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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Lorax

By
Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.
Source: AmericanCatholic.org

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not” says the Lorax (voice of Danny De Vito; for other voices see the Internet Movie Database http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1482459/) to the Once-ler who has moved into the forest to make a life for himself.

He chops down the trees to make “Thneeds”, a multipurpose ShamWow kind of garment. The Once-ler builds a factory and cuts down all the trees. This destroys the habitat for the animals and pollutes the air and water.

Fast forward many years and a 12-year old boy, Ted, wants to get a real live tree for Audrey, a girl he is sweet on. Ted has to break out of the plastic town he lives in (reminiscent of “The Truman Show”) and escape the greedy mayor and his thugs to find the Once-ler who will tell him how he can find a real tree.

“The Lorax” is a 3D computer generated image (CGI) animated fable based on Dr. Seuss’ 1971 book that does indeed “speak for the trees” and chronicles the destruction of the environment for profit.
 
As a film “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” is a bit long and contrived. It is also more of a message movie than an entertainment. However, “The Lorax” reflects the book very well and teaches its message of doom for the environment, unless each person does care an awful lot, in a way that appeals to families. The voices of the popular actor Zac Efron and singer Taylor Swift are a draw for younger audiences.  But the clash between the artificiality of the town, the placid attitude of its citizens, the baby that turns green after falling or swimming in the water, and the destruction of the environment by industry, is strong nevertheless.

Although “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” was released to commemorate Dr. Seuss’s 108th birthday, it is a perfect film for Earth Day, coming up on April 22. The themes of greed, unsustainability, and a scorched earth policy by corporations for profit (I am thinking of the 2011 film “The Last Mountain” about coal mining in West Virginia and 1994 film “The Burning Season” about deforestation of the Amazon region of South America), are clear in the film and correlate well with Themes of Catholic Social Teaching http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catholic-social-teaching.

I think “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” is a must see for citizens and disciples of any age. So much to talk about, so many opportunities to do something to make a difference.




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Junipero Serra: In 1776, when the American Revolution was beginning in the east, another part of the future United States was being born in California. That year a gray-robed Franciscan founded Mission San Juan Capistrano, now famous for its annually returning swallows. San Juan was the seventh of nine missions established under the direction of this indomitable Spaniard. 
<p>Born on Spain’s island of Mallorca, Serra entered the Franciscan Order, taking the name of St. Francis’ childlike companion, Brother Juniper. Until he was 35, he spent most of his time in the classroom—first as a student of theology and then as a professor. He also became famous for his preaching. Suddenly he gave it all up and followed the yearning that had begun years before when he heard about the missionary work of St. Francis Solanus in South America. Junipero’s desire was to convert native peoples in the New World. </p><p>Arriving by ship at Vera Cruz, Mexico, he and a companion walked the 250 miles to Mexico City. On the way Junipero’s left leg became infected by an insect bite and would remain a cross—sometimes life-threatening—for the rest of his life. For 18 years he worked in central Mexico and in the Baja Peninsula. He became president of the missions there. </p><p>Enter politics: the threat of a Russian invasion south from Alaska. Charles III of Spain ordered an expedition to beat Russia to the territory. So the last two <i>conquistadors</i>—one military, one spiritual—began their quest. José de Galvez persuaded Junipero to set out with him for present-day Monterey, California. The first mission founded after the 900-mile journey north was San Diego (1769). That year a shortage of food almost canceled the expedition. Vowing to stay with the local people, Junipero and another friar began a novena in preparation for St. Joseph’s day, March 19, the scheduled day of departure. On that day, the relief ship arrived. </p><p>Other missions followed: Monterey/Carmel (1770); San Antonio and San Gabriel (1771); San Luís Obispo (1772); San Francisco and San Juan Capistrano (1776); Santa Clara (1777); San Buenaventura (1782). Twelve more were founded after Serra’s death. </p><p>Junipero made the long trip to Mexico City to settle great differences with the military commander. He arrived at the point of death. The outcome was substantially what Junipero sought: the famous “Regulation” protecting the Indians and the missions. It was the basis for the first significant legislation in California, a “Bill of Rights” for Native Americans. </p><p>Because the Native Americans were living a nonhuman life from the Spanish point of view, the friars were made their legal guardians. The Native Americans were kept at the mission after Baptism lest they be corrupted in their former haunts—a move that has brought cries of “injustice” from some moderns. </p><p>Junipero’s missionary life was a long battle with cold and hunger, with unsympathetic military commanders and even with danger of death from non-Christian native peoples. Through it all his unquenchable zeal was fed by prayer each night, often from midnight till dawn. He baptized over 6,000 people and confirmed 5,000. His travels would have circled the globe. He brought the Native Americans not only the gift of faith but also a decent standard of living. He won their love, as witnessed especially by their grief at his death. He is buried at Mission San Carlo Borromeo, Carmel, and was beatified in 1988. Pope Francis canonized him in Washington, D.C., on September 23, 2015.</p> American Catholic Blog Hope and faith can outshine the darkness of evil. However dense the darkness may appear, our hope for the triumph of the light is stronger still. Though violence continues to stain us with blood, the shadows of death can be dissipated with one act of light.

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