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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Hunger Games

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

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Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is 16 years-old and lives with her 12 year-old sister Prim (Willow Shields) and withdrawn mother (Paula Malcomson) in District 12 is the post-apocalyptic event USA.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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Lorenzo Ruiz and Companions: Lawrence (Lorenzo) was born in Manila of a Chinese father and a Filipino mother, both Christians. Thus he learned Chinese and Tagalog from them and Spanish from the Dominicans whom he served as altar boy and sacristan. He became a professional calligrapher, transcribing documents in beautiful penmanship. He was a full member of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary under Dominican auspices. He married and had two sons and a daughter. 
<p>His life took an abrupt turn when he was accused of murder. Nothing further is known except the statement of two Dominicans that "he was sought by the authorities on account of a homicide to which he was present or which was attributed to him." </p><p>At that time three Dominican priests, Antonio Gonzalez, Guillermo Courtet and Miguel de Aozaraza, were about to sail to Japan in spite of a violent persecution there. With them was a Japanese priest, Vicente Shiwozuka de la Cruz, and a layman named Lazaro, a leper. Lorenzo, having taken asylum with them, was allowed to accompany them. But only when they were at sea did he learn that they were going to Japan. </p><p>They landed at Okinawa. Lorenzo could have gone on to Formosa, but, he reported, "I decided to stay with the Fathers, because the Spaniards would hang me there." In Japan they were soon found out, arrested and taken to Nagasaki. The site of wholesale bloodshed when the atomic bomb was dropped had known tragedy before. The 50,000 Catholics who once lived there were dispersed or killed by persecution. </p><p>They were subjected to an unspeakable kind of torture: After huge quantities of water were forced down their throats, they were made to lie down. Long boards were placed on their stomachs and guards then stepped on the ends of the boards, forcing the water to spurt violently from mouth, nose and ears. </p><p>The superior, Antonio, died after some days. Both the Japanese priest and Lazaro broke under torture, which included the insertion of bamboo needles under their fingernails. But both were brought back to courage by their companions. </p><p>In Lorenzo's moment of crisis, he asked the interpreter, "I would like to know if, by apostatizing, they will spare my life." The interpreter was noncommittal, but Lorenzo, in the ensuing hours, felt his faith grow strong. He became bold, even audacious, with his interrogators. </p><p>The five were put to death by being hanged upside down in pits. Boards fitted with semicircular holes were fitted around their waists and stones put on top to increase the pressure. They were tightly bound, to slow circulation and prevent a speedy death. They were allowed to hang for three days. By that time Lorenzo and Lazaro were dead. The three Dominican priests, still alive, were beheaded. </p><p>In 1987, Blessed John Paul II canonized these six and 10 others, Asians and Europeans, men and women, who spread the faith in the Philippines, Formosa and Japan. Lorenzo Ruiz is the first canonized Filipino martyr.</p> American Catholic Blog We don’t have to scrub off our sin so God can love us. Instead, when we allow God’s healing love to touch us, we want to leave sin behind. Growth starts in love, not in guilt.

 
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