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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Kid With a Bike

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

The Dardenne brothers Luc and Jean-Pierre are from Belgium and they are wonderful storytellers. They know how to create a prolonged moment in time, capture a very human situation of strained or scarred relationships. From this they lead the characters from alienation to amazing generosity, especially when a young person is involved.
 
In “The Son” (“Le fils”; 2002) a carpentry teacher takes on a new student midterm, a teenaged boy who is about 16. During class the teacher realizes that he recognizes the boy. He becomes angry and tells the principal he wants the boy out of his class. But then he starts to follow him and we realize that this boy, fresh from an institution for youth offenders, killed the teacher’s very young son a few years before. His ex-wife, now remarried and pregnant, can comprehend choices the teacher now makes. “The Son” is one of the starkest, most moving and Christian films I have ever seen and there is no specific religion in it.
 
“The Kid with a Bike” (“Le gamin au vélo”) won the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes in 2011.  It tells the story of Cyril (Thomas Doret; for the complete cast please see http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1827512) who has just been released from a youth farm. His father refuses to care for him and Cyril goes looking for his bicycle hoping that even though his father does not want him that this man has not sold off his precious bike. Alas, he has done the unthinkable.
 
The abandoned boy exhibits anger, frustration, even violence. He has lost all security until he randomly meets a hairdresser, Samantha. Inexplicably (as the Dardenne’s are wont to do) she agrees to become his foster parent on weekends.
 
While some critics think these filmmakers need to try something new, I think they have the ability to into a reality that has marked, or marred, every generation since the Industrial Revolution and perhaps before: disposable kids. Parents fail to care for their children and they fall into the prevailing culture or criminal behavior.  But if the parents fail - the kindness of a stranger prevails.
 
The Dardenne brothers know how to tell a story about hope and humanity with gritty simplicity. Now if they could add just a touch of humor.


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Philip Neri: Philip Neri was a sign of contradiction, combining popularity with piety against the background of a corrupt Rome and a disinterested clergy, the whole post-Renaissance malaise. 
<p>At an early age, he abandoned the chance to become a businessman, moved to Rome from Florence and devoted his life and individuality to God. After three years of philosophy and theology studies, he gave up any thought of ordination. The next 13 years were spent in a vocation unusual at the time—that of a layperson actively engaged in prayer and the apostolate. </p><p>As the Council of Trent (1545-63) was reforming the Church on a doctrinal level, Philip’s appealing personality was winning him friends from all levels of society, from beggars to cardinals. He rapidly gathered around himself a group of laypersons won over by his audacious spirituality. Initially they met as an informal prayer and discussion group, and also served poor people in Rome. </p><p>At the urging of his confessor, he was ordained a priest and soon became an outstanding confessor, gifted with the knack of piercing the pretenses and illusions of others, though always in a charitable manner and often with a joke. He arranged talks, discussions and prayers for his penitents in a room above the church. He sometimes led “excursions” to other churches, often with music and a picnic on the way. </p><p>Some of his followers became priests and lived together in community. This was the beginning of the Oratory, the religious institute he founded. A feature of their life was a daily afternoon service of four informal talks, with vernacular hymns and prayers. Giovanni Palestrina was one of Philip’s followers, and composed music for the services. </p><p>The Oratory was finally approved after suffering through a period of accusations of being an assembly of heretics, where laypersons preached and sang vernacular hymns! (Cardinal Newman founded the first English-speaking house of the Oratory three centuries later.) </p><p>Philip’s advice was sought by many of the prominent figures of his day. He is one of the influential figures of the Counter-Reformation, mainly for converting to personal holiness many of the influential people within the Church itself. His characteristic virtues were humility and gaiety.</p> American Catholic Blog When we suffer, we don’t just come to understand the pain of Christ’s cross more, we come to understand the depth of God’s love for us: that he would endure such pain for us—in our place. We have a God who endured death so we would never have to do so.

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