My first love, my first passion, was for animation. It was my first sense of vocation, where my skills (as an artist), desires (to touch hearts), and the needs of people (for meaningful films) seemed to meet. I still love a great animated film, and last night I went to see a compilation of the animated shorts that have received Oscar nominations and commendations this year. They were outstanding! Some were hilarious and punchy (such as a 6 min. satirical piece promoting the practice of polluting as much as possible) and others were quiet and contemplative (such a trip through the travel journal of a tourist to Madagascar). The genre of animation is continually innovative, and I am offering the links to websites for some of the shorts, along with reflections on one of them. If you find an independent movie theater that is showing this compilation, don't miss it if you too appreciate animation!
"Urs" (made in Germany)
Urs shows the desolate landscape of an impoverished man and his very elderly mother. The man seeks to bring his mother over the mountains to a better place (where the light shines over the mountain-top), but she wants to stay put. The audience witnesses the son's striving but also his neglect of the signs of the actual desires and needs of his mother. At one point on the journey they are shivering at night. All that is needed is for him just to hold his fragile mother in his brawny arms, but he does not. In the end, we see the perilous, disastrous effects of his blinded pursuit of the mountains.
What does this have to do with real life? It reminds me of how we can become so consumed with our ambitions (even well-intentioned ones), without doing what it truly vital. In the Ignatian tradition of the "magis" (in Latin, the "more"), St. Ignatius invites us to look upon the crucified Christ and ask "What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What more (magis) shall I do for Christ?" It is often remarked that the magis does not mean a quantitative "more" but a qualitative "more." It's about doing what is truly effective, excellent, and appropriate to the circumstances. That might actually mean doing less. I know on the Spiritual Exercises one of the most profound moments was being drawn to embracing Jesus, placing my head upon His heart, as he was being nailed to the Cross. There was nothing I could do except to be with Him. Of course God wants us to do His work on earth, but above all, He wants us to be with Him. That is the lesson I was reminded of in Urs.
Here is another contemplative animated short:
Here is a link to reviews of all the Oscar animated shorts:
Welcome! My name is John Roselle, SJ, and I took lifelong ("perpetual") vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience as a Jesuit on August 13th, 2011 after a two-year novitiate. I am now a Jesuit Scholastic for the Wisconsin Province of the Society of Jesus. I will study philosophy and theology for the next three years at Loyola University in Chicago. At the same time, I will do part-time ministry in some capacity with the poor. After that, I will likely teach for three years before finishing three more years of theology. Then, God willing, I will be ordained a Roman Catholic Jesuit priest! It's a long road, but a blessed, fun, and enriching one. This blog exists as a resource for friends, family, and others who are interested in my progress through the Jesuit process of formation. Every day is its own adventure, and I am happy to have you along with me to share in this. This blog contains my own personal thoughts and should not be taken to speak for the entire Society of Jesus. Feel free to contact me. God bless you!