Bella, released in 2006 at the Toronto International Film Festival, is one of those movies that I really meant to see, but never got around to it. Thanks to Netflix, I finally did, and wow, what a great movie!
The story, which takes place in one day, may get a little confusing as the backstory unfolds in flashbacks. Jose, a soccer star who has just signed a lucrative contract, accidentally kills a small child and serves time in prison. After his release, he works in his brother’s restaurant as a chef, where he meets Nina, a waitress who has a brief affair (not with Jose) which ends in an unplanned pregnancy. Nina’s solution is to end the pregnancy, but Jose has other ideas, and Nina changes her plans (as shown in flash-forwards, confused yet?). The subtle anti-abortion message is so powerful, that I can see why pro-life groups adopted this movie and helped to heavily promote it.
I enjoyed the portrayal of Jose’s family and particularly his interaction with his brother Manny, whose compulsive reactions Jose responds to with calm dismissal. Such as when Manny fires Jose, who simply walks out the back door of the restaurant, then returns the next morning and cooks Manny breakfast as if nothing happened.
My favorite scene has to be Jose, sitting with a rosary in his hand, while Nina is taken into the back of the abortion clinic. It’s something you might miss, if you weren’t Catholic, but to me, it screamed the power of Our Blessed Mother’s intercession.
Bella is a story about imperfect people, living sometimes difficult lives and facing complicated choices. It’s about the power of God bringing awesome good out of our human weakness.
Lately my 9 year old has been wanting to say the Rosary as a family. I am thrilled with this new development, as I have been trying to encourage it for years, but I wonder what has brought it on. Naturally, he has several fairly nice rosaries, as well as some funky plastic ones. He knows how to say the Rosary, as we frequently say it in the car (with or without his participation) and it is said before Sunday Mass at our church and at the holy hour we attend on Thursdays. Yet, this family Rosary has been instigated at his request.
He does have a special intention – the healing of his 9 year old cousin who is having open-heart surgery in a few weeks. But why this particular prayer method? I can only think that, in addition to divine inspiration at work in his heart, all our family discussions, in which there are many disagreements, seem to meet in agreement on one thing – the power of praying the Family Rosary. Thanks be to God!
My mom died on April 12th. We’d had over a year to prepare, as she’d been diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia just after Thanksgiving in 2010. As a final indignity, we will not be able to bury her until April 30th. This could also be looked upon as a measure of her importance, as we have striven to coordinate church services, with availability in the military cemetery where she and my dad are entitled to be buried. One might even compare our trials to arranging for the burial of a great dignitary. No three days of mourning and then rest in peace, here. In truth, it is just another case of hurry up and wait on the government. The mortuary sent the wrong paperwork to Army Records. When we finally got a date from the cemetery, the church was booked. The next available date at the church was the day of my oldest son’s confirmation. So we took the following two days for the Rosary and Funeral. The day of the funeral, Friday, which is also my youngest son’s birthday, was not available at the cemetery, so we will have to wait out the weekend until Monday to bury mom. This has made for absolute chaos.
My daughter-in-law was baptized and confirmed at the Easter vigil on the 7th. Her husband is receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation next Wednesday. Mom’s Rosary and Funeral are the following two days. My youngest son’s birthday, the same day as the funeral. Mom’s interment the following Monday. In trying to make sense of all this, we could easily choose to let mom’s death overshadow all the joyful celebrations which have surrounded it this month. I think mom would want it otherwise. She gave us plenty of time to prepare. I have grieved much over the past year. Now her suffering is done.
As I meditated upon the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary the other day, I was struck by how Jesus, after his night of Agony in the Garden, went willingly to His death. I was indeed questioning “what if this is it”? I think He knew we needed assurance that “this” is NOT “it”. That He has truly gone to prepare a place for us, so that we may live this life fearlessly and fully. That we will, indeed, rise with Him to enjoy eternal life. Mom is already there.
Our celebrations this month, are an answer to years of fierce and determined prayer by her. I think she would want us to celebrate and not let the agony and frustration of the burial preparations get us down.
I love you, Mom. You are always in my heart.
A couple of months ago I was priviledged to participate in the pilgrimage of Our Lady of Guadalupe within our Mexican community. Once a year, a couple from Prescott brings a life-size portrait of the Virgin to our small town and She visits a number of homes where we gather for a nightly rosary, singing and a snack or meal afterwards. The food is always wonderful, the fellowship is comforting and the prayer time is liberating. More than one person has remarked on the relief experienced after laying his or her troubles at the feet of Our Lady.
This last visit lasted two months. Though it was often difficult to drag myself out of the house in the evening, when all I wanted was to eat a simple meal in front of the TV or read a good book, once I got there the power of shared prayer and devotions worked its healing magic on my weary body and mind.
Now that the Pilgrim Virgin has moved on, I struggle to say my daily rosary. The day gets so busy that when evening finally comes I am so tired that I fall into bed, reach over for my beads and maybe make it past the opening prayers before sleep overtakes me. On days when we have somewhere to go, we manage to say the rosary in the car. Living 50 miles from anywhere does have its perks. Sometimes my best time to say the rosary is in the evenings when I am topping off water troughs for the animals. The rhythm of the prayers, the cool of the mountain evening and the glory of the Arizona sunset just seem to lend themselves to meditation. Even then, frequently the boy is pestering me to play cowboy squirt guns or throw the baseball with him. Well, we keep trying. And we are truly blessed!