Learning to Listen: Tobit Bible Study Day 13

learning to listen

From Heart of Mary Women’s Fellowship:

There’s a bit of Shakespearean elegance to the fact that even though Tobit is dying and Anna will eventually pass away, the legacy of their family will continue on through Tobias, Sarah, and their grandchildren. In a similar way, the ones we love never truly leave us because we carry their wisdom with us if we learn how to listen to them, pray for God’s guidance, and then work to apply the wisdom from both our loved ones and God into our daily lives.

Read the rest here!

Tobit's Divine Praises: Tobit Bible Study Day 12

tobits divine praises

From Heart of Mary Women’s Fellowship

It’s not surprising that thankfulness for God’s mercy is said first because gratitude and mercy go hand in hand. We can’t be grateful without something to be grateful for and someone to thank. All gratitude and mercy begins and ends with God. It’s very much like a prayer said at the beginning of Adoration:

“O Sacrament most holy!

O Sacrament divine!

All praise and all thanksgiving

be every moment Thine.”

Read the rest here!

Angelic Revelations: Tobit Bible Study Day 11

angelic revelations

 

 

From Heart of Mary Women’s Fellowship

We have different ideas and images of what angels look like. We usually think of them as fantastical creatures, either peaceful looking cherubs or young, handsome men with wings, or young men in ancient armor. Actual angels, according to St. Thomas Aquinas, are souls without a body. They have as much knowledge and intuition as any other human being, but they can get past the processes of abstract thinking that we have to go through. Raphael is one of the seven archangels (the other two being Michael and Gabriel), “who stand and serve before the glory of the Lord.”

Read the rest here!

How Can We Be Heroes?

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Question from a reader in regards to my previous superhero post:

We all have the potential to live by their example and be heroes in our own ways, but what problems do we face in life that make superheroes important to us? How does their presence on TV, on film, and in comic books help us?


One of GK Chesterton’s most famous quotes goeth thusly: “Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”

The same can be applied for comic books and all of the adaptations thereof. In Geekpriest, Fr. Roderick Vonhogen (whom you may know for his Star Wars reaction video that went viral last year) has a chapter that integrates his love for comic book heroes with his own coming of age story. I highly recommend you read his memoir because it shows how faith and culture can work together, even in the world of geekdom.

 

Warning: Spoilers for Supergirl, The Flash, and other shows will ensue.

While it’s true that none of us have superpowers or face nefarious villains on a daily basis, we are all given talents, gifts, and special skills that we can use to help make the world a better place. One reason I love Flash and Supergirl is that while the heroes have awesome powers, their real special ability is something that we can all have: the power to believe in the best in people, the ability to empathize and be compassionate towards others.

In a recent episode of The Flash, Barry Allen helps Earth-2 Harrison Wells find another option when faced with the ultimatum of “Drain Flash’s speed or your daughter will be tortured and killed.” In spite of Harry betraying everyone, Barry is willing to help the scientist by offering to save Harry’s daughter, even if that means going to Earth-2 to do so. Keep in mind, Barry basically did all of that without using any super speed. Barry is a selfless person at heart, which means that he’s willing to go the extra mile, with or without his powers.

Another example of ordinary traits being used in an extraordinary way can be seen in the DC Animated Universe direct-to-video movie Superman vs. The Elite. Eric Rodriguez, AKA Channel Awesome’s “Blockbuster Buster,” says that this short movie exemplifies Superman’s greatest power: his strength of will. He does what is right, no matter what.

While we may not face situations where we have to sentence some form of justice on a criminal, we all have the power to try and be compassionate and fair, even towards those who’ve hurt us. In a similar way, we encounter situations where we are called to have conviction and do the right thing, even if it means facing insurmountable odds or a situation where vengeance could be an easier option.

Another reader pointed out that both Jessica Jones and Matt Murdock are not particularly role model material, due to Jessica Jones being an alcoholic with severe PTSD issues and Matt Murdock having Catholic guilt over not being able to save everyone. While Jessica Jones’s cynicism leaves a bad taste in my mouth, I and many other fans of Jessica Jones found her willingness to fight and prevent Kilgrave from hurting anyone else inspiring. And while Catholics are often mocked for having a major guilt complex, some people have used those doubts to find a sense of self-worth. Faith and doubt actually go hand in hand because doubt opens up questions that help further understand ourselves and our beliefs.

I also have a personal belief that nobody is beyond saving or redemption. While it’s true that the characters in Suicide Squad are only doing black-ops missions for the hopes of getting shorter prison sentences, these same villains could’ve been heroes in another universe. There’s a movie in the DC Animated Universe called Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths in which the Justice League find themselves in a Mirror Universe in which the Justice League encountered evil versions of themselves and heroic versions of the villains.

