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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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Lorenzo Ruiz and Companions: Lawrence (Lorenzo) was born in Manila of a Chinese father and a Filipino mother, both Christians. Thus he learned Chinese and Tagalog from them and Spanish from the Dominicans whom he served as altar boy and sacristan. He became a professional calligrapher, transcribing documents in beautiful penmanship. He was a full member of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary under Dominican auspices. He married and had two sons and a daughter. 
<p>His life took an abrupt turn when he was accused of murder. Nothing further is known except the statement of two Dominicans that "he was sought by the authorities on account of a homicide to which he was present or which was attributed to him." </p><p>At that time three Dominican priests, Antonio Gonzalez, Guillermo Courtet and Miguel de Aozaraza, were about to sail to Japan in spite of a violent persecution there. With them was a Japanese priest, Vicente Shiwozuka de la Cruz, and a layman named Lazaro, a leper. Lorenzo, having taken asylum with them, was allowed to accompany them. But only when they were at sea did he learn that they were going to Japan. </p><p>They landed at Okinawa. Lorenzo could have gone on to Formosa, but, he reported, "I decided to stay with the Fathers, because the Spaniards would hang me there." In Japan they were soon found out, arrested and taken to Nagasaki. The site of wholesale bloodshed when the atomic bomb was dropped had known tragedy before. The 50,000 Catholics who once lived there were dispersed or killed by persecution. </p><p>They were subjected to an unspeakable kind of torture: After huge quantities of water were forced down their throats, they were made to lie down. Long boards were placed on their stomachs and guards then stepped on the ends of the boards, forcing the water to spurt violently from mouth, nose and ears. </p><p>The superior, Antonio, died after some days. Both the Japanese priest and Lazaro broke under torture, which included the insertion of bamboo needles under their fingernails. But both were brought back to courage by their companions. </p><p>In Lorenzo's moment of crisis, he asked the interpreter, "I would like to know if, by apostatizing, they will spare my life." The interpreter was noncommittal, but Lorenzo, in the ensuing hours, felt his faith grow strong. He became bold, even audacious, with his interrogators. </p><p>The five were put to death by being hanged upside down in pits. Boards fitted with semicircular holes were fitted around their waists and stones put on top to increase the pressure. They were tightly bound, to slow circulation and prevent a speedy death. They were allowed to hang for three days. By that time Lorenzo and Lazaro were dead. The three Dominican priests, still alive, were beheaded. </p><p>In 1987, Blessed John Paul II canonized these six and 10 others, Asians and Europeans, men and women, who spread the faith in the Philippines, Formosa and Japan. Lorenzo Ruiz is the first canonized Filipino martyr.</p> American Catholic Blog We don’t have to scrub off our sin so God can love us. Instead, when we allow God’s healing love to touch us, we want to leave sin behind. Growth starts in love, not in guilt.

 
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