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The Woman in Black

Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.

Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliff) is a London lawyer around 1910 that is performing poorly since lost his wife four years previously when his son was born.
His boss at the law firm gives him one last chance and sends him to a remote town on the northern coast of England to go through the papers of an old woman recently deceased. On Tuesday Arthur promises his son they will soon be together as the nanny is to bring the boy to the town by train on Friday for a little holiday.
As soon as he gets off the train people react badly to him and want him gone. He manages to get a room at a pub but it has a terrible story. Three little girls walked out of the window years before and died. She and her husband lost a son when the tide flooded the causeway linking the house to the mainland and his body was never recovered.
Arthur meets one man who seems normal, Mr. Daily (Ciaran Hinds). He is the only one in town with a vehicle but he and his wife lost a son as well. But against the advice of everyone, Arthur makes his way across the causeway leading to the old mansion.
Arthur misses his wife and reads about séances that were very popular at the time. Arthur years to receive some kind of message from his deceased wife, Stella. A couple of days into his work, Arthur sees a woman dressed in black in the cemetery and goes to explore. Daily talks with Arthur about spiritualism and debunks the practice, but Daily’s wife is a believer. She sees things.
And children begin dying all around Arthur. He is greatly distraught and wants to stop his son and the nanny from coming north.
“The Woman in Black” is an atmospheric, gothic horror novel based on the 1983 book by Susan Hill.  It is produced by Hammer Film Productions, founded in England in 1935, sold in the 80s and now starting up again. When I was studying in England Hammer films were always being talked about, especially in relation to the underground railways.
In “Woman in Black”, the train is highly symbolic and plays a key role.
This is a film about grief and love, it is about mental illness and who decides who is ill or not. In some warped way, when Arthur tries to set the universe aright to appease the woman in black, she returns the favor.  And it is not all that upsetting except to the living. The story also has a terrible Pied Piper quality about it because vengeance for an original crime is the real horror.
  “The Woman in Black” is well scripted, acted, and filmed. But is it horror or about the power of love? Can they be the same?

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Marie-Rose Durocher: Canada was one diocese from coast to coast during the first eight years of Marie-Rose Durocher’s life. Its half-million Catholics had received civil and religious liberty from the English only 44 years before. When Marie-Rose was 29, Bishop Ignace Bourget became bishop of Montreal. He would be a decisive influence in her life. 
<p>He faced a shortage of priests and sisters and a rural population that had been largely deprived of education. Like his counterparts in the United States, he scoured Europe for help and himself founded four communities, one of which was the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. Its first sister and reluctant co-foundress was Marie-Rose. </p><p>She was born in a little village near Montreal in 1811, the 10th of 11 children. She had a good education, was something of a tomboy, rode a horse named Caesar and could have married well. At 16, she felt the desire to become a religious but was forced to abandon the idea because of her weak constitution. At 18, when her mother died, her priest brother invited her and her father to come to his parish in Beloeil, not far from Montreal. For 13 years she served as housekeeper, hostess and parish worker. She became well known for her graciousness, courtesy, leadership and tact; she was, in fact, called “the saint of Beloeil.” Perhaps she was too tactful during two years when her brother treated her coldly. </p><p>As a young woman she had hoped there would someday be a community of teaching sisters in every parish, never thinking she would found one. But her spiritual director, Father Pierre Telmon, O.M.I., after thoroughly (and severely) leading her in the spiritual life, urged her to found a community herself. Bishop Bourget concurred, but Marie-Rose shrank from the prospect. She was in poor health and her father and her brother needed her. </p><p>She finally agreed and, with two friends, Melodie Dufresne and Henriette Cere, entered a little home in Longueuil, across the Saint Lawrence River from Montreal. With them were 13 young girls already assembled for boarding school. Longueuil became successively her Bethlehem, Nazareth and Gethsemani. She was 32 and would live only six more years—years filled with poverty, trials, sickness and slander. The qualities she had nurtured in her “hidden” life came forward—a strong will, intelligence and common sense, great inner courage and yet a great deference to directors. Thus was born an international congregation of women religious dedicated to education in the faith. </p><p>She was severe with herself and by today’s standards quite strict with her sisters. Beneath it all, of course, was an unshakable love of her crucified Savior. </p><p>On her deathbed the prayers most frequently on her lips were “Jesus, Mary, Joseph! Sweet Jesus, I love you. Jesus, be to me Jesus!” Before she died, she smiled and said to the sister with her, “Your prayers are keeping me here—let me go.” </p><p>She was beatified in 1982.</p> American Catholic Blog It is in them [the saints] that Christian love becomes credible; they are the poor sinners’ guiding stars. But every one of them wishes to point completely away from himself and toward love…. The genuine saints desired nothing but the greater glory of God’s love… <br />—Hans Urs von Balthasar

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