The same can be said for the character of Captain Cold and his complex character development in The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. Although Captain Cold started out as a major villain, he developed a more complex personality when it was revealed that he was very protective of his sister and would not resort to killing in order to get the job done. In Legends of Tomorrow, it’s implied that he resorted to becoming a criminal as a way to survive. He felt as if he had no other choice, given that he lived with an abusive father, and never thought that he could ever be a hero. However, DC Comics showed his heroic potential in an event called Flashpoint in which The Flash creates an alternate universe due to actions he did when he traveled back in time. In this series, Captain Cold becomes a hero called Citizen Cold.

But why bring up the villains at all, you ask? As I said: Everyone is capable of being a hero. We can look at the villains and see ourselves in them. We could’ve taken on a dark path if our circumstances were different and if we made different choices in life. However, even if you or someone you know is on that dark path, these same villains show that there could be a way out of the dark.

Grateful and Generous: Tobit Bible Study Day 10

grateful and generous

From Heart of Mary Women’s Fellowship:

Have you ever wanted to repay a friend for their kindness by giving them something in return? I often try to make an effort to remember my friends’ birthdays without checking Facebook and send them some kind of gift, even if it’s just a birthday greeting or a nice picture. There are many ways to show your friends gratitude for the things they’ve done for you. First, figure out your love language and then figure out which love language your friends would respond to the most. It’ll definitely help when it comes time to get them a present!

Raphael chooses to show his gratitude to Tobias and Tobit by giving them some advice. He reminds them to give gratitude to God, to keep doing good, especially through prayer and fasting, and to be generous through almsgiving.

Read the rest here!

At Last I See The Light: Tobit Bible Study Day 9

at last i see the light

From Heart of Mary Women’s Fellowship:

Today’s passages both involve a man being cured of blindness and gaining a new perspective in the process. Tobit gets cured of his temporary blindness and praises God’s mercy, while Tobias tells his family about his journey and introduces them to Sarah. In the Gospel of John, the man who was born blind is cured of the blindness that plagued him all his life and deals with the scrutiny of his parents and the Pharisees.

Read the rest here!

And just in case you’re wondering, yes the title comes from that song from Tangled. It’s part of the Tobit Spotify playlist. Give it a listen!

Friends and Family/Waiting for Growth: Tobit Bible Study Day 8

tobit friends and family

From Heart of Mary Women’s Fellowship:

We aren’t shown what happens to Tobias, Sarah, and Raphael on the journey back to Nineveh except for Tobias planning to use the fish gall to help cure his father. But really, most good stories know to show only what is necessary. I think one reason that the way back home is faster for heroes than getting to where they went in the first place is because getting home is a matter of working backwards. And since they took care of all the obstacles that blocked them from getting to their first destination, the path is clear for the way home.

 

Read the rest here!

 

I also look into how Anna and Tobit are doing in the meantime in Part 2:

 

tobit waiting for growth

 

Impatience and anger are both forms of short-sightedness. While Tobit is assured of Tobias’s safe return in spite of his physical blindness, Anna is equally blind due to her anxiety and impatience. Like Anna, we may not see the blessings in our lives due to our own myopic attitudes. Sometimes, we tend to make the biggest deals out of problems that aren’t actually that big a deal in the long run. Or we can be like Tobit and ignore our problems and pretend that they don’t exist.

Read the rest here!

The Importance of Superheroes

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It’s easy to write off superhero movies as being all the same. It’s easy to get cynical about comic book movies, especially ones that are dark and angsty (*sideglances at Batfleck and Man of Steel*). But the genre of adaptations based on comic books has come a long way from how they started in the early 2000s and despite what some people may think, it’s not a rinse-and-repeat formula. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if there’s one thing that the current lineup of superheros has shown us, it’s that there are many ways to be a hero, just as there are many ways to be a saint.

WARNING: I’ll be making references to both the Marvel Cinematic Universe AND the DC shows currently on TV, so if you’re one of those people who wants me to pick a side between Marvel and DC, this post is not for you. Also, I’m more familiar with the current lineup of movies and TV shows and not with the comics themselves, so apologies to you diehard comic book fans.

I’m gonna start out with what is being called the “Arrowverse,” AKA the current lineup of shows created by Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg. Arrow is the series most similar to the dark and gritty DC movies we’ve been seeing in recent years. It’s not a perfect show, especially with its soap-opera worthy levels of poor communications and misunderstandings, but my brother, who is a huge fan of the show, loves Arrow because of the characters. He says that the Green Arrow represents “the idea of a ray of light to combat a dark town. I think that things may always get worse before they get better, but you shouldn’t stop when it gets either way.”

