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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Secret World of Arrietty

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


A scene from the animated movie "The Secret World of Arrietty."
From Japan's celebrated animation outfit Studio Ghibli and director Hiromasa Yonebayashi comes the poignant fable "The Secret World of Arrietty" (Disney).

As remade in English under the supervision of Gary Rydstrom — the Japanese original was released in 2010 — this kid-friendly feature can be wholeheartedly recommended for all but easily terrified tots, who might be put off by its few interludes of looming menace.

Based on Mary Norton's Carnegie Medal-winning 1952 children's novel "The Borrowers," the film begins with the arrival at a secluded country house of sickly 14-year-old Shawn (voice of David Henrie). A heart patient, Shawn has been sent to the quiet manse to prepare for a risky operation.

There he accidentally discovers a family of miniature people — dad Pod (voice of Will Arnett), mom Homily (voice of Amy Poehler) and daughter Arrietty (voice of Bridgit Mendler) — sharing the dwelling with him and with its other usual human inhabitant, meddlesome housekeeper Hara (voice of Carol Burnett).

Like others of their kind, known collectively as Borrowers, Arrietty's diminutive clan survive by "borrowing" small, easily overlooked items from their towering neighbors — a single cube of sugar, for example, or an individual tissue. In addition to daring nighttime raids into the oversized human world, however, this lifestyle also requires absolute secrecy.

So, despite his best intentions to the contrary, Shawn's insistence on befriending Arrietty — and trying to help her parents — imperils the little trio's previously happy life together.

Beautifully crafted visuals and a tone of gentle melancholy characterize this meditative tale. Shawn's temporary home is surrounded by the kind of garden in which Monet might have flourished. But nearby are dark, mysterious woods — and the rains come often.

As penned by Hayao Miyazaki and Keiko Niwa, and translated by Karey Kirkpatrick, the script contrasts the materialism of Shawn's unseen parents — who, we learn, are too busy with their careers to accompany their ailing son and tend to his needs — with the deep bonds and traditional values that unite Shawn's newfound pal and her devoted folks. The ingenuity, frugality and close cooperation that enable the Borrowers to flourish are also implicitly celebrated.

The film contains brief mild peril. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I — general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G — general audiences. All ages admitted.

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



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Monica: The circumstances of St. Monica’s life could have made her a nagging wife, a bitter daughter-in-law and a despairing parent, yet she did not give way to any of these temptations. Although she was a Christian, her parents gave her in marriage to a pagan, Patricius, who lived in her hometown of Tagaste in North Africa. Patricius had some redeeming features, but he had a violent temper and was licentious. Monica also had to bear with a cantankerous mother-in-law who lived in her home. Patricius criticized his wife because of her charity and piety, but always respected her. Monica’s prayers and example finally won her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity. Her husband died in 371, one year after his baptism. 
<p>Monica had at least three children who survived infancy. The oldest, Augustine (August 28) , is the most famous. At the time of his father’s death, Augustine was 17 and a rhetoric student in Carthage. Monica was distressed to learn that her son had accepted the Manichean heresy (all flesh is evil)  and was living an immoral life. For a while, she refused to let him eat or sleep in her house. Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on, she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him. In fact, she often stayed much closer than Augustine wanted. </p><p>When he was 29, Augustine decided to go to Rome to teach rhetoric. Monica was determined to go along. One night he told his mother that he was going to the dock to say goodbye to a friend. Instead, he set sail for Rome. Monica was heartbroken when she learned of Augustine’s trick, but she still followed him. She arrived in Rome only to find that he had left for Milan. Although travel was difficult, Monica pursued him to Milan. </p><p>In Milan, Augustine came under the influence of the bishop, St. Ambrose, who also became Monica’s spiritual director. She accepted his advice in everything and had the humility to give up some practices that had become second nature to her (see Quote, below). Monica became a leader of the devout women in Milan as she had been in Tagaste. </p><p>She continued her prayers for Augustine during his years of instruction. At Easter, 387, St. Ambrose baptized Augustine and several of his friends. Soon after, his party left for Africa. Although no one else was aware of it, Monica knew her life was near the end. She told Augustine, “Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.” She became ill shortly after and suffered severely for nine days before her death. </p><p>Almost all we know about St. Monica is in the writings of St. Augustine, especially his <i>Confessions</i>.</p> American Catholic Blog Trust always and a great deal in divine providence; never, never must you let yourselves be discouraged, despite contrary winds. I say it again: trust in God and Mary Immaculate; be faithful and forge ahead! <br />-Paulina do Coração Agonizante de Jesus

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