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The Hunger Games

Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.

Making U.S. Box Office history with the highest midnight opening ever “The Hunger Games” swept into theaters last week. The film is based on the 2008 best-selling novel by Suzanne Collins, the first book in a trilogy of novels that the author says “explore the effects of war and violence on those coming of age. “

This is a story for our times, a cautionary tale.
Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is 16 years-old and lives with her 12 year-old sister Prim (Willow Shields) and withdrawn mother (Paula Malcomson) in District 12 is the post-apocalyptic event USA.
Seventy-four years before the events in the book take place a revolution against the then government occurred but failed. As punishment, reparation, and a form of control by fear, the government holds “games” in the Capitol every year. Each of the twelve districts must sacrifice a boy and girl between the ages of 12 and 18 who will go the Capitol, pretend they are having fun as they prepare to be on a reality television show, and then engage in a survival exercise in a vast outdoor arena where they kill each other off. Only one can survive.
Prim is chosen but Katniss immediately volunteers to take her place. The boy chosen is Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). Katiss and Peeta have known each other all their lives but they are not close. Katniss is shy be cause once when she and her family were starving after her fathers death in the coalmines, he gave her bread. He tossed the bread to her in the rain and now is embarrassed that he did not hand it to her. Instead Katniss’ best friend is Gale (Wes Bentley), a young man who has hunted with her in the forbidden forest beyond the electrical fences.
“The Hunger Games” is a story filled with moral dilemmas that the young people and those close to them must face in a controlled society with an omnipresent government that dominates its citizens. How to survive without killing anyone except as self-defense or defense of another, how to be part of the fake and banal world of celebrity television without losing one’s humanity, the many shades and obstacles to true love, family, and how to endure life with an all-seeing totalitarian government whose absolute power has corrupted the leaders and their hacks absolutely?
Katniss is the heroine from the beginning and Jennifer Lawrence’s performance is compelling and graceful amid terror. The moment where she mourns the young girl Rue in the arena moved me to tears. It is also a moment that changes everything.
I was watching one of the morning network news shows last week a day or so before the film’s release and one of the commentators described the film as “kids killing one another for sport.”  It’s too bad that whoever wrote the script didn’t bother to read the book. There is no “sport” in the “The Hunger Games” unless you count the ancient practice of letting gladiators battle for their lives against wild animals a sport. One late night talk show host made a similar crack; interesting that hardly anyone laughed. The mainstream media is at the service of the government in “The Hunger Games”. They make banality an art form though we discover that there is more to some of the people involved than meets the eye.
Everyone just wants to survive but some are ready to sacrifice everything that others might live.
Instead “The Hunger Games” is about young people of character and humanity where love and empathy dictate their choices over a totalitarian regime that rules by fear, hunger, poverty, control and the threat of death for no reason except control.
  Since the US has been engaged in wars by choice over the last several decades, violence and conflict have been normalized. Suzanne Collins’ examination of life under surveillance, the threat of violence and its effects on young people, family and society, is chilling but also serves as a wake up call.

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Charles de Foucauld: Born into an aristocratic family in Strasbourg, France, Charles was orphaned at the age of six, raised by his devout grandfather, rejected the Catholic faith as a teenager and joined the French army. Inheriting a great deal of money from his grandfather, Charles went to Algeria with his regiment, but not without his mistress, Mimi. <br /><br />When he declined to give her up, he was dismissed from the army. Still in Algeria when he left Mimi, Charles reenlisted in the army. Refused permission to make a scientific exploration of nearby Morocco, he resigned from the service. With the help of a Jewish rabbi, Charles disguised himself as a Jew and in 1883 began a one-year exploration that he recorded in a book that was well received. <br /><br />Inspired by the Jews and Muslims whom he met, Charles resumed the practice of his Catholic faith when he returned to France in 1886. He joined a Trappist monastery in Ardeche, France, and later transferred to one in Akbes, Syria. Leaving the monastery in 1897, Charles worked as gardener and sacristan for the Poor Clare nuns in Nazareth and later in Jerusalem. In 1901 he returned to France and was ordained a priest. <br /><br />Later that year Charles journeyed to Beni-Abbes, Morocco, intending to found a monastic religious community in North Africa that offered hospitality to Christians, Muslims, Jews, or people with no religion. He lived a peaceful, hidden life but attracted no companions. <br /><br />A former army comrade invited him to live among the Tuareg people in Algeria. Charles learned their language enough to write a Tuareg-French and French-Tuareg dictionary, and to translate the Gospels into Tuareg. In 1905 he came to Tamanrasset, where he lived the rest of his life. A two-volume collection of Charles' Tuareg poetry was published after his death. <br /><br />In early 1909 he visited France and established an association of laypeople who pledged to live by the Gospels. His return to Tamanrasset was welcomed by the Tuareg. In 1915 Charles wrote to Louis Massignon: “The love of God, the love for one’s neighbor…All religion is found there…How to get to that point? Not in a day since it is perfection itself: it is the goal we must always aim for, which we must unceasingly try to reach and that we will only attain in heaven.”   <br /><br />The outbreak of World War I led to attacks on the French in Algeria. Seized in a raid by another tribe, Charles and two French soldiers coming to visit him were shot to death on December 1, 1916. <br />Five religious congregations, associations, and spiritual institutes (Little Brothers of Jesus, Little Sisters of the Sacred Heart, Little Sisters of Jesus, Little Brothers of the Gospel and Little Sisters of the Gospel) draw inspiration from the peaceful, largely hidden, yet hospitable life that characterized Charles. He was beatified on November 13, 2005. American Catholic Blog You know, O my God, I have never desired anything but to love you, and I am ambitious for no other glory.

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