Similarly, the protagonists in Daredevil and Jessica Jones are more like anti-heroes because these heroes don’t try to do the right thing for the sake of being good, but for other reasons. Matt Murdock wants to reform Hell’s Kitchen and Jessica Jones wants to believe that she can be a hero, even though she doesn’t think that she’s good. Neither of them realize it, but they are being heroes just by being selfless and putting other people before their own personal happiness. Maybe it’s my Catholic bias, but I liked that (so far) Matt incorporated the advice that Fr. Lantom gives him. And while I still have problems with Jessica Jones, I love that Jessica’s motivations throughout the show are for Hope’s safety as well as protecting humanity from Kilgrave.

In contrast, The Flash and Supergirl both have a more optimistic and idealistic view on heroism. Neither of the titular heroes resort to killing their adversaries. Instead, Flash gets help from his friends and mentors and come up with a smarter plan of action. The best example of this was during the Christmas special “Running to Stand Still.” Facing off against two of his deadliest opponents, Flash works together with his friends at S.T.A.R. labs to prevent a mass bombing. He also helps out a police officer who had a grudge against one of the bad guys. Another example can be seen in the crossover episode with Arrow “The Brave and The Bold” (Arrow Season 3) in which Flash’s team worked together with Green Arrow’s team to stop five bombs in the city from going off all at once.

Supergirl relies on her empathy and willingness to believe in the best in people in order to save the day and her optimism and compassion compel most people to imitate her. A recent example was shown in “Strange Visitor from Another Planet” in which Supergirl helped changed the mind of an anti-alien senator simply by saving her from the Monster (or rather White Martian) of the Week. She also helped her mentor take another step in dealing with his personal grief. (I’m applying this to both Hank Henshaw and Cat Grant.)

One other thing I also like about the latest crop of heroes is that they allow for original conflicts and concepts. Movies with superhero teams such as Guardians of the Galaxy, The Avengers, and Big Hero 6 show that while heroes may not always get along or agree, they will come together and be heroes when the situation calls for it.

What’s even better is that there are even shows out there that center on people who don’t have any superpowers, but are still considered heroes because their actions go beyond the ordinary. Agent Carter is an awesome show for many reasons, but one thing I love is that none of the protagonists (Peggy, Jarvis, or Howard) have any standard comic book superpowers. Instead, Peggy relies on her intuition and quick thinking in order to save the day. Jarvis trains in martial arts and is always willing to lend a hand. And the only superpowers Howard has are his genius mind and his charm.

The most interesting thing I’ve been seeing in the superhero genre, however, is that every character is given the opportunity to be good. Most of the time, villains are too selfish or sociopathic to want to be good. However, there are more complex villains that have a moral. Legends of Tomorrow and Suicide Squad show that even bad guys have the potential to be heroic under the right circumstances.

In Legends of Tomorrow, there are three characters who are morally ambiguous: Captain Cold, Heatwave, and White Canary. In my honest opinion, these guys have been the most interesting characters to watch. I love their snark, but I also like that they’re trying to figure out their own purpose in a team where most of the characters tend towards following rules or morals. While they don’t consider themselves to be good, Captain Cold is more than willing to help out a “crewmember” in need. Back in The Flash, he establishes his own code of honor with the main hero and goes out of his way to protect his sister. And while I’m on the fence about White Canary partaking in cannabis, she’s efficient in battle and wants to be more than just an assassin. Even the characters with typical morals, such as Martin Stein, are becoming more aware of their flaws as people and are making efforts to change in order to become better heroes.

In short, we need comic book superheroes. Why? Because we all have the potential to be heroes, even without the ability to gain superpowers. Superheroes, in the end, are people who have “an increased capacity to act and exert power and to demonstrate agency.” And as David Bowie said: “We can be heroes, just for one day.”

So go be heroes, people!

Unleashing Mr. Darcy: Gone To the Dogs

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Once again, it is February. The month where lots of romantic comedies and chick flicks drop into theaters and on TV. Given that I am single, I’m gonna start things off with warning you about what movies to avoid.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Hallmark movies are mediocre at best. They’re safe, predictable time killers and I don’t mind watching most of them. However, even a girl like me has her limits.

As part of Hallmark Channel’s “Winterfest,” they released a new movie called “Unleashing Mr. Darcy,” which is based off of a modern novelization of Pride and Prejudice. I haven’t read the book version of Unleashing Mr. Darcy. Nor do I plan on doing so because this movie did not do the original story justice. And believe me when I say, it takes a lot to get me angry and disgusted at something. This movie managed to get on my bad side.

The movie starts off introducing Elizabeth “Lizzie” Scott as a teacher in a Washington DC prep school who gets suspended from her job because she refuses to let a jock pass her class. The rich stiffs claim that she tried to get money from them, when in reality it’s the complete opposite. We’re already off to a bad start because this subplot is a cheap and unnecessary way for Lizzie to cross paths with Darcy later on.

