On Giants' Shoulders

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Hidden Face

On a slightly more uplifting note than my previous post, I rented the movie Therese this weekend. It was really enjoyable and I especially liked the director's commentary and some of the deleted scenes. Watching it encouraged me to go back to reading The Hidden Face by Ida Friederike Gorres. This book was recommended to me by the parochial vicar at our parish a couple of years ago. I started it, but never actually finished it. The real value of the book is that it is a very real look at St. Therese based on all of her writing and the testimony during the canonization process, not just the edited version of The Story of a Soul.

The book is not hagiographical, it shows the Martin family warts and all. They appear not as cardboard saints, but as real people. Gorres demonstrates how St. Therese serves as a role model for the way in which ordinary people doing little things can achieve sanctity. The book also demonstrates the ways in which St. Therese was Salesian in her spirituality. Since I've been reading St. Francis de Sales during Lent, that was really a neat tie in for me.

I recommend the movie, the book and also John Saward's book The Way of the Lamb which has huge sections devoted to St. Therese while also discussing G.K. Chesterton, Charles Peguy, Georges Bernanos and Hans Urs von Balthasar. Saward's book looks at the spirit of childhood and the way that these Catholics rose up in defense and celebration of childhood at a time when contraception, abortion, and eugenics were beginning to rear their ugly heads.

I would also recommend the movie The Passion of Bernadette. This is the story of Bernadette Soubirous after the she leaves Lourdes for the convent. Sydney Penny does an excellent job of portraying a very spunky Bernadette.

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