Wednesday, August 26, 2009

TV Series Review: Defying Gravity

From St. Paul:

"for we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." (Eph 6:11-12)

There is nothing sometimes more surprising than being blindsided by something or someone we have taken an interest in.

In this case, I have caught the last few episodes of a new TV series called Defying Gravity.

The show is well done with there being key emotional hooks to grab our attention such as the adventure dynamic, technology displayed, special effects, and sexual interest/tensions between the characters on the space ship and on the ground supporting them.

So, not having caught the first couple of episodes, there are a few elements missing in my understanding of the show. Keep this in mind when it comes to my opinion on it.

So, what do I mean about being blindsided?

Given what I have seen so far, my expectations as far as the characters and their development were fairly on the level. There were some pretty straight forward interactions between the characters on the space ship that would seem to be pretty typical for a group of folks living in what is essentially a small container for a long period of time.

Last night, in the episode named Rubicon which means the point of no return, the characters were called to let go of something from their past. They had to pick something they brought with them and put it in a "time capsule" container that was to be left in space at the Rubicon point to be picked up on the way back.

As we were shown the various things the characters were looking to choose, we were given flash backs to the point in time where the objects acquired their value . in most cases.

In those flash backs and some of the current time interactions between the characters we discovered:

  • Casual sex is seemingly okay (not unusual for any media).
    • NSA - No Strings Attached is one theme between Maddux and Nadia Schilling.
    • No consequences to the heart or spirit.
    • Shifting between different partners has no consequence or impact on future relationships or self.
  • Religious objects are "crap" not needed for faith.
    • Discussion between Morales and Wassenfelder when she was deliberating between a Miraculous Medal necklace or a dog collar from a pet of hers for the time capsule. Her expression after that conversation made it pretty clear that she had to struggle between them.
  • Tarot Cards hold the "truth".
    • Zoe's mom "reads" people using the cards. Her "reads" are seemingly accurate.
  • A vasectomy is okay.
    • A flash back for Maddux Donner to him discussing his vasectomy with a doctor . which was apparently not there.
  • Abortion is okay.
    • Zoe Barns got pregnant sometime during the early phase of the training and weeding session all of the candidates were going through. I think I caught that one of the other characters, Maddux Donner, was the father.
    • Zoe has to decide between continuing the pregnancy and losing the chance to get into space or having an abortion which is quite "illegal" according to the abortion doctor she talks to.
    • Needless to say the decision was made by her to lose the child and not her chance at space.

It's only a TV show and the characters are only human right?

If we stop, and take seriously what St. Paul is telling us at the beginning of this post then the answer is clearly a resounding NO.

Recognizing that there are spiritual influences, sometimes very subtle until they really show themselves as they did in this particular episode of Defying Gravity, takes a lot of prayer and discernment.

  • We are what we eat.

If we take to the Sacraments of Eucharist and Confession on a regular basis, then this statement certainly holds true.

If we feed ourselves on media and other content that is very subtle about its message and who is delivering that message, then where does that lead us to? What, or whom, do we become, and what do we believe if we continue to watch? How many justifications and excuses will it take to continue down that path?

As a husband and father, it is ultimately up to me to be the spiritual bastion upon which this type of content must bound off of. Thus, I need to know if the content of the show is leading me, and thus my family, closer to Jesus or if it is taking us away from Him.

I take that responsibility very seriously as I am a weak and sinful man. That means many confessions, receiving Our Lord in the Eucharist as often as I can, and begging for His Mercy and my family's forgiveness for my failings regularly.

Some external links:

We pray:

  • Our Lady Queen of Chastity, pray for us.
  • Our Lady Queen of Fidelity, pray for us.
  • St. Joseph, pray for us.
  • St. Augustine, pray for us.
  • + In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
  • Amen.

John Everett

Feast of Saint Teresa de Gesu, Jornet y Ibars

Monday, August 24, 2009

Deep Healing Requires A Commitment to Honesty

There are many journeys we take in this life that require us to "walk in the footsteps of our Master" (1 John 2:6).

Jesus' footsteps walked His Passion, Death, and Resurrection among the many others including His miracles of healing and raising the dead.

As with anything in this world, our lives have cycles. The principle cycle of the Christian's life is that of sharing in His Passion, struggling to let go in the Death of dying to self and others, and finally embracing the gift of freedom in Resurrection.

The perspective that we can gain when we participate in the life of the Church, especially in receiving Jesus in the Eucharist and His tender mercy in the Sacrament of Confession/Reconciliation, is one where our lives take on a whole new value.

