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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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Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi: Mystical ecstasy is the elevation of the spirit to God in such a way that the person is aware of this union with God while both internal and external senses are detached from the sensible world. Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi was so generously given this special gift of God that she is called the "ecstatic saint." 
<p>She was born into a noble family in Florence in 1566. The normal course would have been for Catherine de' Pazzi to have married wealth and enjoyed comfort, but she chose to follow her own path. At nine she learned to meditate from the family confessor. She made her first Communion at the then-early age of 10 and made a vow of virginity one month later. When 16, she entered the Carmelite convent in Florence because she could receive Communion daily there. </p><p>Catherine had taken the name Mary Magdalene and had been a novice for a year when she became critically ill. Death seemed near so her superiors let her make her profession of vows from a cot in the chapel in a private ceremony. Immediately after, she fell into an ecstasy that lasted about two hours. This was repeated after Communion on the following 40 mornings. These ecstasies were rich experiences of union with God and contained marvelous insights into divine truths. </p><p>As a safeguard against deception and to preserve the revelations, her confessor asked Mary Magdalene to dictate her experiences to sister secretaries. Over the next six years, five large volumes were filled. The first three books record ecstasies from May of 1584 through Pentecost week the following year. This week was a preparation for a severe five-year trial. The fourth book records that trial and the fifth is a collection of letters concerning reform and renewal. Another book, <i>Admonitions</i>, is a collection of her sayings arising from her experiences in the formation of women religious. </p><p>The extraordinary was ordinary for this saint. She read the thoughts of others and predicted future events. During her lifetime, she appeared to several persons in distant places and cured a number of sick people. </p><p>It would be easy to dwell on the ecstasies and pretend that Mary Magdalene only had spiritual highs. This is far from true. It seems that God permitted her this special closeness to prepare her for the five years of desolation that followed when she experienced spiritual dryness. She was plunged into a state of darkness in which she saw nothing but what was horrible in herself and all around her. She had violent temptations and endured great physical suffering. She died in 1607 at 41, and was canonized in 1669.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, keep me in your care. Guard me in my actions. Teach me to love, and help me to turn to you throughout the day. The world is filled with temptations. As I move through my day, keep me close. May those I encounter feel your loving presence. Lord, be the work of my hands and my heart. Amen.

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