TUESDAY     March 7, 2000    vol. 11, no. 47    SECTION ONE

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SECTION ONE Contents: Go immediately to the article:
  • CATHOLIC PewPOINT editorial on making Lent count
  • THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS - second part of his Papal Lenten Message
  • Michael Vincent Boyer's HOW HOLY WOULD HELP HOLLYWOOD column
  • Monthly Medjugorje Message for February 25th

  • To attain our Heavenly trophy, it's time to get in shape! And Lent is the perfect time to tone up for atonement!

        In today's editorial, we look to tomorrow - Ash Wednesday - and Lent and what we, as concerned Catholics need to do to make this a fruitful, grace-filled Lent. We delve into what constitutes "fasting" and "abstinence" and why and sum it up in the analogy of the race Saint Paul speaks of in Corinthians as well as mixing in a few more metaphors to show how we can be winners through our preparation and reparation this Lent. For today's editorial Make 'hay' so the Son shines in our hearts and souls! , click on CATHOLIC PewPOINT

    Make 'hay' so the Son shines in our hearts and souls!

    Michael Cain, editor

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    The Pope's special Papal Lenten Message for 2000

       Today we bring you, in preparation for Lent, which begins tomorrow with Ash Wednesday, the second of a two part installment containing the Holy Father's Papal Lenten Message for the universal Church for this Jubilee Year 2000. It was first released on January 27th this year and we saved it until the yesterday and today. In his message the Pope emphasizes the theme of reconciliation as part of the conversion process which will have its emphasis this Sunday on "Mea Culpa" Sunday during the First Sunday of Lent. This is the same message the Blessed Virgin Mary has been imparting at Medjugorje and elsewhere in doing penance, sacrifice, fasting and prayer in order to convert our hearts and forgive so that we may be forgiven as God asks of all of His children. Following is the second of a two part installment with part one having been carried in yesterday's issue. See THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS.

    The Holy Father's Lenten Message for 2000
    part two

    "I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Matthew 28: 20).

      5. The path of conversion leads to reconciliation with God and to fullness of new life in Christ. A life of faith, hope and love. These three virtues, known as the "theological" virtues because they refer directly to God in His mystery, have been the subject of special study during the three years of preparation for the Great Jubilee. The celebration of the Holy Year now calls every Christian to live and bear witness to these virtues in a fuller and more conscious way. The grace of the Jubilee above all impels us to renew our personal faith. This consists in holding fast to the proclamation of the Paschal Mystery, through which believers recognize that in Christ crucified and risen from the dead they have been given salvation. Day by day they offer Him their lives; they accept everything that the Lord wills for them, in the certainty that God loves them. Faith is the "yes" of individuals to God, it is their "Amen". For Jews, Christians and Muslims alike, Abraham is the exemplar of the believer: trusting in the promise, he follows the voice of God calling him to set out on unknown paths. Faith helps us to discover the signs of God's loving presence in creation, in people, in the events of history and above all in the work and message of Christ, as He inspires people to look beyond themselves, beyond appearances, towards that transcendence where the mystery of God's love for every creature is revealed.

          Through the grace of the Jubilee, the Lord likewise invites us to renew our hope. In fact, time itself is redeemed in Christ and opens up to a prospect of unending joy and full communion with God. For Christians, time is marked by an expectation of the eternal wedding feast, anticipated daily at the Eucharistic table. Looking forward to the eternal banquet "the Spirit and Bride say 'Come'" (Revelation/Apocalypse 22:17), nurturing the hope that frees time from mere repetition and gives it its real meaning. Through the virtue of hope, Christians bear witness to the fact that, beyond all evil and beyond every limit, history bears within itself a seed of good which the Lord will cause to germinate in its fullness. They therefore look to the new millennium without fear, and face the challenges and expectations of the future in the confident certainty which is born of faith in the Lord's promise.

          Through the Jubilee, finally, the Lord asks us to rekindle our charity. The Kingdom which Christ will reveal in its full splendour at the end of time is already present where people live in accordance with God's will. The Church is called to bear witness to the communion, peace and charity which are the Kingdom's distinguishing marks. In this mission, the Christian community knows that faith without works is dead (cf. James 2:17). Thus, through charity, Christians make visible God's love for man revealed in Christ, and make manifest Christ's presence in the world "to the close of the age." For Christians, charity is not just a gesture or an ideal but is, so to speak, the prolongation of the presence of Christ who gives himself.