Lizzie Scott meets her Darcy at her first dog show and to my surprise, this Darcy is actually nice. He doesn’t come off as insulting or arrogant. Because he’s so nice, Lizzie Scott’s attitude towards Darcy comes off as her projecting her issues about rich stiffs and prejudging him because of his class. While I understand that being prejudiced is part of being Elizabeth Bennet, the problem is Lizzie Scott doesn’t have a real reason to be prejudiced against Darcy outside of his social class. He complimented her dog and acted politely to her. He didn’t say she was tolerable or act like the dog show was the last place he wanted to be.

I could forgive this adaptation for downplaying the family angle for Lizzie Scott, but the Jane character (Jenna) doesn’t even get much of a subplot in regards to her romantic interest (Henry). And worst of all, there’s no Wickham-esque romantic false lead. I know that Hallmark movies tend to play things safe when it comes to romantic false leads, but without much conflict between Jenna and Henry and no Wickham, all that’s stopping Lizzie Scott from really loving Darcy is herself and the modern versions of Lady Catherine and Caroline.

The movie gives way too much screen time to the conflicts that Lizzie Scott has with Violet (Lady Catherine) and Felicity (Caroline). Violet keeps pushing Felicity onto Darcy as a potential bride and apparently, the gossip regarding Darcy’s relationships is worthy of front page news. I have a hard time believing that, of course. Violet and Felicity come off as paranoid busybodies because they’re so insecure about making sure that Darcy marries the right woman that they are willing to destroy Lizzie Scott’s reputation and keep her apart from him. It doesn’t feel authentic to me.

The worst thing, though, was how they played off the “Rosings/Hunsford” scenario in which Lizzie and Darcy have their big fight. Suddenly, the all-too-nice Darcy does an awful move by kissing Lizzie Scott just to make sure that his aunt and Felicity finally back off of him. Sure, he loves her, but Lizzie Scott has constantly been pushing him away.

The two of them are kept apart for the standard third act misunderstanding runtime of about 20 minutes or so before Lizzie Scott finally falls for Darcy after he helps her get her job back and she finds out where the money for his foundation goes to. Sorry, but I’m still not buying it. The Rosings/Hunsford scene was too rushed and there was no “Pemberley” scene that helped Lizzie actually see Darcy for who he really is.

In short, by the time Lizzie Scott and Darcy finally reunite at another dog show, I get this awful feeling in my mouth that makes me want to down an entire bottle of Jack Daniels. No movie has ever been so bad, I felt like I needed a drink, but that’s just how bad this version of Pride and Prejudice is.

I’m not someone who thinks that modern adaptations of Pride and Prejudice can’t be done. I’m the biggest fan of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, after all. But no matter how you adapt this classic story, you have to keep some things as part of the plot. Say what you will about Bridget Jones’s Diary, but you can call it a comedy of modern manners, poking fun at the neurotic tendencies and mistakes that modern women make when it comes to relationships. Say what you will about Bride and Prejudice, but it’s a fun adaptation because of the catchy songs and it offers some new things to the table in regards to the Lizzie/Darcy dynamic.

But taking out the obstacles that caused Lizzie to have her prejudices towards Darcy is, to me, a major problem. Romantic Comedy 101: There has to be a good reason why the two romantic leads don’t get off on the right foot. Also, Writing Rule #1: Show, don’t tell. This Hallmark movie is way more tell than show.

If you want to watch an awesome modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, watch The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.  Unleashing Mr. Darcy is an adaptation that has gone to the dogs

Three To Get Married/In Good Times And Bad

three to get married

From Heart of Mary Women’s Fellowship

The first time that I heard today’s passages, I was at my friend’s wedding. The priest at their wedding complimented my friend on her choice of readings and I couldn’t help but agree with him. It was my first time ever hearing a passage from Tobit, so right off the bat, I knew that my friend and her husband had something different in mind from the typical feel good sentimentality most couples want. 

 

Whether you are single, in a relationship, or already married, I hope that you can find something to relate to in the first part of today’s reflections. Read here for part 1.

 

 

in good times and bad

 

In Part 2, I compare Tobit and Sarah’s wedding party to the Wedding at Cana.

I always felt that if I ever get married, I want the Gospel to be today’s passage from the Gospel of John. I’m not someone who constantly dreams of the perfect wedding (although I do have a wedding Pinterest board like every other girl who uses Pinterest), but I always loved the Wedding at Cana because it’s a microcosm of what I feel life is like for married couples and for those who enter into religious life.

 

What do they have common? Find out here!

 

And finally, I want to share with you the YouTube playlist I created to go with this study: