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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Courageous

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

In the 2008 film "Fireproof," Sherwood Pictures—the Albany, Ga., church-based studio that also made the 2006 sports drama "Facing the Giants"—celebrated scripturally guided marital fidelity.

With its latest production, "Courageous" (TriStar), they turn their attention to the important social influence wielded, either for good or ill, by fathers.

They do so via a drama tracing the personal and professional life of devoutly Christian police officer Adam Mitchell (Alex Kendrick). After the tragic death of his young daughter, Adam is left pondering the quality of parenting he offered her during her all-too-brief life, and regretting missed opportunities to demonstrate his love for her.

Determined to be more than just a "good enough" father to his remaining child, teen son Dylan (Rusty Martin Jr.), Adam draws up a Bible-based resolution by which to dedicate himself to the highest standards of paternal conduct.

He then convinces four friends—three of them, Nathan (Ken Bevel), Shane (Kevin Downes) and David (Ben Davies), colleagues from the force, the last, Javier (Robert Amaya), a Hispanic construction worker he recently hired—to join him in a public recitation of the resolution. But a variety of circumstances, including a couple of illustrative moral quandaries, quickly put each dad's resolve to the test.

Though sometimes heavy-handed, Kendrick, who also directed and co-wrote (with his brother, Stephen Kendrick), crafts an uplifting message movie about the dire consequences of paternal neglect and the Christian principles of sound parenting.

Occasional lapses into preachiness—the final scene centers on an extended speech from a pulpit, no less—are offset by lively action scenes pitting Adam and his fellow patrolmen against a local gang.

Catholic viewers may be saddened to observe that Javier and his family have apparently abandoned the religious heritage of Catholicism in favor of worship in the evangelical mold.

But the ideals on offer, if sometimes seemingly pursued to an extreme—as in the case of Nathan's refusal to let his daughter date until she turns 17, after which he will need to approve each of her beaux—will nonetheless resonate with, and perhaps inspire, audiences from a wide range of Judeo-Christian backgrounds.

The film contains some gun violence and mature themes, including drug trafficking. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II—adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.



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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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