          During Lent, everyone - rich and poor - is invited to make Christ's love present through generous works of charity. During this Jubilee Year our charity is called in a particular way to manifest Christ's love to our brothers and sisters who lack the necessities of life, who suffer hunger, violence or injustice. This is the way to make the ideals of liberation and fraternity found in the Sacred Scripture a reality, ideals which the Holy Year puts before us once more. The ancient Jewish jubilee, in fact, called for the freeing of slaves, the cancellation of debts, the giving of assistance to the poor. Today, new forms of slavery and more tragic forms of poverty afflict vast numbers of people, especially in the so-called Third World countries. This is a cry of suffering and despair which must be heard and responded to by all those walking the path of the Jubilee. How can we ask for the grace of the Jubilee if we are insensitive to the needs of the poor, if we do not work to ensure that all have what is necessary to lead a decent life?

          May the millennium which is beginning be a time when, finally, the cry of countless men and women our brothers and sisters who do not have even the minimum necessary to live is heard and finds a benevolent response. It is my hope that Christians at every level will become promoters of practical initiatives to ensure an equitable distribution of resources and the promotion of the complete human development of every individual.

      6. "I am with you always, to the close of the age." These words of Jesus assure us that in proclaiming and living the Gospel of charity we are not alone. Once again, during this Lent of the year 2000, He invites us to return to the Father, Who is waiting for us with open arms to transform us into living and effective signs of His merciful love. To Mary, Mother of all who suffer and Mother of Divine Mercy, we entrust our intentions and our resolutions. May she be the bright star on our journey in the new millennium. With these sentiments I invoke upon everyone the blessings of God, One and Triune, the beginning and the end of all things, to Whom we raise "to the close of the age" the hymn of blessing and praise in Christ: "Through Him, with Him, in Him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honour is Yours, Almighty Father, for ever and ever. Amen."

        From Castel Gandolfo, 21 September 1999

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    On the screen, behind the scenes, and in its agenda, beauty isn't even skin-deep in "American Beauty"

        Today Michael Vincent Boyer, a well-respected Catholic insider expert on what's happening in the entertainment industry, exposes the Oscar-nominated movie "American Beauty" and how there's nothing beautiful about it compared to last year's nominee "Life is Beautiful." In fact, Michael shows how fame, success and depravity have contributed to the success of this film at the expense of values and American ideals and it all begins with that so-called genius Stephen Spielberg. For his column, Spielberg's List is a far cry from "Schindler's List", see HOW HOLY WOULD HELP HOLLYWOOD

    What Hollywood doesn't want you to know

    Spielberg's List is a far cry from "Schindler's List"

        "...with the now widely publicized friendship between Spielberg and President Clinton, there's obviously no argument coming from the White House, especially with Clinton's past history of drug abuse and adultery. This silence may be due to Clinton's seduction by the film business and perhaps the chance to work for DreamWorks or even replace Jack Valenti as President of the Motion Picture Association of America..."

          Spoken words have meaning. Written words have meaning. When words and stories are printed as a film script that finds its way as a finished movie playing at your local theater, those "meanings" have an immediate effect and influence unlike any other form of popular art.

          Such is the case with Steven Spielberg's dark and forbidding "comedy" "American Beauty". The story revolves around the sexual fantasies of the central character Lester Burnham, played by Kevin Spacey, a married father in his early forties who is having a mid-life crisis and "riding out" a troubled marriage with his wife. He begins to fantasize about his daughter's cheerleader friend, Angela, who sparks a renewal in Lester's life.

          But, the most damaging message from the film involves Lester's neighbor, Ricky, the handsome high school drug dealer who begins selling drugs to Lester so that he can "expand" his "spiritual side." The constant dope-smoking has him falling deeper into his fantasies as his wife's screaming intensifies. The whole family is dysfunctional in the midst of tranquil suburbia. Bashing suburban peace is a favorite theme of Hollywood filmmakers who disdain the life of tidy houses and manicured lawns. Other recent examples of "suburban bashing" was evidenced in "Happiness," "Pleasantville," and "The Ice Storm."

