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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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Ludovico of Casoria: Born in Casoria (near Naples), Arcangelo Palmentieri was a cabinet-maker before entering the Friars Minor in 1832, taking the name Ludovico. After his ordination five years later, he taught chemistry, physics and mathematics to younger members of his province for several years. 
<p>In 1847 he had a mystical experience which he later described as a cleansing. After that he dedicated his life to the poor and the infirm, establishing a dispensary for the poor, two schools for African children, an institute for the children of nobility, as well as an institution for orphans, the deaf and the speechless, and other institutes for the blind, elderly and for travelers. In addition to an infirmary for friars of his province, he began charitable institutes in Naples, Florence and Assisi. He once said, "Christ’s love has wounded my heart." This love prompted him to great acts of charity.
</p><p>To help continue these works of mercy, in 1859 he established the Gray Brothers, a religious community composed of men who formerly belonged to the Secular Franciscan Order. Three years later he founded the Gray Sisters of St. Elizabeth for the same purpose.
</p><p>Toward the beginning of his final, nine-year illness, Ludovico wrote a spiritual testament which described faith as "light in the darkness, help in sickness, blessing in tribulations, paradise in the crucifixion and life amid death." The local work for his beatification began within five months of Ludovico’s death. He was beatified in 1993.</p> American Catholic Blog Father, there are so many times when I attempt to do something good, and disturbing situations arise, as if someone or some power is trying to stop me. Give me the grace never to be afraid or avoid doing good for fear of Satan. In Jesus's name, Father, I ask for this grace, Amen.


 
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