As we gain an understanding of just how much value we have, Jesus did Suffer, Die, and Rise for us after all, we begin to realize that we have one very serious choice to make.

That choice is between being brutally honest with ourselves and our God . or not.

For those of us that have had a direct participation in the Passion of Christ via the hands of others, in extremely abusive relationships for example, this choice is even more critical as we have learned to lie to ourselves in the midst of the abuse.

We believe the lies we were told by our abusers.

We want to stay in our comfort zone, which is knowing our environment, even in the midst of the abuse, as the unknown is just too terrifying to even contemplate.

So, when we hear the call of Jesus to begin letting go of our abusive relationship cycles, of our patterns of dysfunctional behaviour, and embrace the healing journey, we may say "Yes" but actually we may mean "No".

There will be areas of our past that are no-go zones with our therapists for example. Or, we may harbour all of the anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness since it is all that we seemingly have.

At some point, we will hopefully begin to realize that Jesus is quite persistent in His efforts to bring healing to our heart, mind, psyche, and body.

As terrified as we are, as much as we do not want to face those horrible past events, as much as we don't want to forgive those that have hurt us, He will call us to let go and to forgive.

He will continue to call us to say and mean "Yes".

Don't get me wrong, it is not an easy "Yes" to make. It is an ongoing process of letting go, of remaining committed to being brutally honest with ourselves, others, and especially with God.

We will come to know the darkest moments on the Cross when Jesus cried out about His seeming abandonment in our healing journey. We will come to know most intimately the wounds on His Person.

The Hope that we must secure is in the reality that our suffering can be, and is, redemptive and that ultimately we will walk with the Lord in the Final Resurrection!

  • Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us (x3).
  • Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pray for us.
  • Saint Bartholomew, pray for us.

John Everett

Feast of Saint Bartholomew the Apostle

Sunday, August 16, 2009

From the Mouths Of Babes - Wisdom

Depending on the situation we are in or a decision we are discerning, we have taken to asking our oldest, Anne-Marie who is now 5, to pray with us and help us to decide or discern.

Raymond, at three, will also be included in the request to pray and contribute depending on the situation at hand.

The one thing that we have realized as parents is that we need to value whatever contribution Anne-Marie, or Raymond, make to the discernment process.

Even if their contribution seems to be completely out of bounds or even a total tangent to where Lucille and I may be at in the discernment process.

One thing we are discovering in this process is if Anne-Marie responds to our, "Why did you say that" with something like, "Because Jesus told me", we listen attentively to what she has to say.

Ultimately, as parents it is our responsibility to make the decisions.

But, a part of that responsibility is to make an act of humility before our children that recognizes their contribution as being a valuable part of our discernment process for decisions that directly impact our children and the family as a whole.

That value is one of the core foundations of their personhood that they will carry with them their entire lives.

The core foundations are the tools we teach our children to use to always keep their face towards the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ on Calvary.


John Everett

Feast of St. Stephen of Hungary

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Movie: Fireproof - Never Leave Your Partner Behind

Lucille and I watched the movie Fireproof not too long ago.

Caleb and Catherine Hold are on the verge of divorce. There is no longer much of a connection between them with very little in the way of constructive communication happening either.

In what would seem a final and desperate move, Caleb reaches out to his father for some advice.

His dad asks him to hold off on getting into the divorce proceedings until Caleb receives a mail package from him.

When the package arrives, he finds a journal style book in it. Opening it, he finds the title of the book is The Love Dare.

In it is a call to a 40 day journey to work on turning around his marriage.

Needless to say, his journey is extremely painful and there are many struggles to overcome including his feelings of hopelessness for his marriage.

This is a good movie for husband and wife to sit down together and watch after the kids have gone to bed. That is, this is a movie for adults, or perhaps young adults mature enough to understand the dynamics of a relationship breakdown.

Take the time to listen with the heart, mind, and spirit to the message the Holy Spirit wants to share while watching the movie. Pray together before the movie starts. If nothing comes to mind or heart, pray a decade of the Rosary, or even an Our Father together to start off in the right space.

When the movie has finished, don't talk. Let the Holy Spirit's message sink in and then turn to each other and pray at least the Our Father together before starting a conversation.

Take the time to talk. If the conversation is fruitful, then keep it going. The grace will be there to deal with what tomorrow has to bring when tomorrow comes.