          However, the disturbing portrait of the drug dealer neighbor in "American Beauty" as a "sensitive and caring" individual attempts to elevate him to the movie's only "sympathetic" character. Ricky is constantly video-taping everything around him for the "hidden beauty" life beholds, such as taping a plastic bag blowing in the wind. Now, that's beauty, isn't it?

          But, in the end, Ricky corrupts Lester's daughter into his hazy lifestyle as they develop their own "sensitive" relationship. The message of the film is that drug use is just fine, since Lester undergoes a change for the "better" as he acquires "peace, wisdom, and serenity." How about poor judgment, lack of father figure, and even greater dysfunction?

          Critics are quick to point out that it's not fair to say this is a Spielberg film, per say, because it is actually produced by Don Jinks and Bruce Cohen, written by Alan Ball, and directed by Sam Mendes. SKG Dream Works just "happens" to be the film's distributor. But, without a distribution agreement by Spielberg's company, the film would have never been made, since all the other studios in Hollywood had the good sense to turn the project down. Spielberg's involvement was more than passive according to director Mendes. The October 4, 1999 issue of USA Today says, "a script was handed to [Mendes] by DreamWorks honcho Steven Spielberg over lunch." That's not "passive" - that's about as actively direct as it gets. The article continues, "Mendes was blown away by sitcom writer Alan Ball's story, with its horrific and dysfunctional family, the spooky boy next door who sells dope and constantly follows Lester's daughter with his camcorder." That's entertainment?!

          Writer Alan Ball's own words show how personal agendas and value manipulation are often a reflection of their own "dysfunctional" past, which they are eager to foist on the public. In a screenwriter's magazine, Ball says a lot of the story comes from personal experience, "I grew up in a household with a somewhat troubled father figure and a somewhat shut-down mother figure, so Ricky's household certainly resembles mine in ways." Does that mean Alan Ball used to sell drugs from his house? Does Steven Spielberg find that good movie material for a bleak comedy? Ball is also producer of the faltering TV sitcom "Oh Grow Up!" about two roommates who take in a third suitor who says he left his wife because he realized he was gay. No wonder the networks are losing almost one million viewers annually.

          As America's drug czar back in 1990, William Bennett made the strong argument to the movie industry that glamorizing drug use on screen was harmful. The effects of his convictions were immediately noticeable when the film industry began to lessen its depiction of drug use, and when it did depict substance abuse at all, it was shown as destructive, addictive, and criminal. But, with the now widely publicized friendship between Spielberg and President Clinton, there's obviously no argument coming from the White House, especially with Clinton's past history of drug abuse and adultery. This silence may be due to Clinton's seduction by the film business and perhaps the chance to work for DreamWorks or even replace Jack Valenti as President of the Motion Picture Association of America as we shall see in future installments. The thought of that alone would surely spread greater mayhem on the screen.

          Now the talk in the movie trade magazines is that "American Beauty" is the Oscar favorite, especially having won the Golden Globe award by the Euro-Trash Hollywood Foreign Press Association. What does that tell you about Hollywood values? Remember, you don't vote for the Golden Globe winners and you don't vote for Oscar nominations; that's for the industry to decide.

          And what does that tell you about Steven Spielberg's values? The director of such great films as "Saving Private Ryan," "Schindler's List," and many others has now been elevated to the ranks of a major cartel drug pusher.

    Michael Vincent Boyer

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    February 25th Medjugorje Monthly Message

    NOTE: We respectfully recognize and accept the final authority regarding apparitions, locutions and prophecies presently being reported around the world rests with the Holy See of Rome and the Magisterium of Holy Mother Church to whose judjment we humbly and obediently submit.

      "Dear children! Wake up from the sleep of unbelief and sin, because this is a time of grace which God gives you. Use this time and seek the grace of healing of your heart from God, so that you may see God and man with the heart. Pray in a special way for those who have not come to know God's love, and witness with your life so that they also can come to know God and His immeasurable love. Thank you for having responded to my call."

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    March 7, 2000     volume 11, no. 47
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