Today’s Beauty Theme is Human Beings

Today’s beauty theme is human beings. We are created in the image and likeness of God. Each person of the over 6 billion people on this planet has inherent dignity bestowed by the Blessed Trinity. The height of God’s creation is the human person. *Once again, not my pictures. I am just sharing the beauty from Google images and I have no claim to these images.*

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Cinderella: Christ and the Church in Art

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I can’t say that this post will be a review per say. It will be my musing on my experience of the movie and the Christian dimensions of the original fairy tale.  Of course, I know the story. Almost every little girl, at least in the U.S., was introduced to Disney’s version of Cinderella at a young age. The fight of good and evil is even recognizable in the innocence of childhood. And while many would say that the “happily ever after” is the reason little girls love it, I would say that there is more to it than that.

The character of Ella is one of outer beauty, but an interior of strength, courage, goodness, and love. She serves tirelessly and while she has her moments of weakness, she continues on. The newest adaption captures the utter goodness in her at the moment when she is about to give up, an “old beggar woman” asks for some milk. She immediately responds through virtuous action, action that is so infused within her through habit, that she serves this woman in the midst of her own sorrow. It is then that the fairy godmother reveals herself and Ella, in her gentle way, scoffs. But, she accepts the gifts joyfully when she realizes the fairy godmother is who she says she is. Even though she has not had much goodness done to her in recent years, Ella opens her arms wide open to the gifts bestowed upon her. Her own servant’s heart makes it easier for her to receive love.

There was one moment of the film that struck me very deeply. After Cinderella has danced and spent time with the prince, she flees. We know that this is because it is midnight and the spell will be broken by the final toll of the bell. The prince’s right hand man remarks that the prince had to choose “the one who flees” and the prince smiles. The Christology of that moment stopped me and nearly reduced me to tears. Cinderella is actually the story of Christ the Bridegroom (the Prince) and his pursuit and love of the Church (Cinderella). The deep spiritual truth of that moment has stayed with me even hours after the film, and it will stay with me.

Christ chooses all of us and we flee. Even those of us who are baptized into the Mystical Body, flee His love every time we sin. God woos us and we flee in shame and fear. Shame is a by-product of the Fall. We are constantly struggling against the shame that is brought about by our sin. God chases after us, beckoning, and calling us back to Him. He tenderly caresses us upon our return. Within the Confessional, he binds our wounds and restores us to the grace of our Baptism. No matter how many times we fall, he is constantly calling us back to Him.

Christ’s love for us has repeatedly been equated to a courtship in Scripture and Tradition. The desire and fire of passionate love is a common image for God. In fact, the Song of Songs is about God’s love for us. This is often misinterpreted by people, but it really is about God’s love for us through the imagery of romantic and erotic love. The same is true in the story of Cinderella.

Cinderella runs from the prince out of fear and shame that she is not good enough. She is a common girl. That is why when she finally comes forward to try on the glass slipper, she asks the now King to take her as she is, even in her lowly state. A sign of the virtue of humility. The King obliges and offers her the same humble request, that she will take him for who he is, even as a monarch apprentice, turned king. This moment not only demonstrates the humility required within marriage, it demonstrates the Church’s relationship to the Bridegroom who has given himself entirely to us. Christ emptied himself completely on the Cross in the greatest act of humility and his love is realized and reciprocated through the Church.

While the Christology was with me throughout the movie, the cinematography and costumes were breath-taking. I have been a Kenneth Branagh fan for decades and I could see his touch everywhere in the movie. The costumes, the banter, the style was so similar to Much Ado About Nothing and Hamlet. I fully expected him to end with a Shakespearean (given his background) style wedding, but he did not. He kept to simplicity and beauty, but showed the absolutely gorgeous wedding dress selected for Cinderella. Modesty is beautiful!

What really was truly a gift was the beauty. The entire movie is beautiful. This is so lacking in our culture anymore. The entire movie is a sensual experience in the way art is meant to be. It draws us into goodness and joy. The imagery caused wonder and awe, even if some of it was CG. It didn’t matter. The beauty was constant throughout the movie.

The beauty is contrasted with the darkness and cold of the stepmother, who inevitably breaks against the stone of goodness. The movie calls those who see it to embrace beauty, kindness, and goodness. I left wanting to know why there are not more movies like this one? Why has art so lost its way? I would say it is because it has lost its center, who is Christ. Even if Branagh meant to tone down the Christology of the Cinderella fairy tale, it was impossible to do because of the sheer beauty of it all. As I have written here before, we see God in beauty. Good woos us through beauty and this movie will do just that. I just might have to go see it again in the theater. God bless.

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Cinderella: Child-like Innocence, Christology, Beauty

Today I will not be writing much. Instead I have found some pictures as a feast for your eyes to instill wonder. Here in a couple of hours I will be taking my daughter to see Disney’s most recent Cinderella. It is directed by Kenneth Branagh. I have been a fan of his since junior high and his Much Ado About Nothing is still one of my favorite renditions of Shakespeare’s play.

Based on the reviews I have read, Branagh keeps to the original story and does not bring cynical neo-feminist ideas into the film. The fairy tales are enduring because they ring of truth and they cannot be conformed to the whims of the age. This is most fully realized in the Brothers Grimm tales that have an underlying Christology. You can read a wonderful review and explanation of symbolism on Fr. Barron’s website here. In fact, that review made me want to see the movie all the more.

So my daughter will wear her Cinderella dress and we will go enjoy the 2 hour film that focuses on good and the desire Christ has for each one of us. I thought I would post some images that I found in a Google search. Some are from the movie and others are beautiful castles that can be found around the world. Movies like Cinderella help us to recapture our child-like innocence, as well as remind us that God made man and woman for one another. Enjoy! Happy Feast of St. Joseph!

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To All the Men Out There

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For decades radical feminism has beaten men into submission.  This is extremely prevalent within the abortion sphere.  Men are told that the baby is not theirs, but is only the woman’s.  After all, only wanted babies belong to the mothers AND the fathers.  Men are told that they should support a woman in murdering their child, because he should be enlightened and show women the respect they supposedly did not get pre-1960.  That’s right, the respectful thing to do is to knock a girl up and then drive her to the abortion clinic.  Do I think that this is how most women, who are scared and do not know what to do, feel when they decide to go visit the local abortion clinic?  No.  Rather this is the face of big abortion and radical feminism.  It is not the face of the young college student who is terrified from the positive pregnancy test, or the teenage girl who is forced by her parents to get an abortion, or the older man who takes his underage girlfriend to get rid of the evidence,  the couple who is terrified of having a child, the woman who is in an abusive relationship, or the poor woman who is just trying to make ends meet.  In fact, I would guess that a lot of these women want the men in their lives to stand up for them, tell them they will support them and their child, and that everything is going to work out.  And for the women who are victims, what they need is someone to help them, not kill their child.

 
Men, we need you to speak out.  We need you to take care of the women you are in a relationship with.  We need you to man up.  We also need you to take your place on the side of life.  We need ALL men to stand up, whether you have been personally touched by abortion or not.  We have all be touched by abortion, 1/6th of our country is missing and has been killed since 1973. This is not just a “women’s rights” issue, this is a human rights issue.  Over a billion men worldwide have lost fatherhood thanks to abortion.  55 million and counting have lost fatherhood in this country alone.  You have a right to stand up and say”no”.  More than that, you should witness to these women and show them what it looks like to be a real man: a provider, brave, strong, a man of God.
 
We need you to be praying with us outside of abortion clinics during 40 Days for Life.  We need young men (including teenagers and children), middle aged, and older.  We need all of you to show the world that fatherhood should not be tossed aside.  That murdering children and future generations is not acceptable in the false name of equality. That God created male and female in the image and likeness of God, each with a unique dignity.
 
Today, my daughter and I went out to join our parish Knights of Columbus in praying a living Rosary.  It was a powerful witness to Divine Love, mercy, and the Culture of Life.  We had men, women, teenagers, and a toddler asking Our Lady and Our Lord to convert souls and to bring healing and strength to these families who are torn apart by the scourge and lie of abortion.  I have met the courageous men who pray with me outside of our local Planned Parenthood.  I greatly admire them.  They have not bought the lie of the secular culture.  Instead they stand in front of the world and declare that they have a voice.  They pray for these women, men, and babies who are hurt and destroyed each day.  These are the real men of our age.  Please come join us!  Be courageous!  Be for LIFE!