The duty of the moment is to discover what the Holy Spirit has placed on both hearts and pray and talk about it together.

If there is indeed conflict within the marriage, then this is an opportune time to humble ourselves before our husband or wife, take responsibility for our contributions to the conflict, and ask for forgiveness.

Marriage is a journey of love and sacrifice that is truly rewarding. We need to take the time to actually recognize the rewards!


John Everett

Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Virtue of Perfection

When I woke up this morning, I needed to get this off my heart.

"She is the perfect wife," John says one day in front of my family as we were visiting this summer. Instantly, I say, "I am not perfect."

My husband has said this at other times in one on one conversations and it baffled me every time. Why is he saying this? I am not perfect. I am a flawed human being. I am sinful. Slowly, I began to realize that what he really meant is that we are perfect for each other but we in ourselves are not perfect.

On our little summer vacation, I learned that perfection is also a virtue. I learned this from a neat book called "A year with the Saints" by the Sisters of Mercy. This book also states a quote by St. Frances de Sales:

"Hate your imperfections, then, because they are imperfections, but love them because they make you know your nothingness and give to you an opportunity to exercise yourself in virtue, and to God to show His mercy towards you" (p. 163).

The book also talks about St. Vincent de Paul who "never felt anger and bitterness against himself on account of his defects" but "the pain felt for a defect will have something in it sweet and tranquil" (p. 162).

After I said I was not perfect, my sister-in-law responded by saying, "I know some people who think they are perfect". The response back was silence. The more I thought about this, the more I wondered what exactly does it mean to be perfect. I guess being perfect can be subject to interpretation.

Most importantly though, what does it mean to be perfect in God's eyes? There are several interpretations of perfection according to the Saints. For the sake of simplicity, I will mention 3 quotes from famous Saints.

The first:

Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do? Here is the true token of a soul absolutely perfect: when one has succeeded in leaving behind his own will to such a degree as no longer to seek, to aim, or to desire to do what he would will, but only what God wills (St. Bernard). (A year with the saints, Sisters of Mercy, p. 17).

The second:

To be perfect in one's vocation is nothing else than to perform the duties and offices to which one is obliged, solely for the honor and love of God, referring all to His glory. Whoever works in this manner may be called perfect in his state, a man according to the heart and will of God (St. Francis de Sales). (A year with the Saints, Sisters of Mercy, p. 8).

And, the third:

All the science of the Saints is included in these two things: To do, and to suffer. And whoever has done these two things best, has made himself most saintly (St. Francis de Sales). (A year with the Saints, Sisters of Mercy, p.11).

When we visit with family, it can be difficult at times because of all the hurts from the past that may come up. But, in our case towards the end of our trip we began to see the hidden graces of our journey together.

St. Gregory, St. Bernard, and St. Charles stated "that we must act in this like travelers who do not regard the road they have gone over, but, rather, what remains for them to traverse - and this they keep always before their eyes, even to their journey's end" (p. 2).

Lucille Everett

Feast of the Transfiguration

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Our Children Teach - God the Father and His Children

The Lord calls us to become like little children:

"At this time the disciples came to Jesus and said, 'Who is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven?' So he called a little child to him whom he set among them. Then he said, 'In truth I tell you, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven. And so, the one who makes himself as little as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven."
Matthew 18:1-4

As Catholic Fathers and Catholic Mothers, we can begin to discover the yearning, or a burden, that is placed upon our heart to meditate and eventually contemplate our relationships with our own children.

Lately, this prayerful meditation and contemplation has yielded some fruit.

That is, in contemplating my fatherly love for our children along with the almost infinite number of times we need to correct and discipline them, I am discovering how it is that God the Father looks at us in His love.

No matter how many times we need to get down on our knees before Jesus Christ present in the priest to confess our sins, God the Father still loves us.

His look of love towards us His children is much deeper than our own look of love for our own children. In His love, he has given us His Son, Jesus Christ, in the Most Blessed Sacrament to feed us, heal us, and sustain us (John 6:25-71).

With this realization has come the slow but oncoming dawn of realization: God the Father truly loves us as His children!

He accepts us as we are in all of our woundedness and brokenness. And, just as we are with our own children, He does not excuse us from responsibility for our behaviour!

The key for us is to learn about our relationship with God the Father via our relationship with our children. As Catholic Fathers and Catholic Mothers, our family relationships are one of the key paths we can walk to grow our relationship with Him Who Loves us.

John Everett

Feast of John Marie Vianney