After arriving home on a Thursday evening a couple of months ago, I learned that three of my daughters – Mary (20), Christine (18), and Teresa (16) – were planning on going to the midnight showing of the newly released movie The Avengers. When I found out about their plans, I announced, “You’re not going tonight. You can wait one more day and go tomorrow at a more reasonable time.”
For some reason, I expected them to immediately understand why I didn’t want them walking alone in the parking lot of some theater in the middle of the night. I was wrong. Even though we had discussed the matter on similar previous occasions, they acted as though we had never talked about it. How could the memory of a 55-year-old man (me) be better than the combined memories of three bright young girls?
I had to again explain to them my reasons for not wanting them to go out alone at night. My concerns were primarily about their safety, but there were other practical reasons, one of which was that they had to get up for school the next morning.
Georgette periodically reminds me that it is her belief that the reason God sent me six daughters was to humble me. She’s probably correct, but I’m getting tired of being humbled. I try to eat right, exercise, and get an adequate amount of sleep so I will have enough energy to deal with my high-energy daughters. But they keep wearing me down.
Anyway, I finally got them to agree that what I was saying made some sense, but as usual, they negotiated a favorable outcome for themselves. I ended up agreeing to take them to the movie the following evening. And yes, I ended up paying their way.
On Friday evening before the movie, Georgette and I went out to dinner for our weekly “date night.” The girls also went out together to get something to eat before the movie. The plan was for them to arrive at the theater an hour before the movie was scheduled to begin so they could get in line early enough to get some decent seats.
When Georgette and I showed up 35 minutes before the movie was scheduled to start, the girls had not yet arrived. Georgette and I ended up standing in line to hold a spot for the same girls who had been obsessed with the idea of driving out to the theater the night before for the midnight showing. They later told us that they had “lost track of time.”
The girls finally arrived about 20 minutes before the movie was scheduled to begin. Prior to their showing up, whenever I complained about having to wait in line, Georgette asked me not to harass them about their late arrival. She didn’t want me to hurt their feelings.
So there I was, standing in a long line at the movie theater, humbled again by my daughters.
To be fair to the girls, I wanted to see the movie as much as they did, so it was easy for me to allow them to talk me into joining them.
The movie was better than we expected it to be. At the beginning, the villain, Loki, comes to Earth and takes control of the minds of some government agents. With the assistance of the agents, he then steals some equipment and a bright glowing cube made from an unknown energy source from another planet. At Loki’s direction, one of the agents builds a device that is able to utilize the energy from the cube to open a portal through Earth’s atmosphere and into another universe.
The opening of the portal allows the general of an alien army to send several divisions of alien troops, along with advanced war machinery, to conquer America. The plan is that once America is conquered, the aliens will be allowed to take possession of the energy cube for their own use and Loki will become the ruler of Earth (with the alien army available to back him up).
In an attempt to stop Loki and the alien army, Nick Fury, the director of a special U.S. government espionage agency, asks a group of previously identified superheroes to help in stopping Loki and the alien army. The superheroes are Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk, and Captain America.
Initially, the superheroes don’t want to have anything to do with each other or the government. After hurling personal insults and beating on each other, they finally agree to work together to stop Loki and the alien army.
One of the greatest visual effects of the movie was the portal that was opened up between Earth and the alien universe. It was portrayed as a massive tunnel that allowed the evil alien forces to descend to Earth in order to wreak havoc and destruction upon its inhabitants.
When I saw the way in which the portal was used in the movie, it occurred to me that a similar event happens when an individual commits a mortal sin. (As a reminder, a mortal sin is defined by the Pocket Catholic Dictionary as “an actual sin that destroys sanctifying grace and causes the supernatural death of the soul.”)
According to Fr. John Hardon (1914-2000), a Catholic theologian and author of 34 books on the Catholic faith, an individual whose soul is in the state of sanctifying grace is an agent of the Holy Spirit, while an individual whose soul is in the state of mortal sin is an agent of the Devil.
In a sense, when an individual commits a mortal sin, a portal within the spiritual realm is opened between the individual’s soul and the kingdom of Hell. Once the portal is opened, Satan has the power to influence the individual in ways that were not previously available. The only way to seal the portal is for the individual to make a good confession. At the end of confession when absolution is administered by the priest, God the Father, God the Holy Spirit, and God the Son (the only true superhero who ever walked the earth) are called upon to close the portal to Hell and reopen the portal to Heaven. When the portal to Heaven is reopened, the Holy Spirit is invited to again exercise influence over the individual.
If you have teenage children or grandchildren, I would recommend that you treat them to a night out to see The Avengers. By doing so, you will be able to (1) enjoy a creative, fast-paced, entertaining movie; (2) spend quality time with your family; and (3) use the movie as an opportunity to teach your family members about an important aspect of the Catholic faith.
Now I need to figure out a way to get my daughters to persuade me to go with them to see the newly released Spider-Man movie.