raise her eight children (four died young) alone. At the age of 15 or 16, Jeanne became a kitchen maid for a family that not only cared for its own members, but also served poor, elderly people nearby. Ten years later, Jeanne became a nurse at the hospital in Le Rosais. Soon thereafter she joined a third order group founded by St. John Eudes (August 19).</p>
		<p>After six years she became a servant and friend of a woman she met through the third order. They prayed, visited the poor and taught catechism to children. After her friend's death, Jeanne and two other women continued a similar life in the city of Saint-Sevran. In 1839, they brought in their first permanent guest. They began an association, received more members and more guests. Mother Marie of the Cross, as Jeanne was now known, founded six more houses for the elderly by the end of 1849, all staffed by members of her association—the Little Sisters of the Poor. By 1853 the association numbered 500 and had houses as far away as England.</p>
		<p>Abbé Le Pailleur, a chaplain, had prevented Jeanne's reelection as superior in 1843; nine year later, he had her assigned to duties within the congregation, but would not allow her to be recognized as its founder. He was removed from office by the Holy See in 1890. </p>
		<p>By the time Pope Leo XIII gave her final approval to the community's constitutions in 1879, there were 2,400 Little Sisters of the Poor. Jeanne died later that same year, on August 30. Her cause was introduced in Rome in 1970, and she was beatified in 1982 and canonized in 2009. </p>
		<p> </p>
American Catholic Blog A mother journeys with her children all the way through their lives. She does not abandon her maternal mission when they are grown, though that mission certainly takes on different characteristics. The Church, too, accompanies us every step of the way. While baptism gives us birth into the Church, the other sacraments in their own way also nurture our souls as needed.

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